« AnteriorContinuar »
which are unfortunately conceived to be less necessary when love is once obtained. The carelessnesses of a husband are not less severely felt, however, because they are the neglects of one whose attentions are more valuable, as he who offers them is more valued : and frequent inattentions, by producing frequent displeasure, may at last, though they do not destroy love wholly, destroy the best happiness of love. No advice can be more salutary for happiness, than that which recommends an equal attention to please, and an anxiety not to offend, after twenty years of wedlock, as when it was the object of the lover to awake the passion on which he conceived every enjoyment of his life to depend. We gain at least as much in preserving a heart, as in conquering one.
The cessation of these cares would be, of itself, no slight evil, even though love had originally been less profuse of them, than it usually is, in the extravagance of an unreflecting passion. She who has been worshipped as a goddess, must feel doubly the insult of the neglect, which afterwards disdains to bestow on her the common honour that is paid to woman; and with the ordinary passions of a human being, it will be difficult for her to retain, I will not say love-for that is abandoned—but the decorous and dignified semblance of love, for him who has cared little for the reality of it. It is not easy to say by how insensible a transition, in many cases, this conjugal resentment, or forced indifference, passes into conjugal infidelity; though it is easy, in such a case, to determine to whom the greater portion of the guilt is to be ascribed.
If, however, it be necessary for man to be careful to whom he engages himself by a vow so solemn, it is surely not less necessary for the gentler tenderness of woman. She, too, has duties to fulfil, that depend on love, or at least that can be sweetened only by love; and when she engages to perform them where love is not felt, she is little aware of the precariousness of such a pledge, and of the perils to which she is exposing herself. It is truly painful, then, to see, in the intercourse of the world, how seldom affection is considered as a necessary matrimonial preliminary.— It is painful to see one, who has in other respects, perhaps, many moral excellencies, consent, as an accomplice in this fraud, to forego the moral delicacy which condemns the apparent sale of affection, that is not to be sold, rejoice in the splendid sacrifice which is thus made of her peace, --consign her person to one whom she despises, with the same
indifference as she consigns her hand,-a prostitute for gold, not less truly because the prostitution is to be for life, and not less criminally a prostitute, because to the guilt and meanness of the pecuniary barter are added the guilt of a mockery of tenderness, that wishes to deceive man, and the still greater guilt of a perjury that, in vows which the heart belies, would wish to deceive God, on whom it calls to sanction the deceit.
“ There is a place on the earth,” it has been said, “ where pure joys are unknown—from which politeness is banished, and has given place to selfishness, contradiction, and half-veiled insults. Remorse and inquietude, like furies, that are never weary
of assailing, torment the inhabitants. This place is the house of a wedded pair, who have no mutual love, nor even esteem.—There is a place on the earth, to which vice has no entrance, where the gloomy passions have no empire, -where pleasure and innocence dwell constantly together,—where cares and labours are delightful --where every pain is forgotten in reciprocal tenderness, where there is an equal enjoyment of the past, the present, and the future. It is the house, too, of a wedded pair—but of a pair who, in wedlock, are lovers still !"
DUTIES OF A BENEFACTOR-GRATITUDE.
DR. THOMAS BROWN. When a benefactor forgets his duties, and makes a cruel use of the favours which he may have conferred, there is no tyrant whose cruelty is more oppressive ; because it is the tyranny of one whom we cannot oppose like other tyrants. They may, indeed, shackle our arms; but the iron clasp of this moral oppressor is placed where it is most powerfully felt, upon the heart itself, that may feel the worthlessness, but that is deprived of all power of rising against it. There are beings of this kind, who use the means of beneficence only for purposes the most malevolent, — whose very gifts are snares,—who oblige, that they may afterwards be malicious with impunity,—exacting, ever after, from their unfortunate victims, assiduities and services which it is unreasonable to pay,—and rejoicing, if he fail in them, that they may have the still greater pleasure of proclaiming his ingratitude.
“ Ingratitude indeed,” as Rousseau justly observes, “would be far rarer than it is, if the benefactor were less frequently a
usurer. What has done us good, is dear to us, by the very sentiment of our nature. Ingratitude is not in the heart of man ; but interest is there ; and the obliged who are ungrateful, are far fewer in number than the obligers, who are interested, and who have sold what they have only feigned to give."
“ When is it,” he continues, “ that we see any one who is forgotten by his benefactor, forget him? A benefactor who can thus forget, the obliged never fails to remember,—he speaks of him with pleasure, as he thinks of him with tenderness. If an opportunity occur, on which he can show, - by any unexpected service, that he remembers the service which was before conferred on himself,—with what internal delight does he then satisfy his gratitude,—with what expression of joy does he make himself recognised,—with what transport does he say, My turn is come! Such is the genuine voice of nature. A kindness, that was truly a kindness, never yet found a bosom that was ungrateful.”
The expression, if it were meant to be understood strictly, would certainly be a little too strong ; since there may be ingratitude even to the most generous, as there may be any
other atrocious offence. But it is only in the bosoms of the most atrocious, that such ingratitude can arise ; and, of this, at least,
that the best preservative against a failure of duty on the part of the obliged, is for the obliger himself to fulfil all the duties of a benefactor. *
THE ELDER'S DEATH-BED.
