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THE FAMILY INSTITUTION
Ir is natural and creditable to men to regard with a degree of veneration the institutions, monuments and usages of ancient time. That man is not to be envied or trusted who is unconscious of a sentiment of reverence towards the dim and hoary PAST-towards the fathers of empire, the founders of government, the lawgivers of mankind. If this remark be just in relation to things and institutions human in their attributes and origin, much more must it apply to an institution whose origin is coeval with the commencement of man's history, and whose founder is GOD. Such an institution is the Family; the most ancient, venerable, permanent and universal of all the forms of society-commencing with man's history, and ending not until he is no longer a dweller upon earth. The family institution was prior to every other social form. It is not a creation of government, a product of legislation. It is not the offspring but the parent of states and of civil authorities; and it has been the wisdom of states in all ages to regard the family constitution with reverence. "The common law itself," says Lord Bacon, "which is the best bound of our wisdom, doth often prefer the prerogative of the father to the prerogative of the king." Fathers were before kings, and the patriarchal staff before the sceptre of royalty, and the simple majesty of parental rule before the oldest thrones. Kingly and imperial sway are mere ephemera in comparison with the family; the first rude domestic tent of palm leaves ever spread by the Euphrates, was the emblem of a power more enduring and pervading than that of the Cæsars, more majestic than imperial Rome; to be known and honored from the rising to the setting sun, and till the last parent and child of the race pass in the wreck of matter and the downfall of the stars.
No earthly association was ever known comparable to this. We are struck with its permanency. The ocean changes its boundaries often --this never. The history of civil and political forms is a history of changes rapidly succeeding each other in an endless progress—but the Family Form, as if designed to be a similitude of the government of its great author, has survived the decay of the proudest kingdoms, and sustains itself among men of all nations and climes, and whatever changes may yet take place in earthly governments, and whatever the form that shall ultimately prevail, the perma
nence of the family is guaranteed to the end of time.
The moral power of such an institution as the Family cannot but be great. It is organized with a view to efficiency, by the God of Wisdom himself, and whether its influence be good, or through perversion bad, in the nature of the case it must be prodigiously great. There are, say, three millions of families in the United States. Now what would be the impression of statesmen if they knew that there existed within the limits of these States, three millions of small societies, each efficiently organized, its members compacted together by ties of the most inviolable nature; if, too, they had already taken possession of the country,-and were educating our rulers from the lowest to the highest, and training our officers of church and state of every grade? Who would not apprehend the worst consequences from the wrong exercise of their influence; and hail as vitally propitious to the interests of the nation and the world the discreet and wise management of each and every of this vast array of societies? Such are the families of the land and such their sway. The soil is theirs the power is all theirs—the living, thinking, acting population, the men under authority, and the men in authority, are all theirs they are the proprietors and lords paramount of the territory and mind and body of the nation.
It is hardly possible, therefore, to overrate the importance of throwing light and the saving influence of God's Spirit and grace into the families of our country and the world, that a right direction and impulse may be given to their amazing power over the character and the temporal and eternal destiny of mankind. Oh, if our families were but baptized with the baptism of eternal love, the predicted and prayed for day of glory would be already here.
The family is by its constitution and ends essentially a religious organization. Its origin is from God. He designed it as the seminary, not only for the nurture of our physical nature through infancy and weakness, but much more for the inculcation and beautiful growth of those sentiments and principles, which prepare us for the service of God and mankind, in all the offices of love and duty, of patriotism, humanity, religion, and form the character which heaven, through grace in Christ, can admit to its everlasting man
sions. This is the proper scope and purpose of the Family Institution, and no adequate substitute for its agency exists on earth. How beautifully and by what a sweet process, is the education of the heart and its affections, conducted in the bosom of a judicious and holy family, through infancy, childhood and youth! A presence and a power are there hallowing all they touch, felt in the depths of the soul in the visitings of strange joys, in the ethereal dreamings of hope, in the balmy air of love and fond tendernesses, in the soft and holy light that falls from heaven on the family altar, the patriarchal priest, the big old Bible, and the mother's eye so mild and saint-like. What wonder that in all life's changes, roam where we may, and in whatever circumstances, the Christian home of our childhood is remembered with religious yearnings; the green sward, the brook, the cottage, bathed in mellow light, never fade from the past, and thither back from our most distant wanderings, we repeat the gladly made pilgrimage to that "Palestine and Mecca of the mind;" and often amidst the strifes of the world and the vaultings of ambition, we are both reproached and soothed with the hope, that on the spot where our infancy uttered its first innocent lisp, our old age may disburthen itself of sin and care, and slumber as sweetly as we then did upon our mother's bo
