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Full text of "Letters to mothers"

MRS. SIGOURNEY'S LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



From the Daily Courant, Hartford, Conn. 
" Mrs. Sigourney has published a new work, under the title of 
' Letters to Mothers.' The sentiments and principles inculcated 
in these letters, like everything from the pen of this amiable, in- 
telligent, and excellent woman, are practical, useful, and imbued 
with the spirit of pure morality and elevated piety. Mrs. Sig- 
ourney's standard is found in the Bible. All her didactic works 
have an immediate reference to the religion of the Bible ; and 
none of her writings disclose a sentiment or a doctrine that is 
not founded upon the immoveable basis of genuine Christianity. 
We have no doubt that this will prove to be one of the most pop- 
ular of her works." 



From the Connecticut Observer, Hartford. 
" ' Letters to Mothers,' by Mrs. Sigourney, is, if we mistake 
not, destined to be one of the most useful, as it is one of the best 
written and most interesting productions of the accomplished au- 
thor. It is a gift to mothers, which they cannot fail to appreciate, 
and for which they will not be slow to be grateful. While its 
subjects are treated in a manner intelligible to readers of every 
class, the polished style, the classical allusions, and the rich senti- 
ments will win its way to families of the highest intelligence and 
refinement ; and in many such circles will diffuse a deep feeling 
of responsibility, and a strong regard to moral cultivation." 



From the New- York American. 

" The last two productions of Mrs. Sigourney's pen have prob- 
ably been the most useful productions of the day, and will retain 
their rank among the chosen volumes of every domestic library, 
perpetuating the virtue which cherishes them. The great charm 
of these writings is, that while others are striving to fill the head 
with new ideas, by familiar treatises on subjects in themselves 
abstruse, these attempt, with success, the culture of the heart. 
We cannot too earnestly recommend to mothers eagerly to avail 
themselves of the privilege of reading and enjoying these letters." 



2 SIGOURNEY'S LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

From the Churchman, New- York. 

" Several books on education have lately issued from the press, 
none of which will be read by mothers with as much pleasure as 
this volume of Letters, peculiarly addressed to them. The author 
writes as one who loves her subject, and appreciates its impor- 
tance ; and she has enlivened her work with such a variety of 
illustration as could flow only from a well-stored and accom- 
plished mind. There are few, we believe, of that class of readers 
for whom the work is especially designed, that may not receive 
from it valuable hints, be impressed by it with a higher sense of 
their responsibilities, and animated, at the same time, in the dis- 
charge of them." 



From the New- Yorker. 

" The ' Letters to Mothers,' just published, we must regard as 
one of the noblest, if not the most aspiring effort, of Mrs. Sig- 
ourney's gifted mind. Its lessons seem to come directly from the 
heart, and no mother can peruse them without being deeply af- 
fected, as well as edified. They overflow with genuine poetry 
and Christian love. Not alone by mothers, they may be read by 
children also, with great interest and profit ; and every pure mind 
will delight in their fair pages of blended anecdote and precept. 
Need we urge that this work should be everywhere diffused and 
studied 1" 



From the Boston Weekly Magazine. 

" Mrs. Sigourney's ' Letters to Mothers' present, in a most at- 
tractive form, the privileges and enjoyments, the duties, cares, and 
consolations of maternal life. This excellent book cannot be read 
without profit by any one who is in any way concerned in the 
management of children. A vein of deep, strong feeling runs 
through the work, giving it an interest which it could not other- 
wise possess. The affectionate mother, the humble Christian, the 
lofty aspirations of a spirit accustomed to look beyond the present 
scene, are everywhere observable, while a rich and even poetic 
flow of diction gives vigour and zest to the style." 



SIGOURNEY'S LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

From the United States Gazette, Philadelphia. 
" It is delightful, among the numerous volumes which the press 
is daily and almost hourly pouring forth, to meet occasionally with 
works emanating from the holy principle of rendering the human 
family wiser and better, works which cannot be read by young or 
old without profit. Of this class, we have gone through, with 
singular pleasure, the book whose title is prefixed to this article. 
It contains as great a mass of excellence, with as little alloy, as 
probably any book extant, and is from the pen of the amiable Mrs. 
Sigourney, whose talents have been for years devoted to the best 
of all purposes, the promotion of human virtue, and its concomi- 
tant, human happpiness. No woman, married or single, ought to 
be without a copy of this work, the rules of which would be an 
admirable guide in all the various situations in which her sex are 
placed." 

From the Boston Recorder. 

" Are there mothers among us who have not possessed them- 
selves of this precious manual, and who still desire to be enlight- 
ened and guided in the discharge of their momentous duties'? 
Let them take it ; study it ; pray over it ; and store away its vast 
fund of invaluable maxims and hints in some department of the 
mind, whence they may be readily drawn forth for daily use. 
The writings of Mrs. Sigourney are of a class that needs no rec- 
ommendation other than they carry along with them wherever 
they go. The gentle and elevated piety, that breathes from every 
page ; the matured thought, that enriches every paragraph ; the 
simplicity and beauty, that marks every sentence, give them a sort 
of fascination, which defies criticism, and allures the reader, irre- 
sistibly, from step to step, till at length he finds himself, too soon, 
at the point where his instructor bids him farewell. Let every 
father supply the mother of his children with this volume, and 
master its contents himself, that he may be prepared to discuss its 
main topics familiarly and thoroughly with the companion of his 
life, for their mutual benefit in the business common to them both, 
of educating their offspring for usefulness and heaven." 






4 SIGOURNEY'S LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

From the Christian Witness, Boston. 

" The mothers of our country our country itself will be more 
indebted to Mrs. Sigourney for the truths which she has taught, 
for the interest which she will have awakened, in one of the most 
momentous of our concerns, than even for the rich beauties in 
which she has dressed, and by which she has enlivened her subject. 
If the book were in the hands of every American mother, and if 
its truths were carefully studied, cordially embraced, and faithfully 
practised, it would do more, the divinely instituted means of grace 
alone excepted, more, perhaps, than any one book, in elevating, 
improving, and blessing the whole population of our country. 
What other class of beings in the land, taken as a class, are of 
such unspeakable importance as that addressed by Mrs. Sigour- 
ney 1 What class wield so deep, so permanent, so universal an 
influence as they 1 And if, as a body, they were to embrace 
right views of their station, their responsibilities, and their influ- 
ence, and faithfully to act in carrying those views into practice, 
what other class could do such widespread, such everlasting good, 
to the interests and to the institutions of the American people 1 
Let the mothers of the land combine to do their duty to the bod- 
ies and souls of their immortal offspring, and they would be an 
unorganized association indeed, but, still, a more powerful associ- 
ation for good than any other in existence without a divine con- 
stitution. In truth, it would be a divinely constituted society, 
carrying in its very being the seal of a charter from God. 

" We should like to enter into a more particular analysis of 
these ' Letters to Mothers.' But perhaps what we have said 
may be as effectual as such an analysis would be, in calling atten- 
tion to its contents. We would commend the whole to faithful 
study. It abounds in distinct subjects of thought, many of which 
are as important to the father as to the mother, and all of which 
lead into the very depths, the secret places, the hidden springs of 
human interests and of human happiness." 



RECENTLY PUBLISHED, 

LETTERS TO YOUNG LADIES. BY MRS. SIGOURNEY. 
Seventh Edition. 



LETTERS 



TO 



MOTHERS. 



MRS. L. H. SIGOURNEY. 



t \ 

SECOND EDITION. 



NEW YORK: 
HARPER & BROTHERS, CLIFF STREET. 

1839. 






..Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by 

HARPER & BROTHERS, 
in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.] 






3 

INDEX 



PAGE 

PREFACE. . . . 7 



LETTER I. 
PRIVILEGES OF THE MOTHER. 



LETTER II. 
INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN UPON PARENTS. . 18 



LETTER III. 
INFANCY. 



LETTER IV. 
FIRST LESSONS. 



LETTER V. 
MATERNAL LOVE 45 

LETTER VI. 
HABIT. . . .54 



631091 



LETTER VII. 
HEALTH 68 



LETTER VIII. 
ECONOMY. . . 84 



LETTER IX. 
EARLY CULTURE. . 93 



LETTER X. 
DOMESTIC EDUCATION. . .105 



LETTER XI. 
IDIOM OF CHARACTER ..... ,Jfc. *. . . 121 



LETTER XII. 
SCHOOLS. . 139 



LETTER XIII. 
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. . .151 



LETTER XIV. 
DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. . .170 



LETTER XV. 
READING AND THINKING. . . .181 



LETTER XVI. 
EXAMPLE. . . 190 



LETTER XVII. 
OPINION OF WEALTH. . 



LETTER XVIII. 
HOSPITALITY 222 

LETTER XIX 
RESPECT TO AGE 231 

LETTER XX. 
HAPPINESS 239 

LETTER XXI. 
ADVERSITY. . .252 



LETTER XXII. 
LOSS OF CHILDREN. . 261 



LETTER XXIII. 
SICKNESS AND DECLINE. , .274 



LETTER XXIV. 
DEATH. 



I 



, 
PREFACE, 

ADDRESSED TO MOTHERS. 

You are sitting with your child in your arms. So 
am I. And I have never been as happy before. Have 
you ? How this new affection seems to spread a soft, 
fresh green over the soul. Does not the whole heart 
blossom thick with plants of hope, sparkling with 
perpetual dew-drops? What a loss, had we passed 
through the world without tasting this purest, most 
exquisite fount of love. 

Now, how shall we bring up this babe, which Heaven 
hath lent us? Great need have we to repeat the 
question of the father of Samson, to the angel who 
announced his birth, " how shall we order the child ?" 
Surely, we shall unite with fervour in his supplication 
to the Father of Angels, " teach us what we shall do 
unto the child ?" 

Are you a novice? I am one also. Let us learn 
together. The culture of young minds, in their more 
advanced stages, has indeed been entrusted to me, 
and I have loved the office. But never before have 
I been so blest, as to nurture the infant, when as a 



germ quickened by Spring, it opens the folding-doors 
of its little heart, and puts forth the thought, the pre- 
ference, the affection, like filmy radicles, or timid ten- 
drils, seeking where to twine. 

Ah ! how much have we to learn, that we may 
bring this beautiful and mysterious creature to the 
light of knowledge, the perfect bliss of immortality ! 
Hath any being on earth a charge more fearfully 
important than that of the Mother 1 God help us to 
be faithful, in proportion to the immensity of our 
trust. 

The soul, the soul of the babe, whose life is nou- 
rished by our own ! Every trace that we grave upon 
it, will stand forth at the judgment, when the " books 
are opened." Every waste-place, which we leave 
through neglect, will frown upon us, as an abyss, 
when the mountains fall, and the skies shrivel like 
a scroll. Wherever we go, let us wear as a signet- 
ring, "the child! the child!" Amid all the musick 
of life, let this ever be the key-tone, "the soul of 
our child." 

L. H. S. 



LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER I. 

PRIVILEGES OF THE MOTHER. 

MY FRIEND, if hi becoming a mother, you have 
reached the climax of your happiness, you have also 
taken a higher place in the scale of being. A most 
important part is allotted you, in the economy of the 
great human family. Look at the gradations of your 
way onward ; your doll, your playmates, your les- 
sons ; perhaps to decorate a beautiful person ; to 
study the art of pleasing ; to exult in your own at- 
tractions ; to feed on adulation ; to wear the garland 
of love; and then to introduce into existence a being 
never to die ; and to feel your highest, holiest ener- 
gies enlisted to lit it for this world and the next. 
, No longer will you now live for self; no longer 
j be noteless and unrecorded, passing away without 
1 name or memorial among the people. It can no 
more be reproachfully said of you, that "you lend 
all your graces to the grave, and keep no copy." 



10 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

* 

" My cousin Mary of Scotland hath a fair son born 
unto her, and I am but a dead tree," said Queen 
Elizabeth, while the scowl of discontent darkened 
her brow. In bequeathing your own likeness to the 
world, you will naturally be anxious to array it in 
that beauty of virtue, which fades not at the touch of 
time. What a scope for your exertions, to render 
your representative, an honour to its parentage, and 
a blessing to its country. 

You have gained an increase of power. The in- 
fluence which is most truly valuable, is that of mind 
over mind. How entire and perfect is this dominion, 
over the unformed character of your infant. Write 
what you will, upon that printless tablet, with your 
wand of love. Hitherto, your influence over your 
dearest friend, your most submissive servant, has 
known bounds and obstructions. Now, you have 
over a new-born immortal, almost that degree of 
power which the mind exercises over the body, and 
which Aristotle compares to the " sway of a prince 
over a bond-man." The period of this influence 
must indeed pass away; but while it lasts, make 
good use of it. 

Wise men have said, and the world begins to be- 
lieve, that it is the province of woman to teach. You 
then, as a mother, are advanced to the head of that 
profession. I congratulate you. You hold that 
license which authorizes you to teach always. You 
have attained that degree in the College of Instruc- 



PRIVILEGES OF THE MOTHER. 11 

tion, by which your pupils are continually in your 
presence, receiving lessons whether you intend it or 
not, and if the voice of precept be silent, fashioning 
themselves on the model of your example. You can- 
not escape their imitation. You cannot prevent them 
from carrying into another generation, the stamp of 
those habits which they inherit from you. If you 
are thoughtless, or supine, an unborn race will be 
summoned as witnesses of your neglect. 

" Meantime, the mighty debt runs on, 

The dread account proceeds, 

And your not-doing is set down 

Among your darkest deeds." 

In ancient times, the theory that the mother was 
designated by nature as an instructor, was sometimes 
admitted and illustrated. The philosopher Aristip- 
pus was the pupil of maternal precepts. Revered 
for his wisdom, he delighted in the appellation of 
Metrodidactos, the " taught of his mother." 

" We are indebted," says duintilian, for the elo- 
quence of the Gracchi, to their mother Cornelia," 
who, though qualified to give publick lectures in 
philosophy at Rome, did not forget to be the faithful 
teacher in private, of those, whom she so justly styled 
"her jewels." St. Jerome also bears similar testi- 
mony. " The eloquence of the Gracchi derived its 
perfection from the mother's elegance and purity of 
language." 






12 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Should heathen mothers be permitted to be more 
faithful in their duties, than those who are under 
bonds to the life-giving Gospel? "A good mother," 
says the eloquent L'Aime Martin, " will seize upon 
her child's heart, as her special field of activity. To 
be capable of this, is the great end of female educa- 
tion. I have shewn that no universal agent of civil- 
ization exists, but through mothers. Nature has 
placed in their hands, our infancy and youth. I 
have been among the first to declare the necessity 
of making them, by improved education, capable of 
fulfilling their natural mission. The love of God 
and man, is the basis of this system. In proportion 
as it prevails, national enmities will disappear, preju- 
dices become extinguished, civilization spread itself 
far and wide, one great people cover the earth, and 
the reign of God be established. This is to be has- 
tened, by the watchful care of mothers over their 
offspring, from the cradle upwards." 

What an appeal to mothers ! What an acknow- 
ledgement of the dignity of their office ! The aid 
of the "weaker vessel," is now invoked by legislators 
and sages. It has been discovered that there are 
signs of disease in the body politick, which can .be 
best allayed, by the subordination taught in families, 
and through her agency to whom is committed the 
"moulding of the whole mass of mind in its first 
formation." 

Woman is surely more deeply indebted to the 



PRIVILEGES OP THE MOTHER. 13 

government that protects her, than man, who bears 
within his own person the elements of self-defence. 
But how shall her gratitude be best made an opera- 
tive principle ? Secluded as she wisely is, from any 
share in the administration of government, how shall 
her patriotism find legitimate exercise ? The admix- 
ture of the female mind in the ferment of political 
ambition, would be neither safe, if it were permitted, 
nor to be desired, if it were safe. Nations who have 
encouraged it, have usually found their cabinet- 
councils perplexed by intrigue, or turbulent with 
contention. History has recorded instances, where 
the gentler sex have usurped the sceptre of the mo- 
narch, or invaded the province of the warrior. But 
we regard them either with amazement, as a planet 
rushing from its orbit, or with pity, as the lost Pleiad, 
forsaking its happy and brilliant sisterhood. 

Still, patriotism is a virtue in our sex, and there 
is an office where it may be' called into action, a pri- 
vilege which the proudest peer might envy. It de- 
pends not on rank or wealth, the canvassings of par- 
ty, or the fluctuations of the will of the people. Its 
throne is the heart, its revenue in Eternity. This 
office is that nfjmptp.rn n.1 jpnr.her. It is hers by here- 
ditary right. Let her make it an inalienable posses- 
sion. Nature invested her with it, when giving her 
the key of the infant soul, she bade her enter it 
through the affections. Her right to its first love, 
her intuitive discernment of its desires and impulses, 
2 






14 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

her tact in detecting the minutest shades of tempera- 
ment, her skill in forming the heart to her purpose, 
are proofs both of her prerogative, and of the Divine 
Source, whence it emanates. 

It seems fully conceded, that the vital interests of 
our country may be aided by the zeal of mothers. 
Exposed as it is, to the influx of untutored foreign- 
ers, often unfit for its institutions, or adverse to their 
spirit, it seems to have been made a repository for 
the waste and refuse of other nations. To neutral- 
ize this mass, to rule its fermentations, to prevent it 
from becoming a lava-stream in the garden of liberty, 
and to purify it for those channels where the life- 
blood of the nation circulates, is a work of power 
and peril. The force of public opinion, or the ter- 
ror of law, must hold in check these elements of 
danger, until Education can restore them to order 
and beauty. Insubordination, is becoming a promi- 
nent feature in some of our principal cities. Obe- 
dience in families, respect to magistrates, and love 
of country, should therefore be inculcated with in- 
creased energy, by those who have earliest access to 
the mind. A barrier to the torrent of corruption, 
and a guard over the strong-holds of knowledge and 
of virtue, may be placed by the mother, as she watch- 
es over her cradled son. Let her come forth with 
vigour and vigilance, at the call of her country, not 
like Boadicea in her chariot, .but like the mother of 
/ Washington, feeling that the first lesson to every 



^ 

PRIVILEGES OP THE MOTHER. 15 

incipient ruler should be, "how to obey." The de- 
gree of her diligence in preparing her children to be 
good subjects of a just government, will be the true 
measure of her patriotism. While she labours to 
pour- a pure and heavenly spirit into the hearts that 
open around her, she knows not but she may be 
appointed to rear some future statesman, for her 
nation's helm, or priest for the temple of Jehovah. 
i But a loftier ambition will inspire the Christian 
mother, that of preparing "fellow-citizens for the 
saints in glory." All other hopes should be held 
secondary, all other distinctions counted adventitious 
and fleeting. That she may be enabled to fulfil a 
j mission so sacred, Heaven has given her priority and 
'' power, and that she may learn the nature of the soul 
j which she is ordained to modify, has permitted her 
to be the first to look into it, as into the cup of some 
opening flower, fresh from the Forming Hand. The 
dignity of her office admits of no substitute. It is 
hers to labour day and night, with patience, and in 
joyful hope. It is hers to lead forth the affections 
in healthful beauty, and prompt their heavenward 
aspirings. It is hers to foster tenderness of con- 
science, and so to regulate its balance that it swerve 
not amid the temptations of untried life. It is hers 
so to rivet principle, that it may retain its integrity, 

(both " beneath the cloud, and under the sea." And 
as she labours for God, so she labours for her coun- 
try, since whatever tends to prepare for citizenship 



16 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

in heaven, cannot fail to make good and loyal sub- 
jects of any just government on earth. 

This, then, is the patriotism of woman, not to 
thunder in senates, or to usurp dominion, or to seek 
the clarion-blast of fame, but faithfully to teach by 
precept and example, that wisdom, integrity, and 
peace, which are the glory of a nation. Thus, in 
the wisdom of Providence, has she been prepared by 
the charm of life's fairest season, for the happiness 
of love; incited to rise above the trifling amuse- 
ments and selfish pleasures which once engrossed 
her, that she might be elevated to the maternal dig- 
nity ; cheered under its sleepless cares by a new 
affection ; girded for its labours by the example of 
past ages ; and adjured to fidelity in its most sacred 
duties, by the voice of God. 

Admitting that it is the profession of our sex to 
teach, we perceive the mother to be first in point of 
precedence, in degree cf power, in the faculty of 
teaching, and in the department allotted. For in 
point of precedence, she is next to the Creator ; in 
power over her pupil, limitless and without com- 
petitor ; in faculty of teaching, endowed with the 
prerogative of a transforming love ; while the glori- 
ous department allotted is a newly quickened soul, 
and its immortal destiny 

Let her, then, not be regardless of the high privi- 
leges conferred upon her, or seek to stipulate for a 
life of indolence and ease, or feebly say that her 



PRIVILEGES OP THE MOTHER. 17 

individual exertion can be of little value. Let her 
not omit daily to cast into the treasury of the un- 
folding mind her "two mites." The habits which 
she early impresses, though to her eye they seem but 
as the filmy line of the spider, scarcely clasping the 
spray, trembling at every breeze, may prove links of 
tempered steel, binding a deathless being to eternal 
felicity or woe. A glorious aggregate will at last 
be formed by long perseverance in " line upon line, 
precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little." 
As the termites patiently carry grains of sand, till 
their citadel astonishes the eye, as the coral insect 
toils beneath the waters, till reef joins reef, and 
islands spring up with golden fruitage and perennial 
verdure, so let the mother, " sitting down or walk- 
ing by the way," in the nursery, the parlour, even 
from the death-bed, labour to impress on her off- 
spring that goodness, purity, and piety, which shall 
render them acceptable to society, to their country, 
and to their God. 







18 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 






LETTER II. 

INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN UPON PARENTS. 

WE speak of educating our children. Do we 
know that our children also educate us 1 

" How much tenderness, how much generosity," 
says a fine writer, " springs into the father's heart, 
from the cradle of his child. What is there so af- 
fecting to the noble and virtuous man, as that being 
which perpetually needs his help, and yet cannot 
call for it. Inarticulate sounds, or sounds which 
he receives half formed, he bows himself down to 
modulate, he lays them with infinite care and pa- 
tience not only on the tender, attentive ear, but on 
the half-open lips, on the cheeks, as if they all were 
listeners." 

And if the sterner nature of man is thus readily 
softened, how much more must the pliancy of wo- 
man be modified, through the melting affections of 
the mother. 

Our authority over our children passes away 
with their period of tutelage. But their influence 
over us, increases with time. The mother, asso- 
ciating her daughters with herself, becomes gradu- 






INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN UPON PARENTS. 19 



ally guided by the judgment which she had assisted 
to form. Ho\v common is the remark, "I have 
done this, or that, because my daughter thought it 
best." And the acquiescence is still more common 
than the remark. The father quotes the opinion 
of his sons with pride, and is perhaps governed by 
it, even when it differs from his own. This influ- 
ence of the younger over the elder, naturally gains 
strength, as one comes forth with new vigour and 
energy, and the other, passing into the vale of years, 
learns to love repose. 

It is important that the power which is eventu- 
ally to modify us, should be under the guidance of 
correct principle. We select with care, a garment 
which is to protect us from cold, or which is ex- 
pected to be in use for years. We are solicitous to 
obtain the best plan, when we erect a permanent 
habitation. We take pains that the chronometer 
which is to measure our hours, shall be accurate. 
Ought we not to be still more anxious, more faith- 
ful, more wary, in fashioning the instrument which 
is to measure our happiness, when the snows of the 
winter of life shall cover us? If we fail to instil 
correct principles into those, who are in the end to 
impress their own semblance upon us ; if through 
their want of respectability, we are to be made less 
respectable ; if even in their errors, .we are to par- 
take, as well as to be wounded, how great will be 
the loss ! 



20 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

" How keen the pang, but keener far to feel, 
We nurs'd the feather that impell'd the steel." 

While the minds of children are in their waxen 
state, let parents be most assiduous to impress on 
them such a likeness, as they should be willing 
themselves to bear. This injunction addresses it- 
self more immediately to the mother, who has it in 
her power to make the earliest impressions, and is 
liable in her turn to be the most strongly im- 
pressed. 

Observe how soon, and to what a degree, this in- 
fluence begins to operate. Her first ministration for 
her infant is to enter, as it were, the valley of the 
shadow of death, and win its life at the peril of her 
own. How different must an affection thus found- 
ed, be from all others. As if to deepen its power, a 
season of languor ensues, when she is compara- 
tively alone with her infant and with Him who 
gave it, cultivating an acquaintance with a new be- 
ing, and through a new channel, with the greatest 
of all beings. Is she not also herself an image of 
His goodness, while she cherishes in her bosom the 
young life that he laid there 1 A love, whose root 
is in death, whose fruit must be in Eternity, has 
taken possession of her. No wonder that its effects 
are obvious and great. 

Has she been selfish? or rather, has the disposi- 
tion to become so been nourished by the indul- 
gence of affluence, or the adulation offered to beau- 



INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN UPON PARENTS. 21 

ty? How soon she sacrifices her own ease and 
convenience to that of her babe. She wakens at its 
slightest cry, and in its sickness forgets to take sleep. 

" Night after night 

She keepeth vigil, and when tardy morn 
Breaks on her watching eye-lids, and she fain 
Would lay her down to rest, its weak complaining 
O'ercomes her weariness." 

Has she been indolent or vain? The physical 
care of her child helps to correct these faults. She 
patiently plies the needle, to adorn its person. She 
is pleased to hear the praises that were once lav- 
ished on herself, transferred to her new darling. 
Almost could she respond to the sentiment of Os- 
sian, " Let the name of Morni be forgotten among 
the people, if they will only say, Behold the father 
of Gaul." 

Has she been too much devoted to fashionable 
amusements'? She learns to prize home-felt plea- 
sures. She prefers her nursery to the lighted sa- 
loon, and the brilliant throng. 

Has she been passionate ? She restrains herself. 
How can she require the government of temper 
from her child, and yet set him no example ? She 
learns to feel with Rousseau, that " the greatest re- 
spect is due to children." When her temper has 
been discomposed, she dreads the gaze of that little, 
pure, wondering eye, perhaps even more than the 
reproof of conscience. 



22 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

In the artificial intercourse of society, has she 
sometimes ceased to regard the true import of 
words ? And does she not require truth of her 
child? As he advances towards moral agency, is 
she not more and more moved to exemplify that 
strict integrity which she demands of him ? 

Has she evaded the requisitions of religion? 
And is she willing that her child should be im- 
pious ? 

Thus powerful are the influences exercised by 
the infant upon its mother, from the moment of its 
birth. If she yields to the transforming power, 
daily soliciting the Spirit of God to sanctify and 
sublimate the newly implanted affection, she may 
trust to reap a blessed harvest. But however im- 
perfect may be her own spiritual improvement of 
the precious gift, she can scarcely fail to feel and 
acknowledge, that in this new existence, she has 
doubled her own capacities for enjoyment. No 
matter by what suffering this joy has been ob- 
tained. The sleepless nights, the days of seclu- 
sion, the long heaviness that weighed down the 
buoyant spirit, the pang that has never yet been 
described, all are forgotten. "She remembereth 
no more her sorrow," saith that sacred pen, which 
knows to touch the soul's inmost recesses. Nay, 
she would willingly have endured a thousand fold, 
for such a payment. 

She has entered the temple of a purer happiness, 



INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN UPON PARENTS. 23 

and become the disciple of a higher school. She is 
led to be disinterested, she is induced to resign the 
restless search of pleasure, to feel her own insuffi- 
ciency, to sit down under the shadow and shel- 
ter of Almighty wisdom. Are not these blessed 
results ? 

But, young mother, what do you hold in your 
arms ? A machine of exquisite symmetry ; the blue 
veins revealing the mysterious life-tide through 
an almost transparent surface ; the waking thought 
speaking through the sparkling eye, or dissolving 
there in tears ; such a form as the art of man has 
never equalled ; and such a union of matter with 
mind, as his highest reason fails to comprehend. 
You embrace a being, whose developements may 
yet astonish you ; who may perhaps sway the des- 
tiny of others ; whose gatherings of knowledge you 
can neither foresee or limit ; and whose chequered 
lot of sorrow or of joy, are known only to the Om- 
nipotence which fashioned him. Still, if this were 
all, the office of a mother would lose its crown- 
ing dignity. But to be the guide of a spirit which 
can never die, to make the first indelible impres- 
sions on what may be a companion of seraphs," - 
and live with an unbounded capacity for bliss or 
woe, when these poor skies under which it was 
born, shall have vanished like a vision, this is 
the fearful honour which God hath entrusted to 
the "weaker vessel," and which would make us 



24 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

tremble amid our happiness, if we took not refuge 
in Him. 

I have seen a young and beautiful mother, her- 
self like a brilliant and graceful flower. Nothing 
could divide her from her infant. It was to her 
as a twin-soul. She had loved society, for there 
she had been as an idol. But what was the fleeting 
delight of adulation, to the deep love that took pos- 
session of her whole being? She had loved her 
father's house. There, she was ever like a song- 
bird, the first to welcome the day, and the last to 
bless it. Now, she wreathed the same blossoms of 
the heart around another home, and lulled her 
little nursling with the same inborn melodies. 

It was sick. She hung over it. She watched 
it. She comforted it. She sat whole nights with 
it in her arms. It was to her like the beloved of 
the King of Israel, "feeding among the lillies." 
Under the pressure of this care, there was in her 
eye, a deep and holy beauty, which never gleam- 
ed there, when she was radiant in the dance, or 
in the halls of fashion, the cynosure. She had 
been taught to love God, and his worship, from her 
youth up ; but when health again glowed in the 
face of her babe, there came from her lip, such a 
prayer of flowing praise, as it had never before 
breathed. 

And when in her beautiful infant, there were the 
first developements of character, and of those pre- 



INFLUENCE OP CHILDREN UPON PARENTS. 25 

ferences and aversions which leave room to doubt 
whether they are from simplicity or perverseness, 
and whether they should be repressed or pitied, 
and how the harp might be so tuned as not to 
injure its tender and intricate harmony, there burst 
from her soul a supplication more earnest, more 
self-abandoning, more prevailing, than she had ever 
before poured into the ear of the majesty of heaven. 
So the feeble hand of the babe that she nou- 
rished, led her through more profound depths 
of humility, to higher aspirations of faith. And I 
felt that the affection, to whose hallowed influence 
she had so yielded, was guiding her to a higher 
seat among the "just made perfect." 



26 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER III. 

INFANCY. 

INTERCOURSE with infancy is improving, as well 
as delightful. It subdues pride, and deepens piety. 
Obdurate natures are softened by its sweet smile, 
and the picture of its sleeping innocence. Its en- 
tire helplessness, its perfect trust, dissolve the soul. 
The bold wanderer in the world's crooked ways, 
gazes, and recalls the time when he was himself 
unstained. Tender remembrances take him captive, 
and ere he is aware, the tear trickles down his 
cheeks in fond regret, perhaps in healthful penitence. 

