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during childhood, which many times sorteth' to discord when they are men, and disturbeth families. The Italians make little difference between children and nephews, or near kinsfolk; but so they be of the lump they care not, though they pass not through their own body—and, to say truth, in nature it is much a like matter: insomuch that we see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle, or a kinsman, more than his own parents as the blood happens. Let parents choose betimes the vocations and courses they mean their children should take, for then they are most flexible; and let them not too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children, as thinking they will take best to that which they have most mind to. It is true, that if the affection,* or aptness, of the children be extraordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but generally the precept is good, 'Optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo.'3 Younger brothers are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never where the elder are disinherited.
'Let parents choose betimes the vocations and courses they mean their children should take. . . . And let them not too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children.'
It is only in very rare and extreme cases that Bacon allows the inclination of children to be followed in the choice of a profession. But he surely makes too little allowance (and, perhaps, the majority of parents do so) for the great diversity of natural faculties. It is not only such marvellous geniuses as occur but in five out of a million, that will succeed in one course far better than in any other. Numbers of men who would never attain any extraordinary eminence in anything, are yet so constituted as to make a very respectable figure in the department that is suited for them, and to fall below mediocrity in a different one.
1 Sort. To issue in (from aortir).
'All my pains is sorted to no proof.'—Shakespere.
2 Affection. Strong inclination to. 'All the precepts of Christianity command us to temper our affections towards all things below.'—Temple.
1 'Choose the best, and custom will render it agreeable and easy.'
The world has been compared by some one to a board covered with holes of many various shapes, and pegs fitted for each, but which are scattered about at random, so that it is a mere chance whether a peg falls into the hole that fits it.
A. B. was the son of a schoolmaster who had a great love of literature. The son had a perfect hatred of it, and was a mere dunce at his book. Various attempts were made, which proved perfect failures, to train him to some of what are called the learned professions: and he was, to all appearance, turning out what they call a 'ne'er-do-weel.' As a last resource he was sent out to a new colony. There he was in his element; for, when at school, though dull at learning and soon forgetting what he had read, he never saw a horse nor a carriage, once, that he did not readily recognize; and he really understood all that belonged to each. In the colony he became one of the most thriving settlers; skilful in making roads, erecting mills, draining, cattle-breeding, &c., and was advanced to a situation of trust in the colony. And it is worth remarking that he became a very steady and well-conducted man, having been before the reverse. For it adds greatly to a young man's temptatioas to fall into habits of idleness and dissipation, if he is occupied in some pursuit in which he despairs of success, and for which he has a strong disinclination.
C. D., again, was at a university, and was below the average in all academical pursuits; but he was the greatest mechanical genius in the university; not excepting the professors. He never examined any machine, however complex, that he could not with his own hands construct a model of it, and sometimes with improvements. He would have made a first-rate engineer; but family arrangement caused him to take Orders. He was a diligent and conscientious clergyman, but a dull and commouplace one; except that, in repairing, and -altering, and fitting up his parsonage and his church, he was unrivalled. In this sense no one could be more edifying.
When, however, a youth is supposed to have, and believes himself to have, a great turn for such and such a profession, you should tnake sure that he understands what the profession is, and has faculties for what it really does require. A youth, e.g., who is anxious to enter the Navy, and thinks only of sailing about to various countries, having an occasional brush with an enemy, and leading altogether a jolly life, without any notion of the study, and toils, and privations he will have to go through, should have his views corrected.
E. F. was thought by his friends to have made this mistake; and when, at his earnest entreaty, he was sent to sea, they secretly begged the captain to make his life as unpleasant as possible: being anxious to sicken him. He was accordingly snubbed, and rated, and set to the most laborious duties, and never commended or encouraged. But he bore all, and did all, with unflinching patience and diligence. At last the captain revealed the whole to him, saying, 'I can carry on this disguise no longer; you are the finest young man 1 ever had under me, and I have long admired your conduct while I pretended to scold you.' But perhaps part of his good conduct may have sprung from the cause which Bacon alludes to in the last sentence of his Essay on 'Marriage.'
G. H., who had, as a youth, a vehement longing to go to sea, was positively interdicted by his father. Hence, though possessing very good abilities, and not without aspirations after excellence, he never could be brought to settle down steadily to anything, but broke off from every promising pursuit that he was successively engaged in, in pursuit of some phantom.
It is observable that a parent who is unselfish, and who is never thinking of personal inconvenience, but always of the children's advantage, will be likely to make them selfish; for she will let that too plainly appear, so as to fill the child with an idea that everything is to give way to him, and that his concerns are an ultimate end. Nay, the very pains taken with him in strictly controlling him, heightens his idea of his own vast importance; whereas a parent who is selfish will be sure to accustom the child to sacrifice his own convenience, and to understand that he is of much less importance than the parent. This, by the way, is only one of many cases in which selfishness is caught from those who have least of it.
ESSAY Till. OF MARRIAGE AND SINGLE
HE that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which, both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges. Some there are, who, though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinencies;' nay, there are some other that account wife and children but as bills of charges;! nay, more, there are some foolish rich covetous men that take a pride in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer; for, perhaps, they have heard some talk, 'Such a one is a great rich man,' and another except to it, 'Yea, but he hath a great charge of children,' as if it were an abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous3 minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as4 they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants, but not always best subjects, for they are light to run away, and almost all fugitives are of that condition. A single life doth well with churchmen, for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife. For soldiers, I find the generals commonly, in their hortatives, put men in mind of their wives and children: and I think the despising of marriage among the Turks maketh the vulgar soldier more base. Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity: and single men, though they be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust,1 yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hardhearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of Ulysses, 'Vetulam suam praitulit immortalitati.'2 Chaste women are often proud and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity. It is one of the best bonds, both of chastity and obedience, in the wife, if she thinks her husband wise, which she will never do if she find him jealous. Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses, so as a man may have a quarrel3 to marry when he will; but yet he was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question when a man should marry—' A young man not yet, an elder man not at all.'A It is often seen that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price of their husbands' kindness when it comes, or that the wives take a pride in their patience; but this never fails, if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends' consent; for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.
1 Impertinencies. Things wholly irrelevant; things of little or no importance.
'O matter and impertinency mixed, Reason and miidness.'—Shakespere. 'There arc many subtle impertinencies learnt in schools.'—Watts.
2 Charges. Cost; expense.
'I'll bo at charges for a looking-glass,
* Humorous. Governed by one's own fancy or predominant inclination.
'I am known to be a humorous patrician.'—Shakespere. 'He that would lear n to pass a just sentence upon men and things, must beware of a fiinciful temper, and a humorous conduct in nfttiirs.'— Watts.
'Or self-conceited, play the humorous l'lutonist.'—Drayton.
* Aa. That, ikv page 26.
1 Exhaust. Exhausted.
• The wealth Of the Canaries was exhaurt, the health Ofhis good Majesty to celebrate.'—Habiugtem. 5 'He preferred his old woman to immortality.'—Plut, Grijll. i. 5 Quarrel. A reairnn; a plea. (Perhaps, from Qunre, wherefore, used in law for a plea in trespass.) Or perhaps this oldest use of it for reason or plea, is the "riginid meaning of querela, retained in querulous—putting forth a pitiful plea. 'He thought he hod a good quarrel to attack him.'—Hiiiushed. * Thalea. Vid. Diixi. Laert. i. 26.