Page images

acted from the beginning, and on which you intend still to proceed. The government of your family, though so singularly established, was begun in such wisdom, and is to be conducted on principles of such fairness and sterling equity, that the very conscience, in its first efforts, you will now find coming in to your assistance; and, corrupt though human nature be, coming to your assistance in a state the most interest ing and precious to a Parent's heart

In early days the conscience has in most
A quickness, which in later life is lost :
Preserved from guilt by salutary fears,

Or guilty, soon relenting into tears. Punishments and rewards, which suppose law, as it supposes them, call for no passing consideration : more especially since, both in every human government and in the family, this has been considered by some, as nearly the most difficult department. I question, however, whether the great majority of mistakes here, at least in domestic life, may not be traced to one of only two sources : either our not understanding the principle on which both should be conducted, or our violating this principle, though admitted. To assist us in ascertaining this principle, it may be remarked, that there is nothing of which, in the first years of infancy, a child is more susceptible, than the parental smile or frown. If this fine adaptation of Parent to Child is trifled with by the Parent ; if it is regulated by no principle; or if it is disregarded, and its powerful influence is gradually wearing away, then the Parent is daily and deeply in fault. This influence once gone! by the righteous retribution of Heaven, the Child is now appointed to inflict punishment. To try his Parent's patience to exhaust his

6. To

[ocr errors]

wits-and in some cases to break his very spirit, or bring down his


hairs with sorrow to the grave ! At any one of these unhappy stages in the experience of an erring Parent, does the reader inquire, What remains to be done? I know of no other reply, than that he is to begin at the beginning, on the same principle with the lad, which he ought to have done with him when an infant. I have said only, on the same principle: but now the application of it requires much more wisdom and sagacity than before ; much more than the infant required, and, alas ! perhaps now much more than the Parent happens to possess ! Such, however, is the order and law of nature. every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose

under the heaven.” To return, however, to the infant, and to the prin. ciple on which both punishment and reward should proceed; if I so manage, that the severest punishment which can be felt in my family is the loss of my favour, and the richest reward which can be felt, is the enjoyment and expression of it, I shall not greatly err. To this, therefore, all my wisdom and painstaking, all my other arrangements should tend. Under this, the highest, there must still, however, be subordinate punishments and rewards : and if each of these come in, as the consequence of obedience and duty fulfilled, and the former are never felt, but in consequence of the violation of authority, here also I shall not greatly err. The excess of punishment or reward, and the unequal application of either, have been already illustrated under a former Section. To what is there stated I would now only add, that there are two instruments to be employed in all cases for maintaining authority: the one of constant, the other only of occasional application, and that the occasional use of the one depends materially on the constancy of the other. If the first is studied as it ought to be, and then applied with consistent constancy, a tenderness and dexterity in applying the second will be the consequence, which, without observing this order, no rules whatever can supply. The first instrument is the reins, the second is the rod or reward. The righteous man is said to regard the life even of his beast; but this very regard will prompt him to study the science of the reins supremely.

I recollect of hearing of two coaches which used to drive into Newmarket from London, by a certain hour, at a time of strong competition. The coach which generally came in first had, I think, four greys, and, upon their arrival, the people used to remark, that there was scarcely a wet hair on one of them. In the other, though last, the horses were jaded and even heated to excess, and had the appearance of having made great efforts. The reader, perhaps at once, understands the cause of this difference. The first man did it all, of course, by the reins : the second, unsteady in himself, or unskilful in the reins, had induced bad habits, and then employed the whip, but he could never cope with the other. So it will ever hold in all guidance, in all government. If obedience to the reins is found to be most pleasant in ito self, and even the road to enjoyment, then obedience will grow

into a habit, and become in fact the choice of the party.


up a child in the way in which he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Domestic Harmony. I am well aware, that some Parents frequently dwell upon the difficulty of maintaining either order or subordination in their household; but let them remember, at such a time, there is a reward awaiting them, if these are established, even in this life, and almost immediately: for it seems to be only in exact proportion as these are studied and maintained, that the whole household can enjoy the great and unspeakable felicity of domestic harmony and peace. In this little community, should any misunderstanding or jarring ever take place, let not the

eye of Parents pore over the evil itself only. They would do well to consider it but the effect of a cause, at least in many instances, and that cause one in which they themselves are almost as much involved as the parties at variance. Let them but consider the incident in this light, and it will often prove a me. mento to themselves, that there has been either some deficiency in point of order on their part, or some de ficiency in that subordination, which they have not sufficiently established among those who are dependent upon them.

For what though no two individuals under this roof are of the same age of the same talents

or even of precisely the same natural temper or disposi. tion? Collisions, of course, there may and must occur; but this disparity, in itself considered, even when it proves the occasion of such collisions, may, under the influence of order and subordination, be employed as a mighty assistant to habitual peace and harmony. The Family Constitution is one of Nature's works, and therefore, under the domestic roof, in proportion as order and subordination are maintained, the same analogy will be found to hold good, which we admire in the delightful field of nature,

66 Where order in variety we see,

And where, though all things differ, they agree.", It is obvious, that the daily incidents of the domestic circle are, comparatively, but of small account; and it is therefore the more to be regretted, that they should ever prove the seeds of such evil in future life, which, without doubt, they must, if not properly regarded, and brought under the guidance of wellregulated government; but, on the other hand, should they be so, instead of being matter of regret, they furnish the very means of preparing the inmates for acting their part in the free and full society of future existence. Indeed, in a well-regulated family, these same tiny events can be not only disposed of to advantage, but occasionally referred to by such Parents, with their Children around them, in language which may be of lasting benefit to every ear. From their lips such language as the following, will not only prove salutary, but pleasing to the recollection of every Child; and more especially when their parents are gone:

“ Since triftes make the sum of human things,
And half our misery from our foibles springs ;
Since life's best joys consist in peace and ease,
And though but few may serve, yet all may please :
O! let the ungentle spirit learn from hence,
A small unkindness may give great offence.
To spread large bounties though we wish in vain,
Yet all may shun the guilt of giving pain :
To bless mankind with tides of flowing wealth,
With rank to grace them, or to crown with health,
Our little lot denies; yet lib'ral still,
Heav'n gives its counterpoise to every ill;

« PreviousContinue »