Pictures and Illustrations
THIS book is the result of an application to the writer to prepare a volume addressed to young men. In reflecting upon the subject, after having agreed to write the book, it was assumed that there are two classes of young men — one made up of those who feel the force of good principles, and are in some willingness to act from them, and the other composed of such as are led mainly by their impulses, feelings, passions, and selfish interests. And it was also assumed that, as society looks to the former as her regenerators, and not to the latter, it would be most useful to present such views of life as would help the former to see and feel the importance of their position, and the necessity
4there was for them to act from the highest principles. This volume is therefore addressed to the thinking faculty, and seeks to lead young men to just conclusions, from reflections upon what they are, and what are their duties in society, as integral parts of the common body. It is therefore a serious book, — or, it might be called a thoughtful book, — and should be read in a thoughtful spirit. To those who will thus read it, it is believed that it will prove deeply interesting; and all whom it interests it must benefit.
Satisfied that those who read it as it should be read, cannot fail to have their good purposes strengthened, and their minds elevated into sounder views of life than usually prevail in common society, the writer, having completed his task, dismisses it from his hands, and turns to the consideration of other matters that require his attention.
Chapter I. Preliminary Remarks.
WE solicit, in the beginning, the earnest attention of those for whom we write. We have a purpose in view, which cannot be clearly seen and appreciated, unless all that is said he understood and carefully considered. False views of life prevail every where, and especially with those just attaining the age of moral accountability. The books that are written for the young, the oral precepts that fall from the lips of age, too often give erroneous ideas of man's true nature and the end of his being. There is too great a disposition to offer precepts that regard only temporal well-doing — to furnish the means by which wealth is acquired — to regard mere natural life as of primary importance. Since the days of the adage, "A penny saved is
8a penny gained," our people seem to have forgotten that there is something to be saved and gained more precious than even gold or silver. They seem to have forgotten that man has a destiny beyond the attainment of mere wealth. And, as the leading views held and practised upon by the majority of a whole people must be transmitted to, and impressed upon, the minds of the young, and, in turn, influence their whole lives, the natural consequence is, that a large proportion of our young men, as soon as they begin to think and act for themselves, seem to have all ideas and ends merged in the one great pursuit of wealth for its own sake.
The time seems to have arrived for a clear and strong presentation of the real truth on this important subject. Whether the writer of this volume has the ability to do so, or not, will appear in the sequel. In pursuing his task, his object will be to make his readers not only think with him, but to furnish them with leading truths that will cause them to think for themselves, and decide for themselves, in all the varied relations of life in which circumstances may place them. Mere precepts for the young are of little use; they are rarely, if ever, regarded; and it is because they do not appeal to the mind's reasoning faculty. They are but abstract
9enunciations, that come not into the mind as parts of its own conclusions. What is essential is, that a whole idea of life should be imparted, and the young man made to feel that the correctness of he great result — when the problem is, at last, worked out — will depend as much upon the wisdom of his actions at the outset of life as at any other period, — nay, more so; for the nearer to the beginning of a problem the error lies, the farther will the final result be from the truth.
Thus much briefly premised, we shall begin at the beginning, and, first of all, speak of man's origin, nature, and destiny. Without a correct knowledge of these, life-precepts are as likely to be wrong as right, and man is upon the surface of a vast ocean, without helm, chart, or compass. This portion of our work need not be dry and uninteresting: we are sure it will not be so to any who are in a state of mind to derive benefit from a book written for young men. We especially ask for it a thoughtful perusal.
Chapter II. Man — His Origin, Nature, and Destiny.
THE importance of the precept, "Man, know thyself," has been felt and acknowledged in all ages, and among all enlightened nations. To know ourselves truly, requires not only the scanning of our motives and ends of life, but a more general knowledge of what we are as men. On the subject of man's origin, nature, and destiny, there is a great contrariety of opinions, even in the Christian world, nearly all of them more or less obscure and unsatisfactory to the rational thinker. Thousands of pages have been written on mental philosophy, the study of which have only tended to lead man deeper and deeper into the mazes of doubt and obscurity; and system after system has been adopted and rejected, until the human mind, turning from them all with hopelessness, if not disgust, is again afloat upon the sea of anxious inquiry. In this state of things, how important is it that young men should receive as truth only the truth, even if the portion be but small for truth, which nourishes the mind, as
11food nourishes the body, can only give a healthy maturity, while error, like bad food, destroys spiritual health, and gives to the spiritual body a diminutive or distorted growth.
Deeply impressed with the importance of the statement just made, we shall seek earnestly to guard our work against any false views of man or his duties in life, and to make all that we do say as comprehensive as possible.
First, then, as to man's origin. The Lord, who is essential and infinite Love and Wisdom created man a likeness and image of himself, not for his own glory, but) in order to make beings who could be happy out of himself. To do this was the impulse of divine Love, and by divine Wisdom the work was done. But it would have been impossible for man to have been a likeness and image of his Creator, unless he were given rationality and freedom; and with these, as essential to their existence, came the appearance that he had life in himself, although the real truth was, he was only a spiritually-organized form, receptive of life. The two constituents of his mind were will and understanding, by which he became a recipient of love and wisdom from the Lord; his will being the receptacle of love, and his understanding the receptacle of wisdom and from these two constituents, and these alone
12he was man, or an image and likeness of his Creator.
In this golden age of man's existence, all the powers of his mind were in beautiful order, and moved together in perfect harmony. The affections of his will prompted his understanding to the conception of true thoughts, and thus the purposes of his mind were brought forth into action without obstruction; for good desires were in his will, and true thoughts met them in his understanding, and by both all his life was governed. His face was the index of his mind — the tablet upon which all he felt and thought was written; and we have good reason to believe that he had no need of oral speech for the conveyance of his ideas, but found language dumb in comparison to the wonderful play of the innumerable muscles of his face and lips, which were in perfect correspondence with all his feelings and thoughts, and gave to them a full and beautiful utterance; his eye, the perfect mirror of his mind, at a single glance sealing his lips into silence.
This was man's first state, when he came perfect from the hand of his Creator. He had rationality and freedom, without which he could not have been a man; his freedom consisted in his ability to act as if from himself under the
13appearance that he had life in himself; while, from reason, he understood and acknowledged that his ability to act was from the Lord, his Creator, and that he had not life in himself, but was only a form receptive of life. Of course in this state he looked upwards in the grateful acknowledgment of the source whence he derived life and happiness, and it was the will of his Creator that in this acknowledgment he should ever live; not that he might receive glory — for no act of man's could add to his glory — but because such an acknowledgment was absolutely essential to man's happiness; for it was the first and highest truth regarding his existence.
From this view, we may easily see man's danger — the danger of resting in the appearance as a reality; of believing that he really had life in himself, instead of being merely recipient of life; of turning himself from the Lord to self; and of finally believing himself to be as God, knowing good from evil. The result of such a fatal error would be, that man, believing thus of himself, would be inclined to love himself, and think lightly of his fellow-man He would seek his own good, as an end, without reference to the good of his neighbor; and this would quickly produce opposing interests and
14lead on to hatred of all who stood in the war of the attainment of his ends. And such, alas was the case; and man declined, by a steady and sure progression, until he lost almost entirely that likeness and image of the Lord in which he was created, and Became a likeness and image of hell; or, in other words, of all self-love and evil.
As age after age passed away, during this melancholy declension, the spirits of evil men left their natural bodies, and, unchanged in nature, met together and associated, according to affinities of evil, in the spiritual world; and this great congregation of evil spirits is known as hell. The mere laying off of their material bodies, by which they had acted in the material world, changed in no way their nature and ends. While on the earth, they took delight in evil instead of good, and this delight still ruled them, and led them to tempt and seduce from good the yet embodied spirits of man whenever they could get access to them; nay, more, their intrusions became at length so great, that even the bodies of men were "possessed with devils," and the whole race of mankind was so exposed to their infernal influences, that it was on the eve of perishing.
In this "fullness of time," when man was just
15about extinguishing in him every good that he had received at his creation, and on the eve or perishing in consequence, the Lord himself — "The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" — assumed human nature through a woman, and came down into the consciousness of man in his lowest estate of evil, and received in himself all the assaults or temptations of hell that could be made upon those states, and by his own divine power conquered the evil, and remanded the spirits of darkness to their own gloomy abodes. Thus he became able to save man; for, assuming a body of flesh and blood, and coming even to the low perceptions of his senses, he could thus take hold of something in him, and lift him out of the deep into which he had fallen. He could save man in temptation, for he had been tempted himself in every point, but without sin. The redemption he wrought was perfect; for, in the fallen nature he had assumed, through a human mother, was the form of every evil that had ruled in the breast of man since his fall; and into these forms came an influx of evils from hell, or, rather, temptations to evil, which were resisted and overcome. Thus the Lord came into the consciousness of every temptation to evil by which any man in all coming time, could be
16assailed, and conquered in that temptation, so that he can now save all men who look to him for aid, no matter how low they may have fallen.
At the coming of the Lord, men had reached the lowest point in the segment of a circle whose ends were in heaven; and since that time there has been a slow but sure return; and this advancement must be permanent; for man now rises from the sensual into the scientific and rational, and finally becomes spiritual and celestial, and cannot again be deceived by appearances. Whereas, in his creation, he was formed a celestial man, and, when he descended into the sensual region of his mind, was in danger of resting there, as was finally the case, and believing that his earth was fixed and permanent, while the sun was ever changing its place, and revolving around his little centre.
Thus, in speaking of man's origin, we have embraced also a view of his nature and destiny, which every thoughtful reader will comprehend. The destiny of mankind, it is clear, is a return to heavenly order and true happiness. Thus it is of the first importance that all should understand, and at the same time be made to feel, that each individual owes a debt to the human race which he is bound, by the gravest consideration, to pay. That this is so, a few words will make plain.
Man's declension was slow, and consisted in a gradual perversion of the good principles implanted in him by nature; in other words, the love of the Lord and the neighbor was by degrees supplanted by a love of self and the world, until the latter held dominion in the human mind. This progress was hereditary. What the parents confirmed in their own minds was transmitted to their offspring, and these, confirming the tendencies to evil which they received by actual life, transmitted them, with increased direfulness, to their children.
Now, man's return must be along the same path by which he was led so far away into the wilderness of sin and misery. And, therefore only so far as he contends with and overcomes the hereditary tendencies of his nature to evil, does he thus return, or can he give his children the power, from him, of returning. Every evil propensity that a man fights against and overcomes, instead of indulging, he weakens, and this he transmits with diminished power to his children; and every good principle that he acts from and confirms, he transmits with increased power to his children. From this it may be seen how great a debt man owes to the human race, and how he is bound by the gravest considerations to pay that debt.
In this struggle for the regeneration of the human mind, it is essential to understand how it is conducted. It has been already stated that man, when in the order of his creation, had a will and understanding that acted in unison: what his will desired his understanding brought forth. But since man lost the true likeness and image into which he was created, his understanding and will have not been in harmony. Man's will is utterly perverted; it can never be regenerated; but his understanding still retains the power of elevation into even the light of heaven. He has yet the faculty of understanding truth when presented to his mind, and, from this truth, of perceiving its corresponding good. And he is still held in sufficient freedom to choose the good thus presented, and to force himself to act from the truth by which it was made apparent to his mind. In this way, a new will can be gradually formed in the intellectual region of his mind, while the old will, which can never be regenerated, will be laid, with all its evil promptings, into eternal quiescence, and thus man be restored to something of his pristine order.
Thus much by way of fixing the basis upon which our work is to stand. As we stated in the outset, we have a purpose in view in writing
19his hook, and these brief preliminaries were necessary to a full comprehension of the principles we wish to lay down for the government of a young man's conduct in life, in the various relations he may be called upon to sustain. Our object is, to make him feel that he does not stand alone in the world, and therefore should never permit himself to act from purely selfish principles. The reason we have endeavored to explain, clearly enough, we think, for the comprehension of every one.
Chapter III. The Age of Responsibility.
UP to the age of twenty-one years, or to that period when a young man is free from the control of his parents, guardian, or master, his rational mind is not fully developed. He acts from others more than from himself, and others are responsible, to a very great extent, for his actions. But when he becomes a full-grown man, when both mind and body have attained sufficient maturity to enable him to think and
20act wisely and efficiently for himself, then ha takes the reins of government into his own hands, and becomes entirely responsible for his actions, both as regards human and divine laws. This is the most important period in his whole life; for the consequences of an error here are felt at every subsequent stage of existence. A serious consideration this, and one that ought to press, with no ordinary weight, upon the mind of every young man; and the more especially so when the undeniable fact is announced to him, that scarcely one in ten fail, at this period of their lives, to fall into some error that entails upon after life more or less of disability and unhappiness.
Calm and sober reflection, and not thoughtless self-indulgence, should distinguish every young man at this time. The destiny of an immortal being, created in the likeness and image of God is in his hands. Through the intricate mazes of life, by his own wisdom and prudence, — enlightened, it is true, from above, if he will but look up, — he must guide this being either to a sun-bright haven at last, or to destruction upon the gloomy shores of despair and misery. Considerations like these are, surely, enough to make the most thoughtless pause, and regard with prudent caution every footfall in the way of life. But
21reflection and prudence need not bring gloom, but cheerful confidence. When a man opens his eyes, and sees that, in a path he was about to walk in with heedless steps, there are innumerable dangers, and wisely chooses a better and a safer way, he has cause for emotions of delight, rather than depression. And such is the result with every young man who, when just entering upon a life of freedom and responsibility, wisely reflects, and shuns all the allurements of false pleasures, and the excesses into which all, at this period, are tempted to run.
A common error into which very many fall at this period, is the belief that they may run into various excesses, and indulge themselves inordinately in sensual pleasures for a few years, or during the brighter days of their early springtime, and, after that, assume the more important and real business of life. This is a most dangerous error, and for the reason that it is an immutable law of order in the human mind, that all which precedes in a man's life goes to make up his character in all its subsequent formations. This can only be seen by those who understand something about the real nature of man, as a spiritually-organized being. To those who think superficially, and only from appearances, the idea of substance and form appertains only to
22material things, and, so far as man is concerned, to his body only. But the real truth is, man's substantial part is his spirit, while his body is only a form, organized and built up from inert material particles, as a piece of beautiful machinery, by which the true spiritual body can act in the material world. It is this spiritual body which is the true man. The material eye, for instance, does not see. It, as matter, has no power of vision; but it is a window through which the eye of the spirit can look out and see natural objects. The mere closing of this window does not destroy the spiritual eye; it only takes away its medium of sight into the natural world. So of the ear, and so of all the external senses; they are but the avenues through which the senses of the spiritual body take cognizance of things in the outer and lower world of matter. The true sight of the spirit is its power to perceive truth, and its sense of hearing, its willingness to obey the truth so perceived. That this is so, all mankind have a common perception. For, when one attempts to present a truth to your understanding, he says, "Don't you see?" And when a father wishes to impress the necessity of obedience to a precept upon his child, he says, "Do you hear?" The ground of this lies in the fact, as just stated,
23that there is in the human mind a perception that the spirit's vision is its power to see truth and its hearing is its willingness to obey.
From this it may be seen that man's spiritual body is a real something — that it can see and hear, and that the natural body has, really, no eye nor ear, but only organized forms by which the spiritual eye and ear can see into and hearken in the natural world. Now, if this be true of the eye and the ear, it is true of the whole body in every general and particular thing appertaining to it; and, as the natural body, which is an out birth from the spiritual body, is a form beautifully organized in all its parts, and is called a substance as well as a form, is it not clear that the spiritual body is also a substance and a form? nay, that the only true substantiality is in the spiritual body, which can never be disorganized, but which retains its existence and its powers forever?
Keeping this in view, it may readily be perceived that impressions can be made on this spiritual form and substance that will be as lasting as any thing made upon the body. That this is so, mankind have seen, in all ages, and hence the adage — "Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined," and the thousand wise precepts
24in the codes of morality to be found in all nations, referring to the power of habit.
The position here taken is, that the natural body is the material form with which the spiritual body clothes itself, in order to act in the material world; if this be true, — and we are sure no rational man can for a moment question it, — then we may, by analogy, determine some of the laws which govern the spiritual body, by observing those which govern the natural body. Now, the laws of natural health are those which govern the natural body, and, when observed, all its machinery goes on right; and it is but a wise inference to say that the laws of spiritual health are those which govern in the spiritual body, and, when observed, spiritual health must be the result. If we disregard the laws of natural health, diseased impressions are made upon the body, more or less apparent, which ever after remain, and show themselves, no matter how careful we may be, in after life, under certain and particular circumstances, and deprive us of some measure of ability to perform fully our duties or wishes in life. If the laws of health have been grossly abused more serious consequences follow; and, sometimes, men's whole lives are rendered burdensome, and they, perhaps, unfitted for nearly all active
25duties, in consequence. Precisely similar will be the result where the laws of spiritual health have been disregarded. "What are the laws of spiritual health!" is asked. We answer, the Decalogue contains the laws of spiritual health, as laid down by the Creator of man, who alone can know what is in man, and what laws to establish for his government, in order to secure his happiness. The violation of any one of these laws, even in intention, will bring spiritual disease, as certainly as the violation of any law of natural health will produce natural disease; and this disease will impress the substance and form of the spiritual body, and produce a change from true order, that no subsequent obedience to right precepts will ever entirely restore.
It would be easy to show how the indulgence of every inordinate desire, — to do which young men are so strongly tempted, — is a violation of some precept of the Decalogue, and tends to destroy spiritual health; but to do so, would extend this preliminary part of our work too far, and trench too much upon the province of an abstract spiritual philosophy. What we have already advanced is deemed essential to the formation of true ideas in regard to life and its responsibilities, and we cannot but think that its bearing will be clearly seen. In other parts of
26our work, we will keep in view the laws here laid down, and show their bearing in actual life. From what is advanced in this chapter, we think every reflecting young man will feel the necessity of examining his ends, as well as guarding his actions, and be exceedingly careful what impressions are made in the substance and form of his spirit.
Chapter IV. A Common Error of Young Men.
THE most common error into which young men fall at this era in their lives, — as was intimated in the last chapter, is to consider the age of freedom from the control of others as a period of license for self-indulgence. Far too many run into extremes, and either injure their health, or form habits that ever after stand in the way of virtuous respectability, or success, as professional or business men. That this is a very serious error, need not here be said. These habits are of various kinds. We will notice one of them in this chapter, as the most prevalent.
The habit of spending money too freely in the gratification of a host of imaginary wants, is one into which young men of generous minds are too apt to fall. Limited to a small income previously, and compelled to deny themselves at nearly every point, they find it almost impossible to resist the impulse that prompts to self-gratification, and are thus led to spend, perhaps for years, the entire sum of their earnings, and, more than probable, to run into debt. The folly of this every one can see and acknowledge, and yet too many have not the resolution to act up to their convictions.
This habit of spending money uselessly has marred the fortunes of more young men than any other cause. It is a weakness that should be firmly and constantly resisted by every one. Money should be considered as a means by which man has power to act usefully in the world, and he ought to endeavor to obtain it with that end in view. The greater a man's wealth, the broader may be, if he but will it, the sphere of his usefulness. It is true that men do not seek for wealth under the impulse of such high considerations, and, in the present condition of the human mind, from causes just explained, it cannot be expected that they should do so. But the first thing a man has to do in
28the work of self-elevation, is to shun what is evil because it is evil. And if a young man, who is constantly tempted to spend his money foolishly, should refrain from doing so from the consideration that it was wrong to waste that by which he might ultimately be useful to his fellows, he will be very apt, in after life, to feel, under all circumstances of expenditure, that he must not be entirely unmindful of the effect of his acts upon others.
One means for the correction of this fault may be found in a regular account of receipts and expenditures. A young man, whose income was seven hundred and fifty dollars a year, was asked by a friend how much money he had saved. He had been receiving this salary about four years, and had no expenses whatever except those that were personal.
"Saved!" returned the young man, in surprise. "I can't save any thing out of seven hundred and fifty dollars a year."
"I saved money on a salary of five hundred dollars," was the friend's quick reply.
"I should be most happy to know your secret," said the other. "I have tried fifty times to lay up something, but it's no use."
"What does your boarding cost you?"
"Three dollars and a half a week."
"Or a little over a hundred and eighty dollars a year. Add your washing, and it will make two hundred. Next comes your tailor's bill. How much is that?"
"Generally about a hundred and twenty-five dollars."
"Seventy-five more, I suppose, will pay for your boots, and the various little etceteras of clothing not included in your tailor's bill?"
"O, yes, fully, I should think."
"Very well. Where are the three hundred and fifty remaining?"
"Dear knows, for I don't," was the young man's reply.
"What does your account book say?"
"Account book! I don't keep an account book. I never dreamed of such a thing."
"That is strange! Why, I keep my own cash account as carefully as I do my employer's."
"I don't know any particular good that does," said the young man. "Keeping an account of your money doesn't make it go any further."
"O, yes, it does. Keep an account of every item spent for a month, and read it over carefully on the first of the succeeding one, and my word for it, if you have any disposition to prudence in you, it will cause you to be more careful of your money; for you will see there the
30haunting ghosts of too many dollars spent in foolish self-indulgence the pleasures of which endured but for a brief season, and left you a less contented mind than you had previously enjoyed. In a little while, such account keeping, if you adopt it, will show you where your three hundred and fifty dollars a year have gone. My reason for asking you the question was this: one of the best opportunities for going into a safe and profitable business that I have yet seen, has just presented itself. To enter into it will require a capital of two thousand dollars. I have laid by a thousand, and fully believed you had accumulated as much, and that jointly we might improve so rare an opportunity. But this, I am sorry to find, is not the case. I must seek for some one else who has the sum that is needed."
This lesson the young man laid to heart, and profited by it. From that day, he kept a regular account of his expenses, and soon found that, with the data it afforded, and a little resolution and self-denial, he could lay up money — a thing he had before deemed impossible.
A good resolution, perhaps the best a young man can form on this subject, is always to live below his income, let it be what it will. It may require, in some cases, a good deal of self-denial to do this but such self-denial will be well
31repaid. We know a young man, who, at the age of twenty-two, married, while his income was but ten dollars a week. Instead of renting a whole house and going in debt for furniture, he rented a single room in the house of a friend, with the privilege of the kitchen, for about fifty dollars a year. His resolution had long before been taken that he would always manage to spend less than he received, and he chose this modest style of living as a means of attaining his end. None of his friends or acquaintances thought the less of him for his prudence, but rather commended him. By living thus economically, he was able to lay by a hundred dollars during the first year, and the same for two or three years longer. Then a good opportunity offered for going into business, which was embraced. Some ten years since that period have elapsed, and he has just retired with a snug little competence of forty or fifty thousand dollars.
This habit of living up to the income seems to be the bane of all success. The cause of it is not in a small income, but in unsatisfied desires. The young man who spends his salary of four or five hundred dollars, is almost sure to run through every thing he receives when that salary is doubled. The gratification of one desire only makes way for another still more exacting. It
32is, therefore, of the first importance for a young man to guard himself here; if he do not, he is in danger of forming a habit that will go with him through life, and mar his fairest prospects. The prospects of thousands have been thus marred.
A still worse error than spending the entire income, and one the effects of which are far more blighting to a young man's worldly prospects, is that of living beyond the income, either under the doubtful hope that it will be increased next year equal to the deficit of the present, or from the neglect of keeping a careful eye upon the relation existing between receipts and expenditures. The most common way in which this going beyond the income occurs, is in making purchases on credit, instead of buying every thing for cash. If a want is felt, and the means of satisfying it are not in hand, the true way is to wait until such means are received, rather than anticipate their receipt by running in debt. At the beginning of a quarter, too many make purchases to be paid at its expiration, instead of waiting until its close, and then, with cash in hand, buying just what they want, and no more. Their salaries are received and paid all away for clothes worn, and board due, and they left to anticipate another quarter's income long before it comes into their hands.
Going in debt for clothing is a very common, but a very foolish practice. No one does it, who is not compelled to pay at least from ten to twenty per cent. more than he would if he always paid the cash down; and he is, besides, tempted to buy more than he otherwise would, and to choose more expensive materials for his garments. Then, while his six or twelve months' account is running on toward maturity, he is spending, little by little, foolishly, the money that ought to he hoarded for its payment; and when due day comes, he too often finds it impossible to satisfy the large demand against him, unless by borrowing from a friend, or getting an advance on his salary. Does all this make him feel any happier? Is the consciousness of being in debt so very pleasant to a sensitive and honest mind. One would think that a young man's natural pride of independence would cause him to shrink from such a position, and use every means in his power to avoid it, instead of going into it with his eyes open, as so many do.
It is wiser and more honorable for a man to wear his coat three or six months longer, until he have the money with which to buy a new one, than it is to go in debt for the garment, and thus lay a tax upon his future income, or run the risk of not being able to pay for what
34he has worn, at the time agreed upon A common subject of remark among young men is their tailors' bills, and the difficulty of paying them. For a young man, with a fixed salary, and only himself to support, to have any tailor's bill at all, is no good sign, and speaks badly of his habits and future prospects.
Debt — debt! A young man is mad, we had almost said, to go in debt under any pretext whatever. We remember a bookbinder who, from intemperance, got into debt; on reforming, he lived on broken crackers, at a cent or two a pound, with tea made in his glue-kettle — he sleeping at night in the shaving-tub; and this economical mode of living was continued until he got out of debt. How much better would it have been to have lived thus abstemiously, in order to have kept out of debt, had the necessity for so doing existed! Almost any sacrifice of pride, feeling, and comfort, should be made by a young man, rather than go in debt; for, once get behindhand, and it seems next to impossible ever to recover yourself. You may toil early and late, and yet it will seem all in vain; and if you do, at length, get your feet on firm ground, it will be by the severest struggles, or by what seems a happy accident.
The facility with which young men of fair
35character can get credit, is a great temptation to many, who feel that it is a very pleasant thing to get all they want, even without a dollar in their pockets, and have four, five, or six months given them to pay the bill in. How utterly unconscious do they seem of the shortness of the period of six months! They look at it ahead, and it seems afar off, and approaching with but a slow pace. Ere they are aware, however, it is upon them, and, they too often find, upon them much too soon.
This taxing the efforts of the future to pay for the expenditures of the present, is a folly so apparent that one would think even a child must see and avoid it as a great evil. No one knows what is in the future, nor what will be his future ability to meet even his current expenditures, much less to take up the burdens of former times. If in the present we find it hard to provide for all our present wants, surely there should arise a dictate in regard to the future, and a carefulness how we lay upon next year not only its own burdens, but a portion of those which belong to this. How does a young man know, when he contracts a debt to be paid in six months, that long before that time sickness, or the reduction of his income, may not make it very hard for him to meet even his bare expense
36then much less pay a bill contracted for previous necessities, or, more probably, self-indulgence in something that a wise forethought would have prompted him to do without?
Not the least annoying and mortifying of the inseparable accompaniments of debt is the liability to have demands made for money at times when it is utterly impossible to satisfy them. How often is the honest intention hurt, the pride fired, or a hopeful confidence in life chilled, by such sudden and imperative demands!
Since writing what precedes in this chapter, a book has been published, entitled "Self-Help," by Samuel Smiles, author of "The Life of George Stephenson," from which we make an extract on the subjects of economy, debt, living within the means, and kindred subjects, that is so full of right views that we ask for it a very thoughtful perusal. We also recommend the book to every young man who desires to rise into usefulness and eminent positions.
"Every man ought so to contrive as to live within his means. This practice is of the very essence of honesty. For if a man do not manage honestly to live within his own means, he must necessarily be living dishonestly upon the means of somebody else. Those who are careless about personal expenditure, and consider merely their
37own gratification, without regard for the comfort of others, generally find out the real uses of money when it is too late. Though by nature generous, these thriftless persons are often driven in the end to do very shabby things. They dawdle with their money as with their time; draw bills upon the future; anticipate their earnings; and are thus under the necessity of dragging after them a load of debts and obligations which seriously affect their action as free and independent men. The loose cash which many persons throw away uselessly, and worse, would often form a basis of fortune and independence for life. These wasters are their own worst enemies, though generally found amongst the ranks of those who rail at the injustice of "the world." But if a man will not be his own friend, how can he expect that others will? Orderly men of moderate means have always something left in their pockets to help others; whereas your prodigal and careless fellows who spend all, never find an opportunity for helping anybody. It is poor economy, however, to be a scrub. Narrow-mindedness in living and in dealing is generally short-sighted, and leads to failure. The penny soul, it is said, never came to two-pence. Generosity and liberality, like honesty, prove the best policy after all. Though Jenkinson, in the "Vicar of Wakefield," cheated his kind-hearted
38neighbor Flamborough in one way or another every year, "Flamborough," he says, "has been regularly growing in riches, while I have come to poverty and a jail." And practical life abounds in cases of brilliant results from a course of generous, honest policy.