We say there is no substitute on earth for the family influence on the moral training of the heart. Men in their self-sufficient wisdom have tried it, with what results let history declare. Sparta tried it, substituting the state for the parent, aud she reared a commonwealth of brutes. It has been tried repeatedly in a system of divorces for convenience sake. The consequences alike in ancient Rome and modern France, were fearful. Perhaps the most impressive example of the mischievous tendency of renouncing the Family Constitution and the domestic influence, is supplied by the history of the Romish Clergy. The Church of Rome pronounced marriage a sacrament, yet imposed perpetual celibacy upon her priesthood, and this whole order of men were thus excluded from the humanizing influence of family relations. They were forbidden to be husbands and fathers; they were denied the sacred moulding influence of Home, and they became incarnate fiends in the temper of their minds. The sun never looked upon men so bereft of every attribute and sympathy of humanity. Estranged utterly and without remedy from every sentiment of kindness and
compassion, they outstripped in diabolical and cold-blooded cruelty, in intense and unrelenting ferocity, all the world ever dreamed of in its most barbarous ages. They became, says an eminent living author, in every sense, immediate and figurative, the sons and ministers of hell, and their fierce malignity and bitter hate as exhibited in their persecutions, scathed and withered every inch of earth they ever touched. The cruelties of Nero were tender mercies compared with theirs. The fiercest pagan persecution was infinitely preferable to the mildest popish. Who would not have fled from the office of the holy inquisition, and taken refuge upon the pagan rack, or among the wild beasts of the Roman theatre ?" How shall we account for the unbounded and atrocious ferocity of these men for they were men, and once drew life from maternal bosoms. The answer which chiefly explains it is-they had ejected themselves as a body from the humanizing influence of the domestic organization-its soft and gracious sway reached not to them, waked not, nurtured not the natural affections in them. In the language of the writer just referred to, they had no kindly relatierships, no natural cares, no mild hopes,-they were not social, not domestic. They were not husbands, fathers. friends, neighbors, or citizens; they had no fireside, no home," and they became demons Such is the inevitable consequence of invading the order of Providence by forbidding warriage The Institution of the Family cannot be thus set aside without dire and monstrous results. It was ordained to fit men for usefulness, for kindness, for deeds of generous benevolence, love, and mercy, and no substitute for it can be found. As the process by which the fruits of the earth are brought forward from the bud and blossom to finished ripeness and beauty, by which is imparted the inimitable and living blush, the fragrant odor, the perfect flavor, can be carried on only by nature, by laws of assimilation, affinity, and thousand-fold eliminations, above all counterfeiting art of chemist, painter, and sculptor, so the process of forming, training, ripening the heart, can be achieved only by the thousand-fold influence of the Family Institution. All the philosophers and artists in the world cannot make a peach-all the schools and governments in the world cannot make a MAN, and put a warm and gentle heart into his bosom. Alas! how many stupid attempts to do it have been made and failed. Train vines on the north side of an iceberg, moisten their roots with Dead Sea water, and expect juices
THE FAMILY INSTITUTION.
bland and nectarean as from fruits mellowed beneath Italian skies. Train man's heart elsewhere than amid the select and sacred influences and associations of Home, and with equal reason expect from it the gentle and generous beating of humanity. There are no springs of love where there are no gushings of household
The family institution, we hardly need say, derives its principal charm and power, as an elucational agent, and as a source of happiness, from the presence and influence of religion. This is a truth not at all impaired by the fact that many families are found making no pretensions to religion, and yet enjoying a considerable share of social happiness and respectability in the world. So far as happiness springs from natural affection and refined morality, they may attain it but still it is owing to the influence of religion pervading a community that morality and natural affection are not as nearly extin guished there as among the heathen. Religion exerting its influence directly or indirectly, is in fact the source of all the order, harmony, and propriety which distinguish the families of a Christian from those of a heathen land; and in exact proportion as the power of the religious influence is increased in families will be the increase of their blessedness and usefulness. Of the particular mode in which religion tends to this result we only observe generally that it does it by linking the family on earth to the family in heaven; by securing the friendship of Gol; by quickening and sanctifying the social affections, by causing the domestic circle to dwell together in unity and love, and predisposing each heart to the fulfilment of the whole detail of home's sweet charities and gentle offices of love and kindness. And it deserves to be remembered that domestic happiness, the peace and loveliness of the family, are greatly dependent upon the prompt and right fulfilment of these small offices. It has been well remarked by a philosophical observer that the misery of human life is made up of large masses, each separated from the other by certain intervals. One year the death of a child; years after, a failure in trade; after another longer or shorter interval, a daughter may have married unhappily; in all but the singularly unfortunate the integral parts that compose the sum total of the unhappiness of a man's life are easily counted and distinctly remembered. The happiness of life, the happiness of the family especially, on the contrary, is made up of minute fractionsthe little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss, a
smile, a kind look, a gentle word, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of playful raillery, these, and the countless other little kindnesses of genial feelings, make a perpetual summer in the household where they prevail. And if there be a spot on earth which angels might long to visit, and where they might fondly linger, it is the loving Christian family, where parents and children, husband and wife, brothers and sisters, bound together in the blessed compact of love, and moving in harmonious spheres of duty and affection, fulfil the holy and beautiful purposes of the Family Institution.
