網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

cession of ideas and actions. Hence those who have thought and done much in a short period, have, in effect, lived longer than those whose thoughts and actions have been but few, though their years may have been many.

2. To apply this maxim, therefore, to yourselves, I would observe, that if, in the course of your education, you have applied your minds to such objects of improvement as have stored the memory with a variety of ideas, and thereby increased your knowledge, or kept you well employed, you may then be said to have lived longer than those, who, though superiour to you in age, yet are inferiour in mental attainments.

3. Such persons, by neglecting to cultivate their minds in childhood, when arrived to middle age, are but infants in respect of time, if measured by the ideas they have acquired ; whereas those in a state of youth, may be said to have attained to riper manhood, who have thought and acted to some useful purpose.

4. This, then, is a very natural inference, and which I would recommend to your notice, that our lives, when well employed in public or private pursuits, will certainly be longer than if dozed away in sloth and idleness; and while virtue crowns the former course with renown, contempt will ever mark the steps of the latter. Because life is short, that we are to spend it all in pleasure, is a sophism flattering as it is false : guard, there. fore, against such notions, that you may not be exposed to taste the sorrows of self-deception.

5. There cannot be a more wretched set of beings than those whose study is to despise time, because they cannot enjoy or improve it, and whose minds are on the constant rack to find some new object : such are sure to be a burden to themselves, and will most probably prove so to others.

Idleness and Irresolution. 1. A man, who wanted to pass a river, stood loitering on the banks of it, in the foolish expectation that a current so rapid would soon discharge its waters. But the stream still flowed, increased, perhaps, by fresh torrents from the mountains ; and it must forever flow, because the sources from which it is derived are inexhaustible.

2. Thus the idle and irresolute youth trifles over his books, or wastes in play his precious moments ; deferring the task of improvement, which, at first, is easy to be accomplished, but which will become more and more difficult the longer it is ne. glected.

Obedience to Parents, and other Duties. 1. The happiness of parents is so connected with the goodnesa of children, that if they are undutiful, negligent and wicked, it will make their parents miserable. And can you, my young friends, bear the thought of making them unhappy, whose sole sim in life is to promote your felicity ? Can you receive with indifference that advice which is designed entirely for your good ? Do not they provide for all your wants ? And are you not indebted to their kindness for your food, your clothing, and every convenience which you enjoy ?

2. Obedience to your parents is one of the first duties you can perform in life, and is the only return you can make for those continual favours which you daily receive.

3. As human nature is subject to many wants, the great Father of the universe has ordained that we should live together, and that numbers, by helping each other, should procure those conveniences, which no man alone could obtain.

4. Every person, therefore, has some duties to perform, which are known by the name of social duties; because, if it were possible for us to live quite alone, those duties could not be exerted. For, had we no parents, we could not obey them ; had we no brothers or gisters, we could not love them ; had we no friends or instructers, we could not be thankful and attentive to them; and, were the poor and wretched unknown to us, we could not be kind and charitable..

Ingratitude. 1. INGRATITUDE in a child to a parent is so universally odious, that a thankless child has been detested in all ages and nations ; for if ingratitude to a common benefactor is justly deemed one of the blackest crimes, how black must be that ingratitude, when that benefactor is a parent! As a grateful disposition, especially towards a parent, is a strong indication of a virtuous mind, so we cannot easily suppose that those who are ungrateful to parents can be grateful to others, or that their hearts can have that tenderness which is the basis of almost every other virtue.

Filial Affection. 1. Among all human duties, none have a stronger claim to our attention than filial affection : for, next to our Maker, our parents are entitled to our veneration, gratitude and esteem. Yet, with all these claims upon their children's affection, how often has the unhappy parent the misery of finding pertness substituted in the place of humility, arrogance in that of dependence, and indifference in that of duty! and instead of their children's submitting with docility to the experience of age, behold them vain through ignorance, and presumptuous through folly.

2. It unfortunately happens, that the age which stands in most need of advice, should be the most prone to reject it. In China, so great is the veneration and respect in which the parental character is held, that an instance of its authority being dispu. ted, is absolutely unknown. The virtue of filial tenderness is so strongly exemplified in the following instance, that one need only read it, to catch the virtuous sentiment, and imitate the pious example.

3. A Roman lady of rank was accused of a crime against the state, for which she was tried, and condemned to suffer death. The keeper of the prison, who was ordered to be her executioner, not only felt a great degree of repugnance to the office, but was absolutely incapable of performing it : yet, aware that his own life depended upon the discharge of his duty, he dared not attempt preserving her existence. Thus circumstanced, the cruel idea, which had compassion for its foundation, occurred, of letting her remain without sustenance, knowing that she must then die for want, and that he should escape the pain of becoming her executioner.

