Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Father, we might look at them, and use and enjoy them, in love and peace. Yet as soon as we see the beautiful things our Father has laid before us, to please us and make us happy in his love, and in each other's love, we begin to fight for them, as Ruth and Amy did for that pretty violet.

One says.: " This land is mine– I found it first." Another says: “No, it is mine I found it first.”

“This gold and silver are mine," says one; “let none dare touch them without my leave.” “They are mine," angrily responds another; I will ‘kill, slay, and destroy'all who touch them without consulting

[ocr errors]

One gets possession of the treasure first. The other comes up, and tries to snatch it away. The first struggles to keep it—the other to take it. One strikes the other. The other strikes in return. Both get enraged. Blows follow. Love gets out-wrath comes in. Blood flows, limbs are broken, and bodies torn to pieces. Thus these brothers and sisters—children of the same family-fight about the sweet and pleasant things their kind and loving Father has given them! Can it be? It would be far better for them to say in such a case: “If you think this land, grove, spring, river, ocean, mountain, or valley is yours, take it and keep it; only love me, and give me a brother's love. I would rather have the affection of one kind and loving heart, than all the gold and silver of the earth.”

The monkeys in Exeter 'Change menagerie were placed in a row of cages, with only thin partitions between each other. Before each cage was a pan for the monkey's food, and these pans were supplied several times a day. Now, the behaviour of the monkeys at their meals was one of the amusing sights of the place. It was this : no sooner had the food been placed in the pans, than these foolish creatures began to eat, not out of their own pans, but out of those of their neighbours. Each stretched his paw obliquely along to his neighbour's pan, in order, if possible, to filch a little from him, expecting to have his own pan to empty at leisure besides. But as every monkey did the same, it happened that, while one was attempting to steal from his neighbour, his neighbour on the other side was taking the opportunity, while his attention was thus engaged, to steal from him. So no one was the better for it. The result was quite the reverse; for whenever any one found his pan invaded by a neighbour, he tried to get a bite at him, or to filch from his pan in return; and thus splutterings and fights took place, in the course of which a great quantity of the food was cast out, and lost upon the ground. In short, the simple effect of the plan of mutual aggression was to make the whole of the monkeys have uncomfortable instead of comfortable meals, and much less to eat than they otherwise would have had. Had each been content with his own pan, the general happiness would have been greatly increased.

Now, monkeys are only poor dumb animals, from whom hardly any better is to be expected. But human beings have superior principles to act upon if they choose, and reason to enable them to see how much better it is for them to do good instead of evil to their neighbours. Yet is it not true that, in many families, we see the various children looking jealously at any distribution of food or good things amongst them, to see that their neighbours do not get an over proportion, and setting up a great clamour if they think they have got a particle less than their neighbours ? Do not children, indeed, often fight about shares on such occasions, and thus make themselves as unhappy as the monkeys? The author of A Kiss for a Blow tells us of a father who complained to him of the quarrelsome dispositions of his children. It turned out that this gentleman was particularly careful in training his children always to stand up for their rights, and never to submit to insults or injuries without shewing a proper resentment. He thought he was teaching them a proper spirit, when he was in reality training them to fight about every trifling difference that might happen amongst them. In another family which Mr Wright visited, there took place at supper exactly such a scene as often occurs in families where the feelings of the children have never been rightly regulated. The mother had helped her young people to pieces of custard-pie. Each looked keenly at the others' pieces, to see if none were better off than another. Charles, who had got the largest, boasted of it, which was an additional provocation to James and Jane. James, after in vain requesting a larger piece from his mother, tried to snatch Charles's piece. Being prevented, he struggled and kicked, struck at his brother and sister, and finally tumbled the pie over upon the floor. When the uproar had subsided, and peace been restored, Mr Wright told the family the following anecdote, which, notwithstanding the largeness of former quotations, we are tempted to give in his own words :

'Last evening I supped with Lydia's father and mother. Before supper, Lydia, her parents, and myself, were sitting in the room together, and her little brother Oliver was out in the yard drawing his cart about. Their mother went out and brought in some peaches, a few of which were large red-cheeked rare-ripes, the rest small ordinary peaches. The father handed me one of the rareripes, gave one to the mother, and then one of the best to his little daughter, who was eight years old. He then took one of the smaller ones and gave it to Lydia, and told her to give it to her brother, who was about four years old. Lydia went out, and returned in about ten minutes. “Did you give your brother the peach I sent him?" asked her father.

Lydia blushed, turned away, and did not answer. “ Did you give your brother the peach I sent him ?” asked her “ No, father," said she, “ I did not give him that." “ What did you do with it?” he asked. “I ate it," said Lydia. “What ! did you not give your brother any?" asked her father. “ Yes, I did, father," said she; “I gave him mine."

“Why did you not give him the one I told you to give ?” asked her father rather sternly.

“Because, father,” said Lydia, “I thought he would like mine better.”

“ But you ought not to disobey your father," said he.

“I did not mean to be disobedient, father," said she; and her bosom began to heave and her lips to quiver.

“ But you were, my daughter," said he.

“I thought you would not be displeased with me, father,” said Lydia, “ if I gave my brother the larger peach ;" and the tears began to roll down her cheeks.

“ But I wanted you to have the larger," said her father ; "you are older and bigger than he is.”

“ I want you to give the best things to my brother !" said the noble girl.

“Why?" asked her father, scarcely able to contain himself.

“Because," answered this generous sister, “ I love him so dearlyI always feel happier when he gets the best things."

“You are right, my precious daughter," said her father, as he fondly and proudly folded her in his arms—" you are right, and you may be certain your father can never be displeased with you for wishing to give up the best of everything to your brother. He is a dear little boy, and I am glad you love him so. Do you think he loves you as well as you love him?"