The task which the Christian Parlor Magazine has undertaken is one of delightful yet solemn responsibility. To visit the domestic circle and firesides of our country; to furnish aliment to the mind, and force and freshness to the graceful charities of domestic life; to inspire cheerfulness without levity; to develope the treasures of the heart's deep affections without beguiling the fancy or corrupting the imagination, is an aim worthy of the ablest pens and the loftiest ambition, and a consciousness of success will be a sweet reward.
We conclude this paper by urging upon all the members of the family the importance of each contributing to the ends of its organization. In every important respect the well-being of all social forms depends upon the same principles. The causes of prosperity or destruction which operate in a nation, conduct to the same result in a family. The prudence and economy, the justice and moderation, the intelligence and piety which advance the one exalt the other; the luxury, licentiousness, pride, ignorance, unkindness, discord and impiety, which are ruinous to the one are fatal to the other, with this important difference, that mischief operates much more slowly upon national than upon family character and happiness. But still the God who rules the nations of the earth, rules its families also, and the same great principles of government are applied in both cases.
Internal discord has been one of the most common and fatal causes of national destruction. And no more potent mischief can invade the family. Love is the golden chain that binds the family group, and the only one that can bind it permanently and firmly. Let discord, suspicion, unkindness or alienation enter there, and the garden of its hopes and joys is blasted. Hence, parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, masters and servants, should individually and collectively seek to realize the benevolent designs of the
family institution. An unkind word or feeling within this sacred enclosure should be regarded with similar dread to that which is created by mutiny in a ship or civil war in the state. And since the family organization came from God, and was designed ultimately to lead to God, all should feel the indispensableness of pure religion. A family without religion possessed, enjoyed, exemplified, is a temple without divinity or altar; a vessel without steersman or helm, that lies rotting on the sea. Earth has no more melancholy object than a family living, dying without a God. In the midst of a nation's stir
and bustle, it seems not so strange that God should be forgotten. But in the family circle, to find no God-to follow it through all the interesting and solemn phases of its historythrough health and sickness, joy and sorrow, life and death, and hear no prayer or praise, and find no God and no Saviour recognized in its arrangements, shocks a reflecting and serious mind. When such a family separates at the grave who will not mourn ?-when they reassemble in eternity, who will not be filled with
A VISIT TO GENERAL LA FAYETTE.
Ir is now eighteen years-it seems hardly as many months-since I visited the Friend of Washington, the Hero of Three Revolutions, at his country seat, La Grange, about twenty miles from Paris. I had seen him, a year before, in his triumphal progress through our country. I stood amidst the thronged multitudes of my native city, when wealth, and learning, and beauty, came forth to do him homage; and I seem even yet to see him with his animated gestures and his speaking countenance, at the moment when the populace, with a sudden burst of feeling, had taken the horses from his carriage, and were about to drag him through the streets themselves, how he begged, entreated, commanded them to desist from such a mode of testifying their respect, so unworthy of a free people. The pageant passed by: he left us in a few hours on his way to Boston, to assist in laying the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill monument; and I thought I had looked upon his venerable form for the last time here on earth.
In a few months, however, my health sunk under the duties of a laborious profession. As a last resort, I embarked for France, about the time of his departure for home in one of our public ships; and arrived a few days after him, while the kingdom was still ringing with the news of his return, and of the reception he had met with among a grateful people. Passing into Italy, I found my constitution gradually renovated under the influence of its genial climate, and was again at Paris in the month of July, soon after the anniversary of our national independence. The Americans there had celebrated the day by a public festival; and LA
FAYETTE was invited in from his residence in the country, to grace the occasion with his presence. He was still in town, and I called on him in company with my friend, Mr. E., who had recently come out from America, to join me in a tour through Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. The General, with that quick recollection of persons for which he was so much distinguished, instantly knew me; mentioned our having sat opposite to each other at a public entertainment in N- a year before; and invited me to go out with him to La Grange, in company with Mr. E., to whom he felt under peculiar obligations for an act of delicate kindness during his visit to America.
