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Frequent disappointments of extravagant wishes in childhood infallibly spoil a temper; and the instant gratification of every desire as it may be formed only produces arrogance, and the hasty formation of others, with which it may be less easy to comply. Vexation and humours of all kinds are the consequence, and fury, or rancour, or any other bad passion, renders the little creature an object of repugnance, and makes him in the end a burthen to himself as well as a torment to others. Thus, without being absolutely wicked, if error do not spread very widely in him, he is assuredly a very disagreeable, and certainly a very miserable child.
To be temperate and moderate in enjoyment, and to keep hope on a balance with right and reason, should be the endeavour of the child, and should be taught him by his mother. Constant employment will leave him little time for chimeras and silly fancies, and the less he is influenced by these, the more equable and happy will be his temperament. He will thus be early accustomed to set a watch and maintain a guard over impulse and wishes, so that temper, which is thereby corrected and regulated, and over which he has full controul, may prove to himself a blessing, and to others a most engaging feature and prepossess, ing quality of his soul.
" THEIR SOUL WAS POURED OUT INTO THEIR MOTHER'S BOBOM."
" THEY WENT IN THEIR SIMPLICITY. HARMLESS, INNOCENT, AND FREE FROM DECEIT-IN MODEST APPAREL." " CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY.”
MODESTY, with all her beauteous attendants, is the fairest pearl in the diadem of distinguished merit, and the sweetest charm of infant promise. Unless accompanied by her, the noblest acts of man are viewed only in a glare of light, which is offensive and hurtful to the eye; but the meritorious act, by being drawn rather into shade, is thrown into high relief. Every principal part of it stands out and becomes visible. We may gaze in the most entire satisfaction, and at our leisure contemplate every graceful feature, while admiration increases in proportion as we can enjoy this feeling without uneasiness or pain to ourselves.
Thus the very pains which are taken by a man to hide his best actions make them often known, and when known praised : as the endeavours of a beautiful maiden to hide her personal and mental attractions but create an anxiety to see and know them; and thus seeing a lovely face and figure, and knowing the elegancies and excellence of the mind which animates, is but to admire and to revere.
Modesty, therefore, of all virtues, is to casual observers least likely to attain its own end ; for in propor
tion as merit is real is modesty great, and the escape from observation impossible. Though the end of modesty be therefore defeated, and consequent praise and applause be given-a praise which distresses, and an applause which confounds-yet as every virtue has its reward, so considerable a one as modesty is not left to punishment. The act of goodness done, is done purely for itself, and not to obtain the commendations of others, notwithstanding which, these will follow, and a painful modesty be elicited. Wherein, then, is her reward? In the esteem, regard, respect and admiration which are the cause and the result of honest praise, and which are so grateful to human nature, that he who has once enjoyed will not consider any sacrifice of vanity too great to preserve them.
But with all these inducements the infant is unacquainted. The beauty and excellence of virtue can only be discovered by experience and time ; and a well taught child is formed to habits of goodness long before he can have perceived its advantage. Perhaps such a child is forced to acknowledge the value of forbearance sooner than of any other virtue, because the effects are closer upon the action than some others. “ If you do thus, you shall not go where you desire,” " or, “ have what you want,” said by the mother, is sufficient to controul a well managed child ; he forbears, and he finds his advantage in so doing. But how is he to be shewn the fitness and beauty of some other virtues in all their gradations, and be familiarized to their habits ? Let us give him these habits, however, and trust to years for the rest, for though the undertaking be laborious, it must be made; and in this
idea : 'that the seed which is not sown in the spring cannot grow up and be ripened for harvest in the autumn. Learning and accomplishments may be left to chance. Goodness cannot wait ; take her when she offers herself to young habit, or she may vanish and return no more.
Modesty, then, is an uncorrupt mind breathing through artless manners, chaste words, humble self. opinion, unboasted good qualities, and propriety of deportment. These properties, as their importance requires, shall be considered under separate heads. .
An uncorrupt mind, then, is innocence, the first characteristic of man when he was created, but which be, alas! changed for that of sinfulness. Innocence is also the character of a new-born infant; for though it be the child of sin in a religious sense, it is in a moral one spotless until it has reason to distinguish right from wrong, and then commits sin, even with that conviction ; for though the child may do wrong, and deserve correction as an infant and a little child, we do not give him that correction, and endeavour with such care to convince him of that wrong, because of the magnitude of his offence, or of its injury to society, for what is the utmost stretch of infantine delinquency? But it is in the consequences of such wrong that we fear so much and watch so narrowly. To satisfy ourselves of a child's innocence, let us ask, what child, in our opinion, of one, two, four, six, eight years
of age, we can remember to have known wicked enough to be shut out from heaven, when its small remains were dressed in a shroud, and that its spirit was flown to the Saviour who required it? If, then,
little children are not treated as criminals by their Maker, neither can mortals presume to think them such until they cease to be little children, and join in openly wicked acts, neglecting the means prescribed by religion, to gain the favour of its great Author and founder. Children, then, are only sinful in their nature, which prompts them to evil ; but the evil they do, or vice, in its beginning is so weak and small, that the worst of little children we may presume to call, in a general way, innocent: though in describing them as compared to what others are, and above all what children ought to be, we should say they were bad or naughty, corrupt or vicious.
Thus a refractory, disobedient, unpromising little child, we may bumbly presume, is received into heaven, because sin, as well as life, with him are both nipped , in the bud. Even this child we may pronounce innocent. But if we observe a similar child with vices crowding and increasing daily in whom life is spared, we shall contemplate with horror his final and probable destiny, through the characters of son, parent, subject, and mortal.
If childhood be the season of innocence in a general sense, let us make it so in a particular one ; that that innocence may be truly preserved in the purity of infancy. But we will take a closer view of this matter.
This virtue, like some others, may be seen in the mass as a large stream of light, or it may
be appreciated and observed in parts, one or more, as a single ray. A child may be generally innocent, who yet fails if we examine him in the divisions of innocence;