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ON PROFANE SWEARING.
FEW evil habits are of more pernicious consequence, or overcome with more difficulty, than that very odious one of profane cursing and swearing. It cannot be expected that the force of moral principles should be very strong upon any one who is accustomed, upon every trivial occasion, and frequenly without any occasion at all, to slight the precepts and the character of the Supreme Being.
2. When we have lost any degree of respect for the Author of our existence, and the concerns of futurity, and can bring the most awful appellations into our slightest conversation, merely by way of embellishing our foolish and perhaps fallacious narratives, or to give a greater force to our little resentments, conscience will soon lose its influence upon our minds.
3. Nothing but the fear of disgrace, or a dread of human laws, will restrain any person addicted to common swearing, from the most detestable perjury. For if a man can be brought to trifle with the most sacred things in his common discourse, he cannot surely consider them of more consequence when his interest leads him to swear falsely for his own defence or emolument.
4. It is really astonishing how imperceptibly this vice creeps upon a person, and how rootedly he afterwards adheres to it. People generally begin with using only slight exclamations, and which seem hardly to carry the appearance of any thing criminal; and so proceed on to others, till the most shocking oaths become familiar.
5. And when once the habit is confirmed, it is rarely ever eradicated. The swearer loses the ideas which are attached to the words he makes use of, and therefore execrates his friend, when he means to bless him; and calls God to witness his intention of doing things, which he knows he has no thoughts of performing in reality.
6. A young gentleman with whom I am intimately acquainted, and who possesses many excellent qualifications, but unhappily in a declining state of health, and evidently tending rapidly to the chambers of death, has been from his
childhood so addicted to the practice of swearing in his common conversation, that even now I am frequently shocked by his profaning the name of that sacred Being, before whom he, most probably, will soon be obliged to appear.
7. It must surely be exceedingly painful to a sensible heart, feeling for the best interests of a valuable friend, and otherwise excellent acquaintance, to observe the person he so highly regards confirmed in such a shocking habit, even while standing in the most awful situation in which it is possible for a human creature to be placed.
8. Almost every other vice affords its votaries some pretences of excuse, from its being productive of present pleasure, or affording a prospect of future advantage; but the profane swearer cannot even say that he feels any satisfaction, or that he hopes to meet with any benefit, from this foolish habit.
9. But let not the force of habit be urged as an excuse for its continuance. As well might the highwayman, who is unacquainted with any honest employment, expect on that account to be allowed to plunder every passenger he meets with impunity. The following anecdote will prove that this habit is not so inveterate that it cannot instantly be checked.
10. In the presence of men who are his superiors, the swearer is never profane. Why did you cut short your oath? said a gentleman to a man who was notoriously profane. I was afraid the king, who was present, would hear me, said the swearer. Why then, said the gentleman, do you not fear to be heard by the King of kings, who is always present?
THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE.
A MERCHANT of Provence, in France, of a most amiable character, but of narrow circumstances, met with some considerable losses in trade, and became a bankrupt. Being reduced to penury and want, he went to Paris to seek some assistance.
2. He waited on all his old customers in trade, represented to them his misfortunes, which he had taken every method to avoid, and begged them to enable him to pursue his business, assuring those to whom he was indebted, that his only wish was to be in a condition to pay them, and that he should die contentedly, could he but accomplish that wish.
3. Every one he had applied to felt for his misfortunes, and promised to assist him, excepting one, to whom he owed a thousand crowns, and who, instead of pitying his misfortunes, threw him into prison.
4. The unfortunate merchant's son, who was about twenty two years of age, being informed of the sorrowful situation of his father, hastened to Paris, threw himself at the feet of the unfeeling creditor, and, drowned in tears, be, sought him, in the most affecting expressions, to condescend to restore him his father, protesting to him, that if he would not throw obstacles in the way to his father's re-establishing his affairs, of the possibility of which they had great reason to hope, he should be the first man paid.