The construction of the infant's frame ; the little 
beating heart, sending life-blood through its thou- 
sand thread-like channels ; the lungs, fastening with 
delight on the gift of the pure air ; the countless 
absorbents, busied in their invisible work-shops ; the 
net-work of nerves, minute as the filaments of 
thought, quickening with sensation; the tender 
brain, beginning its mysterious agency ; the silken 
fringe of the eyes, opening wider as some brilliant 
colour strikes the dazzled retina ; the slender fingers 
unfolding themselves, as some new sound winds its 



INFANCY. 27 

way through the ear's untrodden labyrinth, giving 
its key-tone to the wondering mind; all the mystery 
and beauty of this miniature temple, where the ethe- 
rial spirit is a lodger, lead the observer to an Al- 
mighty Architect, and constrain him to adore. 

But especially is the care of infancy salutary to 
the character. It inspires the gentle, pitying, and 
hallowed affections. Mothers, the blessing of this 
ministry is ours. Let us study night and day, the 
science that promotes the welfare of our infant. 

We cannot but be aware that our duty to it be- 
gins before its birth. Every irritable feeling should 
then be restrained, and the overflowing joy and 
hope of our religion be our daily aliment. Exercise 
among the beautiful works of nature, the infusion 
of social feeling, and contemplation of the most 
cheering subjects, should be cherished by her who 
has the glorious hope of introducing into this world 
a being never to die ; who, already a part of herself, 
adds warmth and frequency to her prayers, and 
whom, " having not seen, she loves." 

To those, who from a depression which they ima- 
gine they cannot controul, are inclined too much 
to seclude themselves, we would address the elo- 
quent words of Milton: "In vernal seasons 
of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it 
were both an injury, and a sullenness against na- 
ture, not to go forth and see her riches, and par- 
take in her rejoicing with heaven and earth." 



5 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

The first three months of infancy should be a 
season of quietness. The unfolding organs require 
the nursing of silence and of love. The delicate 
system, like the mimosa, shrinks from every rude 
touch. Violent motions are uncongenial to the new- 
born. Loud, sharp sounds, and even glaring colours, 
should be excluded from the nursery. The visual 
and auditory nerves, those princely ambassadors to 
the mind, are still in embryo. Inure them tenderly 
and gradually to their respective functions. 

The first months of infancy are a spot of bright- 
ness to a faithful and affectionate mother ; a dream 
of bliss, from which she wakes to more complicated 
duties ; a payment for past suffering, a preparation 
for future toil. I heard a lady, who had brought 
up a large family, say it was the " only period of 
a mother's perfect enjoyment." At its expiration 
comes dentition, with a host of physical ills. The 
character begins to develope, and sometimes to take 
that tinge which occasional pain of body or fret- 
fulness of temper impart. The alphabet of exist- 
ence is learned. We can perceive that its combi- 
nations are not always in harmony. The little 
being takes hold upon this life of trial. Soon, its 
ignorance must be dispelled, its perceptions guided, 
its waywardness quelled, its passions held in check, 
by one who often feels herself too infirm for the 
mighty task. 

Yet, were I to define the climax of happiness 



INFANCY. 29 

which a mother enjoys with her infant, I should 
by no means limit it to the first three months. The 
whole season while it is deriving nutriment from 
her, is one of peculiar, inexpressible felicity. She 
has it in her power so immediately to hush its 
meanings, to sooth its sorrows, to alleviate its sick- 
nesses, that she is to it as a tutelary spirit. 

Dear friends, be not anxious to abridge this hal- 
cyon period. Do not willingly deprive yourselves 
of any portion of the highest pleasure of which 
woman's nature is capable. Devote yourselves to 
the work. Have nothing to do with the fashion- 
able evening party, the crowded hall, the changes 
of dress that put health in jeopardy. Be temper- 
ate in all things. Receive no substance into the 
stomach that disorders it ; no stimulant that affects 
the head; indulge .no agitating passions. They 
i change the aliment of your child. They introduce 
/poison into its veins, or kindle fever in its blood. 
Experienced medical men will assure you, that its 
constitution through life is modified by the nursing 
of the first year. One of the most illustrious living 
physicians in Paris, while testing the pathology of 
disease in the thronged wards of the hospitals in 
that metropolis, always questions the new patient, 

L "were you nursed at the breast of your mother? 

; and how long ?" 

I would say to every mother, study the consti- 
tution of your babe. If it have any morbid ten- 
s' 



30 



LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

. 



dencies, either heritable or accidental, bear steadily 
upon them with the regimen best adapted to their 
cure. Let it be your aim to use as little medicine 
as possible, and not causelessly to trouble a phy- 
sician, for those trifling ills which your own pa- 
tience or firmness might obviate. Suffer me to 
repeat it, guard your own health, and serenity of 
spirit, for the child is still a part of yourself, as 
the blossom of the plant, from whose root it gathers 
sustenance. Breathe over it, the atmosphere of hap- 
py and benevolent affections. Surely, you cannot 
fail to thank your Heavenly Father for this "un- 
speakable gift," and as you lull it to that sleep which 
knows no dream of sorrow, lift up the prayer, " let 
this soul, so lately divided from mine, live before 
thee, Oh God!" 

As this fragment of yourself advances toward the 
properties of a sentient being, you will naturally 
vary your mode of treatment. The expanding mus- 
cles require more exercise. The perceptions shoot 
forth, like timid tendrils under the/ vine-leaf. It 
loves to inhale the fresh air, to be carried out be- 
neath the shade of green trees in summer. It re- 
gards the brilliant petals of flowers, and the per- 
fume of the rose. It listens to the shrill note of the 
bird, and looks with wonder upon the leaping, 
tuneful brook. It is fitting that it should find a 
place among the beauties and melodies of nature, 
itself more beautiful than they. If your situation 



INFANCY. 31 

allows you thus to give it exercise, in fine weather 
avail yourself of the privilege. If not, furnish it 
the best mode of recreation in the open air which 
is in your power. But avoid all undue excitement. 

)lts nerves are still as a harp imperfectly strung, and 
liable to dissonance. 

During this first sacred year, trust not your trea- 
sure too much to the charge of hirelings. Have 
it under your superintendence, both night and day. 
When necessarily engaged in other employments, 
let it hear your cheering, protecting tone. Keep 
it ever within the sensible atmosphere of maternal 
tenderness. Its little heart will soon reach out the 
slender radicles of love and trust. Nourish them 
with smiles and caresses, the " small dew upon the 
tender grass." When it learns to distinguish you, 
by stretching its arms for your embrace; when on 
its little tottering feet it essays to run towards you ; 
above all, when the first effort of its untaught 
tongue is to form your name, mother, there is 
neither speech nor language by which to express 
your joy ! No, no, the poverty of words will never 
be so unwise as to attempt it. 

Do you ask, when shall we begin to teach our 

children religion ? As soon as you see them. As 

I soon as they are laid upon your breast. As soon 

I . as you feel the pure breath issuing from that won- 

/ drous tissue of air-vessels which God has wreathed 

around the heart. 



32 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

The religion of a new-born babe, is the prayer 
of its mother. Keep this sacred flame burning for 
it, in the shrine of the soul, until it is able to light 
its own feeble lamp, and fill its new censer with 
praise. 

As the infant advances in strength, its religion 
i should be love. Teach it love, by your own ac- 
cents, your countenance, your whole deportment. 
Labour to fashion its habits and temper- after this 
hallowed model. Let the first lessons of earth, 
breathe the spirit of heaven. 

When the high gifts of speech and thought are 
given it, point it to Him who caused the sun to 
shine, and the plant to grow, and the chirping bird 
to be joyful in its nest. Teach it that it is loved 
of this Great Being, that it may love him in return. 
Mingle the majesty of His goodness with the ele- 
ments of its thought. You will be surprised to see 
how soon the lisping lip may learn communion 
with the Father of Mercies. 

" Teach me to pray, instruct me in religion !" 
said a young prince to his tutor. " You are not yet 
old enough." "Ah, yes ! I have been in the bury- 
ing ground. I have measured the graves. There 
are some there which are shorter than I." 

Mother, if there is, in your church-yard, one 
grave shorter than your child, hasten to instruct 
him in religion. 



FIRST LESSONS. 33 



LETTER IV. 

FIRST LESSONS. 

WATCH for the time when your little one first 
exhibits decided preferences, and aversions. The 
next letter in the alphabet, is obedience. It is its 
first step towards religion. The fear of God must 
be taught by the parent, standing for a time in 
the place of God. 

Establish your will, as the law. Do it early, 
for docility is impaired by delay. It is the truest 
love, to save the little stranger in this labyrinth 
of life, all those conflicts of feeling, which must 
continue as long as it remains doubtful who is to 
be its guide. As the root and germ of piety, as 
a preparation for submission to the Eternal Father, 
as the subduing process, which is to lead it in 
calmness through the storms and surges of time, 
teach obedience. 

It is a simple precept in philosophy, that obedi- 
ence should be the most entire and unconditional, 
where reason is the weakest. Its requisitions should 
be enforced, in proportion to the want of intelli- 
gence in the subject. The parent is emphatically 



34 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

a light to those who sit in darkness. The transi- 
tion from the dreamy existence of infancy, to the 
earliest activity of childhood, is a period when pa- 
rental authority is eminently needful, to repress 
evil, and to preserve happiness. But it must have 
been established before, in order to be in readiness 
then. Without this rudder, the little voyager is 
liable to be thrown among the eddies of its own 
passions, and wrecked like the bark canoe. 

You will not suppose me, my dear friends, the 
advocate of austerity. As the substitution of your 
wisdom, in the place of the wayward impulses of 
your child, is the truest kindness, so it is a fea- 
ture of that kindness, to commence it when it may 
be done with the greatest ease. Gentleness, com- 
bined with firmness, will teach it to your infant. 
Wait a few months, and perhaps it may not be so. 
Obedience, to the mind in its waxen state, is like 
the silken thread by which the plant is drawn 
toward its prop; enforced too late, it is like the 
lasso, with which the wild horse is enchained, 
requiring dexterity to throw, and severity to 
manage. 

Deaf and dumb children, or those whose intel- 
lect is weak, it is peculiarly cruel not to subju- 
gate. With them, the will of the parent must 
longer, and more entirely operate. As reason de- 
velopes, and the habits become regulated, and the 
affections take their right place, parental authority 






FIR.ST LESSONS. 35 

naturally relaxes its vigilance. It loosens, and 
falls off, like the thorny sheath of the chesnut, when 
the kernel ripens. But the husk of the chesnut 
is opened by the frost, and the sway of the pa- 
rent yields to the sharper lessons of the world: 
and of this teaching, the young probationer is not 
always able to say that, 

"When most severe and mustering all its wrath, 
'Tis but the graver countenance of love." 

With many of our most illustrious characters, 
the obedience of earlier years was strongly en- 
forced. We know it was so, in the case of Wash- 
ington. Other examples might be easily adduced. 
Those who have most wisely ruled others, have 
usually tested, by their own experience, the nature 
of subordination, at its proper season. Fabius 
Maximus, whose invincible wisdom tamed the 
fierce spirits of Rome, was so distinguished by 
submission to his superiors, as to be derided by the 
insubordinate, and called in his boyhood, "the 
little sheep." 

Let the next lesson to your infant pupil, be 
kindness to all around. The rudiments are best 
taught by the treatment of animals. If it seizes 
a kitten by the back, or pulls its hair, show im- 
mediately by your own example, how it may be 
held properly, and soothed into confidence. Draw 
back the little hand, lifted to strike the dog. Per- 



36 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

haps it may not understand that it thus inflicts 
pain. But be strenuous in confirming an opposite 
habit. Do not permit it to kill flies, or to trouble 
harmless insects. Check the first buddings of 
those Domitian tastes. Instruct it that the gift of 
life, to the poor beetle, or the crawling worm, is 
from the Great Father above, and not to be lightly 
trodden out. A little boy, who early discovered 
propensities to cruelty, was so thoroughly weaned 
from them, by his mother, that when attending 
to infantine lessons in Natural History, long before 
he was able to read, and hearing of a bird that was 
fond of catching flies, he lisped, with a kind of 
horror upon his baby-face, " Oh ! kill flies ! will 
God forgive it ?" 

Another boy was observed never to deviate in 
his kind treatment of dogs. And he remembered 
that with a heaving breast, and suffused eye, he 
had listened, when almost an infant, to the follow- 
ing simple story. 

" There was once a good dog. His master was 
always kind to him. When he called him, he 
came ; when he went from home, he followed 
him ; when he sat by the fire, he slept at his feet. 
But his master grew sick, and died. The dog 
watched where they buried him. He went and 
stretched himself out on the grave. The people 
from the house, came to coax him home again. 
They said, " come ! come ! poor fellow ! we will 



FIRST LESSONS. 37 

feed you; we will be kind to you." He went 
with them, but he would not stay. He would not 
lay down by the fire, and sleep where he used to 
do. For his master was not there. He took 
only a little food, and hurried back to the grave. 
There he watched night and day. When he 
heard a footstep among the tombs, he started up, 
and gazed earnestly around. But when he saw 
it was not his dear master, he laid his head on 
the turf again, and moaned. The storms beat on 
him, and the cold snows, but he would not leave 
the grave. In the dark midnight, it was sad to 
hear his voice among the dead, calling for his 
master. But his barking grew fainter and fainter. 
Pitying children brought him meat and bread. 
He was too weak to eat, and he ceased to lick 
their hands. He grew thin, and pined away. At 
last he could no longer rise up on his feet; and 
so he died, calling for his beloved master." 

How soon such precepts of kindness, in the 
tender tones of a mother, may incorporate them- 
selves with the nature of an infant, we know not. 
But we do know that those baleful dispositions, 
which desolate human happiness, are often early 
developed. It was Benedict Arnold, the traitor, 
who in his boyhood loved to destroy insects, to 
mutilate toads, to steal the eggs of the mourning 
bird, and torture quiet, domestic animals, who 
eventually laid waste the shrinking, domestic 
4 



38 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

charities, and would have, drained the life-blood 
of his endangered country. 

Let your third lesson be truth. Grant the little 
learner all the aid in your power, for the growth 
of this cardinal virtue. Do not be severe for 
little faults, and especially for accidents. Do not 
set fear in array against truth, in the breast of your 
child. It is stronger, and will prevail ; for its 
moral code is yet unsettled, but the passions, like 
Minerva, have sprung armed into life. As your 
child becomes acquainted with the import of 
words, accustom it to speak to you freely of its 
i'aults. Explain to it, that it is an erring being, 
that your discipline is intended to make it better, 
more acceptable to God, happier when it grows 
up, and in the life to come. Assure it, that you 
should be wanting in your duty, if you failed to 
reform its errors, and therefore exhort it to tell 
you frankly when it has erred, as the physician 
requires of the sick man a full account of his 
symptoms, ere he proportions the remedy. A child, 
thus instructed, was often led by the nurse to 
his mother's room, when he had offended, and left 
there, without any accusation, save his own lisp- 
ing voice ; and it was invariably found on com- 
paring his evidence with the facts, that he had 
preserved the beauty of truth inviolate. This 
result would be more frequently seen, if we did 
not terrify the infant delinquents. They are 



FIRST LESSONS. 39 

often puzzled with the meaning of words, when 
questions are rapidly addressed to them ; even their 
reliance on our justice forsakes them, if they discern 
the lineaments of anger ; and self-preservation, the 
first law of nature, coming into action, overthrows 
their infirm integrity. 

" My goodness groivs weak" said a boy, of five 
years old, running into his mother's arms: "help 
me to be good." Doubtless we might longer con- 
tinue as guardian angels to our children, if we 
cultivated in them habits of perfect confidence, 
and forebore to terrify them for trivial delin- 
quencies. 

As an important ally of truth, we should pro- 
tect their simplicity. The whole structure of 
society is so artificial, that to a child it is a per- 
petual mystery. A little boy when taking his 
leave at night, to go to bed, said to one of the 
circle, whom he kissed, "you have not got a 
pretty face." Another, who sat near, expressed 
surprise at the remark, and to him also he said, 
"I do not like your face, neither." His mother 
inquired, " whose face do you like ?" Pointing 
to the handsomest of the group, he replied, " hers, 
my grown-up sister's face." Now, what at first 
view seemed rudeness, was simply an expression 
of the perception of beauty. He wished to impart 
the new pleasure that had entered into his infant 
heart, and he chose at first to give the proposition 



40 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

a negative form. In a mature, and educated per- 
son, this would have been a breach of politeness. 
But the little one uttered only the truth. He had 
not learned the adage, that " truth is not to be 
spoken at all times." Nor could he, until his 
judgment had acquired strength, or rather, until 
he had become hackneyed in the world's policy. 
The mother, who was prepared to reprove him, 
saw that he ought not to be reproved. Still we 
cannot begin too early to teach our children, to 
say nothing that will wound the feelings of 
another. This precept must be sedulously en- 
forced, until it takes the form of habit, and the 
root of principle. Those individuals, who are the 
most strictly careful to speak no words that will 
unnecessarily give pain, are usually the most ready 
to acknowledge, that it is the fruit of education, 
or example, more than of any inherent sympa- 
thy, or native tenderness for their fellow-creatures. 
To respect truth, yet to bear upon the tongue 
the " law of kindness," is a branch of education 
which parents should impress upon all who are 
under their controul. The politeness which springs 
from such a soil, is worthy of a Christian. 

Yet, why need we compel our children to adopt 
the conventional forms of society, when they sub- 
vert simplicity ? Why commence a warfare against 
Nature, almost as soon as she developes herself? 
Why help to root out that singleness of heart, 



FIRST LESSONS. 41 

which is the most winning and remarkable flower 
in the garden of life? We tell our young chil- 
dren that they must be polite. We force them 
to kiss strangers, and to say what they do not feel, 
and to repress what they do feel, because it is 
polite. Again, we tell them, in graver teachings, 
that they must speak the truth. We throw their 
little minds into a ferment of doubt, to discover 
what is truth, and what is politeness, and to draw 
that line which no casuist has yet ever drawn. 
And ere we are aware, the fresh integrity of the 
soul escapes. We rebuke, we punish them for in- 
sincerity. Are not the usages of refined society, 
too much based upon it ? Why then force infancy 
into them before its time? Its social feelings 
develope but slowly; why hasten to conform 
them to those complex customs, and hollow cour- 
tesies, which are but too often modifications of 
falsehood. Rather, guard its simplicity, and plant 
deep in the seclusion of the nursery, that root of 
truth, whose fruits are for the kingdom of heaven. 

In teaching the three primary lessons of obe- 
dience, kindness, and truth, there are others, 
which naturally interweave themselves, and claim 
importance in the moral code of infancy. A 
mother's vigilant eye will not overlook them, 
while laying the foundation for a future super- 
structure of virtue. Among them, she will surely 
be assiduous to foster delicacy. This seems to 
4 



42 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

me to be natural to young children, as far as I 
have been acquainted with them, unless contam- 
inated by evil example. They shrink from ex- 
posure of their persons. Let this feeling be re- 
spected where it exists, and implanted where it 
does not. Permit them to hear neither stories 
or words, which create impure associations, any 
more than you would, such as are tinctured with 
profanity. For though they may repeat them, 
without knowledge of their import, still it is 
dangerous to load memory with defilement, trust- 
ing that it will always remain inert. Perhaps, 
these cautions may be deemed superfluous. Yet 
as long as purity of thought and character, are 
essential to excellence, even the slightest fence 
around their first germinations, is worthy of being 
strengthened. 

I am confident that mothers are not sufficiently 
careful, with regard to the conversation of domes- 
tics, or other uneducated persons, who, in their 
absence, may undertake to amuse their children. 
" If the little girl cries, while I am gone," said 
a mother to an Irish domestic, recently hired, tell 
her a story, and she will be quiet." Ah ! and 

. what kind of a story ? You will not be there 
to hear it. But the tender intellect, already suf- 
ficiently advanced to be soothed with stories, may 
imbibe foolish, or vulgar, or frightful imagef, and 

I take their colouring, like soft wool, sinking in 



FIRST LESSONS. 43 

Tyrian purple. " Tell her a story /" Why that 
is the very aliment which her opening mind 
seizes with the greatest eagerness. And you are 
ignorant whether that aliment may not be mingled 
with corruption. It was a wise man, who said 
he cared not who made the laws of a nation, if 
he might only have the making of their songs. 
With greater truth, may it be said of unfolding 
infancy ; any one who chooses may give it grave 
lessons, but look out for its story-tellers. Thus 
it is, that unfortunate babes are terrified, and made 
to dread a dark room, or a lonely chamber, until 
the sleep that should solace them, is but a com- 
munion with nameless monsters, and they are 
frightened out of their sweet birthright, the fear- 
lessness of innocence. 

Let mothers mingle their teachings, with smiles, 
and the dialect of love. It is surprising how soon 
an infant learns to read the countenance, how it 
decyphers the charm of a cheerful spirit, how it 
longs to be loved. "Do you love me well?" the 
musician Mozart asked in his infancy, of all the 
servants of his father, as one after the other, they 
passed him, in their various employments. And 
if any among them, to tease him, answered " no," 
he covered his baby-face, and wept. 
A little deaf and dumb boy, selected for his 
favourite, among many sisters, her who possessed 
the most beaming and radiant countenance. In 






44 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

the eloquent idiom of that peculiar class of per- 
sons, he said, " you are the goddess of laughings, 
of greatest smiles, of smallest smiles ; so, I love 
you, best of all." 

I have seldom been more painfully struck, than 
with the woe-worn countenance of a silent babe, 
by the side of its miserable mother, in the State's- 
prison. No conversation was allowed, among the 
convicts. Smiles, are not the dialect of guilt. So, 
there it sat, or lay, for it was too young to walk, 
with its wishful eyes ever turned on her who had 
borne it in sin, and who had no heart to cheer it, 
for she was herself wretched. No loving word, 
aided it to shape its discordant articulations. The 
baleful breath of guilt, seared its young percep- 
tions, like a lava-stream. I longed to take it from 
the bosom of crime, and from those haggard and 
hateful brows, which were stamping upon it their 
own lineaments. And I never before so deeply re- 
alized the importance, that the little pilgrim of im- 
mortality should be taken at the veiy gate of life, 
into an atmosphere of innocence, and the cradle 
of love. 



MATERNAL LOVE. 45 

. 



LETTER V. 

MATERNAL LOVE. 

To love children, is the dictate of our nature. 
Apart from the promptings of kindred blood, it is 
a spontaneous tribute to their helplessness, their 
innocence, or their beauty. The total absence of 
this love induces a suspicion that the heart is not 
right. " Beware," said Lavater, " of him who hates 
the laugh of a child." "I love God, and every 
little child," was the simple, yet sublime sentiment 
of Richter. 

The man of the world pauses in his absorbing 
career, and claps his hands, to gain an infant's 
smile. The victim of vice gazes wishfully on the 
pure, open forehead of childhood, and retraces those 
blissful years that were free from guile. The man 
of piety loves that docility and singleness of heart, 
which drew from his Saviour's lips the blessed 
words, " of such is the kingdom of heaven." 

Elliot, the apostle of the Indians, amid his la- 
borious ministry, and rude companionship, shewed 
in all places the most marked attention to young 
children. In extreme age, when his head was 



46 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

white as the Alpine snows, he felt his heart warm 
at their approach. Many a pastor, whom he had 
assisted to consecrate, bore witness to the pathos 
of his appeal, the solemnity of his intonation, when 
he inquired, " Brother, lovest thou our Lord Jesus 
Christ? Then feed these lambs." 

The love of children, in man is a virtue: in 
woman, an element of nature. It is a feature of 
her constitution, a proof of His wisdom, who, hav- 
ing entrusted to her the burden of the early nur- 
ture of a whole race, gave that sustaining power 
which produces harmony, between her dispositions, 
and her allotted tasks. 

To love children, is a graceful lineament in 
the character of young ladies. Anxious as they 
usually are, to acquire the art of pleasing, they 
are not always aware what an attraction it im- 
parts to their manners. It heightens the influ- 
ence of beauty, and often produces a strong effect, 
where beauty is wanting. 

"Love children," said Madame de Maintenon, 
in her advice to the young dauphiness ; " whether 
for a prince or a peasant, it is the most amiable 
accomplishment." It was this very trait in her 
own character, that won the heart of Louis the 
Great. When she was governess of his children, 
and past the bloom of life, he surprised her one 
morning, in the royal nursery, sustaining with 
one arm, the oldest son, then feeble from the ef- 



MATERNAL LOVE. 47 

fects of a fever, rocking with the other hand a 
cradle, in which lay the infant princess, while on 
her lap reposed the sleeping infant. His tender- 
ness as a father, and his susceptibility as a man, 
accorded that deep admiration which would have 
been denied to the splendour of dress, the parade 
of rank, or the blaze of beauty. 

But how feeble are all the varieties of love, 
which childhood elicits, compared to that which 
exists in a mother's breast. Examine, I pray you, 
its unique nature, by contrast and comparison. 
We are wont to place our affections where our 
virtues are appreciated, or to fix our reliance where 
some benefit may be conferred. But maternal love 
is founded on utter helplessness. A wailing cry, 
a foot too feeble to bear the burdens of the body, 
an eye unable to distinguish the friend who feeds 
it, a mind more obtuse than the new-born lamb, 
which discerns its mother amid the flock, or the 
duckling that hastens from its shell to the stream, 
are among the elements of which it is compounded. 

It is able also to subsist without aliment. Other 
love requires the interchange of words or smiles, 
some beauty, or capability, or moral fitness, either 
existing, or supposed to exist. It is wont, as it 
advances in ardour, to exact a vow of preference, 
above all the world beside, and if need be, to guard 
this its Magna Charta, with the sting of reproach, 
or the fang of jealousy. It is scarcely proof against 



48 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

long absence, without frequent tokens of remem- 
brance, and its most passionate stage of existence 
may be checked by caprice. 

But I have seen a mother's love endure every 
test unharmed, and come forth from the refiner's 
furnace, purged from that dross of selfishness, which 
the heart is wont to find, among its purest gold. 
A widow expended on her only son, all the full- 
ness of her affection, and the little gains of her 
industry. She denied herself every superfluity, that 
he might receive the benefits of education, and 
the indulgences that boyhood covets. She sat si- 
lently by her small fire, and lighted her single 
candle, and regarded him with intense delight, as 
he amused himself with his books, or sought out 
the lessons for the following day. The expenses 
of his school were discharged by the labour of 
her hands, and glad and proud was she to be- 
stow on him, privileges, which her own youth 
had never been permitted to share. She believed 
him to be diligently acquiring the knowledge which 
she respected, but was unable to comprehend. His 
teachers, and his idle companions, knew other- 
wise. He, indeed, learned to astonish his simple 
and admiring parent, with high-sounding epithets, 
and technical terms, and to despise her for not 
understanding them. When she saw him discon- 
tented, at comparing his situation with that of 
others, who were above him in rank, she denied 



MATERNAL LOVE. 49 

herself almost bread, that she might add a luxury 
for his table, or a garment to his wardrobe. 

She erred in judgment, and he in conduct ; but 
her changeless love surmounted all. Still, there 
was little reciprocity, and every year diminished 
that little, in his cold and selfish heart. He re- 
turned no caress ; his manners assumed a cast of 
defiance. She strove not to perceive the altera- 
tion, or sadly solaced herself with the reflection, 
that "it was the nature of boys" 

He grew boisterous and disobedient. His re- 
turns to their humble cottage became irregular. 
She sat up late for him, and when she heard his 
approaching footstep, forgot her weariness, and wel- 
comed him kindly. But he might have seen re- 
proach written on the paleness of her loving brow, 
if he would have read its language. During those 
long and lonely evenings, she sometimes wept as 
she remembered him in his early years, when he 
was so gentle, and to her eye so beautiful. "But 
this is the nature of young- men" said her lame 
philosophy. So, she armed herself to bear. 

At length, it was evident that darker vices were 
making him their victim. The habit of intempe- 
rance could no longer be concealed, even from a 
love that blinded itself. The widowed mother 
remonstrated with unwonted energy. She was 
answered in the dialect of insolence and bru- 
tality. 

5 



60 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

He disappeared from her cottage. What she 
dreaded, had come upon her. In his anger, he 
had gone to sea. And now, every night, when 
the tempest howled, and the wind was high, she 
lay sleepless, thinking of him. She saw him, in 
her imagination, climbing the slippery shrouds, or 
doing the bidding of rough, unfeeling men. Again, 
she fancied that he was sick and suffering, with 
none to watch over him, or have patience with 
his waywardness, and her head, which silver hairs 
began to sprinkle, gushed forth, as if it were a 
fountain of waters. 

But hope of his return began to cheer her. 
When the new moon looked with its slender cres- 
cent in at her window, she said, " I think my boy 
will be here, ere that moon is old." And when 
it waned and went away, she sighed and said, 
" my boy will remember me." 

Years fled, and there was no letter, no recog- 
nition. Sometimes she gathered tidings from a 
comrade, that he was on some far sea, or in some 
foreign land. But no message for his mother. 
When he touched at some port in his native 
country, it was not to seek her cottage, but to 
spend his wages in revelry, and re-embark on a 
new voyage. 

Weary years, and no letter. Yet she had 
abridged her comforts, that he might be taught 
to write, and she used to exhibit his penmanship 



MATERNAL LOVE. 

with such pride. But she dismissed the reproach- 
ful thought. " It was the nature of sailors." 

Amid all these years of neglect and cruelty, 
Love lived on. When Hope refused nourishment, 
she asked food of Memory. She was satisfied with 
the crumbs from a table which must never be spread 
again. Memory brought the broken -bread which 
she had gathered into her basket, when the feast 
of innocence was over, and Love received it as 
a mendicant, and fed upon it and gave thanks, 
She fed upon the cradle-smile; upon the first ca- 
ress of infancy; upon the loving years of child- 
hood, when, putting his cheek to hers, he slum- 
bered the live-long night, or when teaching him 
to walk, he tottered with outstretched arms to her 
bosom, as a new-fledged bird to its nest. 

But Religion found this lonely widow, and 
communed with her at deep midnight, while the 
storm was raging without. It told her of a " name 
better than of sons or of daughters," and she 
was comforted. It bade her resign herself to the 
will of her Father in Heaven, and she found 
peace. 

It was a cold evening in winter, and the snow 
lay deep upon the earth. The widow sat alone 
by her little fire-side. The marks of early age 
had settled upon her. There was meekness on 
her brow, and in her hand a book from whence 
that meekness came. 



52 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

A heavy knock shook her door, and ere she 
could open it, a man entered. He moved with 
pain, like one crippled, and his red and downcast 
visage was partially concealed by a torn hat. 
Among those who had been familiar with his 
youthful countenance, only one, save the Being 
who made him, could have recognized him, through 
his disguise and misery. The mother looking 
deep into his eye, saw a faint tinge of that fair 
blue, which had charmed her, when it unclosed 
from the cradle-dream. 

"My son! My son!" 

