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For the Microcosm.
A COMMON PREJUDICE.
Among the sources of radical error, none is more prolific than the prejudices which parents inculcate in “the little world of home.” There are many subjects on which young people feel and talk, about which they are not in the least capable of judging--therefore their opinions must be derived from others.
One prejudice which children are taught to cherish, we especially wish to notice :—that is, against stepmothers. We often hear young people, who have made no observations on the management of such persons, very decided in their remarks, about what they would do, if under their care—and what they would bear. Point them to a kind, faithful person, sustaining this relation, and they consider it an erception—and after all, these even, would not suit them. Now we have little doubt, that a cruel, selfish stepmother is an exception; and that far the greater part are the best substitute orphan children could have for a Mother. Many parents however feel differently and inculcate feelings of hostility in their children, toward such.
One child we heard, declaring that its mother had made it promise that “if ever its father married again, no peace should be given himhe should be plagued to death”-and other like sentiments were instill. ed. Should that mother be called hence, to leave her young family, would she prefer having them under the care of strangers, who felt no interest in them-and perhaps scattered to being united under the control of their father, and such a mother as he would choose for them? Methinks such wives pay their husbands a poor compliment. If they had judgment enough to select so well the first time surely confidence in their second wise choice should be implicit.
Little Sarah says to me, “is aunt Mary uncle Daniel's real wife ?" Real wife, what do you mean, my child ? “Why, Mrs. Toby says she is only half a wife, because he has had a real wife and she is only the second one.” This was a new idea to me. I had supposed the same vows which were taken in one instance, were as fully taken in the other. But it was a difficult matter to eradicate from this young mind a dislike to her excellent aunt--a want of respect for her station.
Many go farther than to represent stepmothers as deserving of less respect than other wives--they represent the whole as unkind. How rarely are they sɔ, when compared with their number. How much more rare are such instances, than even cruel treatment from mothers. The treatment many mothers give their children would not be borne from stepmothers--public opinion would not bear it.
A gentleman lost his wife, and married again. Some years after, a neighbor said, “ Mrs. Riggs does not treat Lydia, as well as she does her own children”-“she does abuse that girl, and that is always the way with stepmothers.” If she had inquired she would have found that the predecessor of Mrs. Riggs left no children, and the abused Lydia was her first born-her only daughter. Is not much of the prejudice existing against this class of persons as well founded?
Education for the Married Life.
Will not mothers be careful how they form, and cherish such ideas, on this subject, in the minds of their young people, as may be produc. tive of not only great unhappiness, but absolute ruin to them. For should children thus educated, be placed under ever so kind and judi. cious a woman, they would dislike her, and resist her influence. Many such unfortunate families there are, where but for this deep rooted prejudice, all might be comfort, and love, and confidence. How far family connections are the cause of trouble we attempt not to say-our business is with “the Little world of Home”—but let them-let all-say nothing-if their feelings are such, they cannot speak justly. And when they see such a wife, doing all that her kindness and piety can devise, for those committed in this trying relation, to her care, let them “ give honor to whom honor is due.”
EDUCATION FOR THE MARRIED LIFE.
