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Influence of the Beginning upon the End.
For the Microcosin.
INFLUENCE OF THE BEGINNING UPON THE END.
The Microcosm, if we understand the views of its editor, is designed to be eminently practical. It aims to bless, and, if needed, reform the Little World of Home, not by diving deep into the philosophy of the human mind and bringing up some hitherto undiscovered truth for the accomplishment of its object, but rather by striving to enforce those truths that are already known and acknowledged, if not familiar. With such views of the work, permit us for a moment, to direct the attention of its readers to the maxim that a good beginning in any business or department of life, is a fair precursor of future success. The truth of this maxim has been tested both by observation and experience. No one disbelieves or forgets it when commencing that business of life by which he hopes to acquire wealth and influence in the world. Every dollar of gain that drops into the coffers of the merchant, just entering the theater of a busy life, stimulates him to stronger exertions and higher expectations. The fair wind which wafts the ship from port, giving the prospect of a speedy and happy termination of its voyage, sends a thrill of delight through every bosom on board. Success in the beginning of an enterprise gives buoyancy to the spirits, elasticity to the mind, health and vigor to the body. On the other hand, disappointment is unpleasant. Like some ill-omened bird, it is always croaking evil ahead. It breaks down the spirits, unnerves the soul, prostrates the energies of mind and body, and throws a dark shade upon the picture of human life.
We are not saying whether or not this propensity of ours is favorable or unfavorable to happiness; but that it exists in our nature, and without arraigning the wisdom and benevolence of God, who pronounced his works good when he had finished them, it becomes us to direct it as a means of good, and if possible, arrest its power to harm. Our present purpose is to apply it to the commencement of those relations and responsibilities which exist in the conjugal life. We deem its application here as expedient and important as its application in any other department of life. From the bright dawn of the morning we infer the calm sunset of the evening. True, the angry storm may sweep through the heavens, but it will soon pass away, leaving a purer atmosphere and brighter sun.
We do not suppose that starting and acting upon rational and intelligent principles would save one from all the ills of life ; but we do believe it would greatly lessen those ills and have a powerful tendency to secure and augment the happiness of life. We do believe it would rob disappointment of its prey, and give something like reality to the Elysian dreams of the poet. Much, we had almost said every thing, depends upon here laying secure the foundations of future happiness and influence. A mistake here is a germ of evil, which, while it grows with mushroom rapidity, has all the stubbornness of the sturdy oak. Disappointment and disgust are death to every finer feeling of our natures. Under their baleful influence, the flame that has been kindled upon the altar of social and domestic happiness, expires. Instead of the eye sparkling with delight, and a countenance beaming with
kindness, cold indifference or sullen disappointment withers and dries up all the tender sympathies of the soul. The prospect of such a life, how dreary ! And yet such cases there are, as those too well know who are acquainted with the human heart in its perversions. It becomes those then who are surrounded by the wrecks of former adventurers, to stand clear from the rocks on which they dashed.
Notwithstanding the causes which tend to produce disappointment appear numerous, and varied by the different characters and circumstances of individuals, they undoubtedly take their rise from a few principal sources. Much may be traced to the “ False views of the romance of married life,” a title which our readers will recollect at the head of an article in a former number of the Microcosm. We perfectly coincide with the views of the writer expressed in that article. In contemplating the prospects of “ the married life,” there is far too much castle-building. Those “cloud-cap'd towers and gorgeous palaces,”—while they are doomed to a speedy fall, often involve their dreaming builders in their ruins.
A fanciful imagination sketches an Ideal Paradise, where the cup of happiness is drank without mixture, and where the sun of prosperity never sets. One mind has adorned it perhaps with all the magnificence and splendor of wealth. It has united ail pleasures in all combinations, and riots in delights which nature and fortune with all their bounty, could not bestow. Another has admitted into her paradise nothing that can disturb her peace or annoy her quiet. She has placed her abode far from the business and bustle of stirring life, and walks delighted amid the creations of her own imagination. But the mind cannot always thus feast on “luscious falsehood when offended with the bitterness of truth.” Stern reality, however unwelcome an intruder, will wake it from these reveries. And it would be well if it did not wake it to disappointment. How often does it find directly the opposite of what it has imagined ? Instead of wealth and splendor, are poverty and meanness. Instead of retirement, the mind finds itself surrounded with others like itself, subject to all the caprices incident to human nature-instead of peace and quiet, comes the “gnawing tooth of care."