"The proverb says that ‘an empty bag cannot stand upright;’ neither can a man who is in debt. Debt makes everything a temptation. It lowers a man in self-respect, places him at the mercy of his tradesman and his servant, and renders him a slave in many respects, for he can no longer call himself his own master, nor boldly look the world in the face. It is also difficult for a man who is in debt to be truthful; hence it is said that lying rides on debt's back. The debtor has to frame excuses to his creditor for postponing payment of the money he owes him; and probably also to contrive falsehoods. It is easy enough for a man who will exercise a healthy resolution, to avoid incurring the first obligation; but the facility with which that has been incurred often becomes a temptation to a second, and very soon the unfortunate borrower becomes so entangled that no late exertion of industry can set him free. The first step in debt is like the first step in falsehood; almost involving the necessity of proceeding in the game course, debt following debt, as lie follows
39lie. Haydon, the painter, dated his decline from the day on which he first borrowed money. He realized the truth of the proverb, ‘Who goes a-borrowing, goes a sorrowing.’ The significant entry in his diary is: ‘Here began debt and obligation, out of which I have never been and never shall be extricated as long as I live.’ Haydon had long been accustomed to borrow money from his poor father, which, however, he did not include in his obligations. Far different was the noble spirit displayed by Fichte, who said, when struggling with poverty, ‘For years I have never accepted a farthing from my parents, because I have seven sisters who are all young, and in part uneducated; and because I have a father who, were I to allow it, would in his kindness bestow upon me that which belongs by right to his other children.’ For the same high-minded reason, Fichte even refused to accept presents from his poor parents.
"Dr. Johnson held that early debt is ruin. His words on the subject are weighty, and worthy of being held in remembrance. ‘Do not,’ said he, ‘accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity. Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means
40to be avoided.... Let it be your first care, then, not to be in any man's debt. Resolve not to be poor; whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult. Frugality is not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help others that wants help himself; we must have enough before we have to spare.’
"It is the bounden duty of every man to look his affairs in the face, and to keep an account of his incomings and outgoings in money matters. The exercise of a little simple arithmetic in this way will be found of great value. Prudence requires that we shall pitch our scale of living to a degree below our means, rather than up to them; but this can only be done by carrying out faithfully a plan of living by which both ends may be made to meet. John Locke strongly advised this course: ‘Nothing,’ said he, ‘is likelier to keep a man within compass than having constantly before his eyes the state of his affairs in a regular course of account.’ The Duke of Wellington kept an accurate detailed account of all the moneys received and expended by him. ‘I make a point,’ said he to Mr. Gleig, ‘of paying my own bills, and I advise every one to do the same; formerly.
41I used to trust a confidential servant to pay them, but I was cured of that folly by receiving one morning, to my great surprise, duns of a year or two's standing. The fellow had speculated with my money, and left pay bills unpaid.’ Talking of debt, his remark was, ‘It makes a slave of a man. I have often known what it was to be in want of money, but I never got into debt.’ Washington was as particular as Wellington was, in matters of business detail; and it is a remarkable fact, that he did not disdain to scrutinize the smallest outgoings of his household — determined as he was to live honestly within his means — even while holding the high office of President of the American Union.
"Admira Jervis, Earl St. Vincent, has told the story of his early struggles, find, amongst other things, of his determination to keep out of debt. ‘My father had a very large family,’ said he, ‘with limited means. He gave me twenty pounds at starting, and that was all he ever gave me. After I had been a considerable time at the station [at sea], I drew for twenty more but the bill came back protested. I was mortified at this rebuke, and made a promise which I have ever kept, that I would never draw another bill without a certainty of its being paid. I immediately changed my mode of living, quitted my mess, lived alone and
42took up the ship's allowance, which I found quite sufficient; washed and mended my own clothes; made a pair of trousers out of the ticking of my bed; and having by these means saved as much money as would redeem my honor, I took up my bill; and from that time to this I have taken care to keep within my means. Jervis for six years endured pinching privation, but preserved his integrity, studied his profession with success, and gradually and steadily rose by merit and bravery to the highest rank. Samuel Drew's first lesson in economy is thus described by himself: When, I was a boy, I somehow got a few pence, and coming into St. Austell, on a fair-day, laid out all on a purse. My empty purse often reminded me of my folly: and the recollection has since been as useful to me as Franklin's whistle was to him.’
"It is a great point for young men to begin well, for it is in the beginning of life that that system of conduct is adopted which soon assumes the force of habit. Begin well, and the habit of doing well will become quite as easy as the habit of doing badly. Well begun is half ended, says the proverb; and a good beginning is half the battle. Many promising young men have irretrievably injured themselves by a first false step at the commencement of life; while others of much less promising talents, have succeeded simply
43by beginning well, and going onward. The good practical beginning is, to a certain extent, a pledge, a promise, and an assurance, of the ultimate prosperous issue. There is many a poor creature, now crawling through life, miserable himself and the cause of sorrow to others, who might have lifted up his head and prospered, if, instead of merely satisfying himself with resolutions of well-doing, he had actually gone to work and made a good practical beginning.
"Too many are, however, impatient of results. They are not satisfied to begin where their fathers did, but where they left off, They think to enjoy the fruits of industry without working for them. They cannot wait for the results of labor and application, but forestall them by too early indulgence. A worthy Scotch couple, when asked how their son had broken down so early in life, gave the following explanation: ‘When we began life together, we worked hard, and lived upon porridge and such like, gradually adding to our comforts as our means improved, until we were able at length to dine off a bit of roast meat, and sometimes a boilt chuckie (or fowl) but as for Jock, our son, he began where we had left off — he began with the chuckle first.’ The same illustration will apply to higher conditions of life than that of this bumble pair.
"Mr. Home hit the mark when he once stated in the House of Commons — though his words were followed by ‘laughter’ — that the tone of living in England is altogether too high. Middle class people are too apt to live up to their incomes, if not beyond them; affecting a degree of ‘style’ which is most unhealthy in its effect upon society at large. There is an ambition to bring up boys as gentlemen, or rather ‘genteel’ men; though the result frequently is, only to make them gents. They acquire a taste for dress, style, luxuries, and amusements, which can never form any solid foundation for manly or gentlemanly character; and the result is, that we have a vast number of gingerbread young gentry thrown upon the world, who remind one of the abandoned hulls sometimes picked up at sea, with only a monkey on board.
"There is a dreadful ambition abroad for being ‘genteel.’ We keep up appearances, too often at the expense of honesty, and, though we may not be rich, yet we must seem to be so. We must be ‘respectable,’ though only in the meanest sense — in mere vulgar outward show. We have not the courage to go patiently onward in the condition of life in which it has pleased God to call us; but must needs live in some fashionable state to which we ridiculously please to call ourselves,
45and all to gratify the vanity of that unsubstantial genteel world of which we form a part. There is a constant struggle and pressure for front seats in the social amphitheatre; in the midst of which all noble self-denying resolve is trodden down, and many fine natures are inevitably crushed to death. What waste, what misery, what bankruptcy, come from all this ambition to dazzle others with the glare of apparent worldly success, we need not describe. The mischievous results show themselves in a thousand ways — in the rank frauds committed by men who dare to be dishonest, but do not dare to seem poor; and in the desperate dashes at fortune, in which the pity is not so much for those who fail, as for the hundreds of innocent families who are so often involved in their ruin.
"The late Sir Charles Napier in taking leave of his command in India, did a bold and honest thing in publishing his strong protest, embodied in his last General Order to the officers of the Indian army, against the ‘fast’ life led by so many young officers in that service, involving them in ignominious obligations. Sir Charles strongly urged, in that famous document — what had almost been lost sight of — that ‘honesty is inseparable from the character of a thorough-bred gentleman,’ and that ‘to drink unpaid-for champagne and unpaid-for beer, and to ride unpaid-for horses, is to be a
46cheat, and not a gentleman.’ Men who lived beyond their means, and were summoned, often by their own servants, before Courts of Requests for debts contracted in extravagant living, might be officers by virtue of their commissions, but they were not gentlemen. The habit of being constantly in debt, the commander-in-chief held, made men grow callous to the proper feelings of a gentleman. It was not enough that an officer should be able to fight; that any bull-dog could do. But did he hold his word inviolate — did he pay his debts? These were among the points of honor which, he insisted, illuminated the true gentleman's and soldier's career. As Bayard was of old, so would Sir Charles Napier have all British officers to be. He knew them to be ‘without fear,’ but he would also have them ‘without reproach.’ There are, however, many gallant young fellows, both in India and at home, capable of mounting a breach on an emergency amidst belching fire, and of performing the most desperate deeds of valor, who nevertheless cannot or will not exercise the moral courage necessary to enable them to resist a petty temptation presented to their senses. They cannot utter their valiant ‘No,’ or ‘I can't afford it,’ to the invitations of pleasure and self-enjoyment; and they are found
47ready to brave death rather than the ridicule of their companions.
"The young man, as he passes through life, advances through a long line of tempters ranged on either side of him, and the inevitable effect of yielding, is degradation in a greater or less degree. Contact with them tends insensibly to draw away from him some portion of the divine electric element with which his nature is charged; and his only mode of resisting them is to utter and to act out his ‘No’ manfully and resolutely. He must decide at once, not waiting to deliberate and balance reasons; for the youth, like ‘the woman who deliberates, is lost.’ Many deliberate, without deciding; but ‘not to resolve, is to resolve.’ A perfect knowledge of man is in the prayer, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ But temptation will come to try the young man's strength; and once yielded to, the power to resist grows weaker and weaker. Yield once, and a portion of virtue has gone. Resist manfully, and the first decision will give strength for life; repeated, it will become a habit. It is in the outworks of the habits formed in early life that the real strength of the defence must lie; for it has been wisely ordained that the machinery of moral existence should be carried on principally through the medium of the habits, so as to save the wear and
48tear of the great principles within. It is good habits, which insinuate themselves into the thousand inconsiderable acts of life that really constitute by far the greater part of man's moral conduct.
"Hugh Miller has told how, by an act of youthful decision, he saved himself from one of the strong temptations so peculiar to a life of toil. When employed as a mason, it was usual for his fellow-workmen to have an occasional treat of drink, and one day two glasses of whiskey fell to his share, which he swallowed. When he reached home, he found, on opening his favorite hook, ‘Bacon's Essays,’ that the letters danced before his eyes, and that he could no longer master the sense. ‘The condition,’ he says, ‘into which I had brought myself was, I felt, one of degradation. I had sunk, by my own act, for the time to a lower level of intelligence than that on which it was my privilege to be placed; and though the state could have been no very favorable one for forming a resolution, I in that hour determined that I should never again sacrifice my capacity of intellectual enjoyment to a drinking usage; and with God's help, I was enabled to hold by the determination.’ It is such decisions, as this that often form the turning-points in a man's life, and furnish the foundation of his future character.
49And this rock, on which Hugh Miller might have been wrecked, if he had not at the right moment put forth his moral strength to strike away from it, is one that youth and manhood alike need to be constantly on their guard against. It is about one of the worst and most deadly, as well as extravagant, temptations which lie in the way of youth. Sir Walter Scott used to say, ‘that of all vices drinking is the most incompatible with greatness.’ Not only so, but it is incompatible with economy, decency, health, and honest living. When a youth cannot restrain, he must abstain. Dr. Johnson's case is the case of many. He said, referring to his own habits, ‘Sir, I can abstain, but I can't be moderate.’
"But to wrestle vigorously and successfully with any vicious habit, we must not merely be satisfied with contending on the low ground of worldly prudence, though that is of use, but take stand upon a higher moral elevation. Mechanical aids, such as pledges, may be of service to some, but the great thing is to set up a high standard of thinking and acting, and endeavor to strengthen and purify the principles, as well as to reform the habits. For this purpose a youth must study himself, watch his steps, and compare his thoughts and acts with his rule. The more knowledge of himself he gains, the humbler will he be, and
50perhaps the less confident in his own strength, But the discipline will be found most valuable which is acquired by resisting small present gratifications to secure a prospective greater and higher one. It is the noblest work in self-education — for
Springs from the silent conquest of ourselves,
And without that the conqueror is nought
But the first slave.’
"Many popular books have been written for the purpose of communicating to the public the grand secret of making money. But there is no secret whatever about it, as the proverbs of every nation abundantly testify. ‘Many a little makes a meikle.’ ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’ ‘A penny saved is a penny gained.’ ‘Diligence is the mother of good-luck.’ ‘No pains no gains.’ ‘No sweat no sweet.’ ‘Sloth, the key of poverty.’ ‘Work, and thon shalt have.’ ‘He who will not work, neither shall he eat.’ ‘The world is his, who has patience and industry.’ ‘It is too late to spare when all is spent.’ ‘Better go to bed supperless than rise in debt.’ ‘The morning hour has gold in, its mouth.’ ‘Credit keeps the crown of the causeway.’ Such are specimens of the proverbial philosophy, embodying the hoarded experience of many
51generations, as to the best means of thriving in the world. They were current in people's mouths long before books were invented; and like other popular proverbs, they were the first codes of popular morals. Moreover, they have stood the test of time, and the experience of every day still bears witness to their accuracy, force, and soundness. The proverbs of Solomon are full of wisdom, as to the force of industry, and the use and abuse of money: ‘He that is slothful in work is brother to him that is a great waster.’ ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.’ Poverty, he says, shall come upon the idler ‘as one that traveleth, and want as an armed man;’ but of the industrious and upright, ‘The hand of the diligent maketh rich.’ ‘He who will not plough by reason of the cold, shall beg in harvest, and have nothing.’ ‘The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.’ ‘The slothful man says there is a lion in the streets.’ ‘Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings.’ But above all ‘It is better to get wisdom than gold; for wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.’"
"Simple industry and thrift will go far toward making any person of ordinary working faculty
52comparatively independent in means. Even a working man may be so, provided he will carefully husband his resources, and watch the little outlets of useless expenditure. A penny is a very small matter, yet the comfort of thousands of families depends upon the proper spending and saving of pennies."
We need not add a single word to give force to this admirable presentation of the subject of thrift as connected with carefulness, economy, and self-denial.
Chapter V. Friends and Associates.
A WANT of prudence in the use of money, at the beginning, may become confirmed into habits that will mar a man's fortunes for life, but a want of due caution in regard to our associates is fraught with consequences far more direful. The effects of the first error are felt mainly in the inconveniences and disabilities of natural life; but the effects of the latter reach
53far deeper, and impress themselves upon man's spiritual and substantial part.
The laws of association are governed by mental and moral — or, to speak more correctly spiritual — affinities, and are based upon the qualities of mind and heart. The good are attracted toward each other, and the same thing occurs with the evil, when reciprocal interchanges of thoughts and feelings take place. Now, in every society of either the good or the evil, there is a sphere of the quality of that society pervading the whole; and all who come into it, and voluntarily remain there, are more or less strongly affected by this sphere, and think and feel with the rest. Let a man, who has a respect for order and obedience to the laws, go into a mob, and voluntarily remain there for a time, and he will be surprised to find his liveliest sympathies on the side of mob law; and the reason of it is, he feels the sphere of the quality of that mob's affections — he is in it, and breathes it, and feels an impulse to act from it. Who does not from his heart condemn the reprehensible practice of steamboat racing, for instance? yet who has ever stood upon the deck of a noble boat during a trial of speed with another boat of nearly equal or superior capacity, and among a crowd of eager spectators, that has not forgotten all
54danger and waived all disposition to censure the officers of the boat, in his sympathy with the general feeling?
From these two instances may clearly be seen the great importance of choosing, with care, our associates. If we mingle with those who make light of both human and divine laws, we shall be led into the same error, and sink, instead of rising, in the scale of moral excellence. But if we choose more wisely our companions, we shall not only be elevated ourselves, but help to elevate others.
In speaking of the origin, nature, and destiny of man, we showed how, after attaining the lowest point in the circle of declension from good, a return to true order had commenced, and had been in progress now for nearly two centuries. And we also briefly alluded, in another place, to the fact, that the commencement of every man's duties in aiding this return began at the age of responsibility, or when he became freed from the trammels of minorship. And we will here state, that only just so far as each man elevates himself by refraining from all evil acts, does he, or can he, do any thing for the general return to true order. He may build churches, and send forth missionaries, and be devout in his observances of all religious ordinances; but still he has
55done nothing in this great work, unless he have actually shunned evils in his own life, as sins. If this be done, he has really and truly removed evil in the world, and made way for the influx of good.
Keeping all this in view, — the whole subject of his duties and his danger, — every young man may see how much depends upon his choice of associates. If he mingle with those who are governed by right principles, his own good purposes will be strengthened, and he will strengthen others in return. But if he mingle with those who make light of virtue, and revel in selfish and sensual indulgences, he will find his own respect for virtue growing weaker, and he will gradually become more and more in love with the grosser enjoyments of sense, that drag a man downward, instead of lifting him upward, and throw a mist of obscurity over all his moral perceptions.
It not unfrequently happens, that young men — either from feeling the dangers attendant upon associations with others, or from a natural disinclination for society — seclude themselves, and take for companions books and their own thoughts, becoming hermits in the very mids of society. This is an error that effectually pretends a healthy development of character. One of the first laws of our being is the law of
56association, and whoever disregards it, disregards not only his own, but the common good. Society is a man in a larger form, and we are all members, and must act in concert with the rest, and do our duty to the whole, or we shall find ourselves — like a hand that lies inactively appropriating the life-blood that flows into it, without doing any tiling for the whole body — gradually losing our power, and withering away into mental impotency.
That society is a man in a larger form, may be seen on a moment's reflection. And as this is a very important truth, upon the right understanding of which the health of society depends, we will here endeavor to make it apparent. The common perception that it is so, causes the king, or supreme officer in a government, to be called the head of the nation.
It is known that no two men are precisely alike in appearance, disposition, or ability; that no two men are able to do the same thing with equal skill; and it is also known that there is some one thing in which every particular man can excel his fellow, if he will but direct to that thing all the powers of both his mind and body. One man comes into the province of the head and his chief delight and activities consist in a regard to things of government, either in the
57affairs of the nation, as a whole, or in some one of its thousand subdivisions into lesser associations. He sees ends, causes, and effects far more clearly than his neighbor, who may be, perhaps, in the province of the hand, and ever ready to execute what others plan. The one is a man of thought, the other of execution, and they act in harmony in the attainment of the general good; one is not more honorable than another, except so far as he does his appropriate work more faithfully. It would be an interesting task to trace here the correspondence between the attributes and functions of common society, and those of the individual man; but a mere declaration of the fact, with the simple and apparent illustration of it that we have given, will cause it to strike almost every one as true, and enable every one to trace out this correspondence for himself. But, if there are any who cannot comprehend what has been assumed in regard to society being a man in a larger form, let them consider this plain proposition. Society is an aggregate of individual men, and must, therefore, be the complex of those qualities, attributes, wants, and abilities, which appertain to individual men; consequently, society is a greater man, and must be sustained in health by an observance of the laws which preserve the individual.
The conclusion arrived at in the last sentence is what we are particularly desirous of impressing upon the minds of such of our readers as feel inclined to separate themselves from society, and live in selfish seclusion. All the members of the body act in harmony: the eye sees not for itself; the ear hears not for itself; the hand works not for itself; but all labor for the common good, while each part is sustained from the whole. If any part ceases to perform its functions, that part at once begins to suffer decay; its muscles shrink, its veins and arteries decrease in volume, the blood circulates feebly through it; it becomes weak and helpless, and affects the whole body with disease more or less serious, as the part approaches or is more remote from the seat of life. Just such will be the effect produced in every case where a man deliberately withdraws himself from the uses of society; and the more serious will be the result, the higher the function he is qualified to fill. The duty of social intercourse is not so imperative as the duty of performing faithfully the work of our office in life, be it what it may. Derelictions here, produce the worst consequences. But, even where a man labors with diligence in his ordinary calling, and is faithful to all men in it, seclusion from friendly intercourse with his fellows will seriously
59injure him, for it will prevent the development of those social virtues so essential to the counteraction of that selfishness which is ever leading us to see no good in others, and to have no regard for others' happiness. So long as this is felt, we make no progression whatever in the ascending circle of return to true order, and do nothing that really aids others in a similar progression.
Let every young man, then, seek for associations in life; but let him be exceedingly careful how he make his selection. Almost every thing depends upon its being done with prudence.
Chapter VI. Improvement of the Mind.
No truth in science or morals, nor any skill or accomplishment which a man obtains, is ever lost to him. Some time in his life he will find it useful. Youth is the season of acquirement, and maturer years the time of action; and the action of maturer years will be perfect or imperfect in an exact ratio with our earlier acquirements.
60As but few young men venture upon the uncertain experiment of business immediately on becoming of age, most of them have several years of freedom from its absorbing cares, and an opportunity for study, in which many things may be learned, that will, some time in after life, be found of great importance. The character of these studies should be governed very much by the particular calling in which a young man is engaged. As, for instance, if he have chosen commercial pursuits, he will find in an acquirement of a knowledge of the modern languages a very important means of future advancement. If honest and competent as a clerk, he may be selected as best fitted, from his acquaintance with German, French, or Spanish, to conduct a voyage as supercargo, that will not only materially increase his income, but give him an opportunity of seeing foreign nations and coming into actual business contact with them — that most important means of enlarging our ideas, correcting false impressions, and maturing our judgments in those matters of the world that are so essential to success. And so of every other pursuit or calling in which a young man may be engaged. Some particular branch of information will be found to aid materially his advancement therein, and secure his future well-doing. How to direct
61aright his efforts, every one must decide for him self, from the circumstances of his own position.
But even where no means of using the information proposed to be obtained is presented to the mind, every opportunity for improvement should be embraced, and those branches of knowledge cultivated that accord best with the tastes and inclinations. One or two hours of well-directed study, each day, will furnish the mind, in a few years, with a vast amount of information on all subjects, not a single item of which will be valueless, but, some time in life, be of use to the possessor.
Books of facts and books of principles should make by far the larger portion of a young man's reading, and works of fancy and fiction be resorted to only as mental recreations, or the means of improving the taste. The first are essential to the formation of his rational mind; they contain the food by which it is nourished, and from which it grows into maturity and vigor. If, instead of this kind of reading, mere fiction be resorted to, a puny intellectual growth will be the consequence, and, instead of there being the soundness of true mental force and discrimination, there will be only the weakness of a trifling sentimentality. History, biography, and travels, furnish the mind with the main facts to
62be obtained by mere reading, while the abstruser facts of science, even more necessary than these to be known, must be acquired by something more than this superficial mode — by patient and laborious study; but this patience and labor receive a rich reward. Another and equally important branch of reading is that of mental and moral philosophy. There is danger here of acquiring false views; for these abound in nearly every philosophical work extant. History records the naked facts that have transpired; biography tells the story of a man's life; and the book of travel opens up to us the manners, customs, and peculiarities of other nations. We read them all, and form our own conclusions from the facts stated. But books of philosophy come to us as grave teachers, with precepts for our government in actual life. They assume to understand the constituents of the human mind, and to lay down laws for its government. Of these books there are many, and all with systems more or less variant with each other. They cannot all be true, of course. "What, then, am I to do? Who is to lead me into a true system of philosophy?" we hear asked; and we answer, "Your own- reason, guided by an earnest desire for the truth for it" own sake."Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.
This, at first sight, may seem very unsatisfactory kind of advice; but it is the only advice we can conscientiously give. No man can truly believe any thing that he does not understand; and therefore nothing can be truth to him that does not come within the scope of his own reason. Systems of philosophy, when presented to him, ought to be examined; but nothing that they advance should be received as truth, unless his own rationality approve. The test of all truth is its ability to lead to good. To take a thing for granted because it is gravely stated as truth by a man who has the reputation of being a great philosopher, is the worst of folly. Even if the proposition be true, it is a truth to no one unless it be rationally perceived. A man may assent to it, but it is not a living, but only a dead assent. He is none the wiser.
As the precept, "Man, know thyself," is to all one of vital moment, and as no man can properly know himself unless he understand something of his mental and moral nature, we will make a few plain statements on the subject, from which any one may derive clear ideas, and be able to understand his own mental operations, and the laws that govern them. Such a knowledge will enable him to separate the wheat from
64the chaff in books, and store up the wheat in the garner of his innermost thoughts.
The mind of man is threefold. It consists of affection, thought, and power; or will, understanding, and action. The will is man's love, of very life, the moving impulse of his being; his understanding gives a form to this affection, clothing it in thoughts; and from both together flows forth activity. In the will of man, which is his love, or life, resides his ends; these work by his understanding, or reasoning faculty, in the procurement of means to their gratification; and when all is prepared, from both flows forth activity in real life. It will require but little reflection to make this clearly apparent. A man has some end in view, which is a desire for something: this is the first impulse he feels. He never thinks first, but always feels or desires first, and thought is but the consequence. As just said, a man has some end in view, which is a desire for something; immediately his reasoning powers awake, and eagerly search about for the means by which that end may be obtained; but still a man might desire forever, and think forever, and no effect would be produced, if both affection and thought did not consummate themselves in action. In the erection of a house, the first
65thing is a desire for a building suitable for a certain purpose; then the understanding takes up the matter, and wisely determines what is to be done, and decides upon the best modes of doing it; and, lastly, all the machinery required is put in operation, and the building is completed, the end accomplished.
That all this is true, the simplest mind can see at a glance. Now, we wish further to say, that whatever be the quality of the mind's affection, such will be the quality of the thoughts that are prompted by this affection, and such the quality of the ultimate action; if good, good; if bad, bad. An evil will acts by false thoughts, and produces evil actions; while a good will acts by true thoughts, and produces good actions.
This philosophy of the human mind, simple and comprehensive as it is, is now seen to be eminently practical. It causes a man to think well of his ends; and the quality of these he can see in his actions, for they reflect the ends which govern a man as clearly as a mirror reflects his face. If the act be wrong, the end in view, from which that action flowed as a natural result must be wrong also; for a sweet fountain cannot send forth bitter waters.
Ever keeping in view this law of the human mind, the young adventurer on the sea of
66meta-physical knowledge will at all times be able to determine his position, and to discriminate between the true and false lights by which he is compelled to steer his soul-laden bark.
Man's study of himself, aided by certain data in the outset, is full of interest, and fraught with the most important results. He who carefully observes the operations of his own mind, is soon able to correct false views, and soon acquires a soundness of thinking on all subjects. He makes a stronger impression on society; his influence widens daily.
Very many considerations might be urged upon young men by which to make them feel the importance of improving their minds in every possible way; the highest consideration we can urge is that of man's duties to common society, and the impossibility of his discharging them efficiently, unless every power of his mind be cultivated to the extent of the opportunities afforded him. But too few are able to feel so unselfish a consideration as this, and they must be moved by the lower influences of respectability, eminence, or the possession of wealth, all or some of which are the rewards that follow the cultivation of man's intellectual ability. An ignorant man may get rich, but he cannot rise into intellectual society, he can never be any thing
67in the world except a mere money-maker, nor be esteemed for any thing but his wealth. He contributes nothing toward the world's true advancement; he is, after all, but a drone in the social hive; and when he dies, his memory soon perishes with him, unless he provides for having it inscribed upon some imposing edifice, built by the money he could no longer use for his own selfish purposes — to no truly great man an enviable fame.
Chapter VII. Self-Education.
ALTHOUGH the improvement of our minds, in the way just alluded to, is, to all intents, self-education, yet by that term here we mean something more than was contemplated in the preceding chapter. There are a very large number of young men, just entering upon life, of good minds, but deficient educations, who, from this cause, are kept back, and labor under great disabilities. Many of these are mechanise, and others have no regular calling whatever, and find it very difficult to earn any thing beyond a
68very meagre support. Upon these we would urge, with great earnestness, the duty of self-education, so called. The deficiencies of early years need not keep them back from positions of eminence in society — those positions awarded only to men of intellectual force and sound information — if they will but strive for them. A vast amount of knowledge may be gained in the course of a few years, by rightly employing those leisure hours which every one has; and this knowledge, if of a practical kind, will always insure to a man the means of elevation in the world.
A young man who is a mechanic, able to earn only from six to ten dollars per week, must remain a mechanic all his life, unless he have the ability to do something else from which a larger income is to be obtained. He may become a master workman, it is true; but this will depend upon the character of his mind, and the kind of business he is engaged in. It is not every trade which a young man can set up for himself. More capital than a journeyman mechanic can ordinarily obtain is often required.
