« AnteriorContinuar »
not whether I, a wife, should be willing to be as officious as I am at present about my parent." The happy father has her declaration that she will not marry during his life, and the pleasure of seeing that resolution not uneasy to her. Were one to paint filial affection in its utmoft beauty, he could not have a more lively idea of it than in beholding Fidelia serving her father at his hours of rising, meals, and reft.
Whilst the general crowd of female youth are consulting their glasses, preparing for balls, assemblies, or plays; for a young lady, who could be regarded among the foremost in those places, either for her person, wit, fortune, or conversation, yet to contemn all these entertainments, to sweeten the heavy hours of a decrepid parent, is a resignation truly heroic. Fidelia performs the duty of a nurse with all the beauty of a bride; nor does she neglect her person, because of her attendance on him, when he is too ill to receive company, to whom she may make an appearance.
What adds to the entertainment of the good old man, is, that Fidelia, where merit and fortune cannot be overlooked by epistolary lovers, reads over the accounts of her conquests, plays on her fpinet the gayeft airs, (and while she is doing so, you would think her formed only for gallantry) to intimate to him the pleasures she despises for his fake.
Those who think themselves the pattern of good breeding and gallantry, would be astonished to hear that, in those intervals when the old gentleman is at ease and can bear company, there are at his house, in the most regular order, assemblies of people of the highest merit, where there is conversation without mention of the faults of the absent, benevolence between men and women without passion, and the highest subjects of morality treated of as natural and accidenta discourse; all which is owing to the genius of Fidelia, who at once makes her father's way to another world easy, and herself capable of being an honour to hi name in this.
Family Disagreements the frequent Cause of
FTER all our complaints of the uncertainty of
human affairs, it is undoubtedly true, that more misery is produced among us by the irregularities of our tempers, than by real misfortunes.
And it is a circumstance particularly unhappy, that these irregularities of the temper are very apt to difplay themselves at our fire-lides, where every thing ought to be tranquil and ferenc. But the truth is, we are awed by the presence of strangers, and are afraid of appearing weak or ill-natured when we act in the fight of the world; and so, very heroically, referve all our ill-humour for our wives, children, and servants. We are meek where we might meet with opposition, but feel ourselves undauntedly bold where we are sure of no effectual refiftance.
The perversion of the best things converts them to the worst. Home is certainly well adapted to repose and solid enjoyment. Among parents and brothers, and all the tender ties of private life, the gentler affections, which are always attended with feelings purely and permanently pleasurable, find an ample scope for proper exertion. The experienced have often declared, after wearying themselves in purfuing phantoms, that they have found a substantial happiness in the domestic circle. Hither they have returned from their wild excursions in the regions of dissipation; as the bird, after fluttering in the air, descends into her neft, to partake and to increase its genial warmth with her young ones.
Such and so sweet are the comforts of home, when it is not perverted by the folly and weakness of man. Indifference, and a carelefsness on the subject of pleasing thofe whom it is our best interest to pleafe, often render it a fcene of dulness and infipidity. Happy if the evil extended no farther. But the transition from the
negative state of not being pleased, to positive ill-humour, is but too easy. Fretfulness and peevishness arise, as nettles vegetate, fpontaneously, where no falutary plants are cultivated. One unkind expression infallibly generates many others. Trifles light as air are able to kindle the blaze of contention. By frequent conflicts and unreserved familiarity, all that mutual respect which is necessary to preserve love, even in the most intimate connections, is entirely lost, and the faint affection which remains is too feeble to be felt amidst the furious operation of the hateful passions. Farewell peace and tranquillity, and cheerful converse, and all the boasted comforts of the family circle !
But it is not necessary to expatiate on the misery of family diffenfion. I mean more particularly to suggest, that family diffenfion, besides all its own immediate evils, is the fruitful parent of immoral conduct.
