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If any worldly happiness is enviable, it is that of such a mind. They only are truly rich, who are sensible they have enough, and have no disquieting desires after more; a happy condition which does not necessarily imply large possessions, nor is often the consequence of them.
MARRIAGE, which is the first and most important of social institutions, is, in civilized societies, generally regulated by law; but giring in marriage is a matter of custom. And, upon this last point, custom is very diverse, in different parts of the world.
In the simple patriarchal ages, a father was as it were a sovereign and independent ruler over his own household. His daughters especially, were quite at his disposal. Yet, in giving a daughter in marriage, it was the custom, to consult her own inclination, as appears in the 24th chapter of the book of Genesis, with respect to the case of Rebekah. In process of time, however, it seems to have become customary in Asia, for fathers to betroth their daughters with little or no apparent regard for their preferences or wishes. In that enslaved country, where women are held in a condition of extreme debasement, a girl is compelled to accept the husband assigned her by family authority, how much soever she may detest him in her heart.
Not that it is quite so, all over the vast continent of Asia. For there are in it, some nations simple in their manners, that still retain the primitive custom of allowing their females the privilege of a negative upon such of their suitors as are not fortunate enough to find favor with them.
In Dr. Clark's description of the manners of the Calmuck Tartars, resident in Asiatic Russia, is an instance in point, respecting their conjugal rites. "Calmuck women” (he says) " ride better than the men.
A male Calmuck on horseback looks as if he was intoxicated, and likely to fall off every instant, though he never loses his seat; but the women sit with more ease, and ride with extraordinary skill. The ceremony of marriage among the Calmucks is performed on horseback. A girl is first mounted, who rides off in full speed. Her lover pursues; and if he overtakes her, she becomes his wife, and the marriage is consummated on the spot; after which she returns with him to his tent. But it sometimes happens, that the woman does not wish to marry the person by whom she is pursued, in which case she will not suffer him to overtake her; and we are assured that no instance occurs of a Calmuck girl being thus caught, unless she had a partiality for the pursuer."
Somewhat similar to this account of the Calmucks, is the following fabulous story of ancient date:-“Atalanta had many admirers, but the only condition of obtaining her hand was to beat her in running a race. At last Hyppodemus ran with her, and dropping some golden apples, which she stopped to pick up, he won the race and married her."-How much or how little this old fable, so obvious in its meaning, is illustrative of the female heart in the present age, is a delicate question that I shall not take upon me to decide.
Western Europe, from which we ourselves have borrowed the most of our customs, allows women a rank unprecedented and unknown in the eastern world. This is owing greatly to its superior civilization, but primarily and chiefly to the influence of christianity, to which also indeed, in no inconsiderable degree, its superior civilization is to be attributed. But even in western Europe, the females of the highest rank are disposable property, as respects giving in marriage. In a matter so deeply interesting to their comfort and happiness, there is denied them all liberty of choice. A royal maid is disposed of in marriage upon the principle of state-policy altogether, and she must accept the husband that is selected for her, or else draw down upon herself an intolerable weight of scorn and indignation. Moreover, among the several ranks of nobility, giving in marriage is conducted on a principle of calculation, rather than that of attachment. So that, in this interesting particular, the liberty of European females is in an inverse ratio to the rank of their families. The deplorable consequences are the same as might reasonably be expected ;-—such as coldness, alienation, domestic feuds, and conjugal infidelity, so common and notorious among those high-born ladies that had been given in marriage contrary to their own wishes.
Nor does it by any means follow, on the other hand, that paternal authority has no concern in this matter. It bas indeed a deep concern, but it is rather negative than injunctive. A father has an undoubted right, nay, he is in duty bound to refuse consent to an alliance which he thinks would be deeply prejudicial to the interest of his child, and to use all proper means in his power to prevent it.* So far is this from cruelty, that it is a mark of affection, and an act of kindness. But if he overleaps this boundary; if he assumes the right of selection; if he attempts to give his daughter in marriage against her own inclination; if he would sacrifice her peace to the mammon of avarice or to the moloch of ambition:-it is then that he acts the part of a tyrant, and is deserving of severity of censure.