To the Editor of the Microcosm :
In a late number of your paper, I observe a short article on education for the married life. A great subject truly, and your correspondent has entered upon a field so wide and so neglected, that we hope, every part may be explored, until it is made to bud and blossom like the rose. It is a theme of universal interest, for Cælebs himself must have deplored his condition, had not his parents been duly qualified to live happily and usefully in the only state in which he ever knew them. To get ready to be married! why, it means every thing. Such a combination of perfections is required, that we instinctively shrink from the great undertaking, and yet one simple direction faithfully observed, both in letter and spirit, will insure us as perfect success as can be attained in this fallen world. And now let no bachelor or maiden who has taken upon himself or herself the vows of perpetual celibacy through discouragement or cowardice, think to avoid all responsibility with regard to this part of their education, by giving up matrimony; for to them our simple advice is of the first importance. To them and to all then I say, would you be effectually educated for happiness and respectability in the married life, qualify yourselves perfectly to live single. In making this preparation two fundamental principles, viz. self denial and self control are of prime importance. Let every parent begin early to inculcate and cultivate them. These seem at first glance to be very much alike; and the one to include the other. But in the common use of the terms we shall see that they have a distinct signification. Persons may be very self denying and yet occasionally break out into fits of violent passion, or be habitually petulant; and on the other hand they may control their tempers and their desires to a great extent and yet frequently exhibit great selfishness and an entire disregard of the happiness of those around them. Consistent excellence is
rare. The truth is we are sinful, fallen beings, and at the best but a mixture of good and evil. Christian education is the appropriate remedy for these evils, and must be begun very early; and parents must in dependence on the Spirit of God aim at the early conversion of their children. By this I do not mean merely that every child should be able to say with confidence and precision, on such a day I obtained a hope of my salvation and gave my heart to God. Those at all acquainted with the operations of the human mind and the difficulty of aiming at definite results even in adult years, will place but very little confidence in such statements from the mouths of their children, without the most striking evidence in their daily conduct of the renewal of the heart. The religion which we want to see in children is the subjugation of their evil tempers and the establishment of sound principles, and this we do believe will take place if parents are faithful in their efforts, humbly relying upon the proinises of the Bible for the aid of the Spirit. All parents must prepare the hearts of their children as far as lies in their power for the reception of God's grace; nor rest until the great work is thus consummated. Here you may perhaps say, all this we knew before. If our children can become christians they are fitted in a sense for any station in this world, and certainly for happiness hereafter in Heaven. Piety is the first thing to be secured. But stop gentle reader, do you not know many persons whom you believe to be really pious whose natural tempers are such that you would be sorry to be compelled to dwell with them; who are not happy themselves and consequently cannot make others so. A gentleman once applied to an eminent clergyman for the hand of his daughter in marriage. The old gentleman in great faithfulness told the young man that her temper was so bad that he was afraid he would not be able to endure it. But sir, you think your daughter is pious. I hope she is, replied the father, but know, young man, the grace of God can live where you or I cannot. Here was an instance probably, where parental care had not from the beginning been exercised in preparing the child for the reception of grace. Many parents inculcate the soundest religious doctrines while they suffer evil passions to gather strength and leave the heart untouched. They seem to feel that they have nothing to do themselves in making them amiable, but that the grace of God will ultimately do all ;-hence selfishness and every evil passion becomes so deeply rooted that if they ever become subjects of God's grace it takes a long life to enable them to gain the victory over them. But it is asked, is there nothing necessary to qualify us for usefulness and comfort in the married life but those moral qualities of which you have spoken so much ? I answer yes. Men and women must be trained to habits of industry, frugality and good order. Parents must cultivate in their children perseverance, punctuality and fortitude: not that passive patience which makes us prefer to endure evils rather than exert ourselves for their removal : and here we would refer our reader to our two leading principles, self denial and self control. Let these two little words be thoroughly analyzed and they will be found to be very comprehensive. It has been our lot to be conversant with many families, and almost all the happiness which we have remarked between married people of correct moral habits has arisen from trifles. Something so small that either would have been ashamed of it as a matter of altercation, and that never could have become such had the parties been
Education for the Married Life.