Would she fly to her imagined paradise ? But the imperious circumstances of real life have disenchanted the scene. There is no pleasure in fiction when truth forces itself upon us with irresistible conviction. Even could she enter the scenes which her imagination has painted, the anxieties and perplexities of life would follow her like troubled ghosts that “would not down at her bidding.” To escape them is impossible-face them she cannot. How wretched such a mind! And yet the picture will be found not to be overdrawn if we look at things as they are.
Another fruitful source of disappointment in the commencement of the conjugal life, is a mistake in respect to the true source of happiness. Many seem to suppose that the sum of their happiness consists in receiving good at the hand of another. To them the luxury of doing good is unknown. They do not act upon the principle that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” This we believe to be the true source of conjugal happiness. When the interests of each clash, it consists in a mutual willingness each to give up that which would contribute to his or her happiness, for the purpose of conferring it upon the other. Let mutual concession be the starting
principle with which those shall set out, whose happiness and interests are united by bonds strong and enduring as life, and it would form a panoply of protection impenetrable as steel. The demon of contention might hurl his poisoned darts, but they would fall harmless to the ground. Undoubtedly many recognize and act upon this principle to a greater or less extent; but yet they do not view it in its wide and extended bearings. They do not see it as it branches out into all the interests and relations of social life, and hence are not prepared rightly to estimate its importance.
We will allude but to one more occasion of disappointment, and that is the apathy which exists on the subject of social happiness. A subject that so entwines itself about all the interests of life, needs to be looked at steadily in the light of sober reason. There seems to be in the minds of some a strange idea that all here is uncertainty—as if blind chance were exalted upon the throne, dispensing blessings and curses upon man. But it is not
A life of social and domestic happiness no more comes by chance than wealth or honors or influence come by chance. For these, all lay their regular plans—trace out their remote bearings-balance probabilities with wonderful accuracy, while scarce a moment is spent in tracing the bearings of their conduct and course of life upon their social relations. Such being the facts, is it a matter of wonder that some err and reap the bitter fruits of disappointment!
In concluding these few remarks, we say then, as at the commencement, that in the relations and responsibilities of the married life, to begin well, to start and act upon rational and intelligent principles is the only sure foundation upon which the institution of marriage can rise to its high station of influence and importance in the world.
“Who is able to stand before Envy?" Prov. xxvii. 4.
Envy !-it is an ugly word. We wish there were none such in the human vocabulary—and still more that there was no occasion for such a word. We have been induced to take up this subject, by hearing it remarked, that more envy existed among women than among men. We see enough of this vice in every community and every condition of life, to be convinced that it cannot with justice be charged exclusively upon any individual class of people. But if it is more peculiarly a sin to which women are prone, we believe it may be accounted for, in a great measure, by the circumstances of their condition. The narrow system of female education gives very little scope for the enlargement and ennobling of the mind. It is by having the mind directed to great objects, that it learns to despise what is mean and contracted. We must be drawn beyond the circle of little self, if we would not be pre-eminently little and selfish. While the education of women consists chiefly in personal accomplishments—in ornament without soliditywe fear charges of this nature will continue to be brought against them.
Their confined and circumscribed sphere of action, brings women more immediately into contact with each other, and occasions a constant clashing of personal interests. That which would contribute greatly to the happiness of life, if human nature were perfect, is in its present state of infirmi. ty, easily perverted to occasions of evil. The bare existence of such an enemy among us, demands the most vigorous efforts for its extirpationroot and branch.
What is envy ?-look at it!-pain at the good of another-discontentment at the prosperity of another-dissatisfaction with the virtues of another. If any thing should make us hide our heads, with shame and confusion of face, it is this debasing, deforming trait of character. The magnitude of the sin may be estimated by the prominence given to it in the word of God. If we begin with the christian, who professes to have the “charity” that
never faileth,”—one of the distinctive features of that charity is, that it "envieth not.” Through the whole Bible is this sin held up in glaring colors, ending at last in the condemnation of those who crucified the Son of God, because “ for envy they had delivered him.”