A young mechanic, who has possessed but few educational advantages, will find himself deficient in many things, and be painfully conscious of his inability to procure a comfortable livelihood for
69himself and those who may happen to be de pendent upon him, if at some future day loss of health, casualty, or other circumstance, should render him unable to work at his trade. The first business of such a one ought to be, the acquirement of some kind of knowledge that could be used to advantage, were such a state of things ever to occur. And we would recommend to every one so situated to turn his attention to two things: first, the acquirement of a thorough knowledge of figures and account-keeping; and second, to the improvement of his handwriting. He will find ample leisure for this. But he must not be discouraged if his progress be slow; if he make any progress at all, that should encourage him to persevere; and if, after an application of two, three, or even four years to this and other branches of study and information, he be rewarded by obtaining a situation as clerk, with an increased income and lighter labor, he will not think it has cost him too dear.
Some years ago, we knew a lad, of no remarkable quickness of intellect, who was apprenticed to a trade at the age of thirteen years. For two years previously, he had been at work, so that all his education had been acquired from the time he could go to school until he was eleven years old; and while at school, he was rather a
70dull boy, and did not advance as rapidly as most children. During his apprenticeship, which continued through a period of nearly seven years, something inspired his mind with a desire for knowledge, and he commenced reading and studying at times when his fellow-apprentices were at play or sitting idly about, in the few books to which he could get access. As he had no one to direct his studies, they were, of course, attended with many disadvantages and drawbacks, and he was compelled to pick up, here and there, the information he desired upon any subject, and often to abandon the pursuit, and turn to some other branch of knowledge, because the few books he could attain were little more than elementary works, or mere abridgments. But, the more he learned, the more he found there was to learn, and the more eager he became for information on all subjects. He was about eighteen years of age when he began to have good reason to fear that he would not be able to follow the trade he was learning, as a means of livelihood; that his health would not permit him to work at it much beyond the time when he was to be free. For a while, this caused him great depression of spirits; but he was not of a temper long to despond under any circumstances, for he had a consciousness of internal power, and this led him
71to action, rather than the indulgence of gloomy forebodings. What we have advised in the preceding paragraph, was the suggestion of his own mind. He felt that a knowledge of account-keeping, with the ability to write a fair business hand, would be of the first importance to him, in case he were unable to gain a livelihood by working at the trade he was learning. All his efforts were now directed to an acquirement of the knowledge and skill needed. He began by taking up an arithmetic and going through it, beginning at "Compound Division," and ending with "Promiscuous Questions." This was the work of an entire winter, and the time spent at it was generally from one to two hours in every twenty-four. In doing this, his aim was to acquire a facility for making all kinds of calculations required in business. During this time, he wrote from one to two pages in a copy-book every day, and made a very great improvement in writing. All this was done without omitting any of his regular employments, or in the least neglecting the interests of his master, who never once had cause to make a complaint against him.
After he had gained the arithmetical knowledge he desired, our young friend commenced the study of book-keeping, and soon understood
72the whole theory of accounts; but here he wanted more practical knowledge than the mere making of fictitious entries, &c., on a few sheets of paper called a day-book, and posting from these to a few sheets more, called a ledger; and the opportunity of gaining it soon occurred. His master had always kept his own books, though in a bungling manner; but his business had increased so much that a more thorough system was required, and he was about employing a regular clerk to take charge of them. This fact came accidentally to the ears of his apprentice, who, after turning the matter carefully over in his mind, ventured to offer his services, and proposed to do the work in the evening, after his regular day's labor was done. To this his master, after satisfying himself that the boy understood something about book-keeping, very readily assented, and, purchasing an entire new set of books, set him to work in opening them, and transferring all the accounts from the old ledger. This occupied him about a week, during which time he did nothing else. The work was very neatly and correctly done, and pleased his master so well, that he offered him the option of remaining in the shop, or assisting him in the general management of the business, and taking charge of the books and collections. No
73proposition could have been more agreeable. It was accepted at once. In this new department he remained until he was of age, and was then employed in the same capacity, at a salary at least two hundred dollars a year more than he could have earned by working at his trade.
This young man's desire for improvement did not stop with the first reward of his diligence in acquiring useful information. A love for mathematical studies had been awakened, and algebra, mensuration, geometry, and all the higher and abstruser branches, one after the other, became he subjects of patient investigation. By the time he was free, he understood more about them than one half of the young men who have enjoyed all the facilities afforded by the best literary institutions. Three years after his time of service expired, he obtained a situation in a corps of engineers, just commencing the survey of a long line of railroads, since constructed, at a salary of one thousand dollars a year. Here he had a fine chance to display his ability; and he did it to such good purpose, that, before the expiration of twelve months, he was employed to conduct several surveys at the south, from which he derived an income of twenty-five hundred dollars a year for two years. He never returned to the north, except as a visitor. After the
74surveys were made, he received an appointment as professor of mathematics in a southern college — a situation that he still retains. He is now considered on of the first mathematicians in the country.
Fellow-apprentices with the individual of whom we have been speaking, were lads who had enjoyed greater advantages of education, and who were blessed with quicker intellects. But while he was diligently seeking to improve himself, they were content with their acquirements, and preferred idleness or mere amusement to study. This was the simple fact that lay at the foundation of the different results. Each one of them might have become as eminent in some pursuit for which a peculiar formation of mind particularly fitted him.
Very many instances of results similar to the one just stated have fallen under the writer's observation. He could point to a single shop, out of which have come at least half a dozen men, now more or less eminent in the professions. They were poor boys, with few advantages, and early in life put out to trades by their parents, who had not the means of preparing them for higher walks of usefulness. In one or two of them the thirst for knowledge was felt, and they inspired the others with a feeling of noble emulation.
75Their leisure hours were spent in study, each one in the branches that suited best his taste and inclinations. Most of them chose medicine as a profession, and laid the groundwork of a knowledge of the healing art in a commencement of the study of anatomy. A physician, a friend of one of the young men, generously offered them all the facilities his office afforded, with advice as to the order of their studies. These were pursued with great diligence late at night and early in the morning, so as not to interfere with their working hours, or their duties to their master, who never had cause to complain that their work was not well done. One of them had the misfortune to have a natural obtuseness of intellect. It cost him three times the labor that it did any of the rest to acquire the same amount of information; but what he lacked in quickness of comprehension, he made up in more intense and more prolonged application. So much interested did this young man become, and so eager was he in the pursuit of his anatomical investigations, that, upon an arm, which he obtained for dissection, the worked sometimes for nearly the whole night, and until it became so offensive, that his mother, with when he boarded, discovered what he was about, and was so shocked, that he was obliged to give up the
76precious bundle of arteries, nerves, and muscles which he had obtained at some cost, and which had afforded him so much pleasure and instruction. With another arm he was more successful, carrying it backwards and forwards, under his cloak, from his home to the shop, and working at it every moment that he could get, until he had completed a beautiful preparation, which he no doubt still possesses, as a trophy of his early achievements in this highly attractive and interesting branch of science. He is now a physician in one of the Atlantic cities, with a large practice.
Two of these apprentice boys are now clergymen, one became a surgeon in the army, two are regular practising physicians, and the other has passed beyond our observation.
Self-education is something very different from mere reading by way of amusement. It requires prolonged and laborious study, The cultivation of a taste for reading is all very well but mere reading does little toward advancing any one in the world — little toward preparing him for a higher station than the one he fills. The knowledge which fits a man for eminence in any profession or calling, is not acquired without patient, long-continued, and earnest application, Reading is resorted to by very many as a means of
77making an idle hour pass more pleasantly; others have a natural desire to obtain information on a variety of subjects, and read, for the gratification of that desire, history, biography, travels, and the current publications on all the various subjects that generally interest readers of taste and intelligence. The first class are mainly novel-readers. These if they do not actually stand still, make but little advance in intellectual improvement. Between theatre-going, visiting, and this kind of reading, nearly all their leisure time is spent, Such persons generally make agreeable companions in mixed companies, where conversation is light and rambling. They have some taste, from reading so much about matters of taste in works of fiction, and from being familiar with criticisms on the stage; and have a very good idea of the current events of the day. Such characters are very good in their place; but they do not help to advance, except with, it may be, the force of a little finger, the great movements of the age. Still they generally have a very good opinion of themselves, and trade quite extensively on their small intellectual capital. The other class of readers alluded to are of a higher order; but their reading does not amount to a great deal more than to make them think themselves far more intelligent than the mass
78of the people, unless what they acquire be made useful somewhere in their ordinary pursuits in life. And here we would remark, that it is the use to which a man can apply what he receives, that determines its real value and that but little of sterling worth can be received, except by an earnest and concentrated effort of the mind.
Mere reading, therefore, although of importance in itself, as a means of enlarging our ideas and correcting and refining our tastes, does not give a man much power — does not help him to; rise above the position in which circumstances may have originally placed him. It is study that does this. Franklin the printer's boy did not become Franklin the philosopher and statesman, by reading only, but by study land we do not hear of his studying under Teachers, and of being guided by them — for, like many of you, he did not possess these high advantages, — but his education progressed under the supervision of his own mind. He had to feel his way along, and to correct his own errors, ever and anon, as the dawning of fresh light enabled him to see them. And you may do the same; you, with few acquirements now, and few opportunities, may, if you only will it, become as useful and eminent a man as Franklin. But you must work
79for it. Diligently and earnestly must you labor, or you cannot stand side by side, in after years, with the men who have become distinguished for the important services they have been able to render their fellows.
In regard to self-education, no specific rules can be laid down, nor any course of study pointed out. All will depend upon the capacity, situation, and peculiar character of the individual. Inherent in every one is a capacity for the doing of some one thing better than another; and in the exercise of this natural ability every man attains his true place in society. From a common perception of this fact, it has become a habit with judicious parents and guardians to consult the youth under their charge in regard to their future callings, and to be governed very much by the preferences they express. One lad, who feels the necessity of improving himself, may turn all his thoughts, and direct all his investigations, toward gaining a knowledge of the principles upon which the branch of art he may be engaged in learning is founded, in order that, when he becomes a man, he may, with more intelligence and certainty of success, prosecute his trade. Whoever does this may depend upon finding full scope for all the knowledge he thus acquires, and be sure of rising above his less
80ambitious fellows. Another may look away from his trade, and be emulous of distinction in some other pursuit, and this will give a different direction to his course of study; and he will become a statesman or a merchant, or, it may be, rise into some one of the learned professions; for to rise above the great mass, who will not apply themselves, is the unfailing result of patient and thorough self-education.
Chapter VIII. Accomplishments.
MUSIC, dancing, and a truly polished and graceful manner in social intercourse, with a knowledge of those modes and forms that are founded upon a just regard of man for man, which prevail in society, are known as accomplishments. With regard to the first of these, there is but little difference of opinion; the second has many warm advocates, and many bitter and unrelenting opponents, who see in it evil, and only evil; and there are some who appear to think any serious regard to the latter, especially
81the making of rules for observance, a sign of weakness and folly.
As respects music, it is clear to us, that, if a young man have any taste at all in that way he ought by all means to cultivate it. It will not only extend greatly his own means of enjoyment, but give him the power of contributing much to the enjoyment of others. We do not think it would be wise for him to devote all his leisure time to music, to the neglect of other and graver pursuits; but/there are times when the mind wearies of thought, and will be refreshed and strengthened to attempt new efforts, if its slumbering affections be awakened into life and activity by music. While words give utterance to the thoughts of the mind, music expresses its affections; and thoughts when uttered, and feelings when expressed, are in greater fulness and power. So well satisfied are we that there is great use in the cultivation of music, that we believe all men who are ignorant of the science have defects which no cultivation of the intellect alone can possibly overcome.
Against dancing much has been urged, but nothing that we have seen having any basis in rational truth. It has been called sinful; but nothing is sinful except what is done from evil intent. Some have said that it awakens impure
82thoughts; but they who allege this either have impure minds or have never danced. Such is well known not to be the case. It is a frivolous waste of time, say others, and unworthy the dignity of men and women. If it is made to interfere with any duty, it is certainly a waste of time; as to the "dignity," the objection will be worth considering, when it is understood in what a man's true dignity consists. It is a fact worthy of observation, that the most strenuous opposers of dancing are those who have least charity, so called, for their neighbors; and that one of these persons will spend an evening in animadverting upon the faults and foibles of others, and indulging in a spirit of ill-will and censoriousness, while those engaged in dancing during the time have been blessing each other with a spontaneous and generous reciprocation of the kindest feelings. It is a bitter spirit, indeed, that does not feel kindly emotions while threading the graceful mazes of a cotillon, every step and every motion of the body harmonizing with sweet music.
The whole truth, in regard to the objections against dancing which prevail, lies in the fact that it is erroneously imagined that all pleasures are incompatible with religion, than which there cannot possibly be a greater mistake. The pleasures of sense are not evil in themselves,
83but good: the evil lies in their perversion and abuse. The partaking of food is a highly-gratifying sensual pleasure; but it is not evil, except where eating is abused to the injury of the health. It cannot be evil for the ear, so finely attuned, to take in the harmonies of music although for any one to neglect all the duties of life in giving himself up to the enjoyment of music, would certainly be a great evil. It cannot be evil to enjoy the odor of sweet flowers, nor to delight in viewing an exquisite picture, or piece of statuary, or a beautiful landscape; and yet these are all pleasures of the senses, so called, though in reality the pleasures of the soul, as it looks out upon and hearkens unto the world of nature, and there sees and hears those things that correspond to affections and principles in itself. The law of our spiritual constitution is, that all things of the mind come into their fullest power and delight in the lowest or sensual plane; and all who hinder in any way this descent of the soul into the orderly plane of its activity, destroy much of its vital force, and take away its power of clear intellectual discrimination.
Dancing is nothing more nor less than graceful movements of the body in time with music, and is joined in by two, three, or a much greater number, all acting in concert. The brightening
84eye, the glowing cheek, and the smiling lip, attest the pleasure that is felt by each. A pleasure in what? In consummating an evil purpose? None will say that. There is delight, and it must be either in good or evil. Is it in evil? And if so, in what does it consist? The dancers are virtuous maidens and young men of good principles, who, to the sound of music, have arranged themselves upon the floor, and are moving their bodies in harmony with it. It is not evil, we unhesitatingly say, out good; for it is always good for the mind to flow down into external acts that are in themselves innocent, and encourage kindness and good-will from one toward another; and this is precisely what occurs in dancing. The objections against its abuse are as good as objections against the abuse of any thing else, but no better. Another use of dancing is, that it gives a young man an easier and more graceful carriage, with more freedom in his social intercourse. It also aids him in acquiring a self-possession in company, which is so necessary fur the pleasure of all, yet so hard to attain in mere conversational circles, or even in the half-awkward promenade, into which a stiff and formal sitting party is sometimes broken up by an effort, soon to subside again into its score of little circles, all
85detached from the rest, and feeling nothing in common with the whole.
By all means, take lessons in dancing, if you have not yet done so, we would say to every young man. Don't let an awkward bashfulness prevent your doing so; for it is one of the very best means you can adopt for its correction. You are a social being, and are bound to mingle in society, both for your own good and the good of others. You are under obligation to give your quota to the general enjoyment, and under a like obligation to take your own in return, for the sake of that healthy flow of spirits so essential to the right performance of all our duties in life. And, unless you have those accomplishments that are common in polite society, you can neither give nor receive all the benefits that spring from right social intercourse.
The laws of etiquette, or those conventional forms of good breeding, which prevail in society when they are founded upon a just regard of man for man, should always be observed. Among these laws, as found in books of etiquette, are many which have in them no vital principle which are the mere offspring of a sickly pride. They may be known from the fact that they are not based upon a generous consideration of others
86others. These may be observed or not, as any one thinks best; and, when among those who make it a point to observe them, we should think it wise not to interrupt the general good feeling by their violation, unless a principle were involved. It is not wrong in itself to drink tea from your saucer instead of your cup, nor to eat with your knife instead of your fork; still, as these are usages of polite society, a man of good common sense will observe them when in company, no matter how partial he may be to his knife and saucer.
We would recommend to every young man to read carefully one or more books on etiquette and good-breeding, and thereby acquaint himself with the laws that are observed in polite society. We would not, however, advise him to adopt all the forms and observances there laid down, but to take each one, and analyze it carefully, and see upon what it is based — pride or the kind consideration of others; and where he finds that a violation of the law will subject any one to unnecessary pain or annoyance, he should carefully obey it under all circumstances.
A true gentleman — that is, one who really regards with feelings of disinterested kindness his fellow-man — will rarely commit any glaring
87violation of good manners. To such a one the study of those rules established as usages in polite society, will afford much matter for reflection, and he will readily distinguish between the good and the bad. He will find much that is the mere offspring of pride, vanity, and a fancied idea of importance; but he will find much more that is based upon a just regard of man for man. We were particularly struck with the closing paragraph of a book of this kind, which contains much more than a fair proportion of bad reasons for observing some very good rules. It is as follows: "Gentility is neither in birth, manner, nor fashion, but in the mind. A high sense of honor — a determination never to take a mean advantage of another — an adherence to truth, delicacy, and politeness toward those with whom you have any dealings, are the essential and distinguishing characteristics of a, GENTLEMAN."
This is every word true. A man may have the most accurate knowledge of all the rules of etiquette, and most carefully observe them; but if he have not the above qualities, he is not a gentleman.
Chapter IX. Amusements.
EVERY young man should enter upon life with an earnest purpose. He will have need of patience, fortitude, energy, and intense thought, in overcoming the difficulties that must be encountered before his day of trial be over. Life has been called a warfare, and truly so called. It is a warfare with enemies both within and without — enemies of the flesh and enemies of the spirit. He has to contend, in the world, against the selfishness that would crush every man's interest in the attainment of its own ends; and to contend with the same spirit of selfishness in his own heart, that is ever prompting him to seek an advantage at the sacrifice of others' good. Happy for him if, when he fall into temptation be do not fall in temptation, but stand fast by his integrity.
"If life, then, be so grave a matter, what has man to do with amusements?" we hear asked. "In these conflicts with foes within and without, one would think the heart could never
89heave up with a glad emotion, the eye never brighten, nor the lip smile."
And such could never be the case, if the strife were incessant — if, after a fierce conflict, there did not come a season of repose, in which both mind and body could rest, and be refreshed and invigorated for new combats. It has been assumed — and it is evidently a true position — that inaction is not the rest that re-invigorates the exhausted energies of either the mind or body, but a new direction of effort, by which new muscles of the body, or new faculties of the mind, are brought into activity. The true repose, then, which should follow every life-conflict — and they are of almost daily occurrence — is an entire diversion of the thoughts and feelings into some new channel. If this be not done, there can be too rest; for the current of thought will flow unchecked, until the mind becomes diseased, and loses half its power.
And herein we see the use of amusements, or those innocent employments that divert the mind, and fill it with pleasing emotions. After the business of the day is over, these come in their natural order, to refresh and strengthen for new efforts; and it is more in accordance with the dictates of right reason to seek for re-invigoration in these than in dull inaction. To play a
90game of draughts or chess will do a man more good, after a day of labor and care, than to spend his evening in lounging on the sofa. And he will find the gay doings of a social party of far more benefit to him, if he make one of, and enter into the spirit of that party, than he will to sit out his evening, brooding over the disappointments and crosses of to-day, or sadly contemplating the trials of to-morrow.
Amusements, therefore, we hold to be essential to the health of both body and mind. But, like every other good, they are liable to be perverted; and the young are more in danger of perverting them than those who have passed the prime of life. Nearly all the various amusements, public and private, that are entered into at this day, are innocent and useful in themselves, although some of them are sadly perverted to evil ends. Dancing, games, concerts, the opera, scenic representations, etc., are all good in themselves, and may be enjoyed innocently and beneficially by all. In cards, for instance, there is no evil abstractly, nor in a game of cards; but gambling is a great evil — one from which every honest mind shrinks with horror. When made a school of morals, the stage is a powerful teacher of truth, because it shows us vice or virtue in living personifications but as it now is, we are
91compelled to acknowledge that it is a poor place of resort for the strengthening of virtuous principles.
At all suitable times, young men will find it useful to seek for recreations and innocent amusements. It will give their minds a healthier tone, and bring them into associations different from business associations, by which they will be able to see new phases of character, and judge more kindly of their fellows. In business, each one seeks his own interest; there is no generous deference to the interests of others, and men grow daily more and more selfish; but in social intercourse, one defers to another; there is the form of self-sacrifice for the good of others, at least, and we would fain believe no little of its essence.
From this brief presentation of the subject every one must see that the views taken by those who inveigh against amusements, as either sinful or entirely useless, are erroneous, and founded upon false notions of man's moral nature. Our life here is for the development and perfection of our characters as immortal beings, created originally in true order, and now afforded all possible means for a return to true order. In true order, every affection of the mind, when it comes into activity, produces
92delight; and as a love of good is the vital principle of true order, when man is restored to what he has lost, his highest and purest delight will be in doing good. Delight or pleasure, then, is not evil, but good, provided it does not flow from the consummation of an evil purpose. It is the healthy reaction of the mind upon orderly effort, and strengthens and prepares it for new and higher efforts. Take away all delight as the reward of effort, and see how quickly the cheek fades and the eye grows dim!
If, then, delight or pleasure be not wrong in the abstract, the seeking of amusements, as means of recreation, after the mind is over wearied by long and oft-repeated efforts, cannot be wrong, and this every mind not sadly warped by false views must see. But to seek amusements as a means of "killing time," as some do, or as the occupations instead of the occasional recreations of life, is to pervert them from their true object, and to make them highly injurious, instead of beneficial. To engage, night after night, in a trial of skill in games, — to spend two or three evenings every week at balls and parties, or attending theatric or operatic performances — must enervate instead of strengthening the mind, and will inevitably hinder any young man from rising into distinguished positions of usefulness in society. After
93the business of the day, the mind will ordinarily find a means of healthy reaction in intellectual pursuits, which form a part of some leading purpose by which a man's life is governed amusements come in as occasional means of restoring the wasted energies, and should he entered into at intervals, as absolutely essential to the continued healthy activity of our minds.
There are boys so hardly circumstanced, as to be deprived of nearly all amusements at an age when work and play should each come in right order. These are apt to make men who have little sympathy for young people, and who regard all amusements as waste of time, and enervating to the character. They constantly refer back to their own uncheered boyhood as evidence that amusements are valueless; not thinking that the very aspect they show to the world is one of the strong arguments in favor of their balancing influence. From men of this class, as well as from religious ascetics, we have a steady warfare upon all amusements.
It may be well to look a little closer at some of the popular sources of recreation, and to examine their quality. The true end of all amusement is, as we have seen, that recreation of the mind which will enable it the better to perform its useful tasks when the hour of duty returns. It
94should come up from them re-invigorated; and this can hardly be the case, if there should be in them anything that excites low, sensual, or impure emotions; or that insinuates false sentiments on any subject. Among the most prominent and popular of all our public amusements, is the theatre. How is it in regard to the ideas and emotions that are called into activity here? Are they, as a general thing, pure, elevating, and virtuous? or, on the contrary, depressing to the moral sense? Is the wit that makes you laugh, refined or coarse? Are the passions, in the display of which you are most interested, cruel or tender? How do you come up from the theatre? With all nobler impulses strengthened, or, with images in your imagination that you would blush to have revealed?
We fear that, for the most part, your experience of the drama, as it now exists, cannot be presented as an argument in its favor. The evil overbalances the good; to say nothing of the doors to vice and intemperance which there stand invitingly open. An occasional visit to the theatre may be well; but it should be when talent of the highest available order is presented, so that the new excitement of mind under which you are brought, may partake more of the intellectual than the sensuous. But regular theatre-going we must condemn as
95not only dangerous, but depressing to the moral sense, and enervating to the whole mind.
If, therefore, you wish to make a strong, useful successful man in the world, no matter what your life pursuit may be, attend the theatre rarely.
As to the opera, that has its good and also its bad points. Music is innocent. But most of the librettos to which it is wedded in opera, are disgracefully vicious. The most effective portions of an opera are usually, those in which passions of the worst kind are displayed or indicated. The loves, hates, lusts, jealousies, and murderous passions of outlaws, libertines, and courtezans, too often make up the larger portion of musical expression in these fashionable entertainments, which are not indigenous to our own soil, but the stimulated exotics of another clime. It is surprising how much enthusiasm virtuous people permit themselves to exhibit in favor of certain operas, which, it has often seemed to us, they might well blush to have it known they had seen. The saving clause in all this, is the fact that the singing is mostly in Italian or French, not a word of which one in ten of the audiences usually understand. It is because the opera is fashionable, not from a genuine love of that class of music in the mass of those who attend, that it is so popular. The number who really enjoy the good music to which
96stupid, trifling, or bad sentiments are wedded, is but small. Do not, then, fall into the error of professing to admire and enjoy something that really interests you but little, and which attracts large numbers by its imposing accessories, more than from any other cause. Your amusements should always strengthen your mind in some direction; or, in the excitement of gentle, loving, humane, and generous sentiments, make you more a man of true sympathy with your fellow men when, in business or social contact, your life acts upon theirs.
You will not have failed to notice, that the staple of conversation among some young men is the histrionic ability of certain actors and actresses, which they criticise with a gravity that would lead you to think them possessed of extraordinary talents. Do not fall into the weakness of giving such undue importance to what is really a small interest in society.
Actors are well enough in their way, and so far as they conduct themselves honorably in private life, are to be respected. But their calling throws them into temptations beyond what usually assail men and women who have to depend on their own efforts to make their way in the world, and the personal history of the stage has been much involved in scandals. The constant introduction of
97the names of players, and the giving of undue importance to their stage readings and performances, are scarcely in good taste; and the individual who does this frequently, when in the company of intelligent, thoughtful people, will leave on their minds the impression that he thinks a great deal more of such matters than is consonant with a solid, well based character.
Criticism on the various performers who nightly sport in fantastic costumes before their audiences, occupy far more space in our daily and weekly newspapers than ought in truth and fairness to be given. If the public understood these to be nothing more than advertisements, they would be in the way of forming more correct estimates. But while such amusements continue to be held up by the press, as things of primary importance, the unobservant and unreflecting will be led into considering actors, actresses, tenors, and prima donnas as distinguished personages, and their comparative merits a subject worthy of the gravest consideration.
Do not, as we have said, fall into the error or weakness of making too prominent, in your conversation, the merits of this class of persons. They are all very well in their way; but there are men and women all around you, in public and private life, whose talents and performances are a
98thousand times more worthy of your thought. As you regard amusements, so regard those who minister to this want of your nature, as entitled to rank always second to those who are engaged in the higher and more important uses of society. Do not confound things. Let the first in utility always have precedence in your regard.
The effect of amusements on your state of mind will always indicate their utility or hurtfulness. If, after their enjoyment, you return to your regular duties, with a mind reinvigorated and cheerful, then they have done you good. But, if the useful things that demand your care and labor seem afterwards tame and irksome, and your thought wanders away from them to the evening's entertainments, then you may well question their good influence. Beware, in this case, how you let mere amusement and recreation make large demands on your leisure time; for you are in danger of being drawn away from that abiding interest in useful employments by which alone man rises in the scale of worldly prosperity, or becomes honorable and happy.
It is the habit, to which we have referred, of making actors, singers, and others, who minister to our recreations, leading topics of conversation that elevates mere amusement to an undue import
99importance, and tends to make useful things appear tame and uninviting. And whatever has this tendency, should be avoided. Things right in their place, may be hurtful when taken out of their just relations.
Chapter X. Self-Government.
THERE are two kinds of self-government, or the controlling of evil and disorderly propensities — the one springing from a regard to external considerations, such as the love of reputation, ease, or wealth, and the other from an abstract regard to right principles. Self-government, from the first of these considerations, which is that which most prevails in common society, does not give a man any real power over himself. His inward disorders are only caged as wild beasts, not subdued and brought under the control of opposite good principles, and
100when these restraints cease, they show themselves again with renewed power and activity. We see this in those who have attained an advanced age, without truly, and from an internal ground, reforming the leading impulses of their lives. How melancholy a sight it is to see an irritable, impatient, passionate old man! and this every one is sure to become, if life is prolonged to second childhood, who does not subdue his irritability, impatience, and passion, by struggling against them as evil tendencies of a corrupt nature, instead of merely concealing them from others in his ordinary intercourse in life, when it answers his purpose to do so, that his reputation may be preserved, or his selfish ends answered.
