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firmity as much a physical one as a tendency to consumption, or any known bodily disease, and as little under the control of the individual afflicted with it. That such is not the case, and that the worst temper admits of cure, the above fact sufficiently proves.

Before considering temper solely in its character of a malevolent affection, it will be but just to examine what share physical causes may have in its production. That different individuals are endowed by nature with different degrees of nervous irritability, is as undeniable as that they vary in stature and complexion; some being tremblingly alive to every casual impression, while others appear nearly torpid, and an intermediate class are not remarkable in either respect. The manifestation of these several varieties of temperament will occur in childhood according to the peculiar circumstances in which the child is placed.

Dr. Andrew Combe, in a valuable little volume, “A Treatise on the Physiological and Moral Management of Infancy,” has handled this subject in so interesting a manner, that I must be permitted to enrich my pages with a few of his remarks. “Look at an infant, six months old," says he, “and observe the extent to which it responds to every variety of stimulus addressed to its feelings. If we want to soothe it in moments of fretful disappointment, is it not a matter of notoriety that we succeed by gentle fondling, and singing to it in a soft and affectionate voice? If



our aim is to rouse it to activity, are not our movements and tones changed to the lively and spirited ? When, inadvertently, an acrimonious dialogue ensues between the nurse and


person, in the presence of an infant, is it not a common occurrence for the child to become as uneasy as if the scold were directed to itself, and forth with begin to cry? If, on the other hand, an affectionate and gentle tempered mother enters a nursery, and, imagining the infant to be asleep, merely addresses the nurse in the soft tones characteristic of her mind, do we not see the infant waken up, and, with a placid smile, look around, to solicit the notice of its parent?

“ The bearing and importance of these truths would be at once perceived, were parents acquainted with the structure and laws of the animal economy, and with the fact that the mind acts through the medium of the bodily organs, to the influence of which it is subjected during the whole course of life. From this proneness of the mental faculty to respond to its natural stimulus, it obviously becomes a matter of importance to the future character of the individual to regulate the circumstances in which he is placed, or the stimuli by which he is surrounded during the very impressionable period of infancy; for, with the fact before us, that every feeling or faculty is in this way strengthened by reiterated exercise, it is natural to suppose that many a child owes much of its perverse temper or cheerful disposition to the continued influence of similar dispositions exhibited by the nurse or mother during the earliest period of its existence. Let us, then, not deceive ourselves, but ever bear in mind that what we desire our children to become, we must endeavour to be before them."

The truth of the above remarks, every person capable of reasoning and observing will readily admit. Proper nursery management, followed by the firm but gentle discipline of domestic education, would do much towards the correction of

any natural irritability or perversity of temper which children may early exhibit. As there must needs exist, however, very many cases in which children, not having enjoyed the benefit of judicious management in the nursery, have attained a certain growth, much as nature or circumstances formed them, it will be as well to direct our attention more particularly to such cases.

I am far from conceiving those children least capable of being formed into virtuous and estimable characters, whose natural temperament is the most irritable. Your very placid children will often be found placid only through lack of sensibility. Passive virtues they may possess; but the active virtues will, I think, like great talents, most commonly be found in company with considerable nervous excitability: in fact, the irritable temperament has, time out of mind, been called the temperament of genius. It would, however, be absurd to infer, that wherever the irritable tem


perament exists, there must also exist genius: every day's experience shews us both fools and dunces, whose temperament is irritable in the extreme; and this fact alone might, one would think, induce persons of sense, through sheer self-respect, to conquer an infirmity which they share in common with the least gifted and least respectable of their species.

It is not to be without passions, but to be able to subjugate them to reason, that is desirable. Our passions, or in other words our feelings, are a noble endowment, since, without them, nothing great could be accomplished, nor would a magnanimous or generous impulse ever arise in the human breast. The stronger and the deeper they are, the more capable are they of becoming the instruments of good as well as of evil. The element of fire is an inestimable blessing to man, when restricted within due limits; but let it break those bounds, and what a tremendous agent of destruction does it become? In like manner, those affections, which, under proper management, would have proved entirely benevolent, become, under the reverse, actively malevolent.

In mature life, various causes may occur to produce effects similar to those already noticed, as operating on the temper of infants; so that persons who were not remarkable for exhibiting much irritability in children, may, as adults, be the victims of it. Deranged health, the cares and anxieties of business, disappointments, wrongs, neglect, any of these causes—if not counteracted by the divine influence of religion, and the strong habit of self-control arising out of it will be sufficient to produce a great degree of irritability in the temperament of the individual; so great, indeed, as to wear the semblance of moral or mental unsoundness; but such persons are objects of commiseration, and great forbearance ought to be exercised towards them by all those who are exempt from the like infirmity. True, they might, doubtless, in many cases conquer the irritable tendency; but human nature is weak and erring, and those ready to blame ought rather themselves to display the loveliness of a sweet and Christian temper, by soothing, as much as possible, the ruffled spirit, removing sources of irritation, and studiously avoiding all causes of offence. That we should thus act towards one another, is expressly commanded. Both the Old and New Testament abound with texts inculcating gentleness and the avoidance of anger and strife.

Habitual bad temper, however originating, and whether evincing itself in violent ebullitions of wrath, in peevishness, querulousness, or perversity, must be classed with the malevolent affections. It is called into action by a variety of circumstances, often trivial in themselves, and displays in all its varieties the operation of the selfish principle. This kind of bad temper has been not inaptly described as the revenge upon others of the disagreeable sensations experienced

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