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MORALITY OF CHILDHOOD. WRITERS on education lay great stress upon the cultivation of early years; and the reason they give, is, that the mind may be qualified for usefulness and happiness at some future period. People in general seem to forget that childhood is a part of existence, and is capable of constituting an individual life, though it be cut off in its very bloom and verdure ; that some beings are only born to die young, the purpose
of their creation being fulfilled in a short space. This season, for the most part, is regarded as if it possessed no consequence, apart from its relation to the remainder of life. Hence children are treated as if they had no feelings; their wishes, tastes, and impulses are opposed with savage authority, and the vulgar error often obtains, that the more the child is cramped, restrained, and brought under, the better man he will make. But this error is common to the treatment of the child, and to man's treatment of himself. Point, if you can, to him who is happy contented now. All the world are doing something which they think is going to produce happiness. All suffer for the present in behalf of the future. “No matter, then, it is said, “how painful infancy is made, so that the child have the greater chance for happiness, if he live, in time to come.'
I wish to consider, briefly, this period of life by itself. I wish to separate it from the rest of existence, and, like a precious gem, to insulate it in its own purity, and gaze upon it in its own unalloyed loveli
It has to my mind an importance in the moral world, distinct from maturity, not acknowledged. Taking no part in the business of society, not even gaining its own support, and being chiefly a care and weight to parents, no wonder that in a world of dollars and cents it should be looked upon as insignificant in itself, and only to be valued for what it
become. But childhood has immortal mind; it reasons, compares, and judges. It has feelings; bow pure! how angelic! It has character; how elevated ! how free from envy, jealousy, and hatred! How generous is childhood! How quickly does it melt at the sight of suffering it can understand! How ready is it to relieve hunger, and distress in any form, by any sacrifice of its little means !
It has not learned the importance of wealth; it knows nothing of the ostentation of pride ; it is under the influence of none of the factitious distinctions of the world, and it acts true to nature. How beautiful then must childhood be! It cares not whether its play-fellow be rich or poor, black or white; it studies not the texture of the cloth – which in the best personage covers only poor humanity — before it can make up its mind to look kindly or not upon its hap-hazard acquaintances. It knows nothing of genealogy; but all it cares to know is, whether those in contact with itself be good, according to the simple standard by which it forms its opinions. What a morality is taught us here! What a satire upon human conduct is the simplicity of childhood !
Papa,' says a little rosy-cheeked boy in the city to his father, why must not I ride about with the milk-man?' My dear,' answers his father, “it is not proper for you to be seen in a milk-cart; you shall ride with me in the carriage this afternoon.' •But, papa,'
persists the little fellow, as he catches hold of his father's skirts, and jumps along by his side, trying to get sight of his face, or to get his father to look in his countenance for childhood argues its causes by the muscles of the face
I had rather ride with the milk-man, because he lets me hold the reins, and drive." · Well, well, my dear, you must not, because papa says so; there, be a good boy, and you shall
go with me this afternoon.' The little boy shrinks back, and yields to authority ; perhaps he drops a few tears of disappointment; but, before they are dry upon his cheek, a smile, at some new project of sport, lights up his features, and he is happy. Nay, he will soon forget his sorrow, greet his father with a kiss, when he returns, and go to ride with him in his carriage ; and if he is a fine boy, and has been suffered to express his pretty thoughts without reserve, he will minister more to the pleasure of the ride, than forty solemn, dignified, ostentatious men, who treat little boys and girls as if they were so many monkeys.
The moral influence of childhood is beautifully shown by Moore, in his · Paradise and the Peri.' A Peri is seeking for some gift which shall gain him admittance to Heaven. He has carried thither gold and precious stones, but such offerings are not sufficient. At last, wearied with his fruitless attempts, he is almost in despair of seeing Paradise, when he beholds upon the earth a man, full of crime and wickedness, fresh from some scene of murder and baseness, alight near a brook, to refresh his jaded steed. Under the shade of a tree that overhangs the brook, a little child is on his knees in prayer. The stranger is overcome by the suddenness of such an appeal to his conscience, and perhaps dictated by the spirit of God, he falls
prostrate beside the supplicating little being, and for the first time in his life, tears of penitence wet his cheek. "The Peri speeds swiftly, and catches the falling tear; he bears it to the portals of Heaven. Wide open the gates of God's house to receive so precious a token of human repentance, and the Peri enters as the bearer of the token.
Jesus Christ took little children in his arms and blessed them. He said we must become as little children ;' and this perhaps causes us to attribute so much importance to the morality of childhood.
J. N. B.
THE DE AD.
•Arria, the wife of Cæcina Poëtus, a man of consular dignity, wbo died in the forty-second year of the Christian era. Her husband and son were both at the same time dangerously ill. The son died, but the mother concealed the distressing event from the sick father; and whenever she appeared in his preseuce, assumed a cheerful countenance, and answered bis inquiries res pecting the deceased with so much courage and serenity, that she even prevented the suspicion of his death. When her husband was confined at Rome by the command of Claudius, she insisted upon attending bim; and when the order came for hiin to destroy himself, observing bis hesitation, she plunged a dagger in her breast; then presenting it, covered with blood, to her husband, exclaimed, in words celebrated by the ancients : ‘Poetus, it is not painful!
At last the royal mandate came,
His hours were numbered now;
The blanching of his brow.
* Read in a Roman's eye?
I live, or dare to die.'
Was this but lofty language breathed
With shrinking woman's art?
The sword deep in her heart !
Warm with her life-blood's stain,
• Beloved ! this is not pain !'* Elizabeth-lown, (N. J.,) 1836.
B. 1. L.
A SAIL-BO AT EXCURSION,
Gentle READER — did you ever take a pleasure-ride of a fortnight or three weeks in a sail-boat ? If not, step on board with me, and I will show you, in my usual gossiping way, how to enjoy yourself, if you are willing to forego beds of down, and are content to rough it for a while in the open air. It is right good sport to take a sail-boat, such as I had, with a half-deck at the bow, under which two might creep, to sleep or get out of the rain, while the other steered — for I always liked to have a man for each pair of oars, and one for the tiller, in case of necessity. But we depended most on
our sails. The boat was about five tons burthen, and rigged sloop fashion, with a topsail complete, and colors flying. She was just the thing,' exactly. Nor must I forget to mention an old half or rather quarterbarrel, with sand and bricks in it to prevent it from burning – for be it known that this was our stove, on which to boil a kettle, and broil a squirrel, duck, or piece of bacon — and how delicious are these viands on the water, while you are living all the time in the open air ! better than the best cookery of famed Astor's. Then, there are the sweet potatoes roasted, and not villanously boiled : it takes a man who has been on such a trip, to tell you what good living is. Wine only moderately good, becomes nectar; and the wild oranges which you may pluck on any point of the river we are descending - for we are about to sail down the St. John's, to coast it a while, and then run up the St. Mary's into Georgia. It is a new voyage to us — and what more can any man want, than novelty and excitement ? The risks of travelling in an open boat - of being overset or swamped in
a gale — is enough of itself to make a man grow fat, with good cheer; but when all is novelty, it is well nigh happiness complete. That * well nigh' means, that • ladyes fayre' are wanting in our premises. Let us go on, however; we may find some before we are through.
* A very beautiful picture of this scene is in the possession of a gentleman of Trenton.