Had the prodigal returned by a late repentance, 
to atone for years of ingratitude and sin ? I will 
not speak of the revels that shook the peaceful 
roof of his widowed parent, or of the profanity 
that disturbed her repose. The remainder of his 
history is brief. The effects of vice had debilitated 
his constitution, and once, as he was apparently 
recovering from a long paroxysm of intemperance, 
apoplexy struck his heated brain, and he lay a 
bloated and hideous carcase. 

The poor mother faded away, and followed him. 
She had watched over him, with a meek, nursing 
patience, to the last. Her love had never turned 
away from him, through years of neglect, brutality, 
and revolting wickedness. "Bearing all things, 
believing all things, hoping all things, enduring 
all things," was its motto. 



MATERNAL LOVE. 53 

Is not the same love in the hearts of us all, 
who are mothers? And wherefore has it been 
placed there, that deathless love? Sisters, why is 
it placed there? 

To expend itself in the physical care of our 
children, in the indulgence of their appetites? A 
nurse, or a servant, might do this, for money. 
To adorn their persons? That is the milliner's 
province. To secure showy accomplishments? A 
fashionable teacher will do this better. To spend 
itself on aught that earth can bestow? I pray 
you, not thus to degrade its essence or its mission. 

The wisdom that never errs, attempers means 
to ends. It proportions the strongest affections to 
the greatest needs. It arms the timid, domestic 
bird, with an eagle's courage, when its young are 
to be defended. It has implanted in our bosoms 
a love, next in patience to that of a Redeemer, 
that we may perform the ministry of an angel, 
and help to people with angels the court of 
Heaven. 



54 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER VI. 



WE all acknowledge the strength of habit. Its 
power increases with time. In youth, it may 
seem to us, like the filmy line of the spider; in 
age, like the fly caught in its toils, we struggle 
in vain. " Habit, if not resisted," says St. Augus- 
tine, "becomes necessity." 

The physical force of habit, is thus clearly 
illustrated by Dr. Combe: "A tendency to resume 
the same mode of action at stated times, is pe- 
culiarly the characteristic of the nervous system; 
and on this account, regularity is of great conse- 
quence in exercising the moral and intellectual 
powers. All nervous diseases have a marked ten- 
dency to observe regular periods, and the natural 
inclination to sleep at the approach of night, is 
another instance of the same fact. It is this prin- 
ciple of our nature, which promotes the formation 
of what are called habits. If we repeat any kind 
of mental effort every day at the same hour, we 
at last find ourselves entering upon it, without 
premeditation, when the time approaches." 



HABIT. 65 

This law of our nature, which is so often 
brought to bear upon intellectual progress, should 
be enlisted as an adjunct in moral education. 
Can we be too attentive to the habits that our 
children form 1 too assiduous that the virtues 
which we cherish in them, should have a deep 
root in correct principle? We wish them to be- 
come benevolent. The proper basis of their bene- 
volence, is sympathetic feeling, a desire for the 
comfort and improvement of others, in conformity 
to the command and example of their Heavenly 
Father. 

That fine sentiment of Terence, "I am a man, 
and therefore I feel for all mankind," might be 
uttered with additional emphasis by our sex, 
whose sympathies should be ever kept in action, 
by our own infirmities, dependences, and sorrows. 
Let us therefore, in our domestic teachings, strive 
to extirpate selfishness, especially from the breasts 
of our daughters. Selfishness is not to be en- 
dured in woman. In the catalogue of her faults, 
we do not expect to have forbearance with that. 
It wars with the nature of her duties, and sub- 
verts her happiness. It will be found on a com- 
parative analysis of character, that those females 
who through life have been distinguished for true 
goodness, were eminently disinterested. 

Forgetfulness of self, and that amiable temper 
which at once ensures and imparts happiness, are 



56 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

not adverse to decision of character. On the con- 
trary, their combination is natural, and necessary 
to produce high excellence. We are not told that 
the disciple who leaned on the breast of his 
Master, was deficient in decision of character, 
but we know that he possessed more of those 
amiable virtues which engage affection, than he, 
who "sudden and quick in quarrel," drew his 
sword, and smote the servant of the high-priest. 
The ardent temperament, which prompted the 
asseveration, "though I die with thee, I will not 
deny thee," is alluring ; but John withstood the 
shock of temptation, when Peter fell. 

To teach the science of self-government, is the 
great end of education. Every hint, to assist in 
promoting a correct balance of feeling, is impor- 
tant to the mother. She will probably, some- 
times, be annoyed, by a tendency to peevishness, 
in her little ones. Let her be doubly watchful 
against being fretful herself. Nothing is sooner 
caught, by those whose virtues are feeble, than 
the language of complaint. If we indulge in it 
ourselves, how can we hope to suppress it in our 
children? With what propriety can we reprove 
them? Let us check in their presence, every 
murmur that may rise to our lips, and teach 
them by our own cheerful manner, to walk with 
an open and admiring eye, through the picture- 
gallery of life. "Keep aloof from sadness," says 



HABIT. 57 

an Icelandic writer, of the 12th century, " for sad- 
ness is a sickness of the soul. Men would often 
give gold to buy back a passionate word, and 
nothing so destroys unity, as the exchange of evil 
language." 

Kind words, and affectionate epithets, between 
children of the same family, are delightful. Though 
the love of brothers and sisters is planted .deep in 
the heart, and seldom fails to reveal itself on every 
trying emergency, yet its developements and daily 
interchange, ask the regulation of paternal care. 
Competitions should be soothed, differences com- 
posed, and forbearance required, on the broad 
principle of that fraternal duty, which God has 
enjoined 

In familiar conversation, examples might be 
quoted from history, of the sweet exercise of fra- 
ternal affection, where the softening influences of 
the Christian religion were unknown. Some little 
listeners were once very pleasantly impressed, by 
hearing the story of the love of the Emperor 
Titus, for his brother Domitian. It was the more 
praise-worthy, because there was between them no 
congeniality of taste. Domitian often spoke un- 
kindly to his brother, and after his elevation to 
the throne, even attempted to instigate the army 
to rebellion. But Titus made no change in his 
treatment. He would not suffer others to men- 
tion him with disrespect. He ever spoke of him, 



58 LETTERS- TO MOTHERS. 

as his beloved brother, his successor to the em- 
pire. Sometimes, when they were alone, he ear- 
nestly entreated him with tears, to reciprocate that 
love which he had always borne him, and would 
continue to bear him, to the end of life. This 
fraternal attachment was the more affecting, because 
exemplified by a heathen, and partaking of the 
character of that precept of the religion of Jesus, 
to "render good for evil," which he could never 
have been taught. 

The deportment of the older children of the 
family, is of great importance to the young- 
er. Their obedience, or insubordination, operates 
throughout the whole circle. Especially, is the sta- 
tion of the eldest daughter, one of eminence. She 
drank the first draught of the mother's love. She 
usually enjoys most of her counsel, and compan- 
ionship. In her absence, she is the natural vice- 
roy. Let the mother take double pains to form 
her on a correct model ; to make her amiable, 
diligent, domestic, pious ; trusting that the image 
of those virtues, may leave impression on the 
soft, waxen hearts of the younger ones, to whom 
she may, in the providence of God, be called to fill 
the place of a maternal guide. 

Children should be required to treat domestics 
with propriety. Those, on whom the comfort of a 
family so essentially depends, are entitled to kind- 
ness and sympathy. The theory, that industry, 



HABIT. 59 

and good conduct, are worthy of respect, in what- 
ever rank they are found, cannot be too early 
illustrated and enforced on the members of a 
household. " Do not press your young children 
into book-learning," said Spurzheim, "but teach 
them politeness;" meaning the whole circle of 
charities, which spring from the consciousness of 
what is due to their fellow-beings. 

Be careful to teach your children gratitude. 
Lead them to acknowledge every favour that they 
receive, to speak of their benefactors, and to re- 
member them in their prayers. Accustom them 
to distinguish with a marked regard, their instruc- 
tors, and those who have aided them in the attain- 
ment of goodness or piety. It is an interesting 
circumstance in the life of Ann, Countess of Pem- 
broke, who was distinguished more than two cen- 
turies since, by her learning, her decision of char- 
acter, the languages she acquired, and the honours 
she enjoyed, that she erected a monument to the 
memory of her tutor, and always spoke of him 
.with the most affectionate veneration, as her 
guide in the rudiments of knowledge. 

Filial love should be cherished. It has espe- 
cially, a softening and ennobling effect, on the mas- 
culine heart. It has been remarked that almost 
all illustrious men, have been distinguished by love 
for their mother. It is mentioned by Miss Pardoe, 
that a " beautiful feature in the character of the 



60 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Turks, is reverence for the mother. Their wives 
may advise or reprimand, unheeded, but their 
mother is an oracle, consulted, confided in, listened 
to with respect and deference, honoured to the latest 
hour, and remembered with affection and regret 
even beyond the grave." " Wives may die," say 
they, "and we can replace them, children perish, 
and others may be born to us, but who shall 
restore the mother when she passes away, and is 
seen no more ?" 

Gratitude is a principal ingredient in filial affec- 
tion. It often reveals itself in a most touching 
manner, when parents moulder in the dust. It 
induces obedience to their precepts, and tender 
love for their memory. A little boy was once 
passing the ornamented garden of a rich man. 
He was observed to look earnestly and wishfully 
at some sprouts, that were germinating on the 
trunk of an old poplar. On being asked what he 
wanted, he said, "My..rnpther loved flowers, and 
every green, living thing. She has been dead two 
years, yet I have never planted one where she 
sleeps. I often wish to. I was just thinking how 
pretty, one of these would look there." The gen- 
tleman kindly gave him a rose-bush, and the fresh 
wand of a weeping willow. Then the poor, little 
fellow lifted up his streaming eyes, and gave 
thanks in a broken voice for himself, and for his 
dear, dead mother. 



HABIT. 61 

In developing the character of our children, let 
us ever keep in view their distinct departments, 
sentient, social, intellectual, accountable ; and give 
nutriment, and exercise, to each. Let us make 
them industrious, as a means of happiness, and a 
safeguard from temptation. The value of time 
should be taught them, even of its smallest parti- 
cles. Sir Walter Scott, in enforcing the senti- 
ment of Franklin, that " time is money," has well 
added, "when we change a guinea, the shillings 
escape, as things of small account ; so when we 
break a day by idleness in the morning, the rest 
of the hours lose their importance in our eyes." 
But from the highest of all motives, that for our 
days, hours, and moments, we must give account 
to God, should we warn our children to improve 
their time, and dread to waste it. 

Yet not in studies above their years, or in irk- 
some tasks, should children be employed. The 
joyous freshness of their young natures should be 
preserved, while they learn the duties that fit them 
for this life, and the next. Wipe away their 
tears. Remember, how hurtful are heavy rains to 
the tender blossom just opening on the day. Cher- 
ish their smiles. Let them learn to draw happiness 
from all surrounding objects : since there may be 
some mixture of happiness in every thing but sin. 
It was once said of a beautiful woman, that from 
her childhood, she had ever- spoke smiling, as if 
6 



62 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

the heart poured joy upon the lips, and they 
turned it into beauty. 

May I be forgiven, for so repeatedly pressing 
on mothers, to wear the lineaments of cheerful- 
ness? "To be good, and disagreeable, is high- 
treason against the royalty of virtue," said a cor- 
rect moralist. How much is it to be deprecated, 
// when _piety r _Ae_ only fountain of tru^Joy, fails 
of making that joy visible to every one. If hap- 
piness is melody of soul, the concord of our feel- 
ings with the circumstances of our lot, the harmony 
of our whole being, with the will of the Creator, 
how desirable that this melody should produce the 
response of sweet tones, and a smiling counte- 
nance, that even slight observers may be won 
by the charm of its external symbols. 

A mother, who was in the habit of asking her 
/ children, before they retired at night, what they 
had done through the day, to make others happy, 
found her young twin-daughters silent. The old- 
er ones spoke modestly of deeds and dispositions, 
founded on the golden rule, "do unto others, as 
you would that they should do unto you." Still 
those little, bright faces, were bowed down in se- 
rious silence. The question was repeated. "I 
can remember nothing good, all this day, dear 
mother. Only, one of my school-mates was 
happy, because she had gained the head of the 
class, and I smiled on her, and ran to kiss 



HABIT. 63 

her. So she said I was good. This is all, dear 
mother." 

The other spoke still more timidly. "A little 
girl who sat by me, on the bench at school, had 
lost a baby-brother. I saw that while she studied 
her lesson, she hid her face in the book and wept. 
I felt sorry, and laid my face on the same book, 
and wept with her. Then she looked up, and 
was comforted, and put her arms round my neck. 
But I do not know why she said, that I had done 
her good." 

The mother knew how to prize the first blos- 
somings of sympathy. She said, "Come to my 
arms, beloved ones ; to rejoice with those who re- 
joice, and weep with those who weep, is to obey 
our blessed Redeemer." 

Mothers, whatever you wish your children to 
become, strive to exhibit in your own lives and 
conversation. Do not send them into an unex- 
plored country, without a guide. Put yourselves 
at their head. Lead the way, like Moses, through 
the wilderness, to Pisgah. The most certain mode 
for you to fix habits, is the silent ministry of ex- 
ample. Thus impressed on the young mind, 
amid the genial atmosphere of a happy fire-side, 
they become incorporated with established trains 
of thought, and with the elements of being. They 
have their jjand upon the soul, till through the grave, 
and gate of death, it goes forth to the judgment. 



64 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

I knew the children of a family, who seemed 
always amiable. Their countenances wore the 
sunshine of the heart. Among their young as- 
sociates, they were obliging and kind. If there 
were mischief or trouble in school, they had 
neither " part or lot in the matter." Wherever 
they visited, not only their friends in the parlour, 
but the servants loved them, and wished them to 
continue long their guests. Those who were 
married, diffused throughout their households the 
spirit of order and happiness. On enquiring how 
they had been educated, I found that the mother 
had kept them much with herself, during the most 
plastic period of their existence, and that the rules 
which she had given them, had regulated her own 
conduct. The quiet beauty of example, and the 
influences of a happy fire-side, were the machi- 
nery which she had used, to render them amiable, 
benevolent and pious. 

A standard of good manners should be estab- 
lished in the family-circle. We appreciate the 
value of such manners, in mixed society. They 
are a letter of credit, in the hand of a stranger. 
So much is every person subject to their fascina- 
tion, that the unworthy study to acquire them, as 
a means of ensnaring their prey. Why should 
the wife, or the husband, lay aside those courte- 
sies, which are associated with the giowth, per- 
haps with the birth, of their love? Some writer 



HABIT. 65 

has remarked that the cardinal duties are claimed 
as rights, but the refined attentions, the watchful 
kindnesses, which make the stream of domestic 
life so sparkling, will ever rank as precious favours, 
which it is ungenerous to omit. They ought not 
indeed, to be omitted, were it only for the sake of 
the children, whose eyes are ever fixed upon the 
parents, in the spirit of imitation. It is not wise 
to exact from those little beings, the forms of eti- 
quette, which ceremonious intercourse prescribes. 
They too often demand the sacrifice of honesty 
of speech, and originality of character. Such 
observances vary with ranks, countries, and ages 
of the world, but the principles of true politeness 
are the same, resting on good will to man, and 
pointing to that more glorious attainment, the love 
of God. 

It was a high testimony to the fine manners of 
Mrs. Macauley, the accomplished historian, which 
was once borne by an intimate friend : " I have 
seen her exalted on the dangerous pinnacle of 
prosperity, surrounded by flattering friends, and 
an admiring world. I have seen her marked out 
by prejudice, as an object of dislike and ridicule. 
I have seen her bowed down, by bodily pain and 
weakness. But never did I see her forget the 
urbanity of a lady, the conscious dignity of a 
rational being, or fervent aspirations after the 
highest degree of attainable perfection." 



66 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Perhaps, we reflect too little on the courteous- 
ness of Jesus, our Master and Exemplar. " When 
ye come into an house," said he, " salute it." We 
all know, that the oriental modes of salutation 
involved much more of ceremony than our own. 
Still, the Saviour, who ever decried the giving 
of undue honour to men, sanctions and enjoins 
them at the entrance of every dwelling. Neither 
are these marks of respect to be reserved for 
those whom we best love, or most desire to con- 
ciliate. "If ye salute your brethren only, what 
do ye more than others? Do not even the pub- 
licans so?" The inference is obvious, that all 
should be treated with respectful regard, as beings 
formed by the same Creator, children of one great 
family. 

From his disciples, though not educated'in re- 
finement, or called from among the ranks of the 
rich and noble, do we not receive the same in- 
struction? Was it not a humble fisherman, who 
inspired by the religion of the skies, said, " be 
courteous?" The courtesy of a Christian is no 
trifling part of education. Mothers, teach it to 
your children. 

Let us, during the whole process of their edu- 
cation, feel and fear the omnipotence of habit. 
For if the toiling atom beneath the waters is 
able to construct a reef which may make the 
proudest ship a wreck, shall we dare to look 



HABIT. 67 

upon the slightest evil habit, and say it is harm- 
Jess 1 Though its work may have been done 
secretly as under the flood, yet the cry of a lost 
soul may be its herald at the judgment. 



68 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

LETTER VII. 

HEALTH. 

WE have all of us seen, with pity and regret, 
a sickly mother, burdened with the cares of her 
household. She has felt that there were em- 
ployments which no one could discharge as well 
as herself; modifications of duty, in which the 
interest of her husband, the welfare of her chil- 
dren, the comfort of her family, were concerned, 
which could not be deputed to another, without 
loss. Therefore, she continues to exert herself, 
above, and beyond her strength. 

Still, her step is languid, and her eye joyless. 
The "spirit indeed is. willing, but the flesh is 
weak." Her little ones observe her dejected man- 
ner, and grow sad. Or, they take advantage of 
her want of energy, and become lawless. She, 
herself, cannot long persist in a course of labour, 
that involves expense of health, without some 
mental sympathy. The most amiable temper will 
sometimes become irritable, or complaining, when 
the shrinking nerves require rest, and the demands 
of toil, and the claims upon painful thought, are 



HEALTH. 69 

perpetual. Efforts, which, to one in health, are 
like dew-drops shaken from the eagle's wing, seem 
to the invalid, like the ascent of the Alps, or like 
heaping Pelion upon Ossa. 

Admitting that a sickly woman has sufficient 
self-controul, to repel the intrusion of fretfulness, 
and preserve a subdued equanimity, this, though 
certainly deserving of praise, is falling short of 
what she would wish to attain. The meek look 
of resignation, though it may cost her much to 
maintain, is not all that a husband wishes, who, 
coming from the vexed atmosphere of business 
or ambition, would fain find in his home, the 
smile of cheerfulness, the playful charm of a 
mind at ease. Men prize more than we are 
aware, the health-beaming countenance, the elas- 
i tic step, and all those demonstrations of domes- 
tic order, in which unbroken activity delights. 
They love to see a woman equal to her own 
duties, and performing them with pleasure. They 
do not like to have the principal theme of domes- 
tic conversation a detail of physical ills, or to be 
expected to question like a physician, into the 
variety of symptoms which have supervened since 
their departure. Or if this is occasionally borne 
with a good grace, where ill health is supposed 
to be temporary, yet the saddening effects of an 
enfeebled constitution cannot always be resisted, 
by him who expected in his wife a " yoke-fellow," 



70 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

able to endure the rough roads and sharp ascents 
of life. A nature, possessing great capacities for 
sympathy and tenderness, may doubtless be im- 
proved by the exercise of those capacities. Still 
the good gained, is only from the patient, or per- 
haps, the Christian endurance of a disappointment. 
But where those capacities do not exist, and 
where religious principle is absent, the perpetual 
influence of a sickly and mournful wife is as a 
blight upon those prospects which allure men to 
matrimony. Follies, and lapses into vice, may be 
sometimes traced to those sources which robe 
home in gloom. 

There are, indeed, instances of manly affection 
so generous and devoted, as never to be weary of 
the office of a comforter, where years of helpless 
sickness in the object of its choice have only the 
effect of increasing its own fervid constancy. We 
have, doubtless, all witnessed it, and felt that it 
was above earthly praise. Yet, there is often so 
much of political economy, mingling with matri- 
mony, that though the combination cannot be com- 
mended, it is still necessary to take the world 
much as we find it, and adapt precepts rather to 
the general state of things, than to those beautiful 
exceptions, which are "few, and far between." 

We have often beheld sickness endured with 
such angelic serenity, with so evident a brighten- 
ing of every Christian grace, that the healthful 



HEALTH. 71 

and happy have sought its chamber of discipline, 
feeling that it was as the "very gate of heaven." 
The smile of chastened resignation has a beauty, ^ 
an eloquence, which the flush of prosperity may 
not boast. The young, seated by the pillow of 
such a monitor, are in the way of wisdom. Suf- \X 
fering endured with holy acquiescence, sublimates 
the character and conforms it to its Divine Ex- 
emplar. 

Still I have thought it right to give a strong 
delineation of the disappointed earthly hope, which 
a broken constitution often creates^that I might i -"" 
incite mothers to early attention to the health of 
their daughters, " if by any means, I might provoke 
to emulation, these which are my flesh, and might 
save some of them." 

But if to manhood, the influence of perpetual 
debility, in the partner of its joys, is so dispiriting, 
how much more oppressive is it to those little ones, 
who are by nature allied to gladness. Childhood, 
whose birthright is its innocent joy, must hush 
its sportive laugh, and repress its merry footstep, 
as if its plays were sins. Or if the diseased nerves 
of the mother do not habitually impose such sacri- 
fices, it learns from nature's promptings, to fashion 
its manners, or its voice, or its countenance, after 
the melancholy model of the sufferer whom it 
loves, and so forfeits its beautiful heritage of 
young delight. Those sicknesses to which the 



72 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

most robust are subject, by giving exercise to 
self-denial, and offices of sympathy from all the 
members of a household, are doubtless, often bless- 
ed as the means of improvement, and the messen- 
gers which draw more closely the bonds of true 
affection. 

But it must be sufficiently obvious, that I speak 
of that want of constitutional vigour, or of that 
confirmed feebleness of habit, which either create 
inability for the duties, which in our country de- 
volve upon a wife, a mother, and mistress of a 
family, or cause them to be discharged in languor 
and wretchedness. And I speak of them, that the 
attention of those, who conduct the earliest phy- 
sical education of females, may be quickened to 
search how evils of such magnitude may be 
obviated. 

Mothers, is there any thing we can do, to ac- 
quire for our daughters a good constitution ? Is 
there truth in the sentiment sometimes repeated, 
that our sex is becoming more and more effemi- 
nate? Are we as capable of enduring hardship 
as our grand-mothers were ? Are we as well 
versed in the details of house-keeping, as able to 
bear them without fatigue, as our mothers ? Have 
our daughters as much stamina of constitution, 
as much aptitude for domestic duty, as we our- 
selves possess? These questions are not interest- 
ing to us simply as individuals. They affect the 



HEALTH. 73 

welfare of the community. For the ability or in- 
ability of woman to discharge what the Almighty 
has committed to her, touches the equilibrium of vx 
society, and the hidden springs of existence. 

Tenderly interested as we are for the health 
of our offspring, let us devote peculiar attention 
to that of our daughters. Their delicate frames 
require more care, in order to become vigorous, 
and are in more danger through the prevalence 
of fashion. Frequent and thorough ablutions, a 
simple and nutritious diet, we undoubtedly secure 
for all our children. 

But I plead for the little girl, that she may 
have air and exercise, as well as her brother, and 
that she may not be too much blamed, if in her 
earnest play she happen to tear, or soil her ap- 
parel. I plead that she be not punished as a 
romp, if she keenly enjoy those active sports 
which city gentility proscribes. I plead that the 
ambition to make her accomplished, do not chain 
her to her piano, till the spinal column which Q^ 
should consolidate the frame, starts aside like a ^ V^vC/^ 
broken reed; nor bow her over her book, till the o^ 3 
vital energy which ought to pervade the whole 
system, mounts into the brain, and kindles the 
death-fever. 

Mothers, if you would do your duty, get a trea- 
tise on Anatomy, and become familiar with its 
rudiments. At least, acquaint yourself with the 
7 






74 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

physiology of the skin, the lungs, the circulation 
of the blood, and the digestive organs. I cannot 
flatter myself that I am imparting any thing new, 
when I mention that the former is composed of 
three laminae or layers, and that the inner one is 
a tissue of nerves and blood-vessels, so minute, 
that the point of the finest needle cannot be 
introduced without puncturing some of them. 
Through these ever-open, and invisible pores, the 
waste matter of our continually changing bodies 
escapes, equalling in weight more than twenty 
ounces every twenty-four hours. This evacua- 
tion, if checked, so overtaxes other excretory or- 
gans, as to produce disease, and if retained on 
the surface, and returned through the absorbents, 
acts as a poison in the system. Daily and entire 
ablution, with correspondent friction, is necessary 
to preserve in a healthful state, an organ of such 
great importance to the animal economy. 

The sympathy between the skin and lungs is 
so established, and intimate, that a neglected state 
of the former has much to do with the produc- 
tion and progress of pulmonary disease, that fre- 
quent and favourite messenger of death. Food, 
after being received into the stomach, sends forth 
its nutritive portions, in the form of chyle, to be 
mingled with the blood. This junction is formed 
at the right side of the heart, but the mixture of 
new and old fluid is not fitted to sustain life, until 



HEALTH. 75 

propelled through the left side of the heart, it is 
submitted by the agency of the lungs to the air. 
Then taking its true colour, it is transmitted 
through the arteries to the most remote extremity, 
and called back ugain from its life-giving visits, 
to pass review in its sleepless citadel. Thus the 
whole volume of blood, which in an adult is 
from three to four gallons, passes once every 
three minutes through the heart, on its way to 
and from the lungs. And those unresting la- 
bourers, the heart and lungs, from the first mo- 
ment of existence, till we return to dust, continue 
their labours, independent of our volition, won- 
drous symbols of that Almighty goodness, which, 
whether we wake or sleep, is "new every morn- 
ing, fresh every moment." 

Outlines of the mysterious mechanism of our 
clay-temple, we ought certainly to study, that we 
need not, through ignorance, interfere with those 
laws on which its organization depends. Ren- 
dered precious, by being the shrine of an undying 
spirit, our ministrations for its welfare assume an 
almost fearful importance. Appointed as the mother 
is, to guard the harmony of its architecture, to 
study the arts on which its symmetry depends, 
she is forced to perceive how much the mind is 
affected by the circumstances of its lodgement, 
and is incited to cherish the mortal, for the sake 
of the immortal. 



76 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Does she attach value to the gems of intel- 
lect? Let her see that the casket which contains 
them, be not lightly endangered, or carelessly 
broken. Does she pray for the welfare of the 
soul? Let her seek the good of its companion, 
who walks with it to the gate of the grave, and 
rushes again to its embrace on the morning of 
the resurrection. 

As the testimony of medical men has de- 
servedly great weight, on subjects of this nature, 
permit me to offer to the attention of mothers a 
few passages from Dr. Comstock's Physiology: 

" It is well known to physiologists, that if pres- 
sure be made, and continued on any part of the 
system, the part so pressed, will be gradually di- 
minished. Thus, if one limb be tightly bandaged, 
for a length of time, it will become smaller than 
the other. 

" To understand the reason of this, it is neces- 
sary to state, that every part of the system is 
furnished with two sets, or kinds of vessels, called 
capillaries ; one set being designed to secrete, or 
produce; the other, to absorb, or remove. In the 
living animal, both these kinds are constantly per- 
forming their opposite functions. 

" The flesh, and all the other parts of the body, 
are formed by the secretory system, which con- 
sists of the fine extremities of the arteries. The 
food being converted into chyle, by the process 



HEALTH. 77 

of digestion, is conveyed into the circulation, to 
be converted into blood. From the blood thus, 
formed, the secreting vessels produce all the dif- 
ferent kinds of substance, of which the several 
parts of the animal system are composed ; one di- 
vision forming flesh, another cartilage, and another 
bone. 

" On the contrary, the absorbent system takes up 
the various fluids, which are either employed in 
the process of secretion, or, having performed that 
office, are to be conveyed out of the body. The 
absorbents take up the chyle, by millions of mouths, 
and deliver it into the circulation. They also 
absorb the superabundant moisture, which is se- 
creted in eveiy interior part of the body; and 
consequently, did they cease to act, this watery 
fluid would accumulate, and an universal dropsy 
ensue. This disease is owing to the deficient 
action of the absorbents. 

"Such being the appropriate functions of these 
two great systems of vessels, distributed in every 
part of the animal frame, it is plain, that the iden- 
tical particles of which they are composed, are 
perpetually changing, so that in this respect, we 
are not the same individuals now that we were 
formerly, nor will our bodies, at a future time, 
contain a particle of the identical matter which 
they do at this moment. In childhood and youth, 
while the frame is growing, the secretion js. greater 



78 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

than the absorption ; in adults, and the middle 
aged, the effects of the two systems are equal ; 
but in old age, the absorption is greater than the 
secretion : hence, the weight and dimensions of 
the body are diminished, and the skin, instead of 
preserving its tension, becomes wrinkled, in con- 
sequence of the loss of a part of the bulk it had 
been accustomed to cover. 

"In applying these principles to the use of stays, 
it is almost unnecessary to say, that during the 
growth of the system, pressure on any of its 
parts, though it be inconsiderable in force, yet, if 
long continued, will prevent their increase; and 
this, not only for want of room to expand, but 
also, by interfering with the functions of the se- 
creting system in that part. Beside this obvious 
effect of confinement, during the growth of the 
system, it is well known, that in the adult, as well 
as in the young, pressure will also diminish any 
part on which it is made. Not only the soft and 
fleshy portions may be thus absorbed and removed, 
but even the bones do not resist the power of 
these minute vessels ; portions of their solid parts 
being sometimes carried away by their action. 

" The pressure of stays around the waist, it is 
quite clear, from the foregoing principles, must, 
in youth, and while the system is growing, pre- 
vent the full developement of the muscles of the 
back, by presenting an impediment to their in- 



HEALTH. 79 

crease of bulk. Even if not assumed, till the sys- 
tem has nearly or quite attained its full size, as 
at the age of sixteen, or nineteen, still the conse- 
quences may be equally pernicious, since the form, 
in this case, will be supposed to require a degree 
of tension in the lacing-cords, somewhat propor- 
tionate to the time they have been omitted. The 
effect will therefore be, to increase the absorption, 
and diminish the secretion of the parts pressed 
upon, and thus to reduce the bulk, and, conse- 
quently, the strength and vigour of the muscles. 

" Now, the spinal column is chiefly supported in 
its erect position by those strong muscles of the 
back, called the dorsal muscles ; and if, by any 
means, these are diminished in bulk, or vigour, 
the spine will inevitably become distorted ; and, 
as we have shown that tight lacing produces the 
first effect, so it is equally certain that the last 
will follow. 