Extreme old age is called second childhood. The reason of this designation is supposed to be in a resemblance between the imbecility of old age and the helplessness of childhood. But a much higher and more instructive truth is at the basis of this supposed resemblance. A child is born in the innocence of ignorance, which is man's first state: there is a likeness to this in his last state, if his life have been an orderly progression from reformation to regeneration; or, in other words, if he have, after the laying, in early life, of a basis of scientific truths, both natural and spiritual, by means of parents and teachers, elevated these
101truths, by a rational adoption and practice of them, into knowledge in his mind in mature life, and by the aid of them corrected the tendencies to evil in which he was born. This likeness to childhood — which is a state of innocence from ignorance — is a state of innocence; from wisdom. Imbecility is not the natural condition of old age, but wisdom; which comes as the invariable consequence of a life well spent. But, alas! how few spend their lives well! how few are governed by a regard for good and true principles! how few strive for the attainment of ends not thoroughly selfish! and the melancholy result is, that few who attain old age, when the very life's love shows itself more plainly than at any other time, because less regard is then felt for external considerations, are in the innocence of wisdom.
The love of self is disorderly, as we showed in the chapter on man's origin, nature, nature, and destiny, and has in it the germ of all evils, no matter how direful. All insanities, therefore, which are states of disorder more or less excessive, have their origin in self-love. They cannot spring from a love of God and a love of the neighbor. Is it any wonder, then, that, after a man has pursued only selfish ends all his life, that in old age here should be something of insanity, or mental
102imbecility, as a natural result? But a strife against the evils and disorders of our nature, and a conquest of them, restores us to something of true order, in which we love the good of the whole, and seek it as an end, rather than our own good, as separate from the whole. A state of wisdom, instead of partial insanity, comes in old age, and life declines with the sun unobscured by clouds, calm as a summer's day.
To make all we wish to say clear, we will remark, that there are two states appertaining to the human mind — intellection and perception; and that the latter succeeds the former. We first have a truth presented to our minds; then we canvass it, and compare it with relations and opposites, by means of the intellect or rational power of the mind; and after all this takes place, and we begin to regulate our lives by it, we have a clear perception that it is true, which no argument can obscure. Now, consider life as a whole, and all truths necessary for man's elevation as one truth. First, in his early days, this truth is taught to him, and it is a matter of memory only; in mature years, he views it on all sides, canvasses it, tries it by all available standards, and, determining its quality, makes it the guide of his life. Old age comes on, and the intellect rests from its labors, in a clear
103perception of the great truth of his whole life; and tills is a state of wisdom — the innocence of wisdom. What is the opposite of this state we have already declared; and limited indeed must have been his observation, who has not seen all around him the sad evidences of its existence.
From what has now been advanced, the great importance of right self-government may be clearly seen. Every young man will discover in himself disorderly tendencies, and a disposition to infringe the rights and comforts of others, in seeking his own gratification. These are all evils, and must come under proper control, from right ends, or old age will find him, at last, with a host of ungovernable impulses struggling in his bosom, and overmastering him in every feeble effort he makes to subdue them.
Right ends are a regard to others' good as well as our own; and this regard may be felt and exercised as much in an effort to reform a habit of mind that acts as a hinderance to success in the world, as in the shunning of an evil that directly injures our fellow-man; for any thing that interferes with our success circumscribes our means of usefulness.
We hardly deem it necessary to enter into any minute particulars as to the manner of self
104government. Every one understands enough of his own character to see its defects; and when he understands the great importance of corroding these, and controlling those propensities, habits, and inclinations that stand in the way of his elevation, both as to things external and things that appertain to his mind, he will not be at a loss how to act. The willingness to act is the great desideratum.
But one or two illustrations may help the young man who really desires to get the mastery over himself, to some thoughts in the right direction.
Thomas R— had, naturally, an impatient temper. This was his greatest defect of character, and often overshadowed the finer qualities of his mind, destroying his influence for good in positions and under circumstances where that influence could have been of lasting value. The first efforts which he made to overcome this hasty temper, after reaching to years of manhood, were inspired by the feeling of shame at the weakness he displayed, while under excitement. Of course, the shame was as to intensity, in the degree that he valued the good opinion of those before whom he betrayed his infirmity. This led him to the exercise of self-control from a merely external and selfish consideration; and chiefly when in the presence of those before whom he wished to appear
105well. He did not, under this system of repression, gain any true power over himself. The evil was not reduced in potency, only hidden when it was felt that its exhibition would be an injury to himself.
At home, Thomas R— was as irritable as ever; and this gave proof that he was only covering up his natural defect of character; not changing it through a resolute opposition based on principle.
This kind of self-government, having its origin in pride, shame, or self interest, and not in a just regard for others, gives a man no true power over himself. The fire still smoulders within, and sooner or later breaks out into consuming flames The moment he feels that disguise is no longer required, a man becomes his true self again, and you see that the virtue for which he received credit, was only an assumed exterior.
As Thomas R— mingled more largely in society, he felt the necessity of guarding, with increased care, his quick temper. Its exhibitions would not only bring him into trouble, but lessen that good opinion he was desirous to secure. He felt that he was really overcoming his weakness, and congratulated himself, on many occasions, when, under strong provocation, he managed to keep down his fiery impulses, and maintain a
106posed exterior. But all this repression was from the outside, not from an interior principle. He did not master himself, because it was an evil thing to act from mere passion; but he used bit and bridle to hold down his struggling impulses, lest in their exhibition he should suffer the loss of some external good things that were highly valued.
It must be plain to the reader, that Thomas R— was not really governing himself to any permanent good purpose. That he was not growing less irritable in disposition, but only concealing a hereditary defect, which every high consideration required him to overcome. As if to warn him of his error, this impatient spirit would, on occasions when he happened to be less watchful than usual, exhibit itself under circumstances peculiarly mortifying.
"I must be more on my guard," he would say to himself, when suffering the consequent humiliation; not — "I must conquer this bad temper, because it is an evil thing, and constantly doing hurt to others." It was the hurt to himself that troubled him most, not the possession of a quality of mind that, wherever it had freedom to act, hurt others. And so the inherited defect was really gaining power, instead of losing its vitality. It was an enemy lying in wait to enter the
107citadel at any moment when the gate was left unguarded.
The marriage of Thomas R—, that most important event in a man's life, removed him from the home in which he had lived from childhood, and where his true disposition was known to the regret of all. Even tempered, rightly disciplined, unmoved under provocation, as he appeared to the world, the inmates of his old home knew, by the memory of too many unpleasant experiences, that he was unchanged as to his inner quality. It was a relief to father, mother, brothers, and sisters, when he went out from among them, and established home for himself; for he had been the centre of disturbance, on account of his hasty temper, from a child upwards. But for this infirmity, he was to be esteemed and valued, for he had a kind heart, and was honorable in his feelings.
The young lady to whom he was married, had been warned of his impatient temper. But he managed to conceal it so well during the period of courtship, that she believed him to be one of the most amiable of men. He never meant to deceive her. But he did not know himself, nor really understand the motives from which he acted. It was an easy task to be amiable and even tempered while in her company, and it did not seem to him that he assumed an exterior in any
108case not in agreement with his real character. He knew that he was more irritable while at home than when any where else; but this, it seemed to him; was in consequence of the irritating causes which ever had been and were still in existence there. When in his own home, and with his beloved one for a companion, he felt sure that the days would pass in sweet tranquillity, and that, all exciting causes removed, he would not again relapse into the unhappy states which had troubled him from the days of childhood.
But this, alas! was a fond delusion, born of self-love and ignorance as to the real quality of his own mind. It was not long after his marriage, ere, in an unguarded moment, his impatient temper showed itself. Something done by his young wife annoyed him so much as to destroy his mental equilibrium, and he threw at her a few impatient, accusing words, which stung her heart, and brought a rain of tears from her eyes. Scarcely was the word uttered, before it was followed by regret.
"Why was I not more guarded?" he said in his thought, and with a feeling of self-rebuke.
There was a shadow for days in this new home, which was to be a paradise of love and tranquillity. The young wife's sensitive heart could not recover from the painful shock it had received, though
109tenderly her repentant husband carried himself towards her. He had shown her a new side of his character, and the exhibition was frightful to contemplate. A hasty, passionate man! Could this possibly be true of her husband? She remembered the long ago warning, and trembled lest it might have been only too well grounded.
"I will be more guarded," resolutely and often did the young husband repeat these words to himself. But this was only touching the evil upon the outside. This was to be the same man that he had always been. It was not a guard that was needed to watch the enemy prisoned in his heart, but the strong arm of principle to dislodge that enemy. As might naturally be supposed, no very long time passed before the guard was relaxed, and then the ever watchful enemy struck fiercely again.
This time, R— justified himself in his own thoughts. His impatience was provoked by the act of his wife; and though he was sorry to see her in tears, he said to himself that she deserved the sharp rebuke which fell from his lips. Still, he resolved to be more guarded; for it was painful to himself to have the sun of love hidden beneath weeping clouds.
It took less than a year for the removal of all disguises. A man is usually himself at home.
110If passionate, tyrannical, overbearing, selfish, or sensual, the quality reveals itself fully when he withdraws from the public eye, and gives the rein to his appetites and impulses. It took a long, sad time for the wife of Thomas R— to get in any degree reconciled to her husband's infirmity of temper, over which he seemed to exercise scarcely any control, except when away from home. Then he guarded himself for the sake of appearance, not that he put on, of design, hypocritical semblances, but from habit, he assumed a placid exterior, even under irritating circumstances.
Thus it came, that he exercised no true self-government. All the government of himself that there was, merely touched the external — it never went down to the springs of action. And so, at thirty he was the same internally, that he was at twenty; and at forty, he had only learned to hide more skillfully the impulses that throbbed with undiminished life. In his family, he was the same impatient, irritable being that he was years before in the home of his boyhood; and having the power, this hasty temper often led him into unjust and tyrannical conduct, the effects of which caused him, many times, painful regrets and self-condemnation.
An irritable, impatient father can never have the affection of his children. They may fear, but
111cannot respect him; and where there is no respect, there can be no love. It was so with the children of Mr. R—. As the sons grew to manhood, they went to distant cities, repelled by the home that should have drawn upon their hearts with a strong attraction. At the age of fifty, the patient, long-suffering, much enduring wife of Mr. R—, her duty done to her children, lay down to rest in that quiet sleep from which the awakening is beyond the grave, and he was left without sympathy or companionship, just at the age when external restraint begins to fail, and a man acts himself out under all circumstances.
He grew into a peevish, complaining, irritable old man. Not only irritable at home, but everywhere. If jostled on the side-walk, he would utter an angry ejaculation; if crowded in an omnibus or car, or asked to put himself out a little for another's accommodation, he would chafe and fret himself, and show to all his easily besetting sin. All the lines of his face indicated an impatient spirit, and his mouth seemed always ready to utter an angry word. He was a burden and an annoyance to every one, in consequence of his unhappy disposition; and when death at last removed him, even his children rejoiced to see him laid to rest.
It would have been wholly different, if he had
112government, instead of merely guarding himself. If he had gone down to the root of the evil, instead of merely hiding its effects from the world, then he would have become a true man, holding passion beneath his feet. A true man, such as you, my young friend, may and should become; and to attain to which is worthy of your highest ambition, for the noblest of all achievements is a man's thorough conquest of himself.
Chapter XI. Indolence and Want of Order.
MORE young men are hindered from arriving at positions of honor and eminent usefulness, by indolence and want of order, than from any other causes. Nothing great is ever achieved, except by industry and earnest application, combined with an orderly arrangement of all the means necessary to the accomplishment of the object in view. From this may be clearly seen the importance of habits of industry and order. Without them, little can be done; with them, almost everything.
An active and energetic mind may achieve much, even where there is great want of order; but indolence chains a man down, and keeps him fast in one position; it is, therefore the most serious defect of the two, and should be striven against with unwearying perseverance.
The want of an adequate purpose is what makes a man indolent. The Indian will spend days and weeks in slothfulness and inactivity, and to an observer seem the most inefficient and powerless of human beings; but let the war-whoop sound, or a deer go bounding past his wigwam, and he is instantly as full of fire, strength, and endurance as a war-horse. All his slumbering energies have aroused themselves. He feels the force of an adequate purpose. A man's love is his life; and here we see its illustration. The very life's love of the Indian is war and the chase. In the pursuit of them, every energy of body and mind is brought into activity. But when the tomahawk is buried, or he comes home from his hunting-grounds, he sinks into apparent imbecility.
The Indian is a mere savage; he is but a single remove from the brute; the instincts of his nature are his prompters. But civilized man stands far above him, and is, or ought to be, actuated by reason, and not by instinct. His
114rational intelligence should give him the force of an adequate purpose; and this it will give him, if he but call in its aid.
Activity is the result of some end or affection of the mind. Where no purpose is in the mind, there is indolence; but when there is an end in view of sufficient importance, all the powers of the mind come into spontaneous activity. Now, will any young man say that there are not objects for him to attain, of sufficient importance to awaken him from his habits of indolence, no matter how much he have confirmed himself in them? We know there is not one who does not, at times, feel the necessity of concentrating every energy he possesses upon the accomplishment of some end; but the evil is, the thoughts are not kept steadily fixed upon the end, but are allowed to wander off to sport with unimportant things, or to retire in mere idle musings; and thence comes indolence; for if there is no purpose, there will be no activity.
The first thing to be done, in the correction of this habit, is deliberately to resolve upon doing something that will require effort, and that a prolonged one. Let the object in view be worth attaining, and let there be an end in the mind beyond its mere attainment — an end of use. If the end be not one of some importance,
115there will be danger of its not inspiring the mind to an energetic continuance of its efforts.
In determining the object of pursuit, a good question for any one to ask of himself is, "In what am I deficient?" There will be answers enough to this question to awaken up all a man's energies, and keep them awake for some time. The next question ought to be "What will it be most useful for me first to do?" When this question is determined, then let the individual determining it resolve that he will pursue the study — for it ought to be the study of something that will give the mind new abilities to act, either in or out of the life-calling in which he may be engaged — with diligence, until he have acquired all that is necessary for the attainment of the end in view. And let him also resolve, that he will fight against all his natural habits of indolence and indisposition to effort, that have too long hindered his progress. And let him not only make these resolutions, but let him keep them faithfully, as he values his highest and best interests.
Most of us sleep too much. From six and a half to seven hours' sleep, in the twenty-four, are said by physicians to be all that a healthy man requires. Not more than ten or twelve hours are taken up in business, nor should be. Properly-directed
116effort will do as much in that time as it could possibly do if more hours were consumed in business; for the mind, over-wearied, day after day, in bending itself in one direction, will lose its ability for making right efforts. In every twenty-four hours, therefore, there are from five to six or seven hours, which every man is under obligation to both society and himself to turn to some good account. He is insane if he spend it in mere slothfulness and pleasure-taking.
In rightly improving this time, every young man, who is earnestly seeking to unfold the native energies of his mind by giving it the food which God designed that it should receive, will soon discover, that, after a night's repose, his mind is clearer and more vigorous than after a day spent in labor, and, perhaps, anxiety, and he will naturally seek to give as much time for study in the morning as possible. Early rising will bring to him a twofold benefit; it will strengthen both mind and body.
To a young man who has acquired the habit of indulging himself in morning slothfulness, it will be something of a trial to rise at five o'clock, in both winter and summer but the self-denial practised in doing this will be so fully repaid, in a little while that we are sure no one, who has awakened up to the responsibility of his position, and the
117incalculable benefits that must result from efforts such as he is making, will sink down again into disgraceful indolence. It is no hardship to rise early; it only requires an effort at first; and when one is fairly awake, and begins to drink in the pure morning air, and to feel a refreshing sense of new life and vigor, he is glad that he is not lost in dulness or leaden insensibility. The heavy torpor that we find so hard to overcome in the morning, and which we rest in as a pleasant sensation, is misery compared to the sense of life that runs through every nerve of body and mind after pure cold water has touched the face, and the lungs have expanded with the fresh and vigorous morning air.
But not only in the morning, but at all times, should we strive against this feeling of indolence. Every man has it; but only they whose purposes are strong enough to enable them to overcome it, rise to any eminence in the world. The demands of nature keep others at work their daily tasks. Enough earned to satisfy these, and the mind and body sink again into inaction. In all, there is an almost unconquerable reluctance to effort of any kind. We are oppresses by an inertia that it requires some force to overcome. But we must exercise this force, and do it daily; and we shall find the task more and more easily accomplished
118until diligence and effort become to us almost a second nature.
Next to indolence, with which all are more or less affected, conies want of order, which in some is a constitutional defect, and in others the result of education — or, more correctly speaking, want of education. Some children are never taught the importance of order; and, as very few have naturally a love of order, nearly all who are thus neglected are very deficient in this respect when they become men. But it is never too late to correct this bad habit; and the quicker a young man begins to do so, the better. Let him commence by having in his own chamber, for instance, a place for every thing, and by being careful to have every thing in its place. If a clerk, the same order should be observed at his desk. First, there should be a system established, by which to arrange all his books and papers in the best way for access and reference; and then, when a book has been used, or a paper referred to, it should invariably be returned to its proper place, before any thing else is done. The same rule, of a place for every thing and every thing in its place, should be observed by all, in every calling. The most fruitful source of disorder lies in the habit most persons have of laying a thing down in the first place that presents itself, after using
119it, instead of restoring it to where it properly belongs. It seems to many, when in a hurry, a waste of time to carefully return a thing to the place from which they have taken it, instead of throwing it down any where; but this is a great mistake: the very reverse is the truth.
If, in all the little matters of daily business or domestic arrangement, a system of order be observed, it will become so impressed upon the mind as to show itself in things of more importance. From adopting in things of lesser moment an orderly arrangement, a man will naturally pursue an orderly arrangement in all his more important affairs, and thus insure success, which would otherwise have been extremely doubtful.
As nothing great can be accomplished without industry and an earnest purpose, so nothing great can be accomplished without order. The one is indispensable to the other, and they go hand in hand, as co-workers, in man's elevation.
A young man whose early training had been defective, and whose early opportunities for education limited, found himself at twenty two years of ago occupying the lowest place in a large wholesale store in Philadelphia — that of porter — at a salary of three hundred dollars a year. He was naturally indolent and given to self-indulgence, and these, more than anything else, had conspired
120to keep him in a low external condition. At fifteen he attempted to learn a trade, but the early hour at which he was required to be at work, and the steady industry, running through from ten to twelve hours of the day, which was demanded, were more than he would submit to, and so, after ‘three or four months’ trial, he gave up the effort.
Unfortunately for him, he had a father upon whom he could lean. Not a rich father; nor one in easy circumstances; but one who was only a hard working mechanic, gathering by daily toil a scanty supply of food and clothing for his family. From the work shop, where he might have acquired a useful trade, the boy went into a store. But as no salary was to be paid until the commencement of a second year, he soon got tired, as he said, of working for nothing, and left a situation in which only industry and order on his part were required to give him a standing and secure his future good fortune.
Then came a whole year of idleness, in which some dangerous bad habits were formed; and then a year of intermittent industry. And so it had gone on, until the death of his father, just after he became of age, threw him out upon the world, scarcely better able to provide for himself than the fledgeling pushed forth from its nest. If he had stood alone, the case would have looked to him
121more hopeful; but, there were a mother and two young sisters, and their eyes turned naturally toward him, strong, healthy, and just on the verge of manhood. He had a kind, affectionate nature; and his heart answered to the mute appeal of their eyes. No, he could not, he would not desert them; but would gather up his strength, go out into the world, and make an effort to sustain them by his labor.
But, what could he do? Ah, there came the perplexing and disheartening question. He had no trade. He knew nothing of accounts. He could scarcely write a legible hand. Yet something must be done. The wolf was at the door of his beloved ones, now solely dependent on him; and his arm must battle with the hungry beast and slay him.
For weeks he sought for some kind of regular employment; but only met with little odd jobs of porterage and the like; not earning over fifty cents a day. Then he was so fortunate as to get the situation of porter in a large wholesale store at a salary of three hundred dollars. This was in mid-winter. The duties of the situation required him to be first at the store, and as he lived nearly a mile distant, he had to rise before daylight, in order to be at his post in time.
It went hard with him, this new life; but the
122pressure of necessity kept him up to the mark, He had a quick mind, and he soon began, under the influence of this new set of circumstances, to observe and think in a way to which he had never been accustomed. He began to understand the difference of power which skill imparts — skill in any thing. The fact that a young man whose natural ability was not equal to his own, but who could write a fair hand, and make calculations readily, stood far above him in the store as to position and income, was something very suggestive. "I'll go to night school," he said to himself, one day, as this subject pressed itself upon his thoughts. "I'll gain a better knowledge of figures, and practice writing."
But, this state of enthusiasm was at first only a temporary condition. On reaching home at night, weary from the day's hard service, he felt but little inclination for study; and lounged through the evening, or spent the hours in company with young men who were idle and aimless — old companions who still clung to him.
The right thought, however, had found a lodgement in his mind, and it was not an idle thought. Daily the contrast between himself and other young men in the store was pressed upon him; and gradually resolution acquired strength, until it produced action. The night school was at last entered,
123and then came the earnest work. Very slow were the first steps; difficult to be taken; and often attended by the spirit of discouragement. But a purpose had been formed; and this was the spur to his mind. One of the first good results was a separation of himself from certain young acquaintances, who had no ambition of the right kind; who were too mentally indolent for improvement. Their indolence, and love of mere sensual pleasures, had helped to keep him down to their low level.
It was noticed in time, that he wrote a tolerably legible hand, and the shipping clerk seeing this, transferred to him the duty of filling up bills of lading, and slip receipts for goods. He was pleased with this acknowledgment of his progress, which had been rather discouraging in his own eyes, and took especial pains to be correct and orderly.
The shipping clerk, whose social advantages had been in every way superior to those of our young porter, whom we will simply call James, for convenience of identity, was not by any means as much interested in his daily duties as he was in his evening pleasures. He didn't like work, and was ready to shift off upon others whatever could readily be transferred. So, finding that James was willing, intelligent, and accommodating, he delegated one duty after another, until
124not less than a third of his work wag done by the porter.
Thrifty employers generally see all that is going on in their establishments, and it did not escape the notice of a member of the firm, that James was doing duty as a shipping clerk, as well as porter. He looked on in silence, but noted the manner in which the porter executed the tasks of pen and figure work that the shipping clerk required of him. One day, about a year after James went into the store, it happened that from sickness or some other cause, the shipping clerk was absent. It was in the height of the busy season, and the hands of every one were full. So this member of the firm, who had been observing the porter, said to him:
"James, do you think you can attend to the shipment of goods to-day?"
"Yes, sir," was the prompt answer.
"Very well. We'll get some one to do your work, and make you shipping clerk, pro tempore."
To be called a shipping clerk, pleased James mightily, and awakened new throbbings of ambition in his mind. He performed all the duties of the position for that day, satisfactorily, better, indeed, than they were usually performed by the person who so place he had filled.
On the next day, the shipping clerk being still absent, James took his place again, and so on the day following. So pleased was the member of the firm who had entrusted him with these duties, at his promptness, intelligence, and accuracy, that he began to regard him with a new interest, and to look upon him as a valuable young man in the establishment.
When the shipping clerk returned to his post, he became the object of a closer attention than usual; and some comparisons that were made between him and James, were not altogether in his favor. Like too many young men, he kept bad hours, and was, in consequence, heavy in the morning, and a late riser. A natural indolence, and inclination to self-indulgence, prevented any successful resistance of his morning sleepiness, and though called by the servant at his boarding-house in good time, he was rarely down to breakfast until long after the period when he should have been at the store. This was not satisfactory to his employers, who occasionally remonstrated.
About this time, some serious errors in the shipment of goods were discovered, and the clerk, on being called to account rather sharply, became angry, and spoke in a way that was offensive. His dismissal from the house followed as a
126consequence. The porter was raised to the vacant post, and his salary increased to the sum of five hundred dollars.
Now, James had life and purpose sufficient to overcome all his natural indolence. This rapid elevation to a place for which he had made himself competent in a short time, showed him the way upwards, and he determined to climb patiently and perseveringly. All his evenings were spent in self-improvement. He took not only one course of lessons from a writing teacher, but many, determining to acquire a style of penmanship that would fit him for any place, where other qualifications were of the right character. He studied book-keeping, also. For two years he occupied the place of shipping clerk. Then, a higher position was made vacant, in consequence of the indolent habits of a clerk, and he was again elevated.
Two years afterwards, his services were required in a still more important place, the incumbent of which had also grown indolent, and, in consequence, unreliable. His salary was now one thousand dollars. And so he continued to rise from one position to another, until, from chief and confidential clerk, he became a member of the firm. He is now a man of large fortune, all of which he owes to a resolute character, by which he over
127came early defects and bad habits, not the least of which was indolence.
In the history of most successful men, whether in science, art, or trade, fit will be found that the first real movement upwards did not take place; until, in a spirit of resolute self-denial, indolence, so natural to almost every one, was mastered. Necessity is, usually, the spur that sets the sluggish energies in motion. Poverty, therefore, is oftener a blessing to a young man than prosperity; for, while the one tends to stimulate his powers, the other inclines them to languor and disuse. But, is it not very discreditable for the young man, who is favored with education, friends, and all the outside advantages which could be desired as means to worldly success, to let those who stand in these respects, at the beginning, far below him, gradually approach as the steady years move on, and finally outstrip him in the race? It is not only discreditable, but disgraceful. A man's true position in society, is that which he achieves for himself — he is worth to the world no more, no less. As he builds for society in useful work, so he builds for himself. He is a man for what he does, not for what his father or his friends have done. If they have done well, and given him a position, the deeper the shame, if he sink down to a meaner level through self-indulgence and indolence.
Chapter XII. Intimate Friendships.
WHILE there is a use in intimate friendships, there is also no little danger. An intimate friendship with a bad man will almost inevitably corrupt one of pure morals; for it is much easier to pervert than to restore to good, because evil in man usually seeks more ardently for the attainment of its ends than good.
The danger of an intimate acquaintance with a bad man will be seen in what we are about to relate.
Two mothers, who had been intimate friends from girlhood, had each a son, whose ages were nearly alike. The children, while young, were not, from various causes, thrown much together, and, when old enough to go to college, were sent to different institutions. Charles S— had ever been of a mild, obedient, teachable disposition; while James L— was the very reverse — passionate, self-willed, and intractable. The one was a blessing to us family, the other a trouble to all his friends.
As young men, they came home from college unchanged in their peculiar dispositions. Charles S— was domestic in his habits, mild and gentlemanly in his deportment, and showed no inclination to run into the excesses so peculiar to his age. James L—, on the contrary, had no taste for the home circle. It was too tame for him. And the temptations that met one of his temperament, beyond this circle, were corrupting him with fearful rapidity. James L— was an only son, and his mother's affections had ever been earnestly drawn out towards him. The excesses into which he was running greatly distressed her, and she often, by tender entreaty and earnest expostulation, sought to draw him away from his infatuation. But all in vain. He had tasted the cup of sensual delight, and it had fired all the corrupt passions of his nature.
One day, while on a visit to Mrs. S—, the mother of James L— said, —
"Ah, what would I not give if James was like your Charles! I believe I should be the happiest mother alive. But from the day of his birth, my boy has been a trouble to me; and I fear he will continue to be so until the day of his death."
"Charles has always been a good boy," replied Mrs. S—. "He is a great comfort to me now, for he appears to love home better than any place else."
"While my James loves any place better than home. Ah me! He will break my heart, I fear, at last."
"O, no, I hope not. Young men are often wild at first. But a few years sober them down."
"Such may be the case, but I am very fearful. I wish he had some better companions than those with whom I think he now associates."
This remark led on to others referring to the great influence a young man's associates have over him in leading him into or away from evil; and finally it was settled between the mothers that great good might result from making the young men better acquainted with each other.
"O, I am sure it will be the best thing in the world for my James, if he were to form an attachment for Charles," Mrs. L— said, as she referred to the matter, after it had been settled that the two young men should be thrown together as much as possible.
To accomplish this, it was arranged, between Mrs. S— and Mrs. L—, that they should visit each other frequently, and induce their sons, as often as it could be done, to accompany them. By this means it occurred that the young men often met, and either in conversation or in games of chess, at which both were skilful and nearly
131matched, passed the time they were compelled to spend in each other's society. Somehow or other — not by the law of similarity, certainly — the two young men formed a friendship for each other, which increased until it assumed a very intimate character. And now came the important crisis — the turning point — when the preponderance would be in favor of either good or evil — when the good principles of the one would not only defend him against evil, but give him power to lead the other out of evil, or when the evil would subdue and destroy the good. It was a period of fearful import. Alas! the experiment — a most dangerous one — proved fatal to the generous hopes of Mrs. S—. She failed to save the son other friend, and lost her own, who soon became corrupt and debased even to a worse external degree than he by whom he had been tempted from the right way.
