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CHARLES JAMES FOX.
allied to the two rival houses of Stuart and Brunswick. The father early saw in this son the germ of future greatness, and took unbounded pains to foster and bring out his intellectual powers; and especially to fit him for a successful career in parliament, for which he was early intended. When Charles was a mere boy, the father was in the habit of conversing with him as if he were a man, and used to consult with him upon public affairs. At table the lad was permitted and even encouraged to enter freely into the conversation of men, that he might early form the habit of thinking with freedom, and speaking with readiness and propriety.
The grand principle upon which Lord Holland conducted the education of his children, was to follow and regulate, but not restrain, nature; he employed no authority, exacted no obedience, cultivated no sentiments, and appealed to no motives of fear. This principle was carried to its utmost extreme in his treatment of his favorite son, some instances of which, and of a most preposterous character, are authentically given. One day, as the father was winding a watch, his son, who was standing by him, said, "I have a great mind to break that watch, papa." "No, Charles, that would be foolish." "Indeed, papa," said he, "I must do it." Nay,” answered the father, "if you have such a violent inclination, I won't baulk it." Whereupon he delivered the watch into the hands of the youngster, who instantly dashed it against the floor.
Another time his father, wnile secretary at war, having finished a long despatch which he was going to send, Charles, who stood by with his hand on the inkstand, said, "Papa, I have a mind to throw this ink over the paper." "Do, my dear," said the father, "if it will give you any pleasure." The young gentleman immediately threw on the ink, and the secretary went to work very submissively to re-write the docu
Another instance is given of still greater insolence. The father, in the midst of the war, had made out a number of important expresses, and while attentively looking them over before sending them away, Charles, then about nine years old, came into the study, and taking up one of the packets, he perused it with much seeming attention for a time, then expressed his disapprobation of its contents, and deliberately thrust it into the fire. Unruffled at this incident and forbearing any reprimand, his father quietly set himself to the labor of making out another copy. It is no wonder that the preposterous
principle the father adopted so soon brought such results. It is rather a wonder that the entire character and prospects of the man were not totally ruined that anything amiable or even tolerable was left.
There seems to have been not only no restraint upon the will of the young man, but none upon the passions. These he was allowed to indulge freely, and the means for their indulgence was readily furnished. When at the age of fourteen, he accompanied his father to the continent, and stopped for a season at a place of fashionable resort, Lord Holland gave his son five guineas a night to be spent in games of hazard.
It is well known that Mr. Fox grew up a scholar, a man of genius, and that he became one of the most distinguished orators that ever appeared in the British parliament. Yet he was a man of pleasure, exhibiting great vices of character, and monstrous irregularities of conduct. His father is said to have paid £100,000 to feed the extravagances and discharge the debts of his minority. The passion for gambling thus early formed, became uncontrollable, and in the indulgence of it, he soon squandered all the property he inherited, which was indeed a vast fortune. How melancholy, that such splendid powers should be found in connection with such grovelling vices! Yet this is the legitimate result of that wretched principle, free, unchecked indulgence. His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not;" and hence they became still viler. Such was Eli's error, and such has been the error of multitudes since.
There must be authority and restraint in the education of children. Nature is wrong, and it will not do to foster and follow it. The heart is depraved, the will perverse; to fall in with them is to encourage the child in his way to death. It is necessary at times to adopt decisive and rigid measures. The mere declaration of preference, "I would rather you would not do so, my children," is often idle, and will de despised. What can it avail against the whirlwind of passion and the stubbornness of self-will? A mere straw to stop the tumbling of an avalanche. It is kind to adopt a decisive course. A high authority declares" He that spareth the rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes." Had a portion of the wisdom which is from above been allowed to come in and direct the education of Charles Fox, the result doubtless would have been a totally opposite character. The father thought that this discipline which the Bible enjoins was too
austere even wrong in principle. Hence he would allow him neither to be contradicted nor punished. "Let nothing be done to break his spirit; the world will effect that business soon enough." That spirit was not broken; that heart was not contrite; that will was not subdued. Perhaps it would have bowed to the Divine authority had it been accustomed to the domestic authority.
It is obvious that nothing can take the place of true religion in the heart of the parent. Everything else is uncertain-unsafe. Mere worldly wisdom, in its highest and best state, often fails; it may lead to the most fatal mistakes. Nothing but religion in the parent can bring down that wisdom which is from above, and which is profitable to direct; nothing but this will ensure a steady and tender faithfulness; nothing but this will keep before the mind the great and true end of the training. The mere worldly parent has a low end-he educates for this life only; the religious parent educates for the future and eternal state, and by so doing, secures the well-being of both worlds, upon the principle that " godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come," whilst the mere worldly parent often loses the interests of both worlds from the lowness and sordidness of his aim. Had Fox been trained for heaven, he probably would have been a Wilberforce on earth.
How important, then, is right training, even with reference to the present world, to the influence to be exerted, the good to be done here! What manner of child this will be, the parent may not certainly know. But the parent does know the child will do good or evil-will be in his sphere a fountain of life or death. There may be a tongue there which will speak with the eloquence of a Fox or a Pitt-a mind beneath, which will be felt all over the globe, and to the last day of time. If the child shall be very much what the parent under God makes
it, who can estimate the parent's responsibility? or who estimate the parent's reward, if he sends forth from his hearth faithful laborers into the vineyard of the Lord,--benefactors to bless the world?
The parent is exceedingly unwise who secks great things for his children; because the great things are of little worth, they soon pass away. Mere worldly distinction and display, what a bubble' Then they endanger the soul. If the great things are sought, the good will be neglected. It is far better to adopt Christ's order, and seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Let the parent be satisfied. Let him rejoice when these are obtained for his children. There can be no better wreath, no higher distinction. Greatness without goodness is rather to be deprecated than desired.
One other reflection enforces itself, namely, how sad is the end of a life of mere honor and pleasure! How dreadful the fall of those who plunge from the pinnacle of earthly distinction to the infamy of an eternal death! How dark the death-scene without religion! Says Wilberforce in his journal, referring to Fox on his death-bed-"Poor fellow, how melancholy his case! He has not one religious friend, or one who knows anything about it. How wonderful God's providences! How poor a master the world! He no sooner grasps his long-sought object than it shows itself a bubble, and he is forced to give it up. Subsequently he alds: "So poor Fox is gone at last. I am more affected by it than I thought I should be. How speedily has he followed his great rival!" This was in June, 1806. Pitt died only the February before, and he died of a broken heart. Though at the summit of human power and greatness, a favorite on the whole of king and people, he died of a broken heart. His last words wereOh, my country!" Truly, "how poor a master is the world" How different the end of the Christian, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !"