Imágenes de página


most ease.

total want of such feelings. Envy is the reverse of sympathy. It causes us to feel sorrow at the joys, and joy at the sorrows, of others. As sympathy is not only due to all, but tends greatly to the happiness of its possessor, it should be carefully cultivated in youth. Selfishness and envy, in like manner, should be repressed, as not only injurious to others, but as a source of misery to all who cherish them.

50. Politeness.-Etiquette. Impoliteness.--Politeness does not consist, as some appear to suppose, in forms of speech, or gesticulations of body. It resides in the mind ; and, in fact, is nothing less than the carrying out, extensively, the great Christian precept, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to

The Quakers, as a body, possess the essence of politeness, without its forms.

When you enter a house, you are received with attention, but with the ut

Should you stay to eat, you partake of the family meal; there is no unusual delay, no fuss, or running about, to show you what trouble you cause them. You at once find yourself easy, and at home. -Gracefulness of behavior consists in an easy and natural motion and gesture, and looks denoting kindness and good will to those with whom we converse. If a child's heart and temper are formed to civility, its outward expression will come in due time. Did parents consider these obvious things, they would bestow their chief attention on the inind, and not make themselves, their children, and their visiters, perpetually uneasy about what they consider the graces.

True grace has been defined, the art of being easy in company, and of making all others easy about us. It consists in indiscriminate attention, in accommodating our conversation to the particular tastes, habits, and inclinations, of those we are in company with; in never even glancing on our own affairs, but always paying the most minute regard to those of others, How disgustingly selfish and impolite is the conduct of those who talk continually of their own affairs ! Etiquette is something very different from politeness. Every, clime and country has its different modes and fantastic ceremo

nies, to compensate for the absence of the proper spirit of intercourse. Politeness is the same over all the world. It resides in the generous bosom of every color and name. How ridiculous, then, is their folly, who, regarding only the external expression, labor to recommend themselves by tricks and forms, which require little more than the imitative faculties of a well-bred monkey to practise ! Politeness should not be confined to our intercourse with strangers. It should be extended to every member of the household. For the more intimate our connexion with any one, the more necessary it is to guard ourselves against taking unwarrantable liberties. For the very reason that we are so much together, we should take care to do nothing disagreeable to each other.

51. Affability.-— Reserve.-Affability is politeness, exercised towards those who are young, or in an inferior station. It is necessary, to complete the character of a truly polite man.

52. Kindness in conversation.- Petulance. -- There is no way,” says the Rev. Horace Hooker, « in which men can do good to others, with so little expense and trouble, as by kindness in conversation. Words,' it is sometimes said, 'cost nothing.' But kind words are often more highly valued than the most costly gifts; and they are always regarded as among the best tokens of a desire to make others happy. We should think that kind words would be very common, they are so cheap ; but there are many, who have a large assortment of all other language, except that of kindness. They have bitter words, and witty words, and learned words, in abundance ; but their stock of kind words is small. The chụrl himself, one might suppose, would not grudge a little kindness in his language, however closely he clings to his money ; but there are persons, who draw on their kindness with more reluctance than on their purses.

“ Some use grating words, because they are of a morose disposition. Their language, as well as their manners, shows an unfeeling heart. Others use rough words, out of an affectation of frankness. They may be severe in their remarks ; but then they claim that they are open

are warm.

and independent, and will not be trammelled. They are no flatterers, they say ; and this they think excuse enough, for all the cutting speech which they employ. Others wish to be thought witty; and they will, with equal indifference, wound the feelings of friend or foe, to show their smartness. Some are envious, and cannot bear to speak kindly of others, or to them, because they do not wish to add to their happiness. And some are so illbred, that they seem to take delight in using unkind words, when their intentions are good, and their feelings

Their words are rougher than their hearts ; they will make sacrifices of ease and property, to promote your comfort, while they will not deign to employ the terms of courtesy and kindness. Of these, the Scots have an expressive proverb, that their bark is worse than their bite. Many a man would be loved for his liberal deeds, if his tongue, by its harshness, did not repel affection. And he often wonders why his friends seem to care so little for him, when they are very grateful to others, from whom they receive not half so many favors. Some are caustic and severe in their language, for the sake of showing their superior acuteness and discrimination. They would rend in pieces a cloth of gold, to detect a defective thread, which had escaped the less keen observation of others. They are always on the watch, to spy out some fault in character, or in composition, which others overlook ; that they may appear to have uncommon discernment, and rare skill in criticism.

