Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

enabled to pay the cost of his certificate. “My dear fellow, this will not do ; your family must not suffer. Be kind enough to take this ten-pound note to your wife from me. There, there, my dear fellow. Nay, don't cry, it will be all well with you yet. Keep up your spirits, set to work like a man, and you will raise your head among us yet.” The overpowered man endeavoured in vain to express his thanks : the swelling in his throat forbade words. He put his handkerchief to his face, and went out of the door crying like a child.' . Still further to vary the ground, and yet shew the principle triumphant, let us cite a little story which originally appeared in 'an American school journal. At a common school convention in Hampden county, Dr Cooley stated that, many years ago, a young man went into a district to keep a school, and before he had been there a week, many persons came to see him, and kindly told him that there was one boy in the school whom it would be necessary to whip every day ; leading him to infer that such was the custom of the school, and that the inference of injustice towards the boy would be drawn whenever he should escape, not when he should suffer. The teacher saw the affair in a different light. He treated the boy with signal kindness and attention. At first this novel course seemed to bewilder him : he could not divine its meaning : but when the persevering kindness of the teacher begot a kindred sentiment of kindness in the pupil, his very nature seemed transformed. Old impulses died, and a new creation of motives supplied their place. Never was there a more diligent, obedient, and successful pupil. Now, said the reverend gentleman, in concluding his narrative, that boy is the chief-justice of a neighbouring state. The relator of this story, though he modestly kept back the fact, was himself the actor. If the Romans justly bestowed a civic crown upon a soldier who had saved the life of a fellow-comrade in battle, what honours are too great for a teacher who has thus rescued a child from ruin ?

The author of an excellent little book,* into which the above story has been transferred, expresses his belief, and we think justly, that there was never yet an instance in which kindness has been fairly exercised, but that it has subdued the enmity opposed to it. Its first effort may not succeed, any more than one shower of rain can reclaim the burning desert; but let it repeatedly shed the dew of its holy influence upon the revengeful soul, and that soul will soon become beautiful with every flower of tenderness. An individual can no more oppose the kindness which is continually and steadily manifesting itself towards him, than he can fan the flame of violent anger in his soul when the most pure and charming music is flooding his senses with its rich harmony. He will as certainly submit to

* Illustrations of the Law of Kindness. By the Rev. G. W. Montgomery. Republished by Wiley, and Putnam. London, 1845.

its winning power, as the compass-needle yields to the influence of magnetism. It is not in human nature to withstand a long course of kindness. Pride and stubbornness may for a time stay the tide of better feelings, like the waters of the stream pent up by gathering masses of ice; but those better feelings will accumulate and increase, until they break down pride and stubbornness, and cause the repentant to exclaim, like one of old : “ Thou knowest that I love thee !” Let any person put the question to his soul, whether, under any circumstances, he can deliberately resist continued kindness? and a voice of affection will answer, that good is omnipotent in overcoming evil. If the angry and revengeful person would only govern his passions, and light the lamp of affection in his heart, that it might stream out in his features and actions, he would soon discover a wide difference in his communion with the world. The gentle would no longer avoid him, friends would not approach him with a frown, the weak would no longer meet him with dread, children would no longer shrink from him with fear; he would find that his kindness wins all by its smile, giving the confidence, and securing their friendship. Verily I say to you, that kindness is mightier than the conqueror ; for the conqueror subdues only the body-kindness subdues the soul.'