accustomed to prefer the happiness of others to the gratifications of self will; or been early accustomed to that mental discipline of which we have been speaking. “My dear,” says a lady to her husband as they had seated themselves at the breakfast table, “let us have that shutter closed while we eat.” The husband having got snugly seated finds it easier to parley with his wife than to get up, and there is no servant in the room. He replies, "why do you wish it shut.” “Because we are accustomed to having it closed and it is more pleasant.” Here is the time for the husband to show that he is more anxious to gratify her than to indulge his love of ease. It is a little thing,—let him get up, and as he rises, cheerfully say something to manifest his pleasure in obliging her : the very repetition of such words, will make him forget all trouble. But no, he'must enter into a long debate with her upon the folly of wanting the shutter closed; for his part he prefers it open, and it is only a whim of hers which he is not disposed to indulge. The wife feels that he is unkind, and instead of controling her own feelings and keeping it to herself by maintaining perfect cheerfulness and self-possession, she accuses him of always opposing her wishes, weeps, and perhaps refuses to eat her breakfast; and thus all domestic comfort is gone for that morning. Habitual cheerfulness in the heads of a family are of prime importance not only to the happiness of its inmates, but to the good management of all family affairs, and yet who can be uniformly cheerful in such a changing world as this without constant self denial and self control. A continued interchange of kind offices with those with whom we daily associate serves greatly to mitigate the trials of life, and yet few persons are actively,kind who are not habitually cheerful; for the very plain reason that a gloomy mind is almost perpetually engrossed with itself. A gloomy husband does not affect a family as powerfully as a gloomy wife. On her devolves the internal regulation of the house. If she is not cheerful, she is perpetually yielding to discouragement. The husband is disheartened, for men have less fortitude in domestic life than women; the children see that their parents are unhappy, and even the buoyancy of childhood will not sustain them under such a trial. The servants feel it and their work drags heavily. Such a family is not pleasant even to the passing stranger. The poison is in the fountain and every stream is impure. Imagine a lady who is pious, sensible and discreet, in every thing but this; she has never felt as she ought her obligations to be cheerful; she was not trained in early life to control her feelings, and though she does not indulge in violent ebullitions of passion, she is often disgusted by trifles, and manifests it by a gloomy face and deportment. She is beloved and perhaps admired abroad; but at home, where cares press upon her, and the opinions and wishes of others come in collision with her own, she is rarely cheerful. Why? because her own wishes are not always gratified, and she cannot control herself sufficiently to bear it with cheerfulness. Now if this lady had remained single, she could not have been happy. She would have had in reality fewer sources of enjoyment; and if she had never felt the pressure of domestic cares, the care of promoting her own selfish desires, and the habit of consulting her own comfort, rather than that of others, in a world where there is so much to thwart our wishes, would never have ceased until a querulous repining old age had made her a burden to all about her.
And now let me say to my youthful readers, this is no overdrawn picture. Real life furnishes us with so many such characters, that when I see old age pleasant and happy, I say to myself that individual has laid up a stock of cheerfulness for the winter of life by the constant exercise of self denial and self control; and this you may be assured is the only mental discipline which will make us happy or useful whether married or single.
“Any thing from the mail to day?" "Yes, a Microcosm for you and I see it is the 12th No. You have had a variety in it the last year, and this comes to close the series."
Our readers have had a variety of subjects presented to them in such style as we could offer. The “ Introductory Appeal” was not in vain, and our hearts have been cheered to know that many are interested in the continuance of this effort.
Hints to “ Young Wives," and the way to fit those at home for filling this station without disappointment, have been interspersed with remarks-on the “ Education,” “ Management,” and “Government” of children. Duties“ to Apprentices” and “Servants” have been touched on but much more needs to be said on these subjects. That old doctrine of " Conjugal obedience” has been brought to light, when it was well nigh forgotten es a Divine command, though sometimes obeyed from affection.
Some common evils we have meant to destroy by striking at their root, and we trust have so thoroughly convicted all our readers of " evil speaking" that they will need no second lesson to effect a reform. Nor have we left the young ladies in our "little world” to feel satisfied in trifling with the attentions of gentlemen, even where they profess not to be trifling with their affections—we hope they feel both to be wrong.
The remarks of “a Mother” on the last page of our 10th No. are worth the price of the whole, and we hope the many valuable hints it contains will be acted upon fully in the management of many happy groups of children.
Our occasional “poetry,” too, will please those who love to see truths in a new and engaging dress, and delight in communing with their own imaginings.
In short, reader, we trust you have been profited by the little work in your hand, as a reasonable being should be, by such subjects--are you ready to receive the next numbers with a teachable spirit. Will you consider all the truths they may contain as important to you--and let their influence on your heart be seen in your daily practice?