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vancing we anticipate the progress of that moral and intellectual improvement, which we have so much reason to hope for; and we cannot forget how much, how entirely, one might almost say, this improvement will depend upon the direction and impulse now given to the minds of the young.
It is still with another sort of feeling, that we anticipate the accidents and vicissitudes which may, or which must, befal them in life. That eye which ** you have seen sparkling with animation, will be dimmed with tears of bitterness; that cheek which is now glowing with exuberant health, will be pale with sorrow; and the heart which now knows no care, will be pierced through with the sharpness of affliction. You cannot shelter that form, which gives the promise of so much female loveliness and delicacy. The winds of heaven will visit it roughly. The sensibility which trembles at your touch, will bleed beneath harsh inflictions. Those who are now the objects of so much solicitude, of the indulgent and anxious tenderness of maternal love, and of the watchful providence of a father's care, are advancing into a world, where they will find much selfishness, and suffer much neglect and unkindness; where others will take pleasure in their losses and failures; and where their affections will be often disappointed, and driven back to their own hearts, to suffer in silence. Amid the trials and deprivations of life, they may look back some fu
ture day, and regret that they knew too little of the value of parental love.
But they are advancing into a world, where they will not only meet with sufferings, but be exposed to vices; and where their characters may undergo changes, much more to be feared than the necessary vicissitude of circumstances. He who is in the habit of self-examination, must, almost at any period of life, feel some distrust of himself, and be sensible of the necessity of constant watchfulness. But the characters of those of whom I speak, though they have received impressions which will remain with them in a greater or less degree through life, are as yet not hardened into any considerable firmness. They will be subjected to much severer experiments, than those by which they have yet been tried; and who can assure us of the result? That cheerful and open countenance, where no bad feelings have as yet left a trace of their power, may be haggard with dissipation, or bloated with intempeThose animated, unbroken spirits, which now compel you to sympathise with their gladness, may be lost forever; and nothing may supply their place, but the extravagances of intoxication, and those wretched, occasional struggles to be joyous, which succeed only by making a conquest over shame and despair. Those passions, which you now regard with indifference, as merely the follies of a child, may strengthen into the vices of a man.
You may sport with them now, as with the young of some fierce animal; but if suffered to attain their full growth, they will discover their savageness and strength. That high spirit, and somewhat unmanageable temper, which might have been formed into manly resolution, may distinguish itself only by breaking through the rules of decency and morality. Those fine talents, whose first undisciplined efforts give you so much pleasure, may, in their maturity, be wasted to attain some low object of personal gratification, or employed as instruments of extensive mischief. That strong love of praise, which now renders the character so apparently docile, and seems to give you such power over it, may lead to meanness and disingenuity, and all the despicable calculations and artifices of a restless desire of distinction. The whole mind may be corrupted; and all the more generous feelings perish through its contamination.
The interest which we feel in the young should direct our attention to all those means, by which their virtue and happiness may be secured, and by which they may be saved, as far as possible, from the evils that are in the world. The worst sufferings to which they are exposed, are those which may be avoided; for they are those which we bring upon ourselves. The best preparation which we can give them, for meeting the trials, and performing the duties of life, is religious principle.