« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
venience, and that it will not be durable after the purposes of form and convenience shall have been answered by it, is one of those which approach the nearest to certainty.
The truths which have been inculeated as furnishing the only foundation for rational hopes of happiness in marriage, are such as ought to be established in the mind, while the affections are yet unengaged. When the heart has received an impression, reason acts feebly or treacherously: But let not the recent impression be permitted to sink deeper, eré the habitual principles and conduct of him who has made it shall have been ascertained. On these points in particular, points which a young woman cannot herself possess adequate means of investigating, let the advice and enquiries of virtuous relatives be solicited. Let not their opinions, though the purport of them should prove unacceptable, bé undervalued; nor their remonstrances, if they should remonstrate, be construed as unkindness. Let it be remembered, that, although parental authority can never be justified in constraining a daughter to marry against her will, there are many cases in which it may with reason refuse its assent to her wishes, and few in which it may not be justified in requiring her to pause. Let it be remembered, that if she should unite herself to a man who is not under the habitual influence of Christianity, but unsettled as to its principles, or careless as to come of its practical duties, she has to dread not only the risk of personal bappiness from his conduct towards her, but the dangerous contagion of intimate example. She has to dread that his irreligion may infect herself, his unsteadiness may render her unsteady, his carelessness may teach her to be careless. Does the scene appear in prospect gloomy or ambiguous ? Let her be wise, let her exert herself before it be too late. It is better to encounter present anxiety than to avoid it at the expense of greater, of durable evils. And even if affection has already acquired such force, as not to be repressed without very painful struggles ; let her be consoled and animated by the consciousness that the sacrifice is to prevent, while prevention is yet in her power, years of danger and of misery; that it is an act not only of ultimate kindness to herself, but of duty to God; and that every act of humble and persevering duty may hope, through a Redeemer, to receive, in a better world, a reward proportioned to the severity of the trial.
In an union so intimate as that of matrimonial life, those diversities in temper, habits, and inclinations, which in a less close connexion might not have been distinctly perceived, or would have attracted notice but seldom; unavoidabiy swell into importance. Hence, among the qualifications which influence the probability of connubial comfort, a general similarity of disposition between the two parties is one of especial moment. Where strong affection prevails, a spirit of accommodation will prevail also. But it isnot desirable that the spirit of accommodation should be subjected to rigorous or very frequent experiments. Great disparity in age between a husband and a wife, or a wide difference in rank antecedently to marriage, is, on this account, liable to be productive of disquietude. The sprightliness of youth seems levity, and the sobriety of matorer years to be tinctured with moroseness, when closely conirasted. A sudden introduction to affluence, a sudden and great elevation in the scale of society, is apt to intoxicate; and a sudden reduction in outward appearance to be felt as degrading. Instances, however, are not very rare in which the force of affection, of good sense, and of good principles, shews itself permanently superior to the influence of causes, wbich to minds less happily attempered, and less under the guidance of religious motives, prove sources of anxiety and vexation.
ADVICE TO MARRIED WOMEN. THE desire of children is evidently predominant in almost every female disposition: it must be certainly owing to the wise ordination of Providence that their education is so adınirably calculated to encourage this fondness. How engaging are the childish amusements of a daughter! Let us picture an innocent little girl, fondly caressing a wasen image, dressing and undressing it with all the pomp and importance of a tender mother. What a delightful employment! how amiable does the child herself appear! and so endearing is this female province, that it is justly remarked to grow up with the sex into life.
God has universally manifested that the whole human race are dependent upon one another, and those persons who think and act so narrowly, as to declare an aversion for children, can neither be accounted good characters in themselves, nor worthy members with respect to society. But, alas ! they are strangers to the feelings of parental fondness. Certain it is, ye amiable wives, that if it be your good fortune to become happy mothers, your children, those dear pledges of love, if prudently educated, prove not only an engaging comfort to yourselves, but a great and lasting security for the affections of your husbands. There is a time when the charms of beauty must cease, and the passions of youth bend to the majesty of wisdom: it is then that good nature and good sense, with that essential ingredient, a cheerful disposition, will in a great measure secure your conquest; and a charming offspring will assuredly contribute to unite parents in the lasting bonds of friendship.
The difference of constitution in women is an important affair; women of a delicate form, and too great sensibility, are the most liable to miscarry. Such also are the most likely to imbibe, and to be affected by, the prejudices which we wish to caution them against. The power of fear is undoubtedly sovereign over most persons, and this, in the present instance, is truly to be dreaded. If, therefore, the prejudices were discountenanced, the unhappy fear itself would assuredly cease.
