« FöregåendeFortsätt »
dinary emotion: and that the objects and beings which persons of one country, or quarter of the globe, are, in general, inclined to disparage, are almost worshipped as perfection elsewhere.*
This, too, we should teach children betimes; that much of the flattery and dangerous praises which visitors are in. clined to offer, may be disarmed of their injurious effect. We should, by early precept and instruction, fence the young mind, as with a coat of mail, that all attacks may be repelled.
In speaking thus, it is not intended to harden a young breast to insensibility and cold indifference for honest praise, or the commendation which is bestowed on talents, or charms; but to teach caution in judging, first, what right we have to the admiration given so freely; secondly, what are the taste and judgment of the person who bestows it: thirdly, what may be his possible motive, whether to amuse himself, to fill up a void in conversation, or to please the parent. If I saw a pretty sister improperly affected by praise, I should calmly talk thus to her, but not till after a little time had elapsed between the commendation and the comment:
* For instance: the little deformed feet of the Chinese ladies, whose toes are bound inwards so as entirely to disable them from walking, are esteemed a perfection in China ; in England, the same would be a monstrous deformity. The Japanese ladies dye their teeth coal black to heighten their charms; in Europe, the teeth cannot be too white for beauty. The Egyptian ladies dye their nails yellow, and feed their persons till they become unwieldy from fat, to excite admiration. slender shape is in England considered diost elegant.
“ People have a way of praising little children on two accounts; for their pretty features or for their goodness. Now a pretty face, as well as a pretty flower, or a pretty pebble, is only good to look at. All are made by God, and all his works are wonder. ful, and often pleasing. But why do we praise them for themselves? Did the flower, or the pebble, or the face make itself? No; the child who has a pretty face should no more be conceited of it, than is the flower. But goodness is quite another thing : for children are born inclined to be naughty, yet by attention and great pains they grow good; goodness, then, is better worth being praised for than beauty. But people sometimes praise children for being good when they are not good. Conscience will whisper the word mistake."
Thus should every mother strive to balance all accounts between her children, and to correct the baneful influence of the world's first breath, thereby shewing, as well as she can, that Providence in its wisdom has kindly dealt out a portion to all. No creature exists, however disagreeable, but has one fair or good quality ; there is no child but that can shew to her fairest sister, some excellence which she does not possess. So have we all more than our deserts, and wisdom is indeed justified in her children.
BE KINDLY AFFECTIONED." AS IS THE MOTHER SO IS HER DAUGHTER THOU ART THY MOTHER's
DAUGHTER, THAT LOATHETH HER HUSBAND, AND HER CHILDREN; AND THOU ART THE SISTER OF THY SISTERS, WHICH LOATHED THEIR HUSBANDS AND THEIR CHILDREN."
It is the peculiar excellence of affection, that it inclines the heart to the hardest lesson of humanity, to bear and forbear. All who have been brought to really love, have learned this precept, and found the necessity for putting its spirit to the proof; for as no two dispositions completely assimilate, there must be, on some one point, a smaller or greater shock when they come in contact. The familiarity and intimacy of two near relatives offer no motive of respect, no veil of pretence for the not understanding an opinion in which we
cannot nor will not coincide, or remark in which we do not and cannot agree. Relatives speak out, and will be answered ; they act, and will as they say, be approved or condemned by the judgment of relatives. Thus the opinions have a severity as the quarrels of relations assume a deep cast; they have a poignancy and bitterness which are seldom known to belong to those of mere friends, acquaintances, or strangers. A family feud is generally dreadful. The one side will not spare in any way the other; the taunts, the jeers, contempt, de
fiance, are reciprocally thrown out, without any compunction or hesitation. But surely that great law of love, to bear and forbear, could never have been taught! For if taught, could love have been a plant in their heart, strong enough to engraft the maxim upon ? Even this might be. For as the brightest flames may be put out, and the clearest lamp be extinguished, so every virtue may, by the action of rancorous pride, envy, or other moral evil, be consumed in the cold, destroying embrace. Of what importance then, is it, to guard against the approach of vices which will destroy root and foundation with more certainty than a swarm of locusts would blight the husbandman's fairest crop ? But, forbearance is a virtue of too great importance and magnitude to be passed over ; it shall therefore be considered separately hereafter. For the present we will dismiss the inquiry into the nature of its properties and advantages, and return to the particular subject.
To preserve tenderness of heart, the infant should never be permitted, as has been remarked, to witness the correction of a sister or brother, or of any
domestic brute ; neither should it hear the servants, or others in the house reproved. On the other hand, whenever we have to praise or caress, an opportunity for doing so should be seized when the little one is present, upon whom (think as we in our wisdom may choose to do) nothing of act and deed is eventually lost or thrown away. The infant, thus accustomed to an expression of good-will, and general kindness on the countenances around it, not merely when they are bent upon itself, but
as seen extending to all, will imbibe a feeling of content and satisfaction first, and then actually participate in the general disposition from principle afterwards. The tenderest heart is rendered unrelenting and hard by being made, from infancy upward, not perhaps an actual sufferer from, but an ear and eyewitness of scoldings, bickerings, cross looks, blows, violent words, which words, though not well understood, are explained by the angry gestures and loud tones in which they are pronounced. How can we expect any, but a corresponding bad impression to be made up on the ductile materials of which infancy is composed ? It is astonishing, that persons of sense, and mothers too, who call them. selves anxious, affectionate parents, can wilfully blind themselves to the consequences. These mothers rise from bestowing the softest caresses on their babes, with those babes in their arms, to go
forth the most vehement language, and virulent abuse, upon a luckless, and, it may be, worthless maid-servant. And the same lady who was just before smiled upon in her drawing-room, for her tenderness, gentleness, and softness, is now, to the infant's utter amazement (he soon, however, ceases to be amazed at that to which he is habituated), is now changed into a deformed, irritable, and, for what reason he cannot divine, an angry woman, The infant will suppose , either the mother or the maid to be in the wrong, and he will be inclined to espouse the cause of one,
This is indeed a truly natural feeling, as may be seen when very little children lift up a hand to strike the person who beats a brother or sister, or burst into tears when