5. He implored him to have pity on his youth, and to have some feelings for the misfortunes of an aged mother, encumbered with eight children, reduced to want, and nearly on the point of perishing. Lastly, that if these considerations were not capable of moving him to pity, he entreated him, at least, to permit him to be confined in prison, instead of his father, in order that he might be restored to his family.
6. The youth uttered these expressions in so affecting a manner, that the creditor, struck with so much virtue and generosity, at once softened into tears, and raising the youth from his humble posture, Ah! my son, said he, your father shall be released. So much love and respect as you have shown for him, makes me ashamed of myself. I have carried this matter too far; but I will endeavour forever to efface the remembrance of it from your mind.
7. I have an only daughter, who is worthy of you; she would do as much for me, as you have done for your father. I will give her to you, and with her, all my fortune. Accept the offer I make you, and let us hasten to your father, to release him, and ask his consent.
WHAT a happy simplicity prevailed in ancient times, when it was the custom for ladies, though of the greatest distinction, to employ themselves in useful, and sometimes laborious works! Every one knows what is told us in scripture to this purpose concerning Rebecca, Rachel, and several others.
2. We read in Homer of princesses drawing themselves water from springs, and washing with their own hands the finest of the lines
of their respective families. The sisters of Alexander the Great, who were the daughters of a powerful prince, employed themselves in making clothes for their brothers. The celebrated Lucretia used to spin in the midst of her female attendants.
3. Augustus, who was sovereign of the world, wore for several years together, no other clothes but what his wife and sister made him. It was a custom in the northern parts of the world, not many years ago, for the princesses, who then sat upon the throne, to prepare several of the dishes at every meal.
4. In a word, needle work, the care of domestic affairs, and a serious and retired life, is the proper function of women, and for this they were designed by Providence. The depravity of the age has indeed affixed to these customs, which are very near as old as the creation, an idea of meanness and contempt; but then, what bas it substituted in the room of them? A soft indolence, a stupid idleness, frivolous conversation, vain amusements, and a strong passion for public shows.
5. Let us compare these two characters, and pronounce which of them may justly boast its being founded on good sense, solid judgment, and a taste for truth and nature.
6. It must, nevertheless, be confessed, in honor of the fair sex, and of the American ladies in particular, tha many among them, and those of the highest stations in life, have made it not only a duty, but a pleasure, to employ themselves in needle work, not of a trifling, but of the most serviceable kind; and to make part of their furniture with
their own hands. I might also add, that great numbers of them adorn their minds with agreeable, and at the same time, serious and useful studies.
Elizd. MISS Nancy, what child was that your aont kad in her arms this morning, as she was walking in the mall.
Nancy. A child ! Miss Eliza ; à child! You don't think my aunt would be seen walking in public with a child in her arms !
Eli. Pray, Miss, where would be the harm? I know she has a beautiful pair of twins ; and I thought it might be one of them, as it was partly covered with her cloak.
Nan. No, indeed-it was her lap dog.
Eli. Upon my word, Nancy, you have mended the matter mightily! Your aunt is ashamed to be seen walking with a child in her arms ; but is not ashamed to be seen carrying a paltry puppy through the streets ! Pray how much more valuable is a puppy than a child ?
Nan. Why, as to the real value, Eliza, I don't know but a child should be prized the highest. Though my aunt says she had rather part with both her twins than lose her dear little Trip.
But, you know, she would be taken for one of the lower sort of women, if she were to lug a child about with her; whereas nothing makes her appear more like a lady, than to be seen gallanting her little dog. And Trip is none of your common curs, I assure you. His mother was imported from Europe ; and it is said she once belonged to a lady of nobility. You cau't think what a sweet little créature he is. My aunt nursed him wholly berself ever since he was a week old.
Eli. And who nursed the twins ?
Nan. They were put into the country with a very good woman. They have never been at home but once since they were born. But their mamma visits them as often at least, as once a month.