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SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC CHARACTER.
It has been remarked of men distinguished in various departments of public life, that their private character would not bear very severe scrutiny. The reader of the Rambler, is sometimes tempted to wish that he had never opened the pages of Boswell. The hero abroad is not unfrequently the tyrant at home. The eloquent expounder of the duties of parents and children, in the pulpit or at the bar, may be at the head of a family, which furnishes an affecting commentary upon the necessity of his instructions. If you should follow the man, who meets you in the public street with an air of the utmost good nature, only a few steps to his own door, you might witness a scene which would chill your heart. The sister or the wife can sometimes tell a story the reverse of that which is found in the eulogy of the preacher, or on the page of the biographer. Men whose piety cannot be called in question, are guilty of sad delinquencies in the domestic circle. While in the presence of their wives and children, they are taciturn, or morose, abrupt in speech, and cruel in manner, if not in heart. They never manifest in their own house that nice sense of honor, and those thousand nameless delicate attentions, which as gentlemen in public life, they are ready to exhibit, and which they well know constitute half the charm of human intercourse. The distractions
of business and the fatigues of the body will sometimes, indeed, cloud the brow and ruffle the equanimity of the gentlest spirit; but the wonted cheerfulness will soon be resumed, and the divine precept, “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you,” will recover its authority over the heart.
Between the public and domestic character of Mr. Cornelius, there was a delightful consistency. In this respect, he endeavored to follow the example of him who was the same when in the family whom he loved at Bethany, and when“ he opened his mouth” and taught the people from the mount. Mr. Cornelius was remarkably attentive to the little wants and wishes of his friends. In this way he "gathered up the fragments,” so that nothing was lost. He did not reserve his kindness for great occasions. A person looking back on a week in which he had been in his society, could hardly reckon the number of kindnesses which he had received from him. These manifestations of interest in another's welfare were not designed to awaken gratitude towards himself, or to requite the favors which had been shown him, but they were the spontaneous product of a heart which rejoiced in the happiness of man. This trait of character was as apparent in regard to total strangers, as in respect to others. In a public stage-coach or steam-boat, he was ever consulting the convenience of his fellow-passengers, however humble their circumstances. He was accustomed, with the utmost cheerfulness, to give up his own accommodations, however fully entitled to them, accompanying the surrender of his right with some cheerful observation, which won the good will of all who were present. No one, perhaps, was ever more successful in securing the remembrance and respect of the agents of stage-coach companies, and others employed about our
public conveyances. On this account, it was a privilege to be in his company on a journey, as the esteem which he won for himself was extended to his associates.
His manner of performing an act of kindness could not have been better chosen, if he had accurately analyzed the laws of the human mind which regulate the intercourse of friendship. He delighted to witness the happiness which an unexpected favor produced. He made use of those little innocent artifices of affection, which sometimes produce the most permanent effects, because they show that the kindness was premeditated, and, therefore, came from a heart, which was consulting for another's benefit.
The manner in which Mr. Cornelius welcomed his friends, on a return from a journey, or when visiting at his house, is worthy of being recorded. It cannot be expressed better than by saying, it was full of heart. It was not simply a cordial salutation. The guest felt that he was welcome. A thousand little incidents showed him that he was such as the benignant countenance, the inviting tone of voice, the cheerful inquiry, and the bountiful hospitality
The amount of actual service which Mr. Cornelius performed for strangers, as well as for his friends, was uncommon. " There was
a performance out of that which he had, as there had been a readiness to will.” Many persons, whose character for honesty and conscientiousness is not to be questioned, are much more prompt in offering than in rendering assistance. Their friendship is periodical, or altogether uncertain. But Mr. Cornelius was “a brother born for adversity.”
He was among the very few men, who were entirely trust-worthy. There was no dark corner, no chamber of imagery,” in his soul. His noble mind could not stoop to equivocation and management. And to accomplish his purposes, he
never needed such aid. Perhaps his readiness “ to do good to all men as he had opportunity," was in some measure owing to the confidence inspired by his uniform
Though he possessed little of “this world's goods” himself, yet, in an important sense, he had at his command the resources of the Christian community. The extent of his personal influence was almost indefinite. Others might have the same benevolent wishes, but they had not the correspondent means with which to put them into execution. They could not bring their fellow-men to think and act in accordance with their own views.
In his social character, the “sweet influences” of Christianity were harmoniously blended. He aimed to be a follower of Christ in the social and family circle. The impression which he uniformly gave his children, and intimate friends, was that the design of the family institution, as well as of all human friendships, is to lead the soul to God, and to the fellowship of heaven. Religion was the guiding motive of his domestic government. He did not fall into the error of some Christian parents, who, while they refrain from instilling into the minds of their children a desire for riches or for honorable connections, fill their youthful bosoms with the idea that human learning and intellectual distinctions are of more importance than Christianity itself-parents who seem to make the developement of their children's intellects their only aim.
Mr. Cornelius, while he attached all due importance to mental endowment and cultivation, sought for his children “ first of all the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” He did not copy the common and fatal mistake, that religious education must be postponed, till the child has arrived to the period of youth or manhood. On the birth of one of his children, he consecrated him to Christ audibly, and in a most affecting manner—an act of dedication so marked and so solemn, that it produced a
permanent impression on all who witnessed it. In the behalf, and in the presence of his children, he offered to God such prayer, as without doubt came up from the depths of a parent's heart, anxious beyond the power of expression for the everlasting happiness of his children—such prayer
penetrates the heavens,” and is heard by him who keepeth covenant and remembereth mercy.” He acted on the great truth, that the human mind and the human conscience are active, before the thoughts and feelings can be expressed by the medium of language. When he could discover by the color on the cheek, by the expression in the eye, or by the passionate exclamation, that there was a feeling of uneasiness in the bosom of his children, arising from moral causes, that there was a faint, feeble testimony of conscience that they had done improper actions, or were the subjects of improper feelings, then he was conscious that an education was commencing, which was to go on forever-that a train of influences was to be laid, which would end in glory or in wo eternal. He manifested little of that foolish indulgence, that misplaced and miscalled tenderness, which has been the ruin of not a few promising children. At the same time, there was no tyrannical exercise of authority, or rigorous family government. There was that sweet union of firmness and mildness, which shows that perfect domestic discipline is consistent with the highest degree of affection for children, or rather is inconsistent and incompatible with the want of it.
He was remarkably opportune in giving religious instruction to his household. There are times in the life of almost every child, when it shows peculiar affection for its father or mother, when from some unexplained causes, all the little fountains of joy and love in its bosom are sending out their streams to bless a parent's heart. Such opportunities Mr. Cornelius gratefully seized to com