"We have nothing to do with the mere ex- 
travagances, or follies, if they exist, of the female 
costume in the present day; our design being 
only to speak of such fashions, or habits of dress- 
ing, as produce deformity and disease: and on 
these subjects, there are facts so common and so 
deplorable, that they ought to induce thousands 
to raise their voices and their authority against 
the practices to which their origin is so plainly 
to be traced." 



80 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Counselled clearly as we have thus been, on 
the tendency of compression, to produce diseases 
of the spine, we ought to be ever awake to its 

v danger in the region of the heart and lungs. A 
slight ligature there, in the earlier stages of life, 
is fraught with danger. To disturb or impede 
those labourers, who turn the wheels of life, both 
night and day, how absurd and ungrateful. Sam- 
son was bound in fetters, and ground in the 
prison-house, for a while, but at length he crushed 
the pillars of the temple, and the lords of the 
Philistines perished with him. Nature, though she 
may be long in resenting a wrong, never forgets 

v it. Against those who violate her laws, she often 
rises as a giant in his might, and when they 
least expect it, inflicts a fearful punishment. 

Fashion seems long enough to have attacked 
health in its strong-holds. She cannot even prove 
that she has rendered the form more graceful, as 
some equivalent for her ravages. In ancient 

'<* Greece, to whom our painters and sculptors still 
look for the purest models, was not the form left 
untutored? the volume of the lungs allowed free 
play? the heart permitted, without manacles, to 
do the great work which the Creator assigned it? 
The injuries iftflicted by compression of the 
vital parts, are too numerous to be here recounted. 
Impaired digestion, obstructed circulation, pulmo- 
nary disease, and nervous wretchedness, are in 



HEALTH. 81 

their train. A physician, distinguished by practi- 
cal knowledge of the Protean forms of insanity, 
asserted, that he gained many patients from that 
cause. Another medical gentleman of eminence, 
led by philanthropy, to investigate the subject of 
tight lacing, has assured the public that multitudes 
annually die by the severe discipline of busk and 
corset. His theory is sustained by collateral proof, 
and illustrated by dissections. 

It is not sufficient, that we mothers protect our 
younger daughters while more immediately under 
our authority, from such hurtful practices. We 
should follow them, until a principle is formed 
by which they can protect themselves against the 
tyranny of fashion. It is true, that no young lady 
acknowledges herself to be laced too tight. Habits 
that shun the light, and shelter themselves in sub- 
terfuge, are ever the most difficult to eradicate. 
A part of the energy which is essential to their 
reformation, must be expended in hunting them 
from their hiding-places. Though the sufferer 
from tight lacing will not own herself to be uncom- 
fortable, the laborious respiration, the suffused 
countenance, the constrained movement, perhaps 
the curved spine, bear different testimony. 

But in these days of diffused knowledge, of 
heightened education, is it possible that any female 
can put in jeopardy the enjoyment of health, even 
the duration of existence, for a circumstance of 



82 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

dress 1 Will she throw an illusion over those who 
strive to save her, and like the Spartan culprit, 
conceal the destroyer that feeds upon her vitals? 
We know that it is so. Who that has tested the 
omnipotence of fashion will doubt it ? This is, by 
no means, the only sacrifice of health that she 
imposes. But it is a prominent one. Let us, who 
are mothers, look to it. Let us be fully aware of 
the dangers of stricture on the lungs and heart, 
during their season of developement. 

Why should we not bring up our daughters, 
without any article of dress which could disorder 
the seat of vitality. Our sons hold themselves 
erect, without busk or corset, or frame-work of 
whalebone. Why should not our daughters also? 
Did not God make them equally upright? Yes. 
But they have " sought out many inventions." 

Let us educate a race who shall have room to 
breathe. Let us promise, even in their cradle, 
that their hearts shall not be pinioned as in a vice, 
nor their spines bent like a bow, nor their ribs 
forced into the liver. Doubtless, the husbands 
and fathers of the next generation will give us 
thanks. 

Yet, if we would engage in so formidable a 
work, we must not wait until morbid habits have 
gathered strength. Our labour must be among 
the elements of character. We must teach in the 
nursery, that " the body is the temple of the Holy 



HEALTH. 83 

Ghost." We must leave no place in the minds 
of our little ones, for the lunatic sentiment, that 
the mind's healthful action, and the integrity of 
the organs on which it operates, are secondary to 
the vanities of external decoration. If they have 
received from their Creator, a sound mind, and 
a sound body, convince them that they are account- 
able for both. If they deliberately permit injury 
to either, how shall they answer for it before their 
Judge ? 

And how shall the mother answer it, in whose 
hand the soul of her child was laid, as a waxen 
tablet, if she suffer Fashion to cover it with fan- 
tastic images, and Folly to puff out her feverish 
breath, melting the lines that Wisdom pencilled 
there, till what Heaven would fain have polished 
for itself, loses the fair impression, and becomes 
like common earth. 



84 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER VIII. 

ECONOMY. 

I HAVE a few words to say to mothers on a 
point of domestick economy. In a country like 
ours, where there are few large estates, and where 
almost every father of a family is subjected to some 
kind of labour, either for the maintenance of those 
who are dear, or the preservation of possessions on 
which they are to depend when he shall be taken 
from them, the duty of the " help-meet," to lighten 
as far as possible these burdens, by a consistent 
economy, is too obvious to need illustration. To 
adapt whatever may be entrusted to her care, to 
the best ends, and to make it subservient to the 
greatest amount of good, should be her daily study. 
There is, perhaps, no community of women, who 
more faithfully, or dexterously, than the wives and 
mothers of New England, carry this wisdom and 
forethought into all the details of that science by 
which the table is spread, and the apparel adapted, 
to the ever-changing seasons. The same judgment 
which so admirably regulates food and clothing, it 
would be desirable to apply to another and a higher 



ECONOMY. 85 

department. It is to mothers, with the care of 
young children, that these remarks on economy 
are peculiarly addressed. They have the charge 
of immortal beings, whose physical, mental and 
moral temperament, are for a long period, exclu- 
sively in their hands. Nothing save the finger of 
God has written on the tablet, when it is commit- 
ted to them. It is important that they secure time 
to form deep and lasting impressions. 

Let them, therefore, devote their first strength, 
and their utmost effort, to the highest duties. The 
heart soon developes itself, and asks culture. 
Through the feelings and affections it bursts forth, 
even while the infant is considered not to have 
advanced beyond animal nature. The preferences, 
the passions, reveal themselves, like the young 
tendrils of the vine, reaching out feebly and 
blindly. The mother must be assiduous, in teach- 
ing them where to twine. While the character 
of the babe is forming, let every action and indi- 
cation of motive be a subject of observation. But 
how can she be adequate to this, if the whole atten- 
tion to the personal comfort of several young chil- 
dren devolves upon herself? If she is to make 
and mend their articles of dress, bear them in her 
arms during their period of helplessness, and exhaust 
herself by toils throughout the day, and watchings 
by night, how can she have leisure to study their 
varying shades of disposition, and adapt to each 
8 



86 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

the fitting mode of discipline, as the skilful gardener 
suits the plant to the soil ? Will she not be some- 
times moved to apostrophize them, like the leader 
of the wandering, repining Israelites, "how can 
I alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, 
and your strife?" 

The remedy is, for the mother to provide her- 
self with competent assistance, in the sphere of 
manual labour, that she may be enabled to become 
the constant directress of her children, and have 
leisure to be happy in their companionship. This 
would seem to be a rational economy. The thrifty 
village-matron, when she returns from church, 
takes off her Sunday dress, and deposites it in its 
accustomed place, substituting one better fitted to 
her household duties. She is not blamed for pre- 
serving her most valuable garment for its appro- 
priate uses. Let every mother pay herself the 
same respect, which the good farmer's lady pays 
her " bettermost gown :" not the homage of a 
miserly parsimony, but a just protection in fresh- 
ness and order, for fitting and dignified offices, 

" My husband cannot afford to hire a nurse for 
the little ones," said a young friend. "We have 
so many, that we must economize." 

Her mother suggested that the expenditure 
should be saved in some other department of 
housekeeping, in the toilette, or in luxurious en- 
tertainment. But the counsel was not accepted 



ECONOMY. 87 

by the daughter, who, in her zeal for economy, 
failed to comprehend its elementary principles. 

She commenced her task with vigour, and con- 
fidence in the correctness of her own decision. 
Sickness in the various forms that mark the pro- 
gress of dentition, and neglect of slight diseases 
in their first symptoms, came upon her young 
family. Uninstructed by experience, she gave 
powerful medicines for trifling maladies, or sum- 
moned and teazed physicians, when Nature was 
simply perfecting her own operations. The chil- 
dren who had emerged from infancy, were in- 
dulging bad dispositions, and acquiring improper 
habits. She knew it. But what could she do? 
She was depressed by fatigue. The wardrobe of 
her numerous little ones continually required her 
attention. It would not do for them to be un- 
fashionably clad, or appear worse than their neigh- 
bours. So, the soul being most out of sight, must 
suffer most. Blindness to evil, or hasty punish- 
ment, rendering it still more inveterate, were the 
only resources of her hurried and hurrying mode 
of existence. For her, there seemed no rest. If 
health returned to her young family, mental dis- 
eases were disclosed. She became spiritless, ner- 
vous and discouraged. She was harrassed by the 
application of force among the inferior machinery. 
When it was necessary that power should be 
brought to bear upon the minds committed to 



88 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

her care, she was painfully conscious that her 
energies had spent themselves in other channels. 
Running up the shrouds like a ship-boy, the helm, 
where she should stand, was left unguided. The 
pilot, steering among rocks, does not weary him- 
self with the ropes and rigging, which a common 
sailor as well manages, and better understands. 

The temper and constitution of the young 
mother became equally impaired. Her .husband 
complained of the bad conduct and rude manners 
of the children. " What could she do ? She was 
sure there was nothing but toil and trouble, by 
night, and by day." This was true. There was 
an error in economy. The means were not adapt- 
ed to their highest ends. She was an educated 
woman, and a Christian. Her children should 
have reaped the advantage of her internal wealth, 
as soon as their unfolding minds cast forth the 
first beam of intelligence. But she led the life 
of a galley-slave, and their heritage was in pro- 
portion. 

Is this an uncommon example 1 Have we not 
often witnessed it? Have we not ourselves ex- 
hibited some of its lineaments ? 

The proposed remedy, is to employ an efficient 
person in the nurse's department. I say efficient, 
for the young girls, to whom this responsibility is 
sometimes entrusted, are themselves an additional 
care. I am not willing," said a judicious father, 






ECONOMY. 



"to place my infant in the arms of one, with 
whom I would not trust an expensive glass dish." 
Half-grown girls are not the proper assistants to a 
young mother. They themselves need her super- 
intendence, and create new demands on time 
already too much absorbed. 

"I know she is small," says the mistaken pa- 
rent, "but she will do to hold a baby" 

Holding a baby, is not so slight a vocation 
as many suppose. Physicians assert that defor- 
mity is often produced, by keeping an infant in 
those uneasy positions to which a feeble arm re- 
sorts ; and health and life have been sacrificed 
to accidents and falls, through the carelessness, 
or impatience, of an over-wearied girl. The ar- 
gument for the substitution of an immature nurse, 
drawn from the circumstance of the saving of 
expense, is doubtless futile ; for the apparel and 
means of education, which a conscientious per- 
son feels bound to provide for a young girl, 
will equal the wages of a woman. In many 
departments of domestic labour, the help of mi- 
nors is both pleasant and profitable ; and the lady 
who brings them up properly, confers a benefit 
on the community, and may secure to herselfj 
lasting gratitude and attachment. 

But the physical welfare of infancy is of such 
immense importance, that it seems desirable that 
those whom the mother associates with herself 
8* 



90 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

in this department, should have attained full 
strength, both of mind and body. Moral integ- 
rity, patient and kind dispositions, industrious 
habits, and religious principles, are essential to the 
faithful discharge of these deputed duties, and 
to render that influence safe, which they will ne- 
cessarily acquire over the little being whose com- 
fort they promote. Such qualities are deserving 
of respect, in whatever station they may be 
found ; and I would suggest, both as a point of 
policy and justice, the attaching higher consider- 
ation to the office of a nurse, when her charac- 
ter comprises them. If the nurture of an immor- 
tal being for immortality is an honourable work, 
and if its earliest impressions are allowed to be 
most indelible, those who minister to its humblest 
wants, partake in some measure of its elevated 
destiny; as the porters and Levites derived dig- 
nity from the temple-service, though they might 
not wear the Urim and Thummim of the High- 
Priest, or direct the solemn sacrifices, when the 
flame of Heaven descended upon the altar. 

To the inquiry, why this kind of assistance is 
more needed by the mother in our own days, 
than by her of the "olden time," by whom the 
care of children, the operations of the needle, the 
mysteries of culinary science, and all the com- 
plicated duties of housekeeping, were simultane- 
ously performed, without failure or chasm, the 



ECONOMY. 91 

natural reply is, that the structure of society is 
different, and from an educated parent, the mod- 
ern system of division of labour asks new and 
extended effort. She requires aid, not that she \ 
may indulge in indolence, but that she may de- 
vote the instruments entrusted to her to their 
legitimate uses. There is, perhaps, no sphere of 
action, where indolence is both so fatal and so 
sinful, as in that of a mother of young children. 
She is a sentinel who should never sleep at her 
post. She cannot be long relieved without hazard, 
or exchanged without loss. She should therefore 
be careful of her strength, her health, and her 
life, for her children^ sake. If she employ a 
subaltern, it is that she may give herself more 
exclusively to their highest and best interests. 

Let her be persuaded, whatever may be the de- 
mands upon her time, or then: advantages for 
gaining knowledge from other sources, to spend 
systematically a portion of time in their daily 
instruction. Let her also be with them, when 
they retire at night, to review the day's little 
gatherings and doings, and to point the tender 
spirit to the Giver of all its gifts. Let the period 
devoted to them, be as far as possible uninterrupt- 
ed by the presence of others, and chosen, in the 
morning, before care has seized the teacher's mind, 
or temptation saddened the beloved pupil. Let 
the time be spent in reading some book adapted 



92 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

to their comprehension, which conveys useful 
knowledge or moral and religious instruction, 
questioning them respecting its contents, and add- 
ing such illustrations, as the subject, or their pe- 
culiar state of intellect and feeling, may render 
appropriate ; having it always understood, that at 
night, some recapitulation will be expected of the 
lessons of the day. 

The mother who regularly does this, will find 
herself in the practice of a true and palpable 
economy. She will be induced to furnish herself 
with new knowledge, and to simplify it, for those 
whom she seeks to train up for the kingdom of 
heaven. She will not strive to combine fashion- 
able amusement, or dissipation of thought, with 
her solemn and delightful obligations. She will 
labour as "ever in her Great Task-Master's Eye," 
to do for the minds and souls of her children, 
that which none can perform as well as herself, 
which, if she neglects, may not be done at all, 
and which, if left undone, will be a loss, for 
which Eternity must pay. 



EARLY CULTURE. 



LETTER IX. 

EARLY CULTURE. 

WHO can compute the value of the first seven 
years of life? Who can tell the strength of im- 
pressions, made ere the mind is pre-occupied, pre- 
\ judiced, or perverted ? Especially, if in its wax- 
/en state, it is softened by the breath of a mother, 
will not the seal which she stamps there, resist 
the mutations of time, and be read before the 
Throne of the Judge, when the light of this sun 
and moon are quenched and extinct? 

We are counselled on this point by the hum- 
blest analogies. Does not he who would train a 
dog, or tame a tiger, or exhibit an elephant for 
gain, begin his system early, before time has ren- 
dered the muscles rigid, or rooted ferocity in 
habit, or set bounds to sagacity by impairing the 
docile spirit? And is animal nature worthy of 
more earnest effort than intellectual? or can mo- 
tives of gain, be compared with the hallowed im- 
pulses that move parents to seek the good of 
their offspring? 

The husbandman wakes early, though the 



94 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

mother sleeps. He scarcely waits for the breath 
of spring to unbind the soil, ere he marks out his 
furrow. If he neglected to prepare the ground, 
he might as well sow his seed by the -way-side, 
or upon the rock. If he deferred the vernal toil, 
till the suns of summer were high, what right 
would he have to expect the autumn-harvest, or 
the winter-store? The florist mingles his com- 
post, he proportions warmth and moisture, he is 
patient and watchful, observant of the atmosphere 
and of the seasons, else he knows that his richest 
bulbs would be cast away. Should the teacher 
of the infant heart be less diligent than the corn- 
planter, or the culturer of a tulip? 

The industry displayed in the various trades 
and occupations, should be a stimulant to the 
mother, who modifies a material more costly 
than all others, more liable to destruction by 
brief neglect. The hammer of the early work- 
man admonishes her not to wait till the "burden 
and heat of the day." Is the manufacturer of 
delicate fabricks inattentive to the nature of the 
fleece which he purchases, or to the lineage of 
the flock that produced it? Are not the most 
refined processes of the loom affected by the 
character of the leaf on wliich the silk-worm fed, 
or the fibre of the flax that is broken like a 
malefactor upon the wheel? The artizan who 
is ambitious to spread the most snowy and per- 



EARLY CULTURE. 95 

feet sheet for the writer's pen, is he indifferent 
whether the pulp be pure? if he would tinge it 
with the cerulean or the rose-tint, does he ne- 
glect to infuse the colouring matter with the ele- 
mental mass ? Is the builder of a lofty and mag- 
nificent edifice careless of its foundations, and 
whether its columns are to rest upon a quick- 
sand, or a quagmire? And should the maternal 
guardian of an immortal being, be less anxious, 
less skilful, less scrupulous, than the worker in 
wool and silk, in linen and paper, or than the 
artificer in brick and stone? Shall the imperish- 
able gem of the soul, be less regarded than the 
"wood, hay, and stubble," that moulder or con- 
sume around it? 

Mothers, take into your own hands the early 
instruction of your children. Commence with 
simple stories, from the Scriptures, from the va- 
ried annal of history, from your own observa- 
tion of mankind. Let each illustrate some moral 
or religious truth, adapted to convey instruction, 
reproof, or encouragement, according to your know- 
ledge of the character and disposition of your be- 
loved students. Care and study may be requi- 
site to select, adapt, and simplify. But can any 
do this so patiently as a mother, who feels that 
her listening pupil is a part of herself? 

Cultivate in your children, tenderness of con- 
science, a deep sense of accountability to God, a 



96 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

conviction that their conduct must be regulated 
by duty, and not by impulse. Read to them 
books of instruction, selected with discrimination, 
or make use of them as texts for your ewn com- 
mentary. In your teachings of religion, avoid 
all points of sectarian difference, and found the 
morality which you inculcate, on the Scriptures 
of truth. Give one hour every morning to the 
instruction of your children, one undivided hour 
to them alone. Ere they retire, secure, if possi- 
ble, another portion of equal length. Review 
what has been learned throughout the day, recall 
its deeds, its faults, its sorrows, its blessings, to 
deepen the great lessons of God's goodness and 
forbearance, or to sooth the little heart into sweet 
peace with Him, and all the world, ere the eyes 
close in slumber. Let the simple music of some 
evening hymn, and their tender prayer of contri- 
tion and gratitude, close the daily intercourse with 
your endeared pupils, and see if this system does 
not render them doubly dear. 

Do not deprive them of these stated seasons of 
instruction, without the most imperative necessity. 
Let your youngest share in them as soon as it 
opens its bright eyes wider at the words, "shall 
mother tell a story?" Then the little flower of 
mind is ready for a dew-drop. Let it be small, 
and so fragrant, that another will be desired at 
the morrow's dawn. Speak of the dove that 



EARLY CULTURE. 97 

winged its way back to the ark, and of the good 
man who put forth his hand and drew her in 
through the window, to gladden her sorrowing 
mate. Tell how the wide, wasting waters swept 
over a disobedient world. Describe the lonely 
ark upon the mighty deep, bearing in safety the 
righteous family, while all the ungodly of the 
earth were drowned. Speak of the brow of Ara- 
rat rising above the dark main, of the exultation 
of the rescued animals, the warbling song of the 
birds let loose from their prison, and the higher 
joy of Noah, and his beloved ones, who knew 
how to pray and praise their Almighty Deliverer. 
One sacred story, thus broken into parts, is suf- 
ficient for many feedings of the infant mind. Be 
careful not to surfeit it, nor yet too much to 
indulge the curiosity of the ear to hear, without 
awakening the understanding to extract some use- 
ful aliment. In the broad range of sacred story, 
give a prominent place to the life and teachings 
of our Saviour, to the many forms in which his 
compassions wrought among the sick, the hun- 
gering, and the blind, the tempest-tost, the dying, 
and the dead, how he loved little children, and 
drew them to his bosom, and blessed them, when 
sterner souls forbade their approach. 

Not only by the volume of Inspiration, but by 
their daily intercourse with the animal creation, 
and from the ever open page of Nature, guide 
9 



98 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

them to duty and to God. Take in your arms 
their favourite kitten, and pointing out its grace- 
ful proportions, teach a lesson of kindness. While 
the dog sleeps at the feet of his master, tell of 
the virtues of his race, of their fidelity and en- 
during gratitude, and bespeak respect for the 
good qualities of the inferior creation. Teach 
their little feet to turn aside from the worm, and 
spare to trample the nest of the toiling ant. Point 
out the bird, " laying the beams of its chambers " 
among the green leaves, or the thick grass, and 
make them shudder at the cruelty which could 
rifle its treasures. Inspire them with love for 
all innocent creatures, with admiration for every 
beautiful thing ; for it is sweet to see the principles 
of love and beauty, leading the new-born soul to 
its Maker. 

As you explain to the young child, the proper- 
ties of the flower that he holds in his hand, speak 
with a smile of Him, whose "touch perfumes it, 
and whose pencil paints." Make the voice of 
the first brook as it murmurs beneath the snow, 
and the gesture of the waving com, and the icicle 
with its pen sharpened by frost, and the sleeted 
pane with its fantastic tracery, and the nod of 
the awful forest, and the fixed star on its burning 
throne, adjuncts in teaching your child the won- 
derful works of the Almighty. 

The mother who is thus assiduous in the work 



EARLY CULTURE. 99 

of early education, will find in poetry an assist- 
ant not to be despised. Its melody is like a harp 
to the infant ear, like a trumpet stirring up the 
new-born intellect. It breaks the dream 'with 
which existence began, as the clear chirping of 
the bird wakes the morning sleeper. It seems to 
be the natural dialect of those powers which are 
earliest developed. Feeling and Fancy put forth 
their young shoots ere they are expected, and 
Poetry bends a spray for their feeblest tendrils, or 
rears a prop for their boldest aspirings. 

Even its first intercourse with the young mind, 
may be for a higher purpose than amusement. 
Entering the nursery, hand in hand with song, it 
need not confine itself to unmeaning carols, or to 
useless echoes. It may be as the sun-beam to 
the broken soil. Quickening perception, and giv- 
ing pleasant food to memory, it leads to that in- 
quisitive research, which, next to application, en- 
sures proficiency in the more severe sciences, and 
higher departments of knowledge. 

Still, its principal and best affinity is with the 
heart. Its power of creating tender and indeli- 
ble impressions, has not always been fully appre- 
ciated. This stamps it as an efficient co-adjutor 
in moral and religious instruction. It comes 
forth as the usher, and ally of the mother. It 
goes with her into the mental field, in the fresh- 
ness of the grey dawn, ere tares have sprung up 



100 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

to trouble the good seed. It nurtures the listen- 
ing babe, with the "sweet words of sweetly 
uttered knowledge." " It holdeth," said Sir Philip 
Sydney, "little children from their play, and old 
men from the chimney corner." Especially does 
it prompt the cradle-sleeper to love the God and 
Father of us all, and as he advances in stature, 
walks with him amid the charms and harmonies 
of Nature, speaking the language of a clime 
where beauty never fades, and where melody is 
immortal. 

Simple, vocal musick, the mother will be 
desirous to introduce into her system of early 
education. Its softening, soothing, cheering in- 
fluences, have been too often tested to need addi- 
tional evidence ; and its affinity with devotion has 
been felt by every one who has heard a little 
group singing their sacred song, ere they retired 
to rest, while even the infant on its mother's knee, 
imitated her tones, its heart swelling with the 
spirit of praise, ere the understanding was able 
to comprehend its dialect. 

Yet it was not my intention in this letter, to 
have defined the department of early education, 
but simply to urge mothers to consider it then* 
province. I feel persuaded, that after they have 
for a few years, superintended daily and system- 
atically the culture of the beings entrusted to 
them, they would not be willing to exchange it 



EARLY CULTURE. 101 

for the place, or the power, or the fame of any 
created being. Yet amid this happiness, who 
can refrain from trembling at the thought, that 
every action, every word, even every modifica- 
tion of voice or feature, may impress on the 
mental tablet of the pupil, traces that shall exist 
forever. 

Other teachers may toil, perhaps in vain, to 
purify the streams that have grown turbid, or to 
turn them back from perverted channels. The 
dominion of the mother is over the fountain, ere 
it has contracted a stain. Let her not believe 
that the impressions which she may make in 
the first years of life, need be slight, or readily 
effaced by the current of opposing events. The 
mother of the Rev. John Newton, was assiduous 
in her instructions at that early period. It was 
the only season allotted her for intercourse with 
him. When he was seven years old, death sum- 
moned her from his side. Faithfully had she 
laboured to implant principles of piety. After he 
was withdrawn from her guidance, strong temp- 
tation beset him. He yielded, until he became 
exceedingly degraded. Many sorrows were his 
portion ere his restitution to virtue. When at 
length, he became a faithful and laborious divine, 
he bore witness that the early precepts of his 
mother had interposed between him and destruc- 
tion. " To the care of my mother," he says, I 
9* 



102 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

owe that bias towards religion, which, with the co- 
operating grace of God, at length reclaimed, and 
brought me back to the paths of peace. A pru- 
dent and pious woman, in the capacity of wife 
and mother, is a greater character than any hero 
or philosopher, of either ancient or modern times. 
The first impressions which children receive in 
the nursery, under the mother's immediate care, 
are seldom obliterated. Sooner or later, their in- 
fluence conduces to form the future life. Though 
the child trained up in the way he should go, 
may for a season depart from it, there is always 
reason to hope that he will be found in it, when 
he is old. The principles instilled into the mind 
in infancy, may seem dormant for a while, but the 
prayers with which the mother watered what 
she planted there, are, as some old writers say, 
"upon the Lord's file." Times of trouble recall 
these principles to the mind, and the child thus 
instructed, has something to recur to. Thus it 
was with me. I was the only son of my mother. 
She taught me. She prayed for me, and over me. 
Had she lived to see the misery and wickedness 
into which I afterwards plunged, I think it would 
have broken her heart. But in the Lord's time, 
her prayers were answered. Distress led me to 
recollect her early care. So was I led to look 
the right way for help. Happy and honoured is 
the woman, who is thus qualified to instruct her 






EARLY CULTURE. 103 

children, and does it heartily, in the spirit of faith 
and prayer." 

Friends ! mothers ! how long will it be, ere 
we shall be removed from our stewardship? ere 
a stranger may be seated where we have been 
wont to preside at the table, and the hearth- 
stone? How brief will be the interval ere the 
infants that we now caress, shall be rocking the 
cradle of their own infants, or treading like us the 
threshold of that house of forgetfulness, whence 
there is no return? Bound on this ceaseless, 
unresting march in the footsteps of buried gene- 
rations, enlisted in that warfare whence there is 
no discharge, let us, on whom such pressing re- 
sponsibilities devolve, take as our motto, "what 
thou doest, do quickly." 

The dews of the morning are scarcely more 
fleeting than the plastick period of the minds on 
which we operate. Every day removes them 
further from our jurisdiction. The companions 
with whom they are to associate, the world in 
which they are to act, hasten onward with oppo- 
sing influences, and an indurating power. Now, 
while the garden of the soul is ours, let us give 
diligence to implant the germs of holy principle, 
of unswerving goodness, of humble piety, of the 
fear of sin, of faith in the Redeemer. " Now, while 
it is called to-day" 

God, in bestowing on us the privilege of being 



104 LETTER^ TO MOTHERS. 

Christian mothers, has nothing higher in reserve 
for us, till we take the nature and the harp of 
seraphs. Then, as we stand adoring near the 
Throne, may the chorus of our joyful song be, 
"Lo, here are the children whom thou hast gra- 
ciously given thy servants. Not one is lost." 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 105 



LETTER X. 

DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 

I AM not without hope of persuading mothers 
to take charge of the entire education of their 
children, during the earlier years of life. After 
devoting daily a stated period, morning and eve- 
ning, to their moral and religious training, I can- 
not but trust that the pleasure of the communion 
will lead to a more extended system of domestic 
culture. Indeed, it is not possible to convey in- 
struction to the heart, without acting as a pioneer 
for the intellect. The docility, the application, 
the retentive energy, which the mother awakens 
in her child, while she teaches it the principles ' 
of justice, and the love of truth, and the reve- 
rence of the Creator, lead her continually, though 
it may be unconsciously, into the province of 
scholastic education. 

"Whoever educates his children well," says 
Xenophon, in his letter to Crito, " gives * them 
much, even though he should leave them little." 
If parents felt that by spending three hours daily, 
they might secure for each of their offspring an 



106 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ample fortune, not to be alienated, but made sure 
to them through life, would they grudge the sa- 
crifice? Let the mother try, if by an equal ex- 
penditure of time, she may not purchase for them 
a patrimony, which rust cannot corrode, or the 
robber rifle, or the elements that sweep away 
perishable wealth, have power to destroy. If she 
feels it impossible to dispense with their attend- 
ing school, let her at least teach them herself 
to read, ere she sends them there. I once heard 
an aged and intelligent gentleman speak with de- 
light of the circumstance, that he learned to read 
from maternal instruction. He gave it as one 
reason why knowledge was pleasant to his soul, 
that its rudiments entered there with the associa- 
tion of gentle tones, patient explanations, and ten- 
der caresses. 

The correct reading of our copious language 
is not a branch of such simplicity, that it may 
be well taught by careless, or slightly educated 
instructors. The perfect enunciation which is so 
important to publick speakers, is best acquired 
when the organs of articulation are most flexible, 
and ere vicious intonations are confirmed by habit. 
One of the most accomplished orators that I have 
ever heard, used to take pleasure in referring his 
style of elocution to his mother, who taught him 
early to read, and devoted much attention to his 
distinct utterance, and right understanding of the 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 107 

subjects that he rendered vocal. "A principle of 
equity," said a lady to her child, "should lead 
you to a clear and careful articulation, for what 
right have you to rob a single letter of its sound ? 
Still less right have you to cheat those friends of 
their time, who are listening to you." "Speaking 
so as not to be understood, and writing so as not 
to be read, are among the minor immoralities," 
said the excellent Mrs. H. More. 