And this is by no means a thing to excite surprise. An opposite result would have been a matter of greater wonder Temptations to evil are far more powerful than allurements to good, because the former appeal to inherent evil tendencies, while the latter present but few attractions to one who has debased himself by indulgence in sensual appetites and passions. He sees nothing delightful in restraining these, because in
132their gratification he has found what he esteems the highest pleasure.
From this may be seen the danger of an intimate friendship with a man of bad habits; and scarcely less dangerous is an association with one of bad principles. In fact, we do not believe that an intimate friendship can be formed with a man whose principles are bad, without great injury. A young man, who has a respect for religion and morality, cannot long hear them ridiculed and assailed by a friend in whose society he takes pleasure, without gradually losing his respect for both; nor can he hear, from the same source, constant allusions made to the pleasures of a vicious indulgence of the natural appetites and propensities, without being himself tempted into similar indulgence.
Friendships are desirable and useful; and intimate friendships, where there is a similarity of affection for what is good and true, are not only delightful to those who enjoy them, but elevating and strengthening to the mind. In true friendship, each seeks to benefit and give the other pleasure; and the effect of this is to lead a man out of himself, and thus to love himself less. But an evil-disposed man, who is and must be a selfish man, cannot reciprocate true friendship; and the reason is, because he cannot love any thing out
133of himself. He may affect the virtue of friendship, "because he receives pleasure or benefit from the individual with whom he seeks to associate; but there is not, and cannot be, any reciprocation of true friendship in his heart, for he is incapable of it; and whenever he finds another more qualified to gratify his selfish feelings, he will desert the friend for whom he has professed so much disinterested regard.
Considering the danger that appertains to an association with a man of bad principles and habits, and also bearing in mind the fact that a selfish man cannot love any thing out of himself, every young man who sincerely desires to elevate himself morally, as well as intellectually and temporally, will examine well into the character of all with whom he is on terms of intimacy; and if in his best friend, so esteemed, he find a blunted moral sense, let him separate himself from that friend as quickly as it is possible for him to do it, and the more especially if he possess a decided character, and seek to lead others rather than to be led and influenced himself. If, on the contrary, that friend is rather disposed to look up to and be influenced by him, his plain duty is to seek first to correct false ideas, and to restore to quicker perceptions the moral powers; but if he fail in this, — if evil is still preferred to good, — let
134the separation take place, no matter at what cost of feeling. It is the one only safe course of action; for in such a friendship there is always danger.
Chapter XIII. Home.
SOCIETY is marked by greater and smaller divisions, as into nations, communities, and families. A man is a member of the commonwealth, a smaller community, as a hamlet or city, and his family at the same time; and the more perfectly all his duties to his family are discharged, the more fully does he discharge his duties to the community and the nation; for a good member of a family cannot be a bad member of the commonwealth, for he that is faithful in what is least will also be faithful in what is greater. Indeed the more perfectly a man fulfils all his domestic duties, the more perfectly, in that very act, has he discharged his duty to the whole; for the whole is made up of parts, and its health depends entirely upon the health of the various parts. There are, of course, general as well as
135specific duties; but the more conscientious a man is in the discharge of specific duties, the more ready will he be to perform those that are general; and we believe that the converse of this will be found equally true, and that those who have least regard for home — who have, indeed, no home, no domestic circle — are the worst citizens. This they may not be, apparently; they may not break the laws, nor do any thing to call down upon them censure from the community, and yet, in the secret and almost unconscious dissemination of demoralizing principles, may be doing a work far more destructive of the public good than if they had committed a robbery.
We always feel pain when we hear a young man speak lightly of home, and talk carelessly, or it may be with sportive ridicule, of the "old man," and the "old woman," as if they were of but little consequence. We mark it as a bad indication, and feel that the feet of that young man are treading upon dangerous ground. His home education may not have been of the best kind, nor may home influences have reached his higher and better feelings; but he is at least old enough now to understand the causes, and to seek rather to bring into his home all that it needs to render it more attractive, than to estrange himself from it, and expose its defects.
Instances of this kind are not of very frequent occurrence. Home has its charms for nearly all, and the very name comes with a blessing to the spirit. This, however, is more the case with those who have been separated from it, than it is with those who yet remain in the old homestead, with parents, brothers, and sisters, as their friends and companions.
The earnest love of home, felt by nearly all who have been compelled to leave that pleasant place, is a feeling that should be tenderly cherished: and this love should be kept alive by associations that have in them as perfect a resemblance of home as it is possible to obtain. It is for this reason that it is bad for a young man to board in a large hotel, where there is nothing in which there is even an image of the home circle. Each has his separate chamber; but that is not home: all meet together at the common table; but there is no home feeling there, with its many sweet reciprocations. The meal completed, all separate, each to his individual pursuit or pleasure. There is a parlor, it is true; but there are no family gatherings there. One and another sit there, as inclination prompts; but each sits alone, busy with his own thoughts. All this is a poor substitute for home. And yet it offers its attractions to some. A young man in
137a hotel has more freedom than in a family or private boarding-house. He comes in and goes out unobserved; there is no one to say to him, "why?" or "wherefore?" But this is a dangerous freedom, and one which no young man should desire.
But mere negative evils, so to speak, are not the worst that beset a young man who unwisely chooses a public hotel as a place for boarding. He is much more exposed to temptations there than in a private boarding-house or at home. Men of licentious habits, in most cases, select hotels as boarding-places; and such rarely scruple to offer to the ardent minds of young men, with whom they happen to fall in company, those allurements that are most likely to lead them away from virtue. And, besides this, there being no evening home-circle in a hotel a young man who is not engaged earnestly in some pursuit that occupies his hours of leisure from business, has nothing to keep him there, but is forced to seek for something to interest his mind elsewhere, and is, in consequence, more open to temptation.
Home is man's true place. Every man should have a home. Here his first duties lie, and here he finds the strength by which he is able successfully to combat in life's temptations. Happy is that young man who is still blessed with a
138home, — who has his mother's counsel and the pure love of sisters to strengthen and cheer him amid life's opening combats.
Chapter XIV. Parents.
ALTHOUGH the attainment of mature age takes away the obligation of obedience to parents, as well as the right of dependence upon them, it should lessen in no way a young man's deference, respect, or affection. For twenty-one years, or from the earliest period of infancy, through childhood and youth, up to mature age, his parents have felt, and thought, and labored for him. They have watched over his pillow, anxiously, in sickness; they have, with the most unselfish love, earnestly sought his good in every thing, even to the extent of much self-denial; and can he now offer them less than deference, respect, and affection? No: surely no young man will withhold this.
Let us show you a picture. Do you see that feeble infant asleep on its mother's bosom? How
139helpless it lies! How dependent it is upon others for every thing! The neglect of a moment might cause some fatal injury to a being so entirely powerless. But that mother's love neither slumbers nor sleeps. It is ever around the fragile creature committed to her care, and she is ready to guard its life with her own. You once lay thus in your mother's arms, and she nourished your helpless infancy thus at her bosom. She watched over you, loved you, protected and defended you; and all was from love, — deep, pure, fervent love, — the first love, and the most unselfish love that ever has or ever will bless you in this life, for it asked for and expected no return. A mother's love! — it is the most perfect reflection of the love of God ever thrown back from the mirror of a human heart.
Here is another picture. A mother sits in grief, and her boy, now no longer an infant, stands in sullen disobedience by her side. She has striven to correct his faults for his own good, and in love reproved him; but he would not regard her admonitions. Again and again she has sought, by gentle urgings, to direct him to good; but all has been in vain, and she now resorts to punishment, that is far more painful to her than to her child. The scene is changed. See where she sits now, alone, bitterly weeping.
140There is an image in her mind, and bit one that obscures all the rest; it is the image of her suffering child — suffering by her hand! Her breast labors heavily, her heart is oppressed — she feels deep anguish of spirit. But she has done her duty, painful though it has been, and that sustains her. You were once a boy like that; and thus your own mother has grieved over your disobedience, and felt the same bitterness of spirit. And love for you was the cause. Can you ever forget this?
Do you see that darkened chamber? By the bed of sickness sits a pale watcher, and there are tears upon her cheek. Day and night, for nearly a week, has she sat by the bed, or moved with noiseless feet about the room. She has not taken off her garments during the time; nor has she joined the family at their regular meals. Who is the object of all this deep solicitude? It is her child. The hand of sickness is upon him, and he has drawn near to the gates of death. In her solicitude, she forgets even herself. She has but one thought, and that is for her offspring. Her love, her care, her anxious hopes are at length rewarded. The destroyer passes by, and leaves her child. Thus has your mother watched, day by day and night by night, beside your couch of sickness. Never forget this, young man
141Forget every other obligation, but never forget how much you owe your mother! You can never know a thousandth part of what she has endured for your sake; and now, in her old age, all she asks is, that you will love her — not with the love she still bears to you; she does not expect that — and care for her, that life's sunshine may still come through the windows and over the threshold of her dwelling.
And with no less of respect and affection should a young man think of his father. Not Until his own life-trials come on will he fully understand how much he owes his father. It is no light task which a man takes upon himself — that of sustaining, by his single efforts, a whole family, and sustaining them in comfort, and perhaps in luxury. You have an education that enables you to take a respectable position in society; you have a groundwork of good principles; habits of industry; in fact, all that a young man need ask for in order that he may rise in the world; and for these you are indebted to your father. To give you such advantages, cost him labor, self-denial, and much anxious thought. Many times, during the struggle to sustain his family, has he been pressed down with worldly difficulties, and almost ready to despair. He has seen his last dollar, it may be, leave his hand, without
142knowing certainly where the next was to come from. But still, his love for his children has urged him on, and by new and more vigorous efforts he has overcome the difficulties by which he was surrounded.
A young man should think often of these things, and let them influence his conduct to his parents. There will come a time in life when such thoughts will force themselves upon him but these thoughts may come too late.
Towards parents the deportment should always be deferential and kind. A young man, who properly reflects upon the new relation now existing between them and himself, will naturally change his manner of address, and be far more guarded than he was before he arrived of age, lest he say or do any thing that might cause them to feel that he now considered himself beyond their control. When they advise, he should consider well what they say; and, if compelled to differ from them, he should carefully explain the reason, and show truly his regret at not being able to act from their judgment of the matter. As a general thing, however, he will find their advice to be better than the counsels of his own scarcely-fledged reason, and he will do well seriously to deliberate upon it, before taking his own course.
Above all, let no unkind word ever pass your lips. Nothing stings so, nothing so deeply wounds the heart of a parent, as harsh words from his children who have grown up and become men and women. Almost as bad as this is neglect. The older your father and mother grow, the narrower becomes the sphere of their hopes and wishes, until, at length, all thought and all affection are centred in their children. But while this is going on, the children's minds are becoming more and more absorbed in the cares, duties, and new affections of life, until their parents are almost forgotten. Forewarned of this tendency, let every one strive against it, lest he wound by neglect, either seeming or real, a heart that has loved him from life's earliest dawn up to the present moment.
But not alone in deference, respect, and marks of affection, lie the limits of a young man's duties to his parents. He should endeavor to take up and bear for them, if too heavy for their declining strength, some of the burdens that oppress them. He should particularly consider his father, and see if the entire support of the family that yet remains upon his hands does not tax his efforts too far; and if such be the case, he should deny himself almost any thing, in order to render some aid. For years, he has been receiving all
144that he required, and it is now but fair that he should begin to make some return.
How often do we see two or three sons, all in the receipt of good salaries, spending their money in self-indulgence, while their father is toiling on for his younger children, broken in health, perhaps disappointed in his worldly prospects, and almost despairing in regard to the final result of all his efforts! They come and go, and never think that any thing is due from them. It does not occur to them, that, if each were to deny himself the gratification of his desires to the extent of one hundred dollars a year, and the aggregate amount were placed in their father's hands to aid in supporting the family, it would take a mountain of care from his shoulders. Why is it that so many young men forget their duty in this important matter? One would think that no prompter was required here to remind them of their part. But it is not so. On the contrary it is a thing of such rare occurrence for a son to practise self-denial for the sake of his parents, that, wherever it is seen, it forms the subject of remark.
We often see parents who have enjoyed but few advantages themselves, and who, in consequence, are compelled to occupy lower and more laborious positions in the world, denying themselves
145many comforts and all the luxuries of life, in order to give their children the very best education possible for them to provide. We see these children growing up, and too often the first return they make is in the form of invidious comparisons between themselves and the very parents to whom they owe almost every thing! In a little while, they step into the world as men, and, becoming absorbed in its pursuits from various selfish ends, seem to forget entirely that their parents are still toiling on, enfeebled by years, and over exertion for their sakes, and with the very sweat of their time-worn brows digging out from the hard earth, so to speak, the scanty food and raiment required to sustain nature. Ah! but this is a melancholy sight. Could any thing tell the sad tale of man's declension from good so eloquently as this?
It is plainly the duty of every young man, whose parents are poor and compelled to labor beyond their strength, to aid them to the extent of his ability. They have borne the burden for him through many years. From their toil and self-denial he now has the means of rising higher in the world than they had the ability ever to rise; but he is unjust and ungrateful, if, in his eager efforts to advance too rapidly, he forget and neglect them. Nothing can excuse conduct so unnatural, so cruel.
Chapter XV. Sisters.
IF you have younger sisters, who are just entering society, all your interest should be awakened for them. You cannot but have seen some little below the surface, and already made the discovery, that too few of the young men who move about in the various social circles to which you have admission, are fit associates for a pure-minded woman. Their exterior, it is true, is very fair; they sing well, they dance well, their persons are elegant, and their manners attractive; but you have met them when they felt none of the restraints of female society, and seen them unmask their real characters. You can remember the ribald jest, the obscene allusion, the sneer at virtue, the unblushing acknowledgment of licentiousness. You have heard them speak of this sweet girl, and that pure-minded woman, in terms that would have roused your deepest indignation, had your own sister been the subject of allusion.
You may know all these things, but your innocent sisters at home cannot know them, nor see reason
147for shunning the society of those whose real characters, if revealed, would cause them to turn away in disgust and horror. From the dangers of an acquaintanceship with such young men it is your duty to guard your sisters; and you must do this more by warding off the evil than by warnings against it. In order to this, you should make it a point of duty always to go with your sisters into company, and to be their companion, if possible, on all public occasions. By so doing, you can prevent the introduction of men whose principles are bad; or, if such introductions are forced upon them in spite of you, can throw in a timely word of caution. This latter it may be too late to do after an acquaintanceship is formed with a man whose character is detestable in your eyes, provided he have a fair exterior. Your sister will hardly be made to believe that one who is so attractive in all respects, and who can converse of virtue and honor so eloquently, can possibly have an impure or vicious mind. She will think you prejudiced. The great thing is to guard, by every means in your power, these innocent ones from the polluting presence of a bad man. You cannot tell how soon he may win the affections of the most innocent, confiding, and loving of them all, and draw her off from virtue. And even if his
148signs be honorable, if he win her but to wed her lot will be by no means an enviable one; he cannot make her happy; for happy no pure-minded woman ever has been, or ever can be made by a corrupt, evil-minded, and selfish man.
You are a brother; your position is one of great responsibility; let this be ever before your mind. On your faithfulness to your duty may depend a lifetime of happiness or misery for those who are, or ought to be, very dear to you. But not only should you seek to guard them from the danger just alluded to, — your affection for them should lead you to enter into their pleasures as far as in your power to do so; to give interest and variety to the home circle; to afford them, at all times, the assistance of your judgment in matters of trivial as well as grave importance. By this, you will gain their confidence and acquire an influence over them that may, at some later period, enable you to serve them in a moment of impending danger.
We very often — indeed, far too often — see young men with sisters, who appear to be entirely indifferent in regard to them. They rarely visit together; their associates, male and female, are strangers to each other; they appear to have no common interests. This state of things is the fault, nine times in ten, of the young men. It is
149the result of their neglect and indifference. There are very few sisters who do not love with a most tender and unselfish regard their brothers, especially their elder brothers, and who would not feel happier in being their companions, than in the companionship of almost any one. Notwithstanding all this neglect and indifference, how willingly is every little office performed that adds to the brother's comfort! How much care is there for him, who gives back so little in return! The sister's love is as unselfish as it is unostentatious. It is shown in acts, not in professions. How can any young man be indifferent to such love? How can he fail in its full and free reciprocation?
A regard for himself, as well as for his sisters, should lead a young man to be much with them. Their influence in softening, polishing, and refining his character will be very great. They have perceptions of the propriety and fitness of things far quicker than he has; and this he will soon see if he observe their remarks upon the persons with whom they come in contact, and the circumstances that transpire around them. While he is reasoning on the subject, and balancing many things in his mind before coming to a satisfactory conclusion, they, by a kind of intuition, have settled the whole matter, and settled it, he
150will find, truly. In the graver things of life, a man's judgment is more to be relied upon than a woman's, because here a regular course of reasoning from premises laid down is required, and this a man is much more able to do than a woman; but in matters of taste and propriety, and in the quick appreciation of character, a woman's perceptions are worth far more than a man's judgment. And in the more weighty and serious matters of life, a man will always find that he will receive aid, in coming to a nice decision, from a wife or sister who loves him, if he will only carefully lay the whole subject before her, with the reasons that appeal to his judgment, and be guided in some measure by her perceptions of what is right. This is because man is in the province of the understanding, which acts by thought, and woman in the province of the affecions, which act by perceptions; not that a man does not have perceptions and a woman reason, but the leading characteristic difference between the sexes is as stated, and each comes to conclusions mainly by either the one or the other of these two modes. This position, which we believe to be the true one in regard to the difference between the sexes, demonstrates the great use of female society, especially the society of those who feel some interest in and affection for
151us. In such society, there is a reciprocation of benefits that is nearly, if not quite, equal. And no where can this reciprocation be of greater utility than among brothers and sisters, just entering upon life, with all their knowledge of human character and human life to gain.
Chapter XVI. Conduct Among Men.
THROWN, of necessity, among men of all characters, habits, and professions, a young man will often find himself in circumstances that require him to act without his being able to see clearly, at first, how he should act. He will also find himself so situated at times, that, do as he may, offence will be given. All that is required, in cases like these, is to act from honorable principles; that is, to regard truth, right, and justice. Mere personal considerations, as how this one or that one may feel, think, or act, ought not to be regarded, when truth, right, or justice, is concerned. Nor should personal consequences be taken into the account, where a principle of
152integrity is involved. Let every man do right according to the honest dictates of his reason and he has nothing to fear.
It should be settled as a principle in the mind of every one, in his intercourse among men, never, by word, act, or smile, to countenance vice, or encourage that despicable spirit that finds delight in seeking out and magnifying the faults of others. If a young friend indulge in obscene remarks, do not laugh at him, but rather seek to change the subject of discourse. If he take more freedom, and speak of his immoralities, censure them as wrong without a moment's flinching from your duty, and do it with a degree of seriousness that will make him feel that you are in earnest. By an opposite course, you will encourage vice; but by this you may help a friend to shun evils, that, if indulged in, will debase his mind and make his influence in society a curse instead of a blessing.
As for men of confirmed bad habits and principles, make it a point to have no more intimate intercourse with them than what comes in the way of business. If you do, you are not only in some danger yourself, but you endorse them as virtuous men, thus approving their characters to those who do not know them, and who may be led astray by their influence.
Let every young man, in stepping out upon the world's arena, consider well the principles upon which he ought to act in common society. Let him look to what is right more than to what is expedient. Let him try to forget himself, when called upon to act, in a consideration of what is due to others on the abstract principles of justice. He need not fear that such conduct will be ever bringing him into unpleasant collision with others, — although this may sometimes be the case, — for the truth of his character will soon be seen, felt, and appreciated. The good will confide in his integrity, and the bad will respect him. He will be known in the community as an honest and honorable man, and this character will sustain him in any trial he may find it necessary to endure for the sake of right.
Deference to age, superior wisdom, and station in society, may be observed without a young man's violating his self-respect, or showing any undue regard for mere conventional forms. The failure to do so arises from a false notion of one's own importance. Real worth is modest, and always ready to defer to others; in fact, often too much so, in society, for the general good, while shallow conceit is ever thrusting itself rudely forward, and occupying the place of wiser and better men There should always be respect
154and deference to age and superior wisdom, for reasons that every one perceives and understands and this should also be shown to those who occupy elevated stations in society, as representatives of the common good. The deference ought not to be paid to the person, but to the officer. The office is one established for the good of the many, and whoever fills it ought to seek the common good, and should have respect and deference because he does so, or is supposed to do so. He may be a bad officer, but still the office is good; and while he fills it, he should have respect for the sake of the office, lest that come to be disregarded, or lightly thought of, in the community. Of course, a mere deference to rank or station, for the sake of being noticed by those who hold elevated positions, and thence being thought of consequence, or for the purpose of attaining some selfish end, is wrong.
A young man, when he first enters society, should think much, observe accurately, and say little. By this means he will learn far more than if he were forward and talkative; and when he does express his opinions, they will have their due weight. It is a mistake which very many fall into, when they first take their place among men, that they know a great deal more than most people whom they meet, because there are not
155many who talk freely, or think it necessary to tell all they know; but in time they begin to learn that the most of their knowledge of men and things was only in the memory, while those they deemed dull or superficial had lived and felt in the world, until their lips had become well nigh sealed in silence. A modest deportment is that which best becomes a young man when in the company of those who are older than himself. They may not have as much of certain kinds of knowledge as he has; but they are far more learned in the book of human life, and can teach him many a lesson that it will be good for him to learn. How often does the forwardness, confidence, and dogmatism of a young man cause a quiet smile to rest upon the lips of his seniors! It is, therefore, wiser for a young man to think, observe, and question, but to make up his opinions with caution, and not be too free about expressing them. For it is more than probable, that a few years will show him the fallacy of nearly all his first conclusions.
One of the first things which a young man will notice in those into whose society he is thrown, will be a habit of detraction. When allusion is made to an absent person, some censorious remark will follow; or there may possibly be allegations made, touching, remotely, his
156integrity; though these will, in general, be exceedingly guarded, yet sufficiently plain to create a prejudice in any honest mind. We would give a double caution on this subject, — first, not to believe much over half of what may be alleged against the absent; and second, to be exceedingly careful not to repeat any thing that has been said, and for two reasons — lest injustice be done to an innocent person, and lest your remark should reach the ear of the party traduced, and you be called upon to prove the allegations, which you might find it very difficult to do. If possible, never be a party in the petty misunderstandings that are of too frequent occurrence, growing out of serious or unimportant charges made against one individual by another, from malice, or a foolish habit of repeating every thing that is said. Some persons are always involved in troubles of this kind. The best way to avoid them is, to make it a rule of conduct never to say any thing against another except for the purpose of guarding those who are likely to be injured by a corrupt or dishonest person. Whenever an utterance of what you know to be the truth, will do this, your duty is a plain one; you must tell the truth, and be willing to take the consequences.
If a misunderstanding occur between you and
157another, seek an explanation immediately. Do not stop to listen to the plausible suggestions of pride, but go at once to the party, and have a clear understanding of the point of difference. In nine cases in ten, you will find that no real cause for the difficulty exists. Either he or you has misconceived the other's words or actions; or something either you or he has said has been repeated with offensive additions. This is always a trouble worth taking. Even if it do not result in settling the difficulty, it enables you to understand exactly the cause of the unhappy estrangement; and this is some little satisfaction.
More serious consequences than a simple closing of friendly intercourse need occur, except in very extreme cases. But, sometimes, it will happen that you are obliged to do more than merely give up the acquaintance of an individual; justice to others may require the exposure of something said or done by an unprincipled individual, by which he becomes your enemy. Such a person will, as a general thing, seek to injure you in all possible ways by false representations. The best antidote to all he may say, is a blameless life. This will be your best justification in the community. The character of every man makes a certain impression, and if any thing not in accordance with this
158impression be said against him, it is never fully believed. Still, any one will suffer more or less in the good opinion of society, if an evil-minded person industriously circulate false accusations against him; and proper means should be used to silence him, if his charges amount to dishonesty or immoral conduct. This may sometimes be done by demanding an interview in the presence of mutual friends, and then requiring proof of his allegations, or a denial of them. A common traducer is generally exceedingly tender of his own reputation; while he calls into activity a very whirlwind of evil accusations against others, the first breath of censure that falls upon his own fair fame disturbs him to the very centre. Once convict such a person, before witnesses, of having made false accusations against you, and you not only strip him of power to do you much injury in the future, but make him exceedingly cautious about what he says of one who has the nerve and decision to call him to an account for what his malignant spirit may cause him to say.
Pride and a hasty temper occasion disagreements of the most serious character, and often bring into open hostility those who have once been the warmest friends. No immorality of conduct, no departure from integrity, no wrong lies at the foundation of the unhappy disagreement
159An insult has been given; but whether intentional or unintentional, it is often hard to make out; and the party really insulted, or only imagining himself to be so, has flung back the outrage into the other's face with maddening violence. This occurs on the instant, between perfect strangers as well as between intimate friends; and too often the final result is an appeal to deadly weapons. Instead of the parties themselves meeting for the purpose of ascertaining precisely the feelings and intentions of each other, and learning whether an insult were really intended, the insult is taken for granted, and mutual friends are called in to obtain formal and specific retractions of things said and done, or to arrange the sad and disgraceful preliminaries of a duel. These friends hold, as they imagine the honor of their respective principals in pledge, and each requires of the antagonist party greater concessions and acknowledgments than he can feel it possible for him to make under such circumstances; and thus the breach is made wider instead of being healed, as it would be, in nine cases in ten, if one or the other of the parties themselves had sought for and obtained a personal interview.
We remember seeing two persons, perfect strangers to each other, come into collision from
160a supposed insult, where it was clear none was intended. It occurred, strangely enough, at a lecture given to young men on their right conduct in life. The room was so much crowded that all could not find seats, and near the door quite a number were standing. They were arranged against and near the wall, leaving a space of some yards between them and the first row of seats A young man, who had been sitting for about one half of the time occupied by the lecture, generously arose, and, stepping across the vacant space to where another young man was standing, offered him his seat. In doing this, the eyes of a number were necessarily upon him. Instead of promptly accepting the offer when so much trouble had been taken, the individual standing declined doing so, and did it in a manner that was felt to be particularly offensive, although no offence could have been meant. Be that as it may, the young man retired to his seat in anger and mortification, and, instead of resting satisfied in reflecting that what he had done was a generous offer of self-denial for the sake of another, and that no gentleman could wantonly insult one who thus acted towards him, he brooded over what had occurred during the whole time the lecture continued, and finally brought himself to the conclusion that he had been grossly
161insulted in public, and that nothing remained for him to do, but to demand satisfaction. Accordingly, the moment the lecture closed, he stepped hastily up to the young man, and, with intemperate warmth, in the midst of a crowd of both ladies and gentlemen, abruptly and insultingly demanded an explanation of his conduct. Surprised, yet indignant, at being thus rudely, and, as he felt, causelessly assailed, the other replied in about the same spirit as that in which he had been addressed. Blows were about to be exchanged, when others interfered. Cards were then passed, and the belligerents parted in mutual anger. As the parties were strangers to us, we saw no more of them, and presume that no exchange of shots took place in consequence, as the newspapers at the time did not chronicle any such event.
In this, we see a fair specimen of the origin, or what might be appropriately called the causeless cause, of duels. It is no more than probable that the mind of the young man, who was standing during the lecture, had become so much interested in the discourse as not to be clearly conscious of what he did when his attention was disturbed by the kind offer of the other to give him up his seat; and it is not at all improbable that he saw, a moment after it was too late, that he had acted
162with little less than rudeness to a stranger, and meditated an apology as soon as the lecture closed. But all these better impulses were destroyed by a sudden and rude assault, for which there was no kind of justification.
It usually happens that the person who imagines himself insulted, makes a reconciliation difficult, if not almost impossible, by offering in return a real insult, and then insisting upon acknowledgments and retractions from the other, while he never dreams of making an apology for his own conduct.
It almost always happens, in matters of this kind, that both parties are to some extent to blame, and all difficulty may at once be arrested, if either party will reflect carefully upon his own conduct, and determine to make an acknowledgment of the thing in which he has wronged the other. This should be done as a matter of simple justice, spite of all the inflammatory suggestions of false pride. Because another has wronged you, or insulted you, does that justify your wrongs or insults? You imperiously demand of another an apology for what he has done or said, and yet are not willing to offer an apology for your own conduct. First do what you require of him, and depend upon it, you will not find him backward in confession of error, or a readiness
163to throw over the unhappy past the mantle of oblivion. To do this is not disgraceful, but honorable and magnanimous. It is a triumph of reason over passion, of right over false pride and a morbid self-esteem.
