« AnteriorContinuar »
sources of disunion and disagreement that break the peace of families and the harmony of society, we shall find that opposing interests are not the only, nor perhaps the most frequent cause. We see the members of a family teazing, contradicting, and annoying one another perpetually, when all their real interests are in common: we see the members of society traducing, despising, and maligning one another, when it is the interest of all to live in sociability and peace. One very fruitful source of these disorders--but I would believe not one that is irremediable, since a better knowledge and better government of our own hearts might surely correct it-is that selfesteem of which I spoke, that making of our own ideas the standard of all excellence. Hear a fable:
The beasts of the earth, and the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, were living once-I do not think it was in Noah's ark-in peaceful community togetherthat is, they might have been peaceful if they would being all fully provided, and secure in possession of their OWD.
But peace, it appears, was not to their mind. The rein-deer, taking a walk one day to refresh himself, and being accustomed then, as now, to walk upon four legs, met with a Heron, who, as every one knows, walks upon two. “ Yonder is a fine bird,” said the Rein-deer to himself, “but the fellow is a block-head; why does he not go on as many legs as I do- I'll e'en knock him over to convince him of his mistake," and forthwith he ran his sturdy sides against the slender limbs of the bird ; and, if he did not break them, it was no fault of his.
A frolicksome Colt, playing his morning gambles, happened to come up to a young Bullock, entangled by his horns in the thicket, who, with groans and cries, solicited assistance to release him. “ By no means,” said the Colt-"it is your own fault. What need you to be wearing those things upon your head -don't you see that we have none;" and kicking up his hoofs in the poor captive's face, he gallopped off.
A Magpie, wishing to improve the society of the neighbourhood, sent an invitation to some Blackbirds to dine with him in a certain wheat-field, where, at much expense no doubt, a dinner of newly-sown corn had been provided. The Blackbirds came in a full suit of black-the Magpie was dressed, as usual, in black and white; which, when the Blackbirds saw, great whisperings began amongst them. What a vulgar fellow-how monstrously unfashionable could he not see that every body wore black—they wished they had not come-they gulped down the corn, half choking with ill-humour; two of them died that night of indigestion; the rest would ever after endure the pangs of hunger rather than alight in a field where a Magpie was feeding.
A certain Crab, cast upon the shore by the tide, and eager to regain his native element, was walking, as was his custom, sideways to the water's edge. By the way he met with an Eel in the same predicament; but he, like most other people, travelled with his head foremost. “I do not see, Sir," said the Eel, “why you should refuse to conform to the customs of the world and the habits of society—therefore I will thank you to turn about and walk like other people.” The Crab maintained his right to walk as he pleased, more especially as it was the only way he could walk. The Eel persisted.
. A quarrel ensued-meantime the tide went out, and neither party, backward or forward, being able to reach the water, they were left to die of thirst upon the sand.
“ Hear those creatures,” said a pretty little Thrush, who just finishing his morning song, had alighted on a bough that overhung a bee-hive—“would you believe they take that noise for musick? The tasteless creatures! and pretend to have a concert! How I hate pretension. I will shame them into silence;"_and forthwith the Thrush resumed his loudest
The Bees, however, happening to have more taste for honey than musick, a concert the least of their thoughts, went buzzing on, totally unconscious of the rivals hip they
had excited. The Thrush grew wroth—they were actually trying to out-sing him—that was not to be borne -and down he hastily pounced upon the bees, as one by one they soared above their hive, and struck them to the ground with his beak; they trying in vain to pierce his close feathers with their sting—though some historians are of opinion he did not escape altogether unhurt.
“. Pray, sir," said a Goat to a Sheep, as they chanced to meet one day upon the narrow path of a declivity, but just wide enough to allow them to pass "may I take the liberty of asking why you wear your hair curled while I wear mine straight?” The Sheep, not remarkable for his reasoning powers, had no partioular reason to give—it answered his purpose, and if each was content with his own, there was no need of argument. The Goat thought otherwise-people ought to have reasons for what they do, and be able to explain the grounds of their conduct-and if they have not hrains enough to discriminate, they ought to follow the example of those that have-therefore, to convince him that there was a reason why long, loose hair was more advantageous than close, curled wool, he should take the liberty of putting his horns into his fleece, and rolling him down the steep, which, if he had worn hair, he could not so easily have done.
