Sidor som bilder



desire to make such a use of his possessions as shall be beneficial to his fellow-creatures, and pleasing in the sight of God.

If his heart still swell and puff itself up with the thought of his wealth and worldly honours, teach him the humbling lesson of his mortality; how short a span is the longest life when compared with eternity; how death equalizes all—the king in his gold and purple--the beggar in his rags! Alike entering this world naked and helpless, in like manner doomed to leave it in order to appear before Him who is no respecter of persons; whose majesty and greatness shew forth the pretensions of ephemera man in their true light of folly and presumption.

Before concluding my observations on pride, I must not omit to mention that species of counterfeit humility which is often assumed by the proud, and which, although like base coin, it can only pass current with the simple, deserves exposure. Persons guilty of it will frequently inveigh loudly against themselves, accusing themselves of numerous faults and failings; but they do this in the hope and expectation of being contradicted, and so confirmed in the secret good opinion they entertain of themselves. It will generally turn out, that the faults of which they thus accuse themselves with such seeming candour, are venial in comparison with their real defects. Genuine humility does not consist so much in telling our faults as in bearing to be told of them.

[ocr errors]

VANITY VANITY is generally supposed to be a very innocent modification of pride; a very excusable foible. I doubt its being so; nay, I venture to assert that it is not one degree less dangerous, less inimical to happiness and spiritual improvement. “Vanity," says Mrs. Hannah More, in her chapter on the comparatively small Faults and Virtues, “ Vanity is at the bottom of almost all, may we not say of all our sins? It is under her character of harmlessness that she does all her mischief."

Vanity is a failing to which it is presumed the female sex is most especially prone; this may, or may not be; I will not take upon myself either to admit or deny the charge. One fruitful source of it is deemed to be a consciousness of personal attractions, or, which is nearly the same thing, a persuasion that such exist. A vain man, that is to say a man vain of his person, certainly is a very ridiculous animal, and pretty generally so considered. If a vain woman is regarded with more lenity, it is principally out of contempt for her sex that she is so; a motive of forbearance sufficiently humiliating.

But vanity, like pride, shows itself under divers aspects. It is far from being confined to the pre tenders to personal attractions; it seeks its gratification in a thousand different ways; perhaps its range of operation is even wider than that generally ascribed to pride. It is equally exacting, equally

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

selfish, equally at varię ice with Christianity, and, if possible, more petty and contemptible in the shifts and artifices to which it resorts for its indulgence. It will meanly and unshrinkingly connect and identify itself with any object, whether that object be worthy of respect, or very much the contrary; all it requires is a presumed accession of importance from the connexion. It is, I think, a still more conspicuous principle than pride, inasmuch as the desire of admiration in a vain person being always restless, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to conceal its workings. It is also more liable to attach false value to things utterly insignificant; and, though much more easily satisfied than pride, is as little given to question the strength of its own pretensions.

I am inclined to believe that vanity, at least several sorts of it, are equally with pride a source of malevolence; since the candidate for admiration is naturally more prone to hate than to love any one whose approved and acknowledged excellence has obtained that meed of praise so much coveted, and to feel pleasure in every disparagement and slander which may assail the individual so distinguished. In short, no excellence of any kind can, to the vain mind, be the object of love or admiration, unless the idea of self can in some way or other be connected with it. This, it will be said, is a lamentable picture of the human heart under the influence of vanity, but, alas! it is a true one.

Are not, then, those persons insane, or worse, who, in place of checking this pernicious propensity in the young, minister to it in every manner possible? That such is the case in regard to females is certain. The vanity of girls is fostered in more ways

than can be enumerated. Even the rewards and presents they receive are so selected as to conduce to this end. Trinkets, articles of dress, et cetera. Every thing is done, from a very early period of childhood, to enkindle this destructive passion in their breasts. All the little knowledge they are permitted to acquire, all their accomplishments tend to the same point. It would indeed be little short of a miracle if the majority of females were not vain.

A vain mother will awaken the vanity of her daughter by directing the child's attention to objects that afford gratification to her own vanity. If dress or personal beauty be the objects in which she places her chief glory, she incessantly directs her daughter's attention to the distinction she derives from fine clothes and a fine person. If she desires to identify herself with that class in society which gives the law to fashion, in addition to dress, beauty, and accomplishments, which she regards as indispensable accessaries, she labours to impress upon her daughter's mind notions of the glory derived from a connexion with what is fashionable; and with a correspondent desire to obtain admiration by establishing the connexion. The natural result is heartlessness, a total loss of self-respect,



and a host of enemies, where friends might otherwise have been made.

A vain woman, though she may have flatterers, admirers, lovers, as they are called, can have no friends. Her heart is too much engrossed with self, for her to feel either love or friendship, in the true sense of those strangely misused words. Individuals of her own sex she regards only in the light of rivals, consequently enemies, and her own pretensions are so obtrusive that she cannot but receive in return an equal portion of aversion from females educated in the same school, and with the same views as herself. On this subject I shall dwell more at length when I come to treat of dress and modern accomplishments.

Women have been accused of incapacity for friendship, and if the accusation be founded in truth, we must ascribe it to that perpetual rivalry maintained in consequence of the false position in society in which they are placed by the other sex, and by the pernicious and superficial education they receive. So long as personal beauty and the attractions of dress and showy accomplishments are deemed the chief requisites in women, such must be the case; they cannot feel friendship for one another; they can know nothing of that Christian love which would incline them to sustain each other in affliction, to bear with one another in error, and oh, still more rare and difficult virtue! to sympathize and rejoice with one another under

« FöregåendeFortsätt »