A mother, who succeeds in teaching her child 
to read, and partakes the delight of perceiving 
new ideas enrich and expand its intellect, will be 
very apt to wish to conduct its education still 
further. And if it is in her power to do so, why 
does she send it to school at all, during its most 
susceptible years? Who can be so deeply inter- 
ested in its improvement as herself? Why then 
does* she entrust it to the management of stran- 
gers? Why expose it to the influence of evil 
example, ere its principles are sufficiently strong 
to withstand temptation? Why yield it to the 
excitement of promiscuous association, when it 
has a parental home, where its innocence may 
be shielded, and its intellect aided to expand? 

"I have no time," replies the mother. How 
much time will it require? Two or three hours 
in a day, is a greater proportion than any teacher 
of a school would devote exclusively to them. 
Even if they could receive such an amount of 



108 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

instruction in school, the division of their own 
attention among their companions would diminish 
its value to them. 

Let their lessons be short, but thoroughly com- 
mitted. While they study, it ought not to be 
necessary for you to watch and superintend them. 
The presence of a judicious nurse, or of even 
the oldest child, should be sufficient to preserve 
order, while you reserve your more precious time 
for recitation, explanation, and illustration. I am 
bold to say, if three hours a day were wisely pro- 
portioned, and systematically set apart for this 
purpose, it would be all that the first eight or 
ten years of life would need, and more than they 
usually obtain. The intellect of quite young chil- 
dren should be sparingly taxed. Physical dan- 
gers of a formidable nature, are connected with 
their close confinement, or long enforced appli- 
cation. If you have a rural spot, where they can 
have pure air and exercise, consider it a blessing ; 
and let the play, and muscular activity, which 
nature points out, be a part of your daily system 
of education. 

I imagine another mother saying in the depth 
of her humility, "I am not qualified." Profound 
erudition is not demanded. Yet if it were, who 
ought to have a stronger motive to attain it, than 
a mother, for her children's sake? Reading, or- 
thography, and the definition of words, penman- 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 109 

ship, arithmetic, and the expression of thought in 
the simple epistolary or descriptive style, she is 
surely capable of teaching. Still, these can scarce- 
ly be too thoroughly learned, since they are the 
necessary ground-work of a complete education. 
I should think the patience and affection of the 
mother, would render her an excellent instruc- 
tress in those branches which demand continual 
repetition, and exercise. Is there any thing so in- 
explicable in Geography, and the elements of the 
Natural Sciences, that she need shrink back from 
them, aided as she is by treatises from the most 
gifted minds? 

A course of History can scarcely be grasped by 
the intellect in its tutelage; yet biographical se- 
lections may be made from it, at the mother's 
pleasure, in her own words, and combined with 
the outlines of chronology. For instance, when 
her young pupils have learned the geographical 
features of a country, and demonstrated its rela- 
tive position and localities on their atlas, she 
may reward their accuracy, by describing one of 
the most illustrious characters which it has pro- 
duced, either in ancient or modem times. This 
little fragment of history, with its atom of chro- 
nology, will act as a grappling-iron to the geo- 
graphy which was made its basis, and each will 
give to the other a firmer hold on memory. A 
number of such facts, presented under the double 
10 



110 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

allurement of stories and of rewards, and riveted 
by the mother's care, will serve as stepping stones, 
when the broad stream of History, flowing from 
Eden onward, shall be forded by the wonder- 
ing traveller. 

"I have too much to do in my family," says a 
careful matron, "to attend to the instruction of my 
children." Do not be too ambitious a house- 
keeper. Is it not better that there should be some 
deficiency in the luxurious variety, or elegant 
arrangement of a table, than in the hearts and 
minds of your children ? But why need there be 
deficiency any where? Energy, and adherence 
to system, will accomplish wonders. 

The mistress of a large household, in New 
England, was exceedingly attentive to all the 
minutiae of housekeeping. Her brass and silver, 
and mahogany, bore the finest polish. She ex- 
celled in rich culinary compounds, and her table 
had in the neighbourhood no competitor. She 
was so situated, that much of her own personal 
exertion was necessary to produce these results. 
Her ambition was solaced to know that she 
maintained among nice housekeepers, the highest 
place. The dresses of her many children evinced 
care, and attention to the reigning modes. But 
she did not feel that she had any time to bestow 
on their minds. They attended school when it 
was convenient, but their progress having no 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. Ill 

parental supervision, was exceedingly desultory. 
Their moral and religious culture also suffered, 
though she was by profession and in reality a 
Christian. A wasting sickness, impeding all ac- 
tivity, forced her into habits of deeper reflection, 
and she felt that in her scale of duty, she had 
permitted the least important to usurp the high- 
est place. With affecting regret she said, as death 
approached, "I have led a laborious life, scarcely 
allowing myself time for thought. It seems prin- 
cipally to have been spent in preparing food and 
clothing for the family. I can recollect but little 
else. And now I feel that I have "spent my 
money for that which is not bread, and my 
labour for that which satisfieth not." 

"I have so many children," says another, "that 
I cannot think of doing more than seeing that 
they are sent to school." How many had Mrs. 
Ramsay, of South Carolina, when she took charge 
of their whole education, and prepared her sons 
for college? Does not her biographer mention 
that she was the mother of eleven children, 
during the first sixteen years after her marriage? 
Beside the charge of a large and well-ordered 
household, and assisting her husband in the lite- 
rary labours which he combined with his medical 
profession, she gave the most indefatigable atten- 
tion to the physical, religious and intellectual edu- 
cation of her children. That they might daily 



112 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

read their Bible with pleasure, she connected with 
it an extensive collection of prints, for the younger ; 
and for the more advanced, " Watts' View of Scrip- 
ture History," "Newton on the Prophecies," and 
other books which unite the Old with the New 
Testament, and make sacred and uninspired His- 
tory, mutual interpreters. While endeavouring to 
store their minds with useful knowledge, she 
compiled for them a grammar of the English 
language, not finding the treatises of Lowth and 
Ash, which had been used in her own tutelage, 
easily subject to the comprehension of childhood. 
From her accurate knowledge of French, she was 
able early to impart it to them; and for their 
sakes, studied the Greek and Latin classicks, until 
she became an excellent teacher in both those 
languages. With the same motive, she prosecuted 
the study of Botany, to considerable extent, re- 
freshed her knowledge of Natural and Civil His- 
tory, Biography, Astronomy, Chronology, Phi- 
losophy, with an extensive course of Voyages and 
Travels. She continued her instructions daily 
with regularity, and conducted her daughters at 
home, through the studies and accomplishments 
taught at boarding schools, and her sons through 
a course which thoroughly fitted them to enter 
college. 

"I do not feel prepared," says another mother, 
"to give up all society, and turn myself into a 






DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 113 

care-worn school-teacher." This would indeed be 
undesirable. Whoever forsakes social intercourse, 
deadens the impulse to generous sympathy and 
active benevolence, which, like the nervous energy 
in the physical constitution, quickens the remotest 
extremities of the frame, and impels to harmo- 
nious and efficient exertion. Mrs. Ramsay, the 
striking example which we have just quoted, pre- 
served her social feelings in healthful activity, 
though she seldom visited during the day. Eve- 
nings, when the stated instruction of her beloved 
pupils was closed, she was ready and cheerful, 
for the intercourse of friendship. That a routine 
of ceremonious visiting, involving late hours, high 
dress, luxurious entertainment, and much expense 
of time and thought, is not consistent with the 
faithful instruction of children, is admitted. Will 
any Christian mother hesitate which she ought to 
renounce? I am most happy to have a case in 
point. A young lady, whose beauty, wealth, accom- 
plishments, and European travel, rendered her an 
object of admiration among the fashionable circles 
of our most fashionable metropolis, after her mar- 
riage, undertook the domestick education of her 
three little ones, and writes, " I find more heartfelt 
pleasure, more agreeable retrospection, in one hour 
spent in endeavouring to elicit thought and feel- 
ing from my children, than in any other pursuit, 
or amusement." A precious suffrage from one 
10* 



114 LETTER^ TO MOTHERS. 

perfectly qualified to judge, and an encouragement 
to such mothers as shrink at the threshold of their 
higher duties 

Methinks, I hear the voice of some fair sceptic 
exclaiming, "I doubt whether it would be as well 
for my children to be educated at home. They 
require the stimulus to exertion, which is found 
in schools." Are you quite sure of it? Is not 
the emulation which you quote, often but another 
name for "envying and strife?" May not an 
ambitious mind b^e so incited by it, as to make 
exertions which would be destructive of health? 
We think such instances are not uncommon. 

But will not the duty of obedience, the desire 
of pleasing you, or the satisfaction of knowledge, 
impel your children to the brief lessons which 
you appoint? Do they all require the external 
prompting to which you allude ? Is not one ca- 
pable of higher motives? If so, select that one 
as an example, and let your approbation, bearing 
decidedly upon that one, "provoke the others to 
good works." If all are equally torpid, there are 
methods by which all may be aroused. I knew 
a mother who kept two blank books, one bound 
in red, the other in black. For every well-com- 
mitted lesson, or proof of improvement, a mark 
of credit was entered in the red book. Indolence, 
and other faults, gained a mark in the sad-coloured 
one. At the close of every week or month, the 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 115 

father, with some seriousness of ceremony, inspected 
these records, and earnestly aided by his praise or 
blame the arduous task of the maternal teacher. 
Another mother used only the red book for her 
children, allowing them for a certain number of 
marks, a stipulated sum, paid at the end of every 
month, and to be devoted to their charities. Some 
allege that this introduces a too mercantile feature 
into education. Is it not better than indolence? 
Various other modes may be devised to give im- 
pulse to domestic culture, for why need a mother 
be less ingenious, or less fruitful in expedients, 
than a school-mistress? Yet let her be careful 
not to urge too much the progress of her younger 
pupils, lest health suifer, or the temper gather 
asperity from competition. 

Possibly, there may be some mother frank 
enough to say, " My children must go to school : 
it is such a relief to have them sometimes out 
of the way." So a mother thought, who took 
her little girl from the nursery, and bade her 
scarce older brother lead her with him to school. 
There she sat upon the hard bench, her tiny feet 
swinging above the floor, till the feebly-strung 
muscles were weary and in pain. She looked, 
in her wondering innocence, upon the ways of 
naughty children, and imbibed more of the evil, 
than of the goodness which rebuked it. She opened 
her ears wide at the sound of improper words, 



116 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

and adopted their use, without knowing their 
meaning. So she, who was sent from home be- 
cause of the noise of her lively play, or the in- 
terruptions of her curious questioning, brought a 
deeper care, by becoming a subject of moral dis- 
cipline. 

She was once proceeding homeward, more de- 
murely than when she first attended school, for 
the consciousness of wrong conduct had found 
its way to her heart, and quelled its buoyant hap- 
piness. It was touching to see a little one so 
sad. Her brother left her for a moment, to slide 
down an ice-covered hill. He charged her to wait 
for him in the spot where he placed her. But 
soon she attempted to run to him. A pair of gay 
horses threw her down, and a loaded sleigh pass- 
ing over her, literally divided her breast. She 
was taken up breathless, a crushed and broken 
flower. She was out of the way. 

A mother, in one of our smaller country-towns, 
had a large family of daughters. She thought it 
would be a relief to her, if but one of them 
were out of the way. So she selected the wild- 
est, to be sent to a boarding-school. She had 
been accustomed to rural sports and employments, 
and free exercise about her father's grounds. The 
impure atmosphere of a crowded city in summer, 
the close stoves in winter, the comparative and 
enervating stillness of the whole year, induced a 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 117 

change of habits, and declension of health. Long 
sitting at the piano, and the rigid compression of 
corsets, troubled the seat of life. When she re- 
turned home on vacations, it was exultingly re- 
marked by the parents, how lady-like she had 
grown, and how much more delicate than her 
ruddy sisters. Indeed, she was pale as a lily, and 
inactive to a remarkable degree. It was not long 
ere spinal disease revealed itself; and muscular 
energy, and pure animal spirits, were lost. She 
indeed existed, but the wreck of her former self. 
Debility and confinement cut her off from society, 
and from the joys of life. She was out of the way. 
There is yet another form of putting children 
out of the way, which, though by no means com- 
mon in our country, is still visible, with certain 
modifications, in fashionable life. It consists in 
consigning their infancy too exclusively to the 
charge of hirelings, and to the bounds of the nur- 
sery. A young mother complained that her chil- 
dren were so numerous, and so near of an age, 
that she had neither repose or comfort. She 
found it impossible to nurse them. Her husband 
also thought it would hurt her form, and make 
her old before her time. By this philosophy, she 
reserved to herself all the suffering of introdu- 
cing infancy into the world, and excluded that 
heartfelt and hallowed intercourse, which gives to 
pain "an over-payment of delight." 



118 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

She placed her nursery in the highest story of 
her lofty house, that she need not be disturbed 
by its noise. She said she went there " as often 
as possible, though it was excessively fatiguing to 
climb those endless stairs." But she always pro- 
cured an ample number of nurses, without refe- 
rence to expense, and was satisfied that they had 
the most excellent care. One day she was in- 
formed that her youngest was sick. She went 
to it, but thought the nurse was unnecessarily 
alarmed. She staid with it as long as was in her 
power, considering she was engaged to a ball that 
evening. After she was entirely dressed, she took 
pains to come up again and inquire after it. The 
nurse told her it was no better. She was sure 
the nurse was unreasonably timid. It had but a 
slight cough. Still she did not remain at the 
ball as late as usual, or dance with her usual 
spirit. She said to her husband, that such was 
her anxiety for the little one, that she should not 
have gone at all, had she not felt under the 
strongest obligations to attend the first entertain- 
ment of her most particular friend. At her re- 
turn, she hastened to the nursery. The hopeless 
stage of croup had seized the agonizing victim. 
Another also betrayed the same fatal indications. 
The skill of the physician, and the frantic grief 
of the mother, were alike vain. With the fearful 
suddenness which often marks the termination of 



DOMESTIC EDUCATION. 119 

the diseases of infancy, two beautiful beings soon 
lay like sculptured marble. With the assiduous 
care of the mother, the result might indeed have 
been the same, and yet it was a touching and 
mournful thought at this time of sorrow, that it 
had been a principal object, ever since their birth, 
to have them kept out of the way. And now 
they had gone to return no more. 

But will He who gave us our children, justify 
us in devising means to have them put out of 
our way ? Was it to be supposed that the mother, 
on whose bosom he laid them, would be mainly 
anxious to escape from their care? that she 
should find her nerves so much injured by their 
merry voices, their healthful play, or their active 
curiosity, as to be willing to endanger their well- 
being, if they might only be removed from her 
presence 1 

I am aware that these thoughts on domestic 
education may be deemed prolix. And yet it 
would be easier to apologize for saying so much, 
than to satisfy the conscience for having said so 
little: so important is it, that mothers be aroused 
to do more for the true welfare of their children 
than they have hitherto done. "No instruction," 
says an eloquent French writer, "will throw deep 
roots into a country, unless it reach children 
through the mother, and men through women. 
The public instructor is only a drv instrument, 



120 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

who teaches the alphabet ; the mother of a family 
is a moral power, ripening thought, at the same 
time that she opens hearts to love, and souls to 
charity." 

It is not to be expected, that all who might de- 
sire it, are so situated as to be able to take charge 
of the education of their children. Still there 
are many whom fortune favours, who have "no 
heart for the matter." It would seem the duty 
of those mothers to attempt it, who are relieved 
from the necessity of labour for their subsistence, 
who have comfortable health, a competent share 
of knowledge, and minds open to improvement, 
especially if they have a rural situation, where 
their little pupils can enjoy free exercise, a room 
which can be devoted exclusively to their instruc- 
tion, and in the family a sister, friend, or well- 
trained dependent, capable of acting as assistant 
or substitute. 

Let us keep our children for our own, during 
their earlier years. The world will have them 
long enough afterwards. \ 



IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 121 



LETTER XI. 

IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 

ONE striking advantage of a system of educa- 
tion conducted at home, is, that it may be adapted 
to the different dispositions of its subjects. In a 
school, this is almost impossible. Had the teacher 
the tact to discover the nameless idiosyncracies 
of those under his care, the very nature of his 
office would preclude him from thoroughly avail- 
ing himself of that knowledge. His code of laws 
cannot bend to the differing taste, and construc- 
tion of his pupils. How can he turn aside from 
the labours of scholastick culture, to study the end- 
less variety of character, and to inquire whose 
feeble virtue needs a prop, or whose timid intellect, 
encouragement. 

This knowledge of the varying nature of her 
children, is almost intuitive to a discerning mother. 
Those who have reared large families, assert that 
there are no two alike. The self-confidence of 
one requires restraint, and the diffidence of another 
seeks a sheltering kindness ; one is controuled 
through the affections, another, by arguments 
11 



122 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

addressed to the understanding; to one, the re- 
proof of the eye brings tears ; another must have 
the induction of particulars, and the poignancy 
of remonstrance, or of suffering, to produce con- 
trition. The evil of subjecting all to the same 
discipline, must be obvious. Yet, where they are 
cultivated in masses, it seems inevitable. . Some 
are so utterly confounded by the presence of supe- 
riors, as never to do themselves justice ; others with 
a reckless hardihood pass on, disguising both super- 
ficial attainment and defective principle. Some 
Cowper may shrink and agonize, unpitied; some 
Benedict Arnold wear his traitor's mask undetect- 
ed ; some Buonaparte enact on a miniature scale, 
schemes of latent ambition, or of petty tyranny. 

These elements of character, the mother has the 
means of discovering, and should attempt the task 
to rectify. She would blame the folly of the gar- 
dener, who should plunge the amaryllis in dry sand, 
or shelter the arctic pine in his green-house : let 
her avoid similar errors in the nurture of plants 
that are to exist forever. 

Home-education is often a source of great hap- 
piness to its subjects. An instance of it is thus 
described by a father, who, with the assistance of 
the mother, took charge of his son's intellectual 
culture, from his earliest years, and found it an 
employment imparting perpetual delight : 

" His first perceivable inclination, was for diaw- 



IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 123 

ing, in which he engaged when almost an infant. 
While occupied in this favourite amusement, a 
dissected alphabet was placed before him, and so 
great was his desire to furnish his little drawings 
with suitable titles, that he soon, made himself 
master of it. 

" Now, a new field of pleasure was opened for 
him to range in, and from the productions of the 
pencil, his mind was turned to the various arrange- 
ments, and combinations of these letters. So, 
that, at an age, when many children have scarcely 
learned their names, he was forming them into 
short sentences, not only of a playful, but of a 
devotional cast. This not only ascertained the 
growth of his intellectual powers, but gave satis- 
factory assurance to his affectionate parents, that 
their pious instructions had not been lost jupon 
his tender heart. 

"As the higher branches of knowledge allured 
him, he devoted himself assiduously to their ac- 
quisition. He was cheerfully prepared for every 
necessary exercise, and always inclined rather 
to exceed, than to fall short of his appointed task. 
He complained of no difficulty, he solicited no 
help. He considered the little labours of every 
day, as a reasonable service, and readily, on 
all occasions, submitted his will to that of his 
father. During his studies, his sweet and placid 
disposition was constantly displaying itself. 



124 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

" While quite a child, he became acquainted with 
the rudiments of the Latin tongue, and by many 
fair words persuaded his nurse (a very worthy 
young woman, who had attended him from his 
infancy) to become his scholar. Such pleasure 
did he derive from his studies, that he left no 
means untried, to engage her attention, and would 
often set before her the honourable distinction of 
excelling in knowledge all the young women in 
her parish. He drew up for her, an abridgement 
of his Grammar, to which he added a short vocabu- 
lary, and was never without a few slips of paper 
in his pocket, on which was some noun regularly 
declined, for her benefit. If the day had failed to 
furnish sufficient time to attend to his lessons, he 
redoubled his assiduity when she conducted him 
to his chamber at night, and was never content 
without hearing her repeat the Lord's prayer in 
Greek." 

His desire to impart to his kind nurse the 
pleasures of knowledge, proved both the simple 
benevolence of his nature, and the happiness which 
he derived from a system of parental culture. 
Might this not be more frequently enjoyed by 
children in their earlier years, if mothers were 
willing to make efforts correspondent to the im- 
portance of the object ? 

Permit me to say to those mothers who interest 
themselves in the education of their children, be 



. , 

IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 125 

assiduous early to implant domestic tastes in the 
minds of your daughters. Let your little girl sit 
by your side, with her needle. Do not put her 
from you, when you discharge those employ- 
ments which are for the comfort of the family. 
Let her take part in them, as far as her feeble 
hand may be capable. Teach her that this will 
be her province, when she becomes a woman. 
Inspire her with a desire to make all around her, 
comfortable and happy. Instruct her in the rudi- 
ments of that science, whose results are so beat- 
tiful. Teach her, that not selfish gratification, 
but the good of a household, the improvement of 
even the humblest dependent, is the business of 
her sex. When she questions you, repay her 
curiosity, with clear and loving explanations. 
When you walk out, to call on your friends, 
sometimes take her with you. Especially, if you 
visit the aged, or go on errands of mercy to the 
sick and poor, let her be your companion. Allow 
her to sit by the side of the sufferer, and learn 
those nursing services which afford relief to pain. 
Associate her with you. Make her your friend. 
Purify and perfect your own example for her 
sake. And while you mingle with domestic train- 
ing, and with the germs of benevolence, a know- 
ledge of the world of books, to which it will be a 
sweet privilege to introduce her, should you be 
able to add not a single fashionable accomplish- 
11* 



126 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ment, still be continually thankful, if you have 
been successful in shielding her from the conta- 
gion of evil example. 

The Countess of Pembroke, illustrious for her 
love of science, and the fortitude with which she 
endured the trials of those troublous times in 
which she lived, thus speaks in her journal, with 
affecting simplicity, of her obligations to maternal 
care and piety : 

"From my dear mother, I drew that milk of 
goodness, which makes the mind strong against 
all the storms of fortune. Many dangerous de- 
vices of enemies have I passed through without 
harm, by the help, as I think, of her prayers, in- 
cessantly imploring of God my preservation and 
safety. In my domestic troubles I gave myself 
up to retiredness, as much as I could, making 
good books and virtuous thoughts my compan- 
ions, which can never be daunted by slanders, or 
adversities, however unjustly they may happen. 
And by a happy disposition I overcame evil, the 
prayers of my blessed mother helping me there- 
unto." 

In the discipline of sons, mothers need a double 
portion of. the wisdom that is from above. Let 
them ever keep in view the different spheres of 
action allotted to the sexes. What they blame as 
obstinacy, may be but that firmness, and fixed- 
ness of purpose, which will hereafter be needed 



IDIOM OP CHARACTER. 127 

to overcome the obstacles of their adventurous 
course. Perhaps, it is hardly to be expected that 
they should be reduced to the full degree of fem- 
inine subordination, any more than inured to the 
routine of domestic employment. The German 
poet has well depicted the early-unfolded linea- 
ments of the ruling sex : 

" Boys are driven 

To wild pursuits by mighty impulses. 
Out of a mother's anxious hand they tear 
The leading-strings, and give the reins to nature, 
Even as the sportive hoof of the young horse 
Raises the dust in clouds." 

The mother, who in the infancy of her chil- 
dren, puts into the arms of the girl a doll, and 
patiently endures the noise from the hammer of 
the boy-baby, conforms to the difference and to 
the destination which has been marked on them 
by Creating Wisdom. 

But is she therefore to take any less pains to 
soften and mould her sou to his duty? Oh no. 
On the contrary, she must lake" more, and begin 
earlier. Her toil for him must emphatically be 
amid the dews of the morning. For by the con- 
stitution of society, he must be earlier removed 
from the influence of home than his pliant sister, 
and by the innate consciousness of being born to 
bear rule, will sooner revolt from the authority 
of woman. Let the mother, while she refrains 



128 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

from attempting to break down the barrier which 
an Unerring Hand erected between the sexes, lose 
no time in enthroning herself in the heart of her 
son. Let her cultivate tenderness of conscience, 
and fix deep in his soul the immutable distinc- 
tion between right and wrong, that, from an early 
implanted reverence for the law of God, he may 
be qualified to "become a law unto himself." 
She should keep her hold on his affections, -and 
encourage him to confide to her, without reserve, 
his intentions and his hopes, his errors and his 
enjoyments. Thus maintaining her pre-eminence 
in the sanctuary of his mind, her image will be 
as a tutelary seraph, not seeming to bear rule, 
yet spreading perpetually the wings of purity and 
peace over its beloved shrine, and keeping guard 
for God. 

Let mothers beware of adopting the opinion, 
i that though they may do much for daughters, 
yet sons are beyond their controul. This is a 
false and fatal conclusion. It is true, that with 
regard to them, the inspired injunction may be 
quoted with double power, "what thou doest, do 
quickly." Maternal influence, unless early riveted, 
is often reduced to a mere shadow, by the pur- 
suits and excitements of popular education. "I 
compare the sending a boy to a publick school, 
or college," says a judicious writer, "to the act 
of the Scythian mothers, who threw their new- 



IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 129 

born children into the sea: the greater part were, 
of course, drowned, but the few who escaped 
with life, were uncommonly strong and vigor- 
ous." Could any additional argument be needed 
to induc.e mothers to throw the shield of their 
preserving and hallowing influences over their 
sons, ere they emerge from the cradle, it might 
be found in the fact which both history and ob- 
servation confirm, that the most illustrious men 
have been often modified in . their early years by 
the hand of the mother. " Give us," said an ex- 
perienced instructor, "such boys as have been 
blessed with the instruction of pious mothers. 
Truths thus instilled, are interwoven with the 
fibres of the soul." 

Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, 
was an extraordinary woman. Notwithstanding 
the rudeness of her own native realm of Britain, 
and the low state of learning among her sex, she 
wrote several works, among which was a book 
of Greek verses ; and the principles which she 
early infused into the mind of that Christian em- 
peror, undoubtedly had great influence in deter- 
mining his future course. 

The mother of the illustrious Lord Bacon 
breathed into his mind, in the forming period of 
childhood, her own love of learning; and while 
she instructed him in the rudiments of science, 
awakened that spirit of liberal curiosity and re- 



130 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

search which afterwards induced him to take "all 
knowledge to be his province." Her influence 
also on the mind of King Edward 6th, to whom 
in his early years she was governess, was emi- 
nently happy. He derived from her much of that 
spirit of zealous and consistent piety which was 
developed in her own youth, and moved her, 
while occupied with other studies, to translate 
from the Italian twenty-five sermons on abstruse 
and important tenets of faith. 

The Baron Cuvier, from the extreme feebleness 
of his childhood, came almost constantly under the 
care of his mother. The sweetness of this inter- 
course, dwelt on his memory throughout the 
whole of his life. He loved to recall her atten- 
tions, to dwell on every circumstance that remind- 
ed him of her. But she did not confine her cares 
to his health alone. She exerted herself to form 
his mind. She taught him to read fluently at the 
age of four years, made him draw under her in- 
spection, listened daily to his recitations in Latin, 
though she had not herself been instructed in that 
language, perused with him the best authors, in- 
stilled into him a reverence for religious duties, 
and fostered that ardent desire for knowledge, 
which afterwards rendered him so illustrious. 

It is a touching testimony which William Ros- 
coe, so celebrated for his writings and his philan- 
thropy, thus pays to his maternal guide. After 



IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 131 

speaking of a teacher to whom he was gratefully 
attached, he says, " to his care, and to the instruc- 
tions of a kind and affectionate mother, I believe 
I may safely attribute any good principles which 
may have appeared in my conduct during life. 
To my mother, I owe the inculcation of those 
sentiments of humanity, which became a principle 
in my mind. Nor did she neglect to supply me 
with such books as contributed to my literary im- 
provement." Sir Walter Scott says, "if I have 
been enabled to do any thing in the way of paint- 
ing the past times, it is owing very much to the 
studies with which my mother presented me." 

The agency exercised by the mother of Wash- 
ington, in forming that character which the world 
delighted to honour, is a subject of elevating 
contemplation. His undeviating integrity and 
unshaken self-command, were developments of 
her own elements of character, fruits from those 
germs which she planted in the soil of his in- 
fancy. She combined the Spartan firmness and 
simplicity, with the deep affections of a Christian 
matron, and all this concentrated influence was 
brought to bear upon her son, who, by the early 
death of his father, passed more entirely under 
her discipline. He, who has been likened to 
Fabius, to Cincinnatus, and to other heroes of 
antiquity, only to show how he transcended each 
by the consistency of a Christian, he who caused 



132 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

the shades of Mount Vernon to be as sacred to 
the patriot as the shrine at Mecca to the pilgrim, 
shares his glory with her who wrought among the 
rudiments of his being with no idle or uncertain 
hand. The monument which now designates her 
last repose, speaks eloquently to her sex, bidding 
them to impress the character of true greatness 
upon the next generation. It warns them to pre- 
pare by unslumbering efforts, for their own solemn 
responsibility. Let her who is disposed to indulge 
in lassitude, or to forget that she may stamp an 
indelible character either for good or evil, on the 
immortal mind submitted to her regency, go, and 
renounce her errors, and deepen her energies, and 
relumine her hopes, at the tomb of "Mary, the 
mother of Washington." 

But though we cannot all rationally expect to 
rear distinguished men, since it is the lot of but 
few to attain distinction, yet it is equally our duty 
to persevere kindly and prayerfully, with un- 
promising materials. The future payment often 
transcends the culturer's hope. The mother of 
the celebrated Sheridan, who was herself a lite- 
rary woman, pronounced him the dullest and 
most hopeless of her sons 

Boys have sometimes a roughness, or apparent 
want of impressibility, which exceedingly troubles 
a susceptible parent. In this structure of mind, 
there is much to stimulate effort, and to encourage 



IDIOM OF CHARACTER. 133 

hope. A powerful writer has said, that " the finest, 
richest, and most generous species of character, is 
perhaps that which early presents the most re- 
pulsive surface. Within the rough rind, the 
feelings are preserved unsophisticated, vigorous 
and healthy. The noli me tangere outside, keeps 
out that insidious swarm of artificial sentimentali- 
ties, which taint and adulterate, and may final- 
ly expel all natural and vigorous emotions from 
within us. The idea of a perfect man, has always 
been figured forth in our minds, by the emblem 
of the lion coming out of the lamb, or the lamb 
coming out of the lion." 

I am persuaded that mothers too much endea- 
vour to equalize idiom of character. But it usually 
proves one of the many unsuccessful attempts of 
warring against nature. If, indeed, it could be 
accomplished, what would it be, but to level those 
beautiful undulations, which He who diversified 
the wonderful frame of creation, saw fit also to 
intersperse amid the realm of mind, giving to 
society somewhat of that variation, which, in the 
landscape, we so much admire. In moral ob- 
servance, in religious duty, there must be no com- 
promise ; but let the native taste sometimes look 
forth unblamed, and the differing opinion be not 
too closely fettered, and the firm resolve, that 
column of future majesty in man, be not cause- 
lessly smitten down. 
12 



134 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

There is a levity of character, which persuades 
a desponding mother, though incorrectly, that her 
instructions make no abiding impression. "I do 
not dislike extreme vivacity in children," said the 
excellent Miss Hannah More. "I would wish to 
see enough to make an animated character, when 
the violence of animal spirits shall subside by 
time. Such volatile beings are thought peculiarly 
difficult to manage, but it is easier to restrain ex- 
cess, than to quicken inanity." When we see the 
demands which the cares and labours of life make 
upon the animal spirits, it seems safest to set out 
with a superflux. Gravity in childhood, may 
become stupidity in old age, and the mother who 
feels herself tried with the exceeding vivacity of 
her young family, can remember that it is a tem- 
perament which this hard-working world will be 
sure to reduce, even if her monitions and their 
own good sense should fail to regulate it. 