The general truth of these observations will, we think, be generally acknowledged. How much must it, therefore, be lamented, that not only do individuals remain sources of terror and vexation to each other, in consequence of hostility, when they might interchange such blessings merely by a little mutual kindness, but that large sections of people, calling themselves political parties, or religious sects, and even whole nations, do thus deprive themselves of much happiness. The very history of the quarrels, litigations, party bickerings, and national jealousies which are daily occurring, has a bad effect in keeping up the idea that it is the natural and only possible course of human conduct. Who would think, for instance, from what we hear of the Irish peasantry, that any kind feeling could ever be interchanged between them and the English soldiery, who are stationed here and there all over their country to keep them in a kind of forced peace? Yet these parties are, after all, men. They have, on both sides, the ordinary human sympathies; and the officer who to-day, perhaps, could hardly appear singly in a lonely part of the country without danger of life, might to-morrow, if standing in a different relation to these people, find them his faithful friends. Only a few years ago, the following paragraph, illustrating a possibility of this kind, appeared in a newspaper, entitled the Westmeath Guardian : “We learn that Captain Atkinson, the celebrated sportsman, who some years ago resided at Clanhugh, in this neighbourhood, and afterwards at the Cottage, Rathowen, was surrounded by a large party of the Molly Maguires, whilst shooting on a bog in the neighbourhood of Carrick-on-Shannon, last week, and ordered to

deliver up his fowling-piece. This he refused to do, and drew a pistol from his breast to fire at the fellows; it missed fire, and the Mollies immediately wrested both the gun and pistol from him, and would in all probability have given him something not very agreeable in return, had not a resident on the bog come to the rescue with a short gun, and swore he would shoot some of the party if the arms were not restored; telling them at the same time of the generosity of the captain towards him and his wife. The gallant captain and true sportsman, it appeared, was on the bog a week previously, and “convenient” to the hut of this poor man (whose wife was in her confinement at the time). He requested that the captain would not fire “ convenient” to the house, explaining the delicate state of his wife. Captain Atkinson instantly retired to a distant part of the bog, and after returning home from his day's sport, despatched a messenger. to the hut with many comforts that the poor family were strangers to, and called a few days after to inquire for the patient. On hearing of his generous kindness to the poor man, the Mollies instantly returned the arms to Captain Atkinson, and cheered him lustily, promising to protect the game for him, and that no person would be allowed to shoot there but himself. The Mollies then straight betook themselves away, wishing him long life, and cheering him as they went along.'

LOVE IS POWER—WITH INFERIORS. There is a prevalent notion that the only way to manage inferiors properly is to keep them in strong subjection by severe, or at least rigid treatment. This we believe to be a prejudice, arising in this way-namely, that in the midst of a generally bad management of inferiors, any relaxation is usually attended by bad consequences. The cause is here in the bad management, not in the relaxation. Supposing inferiors to be treated uniformly on the principles of justice and kindness, with judgment and good sense as regulating powers over all, it will never be found that the kindness does any harm, but rather the reverse.

In England, complaints regarding servants are often heard. But as far as these are even ostensibly well founded, the cause may be discovered in the whole relation of the class of servants towards the class of masters and mistresses. There is too great a space between them as members of the human family. Placed so far away from the sympathies of their employers, and from the more direct influence which the higher and more cultivated natures are designed to have over the rest, servants labour under a deficiency of motive to cordial good service, to cleanliness, to integrity, or any of the other virtues desired in their situation. In America, whose institutions promote self-respect among the humbler classes, there is an independence of feeling in servants which English people generally behold

with ridicule, and deem highly inconvenient to their employers; but which, in reality, is an enviable peculiarity in the class, seeing that it is so essentially connected with good conduct. When our pride shrinks from any marks of 'spirit' on the part of a servant, we little think what the reverse costs us; and that where there is an enforced servility, there can scarcely exist any of the hardy virtues. It may not be possible for individuals entirely to avoid, in their own case, the evils which arise from national errors ; but undoubtedly 'love' will have its power with English servants as it has with all other human beings. A kindly manner of dealing with them, demonstrations of an unaffected concern for their interests, behaviour calculated to foster, and never to wound or bruise their self-respect, must always tend, if consistently, perseveringly followed out, to evoke the better nature of servants, and make them agreeable and obliging

inmates.