4. A man in that situation, who could shrink from the discharge of his duty from motives of humanity, it is natural to suppose, might easily be subdued by tenderness, and overcome by persuasion. It is no wonder that he yielded to the entreaties of the daughter, and permitted her to visit her unhappy mother; though he was under the necessity of searching her, to prevent her being the conveyer of any kind of nourishment.

5. Several days elapsed without any striking alteration in the unfortunate mother's appearance. This circumstance called forth the keeper's astonishment so much, that he began to imagine the daughter had contrived means of eluding his vigilance: he therefore resolved to watch them when the daily meeting took place.

6. He did so, and beheld a sight that called forth his pity and · admiration. An affectionate daughter was presented to his

view, lengthening out her parent's existence by that nourishment nature had given for the support of her own offspring, and endeavouring to avert the decrees of justice by the nutritious qualities of the milk of tenderness.

7. The humane keeper instantly flew to her judges, described

the interesting scene he had beheld, and had the happiness of procuring a pardon for the unfortunate mother. The senate were so struck with this instance of tenderness, that they ordered a temple to be erected to filial piety on the spot where the prison stood, and both mother and daughter to be maintained at the public expense.

The Female Choice. 1. A Young girl having fatigued herself one hot day with running about the garden, sat down in a pleasant arbour, where she presently fell asleep. During her slumber, two female figures presented themselves before her. One was loosely dressed in a thin robe of pink, with light green trimmings. Her sash of silver gauze flowed to the ground. Her fair hair fell in ringlets down her neck, and her headdress consisted of artificial flowers interwoven with feathers. She held in one hand a ball-ticket, and in the other a fancy-dress all covered with spangles and knots of gay ribbon. She advanced smiling to the girl, and with a familiar air, thus addressed her:

2. “My dearest Melissa, I am a kind genius, who have watched you from your birth, and have joyfully beheld all your beauties expand, till at length they have rendered you a companion worthy of me. See what I have brought you. This dress and this ticket will give you free access to all the delights of my palace. With me you will pass your days in a perpetual round of evervarying amusements. Like the gay butterfly, you will have no other business than to Autter from flower to flower, and spread your charms before admiring spectators. No restraints, no toils, no dull tasks, are to be found within my bappy domains. All is pleasure, life, and good humour. Come then, my dear, let me put this dress on you, which will make you quite enchanting; and away, away with me!

3. Melissa felt a strong inclination to comply with the call of this inviting nymph; but first she thought it would be prudent at least to ask her name.

4. • My name,' said she, 'is Dissipation.' .

5. The other female then advanced. She was clothed in a close habit of brown stuff, simply relieved with white. She wore her smooth hair under a plain cap. Her whole person was perfectly neat and clean. Her look was serious, but satisfied; and her air was sedate and composed. She held in one hand a distaff ; on the opposite arm hung a work-basket; and the girdle round her waist was garnished with scissors, knittingneedles, reels, and other implements of female labour. A

bunch of keys hung at her side. She thus accosted the sleeping girl :

6. • Melissa, I am the genius who have ever been the friend and companion of your mother; and I now offer you my protection. I have no allurements to tempt you with like those of my gay rival. Instead of spending all your time in amusements, if you enter yourself in my train, you must rise early, and pass the long day in a variety of employments, some of them difficult, some laborious, and all requiring exertion of body or of mind. You must dress plainly ; live mostly at home ; and aim at being useful rather than shining. But in return, I will ensure you content, even spirits, self-approbation, and the esteem of all who thoroughly know you. If these offers appear to your young mind less inviting than those of my rival, be assured, however, they are more real. She has promised much more than she can ever make good. Perpetual pleasures are no more in the power of dissipation, than of vice or folly to bestow. Her delights quickly pall, and are inevitably succeeded by langour and disgust. She appears to you under a disguise, and what you see is not her real face. For myself, I shall never seem to you less amiable than I now do ; but, on the contrary, you wili like me better and better. If I look grave to you now, you will see me cheerful at my work ; and when work is over, I can enjoy every innocent amusement. But I have said enough. It is time for you to choose whom you will follow, and upon that choice all your happiness depends. If you would know my name, it is Industry.'

7. Melissa heard her with more attention than delight; and though overawed by her manner, she could not help turning again to take another look at the first speaker. She beheld her still offering her presents, with so bewitching an air, that she felt it scarcely possible to resist; when, by a lucky accident, the mask with wbich dissipation's face was so artfully covered, fell off. As soon as Melissa beheld, instead of the smiling features of youth and cheerfulness, a countenance wan and ghastly with sickness, and soured by fretfulness, she turned away with horrour, and gave her hand unreluctantly to her sober and sincere companion.

The Father redeemed from Slavery by his Son. 1. A young man named Robert, was sitting alone in his boat, in the harbour of Marseilles. A stranger stepped in, and took his seat near him, but quickly rose again ; observing, that since

« 上一頁繼續 »