Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

reached this point of felt obligation to obedience, it will no longer break him down to enforce his compliance, but it will even exalt into greater dignity and capacity that subliine power of selfgovernment, by which his manhood is to be most distinguished.”

In illustration of these remarks of Dr. Bushnell, let us refer to the case of Sir Fowell Buxton, one of the heroes who fought for the abolition of the slave trade. His mother was a woman of masculine understanding, great power of mind, great vigour, and very fearless. Her system of education had in it some striking features. There was little indul gence, but much liberty. The boys were free to go where they would, and do what they pleased, and her oldest son especially was allowed to assume almost the position of master in the house. But on the other hand, her authority, when exercised, was paramount over him, as over his brothers and sisters. On being asked by the mother of a large and illmanaged family, whether the revolutionary principles of the day were not making way among her boys, her reply was, “I know nothing about revolutionary principles ; my rule is that imposed on the people of Boston, “implicit obedience, unconditional submission.'” Yet the character of her son, Fowell, was not without some strong touches of wilfulness. He has described himself in more than one of his papers, as having been in his boyhood of a “daring, violent, domineering temper.” When this was remarked to his mother, “ Never mind,” she would say; “ he is self-willed now; you will see it will turn out well in the end.”? She had the good sense not to try to crush his firmness, but get it placed under the control of high principle.

The observation is sometimes made, that the most religious parents have often the worst children. The inference to be drawn from this is more frequently hinted at than expressed ; it is often alluded to as a proof that religious earnestness above the average does more harm than good. As to the matter of fact, we believe it to be greatly exaggerated, as indeed most statements are which are designed to deepen prejudices against earnest religion. Still, a residuum of truth remains, and it is important to inquire how, even in exceptional cases, this is to be accounted for. It may be that there is some glaring defect or inconsistency in the character of the parent, which mars the influence of his lessons, and undermines his whole authority. Or it may be that he is over-exacting, and unwisely minute in demanding obedience where some liberty should be allowed, and that thus his child is discouraged. Or

1 Life of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton.

it may be that he is constantly complaining, never pizod, perpetuaily finding fault with something, and that he thus alienates the affection of his children. Or he may utterly fail to make religion winsome and genial in its aspect; he may present it only as a system of restraint and self-denial. Or he may too exclusively aim at cultivating the serious side of his children's nature, to the entire neglect of that which is mirthful and humorous. Human nature does possess this twofold side, and both have been given it by God. It is an utterly unwarranted view that ascribes the serious wholly to God, and the humorous wholly to the devil. The trials and difficulties of life often crush the more cheerful and humorous side, and in old people, the serious alone remains. And then these old people forget that the young are young, that the lively and humorous element is yet strong in them; they think they should be as grave as they are, and they denounce everything else as vanity and folly. The result is often an impatience and hatred of the parental yoke; the first opportunity is taken to escape from it; and the excess of seriousness which created the first prejudice against religion, remains the object of steady hatred.

Our last word on the subject of domestic management, is on the importance of unity on the part of the heads of the house. Nothing can be more miserable than when the mother's efforts are neutralized by the father's example, or when the faithful discipline of the father is counteracted by the indulgent softness of the mother. It should be the most earnest aim of both parents, not only to be of one mind as to the rules and methods to be adopted in the training of their family, but to avoid giving their children the slightest reason to suppose that they are not so. It does sometimes happen that a blessing crowns the extraordinary efforts and faith of one parent, even where the other is a drag and a hindrance. But, in general, it is as unlikely that a waggon will move smoothly along while its two horses are dragging opposite ways, as that a family will be well trained where the one parent is an absolute contrast to the other. Unity in the governing powers is an all but indispensable requisite for that unity in the household which is so highly extolled in the psalm :“ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to

dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, That ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard : That went down to the skirts of his garments ; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended

upon the mountains of Zion : For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for

evermore.”

CHAPTER IX.

READING AND RECP EATION.

“ Habits for occupying the idle hour, and interesting the vacant mind,-methods for disciplining the attention, and training the understanding,--the laws at least of taste,--the elements at least of science,-the keys at least of the precious treasury of knowledge human and divine,-these we may hope to furnish to mankind at large, and they may become more valuable gifts than if we could convert them all into Miltons or Napoleons."

EARL OF CARLISLE.

Among the wonderful progeny of the steam-engine, cheap books hold perhaps the highest place. It is steam that has cheapened books, as it has cheapened travelling, and clothing, and a thousand other products of skill and industry. When steam labour began to be substituted for hand labour, it seemed to many a working man like the ringing of his knell. The change was doubtless attended at first with much suffering and misery to individuals, and the same thing will happen as often as methods are discovered of doing more quickly and surely by machinery, what it has hitherto been the custom to do by the hand. But in the end, society as a whole, and the masses in particular, are always benefited

« AnteriorContinuar »