“If the happiness of others is not motive enough for kind words, we may find a motive in their influence on ourselves. The habit of using them will, at length, conform our feelings to our language. We shall become kind, not only in our speech, but in our manners, and in our hearts. On the other hand, to make use of carping, harsh, and bitter, words, seldom fails to sour the disposition, and to injure the temper.”

56. Respect to age and station.Want of ditto.-One would think, that the very circumstance of our all wishing or expecting to live to old age, would induce a general respect for persons in that period of life, independent of

the injunctions of religion. Yet how different is the fact ! The word old has almost become a term of opprobrium. Steele relates, that, at Athens, during a public representation of some play exhibited in honor of the Commonwealth, an old gentleman came too late for a place suitable to his age and quality. Many of the young Athenians, who observed the difficulty and confusion he was in, made signs to him that they would accommodate him, if he came where they sat. The good man bustled through the crowd accordingly; but, when he came to the seats to which he was invited, the jest was to sit close, and expose him, as he stood, out of countenance, to the whole audience. The frolic went round the Athenian benches. But, on these occasions, there were also particular places assigned for foreigners. When the good man skulked towards the boxes appropriated to the Lacedemonians, that honest people rose all up, to a man, and, with the greatest respect, received him among them. The Athenians, being suddenly touched with a sense of the Spartan virtue, and their own degeneracy, gave a thunder of applause; and the old man cried out, « The Athenians understand what is good, but the Lacedemonians practise it."

57. Punctuality.Want of ditto.—Want of punctuality is a serious evil. It not only causes a vast deal of time to be uselessly squandered, but it is the means of disturbing the devotions of the pious, in all our places of worship. The common saying, “ It is always one till it is two, leads to a general hanging back, at every kind of public meeting, until it becomes impossible to say, when business will be attended to. The more intelligent part of the community ought to endeavor to break up the lounging habit, produced by this spirit of procrastination. Let them determine, that one shall mean one, and two, two ; and that, when a meeting is called at a particular hour, the business shall be commenced when that hour arrives, and the evil will soon be at an end. A short time since, in a village in the neighborhood of London, a committee of eight ladies, who managed the concerns of an institution, which had been formed for the relief of the neighbor

[ocr errors]

ing poor, agreed to meet on a certain day, at twelve o'clock, precisely. Seven of them attended punctually, at the appointed hour; the eighth did not arrive till a quarter of an hour after. She came in, according to the usual mode, with “ I'm very sorry to be behind in the time appointed, but really the time slipped away without my being sensible of it. I hope your goodness will excuse it."

One of the ladies, who was a quaker, replied, “ Truly, friend, it doth not appear clear to me that we ought to accept of thy apology. Hadst thyself only lost a quarter of an hour, it would have been merely thy concern; but, in this case, the quarter must be multiplied by eight, as we have each lost a quarter ; so that there have been two hours of useful time sacrificed, by thy want of punctuality.'

If every one had to pay for the time he caused others to lose in this way, what a bill some of us would run up ! The teacher should be careful to check this spirit in the young



Recapitulation. The following appear to be the results of our inquiries on the subject of moral education :

I. That, at present, there is a total want of moral training in our schools.

II. That, though the branch of morals relating to religious faith and modes of worship is properly excluded from the public schools, this circumstance only serves to enhance the necessity of attention to the other parts of moral instruction.

III. That the practice of virtue and the avoidance of vice should be carefully cultivated and enforced, in early youth, it being too late to commence, when opposite habits have become fixed, and the passions fully developed.

« AnteriorContinuar »