When the several parts which compose a family find themselves uneasy in that home which is naturally the seat of mutual enjoyment, they are tempted from the straight road of common prudence, to pursue their happiness through a devious wild of passion and imagination. The son, arrived at years of maturity, who is treated harshly at home, will seldom spend his evene ings at the domestic fire-fide. If he live in the mea tropolis, he will fly for refuge to the places of public diversion. There, it is very probable, fome unhappy connection will be formed, which cannot be continued without a plentiful supply of money. Perhaps money. cannot be procured honestly but from the parent; but money must at all events be procured. What then remains, but to pursue those methods which unprincipled ingenuity has invented, and which, sooner or later, lead to their condign punishments, pain, shame, and death!
But though the consequences are not always such as the operation of human laws produces, yet they are always terrible, and destructive of happiness and virtue. Misery is indeed the necessary result of all deviation from rectitude; but early debauchery, early disease,
early profligacy of all kinds, are: peculiarly fruitful of wretchedness; as they low the feeds of miféry, it the spring of life, when all that is sown strikes deep root, and buds and blossoms, and brings forth fruit in profuse abundance.
In the disagreements between children and parents, it is certain that the children are ufually most culpable. Their violent pafsions and defective experience render thém disobedient and undutiful. Their love of pleafure operates fo violently, as often to destroy the force of filial affection. A parent is ftung to the heart by the ingratitude of a child. He checks his precipitancy, and perhaps with too little command of temper; for who can always hold the reins Afperity produces afperity. But the child was the aggreffor, and therefore deferves a great part of the mifery which en fees. It is however .certain, that the parent is often: imprudent, as well as the child undutiful... He should endeavour to render home agreeable by gentlenefs and reasonable indulgence: For man at every age seeks to be pleafed, but more particularly at the juvenile age. He fhould indeed maintain his authority ; but it fhould be like the mild dominion of a limited monarch, and not the iton pule of an austere tyrant. If home be renderedi pleasing, it will not long be deserted. The prodigal will foon return, when his father's houfe is always ready to receive him with joy.
What is said of the consequences of domestic difunion to fons, is equally to be applied to daughters. Indeed, as the mifconduct of daughttis is more fatal to family peace, though perhaps not more: heinous in a moral view, particular care should be taken to render them attached to the comforts of the family circle. When their home is disagreeable, they will be ready to make any exchange ; and will often lose their characters, virtue, and happiness, in the pursuit of it.. En deed the female character and happiness are fo easily injured, that no solicitude can be too great in their prefervation. But prudence is necessary in every good
cause, as well as seal; and it is found by experience, that the gentlest method of government, if it be limited and directed by good fenfe, is the best. Itrought indeed to be feady, but not rigidiand every pleasure which is innocent in itfelf and in its confequences, ought to be admitted, with a view to render dess disagreeable that unwinking vigilance which a delicate and fenfible father will judge necessary in the care lof a daughter.
To what wickedness, as well as wretchedness, matrimonial disagreements lead, every day's history will clearly inform us ! When the husband is driven from bis home by a termagant, he will feok enjoyment, which is denied him at his own hone, in the haunts of vice, and in the riots of intemperance: Nor can female corruption be wondered at, though it must be greatly pitied and regretted, when in the heart of a husband, which love and friendlhip fhauld warm, hatred is found to fankle. Conjugalrinfelicity not only renders life most uncomfortable, but deads to that desperate diffoluteness and carelessnefs in manners, which terminate in the tuin of health, peace, and fortune. If we may form 2 judgment from the divorces and feparations which happen in the gay world, we may conclude, that the present manners are highly unfavourable to conjugal felicity. And we fee, confiftently with my theory, that the consequence of these domestic difagreements is the prevalence of vice in a very predominant degree, as well as of misery.
But it avails little to point out evils withcut recommending a remedy. One of the first rules which suggests itself is, that families should endeavour, by often and seriously reflecting on the subject, to convince themselves, that not only the enjoyment, but the virtue, of every individual, greatly depends on a sordial union. When they are convinced of this, they will endeavour to promote it, and it fortunately happens, that the very wish and attempt of every individual, must infallibly secure succefs. It may indeed be difficult to reftrain the occasional fallies of temper; but where there