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to the decoration of their own persons, but to the service of those to whom they are bound by every tender tie, would not only help to repress vanity, but by thus associating the idea of industry with that of filial affection, would promote, while it gratified, some of the best af. fections of the heart. The Romans (and it is mortifying on the subject of Christian education to be driven so of. ten to refer to the superiority of Pagans) were so well aware of the importance of keeping up a sense of family fondness and attachment by the very same means which promoted simple and domestic employment, that no citizen of note ever appeared in public in any garb but what was spun by his wife and daughter ; and this vir. tuous fashion was not confined to the days of republican „severity, but even in all the pomp and luxury of imperial power, Augustus preserved in his own family this simplicity of manners.
Let me be allowed to repeat, that I mean not with preposterous praise to descant on the ignorance or the prejudices of past times, nor absurdly to regret that vulgar system of education which rounded the little .circle of female acquirements within the limits of the sampler and the receipt book. Yet if a preference al. most exclusive was then given to what was merely useful, a preference almost exclusive also is now assigned to what is merely ornamemtal.
And it must be own. ed, that if the life of a young lady, formerly, too much resembled the life of a confectioner, it now too much resembles that of an actress; the morning is all rehearsal, and the evening is all performance: and those who are trained in this regular routine, who are instructed in order to be exhibited, soon learn to feel a sort of impa. ticnce in those societies in which their kind of talents are enot likely to be brought into play: the task of an audi. tor becomes dull to her who has been used to be a performer. Esteem and kindness become but cold substi. tutes to her who has been fed with plaudits and acclamations. And the excessive commendation which the visitor is expected to pay for his entertainment not only keeps alive the flame of vanity in the artist by constant fuel, but is not seldom exacted at a price which a verac. ity at all strict would grudge ; but when a whole circle are obliged to be competitors who shall flatter most, it is not easy to be at once very sincere and very civil. And unluckily, while the age is become so knowing and so fastidious, that if a young lady does not play like a public' performer, no one thinks her worth attending to; yet if she does so excel, some of the soberest of the ad. miring circle feel a strong alloy to their pleasure, on-reflecting at what a vast expense of time this perfection must probably have been acquired.*
May I venture, without being accused of pedantry, to conclude this chapter with another reference to Pagan examples ? The Hebrews, Egyptians, and Greeks, bekeved that they could more effectually teach their youth maxims of virtue, by calling in the aid of music and poetry; these maxims, therefore, they put into verses, and these again were set to the most popular and simple tunes, which ihe children sang ; thus was their love of goodness excited by the very instruments of their pleasure; and the senses, the taste, and the imagination, as it were, pressed into the service of religion and morals. Dare I appeal to Christian parents, if these arts are commonly used by them as subsidiary to religion and to a system of morals much more worthy of every ingenious aid and association, which might tend to recommend them to the youthful mind? Dare I appeal to Christian parents, whether music, which fills up no trifling portion of their daughter's time does not fill it without any moral end, or even specific object ? Nay, whether some of the fa. vourite songs of polished societies are not amatory, are not Anacreontic, more than quite become the modest lips of innocent youth and delicate beauty ?
That accurate judge of the human heart, Madam de Maintenon, was so well aware of the danger resulting from some kinds of excellence, that after the young ladies of the Court of Louis Quatorze had distinguished themselves by the performance of some dramatic pieces of Racine, when her friends told her how admirably they had played their parts; “Yes," answered this wise womap, "so admiras bly that they shall never play again."
On the religious employment of time.
On the manner in which holidays are passed.—Selfishness and inconsideration.- Dangers arising from the world.
THERE are many well-disposed parents who,
, while they attend to these fashionable acquirements, do not neglect to infuse religious knowledge into the minds of their daughters; and having done this are but too apt to conclude that they have fully acquitted them. selves of the important duties of education. For having, as they think, sufficiently grounded them in religion they do not scruple to allow their daughters to spend almost the whole of their time exactly like the daughters of worldly people. Now, though it be one great point gained, to have imbued their young minds with the best knowledge, the work is not therefore accomplished. " What do ye more than others ?” is a question which, in a more extended sense, religious parents must be prepared to answer.