If it should happen that a misunderstanding takes place with a young friend and another, and he call upon you to confer with the friend of the offending or offended party for the settlement of the difficulty, do not hesitate about accepting the office of mediator, but, in doing so, let it be with the determination to heal, not widen the breach. Your first duty will be to hear from your friend a full statement of all the facts in the case, and then get from the friend of the other party all that he has to allege against the person you represent. Honestly, conscientiously, and impartially weigh all the circumstances, without any personal bias whatever; and if you are satisfied that your friend has done wrong, tell him so, and insist upon his acknowledging that wrong as a most imperative duty. This he may do without dishonor: to refuse to do so would be dishonorable in the highest degree, for it would be a refusal to repair a wrong, which, if not done, may lead on to the most direful consequences. The other party may have done wrong, and be just as conscious of it; but pride may keep back
164its confession. The acknowledgment of your friend will be almost sure, if made in the right spirit, to bring back a fuller and more hearty acknowledgment of wrong from the opposite party, and then the work of reconciliation will be easy. Truly magnanimous conduct is that which involves self-sacrifice of some kind for the good of others. Nothing is so hard to sacrifice as false pride; yet the conquest is always a noble one, for it is made for the good of others. As a third party to any unhappy difference, be most careful to avoid any thing calculated to inflame the pride of your friend; lead him rather to reflect more upon what he has himself said and done, than upon the wrongs that he has suffered from the other. This will give reason a chance to act, and help him to see what it is his duty to do, as well as his pleasure to require of another. The great barrier that interposes itself in serious difficulties of this kind, is the disposition manifested by the belligerent parties to exact concessions, but to make none; and in this they are too often encouraged by the friends who have chosen to represent them.
A resort to deadly weapons, for the purpose of setting a difficulty, is in no case justifiable, the custom being founded upon false pride and a false idea of honor. As the principal in a
165difficulty, your duty is to seek by all right means to satisfy the individual to whom you have given offence, that it was not your intention to insult him, or that you had been led away by passion to say or do something that in your cooler moments you would not have said or done; the supposition is, that you, under no provocation, would seek redress by a resort to duelling. If this will not satisfy, and there is a clear determination evinced to force you into a deadly conflict, make a firm resolution to refuse to accept a challenge, and abide by that resolution. You have no more right to take the life of another than to give up your own.
Most men who fight duels are urged on to do so as much by the fear of being branded with cowardice as from inflamed passions. But the truth is, it is cowardice, and not courage, that makes them fight. They are afraid of the unjust censure of the world; they are afraid to do right, lest it be called wrong. The truly brave man is ever ready to suffer martyrdom for the sake of truth, whether he be burned at the stake, or immolated at the shrine of a hasty and false-judging public.
If you have been acting for your friend, in the hope of reconciling a difficulty, and all your efforts prove unavailing to prevent a murderous
166encounter, refuse to stand as a second. If your friend will not do what is right and honorable in endeavoring to reconcile the difficulty, be forfeits all claim upon you to go with him any farther in the matter; and if all his honorable overtures and acknowledgments are repulsed, he should have courage enough to refuse to accept a challenge to fight. If he have not, let him find some one less careful about principles than you are.
As to duelling itself, or a resort to deadly weapons for the purpose of settling a difficulty, a moment's cool reflection must satisfy any one that it is a most absurd practice, to say nothing of the fatal wrong that it too often inflicts upon society. There is nothing in it that tends to ennoble the human mind, but rather to debase it. In nothing that appertains to the duel is there any thing of generous regard to another's good — of noble self-sacrifice — of manly effort to raise the common standard of virtue; but, instead, there is a narrow and blinding regard for self, and a trampling under foot of the noble and manly spirit of forgiveness. Self, and only self, rules. And what is gained by the combat? One of the parties may be killed; but does that make the other a better man? It may gratify his malignant spirit of revenge, it is true; but that makes him more the child of hell than of heaven; and
167man's true destiny is heaven, and his right employment here a preparation for this high estate.
Society has claims upon every man which he is bound to meet. His life is not, therefore, his own to fling away at pleasure. To do so, is to act unjustly; and will this make a man any more honorable?
From such considerations, it is clear that a man may not only refuse a challenge to mortal combat without disgrace, but it is also clear that to accept such a challenge is both dishonorable and disgraceful; for it involves a wrong to society, and encourages a practice that is cruel, and therefore of hellish origin.
We have dwelt upon the reprehensible practice of duelling, because it is an evil that still exists in society, and because every high-spirited, quick tempered young man is liable to get himself into difficulties with other young men of like temperament. A quick temper is an hereditary failing, and this may excuse a hasty ebullition of passion, even to the extent of insulting a friend; but reason is given to all as a guide in life, and this teaches that there is only one thing to do in such a case; and that is, to repair the wrong done, no matter at how great a sacrifice of feeling and pride. This is every man's pain duty. If another offer you an insult, and refuse to with
168draw it, shooting him is certainly a singular mode of redress. The feeling that could prompt you to do so, could be nothing less than revenge. Some one has very forcibly said, in referring to matters of this kind, "A gentleman will not insult me; none other can." This is sensible doctrine; and if men had sufficient firmness to act upon it in all cases, there would be no duels.
Chapter XVII. Courage.
THERE are two kinds of courage, the one mere physical or brute courage, as it is sometimes called, and the other moral courage. Again, bravery in some is the result of an almost entire unconsciousness of danger, no matter how impending it may be; while in others it is the result of a strong moral purpose overcoming a natural timidity and fear of consequences. We find men who say that they have never known fear, and men whose coward hearts shrink at the very thought of danger, acting with equal bravery under certain circumstances. The one
169meets the encounter with scarcely a thought of consequences, while it requires all the efforts of the other to overcome his natural dread of suffering and death. The latter is, without doubt, entitled to most credit for bravery; for he meets the danger with a far more real knowledge of its character than the other.
The most exalted courage, is, therefore, the result of a high moral purpose, and this is the courage that every man should have: its foundation lies in a determination to do right, at any sacrifice, even of life itself, if that be required, as in the defence of one's country when it is invaded. It will often require as much courage to act right under certain circumstances as to march up to a cannon; and the man who will compel himself to face the world's opinions and prejudices in doing what he believes to be right, will not shrink from his duty even if called upon to fight for his country.
Every young man should feel cowardice to be a disgrace, and bravery a virtue that he is bound to practise. True bravery has no occasion to vaunt itself, for it does not seek, like the knights of old, for adventures. It is a sleeping power in the mind, that only rouses itself on occasion of more than ordinary moment, and then it acts calmly, but with firmness and decision.
A man who properly reflects is rarely a coward. Some are more inclined to shrink from bodily pain than others, and some are nervously sensitive in regard to the opinions of the world; but reflection from right grounds will correct both of these defects, and enable a man to act with bravery under all circumstances.
It is a thing of rare occurrence that a man loses his life at a time when he has put it in jeopardy in order to save the life of another; and yet we hear, almost every day, of persons being saved from almost certain death by the generous self-devotion of others. Of course, acts of this kind should not be done with a mere recklessness that has in it no hope of success. It would be madness, not true bravery, for a man who could not swim to throw himself into the sea in order to save a person who was drowning, or to jump into a well filled with noxious gas in the hope of lifting therefrom one who was on the point of perishing from its poisonous influence. A truly brave man looks at the means as well as the end, and will not risk his life unless there be a fair chance that in doing so he will be able to save the life of another. Around all who thus forget themselves in order to save others from injury or death there is a protecting sphere from above; and this is the
171reason why so few, who take most imminent risks in order to save others from destruction, are themselves injured. Here, we believe, lies the truth in this matter. A brave man is one who looks away from himself, and seeks the good of others. This is to act from heavenly principles, and must bring around him who so acts a sphere of protection from Heaven.
Every man should, from principle, resist oppression, and oppose an unyielding front to all attempts at invading his rights. He should do this as well for his own protection, and that of those who are dependent upon him, as in order to weaken the confidence of evil-minded men, who seek to oppress every one, thus making them more cautious how they put into practice their evil purposes. One unflinching adherent to right principles in the community saves numbers from becoming the victims of wrong.
Without courage a man is a curse to himself, and often a curse to others who may happen to depend upon him. He is a victim to causeless fears; is ever dreading some evil that he has not the bravery to meet with a bold front, and strive vigorously to conquer. He sees some evil thing steathily approaching his unconscious neighbor, but, fearful lest he may suffer
172consequences himself, fails to give the alarm and thus, with a base cowardice, permits an injury to take place that he might have turned aside. It is no wonder that a coward receives the brand of infamy.
In the present state of the world, the courage to act right in common society is the virtue most needed, and this every young man should have. He should never flinch from speaking the truth where its utterance will counteract evil designs, or advance the knowledge and practice of good principles. He is bound to do this by every consideration that regards the well-being of society. As to what this one or the other may say, he has nothing to do with that. He should have the courage to disregard all such appeals to his self-love, or to the feeling of deference to the good opinions of weak-minded or bad men. The cardinal virtue in society is a determination to do right because it is right, regardless of consequences. This is true courage.
There is a kind of courage, which takes on a different and less imposing form than usually meets the eye, but which is oftener needed by young men than the bolder spirit of opposition to wrong, which all regard as a virtue essential to perfectness of character. This is the courage to do
173exactly right, in small matters; or, what is equally important and harder to achieve the courage to acknowledge an error, and meet its consequences, rather than, after getting into a wrong position, continue in a wrong course, which can only lead farther and farther away from right. To make this clear, let us relate an occurrence in the history of a young man, who came near suffering a disgraceful exposure that would have stained his character in the eyes of the world. We will call him John T—.
He was honest, kind-hearted, social, and intelligent. These qualities gave him a good reputation, and made him a favorite with every one. So highly did the gentleman in whose employment he had been for some years, esteem him, that he trusted him with his cash account, in the fullest confidence that every dollar which came into the young man's possession would be as safe as if in his own hands.
Now it happened that among the acquaintances of T— was a man of the class known as unthrifty. That is, he was a man who always contrived to spend more money than he earned. T—'s friendship for this person was of some years' duration, and, notwithstanding the difference in their characters, and we might say principles, there existed a warm mutual attachment.
One day, this man, whom we will designate as Mr. H—, called upon his friend and said,
"John, I want a hundred dollars until day after to-morrow, and you must get it for me."
T— shook his head and replied,
"Unfortunately, I am not the possessor of ten dollars. If I had the money, it should be at your service."
"You must get it for me, T—," said H—, in a tone that was almost imperative. "I owe the amount, and promised, positively, to return it to-day. If I don't do it, I shall be hurt in a quarter where I particularly desire to stand well."
"I am sorry," replied John T—.
"Sorry is not the thing, my friend. I want the money. If it was two days later, I could get it from Linton. He says he will have it for me on Thursday. But to-day I must keep my word, or I don't know what consequences may follow.
H— spoke in a troubled way, and looked really anxious.
"Did Linton say he would let you have a hundred dollars on Thursday?"
"And you think you may depend on him?"
"O yes. His word's as good as his bond. If he says a thing, you may rely upon it."
"I might borrow the amount for you until Thursday," said T—, with some hesitation of manner.
"It shall be returned to you on that day positively. Get it for me, and you will lay me under a perpetual obligation."
"Call here in an hour, and I will see what can be done," said T—.
H— went away, promising to call in an hour.
The basis of the young man's suggestion, that he might borrow the sum for a couple of days, was a thought of the funds in his hands, amounting to nearly three hundred dollars. He might take one hundred dollars from this fund, and replace the amount on receiving it back from his friend, and no one be hurt by the transaction. After H— left, this thought was looked at a little more narrowly. "I've no right to use a dollar of that money," he said to himself. "It is placed in my hands for safe keeping, not to lend. No — no. I cannot do this. But where else can I borrow the amount?"
Now T— was a prudent young man in his expenditures, always keeping them down to his income at least, and generally something below it.
176So he never had occasion for borrowing, and had, in consequence, no borrowing facilities. To whom should he now go, and ask for the loan of a hundred dollars to be returned in two days? He would be ashamed to look any one in the face and make that request. He was not in business, that he needed a sum like that to-day, which might be returned from business receipts on the next.
So, borrowing was out of the question, and thought came, in a troubled state, back to the funds in his hands. He felt bewildered and anxious. Time was passing. The minutes glided along with swiftly tripping feet. The hour would soon be gone. It occurred to him to ask his employer to let him have a hundred dollars for a few days. But, what urgent use had he for a hundred dollars? How could he explain, satisfactorily, this sudden want to his employer, who was a man apt to look to the bottom of things that came under his observation? No — he could not ask for a loan, when, if questioned, he must "say that he wished to lend the money to an acquaintance.
The hour expired, and H— came in punctually.
"Have you the money for me?" he asked, in an expectant manner.
T— shook his head.
A shadow of disappointment went over the face of H—, who made a half despairing gesture,
"I fully depended on you," he said.
"There is no one from whom I can borrow," said T—.
"Can't you get the amount for me here? Won't Mr. Harwood let you have it?"
"I wouldn't make such a request of him for the world. He is a man of very peculiar and strict ideas."
H— commenced moving about in an exceedingly troubled manner. "It will be a dreadful thing for me if I don't get this money. I can't tell what the consequence may be. And I only want it for a couple of days."
Now, John T— had not the courage to bear this exhibition of pain in his friend, nor the firmness to resist the tempter who was urging him to use the money in his hands which belonged to another. So he yielded.
"I might," he said, in a hesitating manner, "let you have the amount wanted out of funds belonging to my employer. It will scarcely be required in the business for a couple of days."
H— caught at this eagerly.
"That will do! That's just the thing!" he
178replied. "Let me have a hundred, and you may depend on getting it back day after to-morrow."
But T— hesitated.
"I'm afraid," he said, "if Mr. Harwood were to find it out, it would cost me his confidence — perhaps my situation."
"Does he examine the cash every day?"
"How often? Once a week?"
"Then there's no danger. I only want the money until day after to-morrow. You must let me have it, my friend. Do me this service, and you will lay me under the greatest obligation."
Poor T—, thus pressed, had not the courage to say no. In an evil moment, he withdrew a hundred dollars from the cash entrusted to his care, and loaned it to his friend, who tool; the money, and hurried away, without so much as leaving his obligation for the amount.
Half an hour afterwards, Mr. Harwood, the employer of T—, came in. The very sound of his footsteps, as he entered, made the heart of T— beat quicker; and when he looked into his face, he was conscious of a certain confusion of manner, that ho feared would attract observation. He had never felt so strangely in the presence of any man in his life.
"John," said Mr. Harwood, soon after coming in, "how much money have you in the cash box?"
"I will see," replied the young man, turning away quickly, so that his suddenly flushing face might not be observed, and walking slowly to the fireproof. He moved slowly, in order to get time for thought. What should he say? Acknowledge that he had used a hundred dollars, and for what purpose? No — he had not the courage to do that only right thing under the circumstances. He had not courage enough to speak the exact truth, and meet the consequences. So he brought out the cash box, and after counting over the money, answered his employer's question.
"We have a hundred and sixty-three dollars out of bank, sir."
"Is that all?" said Mr. Harwood, speaking as if in some doubt. "I thought you had about three hundred dollars."
"Let me count it again," said T—. Ah! here was subterfuge! Alas! alas! How quickly does one wrong act produce consequences that tempt to the commission of other wrong acts! And, with hands from which he with difficulty kept back a visible tremor, he counted the money over again.
180"Just one hundred and sixty-three dollars," has repeated.
"I was mistaken," remarked the employer.
"But no matter, I promised to let Mr. Todd have two hundred, thinking that we had more than that sum out of bank. I will draw a check for a hundred, and when he comes in, you can give him that and a hundred in money."
Something real or apparent, in the tone of Mr. Harwood's voice, troubled the clerk. "What would he not have given to recall that act!
No further remark was made by Mr. Harwood. Two days passed, and still the cash remained short one hundred dollars. H— had failed to keep his promise. T— spent the day on which the money was to be returned, in a state of anxious expectancy, and in the evening called upon his friend.
"My dear fellow!" exclaimed H—, on seeing him. "I am really ashamed to look you in the face. Linton disappointed me shamefully. He promised me in the most positive manner that I should have a hundred dollars to-day. But when I called on him, he said he had entirely forgotten it, and used every dollar in another direction."
"Will he let you have it to-morrow?" asked T—, in a husky voice.
"He wouldn't promise me. But I'm in hopes of getting it out of him," was answered.
"But suppose he fails you! What then?"
"I must get it somewhere else," replied H—.
T— sighed heavily, and looked troubled and anxious.
"Just see," he said, "the position in which I am placed. If Mr. Harwood should discover the existing cash deficiency, I would be ruined in his estimation."
"Oh, he'll not discover it!" replied H—, lightly. "You're nervous."
"I am nervous, and with reason," said T—. "Mr. Harwood is a man of peculiar ideas. He would never forgive a breach of confidence like this, if he were to find it out, and I think suspicion has been excited."
"Why do you say that?"
"In calling for the amount of cash on hand, with a view to lending a neighbor two hundred dollars, he was evidently disappointed, as well as puzzled, to find the sum smaller by over a hundred dollars than he supposed. If he should look at the balance called for by the cash book and confirm his suspicion, just see where I would stand. H—, you must return me this money on tomorrow, and that without fail."
H— promised fairly, but did not perform. The fact is, spendthrift habits produced money needs beyond his income, and the temptation to re-venture at the gaming table had lured him from the path of virtue. It was to pay losses, that he had iniquitously borrowed from his too compliant friend.
On the next day, a customer paid in the sum of one hundred dollars. As T— held his pen in hand, about to make an entry of this sum in the cash book, an evil counselor suggested the omission of the entry for the present; or, until H— returned the missing hundred. If Mr. Harwood should notice and speak of this omission, he could treat it lightly as an error. The fine edge of his moral sense was already touched. A little while he debated the safety — not the right or wrong — of this course. He could not see all clear; but he withheld his pen from making the entry, at least for the present, and shut up the cash book. There followed a sense of relief, as the peril of his situation seemed lessened by this act; but a new uneasiness succeeded the product of wrong in another direction. That failure to make an entry of cash received, in order that, in case of examination, a balance, in agreement with the actual amount of cash on hand, might appear,
183troubled him even while his thoughts were busy about other things.
Days went by, and still the friend withholding the money which he had borrowed of T—, the cash book continued to show a false balance, but one in accordance with the amount of money on hand. Mr. Harwood made his usual weekly examination of the cash account, and passed it as correct. How the heart of his unhappy clerk trembled as Mr. Harwood's eyes ran along the debit and credit entries, pausing, now and then, as if trying to recall some receipt or expenditure which did not appear. The examination was longer than usual, but closed at last, when the heart of T— beat more freely.
A day or two afterwards, H—, who had not yet returned the money, called to see his friend. The face of T— brightened, as the young man came in. He thought of the hundred dollars, and believed that he was about to receive it. Not so, however. H— had come again as the tempter.
"My dear T—," he said, as he stood holding the hand of his too compliant friend, "I am mortified to death about those hundred dollars. I can't tell you what I have suffered on account of my failure to keep faith. Linton deceived me shamefully. I thought him a man of his word; but now I see that he is a mere trifler."
"It places me in a bad position," replied T—. "In a very bad position."
"I know it does, and that is what grieves me. I wouldn't have had a thing like this happen for the world."
"When do you think you can return it?" asked T—.
"Well, that's just what I came in to talk with you about. If I can get fifty dollars to-day, I can certainly return you the hundred to-morrow, and the fifty on the day afterwards."
T— was silent.
"You can get it for me," said H—.
T— was still silent, standing with his eyes upon the floor. He had heard it suggested, within a day or two, that H— gambled. He now felt sure of it. How was fifty to produce a hundred and fifty in the short period of two days, except in some perilous venture like that at the gaming table? We regret to say, that T— was not shocked, as he ought to have been, as he thought over the probabilities in regard to this suggestion. The position in which he had placed himself, and the wrong acts already done, had, as before intimated, touched his moral sense. The question now debated was, as to the chances in favor of success on the part of H— if he should lend him fifty dollars more.
"Linton's failure to keep faith has put me in a most unfortunate position towards you," said H—, in an insinuating way. "I would not have touched the money if I had dreamed, even remotely, that he would break his word."
"How are you to get a hundred and fifty dollars out of fifty?" asked T—.
"I do not care to explain, now, the operation I shall make. But I have the way clear enough. Get me fifty dollars, and we will all be out of this unpleasant difficulty in the course of at least two days."
"You said that you could return me the one hundred to-morrow."
"I can and will," replied H—.
It was plain, now, to the mind of T—, that his friend gambled in some way; and the thought occurred to him, that, seeing the confidence with which he spoke, he might have some weak victim in his toils from whom his superior skill would surely abstract the money he promised so confidently to replace.
Ten days previous to this such a thought would have shocked the mind of T—; but peril, and the beginning of wrong, combined to obscure his moral perceptions. He was so anxious to get back the sum which he had so weakly taken from the funds entrusted to his care, that he did not
186pause to scrutinize the means by which his debtor should place him all right again.
Still, the tempter was not permitted to bear him down without a struggle. There were better counselors near, and they gained an audience before blind action followed. From these came this suggestion: That he should atop where he was; and let the hundred dollars go rather than touch another penny of Mr. Harwood's money. Gambling, they said, was a crime; and that if his friend were really a gambler, no faith could be placed in his word; fur a gambler was a robber, and would plunder friend as well as stranger; and, moreover, if he furnished him with the means of doing evil, he was alike criminal.
"But what can I do?" answered T—, in his own thought. "How can I replace this money?"
"Have the courage to do right," counseled the friends of his soul. "Go to Mr. Harwood. Tell him what you have done, and ask to have the money charged to your account. Better lose the sum ten times over, than go forward a step in the way you are now tempted to walk in."
But the thing that T— lacked was the courage to tell Mr. Harwood what he had done.
"I will try this way of escape first," he
187answered, "and then, if it do not bring me out all right, I will make a clean breast of it to Mr. Harwood."
All right? Poor bewildered young man! There is no coming out right if we take the wrong road.
It is with pain that we have to write the truth. T— abstracted from his employer's funds fifty dollars more, and gave the sum to his false friend. On the next day, fifty dollars, instead of the promised hundred were returned; but, on the day succeeding, H—, instead of producing the remaining hundred, succeeded in borrowing seventy dollars more from the weakly compliant clerk.
The two young men had now become involved together in wrong. If T— broke with H—, the hundred and seventy dollars were lost beyond the chances of recovery, and he could not endure that thought. He was well satisfied that H— gambled; but while he regarded the vice with detestation, he was so anxious to get back the funds taken from his employer, that he said, in justification of his conduct, in lending further sums, "It is none of my business how he gets the money." But it was his business. In furnishing the means to gamble, no matter under what pretext, he became involved in the guilt of his false friend.
188In order to keep the unhappy clerk in his toils, H— would return small sums, say twenty or thirty dollars at a time. But he was sure to get at least a hundred from him within two or three days. And this dishonest and dangerous course of conduct went on for three or four months, until the amount of T— 's depredations on his employer's funds, had reached the sum of six hundred dollars! Twenty times during this wretched period, had T— made up his mind to go to Mr. Harwood and lay the mutter before him without disguise. But his courage as often failed. He had gone wrong in the beginning through lack of courage to say no, to a tempting friend; and he kept going further and further wrong through lack of courage to stand still and face the evil consequences that stood in threatening attitudes before him. In order to cover his abstractions of money, T— had recourse to omissions and false entries.
The experience of those few months, were the bitterest of his whole life. Night and day he was oppressed by a sense of impending danger. He dreamed of disaster and ruin. The presence of Mr. Harwood was always like that of a judge about to pronounce some dreadful sentence, instead of a kind friend and confiding employer. Unhappy young man! How were all the springs of
189life dashed with bitterness? For lack of courage to do right, he was now involved in transactions that threatened to destroy his good name, and ruin all his worldly prospects.
"John," said Mr. Harwood one day, in a tone that made his heart leap and tremble. Mr. Harwood was standing at the desk, with the cash book open before him.
The young man came up to the desk, feeling something like a prisoner about to receive sentence.
"Isn't this a mistake, John?" and Mr. Harwood looked his clerk in the face, while he pointed to a figure which John knew too well should be a three instead of a two; and being in the column of hundreds, it made just one hundred dollars difference in the cash balance.
The clerk bent over the page, and affected to be adding up the column of figures; but he was hurriedly debating the question of throwing himself upon the mercy of Mr. H—, and telling him, without reserve, the whole story of his miserable connection with H—; but his heart failed him. He had not the courage to do right.
"There is an error, certainly," he replied, in a voice of forced calmness. "It should be three instead of two."
"Does your cash stand a hundred dollars over?" asked Mr. Harwood.
Whether the answer were yes, or no, T— saw that his position would be equally perilous. Ah! if he had only possessed the courage to meet this sad affair face to face long ago, and terminate all by a confession to Mr. Harwood, how different would it have been! Deeply did he regret his weakness. Now, merciful influences were driving him into a place from which he could only hope for extrication through a full unburdening of himself. Shutting the cash book with a firm hand — despair gave him nerve — he looked up into Mr. Harwood's countenance with a face so pale, that the other ejaculated in surprise —
"John! John! What ails you?"
"Mr. Harwood, I want to talk with you a little." John's voice was husky. His lips played uneasily, and there was an unnatural twitching of the muscles all over his face.
"Is anything wrong, John?" asked Mr. Harwood, firmly, but in a tone so kind and so encouraging, that all reserve instantly fled.
"Yes, sir; very wrong," replied the young man, as the tears came into his eyes. "I am in sore trouble, sir."
"On what account, John? Sit down. There, compose yourself. Consider me your best friend,
191and speak as freely as if you were making confession to heaven."
The poor clerk was so much overcome by this kind appeal, that he covered his face and wept bitterly for some time. Then he told, without disguise or extenuation, the whole story of his wrong deeds.
Mr. Harwood listened with grief and indignation to the unhappy recital.
"My poor boy," he said, with much feeling, for he was attached to his clerk, "has it come to this? John! John! How could you have been so lacking in the courage to do right?"
"I did not mean to wrong you, sir," said the young man earnestly. "And now, if you will let me serve you until I can pay back the debt, I will deny myself all but the barest necessaries of life, until we are even. I do not expect you to confide in me as you have done. The high trust you reposed, I have betrayed. Oh, sir! if you knew what I have suffered! if you knew what I suffer now!"
"Wrong always brings suffering, John."
"I know it, sir. I have proved that it is so, to my deep sorrow," answered the unhappy young man.
"May the suffering be a salutary discipline," said Mr. Harwood.
"I will die rather than yield again under any enticement," replied John, in tears.
Mr. Harwood was a true man. He understood clearly John's position, feelings, and character. He felt for him deeply, but he could not pass so serious a matter by lightly, nor trust his clerk as fully as he had done before. He kept him, however, in his service, and kept, also, his secret. If the young man had possessed the courage to face the first consequences of his wrong act, had come to him immediately on discovering that H— had deceived him, then he would have shown an element of character on which great reliance might be placed. It was the want of courage to face unpleasant consequences, rather than continue to walk in a wrong course, that left on the mind of Mr. Harwood, a doubt in regard to him. He felt that he might be tempted, and fall; not from evil inclination, but from want of firmness and courage. And so it took a long time for the old confidence to be restored. But time proved the lesson to have been effectual. The fear and suffering of that brief period of wrong, had penetrated so deeply, and left such vivid memories, that he was in little danger of being lured again from the path of rectitude.
Chapter XVIII. Religion.
THERE are three classes of men in the world — the civil man, the moral man, and the spiritual man. The civil man lives in mere external obedience to civil laws, because his own well-being is secured thereby; the moral man not only regards the civil law, but lives also in obedience to moral laws; while the spiritual man obeys divine laws. The first obeys only the civil law; the second obeys the civil law as well as the moral law, for both are involved in the latter; but the spiritual man obeys both civil and moral as well as divine laws, because the divine law includes all the rest. From this it is clearly seen that the spiritual, or truly religious man, must be a moral as well as a civil man; that, in fact, he is the only true man in society, or he who regards the good of the whole from an internal and spiritual ground, and not from any external and selfish considerations.
Although the very life and true vital energy of society is religion yet it is a subject of
194difficult introduction in a work like this. Christendom is divided into so many sects with variant and opposing doctrines, — and doctrine is absolutely necessary to religious belief, — that there is great danger of giving offence where none is intended, and injuring the usefulness of the book by creating a prejudice against it. Still it is felt to be of such vast importance, that we would consider our work as greatly deficient if we were to pass it by.