The next day we left Paris, in company with his son, George Washington La Fayette. The General went before us in a low carriage which was built for him, while in this country, on account of his lameness: it was one of the numerous presents which drew the eyes of all classes upon him wherever he moved. After a pleasant ride of three hours, we arrived at Rosay, a town of about. three thousand inhabitants, where we were to leave the high road, and cross the country a mile or two, through the fields. Here it was necessary to report ourselves to the police; and it was curious to observe the different treatment which La Fayette experienced from the agents of the government, and the people of the village. His recent visit to America had made him an object of jealousy and hatred to the King; and it was therefore the business of the police to annoy and humble him, by every act of petty oppression in their power. For this very reason, the people of the
A VISIT TO GENERAL LA FAYETTE.
country, wherever he appeared, made double efforts to do him honor, for it gratified their resentment against Charles X., and their affection for the General. Though he had left them but a few days before, all the inhabitants of the place, young and old, came forth in a body from their dwellings to welcome his return. It was beautiful to see with what calmness he endured the insolence of the police, and how he soothed the exasperation and checked the muttered curses of the people, to prevent them from being embroiled with the government on his account. After a short time spent in this way, our passports were ready, and the General took me into his carriage for the remainder of the journey.
We had proceeded hardly a mile, when in the midst of an animated conversation, he suddenly broke off, and pointing to what seemed a forest of about a mile in extent, exclaimed, Voilà La Grange! At an earlier period of my travels, I should have considered such a collection of trees, as a sure sign that we were far from the habitations of men. But I had already learned, that what in our country is the indication of an uncultivated tract in a state of nature, is in the north of France the indication of an extensive domain, in the highest state of cultivation. It is customary there to encircle a large estate with a deep ditch; and to plant the mound which is thus formed, with maples, elms, or apple trees, whose branches intermingle as the trees grow up, forming a dense enclosure, through which the eye of the traveller can scarcely penetrate. Such was the case with the farm of La Fayette. In a few moments we passed the belt of trees, and entering what had seemed a forest, found it to be a richly cultivated tract of about five hundred acres, spread out before us in one open field, with here a patch of wheat, there of rye, barley, oats, peas, &c., in all the variety of French tillage, without a fence or hedge to separate them, and bounded simply by their leafy enclosure of more than three miles in circuit, I which shuts them out from the world. At one extremity, on a beautiful lawn, skirted with shrubbery, stood the family dwelling; and it was exactly such a dwelling as one would have desired for the residence of La Fayette. It was a large feudal castle, five hundred years old, once a hunting seat of Charles IX., standing in the freshness of its age-an apt emblem of its
"Like some bold chieftain
Imagine a spot selected in the lawn mentioned above, two hundred feet long, and one hundred
feet broad. At each of the four corners a round tower is erected of massive blocks of limestone, thirty feet in diameter and sixty feet high, surmounted by a conical roof rising fifteen feet higher, and terminating in an iron point. These towers are united by a line of buildings filling up the space between, on each of the four sides, and forming an enclosed court open only to the sky above, and entered on one side by an arched gateway, fifteen feet wide and twenty feet high. Such was the castle as originally constructed; and such it still remained, except that the court was laid open for the free admission of the sun and air, by demolishing, on one of the sides, the line of buildings which extended from tower to tower. As we drove towards the gate, the General pointed out an ivy which threw its luxuriant foliage along the walls of the castle, and hung in festoons over the entrance. It was planted three years before by CHARLES JAMES FOX. In a moment we passed under the gateway, and a hasty glance showed us the court within, surrounded by buildings three stories in height, whose windows looked down from all the three sides on the enclosed area. The lower story was occupied by the eating apartments, the kitchen, and the numerous offices connected with the domestic establishment. The second and third stories were the residence of the family. The carriage drew up at a noble staircase, on the side opposite to the gate. Welcome," said the General, as we alighted, welcome to my house, as every American is welcome to my heart." He led us up stairs as rapidly as his lameness would permit, and in a moment we were surrounded by his family. It was delightful to see the tenderness and veneration with which they all received him. His wife, indeed, was not there. She had sunk under a complication of diseases, produced by her voluntary confinement with him in the prison of Olmutz. But there was a widowed daughter, and the wife of George Washington, who was head of the family, together with a host of grand-children, all of whom crowded around him with the warmest expressions of affection and reverence. He introduced us as friends from America, and we were placed at once on the footing of old acquaintance.
It was nearly five o'clock, and time to dress for dinner. We were, therefore, conducted soon after to our apartments. Mine was in the third story of one of the towers described above, a circular room more than twenty feet in diameter, with tall, narrow windows, looking down through the massive walls five feet thick, on