Such parents should go on to teach children the religious use of time, the duty of consecrating to God every talent, every faculty, every possession, and of de. voting their whole lives to his glory.
They should be more peculiarly on their guard against a spirit of idleness, and a slovenly habitual wasting of time, because this practice, by not assuming a palpable shape of guilt, carries little alarm to the conscience. Even religious characters are in danger on this side; for not allowing themselves to follow the world in its excesses and diversions, they have consequently more time upon their hands; and instead of dedicating the time so rescu. ed to its true purposes, they sometimes make as it were compensation to themselves for their abstinence from dangerous places of public resort, by an habitual friv. olousness at home; by a superabundance of unprofit. able small-talk, idle reading, and a quiet and dull fritter. ing away of time. Their day perhaps has been more free from actual evil; but it will often be found to have been as unproductive as that of more worldly characters; and they will be found to have traded to as little purpose with their master's talents. But a Christian must take care to keep his conscience peculiarly alive to the unapparent, though formidable, perils of unprof. itableness.
To these, and to all, the author would earnestly recommend to accustom their children to pass at once from serious business to active and animated recreation; they should carefully preserve them from those long and tor. pid intervals between both, that languid indolence and spiritless trifling, which wears out such large portions of life in both young and old. It has indeed passed into an aphorism, that activity is necessary to virtue, even among those who are not apprized that it is also indis. pensable to happiness. So far are many parents from being sensible of this truth, that vacations from school are not merely allowed, but appointed to pass away in wearisome sauntering and indeterminate idleness ; and this by way of converting the holidays into pleasure ! Nay, the idleness is specifically made over to the child's mind, as the strongest expression of the fondness of the parent! A dislike to learning is thus systematically ex. cited by preposterously erecting indolence into a reward for application ! And the promise of doing nothing is held out as the best recompense for having done well!
These and such like errors of conduct arise from the latent but very operative principle of selfishness. This principle is obviously promoted by many habits and praca tices seemingly of little importance; and indeed selfishness is so commonly interwoven with vanity and incon. sideration, that I have not always thought it necessary to mark the distinction. They are alternately cause and effect; and are produced and re-produced by reciprocal operation. They are a confederacy who are mutually promoting each other's strength and interest. IH.judging tenderness is in fact only a concealed self love, which cannot bear to be witness to the uneasiness which a pres. ent disappointment, or difficulty, or vexation, would cause to a darling child, yet does not scruple by im. proper gratification to store up for it future miseries, which the child will infallibly suffer, though it may be at a distant period which the mother will be saved the pain of beholding.
Another principle something different from this, though it may properly fall under the head of selfish ness, seems to actuate some parents in their conduct towards their children : I mean, a certain slothfulness of mind, a love of ease, which imposes a voluntary blindness, and makes them not choose to see what will give them trouble to combat. From such persons we frequently hear such expressions as these :
6. Children will be children :"_" My children I suppose are much
like those of other people," &c. Thus we may ob. serve this dangerous and delusive principle frequently turning off with a smile from the first indications of those tempers, which from their fatal tendency ought to be very seriously taken up. I would be understood now as speaking to conscientious parents, who consider it as a duty to correct the faults of their children, but who, from this indolence of mind, are extremely back. ward in discovering such faults, and not very well pleased when they are pointed out by others.
Such parents will do well to take notice that whatever they consider it as a duty to correct, must be equally a duty to endeav. our to find out. And this love of ease is the more to be guarded against, as it not only leads parents into erro. neous conduct towards their children, but is peculiarly dangerous to themselves. It is a fault frequently cherished from ignorance of its real character; for, not bearing on it the strong features of deformity which mark many other vices, but on the contrary bearing some resemblance to virtue, it is frequently mistaken for the Christian graces of patience, meekness, and forbear