“Yes, father," said the girl, “ I think he does; for when I offered him the larger peach, he would not take it, and wanted me to keep it; and it was a good while before I could get him to take it.")

When Mr Wright had concluded this story, he asked his young friends if they knew Lydia and Oliver. They answered they did. • Did you ever see them quarrel?' 'No.' Why do they not quarrel ?' Charles and James hung down their heads; but Jane said: "They don't quarrel because they give the best things to each other.' Jane spoke the truth. There would be no quarrelling of this kind if we were as happy to see our neighbour well served as ourselves. And were this the general spirit, no one would need to have any fear of being partially dealt with, for then he might be confident that his interests were as safe with others as with himself. It is the spirit diffused by such means that is important. When any member of a family says a kind thing to the rest, or acts with a greater regard to their interests than his own, he throws them all upon the exercise of their best feelings. He produces, as it were, an atmosphere of kind and just feeling, which disposes all to promote each other's comfort. On the contrary, a single ungracious word, one jealous look, will make all uneasy. The genial feelings wither and shrink up, and the selfish ones begin to rush forth. How blessed is he who can bring moral sunshine into a house by his good words and deeds; or who, when the inferior feelings have spoken or acted in others, can keep away the gathering darkness by trying to overcome evil with good!

LOVE IS POWER—WITH THE LOWER ANIMALS. In past time, man's unkindness to man has not been more conspicuous than his unkindness to the lower animals. In most parts of the earth these have constantly been sufferers from his rude impulses and recklessness; and the consequence is, that most animals have acquired, from the effect of habit transmitted through generations, a fear and hatred of man; which we ought to be humiliated in contemplating, and which is, in itself, a negative, if not positive evil, since there is a great pleasure to be derived from the kindly companionship of animals; and of all this we are deprived, except when we take pains with some special creature. It is by many thought probable that, from the dragooning system which we pursue towards animals, we have never yet realised one-half of the benefits which the domestic races are calculated to confer upon us. Take the horse alone for an example, and hear what a contemporary writer * has said about him. 'In Europe, the sagacious powers of this noble animal are most imperfectly developed. In fact, notwithstanding his outward beauty and his pampered form, he exists here in a state of utter degradation ; for he is generally under the power and in the company of beings of the very lowest grade-ignorant, brutal, capricious, and cruel-coachmen, cabmen, grooms, carmen, horse-jockeys, post-boys, butchers, and black-legs; many of them without sense, temper, or feeling-fellows, in the scale of creation, infinitely below the generous creatures they torment. Some are well fed, it is true, and duly exercised—and happy their fate : the rest are abused with a cruelty that has become proverbial. Now, what knowledge can a horse acquire under such treatment ?-how is he to display, to exercise, to increase the powers bestowed on him by nature ?– from whom is he to learn ? Being gregarious by nature, he is here secluded from his own species; he is separated, except for a short time, from his master, who attends only to his animal propensities : when not employed about a heavy, cumbersome machine -“ dragging his dull companion to and fro”-he is shut up in the walls of a stable. But this beautiful creature, we repeat, is existing all this time in a degraded state ; or, as the newspapers call it, in a

false position. Who does not know how soon the horse will meet every advance of kindness and attention you make to him-how

* Review of Jesse's Gleanings of Natural History; Gentleman's Magazine, November 1835

grateful he will be-how studious of your will-how anxious to understand you—how happy to please and satisfy you! We have possessed two horses at different times, which, with only the treatment that they would experience from a master fond of the animals under his protection, would follow us with the attention of dogs; sometimes stopping to graze on the banks of the road till we had advanced many hundred yards, and then, of their own accord, and apparently with delight, canter forward and rejoin us. In fact, they were gentle, intelligent, and pleasing companions; and this was produced rather by total abstinence from harsh treatment, than from any positive solicitation or great attention on our parts.' The writer proceeds to remark the great gentleness, sagacity, and serviceableness which mark the horse in the East, particularly in Arabia, and which qualities seem to depend entirely on the better treatment which the horse there receives. The Arab makes his horse a domestic companion. He sleeps in the same tent with the family. Children repose upon his neck, and hug and kiss him without the least danger. He steps amongst their sleeping forms by night, without ever injuring them. When his master mounts him, he manifests the greatest pleasure ; and if he by any chance falls off, he instantly stands still till he is again mounted. He has even been known to pick up his wounded master and carry him in his teeth to a place of safety. Unquestionably these beautiful traits of character have been developed in the animal by a proper course of treatment. The same law holds good here as amongst men. Treat these in a rational, humane, and confiding manner, and you bring forth their best natural qualities; but, on the contrary, visit them with oppression and cruelty, and you either harden and stupefy them, or rouse them to the manifestation of wrathful feelings, which may prove extremely uncomfortable to yourself. It is probable, then, that, from the way in which we use most animals, we never have experienced nearly so much advantage from their subserviency as we might have done.

LOVE IS POWER-BETWEEN NATION AND NATION. Under this head we propose to say a few words on war.

War may be defined as a people's expedient for accomplishing a purpose by violence. It is expressly so; and all the ingenuity in the world would fail to make it out as anything else. What a strange idea! A man who would seek to assert a right, or even to defend himself from wrong, by violence-that is, by taking arms, and wounding or killing those opposed to him—would be regarded as an intolerable barbarian. The laws of his country would hold him as guilty of a capital offence, and he would suffer the severest penalty they were empowered to inflict. But when a collection of men, forming what is called a nation, have a right to be asserted, or

« ForrigeFortsæt »