Whoever has read carefully the first three chapters of this book, will clearly see the necessity of religion, or a means whereby man may return to a state of heavenly order and consequent happiness. Truth must be the basis of religion, for that leads to good; the false and the evil are inseparable companions. The Bible is the word of God, or divine truth, and therefore that must be the basis of religion. And yet we have doctrines of the most opposite characters; and those who hold them all appeal to the Bible, and profess to find proofs therein to substantiate them. Of course, all cannot be true, for there is only one true system of religious doctrines, and all that is variant to that must be error
Let every young man who has arrived at mature age, when the whole responsibility of life and its consequences begin to rest upon his
195own shoulders, look at the subject of his religious views with an earnest desire to know the truth for its own sake, and in this spirit canvass them thoroughly. The means which God has given him for the determination of truth when presented mind, is his reason; and this he must exercise vigorously, holding, at the same time, his mind in freedom to adopt whatever he clearly sees to be rational as well as scriptural. Because my father has believed a set of religious doctrines, that cannot make them true to me, unless I can understand them clearly while I was a child, and he was responsible for my religious belief, he was bound to teach me the doctrines he conscientiously believed to be true. But when I became a man, and the responsibility was transferred to me, my first duty was to canvass the whole matter fairly, and adopt or reject according to the best light I could obtain. And this course should be pursued by every one, on the ground that nothing is truth to the mind that it does not clearly understand. To adopt a thing as true because others believe it to be so, never advances a man a step, never gives him the smallest ability to fight against evil in his own heart. It is by truth alone that a man combats with what is false and evil; and this must be truth to him, not to another
196From this every young man, who thinks sensuously on the subject of religion, will see the obligation under which he lies to examine into the very foundation of his religious belief. If it be a true belief, it will bear any amount of scrutiny, and show its own brightness and excellence the more thoroughly it is canvassed. If it be not true, the quicker that discovery is made the better. Is there any one who loves the truth for its own sake who can object to this? No, there cannot be.
Some writers, who have given advice to young men, when they came to treat of religion, have recommended them to attend church regularly, and to assume devout appearances when there, because, by so doing, they would be thought moral and religious, and thus stand a much better chance of being taken by the hand, and pushed forward in the world. We have not only seen such advice in books, but have heard it repeatedly urged upon young men, by persons calling themselves religious.
For a young man to do this, we should say, would be for him to act hypocritically. Any one who attends church, and assumes a religious exterior from mere selfish and worldly ends, does himself a greater injury than he supposes. Far better would it be for him to remain at home.
Too many young men both think lightly and speak lightly of religion, as if it were something not intended for sensible people. But, as religion is the means by which a man is able to overcome the corrupt and evil tendencies of his nature, and rise into a life of heavenly order, we think it a matter of sufficiently grave importance to command the earnest attention of every one, Mere canting and blind enthusiasm, of course, are not religion, and those who ridicule and censure these should be very careful not, at the same time, to make assertions or create impressions injurious to true religion.
All true religion is founded upon a just idea of God. A false notion of God results inevitably from a false religion. The most important thing in the outset is, therefore, the formation of a just idea of the divine Being. The Bible tells us that "God is love." Now, infinite and divine love must seek to bless others out of itself; and from this we conclude that God is ever seeking the good of his creatures, and that religion is nothing more than such a love to God and man as leads us to obey the precepts of the one and seek the good of the other. The assumption, therefore, of exterior forms of sanctity are nothing, if love to God and man be not in the heart. Religion is a something that is
198eminently practical; it goes with a man into all his daily avocations, and regulates every transaction of his life. If, in his business, he pursue his own interest so eagerly as to hurt his neighbor's interests, he, of course, does violence to a true religious principle. No matter what he professes to believe or be; in that act he has offended against the doctrine that "religion is love to God and man," and therefore done evil before his Maker, whose very essence is love.
The religion of far too many is a Sunday religion. It does very well for the Sabbath, when there are no worldly interests to be looked after, and when an exterior of sanctity is not in the least in the way of a sharp bargain. But when Monday comes, other matters are to be looked after, which it would not do to associate with religion, lest a thing so holy should suffer violence and be brought into disrepute. The religion of these persons consists in a faith in certain doctrines, by which they are to be saved, and the bringing of religion down into the world, by which it is in danger of suffering violence, as they understand it, is to talk about these doctrines among men of the world, with whom they are daily engaged in driving hard bargains. No doubt the least said, the better, under these circumstances; and in keeping silence, therefore, they are right
199But what is really meant by bringing religion into the world, is for men to take with them, in their business and social intercourse, that regard for the neighbor's good which will prevent the taking of any advantage of him whatever. Whoever attempts to do this will not find it, however, a very easy task. His self-love will be ever prompting him to do as others do; that is, to sacrifice others' good in striving to secure his own; but if he be truly endeavoring to act from a religious principle, he will shun the evil of overreaching his neighbor, because it is a sin against God; and in so doing he will receive divine power to overcome it.
Here we have given a simple instance of how religion is to be brought down into everyday life. From this all may see how in every act a man may make a principle of religion the governing law. If all men pursued their business upon a basis such as this, we would see none of those fluctuations and disturbances, throughout the whole commercial world, that now make the success of an honest man so very doubtful. There would be health in the entire body, from the skin to the vital regions of the heart and lungs.
If a true regard to religion will produce health in so diseased a community as that
200engaged in trade, where nearly all, in the eager pursuit of wealth, care not who loses if they gain, it is every man's duty to endeavor, as far as he is concerned, to bring it down from the church and the altar into real life.
Chapter XIX. Bad Habits.
UNDER this head we wish to say a word or two on smoking, drinking, and swearing, three very bad habits.
In regard to the first, — that is, smoking, — we would earnestly recommend every young man not already addicted to it to avoid contracting a habit that must injure the health, and which is exceedingly disagreeable to almost every one. Tobacco is a vile and offensive weed, and the extensive use of it that now prevails, is one of the most singular circumstances, connected with the history of the past and present centuries, that has occurred. We see men of intelligence and refinement snuffing it up their noses, chewing it, and smoking it, with an earnestness that would
201be really amusing; were it not that a feeling of disgust quiets the mind down into sobriety. What the use of it is, no one can tell, while nearly all agree that it seriously injures the health.
Smoking, or the use of tobacco in any form, is not a gentlemanly practice, for the simple reason that it is a selfish habit, which is always disagreeable to others, while true gentility is a deference to the comfort, convenience, and frequently to the prejudices, of others. To have the room in which you are sitting filled with the fumes of tobacco, or to have the smoke of a cigar puffed in your face, is certainly very disagreeable; but it does not stop there: your clothes are filled with the vile odor, your handkerchief is rendered offensive and useless, and your lips are covered with a bitter and irritating deposit.
The offence committed by the smoker is not limited to these disagreeables. When he talks to you, his breath nauseates you, and his clothes fling around you a strong but stale odor of tobacco. If you visit him at his room, the atmosphere is rank and oppressive. If you lend him a book, when you get it back you are almost tempted to throw it into the fire, instead of returning it to its place on the shelf.
How a young man can go into the company of
202ladies after smoking is more than we can comprehend. We hardly think he would if he knew how offensive an odor he carried with him, and how disagreeable to the nostrils of his fair friends is his breath constantly blown into their faces. We have heard bitter complaints from ladies in regard, to this thing.
Smoking is vulgar enough, but smoking in the street is rarely practised, except by persons of low habits.
As to the habit of drinking, little more is necessary than to condemn it as a very bad habit. There has been so much said and written on the subject within the last few years, that every one must understand its merits by this time. The fact that it does not conduce to health, and is an exceedingly dangerous habit, would be sufficient in themselves to condemn it, were not the sad evidences of its direful consequences scattered so thickly around us.
The practice of swearing is another habit among young men, and certainly a very weak and foolish one, to say nothing of its profanity. The worst part of it is the frequent taking of the Lord's name in vain, which is expressly forbidden by God himself. Does it not seem strange that a man should speak lightly, irreverently, and often blasphemously of the Being who created
203him; and who sustains him every moment of his life, from whom hi has every blessing he enjoys, and who is ever seeking his good? Such a one will speak indignantly of the ingratitude of another; but what ingratitude is greater than his!
A young man who has a proper respect for himself will never swear. The habit is so entirely useless, and the language so offensive to religion, morality, and good taste, that he will avoid it naturally. Whenever a young man is heard to use these vulgar and profane expletives, it is a sure sign that he has been keeping low company; for in none other do they commonly prevail.
Besides the three bad habits named, some young men fall into the practice of using the slang phrases common to the lowest classes of society. For this there is no excuse in the world. The practice might be gravely argued against, and its evils shown; but that would be treating it with too much seriousness. The best corrective of it is a simple declaration of the fact, that the habit is exceedingly offensive to good taste, and that a young man, who is so silly as to make use of "slang" in good society, is at once set down as low-minded and vulgar.
A young man who had, in the earlier years of his life, been brought into association with persons of little refinement, who thought it smart to express their feeble ideas in slang phrases, naturally fell into the bad habit. As he grew older, and was thrown among refined people, he became observant, and saw, by contrast, the silliness of a mode of speaking which associated even refined and pure ideas, with coarse images, or vulgar sayings; and so determined to correct in himself, what his judgment condemned. But he did not find this a very easy matter. He had become so accustomed to the use of certain words, that they were forever coming to his lips, and indicating to others a low vein of sentiment which did not really exist.
He was what is sometimes called a rising young roan; and he was rising in even a higher sense than the words usually indicate — rising in mental and moral progress, as well as in worldly things. In consequence, he was becoming gradually introduced among people whose social rank was above the one he had occupied when first entering the world as a man; and where the tastes, refinements, and social proprieties of life are more observed and regarded.
And now, in spite of his watchfulness over himself, he would, every now and then, shock the
205ears of some lady or gentleman who had become interested in him, by a word that betrayed the character of his early slang-talking associates.
In this refined circle, to which his real merit gave him a welcome entrance, he met a young lady of beauty, accomplishments, and great moral worth, who interested him from the first moment of their acquaintance. The favorable impression was mutual; but it remained only upon one side. The young lady's estimation of the man who interested her in the beginning, underwent a change. Wherefore, this brief conversation with a friend will explain.
"How do you like Mr. W—?" asked this friend, alluding to the young man.
"He is quite intelligent," was the simple answer.
"So I find him; intelligent beyond the men we ordinarily meet. And handsome," said the friend.
"A fine looking man, certainly; but —."
"He hasn't always kept good company."
"How do you know?"
"He betrays, now and then, an acquaintance with terms and phrases that always offend good taste."
"Ah, yes, now that you speak of it" said the
206friend, "I remember having remarked as much myself. Why, he uses, at times, down-right slang!"
"I know he does. At Mrs. L—'s last week while he was talking earnestly, he let drop the words, ‘It's all in my eye,’ and again, ‘He came up missing,’ and then to my horror, certain individuals about whom he was speaking were ‘small potatoes!’ He saw that I was surprised at this last slip of the tongue, and colored deeply."
"What a pity!" remarked the friend.
"It is, certainly, a pity that one with so many excellencies should have such a blemish. Slang is and ever has been particularly offensive to me. I always regard it as the sign of innate vulgarity."
"I do not think Mr. W— innately vulgar by any means," said the other. "On the contrary there is an air of innate refinement about him."
"So there is, taking him in the general; but this slang is the hand writing on the wall against him so far as I am concerned. You may call it a weakness on my part, if you will, but I cannot help it. The moment a gentleman or lady indulges in slang phrases, that moment I feel myself removed to a distance. We can never be intimate friends."
The young lady was in earnest, and steadily repelled all advances from W—, whose feelings had become much interested in her. The reason of her coldness he never knew. But the barrier between them was a little habit, which had fixed itself so firmly that he was not able to break wholly free from its tenacious hold. He was, really, as refined in heart as this lady; and as true a man as she was a woman. They were worthy of each other. And yet, he hung out a sign of vulgarity, and she mistook it for the index of a vulgar quality with which she could have no intimate fellowship.
But there is a habit which stands more in a young man's way than the light one of using cant and slang; a habit that has marred the opening fortunes of thousands upon thousands. We do not mean the habit of drinking — that terrible curse — but the habit of chewing and smoking tobacco. Of this vice we have already expressed an opinion. We refer to it again, as we referred to the use of slang phrases, in order to make apparent some of the ways in which it acts inversely to a young man's interests in life.
Edward T—, aged twenty, was anxious to get a situation that offered in a dry goods store, and asked a friend of his family to speak to the owner of the store about him.
"I am particular about my young men," said the storekeeper. "What do you know of Edward T—?"
"He's all right, I believe," was the answer "I've known him for several years."
"Tell him to call and see me."
So Edward called, and mentioned his name.
"Ah, yes!" said the storekeeper. "Mr. L— spoke to me about you."
The young man took off his hat, and a cigar fell from it to the floor. He did not see the contraction of the merchant's brow as he stooped to pick it up. The decision was against him. Only a few questions were asked.
"I will see Mr. L— about you in a day or two," said the storekeeper, "and let him know whether you will suit me. But don't depend on the place. There are two or three applicants."
"He will not suit me, Mr. L—." The friend of Edward met the storekeeper on the next day, and this was the answer he received.
"Why not?" was enquired.
"I do not wish to hurt the young man's feelings, and you need not repeat my objection, unless you think it may be of use to him. But young men with the habit he has acquired, rarely get the mastery over it."
"What habit?" asked the friend.
"The habit of smoking and chewing I may be peculiar and over-exacting in regard to the qualifications of my young men; but I claim the privilege of having things in my own establishment to suit myself. I will not have a tobacco chewer about me. My floors shall at least be free from this defilement, and my customers spared the annoyance of having their stomachs turned by the segar-laden breath of a clerk. And beyond this disgusting objection lies another and a serious one. Young men who use tobacco, are apt to fall into the habit of visiting segar stores, and lingering about them. There is danger in this of forming associations that may lead astray from good morals; for there are, in all communities, idle or vicious men, who hang loosely on society; and some of these are very apt to be found wasting their time, or on the look out for prey, in the vicinity of segar shops and drinking saloons, which stand usually in very close proximity to each other. So you see, I am not governed by any hasty prejudice. I look upon the matter from my own stand point, and, right or wrong, let my convictions form my own rule of conduct."
And so Edward T— lost an opportunity that might have been the first upward step to fortune; for the place he wished to secure was in every way desirable, the merchant being a man of
210wealth, with a large business, and known to be liberal in his views toward young men, if he discovered in them the right business and moral qualities.
In another case, the decision against a young man, who, in all other respects, suited his employers, was made, on the ground of his excessive use of tobacco. An unusually dull season led the house of Messrs. R— J—, & Co., to a consideration of the propriety of reducing their large expenses, and on a conference of the principal members of the firm, it was resolved to dispense with the services of a salesman, a book-keeper, and two lads who had recently come into the store. There was no question as to which of the bookkeepers it was advisable to discharge; but the decision was not so easy when the salesmen were referred to. The selection narrowed itself down to two young men, both competent, and one in some respects a better salesman than the other. His name was Philip L—. He had been married for two or three years, and his family consisted of a wife and one child.
"Which of these two young men shall we retain, Philip or Edward?"
This was the question to be decided.
"Philip is an excellent salesman," said one of the partners.
"And so is Edward," remarked another.
"Yes, both are competent young men, but Philip is, if anything, the superior."
"But one serious objection lies against him."
"His excessive and disgusting use of tobacco."
To this all assented.
"He has become to me," said the last speaker, "really offensive. He fairly smells of tobacco. It seems to ooze through the pores of his skin. The juice is squirted about, here, and there, and everywhere, or collected in teeming spittoons. You see it stealing down from the corners of his mouth. It stains his lips, and pollutes his breath. He cannot but affect, with disgust, many customers."
"All too true," was the general assent to this.
"Now, Edward," he went on, "is a gentleman, so far as offensive habits are concerned. He neither chews nor smokes. I have always liked him on this very account."
"So have I," and
"So have I," went from lip to lip.
"Then we will retain Edward, and let Philip go."
"Philip has a family — Edward is single," was suggested.
And then the matter was discussed anew, and
212with reference to the young man's position in life, But the disgusting vice was against him. It had always been a source of annoyance to the leading members of the firm, who did not use tobacco in any shape. Finally, it was decided to dispense with the services of Philip L—, and he was thrown out of a good situation, at a time when it was almost impossible to obtain employment. Five years afterwards, Edward was taken into the firm as a partner — Philip is still only a salesman on a moderate salary. Tobacco had ruined his prospects.
We might go on, adding instance after instance, in which the habit we are condemning has acted as a bar to advancement. Young men, wrapped up in their own individuality, and wedded to a self-indulgence, can hardly appreciate the repulsive sentiments they often inspire in the minds of good and influential men, who have it in their power to aid them at just the point where a helping hand is most needed, but we have given two suggestive illustrations, and they must suffice.
It will never be known in how many thousands of instances, this bad habit of using tobacco has stood in the way of marriage alliances. A suit, pressed earnestly, meets with a rejection. Why? The lady need not give her reason. But some
213thing in the lover has not come up to her ideal of a husband. She wants a free, rational mind to mate with her mind, not one that slumbers dreamily in the thrall of a sensual habit. She wants a man, not a slave. And so, as the lover advances, she recedes. Or it may be that her heart has become interested. She has passed through a strong conflict, and in pain and bitterness of spirit, averts her face, and resolves to walk life's path alone, rather than in soul-companionship with one who has married himself to a vice from which few ever disenthral themselves.
Do not think lightly of a woman of this reflective, deliberate, resolute character, nor say that, if a young lady doesn't choose to take you as you are, why the loss is hers. That is a weakness unworthy of you. A woman with thought, decision, and a spirit of self-denial like this, is a true woman, and worth a hundred of your pliant girls, who are ready to take you at a word, segars and all, and think themselves fortunate. What is a segar, or your favorite tobacco, to the life-companionship of a true, wise, good, and loving woman?
If you cannot put them aside — if the filthy habit that would be a daily offence to her is dearer to you than her love — blame her not if she turn away, though it be in sadness and tears.
Chapter XX. Health.
LATE hours, irregular habits, and want of attention to diet, are common errors with most young men, and these gradually, but at first imperceptibly, undermine the health, and lay the foundation for various forms of disease in after life. It is a very difficult thing to make young persons comprehend this. They sit up as late as twelve, one, and two o'clock, frequently, without experiencing any ill effects; they go without a meal to-day, and to-morrow eat to repletion, with only temporary inconvenience. One night they will sleep three or four hours, and the next nine or ten; or one night, in their eagerness to get away into some agreeable company, they will take no food at all, and the next, perhaps, will eat a hearty oyster supper, and go to bed upon it. These, with various other irregularities, are common to the majority of young men, and are, as just stated, the cause of much bad health in mature life. Indeed, nearly all the shattered constitutions, with which too many are cursed, are
215the result of a disregard to the plainest precepts of health in early life.
As health is the indispensable prerequisite to a proper discharge of the duties of life, every man is under obligation to society not to do any thing, which, by producing a diseased condition of the body, renders him unfit to attend efficiently to his work or office. This is the view that we are anxious to impress upon the minds of those for whom we write. Although a man, feeling and thinking altogether from self, may imagine that he "is his own man," as some express it, and therefore at liberty to do with himself as he pleases, a little reflection must lead him to see that this is a great error. No man stands alone in society, or can be independent of others. Each forms a part of the great social body, and must faithfully and diligently do what he can for the common good. There exists in society a community of interests, and each works for the whole, whether he designs to do so or not. The farmer tills the soil, and draws therefrom his abundant harvests of grain and other products meet for the sustenance of man and beast. But it is not for himself, and those immediately dependent upon him, that his fields are rich with grain; they could not consume the product of one year in ten or twenty years. No; his work is for the
216whole, and he receives his proportion from the labor of the whole. The manufacturer cannot wear the hundreds and thousands of yards that are produced by his looms in any year; they go to clothe the whole community. The builder can occupy but one house; and yet he builds many. The handiwork of the artisan is nearly all for the comfort, convenience, and luxury of others. While thus we see that every man labors for the good of the whole, we find that every man receives back from the labor of the whole all he requires for health and comfort. It is the labor of others that produces the clothes that warm and protect him, the food that he eats, the house that he lives in, and the furniture that makes that house convenient and comfortable for himself and family. It is rarely, indeed, that his own hands produce any of the things absolutely essential to life, health, and comfort.
Bearing this in mind, it can easily be seen that no man has a right to abuse his health, and thus lessen his ability to do his part in society for the common good. What one man has a natural and absolute right to do, that is the inalienable right of all; and if one man has a right to abuse his health, regardless of its effect upon others, every one has a right to do so. But, were all to sacrifice health to pleasure, all agricultural labors, all manufacturing and mechanic arts, would be
217perfectly done, and the whole community would suffer. Or, if all who tilled the ground were to destroy their ability to labor steadily by irregularities of life, while the manufacturer and the artisan pursued their work with vigorous health, a great wrong would be done to the latter. They would give to the farmer clothes, and the various utensils needed by him in the house or field, while he would return them but scanty food, and that, perhaps, poor in quality. What is true of the whole is true of the part; and therefore, if it be wrong for the whole community to lead irregular lives to the destruction of health and the ability to perform those uses necessary to the well-being of the whole human race, it is wrong for any individual to do so; for every failure on his part to work to the extent of his ability as a healthy man, is an injury to some other members of the common body. This is an immutable law.
Regarding the subject in this point of view every young man who reflects at all, and who is not so thoroughly wedded to self as to be utterly indifferent to the well-being of others, will see that he is under a solemn obligation to seek the preservation of his health in order that he may be able to do his part for the common good. To act from this end is to act wisely and nobly.
But, as there are few, if any, in this thoroughly selfish age, who can or will thus act, considerations of another, though less exalted kind, must be urged upon young men, in order to make them see the necessity of preserving their health. But before doing so, it may be necessary to repeat the declaration with which we set out, — that late hours, irregular habits, and inattention to diet, will certainly undermine the health, and lay the foundation for diseased conditions in after life. The effect will be various in different constitutions. One may destroy the healthy tone of his stomach, and become, for the best half of his life a miserable dyspeptic; — thus, for a few years of inordinate indulgence in the pleasures of the table, be obliged to pay the penalty of abstinence from nearly all generous and palatable food, and suffer from the entire derangement of every healthy organ in his system. The inability to perform perfectly the work of his office will not only injure the community, but himself; for it is a law in the social economy, that he who contributes most to the common stock shall receive most in return. To bodily sufferings of a most distressing kind will therefore be added the deficiencies of worldly goods, arising from unequal and unsustained exertions. Another, inheriting a predisposit on to diseases of the chest, may so weaken
219and disturb the vital forces by irregularities and excesses, as to render the lungs highly susceptible to all disturbing causes, and find all his hopes and energies blasted just in the prime of life, by the development of an incurable pulmonary disease; while another may so shatter his nervous system as to be unable to bear any business excitement, any prolonged effort, or any exposure or fatigue whatever, at a time when all these are absolutely necessary to the sustenance of a family.
As every one inherits from his parents predispositions to diseases of body, as well as to diseases of the mind, the health of the one, as well as the other, depends upon an obedience to just laws, both physical and moral. Whoever violates these inevitably entails upon himself disabilities and sufferings; and the earlier in life this is done, the deeper will be the impression made, and the more lasting its injurious consequences.
Let every young man, therefore, pay strict regard to his health. Let him be temperate in eating and drinking, and regular in all his habits. And let him also see that he does not suffer himself to indulge in an evil passions of the mind as anger, malice, jealousy, envy, revenge, or any inordinate desires; for these are as fatal to health as abuses of the body, and do, in reality, lead to
220these latter abuses almost inevitably. In fact the cause of all the irregularities of youth are in the mind. Let a young man, then, keep his desires, his appetites, and his passions, under proper subjection, and he will be in no danger of running into those excesses which sow in his physical system the seeds of all diseases.
While on the subject of health we cannot close without a few words in reference to the deleterious effects of tobacco on the human system. It is now pretty well conceded by medical men, that no one who uses tobacco in any form, can be in the enjoyment of perfect health; and the testimony of the profession as to its injurious action, is of a character to startle and alarm every one who has become wedded to the habit of smoking or chewing. In order to impress the minds of all young men who read these pages with the importance of this subject, we subjoin the testimony of some eminent medical men, and ask their thoughtful consideration of the facts educed.
The following extract is from a paper on the "Effects of Tobacco on Europeans in India," by James Ranald Martin, Esq., in the London Lancet of 28th February, 1857: —
"It is matter of constant observation amongst army surgeons, ever since the peace of 1815, that the habit of segar-smoking, introduced into this
221country from Portugal, Spain, and France, by the officers of the British army, has produced a greater amount of pale, sallow complexions, amongst young officers more especially, than had ever before been observed as resulting from any other cause. Had the morbid complexion been all, the matter would have been of little importance; but here it generally means loss of appetite, defective nutrition, anaemia, and disordered nervous and vascular functions, all in the same individual. My observations lead me altogether to the conclusions of Van Praag, that the operation of tobacco is at first stimulant, and at last depressing, not only in the circulation and respiration, but also on the nervous system, accelerated circulation, increase of respiratory movements, and excessive irritation of the muscular system, being the phenomena first observed. The concluding symptoms are those of general depression, both of animal and organic life, with occasional instances of moral and physical impotency, accompanied by the most mournful results. I am here speaking of what I have witnessed.
"The most ordinary results of excessive use of tobacco are — the most severe forms of irritable dyspepsia, giddiness, disturbed action of the heart, nervous tremors, and cachexia, all amounting occasionally to palsy. Young gentlemen who are in
222the habit of ‘putting an enemy into their mouths to steal away their brains’ do not become aware of these facts until it sometimes becomes too late. A highly scientific and distinguished captain of engineers of the Indian army told me — ‘All the young fellows of my term who went out to India, having bad habits, are dead, excepting two.’ And what has become of them? ‘They were cashiered!’ Here the question of tobacco was not immediately in contemplation; but I have no doubt whatever, from the results of my observations in India and at home, that of the habits which led to this sad end, the abuse of tobacco was, amongst these young officers, the most banefully influential.
"I dispute the alleged benefits of even moderate tobacco smoking as a preventive of damp or of malaria; and seriously anomalous symptoms I have Been to arise, in the progress of malarious fevers, from the abuse of it — such symptoms as may lead to the most grave mistakes in the treatment of fevers, if the medical officer be not careful to inquire into the habits of his patient. Of this also I have seen the most emphatic examples. Those who urge the prophylactic benefits of tobacco, carry the habit from the swamps of Burnish into the arid plains of Hindostan, in defiance of geographical differences.
"I can state of my own observation, that the miseries, mental and bodily, which I have witnessed from the abuse of segar-smoking, and chiefly in young men, far exceeded anything detailed in the ‘Confessions of an Opium Eater;’ and I feel assured that the abuse of tobacco, however employed, may be classified amongst those habits which produce chronic poisoning."
The following extract is from the article, "Is Smoking Injurious?" in the London Lancet of 31st January, 1857, by Dr. Johnson: —
"What is the testimony of facts? Why, for one inveterate smoker who will bear testimony favorable to the practice, ninety-nine such, of the candid of these, are found to declare their belief that this practice is injurious; and I scarcely ever yet met with one habitual smoker who did not, in his candid moments, regret his commencement of the habit.
"A few weeks since, I was summoned to attend a gentleman in the country. On my arrival I found him complaining of headache, nausea, languor, loss of appetite and sleep, and inability to rise in the morning; his expression was anxious, haggard, and nervous; his complexion sallow and jaundice looking; his tongue highly furred, and teeth incrusted with a dirty greenish-yellow deposit; his breath, which was exceedingly offensive
224from the odor of tobacco, revealed to my mind the nature of the evil. On my inquiry, he informed me that for many years he had indulged rather freely in the use of tobacco, declaring, at the same time, that ever since his apprenticeship to smoking, the pernicious habit had gradually and insidiously crept upon him, till at length it became confirmed. I persuaded him to desist from its indulgence, and succeeded, but he found the task a terrible one, so enslaving is the habit. After a short time, however, he succeeded in conquering the appetite. Many of the symptoms have entirely disappeared, and he is now considerably improved. Is not this case, in the experience of most medical men, the type of thousands more?
"It is a certain fact, that devoted smokers are liable to both constitutional and local disorders of very serious characters. Among the former, we notice giddiness, sickness, vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, angina pectoris, diseases of the liver, pancreas, and heart; nervousness, amaurosis, paralysis, apoplexy, atrophy, deafness, and mania. Amongst the latter, ulceration of the lips, ulceration of gums, cheeks, mucous membrane of the mouth, tonsils, throat, etc.