Perhaps those who at present experience the greatest annoyances from their servants, would be astonished to find how little is required on many occasions to bring out their better qualities. A story is told in the French army, that a company of soldiers conducted themselves gallantly, and always behaved well under one captain, and in the reverse manner under his successor ; when, on inquiry, it was ascertained that the sole cause was in a small difference of manner between the two officers. The one always said : 'Allons, mes enfants' (Come on, my children); and the other: 'Allez, mes enfants' (Go on, my children). The one captain put himself on a human level with his men, and thus won their regard ; the other acted as if he had stood on a height above them. It is exactly so with servants. Where their feelings of self-esteem-feelings as sure to be planted in them as in the highest nobility on earth-are respected, and an appeal made to their kindly sympathies, they are forced by something in their own bosoins to act as duty requires. In the other case it will always be 'up-hill work. It is not from any want of real benevolence that masters and mistresses fail in this respect. They are often seen to mean well, but to be prevented from taking right methods by the effects of prejudice and habit, or to be turned aside from a right course by disappointment at little failures. They may depend upon this, that there will never be perfect comfort in their connections with servants while they stand upon pride, or force, or self-defence, or anything, in short, but the kindly sympathies which God has designed all his creatures to feel for each other.

Joseph Holt, who acted as general to the rebel peasantry of Ireland in 1798, was withheld from execution, and only banished, in consequence of his having, by humane interference, saved the life of an English officer. Carried to Australia, he was there employed as an overseer on the estate of a Mr Cox, where he had under his charge forty-five convicts and twenty-five freemen. In his life of himself, which was published in 1838, he says : 'It required all

No. 34.

my energies to keep them in proper order. My freemen I always employed by the piece, &c. As to the convicts, there was a certain quantity of work which, by the government regulations, they must do in a given time; and this may be given to them by the day, week, or month, as you pleased, and they must be paid a certain price for all the work they did beyond a certain quantity. If they were idle, and did not do the regulated quantity of work, it was only necessary to take them before a magistrate, and he would order them twentyfive lashes of the cat on their backs for the first offence, fifty for the second, and so on; and if that would not do, they were at last put into a jail-gang, and made to work in irons from morning till night.

'In order to keep them honest, I paid them fully and fairly for everything they did beyond their stipulated task at the same time I paid the freemen; and if I thought the rations not sufficient for their comfortable support, I issued to each man six pounds of wheat, fourteen of potatoes, and one of pork, in addition. By this means the men were well fed; for the old saying is true : “Hunger will break through stone walls ;" and it is all nonsense to make laws for starving men. When any article was stolen from me, I instantly paraded all hands, and told them that if it were not restored in a given time, I would stop all extra allowances and indulgences. “The thief,” said I, “is a disgrace to the establishment, and all employed in it'; let the honest men find him out, and punish him among yourselves : do not let it be said that the flogger ever polluted this place by his presence. You all know the advantages you enjoy above gangs on any other estate in the colony ; do not then throw them away. Do not let me know who the thief is, but punish him by your own verdict." I then dismissed them.

'The transports would say among themselves, that what I had told them was all right. “We won't," they would reason, “be punished because there happens to be an ungrateful thief among us.” They then called a jury, and entered into an investigation; and on all occasions succeeded in detecting and punishing the offender. I was by this line of conduct secure from plunder; and the disgusting operation of flaying a man alive with a cat-o'-nine-tails did not disgrace the farms under my superintendence. Mr Cox said one day to me: “Pray, Joseph, how is it that you never have to bring your men to punishment? You have more under you than, I believe, any man in the colony, and, to the surprise of all, you have never had one flogged, or, indeed, have made a complaint against one. They look well, and appear contented, and even happy.". “Sir," said I, “ I have studied human nature more than books. I had the management of many more men in my own country, and I was always rigidly just to them. I never oppressed them, or suffered them to cheat their employers, or each other. They knew if they did their duty they would be well treated ; and if not, sent to the right about. I follow the same course with the men here. .... I should think

« ForrigeFortsæt »