It is easy to detect in others that which we see not in ourselves; and to condemn in principle that which is indulged in practice. We doubt not but every individual is ready to pass judgment upon envy as cruel, unjust and unchristian—yet will it be banished from the heart? We can look out from ourselves upon the most incongruous community that was ever brought together, and feel the utter unreasonableness of the existence of envy there. We can see as spectators, that each is in his proper place; and each possessing qualities peculiar and distinct, has nothing to covet and nothing to regret. In the natural world we can see still more clearly, how perfectly every thing answers the end for which it was designed; and we are ready to echo the benediction, which beholding every thing that was made, pronounced it “
very good.” Should even the scrub-oak envy the graceful Elm, which throws its branches so lightly to the sky? Should the brighteyed violet look up with a sigh to the bending lily? Let these be our teachers—and while we have powers to discriminate, to censure and condemn, let us not involve ourselves in a merited condemnation.
The first appearance of envy in children should be diligently counteracted. Every rising of suspicion or jealousy should be checked at once. They are all exhibitions of the same spirit-branches of the same family, under different names, and may all be traced back to the same parent
Justice to ourselves, as well as to others, should forbid the indul. gence of an envious spirit. Since women have been charged with this indulgence, we appeal to them all, as an interested sisterhood, to come up in self-defense to the warfare against the Giant Demon-and search into every recess of his hiding-place, until there be left no place of concealment for him.
Recollection of a deceased Friend.
For the Microcosm.
RECOLLECTION OF A DECEASED FRIEND.
Death-though dreaded as a relentless Tyrant is in truth a Minister kind and merciful in the execution of stern and seemingly cruel mandates. He takes no delight in our sufferings, for while he deprives us of our kindred and friends, he leaves the memory of what they were, beautified and brightened by the hallowing influence of grief, for the admiration and solace of the living
In a tone of sorrowing complaint, how often is it said, “ Death loves a shining mark.” So too thought the friends of Mrs. E when a little more than a year since she was struck down in the early bloom of woman. hood, and mourned-deeply mourned as wife, mother, sister and friend.
In speaking of the dead it would seem at first view invidious to notice any accidental qualities of person which they possessed—the beauties of form and feature-as these are not to be imitated, and it is for example chiefly that their memory should be recorded. Yet we are so constituted that our feelings of attachment are, by these qualities, drawn more strongly towards their possessors, and with different preferences—I say not different tastesmamong our race, perhaps none are wronged. The remembrance of these however, belong rather to private personal friends, and I have no fears that those of the subject of this sketch will soon forget her person, blending so much of dignity and grace; or her countenance, which, especially when lit by the brilliant expression of her dark eye, was striking and interesting, if not beautiful.
But it is chiefly for those qualities which can be imitated, that this sketch is penned. Still, the writer will not be wholly confined to these, but will leave it for the reader to make the selection.
As with the person, so with the mind of Mrs. E nature had not been sparing of her gifts and graces. Originally of the finest mould, there had been added to its natural endowments the advantages of a select education and judicious reading. Her mind thus stored with natural and acquired treasures controlled by a refined and delicate taste—its intellections quickened by feelings of keen susceptibility, peculiarly qualified her for the fices of a companion and friend. Her powers of pleasing were indeed remarkable. With a quickness and delicacy of tact amounting almost to intuition, she had the faculty to accommodate herself to a great variety of dispositions and attainments. When she visited among her friends, infancy and age seemed to gladden at her approach. Her manner and address were elegant, dignified and easy, as of one conscious, though not vain, of her powers and gifts. Possessed of such advantages of person and such accomplishments of mind and address, she might perhaps have been vain and haughty, had she not, in very early youth, been led to regard in all her ways a God of infinite majesty and purity. Her qualities needed this crowning grace of Religion. It was necessary likewise for her support under the trials which awaited her. In later youth, afflictions, deep and severe, consequent on the loss of honored and dear relatives, threw a veil of tenderness and humility