"Most of these results I have selected from authors of some locus standi — amongst whom I
225may mention Drs. Prout, Bright, Laycock, Radcliffe, and Banking, Pereira, Orfila, Trousseau, Johnstone, Sir B. Brodie, and Professor Lizars. Dr. Taylor, in his valuable work on poisons says: — ‘That a poisonous substance like tobacco, whether in powder, juice, or vapor, cannot be brought in contact with an absorbing surface like mucous membrane, without in many cases producing disorder of the system, which the consumer probably is quite ready to attribute to any other cause than that which would render it necessary for him to deprive himself of what he considers not merely as a luxury, but an article actually necessary to his existence.’"
"Sir B. Brodie states in his Physiological Researches, published in 1851, under Effects of Vegetable Poisons: ‘We may conclude from these experiments, that the empyreumatic oil of tobacco occasions death, by destroying the functions of the brain, without directly acting on the circulation. In other words, its effects are similar to those of alcohol, the juice of aconite, and the essential oil of almonds."
The injurious properties of tobacco are determined by the following analysis of its chemical constituents by Professor Johnston, of Durham, in his Chemistry of Common Life: "These are three in number: a volatile oil, a volatile alkali,
226and an empyreumatic oil..... The volatile oil has the odor of tobacco, and possesses a bitter taste. On the mouth and throat it produces a sensation similar to that caused by tobacco smoke. When applied to the nose, it occasions sneezing, and when taken internally, it gives rise to giddiness, nausea, and an inclination to vomit. The volatile alkali has the odor of tobacco, an acrid, burning, long-continuing tobacco taste, and possesses narcotic and very poisonous qualities. In this latter respect, it is scarcely inferior to prussie acid — a single drop being sufficient to kill a dog. Its vapor is so irritating, that it is difficult to breathe in a room in which a single drop has been evaporated. The reader may recollect the great sensation produced in 1851, by the trial of the Comte de Bocarme, at Mons, and his subsequent execution, for poisoning his brother-in-law with nicotin. A hundred pounds of the dry tobacco-leaf yield about seven pounds of nicotin, In smoking a hundred grains of tobacco, therefore, say a quarter of an ounce, there may be drawn into the mouth two grains or more of one of the most subtle of all known poisons. The empyreumatic oil is acrid and disagreeable to the taste, narcotic, and poisonous. One drop applied to the tongue of a cat brought on convulsions, and in two minutes occasioned death. The Hottentots
227are said to kill snakes by putting a drop of it on their tongues, tinder its influence the reptiles die as instantaneously as if killed by an electric shock. It appears to act nearly in the same way as prussic acid.
"The segar, especially if smoked to the end, discharges directly into the mouth of the smoker everything that is produced by the burning. Thus, the more rapidly the leaf burns and the smoke is inhaled, the greater the proportion of the poisonous substances which is drawn into the mouth. And finally, when the saliva is retained, the fullest effect of all the three narcotic ingredients of the smoke will be produced upon the nervous system of the smoker. It is not surprising, therefore, that those who have been accustomed to smoke segars, especially of strong tobacco, should find any other pipe both tame and tasteless, except the short black cutty, which has lately come into favor among inveterate smokers. Such persons live in an almost constant state of narcotism or narcotic drunkenness, which must ultimately affect the health even of the strongest.
"The chewer of tobacco, it will be understood from the above description, does not experience the effects of the poisonous oil which is produced during the burning of the leaf. The natural volatile oil and the nicotin are the substances which
228act upon him. These, from the quantity of them, which he involuntarily swallows or absorbs, impair his appetite, and gradually weaken his powers of digestion."
The subjoined extract is taken from a communication on the tobacco question, by Mr. Solly, in the London Lancet of February 14th, 1857:
"The more I think of the tobacco question, the more it haunts me. I feel that I cannot do justice to its importance, but I am anxious to add something to my last communication. Every day the subject is forced upon my mind. I scarcely meet a friend or patient who does not bear his testimony to the mischief of which he has been the witness, in his own case or that of some friend, from tobacco.
"The profession have no idea of the ignorance of the public regarding the nature of tobacco. Even intelligent, well-educated men, stare in astonishment, when you tell them that tobacco is one of the most powerful poisons we possess. Now, is this right? Has the medical profession done its duty? Ought we not, as a body, to have told the public that, of all our poisons, it is the most insidious, uncertain, and, in full doses, the most deadly? Why should they not know at once how often it has proved fatal in the human subject, when injected into the rectum in
229strangulated hernia. I heard, only the other day, that a celebrated surgeon — rather an obstinate one — since dead, lost five cases in succession from the effect of tobacco injected into the bowels.
"It seems almost trifling with the subject, and yet the extreme ignorance which prevails regarding tins frightful pest, rendering even trifles weighty in the scale, induces me to remind all smokers, and those of our brethren who madly encourage it, that the first effect of a segar on any ore, demonstrates that tobacco can poison by its smoke, and through the lungs, just as certainly as through the bowels."
To this startling testimony on the subject of tobacco-poisoning, we shall add nothing; but we beg our renders not to let it pass lightly from their thoughts. There are more terrible effects than any above enumerated, involving the loss of life. No one who indulges in the use of tobacco in any form can tell how soon he may fall a victim. There is a little treatise on the "Use and Abuse of Tobacco," by Dr. John Lizars, of Edinburgh, which is earnestly commended to your attention.
Above we have made a few extracts from this treatise, but they only touch the subject at single points. Its careful perusal, and a thoughtful consideration of the many aspects in which the use
230of tobacco is presented, will give the matter an importance in your mind to which it has probably never been elevated. If, through motives for a temporary self-denial furnished by this book, you can get free from an injurious habit, its possession will be one of the greatest blessings of your life.
Chapter XXI. Entering Into Business.
ENTERING into business is, except marriage, the most important act of a young man's life. And, as the proportion of those who are unsuccessful in their first efforts is as two to three, it behooves every one to look well to what he is doing before taking a step that may involve him in serious losses or difficulties. The result of our own observation is, that a young man who enters into business under the age of twenty-five, unless he be taken into partnership in an established firm, is almost sure to fail. If he have money, he will lose it; and if credit be his only capital, he will get involved in debt. There are,
231of course, some exceptions to this, but they are very few.
One necessary prerequisite to success in business is a thorough knowledge of that branch into which a man enters. It is, therefore, always a hazardous step for any one to commence a business of the details of which he is ignorant, no matter how flattering may be the inducements held out. This is a prominent cause of failure. Another cause is the young man's impatience to get along fast, and realize great profits in a very short period. But this is not the history of successful houses, nor of men who have acquired great wealth. Safe and sure beginnings are always small, and the growth gradual. Sudden inflations meet with as sudden collapses. A young man who has been a clerk in a respectable house, that has been growing gradually for years, determines upon going into business. But he is not content with a small beginning. He must have as handsome a store and as fine a stock of goods as his old, substantial employers, and strains his credit to the utmost to gratify his pride and false notions in regard to the true means necessary to success in trade. Without sufficient capital to bear the heavy losses that too often attend a heavy business, and the large accumulation of unsalable goods, a few years
232tell the story of his rise and fall. This is the history of hundreds in our large cities. Every year sees the passing away of some scores of houses established in this way, and yet the lesson seems to do no good; for every year scores of others are ready to take the places of their unfortunate predecessors, without any more of the elements of success about them.
Many young men are tempted into business, and induced to make a bold start, upon the always uncertain basis of credit, from hearing so much said about this one and another who has commenced life without a dollar, and in a few years retired with an independent fortune. There is a great deal of this kind of gossip among clerks and those who have just entered into business. They can name hundreds of instances where young men have launched boldly out, and made from twenty to a hundred thousand dollars in a few years; and will actually point out this, that, and the other one, as the veritable personages. Now, it is one thing for a man in business to say that he has made fifty thousand dollars, for instance, and another thing really to have made it. We have seen the end of a good many who had made fortunes in a wonderfully short space of tune, and the winding up generally bowed them to be worse than nothing. The
233reason why the notion is so generally prevalent that a fortune may be made in this country in a very few years, if a man have sufficient boldness, activity, and enterprise, is because, in periods of inflation which have occurred, every thing obtains a fictitious value. The time has been when a piece of property, purchased to-day for five thousand dollars, has sold for fifty or one hundred thousand before the lapse of twelve months; or stocks which cost ten thousand dollars last week have netted twenty or thirty thousand this week. In times like those, when the volume of paper money was immense, goods could be sold freely and at large profits. This would make the gains of business very great in a few years. Far more than all the profits, however, were usually trusted out to persons who bought freely because they could buy on credit. From engaging in speculations when there was an upward tendency in every thing, and from making a few fortunate operations, combined with an active trade, when every thing was brisk, young men, who have had only a few thousands to begin with, have, in a very short period become quite wealthy. But it was generally the case that this wealth consisted in property said to be worth so much, and which might, at the time, sell for its valuation to somebody, who would give
234his note for it at six, nine, twelve, or twenty-four months. There are a few instances where persons thus successful have had the prudence to convert their property into something more substantial than notes of hand drawn by Tom, Dick, and Harry, or town lots from which the first spadeful of earth had not yet been lifted. But in most cases, when the storms came which always follow such periods of sunshine, these men were among the first to be driven under. The story of their rapidly-acquired fortunes is still told, but the real cause of their speedy elevation is not understood, nor is the sequel known or alluded to.
A prudent young man will hardly suffer himself to be deceived by stories of this kind, and tempted into business in the hope of making a fortune by a bold dash: if he should be, he will be almost certain to lose what money he may happen to have, and get involved in debt beside; for with the views of business he will hold, such a thing as a small beginning and cautious operations will be out of the question. As before said, the elements of success in business are to be found in a thorough knowledge of the particular branch in which a young man is about to engage, and in a maturity of judgment acquired by a few years experience and observation in the world
235as a man. With this there must exist a willingness to be content for a time with small things — to be willing to wait for the seed sown to germinate, the tender blade to shoot forth, and the stock gradually to increase, and grow, and gain strength to mature and support the grain. It is far better to advance slowly, and wait even as long as ten years before the gains of labor begin to be of much importance, than to rush ahead for a time, and, long before ten years have rolled around, be thrown to the earth, and embarrassed by debts, to pay which the ability may never come.
As the true way to begin is to begin with moderate expectations and a small business, the first rule to adopt is, the determination to make the personal expenses as light as possible. The error which most young men commit is, to increase their personal expenses as soon as they enter into business. The spending of one thousand dollars a year, instead of five hundred, takes just five hundred out of the business, and sinks it absolutely. The saving of five hundred dollars each year for three or four years, and keeping the amount in the business, will, of itself, be an important matter, and may actually save the business in an extremity, or unexpected loss, when, if it had been spent, destruction would be
236inevitable. Care in regard to the expenses attendant upon the prosecution of business is also an important matter. In rents, personal expenses’, clerk hire, and petty expenditures of various kinds, more than the entire profits of a new business may be consumed. If there is any borrowed capital, and interest to pay thereon, necessity for the strictest economy will be even more imperative.
But entering into business is one thing, and conducting it on right principles another. Enough has already been said in this work to make any one see and feel the force of the position, that the common good ought to be regarded by every man, and that whoever seeks to secure the common good most effectually secures his own. This does not mean that a man should throw all his earnings into the treasury of the commonwealth, or do any act of a similar kind; or that he should neglect his own interest in seeking to forward the interests of others. The arrangement of society, under the direction of an all-wise Providence, provides for every man's well-being in the pursuit of some employment that benefits the whole; and the conducting of these employments on right principles is nothing more than each man attending diligently to his own business in life, but without in any way
237interfering with his neighbor's business, or taking the slightest advantage of him in any mutual transactions. If such were the acknowledged laws of trade, the well-being of all would be secured. He who most served the public good in the greater extent of his useful products, would receive the greatest return; and he who was less active and diligent, a smaller return.
Such, however, are not the laws that govern trade in these evil and degenerate days. Most men seek so eagerly to increase their worldly gains, as to disregard entirely the interests of others; nay, not only to disregard them, but actually to invade them with deliberate purpose. Thus we have cheating of all grades, from the speculator's overreaching operations down to the selling of goods by spurious weights and measures, or obtaining them under false pretences.
But let every young man who is about entering into business, no matter what it may be, or who commences the practice of a profession for which he has duly qualified himself, resolve, ere he takes the first step, that he, for one, will be an honest man in the community; that he will diligently seek to advance himself in his business or profession by all right means; but that he will in no case take even the smallest advantage of his neighbor. He need not be anxious about the
238final result; all he has to do is to use diligence, wisdom, and prudence, and these will carry him through, even amid the wrongs and disorders of society as it now exists He may not grow rich as rapidly as his neighbor, who can manage by cheating to make a larger profit on his goods, and by false pretences to gain a greater amount of custom; but his advancement will be rapid enough to give him all that is needful for health, comfort, and a good conscience.
It is seriously argued, by many who are engaged in business, that deception and false representation are absolutely necessary to success; that it is impossible for a strictly-honest man to succeed in business. But this is not true. We believe, however, that, in a business community where nearly all take undue advantages in trade an honest man will find it difficult to sustain himself, unless he be wary, active, and energetic; for he will lose by the dishonesty of others, without being able to repair the loss by dishonest practices in turn. But what right-thinking man would not rather suffer the loss of worldly goods than the loss of honor? Who would not be content with a smaller portion of wealth, accompanied by a consciousness of having done what was just and right between man and man, than to be the possessor of millions obtained by over
239reaching and a system of successful fraud not recognizable by the laws? Any undue advantage in business is stealing; for it is taking another's goods without his consent or cognizance.
There are various modes of overreaching in business, against which every honest young man will set his face. Nearly all speculations are dishonest means, by which one man gains a certain amount of money in a transaction that another loses. A merchant gains intelligence, by the superior facilities which he happens to possess, of a rise in the price of some article in a neighboring market. He goes to his neighbor, who is yet ignorant of this rise, and buys from him all of that article he has in store at the prevailing prices of the day, and thus secures both his own and his neighbor's profits. This is a very common transaction, but, judged by the rule we have laid down, a very dishonest one. Again, a merchant buys up all of an article there is in the market, at a time when he knows there will be a scarcity, and doubles the price. This is not honest; for he is enriching himself by extorting from others an exorbitant rate for a necessary article. All stock speculations are conducted on the broadest principles of loss and gain — like gambling. We doubt very much if any man
240who engages actively in them can be governed by an honest regard for the interests of his fellow-man. It seems to be nothing but an eager scramble for money, no matter to whom it properly belongs.
These are bold and palpable modes of overreaching in business, and men enter into them unblushingly. The concealed and underhand methods are far more numerous. They appertain to every trade and calling, and are practised under the most perfectly assumed exteriors of fairness and honesty. These are short weights and measures, false representations as to quality, exorbitant prices where the buyer is ignorant, and various other frauds upon purchasers. The mechanic slights his work in places where it cannot be readily seen, and thus is enabled to sell cheaper than his neighbor who makes a good article. And throughout all trades and professions there prevails a system of fraud upon the public which is becoming apparent in the gradual deterioration of almost every article of general consumption, while the makers stun the public ear with declarations of the superior quality of every thing they produce. Thus the effort of each calling to secure its own interests, at the expense of the whole, has been the effort of all; and the consequence is, that all are worse off for it. But
241this result is no matter of surprise. It is the legitimate effect of an adequate cause.
The only remedy for this is for each man, acting from a principle of integrity, to strive honestly to perform all that appertains to his calling If he is a mechanic, let him not look altogether to the money he is to receive for his work, but consider as well him for whom the work is intended, and be careful that it be of a good quality, and worth the price he receives for it. If he be a merchant, let him buy with judgment, and sell with a just regard to the rights of others. And let all men, no matter what may be their calling, faithfully regard the good of others as well as their own. To do this, is simply to refrain from injuring others in any transactions had with them.
If every young man, now entering upon life, were to act from the principles here laid down, how different, in a few years, would be the aspect of affairs in the business world! Trade would be in a far more; healthy condition, and every man in business would feel himself more firmly established. And the reason is obvious. There would be no overreaching; no disturbance of the regular course of trade by eager, selfish speculators; no interference with one man's business by another, as is now often the case, by which it
242not unfrequently happens that his prospects for life are ruined. Instead of sudden and great accumulations of money in a few hands, for the purpose of affecting the market for selfish ends, to the injury, perhaps, of hundreds, there would be, in time, a greater equalization of capital, and the simple and true law of demand and supply, as a regularly-existing state, subject to but few, and they not sudden and broad fluctuations, would be the balance-wheel to trade. This would be a blessing to all.
Most earnestly do we urge upon young men, just entering or about to enter into business, to look this matter fully in the face, and endeavor to feel it as a subject vital to the true well-being of society. Whenever a reform begins, it must begin with them. To them society looks as its regenerators. Let every young man endeavor to feel the responsibility that rests upon him as an individual, and act well and wisely his part, when he finds himself standing in the world's arena.
Chapter XXII. Marriage.
ON this subject very few think seriously, and those who make it a matter of much reflection too generally think erroneously. We allude, of course, to young persons. Those of more mature age have clearer views; but too often these are consequent upon either seeing or feeling the evils that result from marriages entered into from blind passions or improper motives. The great difficulty, with regard to those who most need proper instruction on this subject, is, that they will not hearken to what is said to them, but either follow the leadings of impulse and passion, or look with cool deliberation to the attainment of some selfish end. In either case, mutual unhappiness is the almost inevitable result.
Marriage is the most important event in a man's life, because it brings him into the very closest relationship with another, and therefore subjects him to the disturbance of every incongruous or opposite thing in the character of hi* new companion. This is one reason, but there
244are others which are more vital and important, and which can only be understood when there is some knowledge of the true laws which ought to govern in marriage. These laws have their origin in the distinctive difference which exists, and has existed from creation, between man and woman. This difference does not lie in the mere form of body peculiar to each. It is far more deeply grounded. The difference is in the mental and spiritual form; it is, therefore, of a most radical kind. To make the whole subject of this difference clearly comprehended would require a treatise of greater extent than our entire work; and we shall not, therefore, risk misapprehension by the mere enunciation of the conclusions to which such a treatise would bring every reflecting mind. The main thing to be understood, however, is, that man and woman are so created as to be imperfect except in marriage union, and therefore that marriage is an orderly state. In man we find a peculiar development of brain, — the organ by which the mind acts, — that marks his difference from the woman; and in woman there is a peculiar development that marks her difference from the man; and yet both possess the same formations. In man, the intellectual region shows a larger development, and in woman, that region of the brain by which the
245affections of the mind come into activity; yet both have intelligence and affection. But the one is a thinking man, and the other a loving man; and, in union, they make one perfect man. The affections of a man are, as a general thing, guided by his reason; and the reason of a woman, as a general thing, is guided by her affections. Of course, there are exceptions, as in masculine women, so called, and effeminate men; but these are looked upon as social monsters; and it is very well known that they do little to advance society towards a state of true order, although the first class sometimes make a great noise in the world, and do their full share of harm. But only when they unite their mental forces in a just marriage, — that is, when, in the conjugal union, the intelligence of the man and the affection of the woman are also married, and look to one end, — is there a perfect man in the world. If this does not take place, — and, alas! its occurrence is a rare thing in these times, — there will be more or less discord and unhappiness between married partners.
To illustrate this so as to bring it home with some kind of force to even minds not given to close and abstract reflection, we will suppose that a woman, who possesses a fortune, is addressed by a man whom she believes to be high-minded,
246intelligent, and truly moral. These are what she, as a right-minded woman, can love in a man. After marriage, however, she makes the discovery that it was not for her virtues that she was loved and wooed by this man, but for her wealth and that, so far from being high-minded and honorable, he is base-minded and dishonorable. Could there possibly be any union of souls between these two persons? Could his intelligence and her affections ever blend and become as one mind? No. So long as life lasted they must be in discord.
And the same will be the case if beauty alone, or the desire to form a respectable or distinguished connection, or any other worldly or selfish motive, be the leading end in a man's mind when he seeks to gain the affections of a woman. No woman believes herself loved for any external grace, accomplishment, or possession, by the man whom she loves in return, but for herself alone. If, after marriage, she discover that she has been mistaken, from that moment her confidence in her husband is destroyed; and the date of her unhappiness, as well as his own, has commenced. He will find that, notwithstanding she may be faithful to all her duties as a wife, no union of mind takes place, nor can take place; that she will not, and cannot, love his intelligence, nor
247give him any counsel or strength in the performance of his duties in life. In most things, she will be inclined to differ with rather than agree with him, if matters are referred to her; but, usually, she will be altogether passive in things of general concern, contenting herself with her domestic duties alone. As a consequence, he will grow more and more self-willed; for he must trust to his own reason for every thing, unwarmed by the glow of her affections; and her mind will contract itself more and more within its own little sphere, because not drawn out and expanded by sympathy with his more widely-reaching intelligence, and both will be unhappy.
If a young man would escape these sad consequences, let him shun the rocks upon which so many have made shipwreck. Let him disregard, totally, all considerations of wealth, beauty, external accomplishments, fashion, connections in society, and every other mere selfish and worldly end, and look into the mind and heart of the woman he thinks of marrying. If he cannot love her for herself alone, — that is, for all that goes to make up her character as a woman, — let him disregard every external inducement, and shun a marriage with her as the greatest evil to which he could be subjected. And if he have in him a spark of virtuous feeling, — if he have one unselfish and
248generous emotion, — he will shun such a marriage for the woman's sake also for it would be sacrificing her happiness as well as his own.
From what is here set forth, every young man can see how vitally important it is for him to make his choice in marriage from a right end. Wealth cannot bring happiness, and is ever in danger of taking to itself wings; beauty cannot last long where there is grief at the heart; and distinguished connections are a very poor substitute for the pure love of a true woman's heart.
All that has been said refers to the ends which should govern in the choice of a wife. Directions as to the choice itself can only be of a general character; for the circumstances surrounding each one, and the particular circles into which he is thrown, will have specific influences, which will bias the judgment either one way or another. One good rule, it will, however, be well to observe; and that is, to be on your guard against those young ladies who seek evidently to attract your attention. It is unfeminine, and proves that there is something wanting to make up the perfect woman. In retiring modesty you will be far more apt to find the virtues after which you are seeking. A brilliant belle may make a loving, faithful wife and mother; but the chances are somewhat against her, and a prudent
249young man will satisfy himself well by a close observation of her in private and domestic life, before he makes up his mind to offer her his hand.
But the most we can do, and what we mainly wish to do, in giving precepts for the choice of a wife, has already been done; and that is, to impress upon young men the necessity of acting from right ends. If these be pure, there will be little danger of a mistake. If they be not pure, all particular directions how to choose a wife will be in vain.
Marriage itself is a religious rite, instituted by Heaven, and, as such, should always be solemnized by a minister or priest, and not, as a civil rite, by a magistrate. It is the first law of human existence, and has its date anterior to any civil institutions whatever.
To some extent there prevails a disposition to regard marriage as an evil, by those who do not understand its true nature, and who look at the unhappy results that too often flow from it as effects of the institution itself, instead of the abuses. Others, again, speak lightly of the matter, and compare marriage to a lottery, with few prizes and many blanks, and say that the gaining of a prize is always a matter of chance. But the evils and chances all lie in the perverse and selfish ends that govern men in their choice of
250wives. Let these be corrected, and the whole matter will present a different and brighter aspect.
To the question often asked of young men as to why they do not marry, we sometimes hear the reply, "I am not able to support a wife." In one case in three, perhaps, this may be so; but as a general thing, the true reply would be, "I am not able to support the style in which I think my wife ought to live." In this, again, we see a false view of marriage; a looking to an appearance in the world, instead of a union with a loving woman for her own sake. There are very few men, of industrious habits, who cannot maintain a wife, if they are willing to live economically, and without reference to the false opinions of the world. The great evil is, that young couples are not content to begin life humbly, to retire together into an obscure position, and together work their way in the world — he by industry in his calling, and she by dispensing with prudence the money that he earns. But they must stand out and attract the attention of others by their fine house, fine furniture, and fine clothes, even if debt be incurred, in order to maintain this silly show. As a general thing, we find these men, who do not think themselves able to support a wife, always affected with the same disability.
Although an advocate for early marriages, yet we are no advocate for the dashing out which so often attends them. Even a married couple may save money on a small income, and yet live comfortably enough if their pride be not too active; and the economical habits thus cultivated will lay the foundation for success which would have been sought for in vain, had the young man spent all, or nearly all, he earned for four or five years waiting until he got able to marry. In regard to an increase of family, our observation satisfies us, if we looked no further, that increased means will always be the consequences. He who sends children will help you to take care of them, if you put yourself in the way of being helped.
A married man, if he have right views, will always proceed with more caution than a single roan, because more depends upon him; and this is a good reason why he is more certain to advance in the world steadily, if it be slowly.
In regard to early marriages, this may be safely said. If an engagement have been formed, and both parties are willing to live strictly within the limits of the young man's income, and if he, of they between them, have sufficient money to meet all the expenses consequent upon marriage, and, moreover, if there be a prospect of the
252continuance of his income, let them marry, say we. I will be better for them.
As the natural result of marriage is offspring, and as children inherit from their parents propensities to either good or evil, the same as they inherit physically a tendency to disease or health, the subject assumes a still more serious aspect than any we have yet given it, and exhibits the responsibilities and duties of married partners in a still stronger light. Parents love their children, and seek their good in various ways. They deny themselves many comforts, they toil early and late, and will sometimes risk even life itself for their children. The evil tendencies which show themselves almost as soon as the mind moves in its first activities, cause them deep grief; for they know that such tendencies, if indulged, will produce unhappiness, and they strive anxiously to repress them, but find the task a difficult and almost impossible one. The error of the parents lies in the fact, that they have commenced the work of reform too late. "Too late," we hear asked, "when it is commenced as soon as the infant mind moves in its first activities?" Yes, it is too late; and all that can now be done, will be to repress the evils as they show themselves, and strive, at the same time, to implant opposite good principle, by means of which, when these
253children became men and women, they may contend with, and, if they will, overcome, the evils which they had derived from their parents.
This subject, of the hereditary transmission of good or evil qualities of mind, is one to which but little attention has been paid; and yet it is a matter of great moment. Whatever a man does from principle and a confirmed habit, be it good or evil, orderly or disorderly, that he transmits to his children in a tendency to do the same thing. A man who does not think it wrong to overreach, his neighbor in bargaining, must not be surprised if he discover in his son a tendency to steal, which he tries in vain to correct; nor he who has no regard for truth, wonder why his son should prove a liar. If the father and mother are disorderly in their habits, or passionate, or envious of their neighbors, how is it possible for their children to be otherwise, when the natural and invariable law that "like produces like" is considered?
Why we said the work of reform was commenced too late by parents, may now be clearly seen. We must fight the evils and disorders by which the human race is cursed, in our own hearts, if we would truly overcome them in our children. If this be not done, the task of correcting their evils will be a painful and difficult,
254if not an almost impossible, one. If we shun the evil of overreaching our neighbor, because it is evil; if falsehood be avoided, and held in abhorrence; if we resist evil tendencies of every kind, — we will do more for our children than if we were to amass for them wealth equal to that of Croesus.
True love of offspring will prompt to the sacrifice of evil love of all kinds, and the strengthening of good principles as rules of action in the mind of every parent.
To a young man who thinks seriously of marriage, this subject ought to be one of grave consideration. If he would not entail a curse upon his children, let him examine himself well, and begin at once the correction of every evil habit and propensity. If he do not do so, the time may come, when, like David of old, he will exclaim, "O Absalom! my son! my son! Would God I had died in thy stead!"
Chapter XXIII. Conclusion.
THE reading of a book like this will do a young man but little good, if he throw it down without seriously reflecting upon its contents. He must consider the truths it teaches as truths for his guidance, as well as for the guidance of others. The views here taken of life are too important to be lightly passed by. They are of vital interest both to the individual and the community. The elevation and regeneration of society depend mainly upon the reception of right views by the young. Those who have attained to some age, from feeling the consequences of their own ignorance and errors in the outset of life, can give wiser precepts to the young than they themselves received when they stepped boldly forth, proud in their new-felt freedom and power. There will always be some ready to listen to and act upon these precepts, and they will elevate the standard of right feeling and acting in their generation. The greater the number of those who act from these wiser
256precepts, the more decided will be their influence and the higher, in consequence will rise the generation to which they belong. Thus will society advance towards perfection with a slow but certain progress.
From this view every young man can see how great is the responsibility resting upon him as an individual. If he commence with right principles as his guide, — that is, if in every action he have regard to the good of the whole, as well as to his own good, — he will not only secure his own well-being, but aid in the general advancement towards a state of order. But if he disregard all the precepts of experience and reason, and follow only the impulses of his appetites and passions, he will retard the general return to true order, and secure for himself that unhappiness ill the future which is the invariable consequence of all violations of natural or divine laws.