There are also instances on record to encour- . 
age and cheer them, with regard to the most un- 
promising children, of whom perhaps they are 
tempted to say in moments of anguish, that they 
have "laboured in vain, and spent their strength 
for naught." Dr. Barrow, one of the most learned 
and eloquent English divines, on whom the criti- 
cal Dr. Johnson pronounced the strongest ver- 
dict of praise, was in early life regardless of study. 
He seemed even to have conceived an aversion 



IDIOM OP CHARACTER. 135 

for books, and became so addicted to idle and 
contentious company, that his father, in bitterness 
of spirit, exclaimed, "should it please God to 
take away any of my children, I pray him that 
it may be my son Isaac." His mother had long 
patience. She sustained herself on His strength, 
who has power to bring good out of evil. Pa- 
rental care, and systematic instruction, were per- 
severed in, and gained a great reward. As the 
son, who was pronounced so hopeless, grew up, he 
evinced a temper which won all hearts, and made 
such progress in science, as to fill with honour 
the mathematical chair, which Newton afterwards 
assumed. Among the most profound and uni- 
versal scholars which his country could boast, he 
maintained the highest rank. He was also distin- 
guished as a powerful advocate of that religion, 
whose transforming influences he so eminently 
illustrated. 

The excellent Cecil, whose writings are the 
wealth and solace of many a pious heart, was in 
early life both unpromising arid undutiful. "1 
was desperate," said he. "I was determined to 
go on board a privateer. But I had a pious 
mother. She talked to me, and wept while she 
talked. There are soft moments, even to despera- 
does. God does not all at once abandon them." 
One of the largest and most intelligent audiences 
in London, who were under his spiritual care, 



136 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

were once exceedingly moved to hear him ex- 
claim from his pulpit, with surprising candour 
and humility, "as a publick witness for God and 
for his truth, I must tell you that you should 
never despair. No distressed woman ever hoped 
more against hope, than the mother of your 
preacher. But she prayed, and waited patiently. 
She put her trust hi an Omnipotent Arm. She 
not only prayed, but she instructed his mind, and 
then waited God's season. She lived long enough 
to hear that child preach the gospel, which he 
had once despised. And she said, 'Now, Lord, 
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'" 

Though the great power of maternal teaching 
over the mind, during its period of waxen ten- 
derness, is now generally conceded, though some 
of the most distinguished men have been proud 
to refer the early blossoms of intellect, the prompt- 
ings of virtue, or the aspirations of piety, to the 
influence of a mother, yet how far the same 
agency may check the career of guilt, or silently 
and steadfastly operate even among the "children 
of disobedience," it is less easy to ascertain. A 
man, who from a youth of irreligion, was re- 
claimed to piety, acknowledged, that though he 
used to receive the admonitions of his mother 
with an affectation of pride and scorn, they fixed 
themselves in his heart, like a barbed arrow, so 
that tears would fall from his eyes as he passed 



IDIOM OP CHARACTER. 137 

along the streets. The vicious seldom make such 
frank disclosures. Their clouded trains of senti- 
ment are not often accessible to the recording pen- 
cil. Still, we have a case in point, a voice from 
the region of guilt, speaking of a pious mother. 

In one of the prisons of New England, is a 
man, considerably past his prime, who has been 
a doer of evil, and a wanderer over the face of 
the earth. Retribution of various kinds has over- 
taken him in his career of crime. Yet he has 
endured all, with singular hardihood and obsti- 
nacy. He acknowledges that nothing among the 
punishments of man, or the precepts of God, has 
ever made him " feel serious, but the words of his 
mother." When her last hour drew nigh, she 
sent for him to her chamber. He was then a 
boy of twelve years old. She took his hand, as 
he stood by her bed, and said, "I am going to 
leave you, and shall return no more." In the 
most solemn manner, she besought him to remem- 
ber his Creator, and so to take care of his soul, 
as to meet her in heaven. She continued to ad- 
monish him, until the hand which pressed his 
was cold in death. For almost half a century, 
this son was passing through grades of crime, too 
revolting for description. Yet in his deepest de- 
gradations, he confesses that he has never been 
able utterly to drive from his conscience the 
words of his pious mpther, or to recall them with- 
12* 



138 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

out emotion. May they not yet be made instru- 
ments of repentance? May not the seed which 
has so long retained life in an uncongenial soil, 
yet be quickened to bear fruit? Who can define 
the limits of a mother's influence, save the God 
of the mother? 

A pious mother, in her prayers with her little 
son, was accustomed to lay her hand upon his 
head. She died while he was yet too young to 
realize the loss which he had sustained. He 
grew up an uncurbed and wayward boy, whom 
none seemed to understand, and few to love. 
Yet in his most reckless and passionate parox- 
ysms, something seemed partially to restrain and 
rule him. He said it was a hand upon his head, 
like his mother's hand. Often he yielded at its 
touch, and wept bitterly. In the flush and fever 
of youth, he travelled widely over foreign lands. 
Vice tempted him, and the virtue which should 
have withstood it, had but a frail rooting. Still, 
something withheld him. It was the same hand 
upon his head, a soft, cool hand. He dared not 
utterly to cast off its controul. 

In his old age he said to some children, "a 
hand is upon my head, upon my few, hoary 
locks, the same hand that used to rest in prayer, 
among the fresh, sunny curls of my infancy. And 
if I am ever saved, it will be by that mother's 
hand, and my Redeemer's mercy." 






SCHOOLS. 139 



LETTER XII. 

SCHOOLS. 

FROM the ardour with which I have advocated 
domestic education, I hope it will not be inferred 
that I feel little interest in the welfare of schools. 
Oh no ! I would not be so untrue to my coun- 
try, as to omit any argument which would tend 
to their support and elevation. " For the wealth 
of a state," said the great Reformer, "consists not 
in having great treasures, solid walls, fair pal- 
aces, weapons and armour; but its best, and no- 
blest wealth, and its truest safety, is in having 
learned, wise, honourable, and well-educated 
citizens." 

If I have urged mothers to do much for their 
children, it is because I have felt it to be both 
their duty and their privilege to do more than 
they ever have done. If I have laboured to 
shew them what I deemed "the more excellent 
way," I have not been ignorant that but few 
would think of entering it. With the multitude, 
whose industry earns a subsistence, the educa- 
tion of their children would be impossible. The 



140 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

few, who may be persuaded to assume it, will 
probably depend more or less on the assistance 
of private teachers. So, that the character, attain- 
ments and principles of the great body of in- 
structors, are important to the prosperity and 
safety of the land. It was the pen of Burke 
that wrote, "Education is the cheapest defence 
of a nation." "It is a better safeguard for 
liberty," says Governor Everett, " than a standing 
army. If we retrench the wages of the school- 
master, we must raise the wages of the re- 
cruiting sergeant." 

In order to elevate the character of our schools, 
let them be more select. They are often so 
much thronged, and exhibit such disparity of 
age, that the portion of individual improvement 
must be small and impeded. In Prussia, which 
we are still constrained to aclmowledge as our 
model, in many features of scholastick education, 
fifteen are considered an ample number for a 
single mind to rule, and operate upon, to advan- 
tage. A teacher, to fulfill the higher purpose of 
his profession, should secure the intimacy and 
seek the confidence of his pupils. But how can 
this be done, when they are so numerous, and so 
frequently changed, as to continue comparatively 
strangers 1 

Those schools which desire eminence, should 
establish habits of order and punctuality. The 






SCHOOLS. 141 

division of time, and its adaptation to different 
studies, should be as clearly denned to each class, 
as the position of countries on a map. Rules, 
embracing every gradation of duty, or variety of 
deportment, which bear on moral and intellectual 
proficiency, should be drawn up, explained, daily 
read, and, if necessary, the signature of each pupil 
taken, as a pledge of their assistance in maintain- 
ing them. The correct discipline of a school is 
its moral wealth ; each of its members should 
feel, that whoever infringes it, impairs the com- 
mon stock. It may usually be sustained with 
perfect kindness, and often forms a bond of last- 
ing attachment between teacher and scholar. 

More munificence in the salaries of our public 
schools, would advance their permanence and ex- 
cellence. Were their income sufficient to induce 
well-educated men to choose the work of instruc- 
tion as a profession for life, they would assume 
a higher rank, both in theory and practice. Teach- 
ers engaged for a transient period, using their 
school as a stepping-stone to some other station, 
perhaps, occupied at the same time in the study 
of the profession on which their future subsist- 
ence is to depend, bring but wandering thoughts 
and divided affections to a service which demands 
the concentration of both. The community will 
find parsimony ill-placed, where the mental and 
moral culture of its youth are concerned. 



142 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

The establishment of Normal Schools, would be 
a great blessing to our country, and is a sub- 
ject which demands public attention and munifi- 
cent patronage. For in our primary and district 
schools, where reformation is the most necessary, 
the education of their teachers is often exceed- 
ingly defective. "In every age, even among the 
heathen," said Luther, "the necessity has been 
felt of having good tutors and schoolmasters, in 
order to make any thing respectable of a nation. 
But surely, we are not to sit still and wait until 
they grow up of themselves. We can neither 
chop them out of wood, nor hew them out of 
stone. God will work no miracles to furnish that 
which we have means to provide. We must 
therefore apply our care and money to train up 
and to make them." 

Well-chosen libraries, connected with the schools 
in our remote villages, are a desirable appendage. 
A regular system of drawing out and returning 
the books should be established ; perhaps the right 
of doing so, might be used as a reward of good 
scholarship and correct conduct. A condition 
should always be annexed, that each one who 
has been favoured with the perusal of a volume, 
should render some account of its contents to the 
teacher, in presence of the school, that all may 
share in the benefit. Some knowledge of the 
structure of the mind is requisite, to guide even 



SCHOOLS. 143 

the youngest pupils to improvement. Yet in our 
obscure villages, if there is any decayed, old 
woman, who is too feeble to acquire a living by 
the spinning-wheel, or needle, how often is it said, 
that she will do to "keep a school for the little 
ones." For the little ones! at that most plastick 
period of life, when the impressions which are 
received are to last forever? 

Simpson, of Edinburgh, in his work on Popu- 
lar Education, says most justly, "Prussian law- 
givers have wisely considered the best plan of 
teaching as a dead letter, without good and able 
teachers ; and to expect these without training, 
is to look for a crop without ploughing or sowing. 
An instructor, well endowed with knowledge, and 
distinguished by a lively and exciting manner of 
communication, who can keep alive wonder, and 
put into his lessons a fine admixture of the high- 
er feelings, will possess a power over his pupil's 
will and happiness, which forms a striking con- 
trast to the heart-withering irksomeness of the 
old schools, in which an antiquated and most 
hurtful appeal to the inferior feelings of fear, 
self-exultation, vanity or covetousness, was found 
necessary to stimulate the languid faculties." 

It is obvious, that the character of our schools 
should keep pace with the spirit of our very ad- 
vancing age. This must be done, by demanding 
of teachers, high degrees of intellectual attain- 



144 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ment, of moral principle, and of that deep reli- 
gious feeling, which shunning sectarian barriers, 
incorporates itself with every imparted rudiment 
of knowledge. When they are thus elevated, 
let them be held in honour. Let the statesman 
consider them as his co-adjutors. Let jurispru- 
dence view them as having power to check crime 
in its earliest germinations, and to diminish the 
population of our prisons, more than all the ter- 
rors of the penal code. Let the guardians of 
virtue and piety, take them into hallowed brother- 
hood. Let parents uphold them with their 
marked respect, and foster in their children the 
noble sentiment of Alexander, " I am indebted 
to my father for living, but to my teacher for 
living well" 

Those who have faithfully laboured in the work 
of education for many years, should receive marks 
of distinction from the community. Among the 
schoolmasters in the duchy of Baden, was one 
who had continued in his profession for half a 
century. The opening of the year, 1836, com- 
pleted the jubilee. ' It was determined to desig- 
nate it by a festival. The Grand Duke wished 
also to add his tribute of respect. He sent him. 
the gold medal, only bestowed on the most emi- 
nent civilians, and a letter in his own hand- 
writing, a compliment which he seldom paid to 
sovereigns. The venerable man was conducted 



SCHOOLS. 145 

in procession to the church, accompanied by vocal 
musick from his pupils, of the most sweet and 
touching character. Then the Prefect, in the 
presence of a large assembly, presented him the 
medal and the autograph, and in an address 
proffered the gratitude which the State felt was 
due, for his services to its children. After pray- 
ers, and devotional music, they returned to a 
festive repast, still enlivened with appropriate 
musick, and with expressions of applause and 
affection for the grey-haired instructor. The 
effect of the whole, was not only to breathe new- 
life into the winter of age, but to impress on the 
minds of all present, that a pious, faithful teach- 
er, was one of the best friends of the nation, and 
worthy of honour, from all true patriots. 

Demonstrations of a regard thus publick, would 
be repugnant to the delicacy of female instruct- 
ors. Yet those mothers who commit their heart's 
jewels to their keeping, should treat them as 
friends and counsellors, and cheer them with 
their confidence. Their influence is sometimes 
stronger in correcting faults of character, than 
even that of the parent. Let them be selected 
with the most careful discrimination, and then 
considered as adjuncts in a high and holy work. 

Young ladies of affluence need not consider it 
beneath them, to engage in the work of instruc- 
tion. It is one of the best modes to complete 



146 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

their own education. It consolidates their know- 
ledge, and gives them readiness in bringing it 
forth when it may be needed. It is no bad prepa- 
ration for matrimony, since it induces habits of 
order, industry and self-controul, beside impart- 
ing that knowledge of human nature, which is so 
valuable to her who expects to sit on the throne 
of that complicated little kingdom, a household. 

If in the female heart, there exists, as has been 
asserted, a love of power, there is no sphere in 
which it may be enjoyed so perfectly, as in that 
of teaching the young mind, through the affec- 
tions. Hear the testimony of Madame de Genlis, 
to this point, written after she had reached her 
fiftieth year. Of a young governess, to whose 
almost sole care her mother yielded her, when a 
child, she says, " I became attached to her from the 
first, and my attachment was as lasting as it was 
lively. Indeed, I loved and admired her so much, 
that she might have taught me whatever she had 
chosen. She had the spirit of an angel, and in 
our solitary walks spoke often to me of the Deity. 
We admired with feelings of extasy, the skies, the 
trees, the flowers, reading in the works of God's 
hands, the proofs of his existence. That idea, 
animated and embellished all nature in our eyes. 
Often, on awaking in the night, I used to leave 
my bed, and prostrate myself on the floor, in 
prayer to the Deity." Such an effect had the 



SCHOOLS. 147 

goodness of heart and unaffected piety of a young 
teacher of sixteen, upon the ingenuous heart of 
her pupil. 

The employment of teaching is congenial to 
happiness. I rejoice to be enabled to add my 
own experience to the truth of this assertion. 
Some of the most delightful years of my life, 
were devoted to the instruction of young ladies. 
And how could it be otherwise, when the pleasure 
of witnessing their improvement, was mingled 
with the consciousness of improving with them as 
a fellow-learner, when every laborious depart- 
ment of the vocation was cheered by the sweet- 
est sympathies, by demonstrations of attachment 
and gratitude, not to be doubted or mistaken, and 
which have continued with me into the wane of 
life. How often, on entering the school-room, 
and seeing fifteen bright faces turned toward me 
with the smile of welcome, have I silently given 
thanks for my blessed employment, and with that 
desire of setting a good example, which those 
feel who urge others to it, repeated in my heart, 
the words of the apostle, " for their sakes, I sanc- 
tify myself." Truly ungrateful should I be, not 
to bear glad testimony to the privilege of being 
associated with beings, who, in the blossom and 
beauty of youth, sought knowledge and goodness 
in preference to the vanity and pride of life, and 
who, regarding each other as one lovely fajtnily 3 



148 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

drew me also within the circle of their own sister- 
ly fellowship. When I recall the lineaments of 
those beautiful and buoyant spirits, who touched 
as with the wand of enchantment five downy- 
footed years, I am reminded of the fabled answer 
made by a piece of turf, to him who questioned 
whence its odour proceeded. " Roses were plant- 
ed on my soil. Their perfume deliciously pene- 
trated through all my pores. Otherwise, I had 
been still but a mass of clay." 

I hope the time will speedily come, when fe- 
males shall have charge of the whole education of 
their own sex. Especially, should those establish- 
ments where young ladies reside as in a home, 
be under feminine superintendence. Had ladies 
heretofore considered it as it really is, a privilege 
to teach, they would have claimed such stations 
as their right, and have strenuously prepared them- 
selves, to fill them with fidelity, and honour. "We 
shall insist on this point," says Mrs. Hale, "that no 
man ought to name himself alone, as responsible 
for the education of young ladies at a boarding- 
school. It is a contumely to the delicacy, moral 
sentiment, and mental ability of our sex, which 
every true-hearted, noble-spirited woman should 
resent. It is an infringement of our privileges, 
and they are neither so many or so large, that we 
can afford to lose a single link from the chain of 
influence and respect, without a murmur." 






SCHOOLS. 149 

Some of the reasons, why females should qual- 
ify themselves to conduct the whole education of 
their sex, are peculiar to our country. Here, the 
roads to wealth and distinction are thrown open 
equally to all. Men are continually solicited by 
strong motives, to gain or glory. Competition in 
some form or other, stimulates every individual 
of every rank. So restless, almost Sabbathless 
are their struggles, that foreigners call our coun- 
try a great work-shop, and say that our men look 
care-worn from their youth. Moved thus by the 
incentives to wealth or power, will the most 
energetic, and the best endowed, stoop to the 
drudgery of teaching ignorant children? Will 
' they endure it sufficiently long, to become versed 
in its countless details? Will the mind which is 
ambitious to amass millions, be content with its 
petty gains? Here then, is a sphere for the pa- 
tience and quietness of woman to enter, and win 
a reward which earth can never give. 

It is true, that here and there, men of erudi- 
tion and benevolence may devote themselves to 
the work of education, as to a permanent profes- 
sion. But what proportion can these be expected 
to bear, to the wants of our rapidly increasing 
and broadly emigrating population? Will the 
pioneer of the unplanted wild, or the colonist on 
the western prairie, gather around him the chil- 
dren of an infant settlement, and instil into them 
13* 



150 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

the simple rudiments of science, or watch the 
growth of the moral stamina of principle, and of 
character? Will the man of enterprize turn from 
his schemes, the rail-road, the canal, or the land- 
speculation, to submit to the tedious processes, or 
study the nameless refinements of female culture? 
The wealthy may indeed secure the aid of men 
of talents, in the education of their daughters. 
But these will be only exceptions. To borrow 
the fine simile of the philosophick Douglas, they 
bear no more comparison to the great mass who 
need instruction, than "the surface of ocean 
which is stirred by the breeze, or radiant in the 
sunbeam, bears to the depth of waters that lie 
dark and unmoved beneath." 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 151 



LETTER XIII. 

RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 

NOTWITHSTANDING every argument that can 
be adduced, . there will undoubtedly be many 
mothers, who decline taking an active part in the 
intellectual culture of their children. Yet let 
them not, with equal supineness, venture to ne- 
glect their religious instruction. For if "religion 
is the ritual of a tender and lowly mind, looking 
through the beauty and majesty of Nature, to its 
God." willing to believe what He has revealed, 
and docile to do what He has commanded, there 
surely exists, in the simplicity of childhood, a 
preparation for its spirit, which the lapse of years 
may impair. 

Can it be necessary to repeat the precept, that 
prayer should be early taught, and rendered ha- 
bitual, at stated seasons, especially at those of re- 
tiring to rest, and waking in the morning? That 
it should be felt as a privilege, and not as a task, 
will require judicious maternal attention. Begin 
with the simplest form of words, solemnly and 
affectionately uttered. As by little and little, the 



152 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

infant learns to lift up its heart, tell it that it has 
permission to bring its humble wants, thanks, and 
sorrows, in its own lisping language, to a Father 
in Heaven. Sooner than perhaps is expected, 
may the guileless spirit be led to intimate com- 
munion with the hearer of prayer. For there 
are, between that and Him, no deep descents into 
actual transgression; no long-continued clouds of 
alienated feeling, which darken His countenance, 
and crush in dust the heart of the way-worn 
pilgrim. 

When you are convinced that regular seasons 
of retirement are observed as a duty, or regarded 
as a privilege, let your next lesson be, that the 
softest sigh, the voiceless aspiration, are audible 
to the ear of Duty. Wait till this advance in 
piety has been secured, and then reverence the 
secresy of devotion in your children. If you are 
assured that they are prepared for that precept of 
the Saviour, "enter into thy closet, and shut thy 
door," allow the breath of the soul to ascend un- 
restrained to Him who "giveth the Holy Spirit 
to them who ask Him." 

Though the young suppliants may most en- 
joy seasons of solitary intercourse with their 
Maker, still they must be sedulously taught never 
to be ashamed of the practice of devotion, or of 
its appropriate posture of humility ; never to omit 
it, at rising, or retiring, for any circumstance what- 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 153 

ever. "I thought my aunt was a pious woman," 
said a very little child, "but now she cannot be, 
for I see she does not kneel down and pray to 
God, before she goes to sleep." A distinguished 
divine, when quite young, was once embarrassed, 
while on a journey, by being obliged to lodge in 
the same room with a stranger. Naturally timid, 
he was tempted to omit his nightly prayers, or to 
disguise their performance. But he reflected, and 
conscience prevailed. "Should not those who 
lodge together, pray together?" said he, as he 
knelt by his bed-side. The traveller, though not 
religious, and much older than himself, respected 
the piety of the boy, and sought his friendship. 

While the mother earnestly enforces the duty 
of devotion, at stated seasons, she must not re- 
strict it to those seasons. She should lead her 
young pupils, step by step, to mingle their re- 
quests for divine guidance, their praises for con- 
tinued mercy, not only with every unforeseen ex- 
igence, but with the common circumstances of 
their daily course. Ejaculatory prayer, the silent 
lifting up of the heart, by the fireside, at the 
table, in the midst of companions, studies, or the 
occupations of industry, may make the whole of 
life ah intercourse with its Giver. This mode of 
devotion must have been contemplated by the 
Apostle, in his injunction, "I will, that men pray 
every-where." 



154 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

There is a sweet and simple custom prevalent 
in Iceland, which marks the habitual devotion 
of its inhabitants. Whenever they leave home, 
though for a short journey, they uncover their 
heads, and, for the space of five minutes, silently 
implore the protection and favour of the Almighty. 
Dr. Henderson, from whom this fact is derived, 
and who observed it in the Icelanders who often 
attended him on his excursions, also remarked it 
in the humblest fishermen, when going forth to 
procure food for their families. After having put 
out upon the sea, they row the boat into quiet 
water, at a short distance from the shore, and, 
bowing their uncovered heads, solicit the blessing 
of their Father in Heaven. Even at passing a 
stream, which in their country of precipices is 
often an operation fraught with danger, they ob- 
serve the same sacred custom. This affecting 
habit of devotion has been imputed to the fact, 
that from their isolated situation, and modes of 
life, the mother is almost the only teacher, and 
her instructions seem to have become incorpora- 
ted with their very elements of being. Let us 
not permit our Icelandic sisters to go beyond 
us in enforcing the duty and practice of .devo- 
tion. 

Next to the exercise of prayer, we should im- 
plant in the minds of our children a reverence 
for the Sabbath. An ancient writer has said im- 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 155 

pressively, that "in the history of Creation, we 
may see that God placed wisdom above power, 
and the holy rest higher than both. For it is 
not said, but the mass and matter of the earth 
was made in a moment, though its order and ar- 
rangement cost the labour of six days: but the 
seventh day, in which the Great Architect con- 
templated his work, is blessed above all others." 

Let us imitate this climax. Whatever may 
have been the industry, or success of the week, 
its improvement or its happiness, let us feel that 
its crown of blessing is the holy rest and con- 
templation of the Sabbath. This solemn and glad 
consciousness will assist us to present it to our 
children in its true aspect. We should make 
them understand that God claims it as his own; 
and that if it is wrong to defraud an earthly 
friend, it must be a sin of still deeper die to seek 
to defraud an Almighty Benefactor. Teach them 
that all his commands have reference to their 
good, but that this has obvious connection with 
their spiritual improvement, and ought to be 
strictly regarded. 

One of the simplest rudiments of Sabbath ob- 
servance, is for the mother to sooth her little 
ones into a placid frame of mind. We cannot 
expect from them that delight in duty, which is 
the reward of more advanced piety. We must 
wait with patience, and labour in hope, not 



156 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

placing our standard of requisition too high, lest 
the young aspirant bow as under a yoke of 
bondage. 

Mothers, be careful, by your own example, to 
teach that rest from worldly occupation and dis- 
course, which the consecrated day prescribes, and 
by your heightened and serene cheerfulness, 
awaken a desire of imitation. Point out, in the 
stillness of the Sabbath morn, in the tint of the 
opening flower, or in the snowy drapery of win- 
ter, the untiring goodness and wisdom of the Cre- 
ator. By those mercies, which, from their con- 
tinued presence, we are too apt to pass unnoticed, 
lead their hearts to that Giver, who forgets not 
the ungrateful. Describe with what delight the 
gift of the pure air would fill the poor prisoner, 
or the dweller in a noxious clime; how the 
power of walking freely over the fresh, green 
turf would be prized by the cripple, or the sick, 
long chained to a couch of suffering; with what 
rapture the sparkling water would be hailed by 
the wandering Arab, the weary caravan, the pant- 
ing carnel in the sandy desert. To enkindle one 
spark of hallowed gratitude, or pious love, in the 
little bosoms that beat so near your own, is a 
work in unison with the spirit of the day of 
God. 

Be careful that the books, which your children 
read, are congenial to this holy season. Selections 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 157 

made by yourself from the historical parts of the 
Bible, and pictures illustrating them, afford a plea- 
sant and profitable mode of instruction. In the 
choice of subjects, or in your explanation of them, 
you can keep in view some adaptation to individual 
character, or train of thought, and thus, without 
seeming to do it, delicately reprove a fault, or 
cherish a drooping virtue. Committing hymns and 
sacred precepts to memory, is also an excellent 
exercise. How often do the aged carry to the 
utmost verge of life, the catechisms and sacred 
poetry they were accustomed to learn in their child- 
hood. When Beza, the celebrated reformer, became 
old, and had forgotten even the countenances and 
names of his friends, he could still repeat the epis- 
tles of St. Paul, which he had committed to 
memory when very young, and principally on the 
Sabbath. 

Spend as much time as you can, in religious 
conversation with your children. Do not dismiss 
them to the Sunday school, and think no more 
about them. Is it not a sacred pleasure to instruct 
them on this blessed day ? and would you not share 
in it ? Some unfortunate ones there are, for whom 
no religious parent, or friend at home, are interested. 
To such, the Sunday school teacher is an invalua- 
ble treasure, a " light shining in a dark place," to 
guide the wanderer's feet in the way of peace. 
With deep gratitude and love, should those bands 
14 



158 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

of devoted teachers be regarded, who, throughout 
the cities and villages of our land, resign the sweet 
rest of the Sabbath, for the sake of the souls of 
others. Doubtless their self-denial, and fidelity, 
will be remembered at the judgment, and win for 
them a fuller portion of eternal felicity. 

But because Sunday school teachers are willing 
to "jeopard themselves, even unto death," is the 
indolence of parents to be excused? If they are 
in possession of religious knowledge, and leisure, 
why should not the younger members of their families 
participate in this wealth ? and they enjoy the high 
pleasure of imparting it? 

Require of your children a quiet deportment, 
and reverent attention, during the public services 
of the church. It is not wise to permit their attend- 
ance there, while they are so young as to interrupt 
the devotion of others, for the benefit they may be 
expected to receive, will scarcely counterbalance 
the inconvenience sustained by older worshippers. 
It is related of Joshua Rowley Gilpin, that his 
parents had so thoroughly impressed him with 
reverence for the house of God, that at his first 
introduction there, though at a very early age, he 
testified deep awe, and ever afterwards, while listen- 
ing to ministrations from the pulpit, revealed in 
his deportment the most unaffected decorum and 
piety. 

His father thus describes the delightful manner 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 159 

in which that part of the Sabbath which was spent 
at home, passed with their son, whose education 
was conducted by his parents : " Unrestrained by 
the presence of witnesses, we gave on that sacred 
day, an unlimited indulgence to our affectionate 
and devotional feelings. We conversed as parts of 
the same family; we congratulated each other, as 
members of the Christian Church ; we rejoiced over 
each other, as heirs of the same glorious promises. 
Some interesting passage of Scripture, or some 
choice piece of divinity, generally furnished the 
matter of our discourse, and while we endeavoured 
to obtain a clear and comprehensive view of the 
subject before us, a divine light seemed sometimes 
to break in upon us, satisfying our doubts, exalting 
our conceptions, and cheering our hearts. With 
one consent, we have then laid aside our book, that 
we might uninterruptedly admire the beauties and 
enjoy the glories of the opening prospect. While 
thus solacing ourselves with a view of our future 
enjoyments, and the place of our final destination, 
we have solemnly renewed our vows, resolving for 
the joy that was set before us, to endure the cross, 
despising the shame,' in humble imitation of our 
adorable Master. In such a frame of mind, we 
found it possible to speak of probable sufferings, 
and painful separations, with the utmost compo- 
sure. And with such a termination of our course 
in sight, we could cheerfully leave all the casual- 



160 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ties of that course to the Divine disposal ; fully 
persuaded, that whatever evil might befal us by 
the way, an abundant compensation would be 
made for all, on our arrival at home." 

It seems scarcely necessary to remark, that our 
young pupils ought not to be initiated into contro- 
versial, or metaphysical subtleties. Their under- 
standings have not sufficient strength to grasp the 
disputes that divide Christendom. They are per- 
plexed by distinctions of doctrine, when their 
feeble comprehension might have been guided out 
of the labyrinth, by the simple precept, that 
" the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wis- 
dom." Their religion should be eminently that 
of the heart, a love of their Father in Heaven, 
a love of all whom he has made, an obedience to 
his commands, a dread of his displeasure, a con- 
tinual reference to him for aid, renovation, and 
forgiveness through the Saviour, and a conscious- 
ness that every deed, however secret, is open to 
his eye, every word, every motive, to be brought 
into judgment. This foundation will bear a broad 
superstructure, when years expand the lineaments 
of character, and time's trials teach self-knowledge, 
humility, and reliance on omnipotent strength. 