It happened that a beautiful little Spaniel formed a strong attachment to a certain Rabbit he was in the habit of meeting in the beds' of his master's garden. The Rabbit felt extremely much flattered by the protection of so superior a person; but there was one subject of difference between them that was not easily to be adjusted. The Spaniel assured the Rabbit it was excessively vulgar to live upon vegetable diet—no rational creatures did so--it was food only for brutes-he hoped
— now he had chosen the Rabbit for his friend, he would try to acquire more genteel habits. The Rabbit modestly suggested that, beside that he had no teeth to VOL. V.
masticate animal food, and possibly no organ to digest it, he did not exactly know how he was to get it. The Spaniel generously promised to remove the latter difficulty, by sharing with him his own food-as to his teeth, if he could not masticate the meat, he might swallow it whole ; it would save appearances, and nobody would know whether he digested it or not. The ambitious Rabbit, eager to place himself on an equality with his friend, and willing to imitate him in every thing, most assiduously swallowed the meat the Spaniel brought him, and if he did not enjoy his meals to the full as much as when he fed on cabbages and parsley, the idea of growing more genteel quite reconciled him to the privation. But, alas! nature prevailed, and poor Bunny died.
A Fly, who had been born and bred among his kindred behind a drawing-room curtain, determined to go forth and see the world, and make himself better acquainted with the beings that inhabit it. On his return, he was observed to be morose and melancholy-he shut himself up in a creek of the ceiling, and could scarcely be persuaded to go out in search of his necessary food. His friends, greatly concerned, questioned him upon the cause of this sadness, to which he only answered, that what he had seen of the world had so disgusted him, he was determined to have no more intercourse with ithe would rather stay in his creek and starve. His companions, who except a few Spiders, had seen nothing in society so much amiss, continued to express their surprise; till the poor Fly explained, that during his recent intercourse with the world, he had observed that the animals had the folly to wear their eyes in the front of their heads-of all the living creatures he had become acquainted with, there was not one, beside themselves, that could see behind him he would sooner starve in solitude than associate with creatures so senseless—and he is supposed to have died of cold soon after, because
he would not go to the hearth to warm himself, lest he should meet a creature without eyes at the back of his head. .'
My readers, I am sure, must feel much affected at the mournful state of society in the animal creation at that period, and the sorrows that overwhelmed alike the innocent and the guilty. I can imagine that nothing, while they read it, stays their tears from falling, but the hope that such a state of society never has existed. I cannot certainly pledge myself to the historical truth of what I have related—though it appears to me quite as probable as 'many things that are believed—but I can assure you, I have seen something very like it, in the state of society among certain young ladies and gentlemen of my acquaintance in various parts of the habitable earth: I say young ones, more especially because it is an evil the experience and self-knowledge of increasing years, tend in some degree to correct. But habit not unfrequently perpetuates what began in folly; which + makes it the more necessary that early habits, the habits to which ignorance and inexperience mostly tend, should be watched, and as far as may be restrained, lest, confirmed by repetition and become insensible to ourselves, the fault remain when the excuse is
Young persons, ignorant of the world and mostly ignorant of themselves, receive from their parents or their governess, or from the combined circumstances of their education, a certain set of opinions, ideas, and habits--very good ones, perhaps, but confined as the sphere in which they are collected. This set of notions is made into a standard of excellence differing materially according to the difference of education-but every girl thinks her own standard the best, or rather the only one, for she knows no other, and she comes into society fully prepared to measure all, and every thing by her own set of notions. If, to discover her mistake and correct it were the only results, it would be very wellthe best and easiest remedy for a temporary evil-but