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In this way, by diving into young minds, we may check the rise of prejudice, diminish the force of selflove, and turn the die of impression to benevolence and moderation.
Humanity in conduct or action is a most important consideration, and we should never let slip an opportunity for enforcing its necessity.
It is very gratifying to observe a child who feels for the distresses of others, and who has been taught to know that all his comforts and prosperity proceed from no merit of his. But if kindness in him stop short here, this fine theory will soon expire in the glitter and emptiness of mere false sentiment. He may, like the Athenians, understand what is good, but his goodness will be small if he do not also make it, as did the Lacedemonians, his practice. It is useless to shew a child wherein he has committed an injury, if we do not, at the same time, instruct him how to repair it, or to avoid the repetition in future. It is vain to expect amendment in a child, if, after we convict him of doing wrong, we there leave the matter, and never make him rouse to the action of apology. Small indeed is the merit of that man who stands by a cottage in flames, and sighs in the distress of its inhabitants, but yet who will not fetch one vessel of water from the pump to check the desolation. The truth is, that virtue is not passive, but lives almost entirely in action; and that is only its semblance, not itself, which does not act. What matters it that a child is concerned to see the red stream on a poor little girl's naked foot, if he do not try for permission to bestow on her a pair of old
shoes or a piece of linen from his own stores ? And when he hears the tale of misery and want from decrepid age or pining youth, what avails his commiseration if he be never taught to offer relief, even to the depriving himself of some toy or treasure, to give the value of it to the object of compassion ? For those gifts which we bestow, without, in some degree, feeling them a deprivation, weigh compa. ratively very light in the scale of merit; although, if accompanied with real sincerity of heart, they undoubtedly are good. While pity is, therefore, encouraged in young breasts, it should always be with the idea and hope of relief. “ Can you do nothing to assist ?" should be asked, when a child's tender bosom heaves at a sad tale, or in the presence of a suffering object. The smallest offer should be accepted, and discretion be taught; for, in the warm flush of lovely virtue, a child feels his soul borne beyond its limits; and when his feelings are power. fully wrought on, is ready to give wardrobe, larder, and house. This exuberance must, however, be gently checked bythe prudence of the mother. She must make the child understand, that by showering all our bounty upon one we are unjust to the rest; that it is better to give a little, and bestow it with kindness, than to bar out all other applicants through our profusion with one. “ Suppose,” we may add, " you were to throw all the grain to one fowl, and not allow any to the other poultry, would this be just, or good management? Give a little to every one and all will be benefited."
As soon as possible, children should be accustomed to lay by a little store for charitable uses. A little girl may be taught to sew, and helped to make, from her worn clothes, some caps, frocks, and arti. cles of various kinds for poor children, or to set aside a part of the little money which is given her for the indigent; or for the purpose of buying cheap dolls, which she may be assisted in dressing, and may then give them to an old person past work, along with some needle-cases, housewifes, pincushions, &c. to sell at a fair price. A little boy, too, may have his stores. In a bit of ground he might be instructed to sow the seeds of different flowers and vegetables (the seeds bought with his own money), to water, weed, and attend daily to them: and when, at length, the produce is fit to gather, he should be directed to distribute them among his poor neighbours. He might also buy roots of flowers, and be helped in the transplanting of them from his garden to pots, and these, with any other articles which his parents would spare, might form and improve his little fund. Such, and many more like exertions, are quite within a child's ability, and when once he had felt the delight of well-earned praise, he would be doubly inclined to seek it.
Kindness to our fellow-creatures has now been traced through many bearings; there only remains to speak of mercy, as it respects a tenderness towards brutes.
“IF A BIRD'S NEST CHANCE TO BE BEFORE THEE IN THE WAY, OR ON ANY TREE, OR ON THE GROUND, THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE DAM WITA THE YOUNG; BUT THOU SHALT IN ANY WISE LET THE DAM go." " FOR EVEN A CHILD IS KNOWN BY HIS DOINGS."
It is the will of man to maintain in his establishment a number of brutes, which by their communication with him lose their natural ferocity or instinctive caution of him, and sometimes, also, their original means of defence. They give their services, be they important or trifling, in return for his protection, and seem to hold their lives for his pleasure and advantage.
In cities, the number of domesticated animals kept for amusement or utility in private families is comparatively small, and consists of cats, dogs, and birds of various kinds; rabbits, squirrels, guinea pigs, dormice, silkworms, gold and silver fishes, &c.
In the country, a gentleman's house has generally offices annexed to it for every other tame animal. Cows, sheep, oxen, horses, asses, goats, pigs, various kinds of dogs, hens, geese, turkeys, and many more, which are to serve man for food, or to conduce to his pleasure.
Now if creatures must be killed for our support, be it so, but let them not be tortured; the pang of death
is truly severe enough to give the animal full quittance of his debt of gratitude for the happiest life that ever was led under our care. But what shall we say of animals which are not eaten ? which are not necessary to man's support, but which he, of his pleasure, takes into his house to domesticate, with. drawing from them all means of providing for themselves under the great laws of nature ? Does not such conduct imply a meaning like this, offered to the brute ? " I now receive you as an humble dependant; my house is henceforward your home ; banish all care for your future wants ; the fine in. stinct given you by nature to instruct you in avoiding dangers, finding a resting place, building yourself a dormitory, decoying or seizing those creatures you feed on, guarding yourself from your natural enemies, among which I may be reckoned; the instinct bestowed on you for such ends you must now disregard. Let it die as an unrequired quality within you. It is I who will nestle you, feed you, protect you, and keep your natural foes at a distance, from which you shall not even behold them. On me, then, let all responsibility fall.” Does there not appear to be such a compact implied in the fellowship of man with dumb animals? Why is a little fish dragged up from its cool, capacious, pellucid bed, all radiant in scales of gold, to be held in bondage and cooped up in a gallon of stagnant water, whilst it is distracted and tortured by the sight of the thousand strange objects of a drawing-room, which are reflected and multiplied through the glass prison? Why is this? For the pleasure of man. If it be, then, his plea