Perhaps some mother exclaims, " she who thinks 
herself fit to communicate such instruction, ought 
to have much knowledge herself." Certainly ; and 
one great benefit of the undertaking is, that she 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 161 

is thus induced to study, and to increase in the 
knowledge of divine things. 

"But how are we to acquire this knowledge? 
We have not time to hear all who speak in public, 
or to read half the books that are written." 

The leisure of a faithful mother, is indeed cir- 
cumscribed. When she is unable to go forth, 
as she might desire, and seek for instruction, let 
her make trial of the injunction of the Psalmist, 
to "commune with her own heart, and in her 
chamber, and be still." " The retiring of the mind 
into itself," said a man of wisdom, "is the state 
most susceptible of divine impressions." 

To study the scriptures, to solicit the aid of 
the Holy Spirit, to draw forth from memory the 
priceless precepts of a religious education, and 
reduce them to practice, are more congenial to 
maternal duty, than the exciting system of the 
ancient Athenians, who, according to the Apostle, 
"spent their time in nothing else, but either to 
tell, or to hear some new thing." "Transplant 
thyself into some enclosed ground," said an an- 
cient writer, " for it is hard for a tree that stand- 
eth by the way-side, to keep its fruit until it be 
fully ripe." To overload a field with seed, how- 
ever good, yet neglect the process that incorpo- 
rates it with the mould, is but to provide food 
for the fowls of the air. This must emphatically 
be the case, when the mistress of a family leaves 
14* 



162 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

imperative duties unperformed at home, and wan- 
ders frequently abroad, though it seem to be in 
search of wisdom. Her thoughts, if she is con- 
scientious, will so hover about her forsaken 
charge, as to leave no fixedness of attention, for 
the discussions of the speaker. His voice may 
indeed be like the lovely song of a very plea- 
sant instrument, but it must fall on a partially 
deafened ear. In spite of every endeavour, her 
heart will be travelling homeward to the feeble 
babe, the uncontrouled children, or the lawless 
servants. 

A mother, in rather humble life, was desirous 
to attend an evening meeting. Her husband, who 
was obliged to go in another direction, advised 
her to remain at home. He urged, that- the 
weather was cold, and there was no one to leave 
with the babe, and two other little ones, except 
a young, indiscreet girl, whom they were bring- 
ing up, and who being apt to fall asleep with 
the infant in her arms, he feared it might fall 
into the fire upon the hearth, or perhaps, the 
house be consumed. But as she had gone, a 
night or two before, and no accident had hap- 
pened, she said she thought she would trust 
providence again. So she went, yet her heart 
misgave her. As she opened the door of the 
lecture-room, the speaker rising, pronounced his 
text: 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 163 

"With whom hast thou left those few sheep 
in the wilderness?" 

The force of his elocution, and the coincidence 
of the passage with her own rather reproachful 
train of thought, so wrought upon her feelings, 
that in a short time, she silently left her seat, and 
returned home. Afterwards she acknowledged, 
that this circumstance had aided to convince her, 
how essential a part of religion it was, to watch 
over the unfledged birdlings of her own nest. 

Though the paths of instruction are preferable 
to-jthe haunts of fashion and folly, as far as "light 
excelleth darkness," yet is it not possible, that 
there may be such a thing as religious dissipa- 
tion ? If so, it is peculiarly to be deprecated in a 
mother, one of whose first obligations is to " show 
piety at home," and whose simple presence, even 
the sound of her protecting voice from a distant 
apartment, is often far more essential to the wel- 
fare of the little kingdom which she rules, than 
she herself imagines. 

A lady once asserted that she had heard nine 
sermons, or lectures, during the week, adding as a 
proof of her zeal and self-denial, that she had left 
some of her family sick, in order to attend 
them. Now, if these nine discourses embodied 
the intellectual strength of profound and educated 
men, it would be exceedingly difficult for a ma- 
tron, burdened with the cares peculiar to her sta- 



164 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

tion, so to "mark, learn, and inwardly digest" this 
mass of knowledge, as to receive proportionate 
gain. And I could not help recollecting the noble 
lady of ancient times, who had determined to visit 
all Palestine, and then take up her abode in Beth- 
lehem, that she might make Christ's inn her 
home, and die where he was born, of whom 
Fuller, the historian, quaintly remarks, that " see- 
ing she left three daughters, and her poor little 
infant Foxotius behind her, he was fain to think, 
for his own part, that she had done as accepta- 
ble a deed to God, by staying to rock her child 
in the cradle, as to enter Christ's manger." 

I would not, were it in my power, say aught 
to diminish the ardour of my sex, to keep up 
with the spirit of this advancing age, and above 
all, to hold in the highest estimation the know- 
ledge of things divine. Rather, would I increase 
a thousand-fold, their reverence for such know- 
ledge, and for those who teach it. But let not 
the mother of little ones, forget that her para- 
mount duty is to impart to them what she has 
herself learned, and proved, and held fast, as an 
"anchor to the soul." Whatever accession she 
makes to her own spiritual wealth, let her sim- 
plify and share it with the flock over whom 
the Chief Shepherd hath made her overseer. Let 
none of her manna-gatherings be in the spirit 
of idle, aimless curiosity, but with the earnest 






RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 165 

intention better to obey the command of dying 
love, "Feed my lambs." 

How quiet, yet efficient, was the maternal in- 
fluence of Monica over Augustine, as it has 
been delineated by one of the powerful pens 
of our country, which has also mingled with 
the biography many collateral traits of the civil 
and ecclesiastical history of the fourth and fifth 
centuries. Truly admirable was her patience 
with the waywardness of her son, when "her 
voice, or rather the voice of God in her, he 
despised, thinking it to be only the voice of a 
woman ;" her fidelity in admonishing him of er- 
ror, and warning him of danger ; her persever- 
ance, which drew from an eminent Christian the 
assertion, that it was impossible for a child of 
such prayers to perish ; her trust in God, by 
which the "wormwood of her anguish was al- 
ways sweetened by some infusion of divine 
hope;" and her rapturous praise, at the conver- 
sion of the object of her fondest care, when the 
"vine, which had for such a distance crept 
along on the surface, was about suddenly to 
shoot up, and twine around the tree of life." 
Would that the example of this ancient saint 
were more frequently imitated, and that our 
children more fully profited by the efficacy of 
maternal prayers. 

It was a high suffrage, once accorded to the 



166 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

piety of Fenelon, by an infidel, who exclaimed: 
" let me get out of his house, or I shall be a 
Christian." May the beauty of holiness so rest 
upon our households, that every dweller there, 
as well as every guest, may both love and adopt 
its lineaments. 

Can woman ever do too much to evince her 
gratitude to the religion of Christ? Look at her 
situation among the most polished heathen. Trace 
the depths of her domestic depression, even in 
the proudest days of Greece and Rome. What 
has she been under the Moslem? Humbled by 
polygamy, entombed in the harem, denounced as 
soulless. Only under the Gospel dispensation has 
she been accounted an equal, the happy and 
cherished partaker of an immortal hope. 

Even amid the brightness that beamed upon 
ancient Zion, her lot was in strong shadow. 
Now and then she appears with the timbrel of 
the prophetess ; or as a beautiful gleaner in the 
fields of Boaz ; or as a mother, giving the son 
of her prayers to the temple-service. But these 
are rather exceptions to a general rule, than proofs 
that she was an equal sharer in the blessings of 
the Jewish polity. 

How afflicting is her lot among uncivilized na- 
tions, and throughout the realms of paganism ! 
See the American Indian, binding the burden 
upon his weaker companion, and walking on 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 167 

pitiless, in his unembarrassed strength. See her 
among the Polynesian islands, the slave of de- 
graded man ; or beneath an African sun, crouch- 
ing, to receive on her head the load which the 
camel should bear. See her in heathen India, 
cheered by no gleam of the domestic affections, 
or household charities. 

A gentleman, long a resident in the east, men- 
tions that among the pilgrims who throng to the 
temple of Juggernaut, was a. Hindoo family, 
who had travelled two thousand miles on foot. 
They had nearly reached the end of their 
toils and journey, when the mother was taken 
sick. On perceiving that she was unable to 
travel, the husband abandoned her. Creeping a 
few steps at a time, she at length reached, with 
her babe, a neighbouring village. There she be- 
sought shelter, but in vain. A storm came on, 
and she laid herself down, in her deadly sick- 
ness, under a tree. There she was found in the 
morning by the benevolent narrator, drenched 
with rain, and the infant clinging to her breast. 
He removed her, and gave her medicine, but it 
was too late. The flame of life was expiring. 
He besought many individuals to take pity on 
the starving child. The universal reply was, 
"No. It is only a girl." He went to the owner 
of the village, a man of wealth, and implored 
his aid. The refusal was positive. "Is the 



168 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

mother dead? Let the child die too. What else 
should it do? Have you not said it was a 
girl?" So, the Christian took the miserable infant 
under his protection. Having procured some 
milk, he mentioned that he should never forget 
the look with which the poor famished creature 
crawled to his feet, and gazed up in his face, as 
she saw the food approaching. So strongly were 
his compassions moved, that he determined to 
take her with him to his own land, that she 
might receive the nurture of that religion, which 
moves the strong to respect the weak, and opens 
the door of heaven to every humble and trusting 
soul. 

Surely, woman is surrounded by an array of 
[motives of unspeakable strength, to be an advo- 
/cate for pure religion, a teacher of its precepts, 
/ an exemplification of its spirit. The slightest in- 
novation of its principles, she is bound to repel. 
The faintest smile at its institutions, she must 
discountenance. To her, emphatically, may the 
words of the Jewish lawgiver be addressed, "it is 
/ not a vain thing ; it is your life. 1 " 

That she may do this great work effectually, 

f let her " receive the truth, in the love of it." 

Let her contemplate with affection the character 

/ of her Saviour, and earnestly seek more entire 

/ conformity to that religion, through which she 

receives such innumerable blessings. Let her say 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 169 

with more firmness than did the ardent disciple, 
"though all men forsake thee, yet will not I." 
Ever should she assiduously cherish the spirit, so 
beautifully ascribed to her by the poet, 

" Not she, with serpent-kiss, her Saviour stung ; 
Not she, denied him with a traitor-tongue : 
She, when apostles shrank, could brave the gloom, 
Last at the Cross, and earliest at the tomb." 



170 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER XIV. 

DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. 

WE mothers, best discharge our duty to the com- 
munity, by training up those who shall give it 
strength and beauty. Our unwearied labours 
should coincide with the aspirations of the Psalm- 
ist, that " our sons may be as plants grown up in 
their youth, our daughters as corner-stones, pol- 
ished after the similitude of a palace." We would 
not wish to leave to society, where we have our- 
selves found protection and solace, a bequest that 
would dishonour our memory. 

I feel peculiar solicitude with regard to the 
manner in which our daughters are reared. Being 
more constantly with us, and more perfectly under 
our controul, than sons, they are emphatically 
our representatives, the truest tests of our system, 
the strongest witnesses to another generation, of 
our fidelity, or neglect. 

" Unless women," said the venerable Fellenberg, 
" are brought up with industrious and religious 
habits, it is in vain that we educate the men : 
for they are the ones, who keep the character 






DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. 171 

Xr>f men in its proper elevation." Our duty to 
the community, which must be discharged by the 
education of a whole race, comprises many un- 
obtrusive, almost invisible points, which, in detail, 
seem trivial or desultory, but which are still as 
important as the rain-drop to the cistern, or the 
rill to the broad stream. 

A long period allotted to study, a thorough im- 
plantation of domestic tastes, and a vigilant guard- 
ianship over simplicity of character, are desirable 
for the daughters of a republick. That it is wise 
to give the greatest possible extent to the season 
of tutelage, for those who have much to learn, is 
a self-evident proposition. If they are to teach 
others, it is doubly important ; and there is no 
country on earth, where so many females are 
employed in teaching, as in our own. Indeed, 
from the position that educated women here 
maintain, it might not be difficult to establish the 
point, that they are all teachers, all forming other 
beings upon the model of their own example, 
however unconscious of the fact. To abridge the 
education of the educator, is to stint the culture 
of a plant, whose " leaves are for the healing of 
the nations." 

I was delighted to hear a young lady say, at 
the age of nineteen, " I cannot bear to think yet 
of leaving school. I have scarcely begun to 
learn." With propriety might she express this 



172 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

sentiment, though she was eminent both in stu- 
dies and accomplishments, if the great Michael 
Angelo could adopt for his motto, in his nine- 
tieth year. " ancora imparo," "and yet I am 
learning." 

It has unfortunately been too much the custom 
in our country, not only to shorten the period 
allotted to the education of our sex, but to fritter 
away even that brief period in contradictory pur- 
suits and pleasures. Parents have blindly lent their 
influence to this usage. To reform it, they must 
oppose the tide of fashion, and of opinion. Let 
them instruct their daughters to resist the prin- 
ciple of conforming in any respect to the example 
of those around them, unless it is rational in itself, 
and correctly applicable to them as individuals. 
A proper expenditure for one, would be ruinous 
extravagance in another. So, if some indiscreet 
mothers permit their young daughters to waste 
in elaborate dress, and fashionable parties, the 
attention which should be devoted to study, need 
their example be quoted as a precedent 1 To do 
as others do, which is the rule of the unthinking, 
is often to copy bad taste, and erring judgment. 
We use more discrimination in points of trifling 
import. We pause and compare patterns, ere we 
purchase a garment which perchance lasts but for 
a single season. Why should we adopt with little 
inquiry, or on the strength of doubtful precedent, 



DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. 173 

a habit, which may stamp the character of our 
children forever? 

The youngest girl should be taught, when cir- 
cumstances require, not to fear to differ from her 
companions, either in costume, manners, or opin- 
ion. Singularity, for its own sake, and every 
approach to eccentricity, should be deprecated and 
discouraged. Even necessary variations from those 
around, must be managed with delicacy, so as not 
to wound feeling, or exasperate prejudice. But 
she who dare not be independent, when reason 
or duty dictate, will be in danger of forfeiting 
decision of character, perhaps, integrity of prin- 
ciple. 

Simple attire, and simple manners, are the nat- 
ural ornaments of those who are obtaining their 
school-education. They have the beauty of fit- 
ness, and the policy of leaving the mind free, for 
its precious pursuits. Love of display, every step 
towards affectation, are destructive of the charms 
of that sweet season of life. Ceremonious visit- 
ing, where showy apparel, and late hours pre- 
vail, must be avoided. I feel painful sympa- 
thy for those mothers, who expose their young 
daughters to such excitements, yet expect them 
to return, unimpaired and docile, to the re- 
straints of school-discipline. " Those who forsake 
useful studies," said an eminent philosopher, " for 
useless speculations, are like the Olympic game- 
15* 



174 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

sters, who abstained from necessary labours, that 
they might be fit for such as were not so." 

Shall I allude to the want of expediency, in 
exhibiting very young ladies in mixed society? 
Their faces become familiar to the public eye. 
The shrinking delicacy of their privileged period 
of life, escapes. The dews of the morning are 
too suddenly exhaled. They get to be accounted 
old, ere they are mature ; more is expected of 
them, than their unformed characters can yield ; 
and if their discretion does not surpass their 
years, they may encounter severe criticism, per- 
haps, calumny. When they should be just emerg- 
ing, as a fresh-opened blossom, they are hack- 
neyed to the common gaze, as the last year's 
Souvenir, which by courtesy or sufferance, main- 
tains a place on the centre-table, though its value 
has deteriorated. Is not the alternative either a 
premature marriage, or an obsolete continuance in 
the arena of fashion ? with a somewhat mortifying 
adherence to the fortunes of new votaries, as grade 
after grade, they assert their claims to fleeting 
admiration, or vapid flattery ? 

How much more faithfully does the mother 
perform her duty, who brings forth to society, no 
crude, or superficial semblance of goodness, but 
the well-ripened fruit of thorough, prayerful cul- 
ture. Her daughter, associated with herself, in 
domestic cares, at the same time that she gath- 






DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. 175 

ered the wealth of intellectual knowledge, is now 
qualified to take an active part in the sphere 
which she embellishes. Adorned with that sim- 
plicity which attracts every eye, when combined 
with good-breeding, and a right education, she 
is arrayed in a better panoply than the armour 
of Semiramis, or the wit and beauty of Cleopatra, 
for whom the Roman lost a world. 

Simplicity of language, as well as of garb and 
manner, is a powerful ingredient in that art 
of pleasing, which the young and lovely of our 
sex are supposed to study. The conversation of 
children, is rich in this charm. Books intended 
for their instruction or amusement, should con- 
sult this idiom. Ought not females to excel in 
the composition of elementary works for the 
juvenile intellect, associated as they are with it, 
in its earliest and least-constrained developements ? 
The talented and learned man is prone to find 
himself embarrassed by such a labour. The more 
profound his researches in science, and the know- 
ledge of the world, the farther must he retrace 
his steps, to reach the level of infantine simpli- 
city. Possibly, he might ascend among the stars, 
and feel at home, but to search for honey-dew 
in the bells of flowers, and among the mosses, 
needs the beak of the humming-bird, or the wing 
of the butterfly. He must recall, with painful effort, 
the far-off days, when he "thought as a child, 



176 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

spake as a child, understood as a child." For- 
tunate will he be, if the "strong meat" on which 
he has so long fed, have not wholly indisposed 
him to relish the "milk of babes." If he is able 
to arrest the thoughts and feelings, which charmed 
him when life was new, he will still be obliged 
to transfuse them into the dialect of childhood. 
He must write in a foreign idiom, where, not 
to be ungrammatical is praise, and not utterly 
to fail, is victory. Perhaps, in the attempt, he 
may be induced to exclaim, with the conscious 
majesty of Milton, "my mother bore me, a 
speaker of that, which God made my own, and 
not a translator." 

It has been somewhere asserted, that he who 
would agreeably instruct children, must become 
the pupil of children. They are not, indeed, 
qualified to act as guides, among the steep cliffs 
of knowledge, which they have never traversed. 
But they are most skilful conductors to the 
green plats of turf, and the wild flowers that 
encircle its base. They best know where the 
violets and king-cups grow, which they have 
themselves gathered, and where the clear brook 
makes mirthful music, in its pebbly bed. 

Have you ever listened to a little girl, telling 
a story to her younger brother or sister? What 
adaptation of subject, circumstance, and epithet. 
If she repeats what she has heard, how natur- 



DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. 177 

ally does she simplify every train of thought. 
If she enters the region of invention, how wisely 
does she keep in view the taste and comprehen- 
sion of her auditor. Ah, how powerful is that 
simplicity, which so readily unlocks, and rules 
the heart, and which "seeming to have nothing, 
possesseth all things." 

Those who are conversant with little children, 
are not always disposed sufficiently to estimate 
them, or to allow them the high rank which 
they really hold in the scale of being. In re- 
garding the acorn, we forget that it comprises 
within its tiny round, the future oak. It is this 
want of prospective wisdom, which occasions ig- 
norant persons often to despise childhood, and 
renders some portions of its early training, sea- 
sons of bitter bondage. " Knowledge is an im- 
pression of pleasure" said Lord Bacon. They 
who impart it to the young, ought not to inter- 
fere with its original nature, or divide the toil 
from the reward. Educated females, ought espe- 
cially to keep bright the links between knowledge 
and happiness. This is one mode of evincing 
gratitude to the age in which they live, for the 
generosity with which it has renounced those 
prejudices, which in past times circumscribed the 
intellectual culture of their sex. 

May I be excused for repeatedly urging them, 
to convince the community that it has lost no- 



178 LETTJERS TO MOTHERS. 

thing by this liberality? Let not the other sex 
be authorized in complaining, that the firesides 
of their fathers were better regulated than their 
own. Give them no chance to throw odium 
upon knowledge, from the faults of its allies and 
disciples. Rather let them see, that by a partici- 
pation in the blessings of education, you are made 
better in every domestic department, in every rela- 
tive duty, more ardent in every hallowed effort 
of benevolence and piety. 

I cannot believe that the distaste for household 
industry, which some young ladies evince, is the 
necessary effect of a more expanded system of 
education. Is it not rather the abuse of that sys- 
tem? Or may it not radically be the fault of 
the mother, in neglecting to mingle day by day 
domestic knowledge with intellectual culture? in 
forgetting that the warp needs a woof, ere the 
rich tapestry can be perfect? I am not prepared 
to assert that our daughters have too much learn- 
ing, though I may be compelled to concede that 
it is not always well balanced, or judiciously 
used. 

Education is not indeed confined to any one 
point of our existence, yet it assumes peculiar 
importance at that period when the mind is most 
ductile to every impression. Just at the dawn of 
that time, we see the mother watching for the 
first faint tinge of intellect, "more than they who 



DUTY TO THE COMMUNITY. 179 

watch for the morning." At her feet a whole 
generation sit, as pupils. Let her learn her own 
value', as the 'first educator, that, in proportion to 
the measure of her influence, she may acquit her- 
self of her immense responsibilities. 

Her debt to the community must be paid 
through her children, or through others whom 
she may rear up to dignify and adorn it. Aris- 
totle said, "the fate of empires depended on edu- 
cation." But that in woman dwelt any particle 
of that conservative power, escaped the scrutiniz- 
ing eye of the philosopher of Greece. The far- 
sighted statesmen of our own times have disco- 
vered it. 

A Prussian legislator, at the beginning of the 
present century, promulgated the principle, that 
"to the safety and regeneration of a people, a 
correct state of religious opinion and practice was 
essential, which could only be effected by proper 
attention to the early nurture of the mind." He 
foresaw the influence of the training of infancy 
upon the welfare of a nation. 

Let our country go still further, and recognize 
in the nursery, and at the fireside, that hallowed 
agency, which, more than the pomp of armies, 
shall guard her welfare, and preserve her liberty. 
Trying, as she is, in her own isolated sphere, the 
mighty experiment, whether a Republic can ever 
be permanent; standing in need, as she does, of 



180 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

all the checks which she can command to curb 
faction, cupidity, and reckless competition ; rich 
in resources, and therefore in danger from her 
own power ; in danger from the very excess of 
her own happiness, from that knowledge which 
is the birth-right of her people, unless there go 
forth with it a moral purity, guarding the un- 
sheathed weapon ; let this our dear country not 
slight the humblest instrument that may advance 
her safety, nor forget that the mother, kneeling 
by the cradle-bed, hath her hand upon the ark of 
a nation. 



READING AND THINKING. 181 



LETTER XV. 

READING AND THINKING. 

THIS is emphatically the age of book-making, 
and miscellaneous reading. Profound thought is 
becoming somewhat obsolete. The rapidity with 
which space is traversed, and wealth accumula- 
ted, the many exciting objects which arrest at- 
tention in our new, and wide country, indispose 
the mind to the old habits of patient investiga- 
tion, and solitary study. 

That class of books, which enforce meditation, 
hence acquire additional value. They operate as 
an equipoise, or a sedative to the too excited 
intellect. In proportion to the depth of thought, 
which they require, is their healthful action, by 
calling home the mind, which is in danger of 
becoming discursive and desultory. 

Among the evils of a distaste for reading, are 
the worldly and common trains of thought, which 
usurp dominion over us. Those every-day em- 
ployments, which the hands might discharge, and 
leave the mind in some measure at liberty, cast 
off the yoke of vassalage, and seat themselves on 
16 



182 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

the throne. They take us captive, and cover us 
with dust. Then the jar of life's machinery 
deafens us, and our ear becomes untuned to the 
"deep-inwoven melodies" of contemplation. 

Subjects of discourse are prone to become 
trifling or personal, unless elevated and replen- 
ished from the world of books. Such a result 
would be hazardous to our sex, who are pro- 
verbially gregarious and sociable. Mothers should 
guard against it, for their temptations are great, 
to make the cares and mysteries of housekeeping 
the too general theme of conversation, till egotism 
or selfishness, disguised in amiable forms, steal 
over them unawares. 

Though books are invaluable adjuncts both to 
our respectability and comfort, yet unless we se- 
lect those which suggest profitable subjects for 
thought or conversation, it might be better for 
many of us, if we read less. The numerous 
periodical publications of the day, act as a 
stimulant to the mental appetite, provoking it 
beyond its capacity of digestion. " Nothing," says 
Dugald Stewart, "has such a tendency to weaken s 
not only the powers of invention, but the intel- 
lectual powers in general, as extensive reading, 
without reflection. Mere reading books, oppresses, 
enfeebles, and is, with many, a substitute for 
thinking." 

That we read too much, and reflect too little, 



READING AND THINKING. 183 

will scarcely be doubted. The flood of desul- 
tory literature sweeps on like a deluge, and the 
mind, like the bird of Noah, spreads a weary 
wing over the shoreless ocean, yet finds no rest- 
ing-place. The disposition to seek out the "chief 
seats at synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at 
feasts," which flourishes under our free govern- 
ment, leads some to become authors, and teach- 
ers, who have need to learn. 

It would be well if more attention were be- 
stowed by parents, on the character of books 
which are put into the hands of children. Even 
their style of execution, the character of the type, 
paper and embellishments, are important ; for the 
taste is earlier formed, than we are apt to ima- 
gine. As the education of the eye is among 
the first efforts of instruction, it is a pity to vi- 
tiate it by evil models. A fair book is a beau- 
tiful object to a child, and will be more care- 
fully preserved, and generally more attentively 
perused, than if its exterior were repulsive. 

Parents should always inform themselves what 
books their children are reading. They should, 
if possible, first peruse them, and see whether 
they are calculated to impart wholesome nutri- 
ment, or stupifying anodyne, or deadly aconite. 
We cannot take it for granted, that because they 
have a book in their hand, their souls are safe. 
I was acquainted with a father and mother, who 



184 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

carefully perused every book which was to be 
entrusted to their children, and marked with the 
scrupulousness of refined and religious taste, such 
parts as they considered either injurious, or in- 
apposite ; and so perfect were the habits of obe- 
dience which they had enforced, that the pen- 
cilled passages were left unread. 

The ambition to have children read at a very 
early age, seems ill-placed. Apart from any ill 
effect of infantine application upon health, is not 
the attainment rather the sound of words, than 
the reception of ideas'? 

"My daughter could read as well at three 
years old as she does now," says some fond 
mother, trespassing a little upon that province of 
boasting, from which the "very chiefest of the 
apostles" has excluded us. Had the child been 
gifted with the wisdom of the stripling David, it 
would have objected to be thus girded with the 
heavy armour of a veteran. What can be the 
motive for thrusting weapons into a hand which 
is too weak to wield them? What is the use of 
repeating words which the understanding cannot 
comprehend? Is it even safe, to force an imma- 
ture intellect into unnatural prominence? 

I once admired precocity, and viewed it as the 
breath of Deity, quickening to ripe and rare ex- 
cellence. But I have since learned to fear it. 
Minds, which in childhood distanced their cotem- 



READING AND THINKING. 185 

poraries, so often cease to advance in the same 
ratio, become restive, inert, or apparently deteri- 
orated, that I cannot but regard with more true 
satisfaction, a fabric built up slowly and solidly. 

"I left my boy at his books," says the parent, 
with a self-complacent smile. Now, though it is 
far better to read than to do mischief, we cannot 
always be certain that reading is a defence from 
every danger. A boy, if idle, may choose a book 
as a refuge from incumbent industry; or, if ill- 
disposed, may select an improper one ; or, if 
thoughtless, may read the best volume without 
remembrance or improvement. So, though a taste 
for reading is an indication of mental health, and 
a claim on gratitude, yet let no mother feel per- 
fectly at ease about her children, simply because 
they read, unless she knows the character of the 
books that engage their attention, and what use 
is made of the knowledge they impart. 

"I shall never feel satisfied," says another pa- 
rent, "till my son acquires a love of reading." 
Study the impulse of his mind. Perhaps his 
tools are his books. The Roman might have 
been accounted idle, while he traversed the shore 
to collect the wave-worn fragments of the broken 
ship of Carthage: yet thence arose the navy of 
Rome. Noah might have been accounted vision- 
ary, while he built the ark, amid "the contradic- 
tion of sinners," but under the impulse of heaven* 
16* 



186 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

We know that Newton was misunderstood while 
he pondered the frail orb of the soap-bubble ; and 
Fulton ridiculed while he propelled that first ad- 
venturous vessel, whose countless offspring were 
soon to mock the winds, and tread the waves 
with their feet of fire. 

Count not the child an idler, who studies the 
Book of Nature, or invigorates by active exercise 
the wonderful mechanism of the body. Yet I 
would not speak lightly of the love of reading. 
Oh no! This cannot be done by those who 
reverence knowledge. I simply assert that Na- 
ture exhibits a diversity of operations. The va- 
rious trades and professions must be filled. If all 
were sedentary men, who would compel the earth 
to yield her increase? or preside at the forge of 
the artificer? or speed the shuttle of the artizan? 
or spread the sail that bears to remotest regions 
subsistence and wealth? 

The use and ingenuity of the hands should be 
encouraged in children. Neither should their 
ruling tastes be too much counteracted in select- 
ing their business for life. The due admixture 
and welfare of different trades and professions in 
the body politic, is like the fine economy of the 
frame. "So that the eye cannot say to the hand, 
nor again the hand to the feet, I have no need 
of you." It is becoming but too common to de- 
press mechanics and agriculturists, the very sinews 



READING AND THINKING. 187 

and life-blood of the land, and to uplift a sort of 
speculating indolence, which in the end may 
make the drones disproportionate to the honey in 
our national hive. 

Yet whatever mental tendency our children 
may reveal, or to whatever employment they are 
destined, let us teach them the art of thinking. 
Let us prize the slightest fragment of thought, 
which in broken whispers they submit to our ear. 
While we require their opinion of the sentiments 
and language of authors, the traits of character 
which they perceive around, and the trains of 
thought which they find most salutary or agreea- 
ble, let us gently but faithfully regulate a dazzled 
imagination, or a defective judgment. It has 
been said of one of our distinguished divines, 
that his mind in childhood received impulse and 
colouring from a pious mother, who taught him 
how to think. Though she was early removed, 
he imbibed from her tuition that love of letters, 
that taste for original and independent research, 
which impelled him to conquer all the hardships 
of restricted circumstances, and obtain the benefits 
and honours of classick education. 

Mothers should never remit their exertions, until 
by teaching their children to think, they familiar- 
ize them with the power and use of their own 
minds. Especially let them not "despise the day 
of small tilings," nor despair, if the effect of their 



188 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

arduous labour is not immediately or distinctly 
visible. A friend of the great Michael Angelo 
saw him one day at work upon a statue. Long 
afterward he called, and it was yet unfinished. 

"Have you been idle?" 

" Ah, no. I have retouched here, and polished 
there. I have softened this feature, and brought 
that muscle forth in bolder relief. I have given 
more expression to the lip, more grace and ener- 
gy to the form." 

"Still these are but trifles." 

"It may be so. But trifles make perfection, 
though perfection itself is no trifle." 