Such instances, however, do seldom happen in common life; in which there is a much greater number of children who rush into the state of marriage with a criminal disregard to parental authority and feeling, than of parents who abuse their authority in the manner above mentioned. Nor does this species of undutifulness often fail of resulting in matrimonial infelicity.
*I have particular reference here to children, either in the state of minority, or not of age fully mature.
Of useful Industry, considered as a moral duty.
The fourth cominandment in the sacred decalogue, lays upon us two distinct obligations: it imposes labor no less expressly than it enjoins a holy rest. “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work."
Hence, it is a just and fair inference, that a life of voluntary idleness is a life of disobedience to the law and will of heaven. If, of your own choice, you spend the six working days idly, you are as verily a transgressor of the moral law, as you would be in disregarding the day that is consecrated. And besides, we are the better fitted for the duties of the sabbath, by means of our industry in providing things honest" during the rest of the week; while, on the other hand, he that idles way the six days of labor, is very ill prepared for the sacred day of rest. The idle body, who, nevertheless, appears occasionally devout, separates what God hath joined together; for he that said,
“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy,” bath : also said, “ Six days shalt thou labor.”
Well-directed industry, is a moral and christian duty, a scriptural duty, which none that are capable of it can dispense with, and be guiltless. Neither wealth, nor rank, nor sex, can excuse a person in good health, and of competent faculties, from all and every kind of useful labor either of body or mind, or of both. Mere amusement is for little children. Employment, useful employment, is for men and women. And, indeed, as little is there granted us the liberty of doing no good with our faculties, as of employing them in doing evil and mischief.
Labor is either mental, or bodily, or mixed. There are none whose labor is a greater sweariness of the flesh,” as well as of the nobler part of huinanity, than men of close and remitless study: and there are none, whose industry is more useful to mankind. The man of talents, who, in solitude, and perhaps in neglected poverty, employs discreetly the faculties of his mind, to enlighten and instruct his fellow beings in their immortal, or even their mortal interests, is a benefactor to community, rather than a burden. Nevertheless, he, even he, errs wofully, if he neglects to exercise his body. It is lamentable to see, how many men of study, how many promising youths, waste away their strength, impair their constitutions, and bring upon
themselves incurable diseases and premature death, solely for the want of a proper mixture of bodily exercise with the strenuous labors of their minds.
In the proud and fastidious times in which we live, manual labor of the useful kind is accounted a thing too vulgar for those of the better sort. Many a young gentleman would feel himself dishonored by doing any thing called work; and many a young lady would blush to be found employed in an occupation really useful; even though in circumstances imperatively demanding their industry.
In this respect, the manners of society have suffered a deplorable change. The time has been when labor was held in honor among even the rich and the noble; when even ladies of the highest fortune and rank thought it not beneath them to work occasionally with their hands.
Near the conclusion of the last century but one, Queen Mary of England, who was joint sovereign with her husband the heroic William the Third, "used frequently,” as history informs us, “to employ some part of her time in needle work; appointing one or other of her maids of honor to read something lively as well as 'instructive, to her and to the rest, whilst they were busy with their needles."
The age next preceding that of Mary, furnishes at Jeast one example in high life, that is still more remarkable. Sir Walter Raleigh, lodging at the house of a noble Duke, early in the morning overheard the Dutchess inquiring of her servants if the pigs had been fed; and, with a significant smile, asking her, as he was going to the table, if her pigs had had their breakfast; she archly replied, “ They have all been fed except the strange pig that I am now about to feed.”
The man, who, of all the American worthies, was 66 first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” was no less remarkable for industry than for his wisdom and integrity.
One of the biographers of Washington, remarks of him, “his industry was unremitted, and his method so exact, that all the complicated business of his military command, and civil administration, was managed with