« FöregåendeFortsätt »
HE Duty of Children may be considered, I. During childhood.
II. After they have attained to manhood, but continue in their father's family.
III. After they have attained to manhood, and have left their father's family.
1. During childhood.
Children must be supposed to have attained to some degree of discretion before they are capable of any duty. There is an interval of eight or nine years between the dawning and the maturity of reason, in which it is necessary to subject the inclination of children to many restraints, and direct their application tn many employments, of the tendency and use of which they cannot judge ; for which cause, the submission of children during this period must be ready and implicit, with an exception, however, of
any B b 2
manifest crime, which
which may be commanded them.
II. After they have attained to manbood, but continue in their father's family.
If children, when they are grown up, voluntarily continue members of their father's family, they are bound, beside the general duty of
gratitude to their parents, to obferve such regulations of the family as the father shall appoint; contribute their labour to its support, if required; and confine themselves to such expences as he shall allow. The obligation would be the same, if they were admitted into any other family, or received support from any
other hand. III. After they have attained to manbood, and have left their father's family.
In this state of the relation, the duty to parents is fimply the duty of gratitude ; not different, in kind, from that which we owe to any other benefactor; in degree, just so much exceeding other obligations, by how much a parent has been a greater benefactor than any other friend. The services and attentions, by which filial gratitude may be testified, can be comprised within no enumeration. It will thew itself in compliances with the will of the parents, however contrary to the child's own taste or judg
ment, provided it be neither criminal, nor totally inconsistent with his happiness; in a conItant endeavour to promote their enjoyments, prevent their wishes, and soften their anxieties, in small matters as well as in great ; in assisting them in their business; in contributing to their support, ease, or better accommodation, when their circumstances require it; in affording them our company, in preference to more amuling engagements ; in waiting upon their fickness or decrepitude ; in bearing with the infirmities of their health or temper, with the peevishness and complaints, the unfashionable, negligent, austere manners, and offensive habits, which often attend upon advanced
years : for where must. old age find indulgence, if it do not meet with it in the piety and partiality of children?
The most serious contentions between parents and their children, are those commonly which relate to marriage, or to the choice of a profeflion.
A parent has, in no case, a right to destroy his child's happiness. If it be true, therefore, that there exist such personal and exclusive attachments between individuals of different sexes, that the possession of a particular man or woman in marriage be really necessary for the child's
B b 3
happiness; or if it be true, that an aversion to a particular profession may be involuntary, and unconquerable ; then it will follow, that parents, where this is the case, ought not to urge their authority, and that the child is not bound to
The point is, to discover how far, in any particular instance, this is the case. Whether the fondness of lovers ever continues with such intensity, and so long, that the fuccess of thieir delires constitutes, or the disappoinment affects, any considerable portion of their happiness, compared with that of their whole life, it is difficult to determine ; but there can be no difficulty in pronouncing, that not one half of those attachments which young people conceive with so much haste and passion, are of this sort. I believe it also to be true, that there are 'few averfions to a profession, which resolution, perfeverance, activity in going about the duty of it, and, above all, despair of changing, will not subdue: yet there are some such. Wherefore, a child who respects his parents' judgment, and is, as he ought to be, tender of their happiness, owes, at least, so much deference to their will, as to try fairly and faithfully, in one case, whether time and absence will not cool an affection which they disapprove; and, in the other, whether a longer continuance in the profession which they have chosen for him, may not reconcile him to it. The whole depends upon the experiment being made on the child's
with fincerity, and not merely with a design of compassing his purpose at last, by means of a fimulated and temporary compliance. It is the nature of love and hatred, and of all violent affections, to delude the mind with a persuasion, that we fhall always continue to feel them, as we feel them at present : we cannot conceive that they will either change or cease. Experience of fimilar or greater changes in ourselves, or a habit of giving credit to what our parents, or tutors, or books teach us, may control this persuasion : otherwise it renders youth very untractable; for they see clearly and truly that it is impossible they should be happy under the circumstances proposed to them, in their present state of mind. After a sincere but ineffectual endeavour, by the child, to accommodate his inclination to his
parent's pleasure, he ought not to suffer in his
parent's affection, or in his fortunes.' The parent, when he has reasonable proof of this, should acquiesce: at all events, the child is then at liberty to provide for his own happiness.