And further, there is nothing tends more to render life bappy, either to men or women, than to conquer, as much as possible, the passion of fear. This is the monster which in some degree subdues us all; and too frequently makes mankind miserable. There is no calamity but would easily become supportable, could we divest ourselves of fear; and daily experience proves women to be most subject to its tortures. How many trifling insects that man continually spurns from him, ruffle the breast of females, and throw them into the greatest agonies! The evil, therefore, is seated in the imagination, for it is the dreadful apprehension of their own mind that torments them ; which, by a firm and steady resolution, may generally be overcome. Fortitude is an inestimable jewel. Reason was bestowed upon us both for the preservation of our health, and the promotion of our happiness. The abuse of it as necessarily destroys the one as the other.
How do we continually reflect upon ourselves for inconveniences, mental as well as corporeal, that arise froin in. considerateness and folly! When a wife has the pleasing prospect of becoming a mother, it is no longer a time to be revelling in midnight assemblies. Such a conduct not only deprives her of natural rest, but also endangers her health, and thereby oftentimes promotes the evil to which we have alluded. In this, and every other point, women should be cautioned against falling into wide extremes. Some females have been seen taking violent exercise, in order to prevent the accident. Others never step out of doors, nay, nor so much as go up and down a pair of stairs, for several months : this also is to avoid the danger. Be this your guide; whalever exercise you are capable of taking without fatigue, indulge-bút no more. Never, in this poiot, regard the example of others. Because your friend can do this and that, it is no reason you should ; and if the attempt give pain, it should certainly be avoided.
The Author of nature has universally committed the support of infants, and the early part of children's education to women. Milk is a nourishment produced from the sarious kinds of food taken by the mother. This, therefore, being admitted, until an infant's powers are sufficiently strength ened to perform so great a business as that of digestion, the mother by the all-wise appointment of Providence, from her own breast supplies it with the means of life. Hence no other nourishment appears so proper for a new-bora child. This system of nursing, therefore, is peculiarly recommended to the fair sex, who will most sensibly feel the happy or miserable effects of the manner in which they discharge this first great trust which is reposed in them. Here, indeed, a mother will assuredly reap the happy fruits of fortitude, as well as of a lively, cheerful, and obliging disposition. Such as the mother is, generally speaking, will be the first, and most probably the most durable impressions received by the child. It therefore naturally follows that infants, whose minds are early accustomed to agreeable objects, and whose expanding ideas are gratified with pleasing sensations, vnabated by slavish fears; such, and such only, as they rise into life, will possess that generous gratitude, which prompts them to consider it as a first great duty to contribute to the happiness of their parents.
Those mothers who by a foolish indulgence spoil their children's tempers and dispositions, are undoubtedly, culpable; but the example of a violent, passionate, yet negligent and insensible father, is equally or more to be dreaded. A mother has this plea, that she endeavours at least at the time to make her child happy; and it may be said, in excuse for her conduct, that she is to be pitied-in bot kaowing better : but there is no excuse, either to God or man, that can be urged to mitigate the rice and folly of such a father; the iniquity rests with himself alone, for the benevolent Author of our being is not to be arraigned upon this or any other occasion.
How provident is Nature in all her works! How wonderfully indulgent to man, and other helpless animals in their first state of existence, by thus enabling the mother to feed her young with nourishment drawn from herself, until such time as the offspring has obtained strength sufficient to provide for itself'! This gracious bounty is abused only by man, the most intelligent of earthly beings; whose misuse of reason leads bim astray, whilst humble instinct directs all other parts of the creation aright. - If we look around us, we shall find every animal that gives suck carefully fostering her young; aod other enjoyments are no more thought of, until they are capable of providing for themselves. An example by which mankind might profit much; but the strong impulse of passion in this, and many other instances, subdues our reason. Did we consider the benefit of our children more, and the indulgence of our selfish inclinations less, the race of man would be more healthy, strong, and vigorous, than we can at present boast. But, alas! such is the depravity of hainan nature, that it would be in vain to enlarge upon this topic of complaint; it is therefore our present business to prevent, as much as possible, the future growth of these evils.
As you are all interested in the enquiry, compare the success of mankind with that of other animals in rearing their young. A little observation will convince you that greater numbers of the human race are lost in their infancy than of any other species, for nearly one half of the deaths, within our bills of mortality, happen to children under five years of age. And further, compare the opulent with the rustic, the success is still exceedingly different. How many children of the great fall victims to prevailing customs, the effects of riches ! How many of the poor are saved by wanting these luxuries !
Again, compare, the success of such as suckle their own offspring with that of those who commit them to the care of nurses, or bring them up by hand; and we shall there likewise find an amazing difference.
From these considerations, it is evident that nature is always preferable to art; whence the brute creation succeed better than the human in preserving their own species; and the peasant, whom necessity compels to follow nature, is, in this respect, happier that his lord. Those mothers also,