John Wilson, sq.t For six years' Sabbaths I had seen the Elder in his accustomed place beneath the pulpit—and, with a sort of solemn fear, had looked on his steadfast countenance, during sermon, psalm, and prayer. On returning to the scenes of my infancy, I met
* The poetry of Dr. Brown, though correct and refined, is for the most part feeble and unimpassioned; but his Prose compositions, as the four preceding selections may testify, are often both energetic and eloquent.
+ The distinguished occupant of the chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh was born in Paisley, in the year 1788. He entered the College of Glasgow during his 13th year; was thence transl'erred to Magdalen College, Oxford; and about 1820, succeeded the late Dr. Thomas Brown. This truly great man-beloved and respected by all who know him - earned his first laurels as a poet ;_his connexion with Blackwood's Magazine as Christopher North,” is well known; and Mr.
the Pastor going to pray by his death-bed—and with the privilege which nature gives us to behold, even in their last extremity, the loving and beloved, I turned to accompany him to the house of sorrow, of resignation, and of death.
And now, for the first time, I observed, walking close to the feet of his horse, a little boy about ten years of age, who kept frequently looking up in the Pastor's face, with his blue eyes bathed in tears. A changeful expression of grief, hope, and despair, made almost pale cheeks which otherwise were blooming in health and beauty,--and I recognised, in the small features and smooth forehead of childhood, a resemblance to the aged man who, we understood, was now lying on his deathbed. They had to send his grandson for me through the snow, mere child as he is,” said the Minister, looking tenderly on the boy; “but love makes the young heart bold—and there is One who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.”
As we slowly approached the cottage, through a deep snowdrift, which the distress within had prevented the inmates from removing, we saw, peeping out from the door, brothers and sisters of our little guide, who quickly disappeared, and then their mother showed herself in their stead, expressing, by her
and arms folded across her breast, how thankful she was to see, at last, the Pastor, beloved in joy, and trusted in trouble.
A few words sufficed to say who was the stranger-and the dying man, blessing me by name, held out to me his cold shrivelled hand in token of recognition. I took my seat at a small distance from the bed side, and left a closer station for those who were more dear. The Pastor sat down near the Elder's head—and by the bed, leaning on it with gentle hands, stood that matron, his daughter-in-law : a figure that would have sainted a higher dwelling, and whose native beauty was now more touching in its grief. But religion upheld her whom nature was bowing down; not now for the first time were the lessons taught by her father to be put into practice, for I saw that she was clothed in deep mourning—and she behaved like the daughter of a man whose life had not only been irreproachable, but lofty, with fear and hope fighting desperately, but silently, in the core of her pure and pious heart. Hallam, in reference to the splendid effusions of the noble Professor in that popular miscellany, has justly characterised him as “a living writer of the most ardent and enthusiastic genius, whose eloquence is as the rush of mighty waters."
“ If the storm do not abate," said the sick man, after a pause, “it will be hard for my friends to carry me over the drifts to the kirk-yard.” This sudden approach to the grave, struck, as with a bar of ice, the heart of the loving boy-and, with a long deep sigh, he fell down, with his face like ashes, on the bed, while the old man's palsied right hand had just strength to lay itself upon his head.
“ God has been gracious to me a sinner,” said the dying man. “During thirty years that I have been an elder in your kirk, never have I missed sitting there one Sabbath. When the mother of my children was taken from me—it was on a Tuesday she died—and on a Saturday she was buried. We stood together when my Alice was let down into the narrow house made for all living. On the Sabbath I joined in the public worship of God—she commanded me to do so the night before she went away. I could not join in the psalm that Sabbath, for her voice was not in the throng.—Her grave was covered up, and grass and flowers
grew there.” The old man ceased speaking_and his grand-child, now able to endure the scene,—for strong passion is its own support, -glided softly to a little table, and bringing a cup in which a cordial had been mixed, held it in his small soft hands to his grandfather's lips. He drank, and then said, “ Come closer to me, Jamie, and kiss me for thine own and thy father's sake;" and as the child fondly pressed his rosy lips on those of his grandfather, so white and withered, the tears fell over all the old man's face, and then trickled down on the golden head of the child sobbing in his bosom.
“ Jamie, thy own father has forgotten thee in thy infancy, and me in my old age; but, Jamie, forget not thou thy father, nor thy mother; for that, thou knowest and feelest, is the commandment of God.”
The broken-hearted boy could give no reply. He had gradually stolen closer and closer unto the loving old man, and now was lying, worn out with sorrow, drenched and dissolved in tears, in his grandfather's bosom. His mother had sunk down on her knees, and hid her face with her hand. husband knew but of this he would never, never desert his dying father ?” And I now knew that the Elder was praying on his death-bed for a disobedient and wicked son.
At this affecting time the Minister took the Family-Bible on his kness, and said, “ Let us sing to the praise and glory of
« Oh! if my