Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

often attempted ; and they should be taught to look up with confidence in a person's face whenever they are speaking. They should never be suffered to hide their heads, or run away, when they are spoken to by a stranger and are expected to reply ; the discovering of shame, they should be told, will be considered as a proof of their having been naughty.

The other attribute of modesty is Purity, which in cludes decorum, self-respect, neatness and order. Purity of mind has been touched upon in the consideration of innocence: we have now to regard that of the person. Thompson says:

......“ From the body's purity, the mind

Receives a secret aid.”...... If this be true, and few will doubt it, the necessity, which it were needless to insist on, will be apparent for the maintaining a reatness in dress, and a nicety of person in children. But by this remark it is not intended that they should be deprived of exercise and amusement in gardens or fields, lest they should soil their clothes: far from it. Their clothes may be splashed or spotted, but, if they are not ridiculously fine, this will signify little. What is fairly soiled in the course of duty, or is aceidentally torn in that of rational amusement, may be excused without a comment; but wilful injury, be it ever so small, to clothes, or indeed to any thing animate or inanimate discovers a mischievous turn of thought and inclination, and should be immediately checked.

Children are long enough helpless during infancy : let us make them useful to themselves and others as soon as effort is possible to them; the doing so will

[ocr errors]

give them a habit of exertion, and the novelty of being employed on a trifling, but really useful business, will be highly gratifying. « Stay, Sir, I will do this or that; I will tie your shoe; let me put on your glove ; I will fold up your tippet,” cries out the maid to a sturdy child of four or five years, who is actively engaged in trying to do one of these little offices for himself. How ready are mothers, too, (and all to save trouble and expedite the business) to check every little effort of their children, who, in general, would know no greater pleasure than a little job of this kind, if they were allowed it; instead of which, these injudicious persons hardly let the child understand, during the first six years, of what use his fingers are to him., Might not one say to a very little child, “ Come, my dear, I will reach your things for you ; now try to put on your walking shoes, tippet, hat and gloves, and then we will go out." The child would be willing enough to do so, and hasten to make the attempt. Perhaps he would begin to be tired, and say, “ I cannot do it, please to help me," and then he might he helped a little. All, however, that he had actually done should be left, though the shoe-strings were in a knot, or the tippet put on awry. The acts of a child must be imperfect, and so they should appear : that is, if we look at and speak of them as the acts of childhood. If we alter, correct, and add, the act is not that of a child, but of ourselves ; and he no longer can be entitled to the praise which his sole efforts would command.

Might not a very little child, too, be led on to as. sist in folding up his clothes at night, and piling them

neatly on the chair by his bedside? He might begin by one of the simplest articles of dress, and be induced, not by a command, but by such an observation as this, to try: “ Now, my dear, I wonder whether you could fold that cap, or that pair of gloves, while I am putting by the rest of your clothes ?” I never knew any child who would refuse the attempt, thus challenged to make it. However badly the little task is performed, it should be accepted, not with ridiculous praise, which must be false, but with honest, gentle encouragement. A love of order is a very desirable habit of the mind; to encourage it a child might have a low closet, to open with a latch, given him, in which he might lay up his walking things himself, and take them out; also a small light trunk for his playthings; a window-seat or a low shelf for his little books; and a corner of an out-house for his little spade and garden implements. Whaterer he draws from its proper place he should be taught by degrees to put back again. It is sad and shameful to notice how some children throw every thing in a room in confusion for their own pleasure, and are yet too idle and helpless to replace a single article. They will not pick up a toy, nor shut the lid of a box, nor push a little chair into its place, nor even close a book they may have opened. No: the maid, or mamma is to be the slave of these miniature despots, while they scream out in wretched inertness for other things; more variety; fresh amusement. Alas! poor children, as their whims are multiplied their wishes increase ; they are fretful in the midst of enjoyment ; and while they fancy the whole world yields submission at their feet, the poorest little peasant, who scampers barefoot

over the thorn-tufted common in pursuit of a cock: chaffer, and then returns to a mess of pottage and a straw bed, is far happier than they.

Self-respect is the last dependent virtue here to be inculcated, and it should very early be introduced to the habits of childhood : a nice propriety of man. ners and decorum will be in consequence preserved, which will be maintained by very little children in presence of their most familiar friends. It is admira. ble to think how closely allied is delicacy of habit to purity of thought and innocence of soul. Let us, then, secure and make it a habit of childhood, in order to preserve unspotted a purity of mind and action; and, that we may be still further induced, let us bear in mind the assertion of our great bard, and master of human feeling and passion :-" It is not good that children should know any wickedness : old folks have discretion, and know the world."

CHAPTER XXV.

GENEROSITY.

" THE LIBERAL SOUL DESIRETH LIBERAL THINGS, AND BY LI

BERAL THINGS SHALL HE STAND.” A VILE PERSON SHALL NOT BE CALLED LIBERAL." “HE THAT GIVETH, LET HIM DO IT WITH SIMPLICITY.” “THIS IS THAT WHICH I REQUIRE, LIBERALITY PROCEEDING FROM THYSELF."

This noble virtue may not perhaps be considered one of which the possession is of such primary inportance as those which have preceded this chapter;

..

and it is, possibly,ont his account that we are the more charmed when we meet with it, because it is thought, by casual observers, to be only a beautiful supernumerary. But, in reality, it rises from as deep a source, and bears upon as many important points in its progress through the soul to the lip and hand, as almost any other virtue that could be named, excepting, indeed, the first.

Generosity is spirited benevolence. All that a benevolent man would do, a generous one does; and perhaps he does with a truer zeal and more ardent spirit than benevolence seems to imply. The benevolent man would be sincere as the generous one, but the last would be found perhaps to be more eager and animated; more devoted in the cause he espoused; more exalted in sentiment; more keenly alive to the interests he made his own. A benevolent man, perhaps, would repeat to himself that his acts were those of duty, and he would encourage in himself the wish and cultivate the disposition to practise them. The generous man would neither think nor inquire whether it was his duty to be generous, but would be so for the delight and gratification which generosity would afford his noble nature ; and, so far from knowing whether he was practising a virtue or a precept of religion, he would feel no surprise if he were told that the word was no where to be found in the Bible. Perhaps, however, benevolence, though a more retired virtue, is a more steady one, more equable, fixed, and true, than generosity. Nevertheless, the culture of this virtue in young persons is of great importance, be it only to heighten the good effects of benevo

« AnteriorContinuar »