The sculptor upon his dead marble, ought not 
to surpass in patience, us, who fashion the living 
image, and whose work is upon the " fleshly ta- 
bles of the heart." Can we keep too strongly in 
view, the imperishable nature, the priceless value 
of those for whom we toil 1 In every child, there 
is an endless history. Compare the annals of the 
most boasted nation, with the story of one unend- 
ing existence. Has not our Saviour already 
shown the result, in his parallel between the gain 
of the whole world, and the loss of one soul? 
Assyria stretched out its colossal limbs, and sank 
ignobly, like the vaunting champion on the 
plains of Elah. Egypt came up proudly, with 
temple, and labyrinth, and pyramid, but fell 
down manacled at the feet of the Turk. Greece, 



READING AND THINKING. 189 

so long the light of the world, deserted by poet 
and philosopher, fled, pale as her own sculpture, 
from the same brutal foe. Rome thundered, and 
fell. She struggled indeed, and was centuries in 
dying. But is she not dead? Can the mummy 
in the Vatican, from its gilded sarcophagus, be 
indeed that Rome before whom the world trem- 
bled? 

The story of these empires fills many pages. 
The little child reads them, and is wearied. But 
when their ancient features shall have faded from 
the map of nations, and the tomes that recorded 
their triumphs and their fate, blacken in the last 
flame, where shall be the soul of that little child 1 ? 
Mother ! where ? 

Will it not, then, have but just begun its eternal 
duration? Will not its history be studied by 
archangels ? Proud Philosophy perchance view- 
ed it as a noteless thing, an atom. Doth God, 
the father of the Spirit, thus regard it? 

Mothers, of the four millions of children who 
are yet to be educated in this Western World, 
to whom our country looks, as her defence and 
glory, Mothers, of four millions of immortal be- 
ings, have you any time to lose? any right to 
loiter on your great work? 



190 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER XVI. 

EXAMPLE. 

Do 1 hear some mother say, "if we do all that 
is proposed for our children, we shall have no 
time to do any thing for ourselves. We must 
certainly give up all hope of mental proficiency. 
We cannot attempt to cherish intellectual tastes, 
or to maintain an acquaintance with the litera- 
ture of the day." 

I have heretofore assumed that a mother, who 
attends to the education of her children, neces- 
sarily advances with them. But she may also 
secure the means of a more than collateral im- 
provement. By a correct system of management, 
she may avoid falling behind the standard of the 
times. 

To do this, she must understand more than the 
mere theory of housekeeping. She must have 
such knowledge of its practical parts, that every 
wheel may be kept in motion. Disorder in the 
kitchen department re-acts directly upon the par- 
lour; and discomfort in the family, deprives the 
head of it of all power of pleasant, or profitable 



EXAMPLE. 191 

mental application. It seems necessary to be 
sufficiently acquainted with the duties which we 
demand of others, to know whether they are pro- 
perly discharged, and when the wearied labourer 
requires repose. Novices in housekeeping, often 
err in these matters. They are deceived by 
specious appearances, without knowing how their 
domestics spend their time ; or they impose toil 
at the proper seasons of rest. 

"I have an excellent cook," said a young 
housekeeper. " But I think I shall have to dis- 
miss her, she is so cross. I only wanted her to 
make me some blanc-mange and custards yester- 
day, and just because her dinner-dishes were out 
of the way, and her kitchen put up nice for the 
afternoon, she did nothing but murmur, that I 
had not given her those orders before." 

I wish mothers would encourage in their 
daughters, a practical knowledge of the culinary 
art. I do not mean simply the composition of 
cakes, sweetmeats and pastry : temptations, which, 
if they were less frequently offered, our cata- 
logue of diseases would be undoubtedly car- 
tailed. But I allude to the broad principles of 
the art, that platform on which our life stands, 
the preparation of bread and meat, vegetables 
and fruit, so that they may be salutary in their 
influence on the system, and neatly and elegantly 
presented to the eye. I would not have our 






192 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

tables made either " a snare, or a trap, or a stum- 
bling-block." It is not well for a lady to shelter 
any habitual deficiencies of this nature, with 
the excuse that she attends to her children. 
"This, ought she to have done, and not to leave 
the other undone." 

Cookery, it is surely the business of the mis- 
tress of a family either to do, or to see well done. 
So much has been recently written by medical 
men, on diet and digestion, that no additional 
proof can be needed, of the close affinity which 
the culinary art bears to health. Neither is it a 
despisable discipline of the mind. Its details are 
almost endless, and whoever conquers them, and 
has them constantly at command without refer- 
ence, or mistake, may lay claim to memory, in- 
dustry, energy, and some other departments of 
intellect, of no common order. 

It is conceded to be desirable that the varieties 
of exercise for our sex should be multiplied, since 
it is not always convenient or possible for them 
to take it in the open air, and the want of it is a 
source of much serious suffering. Here then is 
a species of exercise, more useful than callisthe- 
nicks, more benevolent than the jumping-rope, or 
battledoor, and bearing on the politicks of the 
family, with sufficient distinctness to gratify even 
a love of power. And if the wisdom of a Lace- 
demonian king were extolled, because to the ques- 



EXAMPLE. 193 

tion, " what it was most proper for boys to 
learn ?" he replied, " what they ought to do, when 
they come to be men ;" can the judgment of the 
mother be praised, who keeps out of the view 
of her daughters, what will be required of them 
when they become women? Correct judges 
will never deem it derogatory to female dignity, 
to take an active part, when necessary, in what- 
ever promotes the comfort and economy of the 
household for which it legislates. 

The wife of the Lord Protector Cromwell, was 
a most excellent and prudent housewife. He 
was repeatedly sustained in arduous and trying 
situations, by her energy and dignified character. 
It has been remarked, that good housewives 
usually acquire influence over their husbands ; as 
it is natural to confide in the opinions of those 
who are distinguished in their respective spheres. 
Yet men of cultivated mind, though not slow in 
appreciating the value of good housekeeping, 
usually desire in woman some degree of intellect- 
ual congeniality or taste. In proportion as they 
possess knowledge, will they find it difficult to 
respect an ignorant companion. So convinced 
was Rousseau, of the importance of education to 
domestic intercourse, that he deeply regretted he 
had not exerted himself to supply its deficiencies 
in his wife. "I might have adorned her mind 
with knowledge," said he, "and this would have 
17 



194 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

closely united us in retirement. It is especially 
in solitude, that one feels the advantages of living 
with another who can think." 

For those who complain that the cares of 
housekeeping so absorb their time, that nothing 
remains, there is still the remedy of added sim- 
plicity, in the style of living, and in dress. Lei- 
sure may be thus rescued, for other and higher 
pursuits. Competitions may be checked, which 
sometimes make neighbourhoods, or even villa- 
ges, more like combatants in the Olympic games, 
than quiet friends, or sincere well-wishers. More- 
over, the ancient athletse had the advantage ; for 
though they " ran all, yet one received the prize," 
but here, they run all, while life lasts, and yet 
gain neither goal, nor garland. 

Is not that serenity of manner and counte- 
nance which distinguishes the sect of Friends, or 
Quakers, and makes their young females so beau- 
tiful, somewhat dependent on their simplicity of 
garb, and their superiority to those changing 
modes, which exact from the votary of fashion 
the vigilance of Argus, with some good degree 
of the pliancy of Proteus ? 

Simplicity of taste, extending both to dress, 
and manner of living, is peculiarly fitting in the 
daughters of a republick. Reflecting minds, even 
from the ranks of nobility and royalty, have 
borne suffrage in its favour. They have tested 



EXAMPLE. 195 

by experience the inability of show, to confer 
happiness. Like the magnificent monarch of 
Israel, who surrounded himself with what the 
multitude most envy, they have pronounced all 
but " vanity and vexation of spirit." Jane d' Al- 
bert, the illustrious Queen of Navarre, strongly 
expressed her preference of simple and unobtru- 
sive enjoyments. "How inferior," said she, "is 
grandeur of life, to rectitude of mind !" and re- 
serving, as it were, an argument to her theory, 
even after death, gave orders that her body should 
be laid, without pomp, in her father's tomb. 

If the superfluities of life are retrenched, the 
time thus saved should not be yielded to indo- 
lence, or any other modification of selfishness. 
Home should be the centre, but not the boundary 
of our duties ; the focus of sympathy, but not the 
point where it terminates. The action of the 
social feelings is essential to a well-balanced 
character. Morbid diseases are generated by 
an isolated life: and what is praised as love of 
home, sometimes deserves the censure of a differ- 
ent name. Simple hospitality is the handmaid 
of friendship and of benevolence. In the social 
visit, heart opens to heart, and we become the 
sharer of secret joys and sorrows, which ceremo- 
nious intercourse would never have unlocked. 

A venerable clergyman, who had been eminent 
through life for true hospitality, said to his chil- 



196 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

dren, "receive your guest with the same smile, 
the same kind welcome, whether you happen to 
have a nice dinner, or none at all." It is pride, 
or hardness of heart, which coldly repels the un- 
expected visitant, because we may be unprepared 
for an elegant, or luxurious table. 

There is something delightful in the lineaments 
of southern hospitality. The perfect ease with 
which a guest is received, naturalized in the 
family circle, and all the painful reserve of a 
stranger banished, is so beautiful, that it seems 
to take rank as a virtue. We, of the northern 
States, contend for the possession of equal warmth 
of feeling, but have by no means attained to such 
happy modes of expressing it. We are prone to 
impute the difference to different modes of do- 
mestic organization. It is true, that to receive 
visitors, with a house full of servants, or with 
only one, or, as it may happen, none at all, can- 
not be a matter of indifference to the lady of the 
house. If her thoughts are busied about "what 
they shall eat, or what they shall drink," when 
there is no cook, and wherewithal they shall be 
served, when there is no waiter, and how she, 
being finite, can best appear at the same time in 
parlour and kitchen, and figure both as mistress 
and maid, she may be forgiven for some indica- 
tions of an absent mind, or hurried deportment. 
Still, were we less proud, more willing that our 



EXAMPLE. 197 

friends should take us just as we are, there would 
be a greener growth of sympathy among us, and 
less cause of complaint, that our frigid climate has 
wrought some effect upon the heart. 

I wish that housekeepers would bestow a little 
more thought upon their mode of intercourse with 
domestics. "Oblige your children," says the vener- 
able Matthew Carey, "to treat domestics with 
uniform civility. A cardinal rule, the dictate of 
common sense, reason, and religion, is to treat 
them as you would wish to be treated yourselves. 
When they do their duty to your satisfaction, 
give them their meed of praise : it will encourage 
them to continue in a right course." If our con- 
tract with them were less mercenary in its na- 
ture ; if we considered them as brought under 
our roof, not merely to perform menial offices, 
but to be made better, to become sharers in our 
kind feelings, recipients of our advice, subjects of 
our moral teachings, partakers in the petitions 
which daily ascend to the Universal Father; if 
we more frequently examined our conduct to 
them, by the test of the Golden Rule, more fre- 
quently remembered that for them, as well as for 
us, "Christ both died and rose, and revived," we 
should have the sweet consciousness of having 
increased their true happiness, as well as our 
own. 

It was not the least among the virtues of the 
17* 



198 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

excellent Lady Elizabeth Hastings, that she con- 
sidered her servants as humble friends, and strove 
to elevate their characters. "She presided over 
her domestics," said her biographer, "with the dis- 
positions of a parent. She not only employed 
the skill of such artificers as were engaged about 
her house, to consult the comfort and convenience 
of her servants, that they might suffer no unne- 
cessary hardship, but also provided for the im- 
provement of their minds, the decency of their 
behaviour, and the propriety of their manners." 
If a lady so accomplished, as to have been desig- 
nated in the writings of Sir Richard Steele as 
the "divine Aspasia," the possessor of immense 
wealth, and a member of the nobility of a royal 
realm, thus devoted time and tenderness to her 
servants, why should those, who under a republi- 
can government, profess equality, fear to demean 
themselves by similar condescension? 

The want of good domestics is a general com- 
plaint. It constitutes one of the most formidable 
evils in housekeeping. From the number of ma- 
nufactories, where female labour is in demand, 
and the dislike of servitude which prevails in a 
free country, it is more likely to increase than to 
diminish. The foreigners, on whom we are often 
compelled to rely, the daughters of Erin or Switz- 
erland, cannot, from their estrangement of cus- 
tom, and diiference of dialect, readily assimilate 



EXAMPLE. 199 

to our wishes. We expect too much of them, 
when we require them to learn and remember, 
to devise and execute, like our own early-educa- 
ted people. What, then, is to be the remedy? 
If we cannot so simplify the structure of our 
establishments as to do with fewer domestics, is 
there any mode that we can adopt to render 
them more trust-worthy, or to secure their per- 
manent assistance? Can we educate them our- 
selves ? 

Formerly, in the small towns and villages of 
New England, when a bride entered her new 
home, she brought with her a child of the poor. 
She instructed her personally in the light services 
that were to be allotted her; she held herself ac- 
countable, for her neatness, and skilful industry, 
and love of truth; she took pride in her good 
appearance, and correct behaviour; she daily 
heard her read, and if there were no appropriate 
school in the vicinity, saw that she was taught 
at home, during the long evenings of winter, to 
write, and to perform the simpler operations of 
arithmetick; she often called her to sit near her, 
with her needle, and encouraged her to take such 
an interest in the concerns of the household, as 
made her labours a heart-service; she impressed 
on her, strict moral principle, and required that at 
the family altar, and the house of God, she should 
be found in her place. The care of providing 



200 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

her fitting apparel, and the responsibility for her 
good conduct, awoke in the young matron some 
semblance of maternal solicitude ; and when sud- 
denly forsaken by hirelings, or perhaps left alone, 
with unexpected guests, she has been astonished 
at what that young hand would zealously per- 
form, or, in her sicknesses, been soothed by grate- 
ful, affectionate attentions, which could not be 
purchased with money. And I have seen the 
same matron, when time had silvered her bright 
locks, visiting, with benevolent pleasure, the com- 
fortable, well-ordered homes of the humble friends 
she had thus reared, and rejoicing to see the good 
habits which she had herself implanted, bringing 
forth fruit in another generation. 

This custom of educating domestics, though 
somewhat fallen into disuse, is here and there 
laudably cherished. Some notable housekeepers 
have set the example of having the three depart- 
ments of cook, chambermaid, and waiter, filled by 
girls under eighteen, and every service discharged 
with the regularity of clock-work. The succes- 
sion was preserved unbroken, by receiving a new 
member into the class, as the oldest attained ma- 
turity, and was advanced to the higher station 
of nurse, with the perquisite of wages, or bound 
apprentice to a trade, or, as is often the case in 
the agricultural districts of our country, prepared, 
by an early marriage, for a household of her 



EXAMPLE. 201 

own. Such an arrangement must, however, re- 
quire much personal attention and energy, and a 
hand at the helm, which, as was said of the 
ministry of William Pitt, "caused its steadiness 
to be felt in every motion of the vessel." 

Few ladies, in our own times, will venture to 
admit more than one scholar of this nature. Most 
of them shrink back from it as an appalling care. 
It is indeed a care, and to a conscientious mind 
not a slight one. But the sphere of a faithful 
housekeeper is sprinkled with cares, like the inde- 
finable stars in the galaxy; and this is a care 
which may be moulded into an ally, and set in 
array against other cares, with some hope of ad- 
vantage. Among the many young and lovely 
beings, whose hearts are now trembling at the 
thought of leaving the parental hearth-stone, yet 
thrilling with the hope of presiding over one for 
the object of their fondest love, is there not one 
anxious to mark this great era of life, by an act 
of benevolence, and willing to take some orphan 
girl to her new home, and train her up in use- 
fulness and piety? Is there not some matron, 
who has never attempted this charity, who might 
undertake it, for the sake of the unprovided and 
sorrowing poor, and find it a gain to her own 
house? It is peculiarly a deed of mercy, in large 
cities, thus to shelter the foundling, or outcast 
child, from degradation and vice. Risk of disap- 



202 LET.TERS TO MOTHERS. 

pointment must indeed be incurred, but there is 
hope of a pure and precious payment, and that 
it will bear proportion to the fidelity and sense 
of religious obligation with which the trust is 
discharged. Should this form of household teach- 
ing again become prevalent, would not an array 
of well-trained domestics be discernible on the 
face of society ? Admitting that they did not long 
continue in a state of servitude, the intercourse 
during their minority might still be made mu- 
tually serviceable. Does not this kind of teach- 
ing rank among the forms of patriotism, which 
woman's sphere comprehends ? 

But of whatever class or countiy our domes- 
tics are, let us encourage them to consider the 
interests of the family their own, and by taking 
them into our sympathies, try to make them 
worthy of our regard and friendship. Then 
would some of the most formidable obstacles of 
housekeeping be surmounted, and mothers have 
more time for other duties, and more enjoyment 
in them. 

I am persuaded, that we might perform all 
that devolves on us, and still persevere in a 
course of intellectual improvement. One of the 
most formidable objections to matrimony, and 
frequently urged by gentlemen who have not en- 
tered into its bonds, is, that it puts an end to 
feminine accomplishment. 



EXAMPLE. 203 

A mail of the world, and a close observer, once 
said, "When a lady is married, she seems in 
haste to dismiss whatever once rendered her at- 
tractive. If she had spent ever so much time in 
learning music, she shuts up her piano. If she 
excelled in painting, she lays aside her pencil. 
If she had fine manners, she forgets them. She 
forsakes society. She puts an end to her early 
friendships. She has no time to write a letter. 
Ten to one, she grows careless in her dress, and 
does not reserve even neatness, to comfort her 
husband. I am myself too sincere an admirer of 
the sex, to. lend a hand in the demolition of all 
that makes them beautiful." Now, is the opinion 
of this observing gentleman, truth, or satire? 
Doubtless, a mixture of both. 

Still a part of the censure may be resolved 
into praise. That new cares and affections, clus- 
tering round a home, should turn the heart from 
lighter pursuits, and extrinsic pleasures, is natu- 
ral, if not unavoidable. But this point must be 
guarded. Nothing that is really valuable ought 
to escape. The attractions which first won the 
love of a husband, should be preserved, were it 
only for that tender remembrance. Friends 
ought not to be neglected. Correspondences 
need not be renounced. There are surely some 
accomplishments which might be retained. Why 
should our sex, by carelessness or lassitude, 



.204 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

throw reproach on a state for which Heaven has 
formed them? Do I hear some mother, and 
mistress of a family, exclaim, " How can I write 
letters? It is impossible for me to find time to 
copy them. Besides, I never was an adept in 
the rules of letter-writing." 

" Time to copy letters ! " Who would think of 
such a thing? A copied letter is like a trans- 
planted wild-flower, like a caged bird. Let the 
writers of formal treatises copy them as often as 
they will, and poets dip and re-dip their poems 
in the fountain of the brain, as deep as Achilles 
was plunged by his mother, but leave that one 
little " folio of four pages" free from the " wim- 
ples and crisping-pins " of criticism. Shut out, if 
you will, every star in your literary firmament, 
that nature and simplicity have enkindled, and 
tolerate nothing there, but right fashionable draw- 
ing-room lamps, yet leave, I pray you, one single 
arrow-slit, through which the eye of honest feeling 
may look unblamed, and let that be the letter 
which friend writeth to friend 

" Rules for letter-writing ! " What rules can it 
require? We learn to talk without rules, and let- 
ter-writing is but to talk upon paper. It seems 
one of the natural vocations of our sex, for it 
comes within the province of the heart. It has 
been somewhere said, that with women, the heart 
is the citadel, and all beside, the suburbs ; but 



EXAMPLE. 205 

that with men, the heart is only an out-work, 
whose welfare does not materially affect the prin- 
cipal fortress. According to the anatomy of Fon- 
tenelle, we have one fibre more in the heart, than 
the other sex, and one less in the brain. Possi- 
bly, he might have been qualified to excel in dis- 
sections of the heart, from the circumstance of 
being supposed by most of his cotemporaries, to 
have none of his own. 

"Rules for letter-writing!" Set up the note- 
book, before your harpsichord, or piano, but insult 
not the Eolian harp, with the spectre of a gamut, 
and leave the rebeck as free as the dancer's heel. 
The especial excellence of the epistolary art, is, 
that as "face answereth to face, in water," so it 
causeth heart to answer to heart. Let the ambi- 
tious author wrestle as he is able, with the visions 
of frowning readers that beset his dreams, or 
shrink beneath the mace of criticism, suspended 
over him, like the sword of Damocles, but permit 
us, women, now and then, to escape to some 
quiet nook, and hold sweet converse with a dis- 
tant friend. Amid the tavern-meals, which the 
mind so continually takes, allow it now and then 
one solitary repast, upon the simple, sugared 
viands, that it loved in childhood. Pouring out 
the thoughts, in the epistolary style, has such 
power to confer pleasure, to kindle sympathy, to 
comfort affliction, to counsel inexperience, and to 
18 



206 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

strengthen piety, that it is great cause of regret 
when it is entirely laid aside. 

Economy of time, and energy of purpose, may 
so combine domestic and maternal duties, with in- 
tellectual improvement, that each department will 
prosper. We have all of us known some few 
happy examples of the union of fine social feel- 
ings, cherished recollections of friendship, and 
cultivation of intellect, with all the sacred chari- 
ties of home. Such was the Empress Eudocia, 
amid the hindrances and temptations of the lux- 
urious court of Constantinople. She continued 
to make proficiency in the branches of Icnowledge 
which in youth she had loved. Amid every 
other employment, or allurement, literature and 
religion maintained their power over her mind. 
She composed a poetical paraphrase, of many of 
the historic and prophetic books of the Bible ; 
also, of the life of our Saviour, and the writings 
of some of the fathers. They are mentioned with 
approbation, by the author of the "Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire ; " and Europe, in 
those early ages, saw with admiration a woman, 
a wife, a mother, and an empress, engaged in re- 
searches so unusual, and so profound. 

Feeling, as we do, the importance of the station 
which Heaven has assigned us, let us examine 
with a vigilant eye, what influence the systems 
of education which we authorize, are likely to 



EXAMPLE. 207 

exercise upon its happiness. How are our daugh- 
ters brought up? Admitting that matrimony will 
be their probable destination, is there any adap- 
tation in their habits, tempers and tastes, to the 
duties of that destination? After the gilding and 
garniture that adorn its entrance, have become 
familiar, and the flowers that sprang up at its 
threshold begin to feel the frost, are they pre- 
pared to become rational companions, discreet 
counsellors, prudent guides, skilful housekeepers, 
judicious and affectionate mothers ? If they have 
entered hastily, or without counting the cost, this 
most responsible station, if their acquisitions, 
whether of music, or drawing, or dancing, or 
fashionable manners, or personal decoration, or 
light literature, or the surface of languages, have 
been made for the sake of display, the very prin- 
ciple on which their education has proceeded must 
be reversed, perhaps, eradicated. Will they make 
this change gracefully, meekly, with happiness 
to themselves, and those around them? That 
is the experiment. It would be kind in us 
mothers, not to expose our daughters to hazard, 
on subjects of such high import. It would be a 
mercy to ourselves, as well as to them, if we felt 
a reasonable assurance, that they were qualified 
for the sphere which they have entered. 

It would be wise also for daughters to investi- 
gate, how far their studies, their pursuits, their 



208 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

daily habits, have any good practical tendency ; 
how many of them must be modified, reformed, 
or wholly laid aside, when the duties of life 
come upon them; and which of them are most 
likely to obstruct, or render irksome, the occupa- 
tions of maturity. 

But, mothers, the weight of this business is 
with you. Do you desire those whom you edu- 
cate, to become good housekeepers? Be so your- 
selves. Would it grieve you to see them igno- 
rant how to promote the prosperity of their fami- 
ly, careless of their own persons, negligent of 
their friends, inattentive to the true welfare of 
their children? Avoid these errors in your own 
conduct. 

Do you wish them to unite with the faithful 
performance of every domestic duty, social vir- 
tues, and mental attainments ? Shew them the 
possibility, the beauty of such a combination. 
Ever keep in mind, that the loftiest teachings, 
the most eloquent precepts, must lose half their 
force, without the sanction of your own example. 



OPINION OP WEALTH. 209 



LETTER XVII. 

OPINION OF WEALTH. 

EARLIER than we suppose, children form opin- 
ions of those who are around them. They are 
anxious to know who are good, and how they 
have earned that distinction. We should be 
ready to guide their first ideas of what is worthy 
of praise, or dispraise, for these are the germina- 
tions of principle. Let us not inoculate them 
with the love of money. It is the prevailing evil 
of our country. It makes us a care-worn people. 
" I know an American," said a satirical traveller, 
"wherever I meet him, by the perpetual recur- 
rence of the word dollar. See if you can talk 
with him one hour, and not hear him use it." 

Not only does the inordinate desire of wealth 
engross conversation, but turn thought from its 
nobler channels, and infect the mind as with an 
incurable disease. It moves the ambitious to 
jealous or fierce competition, and the , idle to 
fraud, and the unprincipled to crime. Ask the 
keepers of our prisons, what vice peoples many 
of their cells ? They will tell you, the desire to 
18* 



210 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

get money without labour. Ask the chaplain of 
yonder penitentiary, what crime that haggard 
man has committed, whom he is toiling to pre- 
pare for an ignominious death? He replies, "the 
love of money led him to strike at midnight the 
assassin's blow." 

The determination to be rich, when disjoined 
from honest industry, opens the avenues of sin; 
and even when connected with it, is dangerous, 
unless regulated by the self-denying spirit of re- 
ligion. Allowed to overleap the limits of mode- 
ration, it becomes a foe to domestic enjoyment, 
and tramples on the social pleasures and charities 
of life. 

Since, then, the science of accumulation is in 
its abuse destructive, and in its legitimate use 
unsafe, without the restraint of strict principle, let 
us not perplex the unfolding mind with its pre- 
cepts, or confound it with its combinations. The 
child hears perpetual conversation about the dear- 
ness or cheapness of the articles with which he 
is surrounded. Perhaps the associations which 
he forms, are not between the furniture and its 
convenience, between his apparel and its fitness 
or comfort, but between the quantity of money 
which they cost, or the adroitness with which the 
merchant was beaten down. He is interested by 
frequent remarks from lips that he reveres, about 
how much such and such a person is worth; 



OPINION OF WEALTH. 211 

and hears the gradation gravely settled between 
neighbour and neighbour. " Does worth mean 
goodness ?" inquires the child. " No. It means 
money." "Worth makes the man, and want of 
it the fellow," said the ethical poet. But the 
child, coming with his privately amended diction- 
ary, says, "Money makes the man ;" of course, 
he whose purse is empty, is less than a man. 
Some person is spoken of as possessing distin- 
guished talents. The listening child is prepared 
to admire, till the clause, "he can never make a 
fortune," changes his respect to pity or indiffer- 
ence. The piety of another is mentioned, his 
love of doing good, his efforts to make others bet- 
ter and happier. "But he is poor." Alas, that 
the forming mind should be left to undervalue 
those deeds and motives, which, in the sight of 
heaven, are the only true riches. 

Possibly, in the freedom of domestic discourse, 
some lady is censured for vanity or ignorance, 
for ungrammatical language, or an ill-spelt epis- 
tle. But "she is rich," may be the reply, and 
he sees the extenuation accepted. If he is skil- 
ful at drawing inferences, or indisposed to study, 
he says, "money is an excuse for ignorance, so 
if I have but little knowledge, it is no matter, if 
I can only get rich." He hears a man spoken 
of as unkind, or intemperate, or irreligious. He 
listens for the sentence of blame, that such con- 



212 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

duct deserves. "He is worth half a million," is 
the reply. And there is silence. " Can money 
excuse sin ?" asks the poor child, in silent rumi- 
nations. 

It is unwarily remarked at the table, "such a 
young man will be very rich when his father 
dies." Beware lest that busy casuist arrive at 
the conclusion, that a parent's death is not a 
great affliction if he leaves something behind: 
that if his possessions are very large, the event 
may be both contemplated and borne with indif- 
ference. Now, though the long teaching of a 
selfish world, may fasten this result on the minds 
of men, it should never enter the simple sanctu- 
ary of a child's heart, displacing the first, holiest 
affections of nature. 

A little girl once heard some conversation in 
the family about the hiring of a sempstress, and 
reported it to her sister. "One is very poor," said 
she, '-'and has an aged mother and two little chil- 
dren to support. The other is not so poor. But 
she does not ask as much by several cents a 
day. I heard it said that she does not work as 
well. But, then, she works cheaper, and dresses 
better. So we have hired her. Yet, sister, I felt 
sorry for the widow with the babies, for she 
looked sad and pale, and said she had no way to 
get bread for them but her needle. I was afraid 
they would cry to be fed, and that the lame 



OPINION OF WEALTH. 213 

grand-mother would suffer." The sister who had 
lived longer in this world of calculation, said, " it 
is perfectly right to hire her who asks the least, 
because it saves money." 

Now, my dear friends, is it not both unkind 
and hazardous thus to puzzle the moral sense of 
our children? to leave them to believe that wealth 
is both an excuse for ignorance and a shelter for 
vice? that it is but another name for virtue? that 
for the want of it, neither talent or piety can 
atone? that it is right to desire the death of a 
relative to obtain it ? or to grind the face of the 
poor to save it? How could the most inveterate 
enemy injure them so directly and permanently, 
as by making their earliest system of ethics a 
contradiction and a solecism? Yet this is done 
by the cftiversation and example of parents, who 
love them as their own souls. 

Of what effect is it, that we repeat to them in 
grave lectures on Sundays, that they must "lay 
up for themselves treasures in heaven," when they 
can see us, the other six days, toiling after, and 
coveting only "treasures on earth?" When we 
tell them that they must not "value the gold that 
perisheth," neither "love the world, nor the things 
of the world," if they weigh the precepts with 
our illustration of them, will they not think that 
we mean to palm on them what we disregard 
ourselves, and despise our cunning? or else, that 



214 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

we assert what we do not believe, and so distrust 
our sincerity? 

It is indeed necessary, where the subsistence 
of a family is to be acquired, that much atten- 
tion and industry should be employed. Parents 
must often confer together on items of expense, 
and understand each other in every point of 
economy. But these consultations may surely be 
so managed as not to absorb the thoughts of 
their offspring. It is not necessary that they mo- 
nopolize all the discourse at the fireside, or that 
the domestic board be turned into an exchange- 
table, or that the child of a few summers be 
made a sharper. 

Among the forms of benevolence, which in our 
age of the world are multiplied and various, per- 
haps few of us sufficiently keep in %iew the 
charity of wages. To assist the poor, through 
their own industry, ennobles them. It keeps 
alive that love of independence, which is so im- 
portant in a free country. To grudge, or stint 
the wages of female labour, is false economy. It 
is to swell the ranks of degradation and vice. 
In our sex it is unpardonable cruelty; for the 
avenues in which they can gain an honest sub- 
sistence, are neither so numerous or so flowery, 
that we may close them at pleasure, and be in- 
nocent. We ought not to consider ourselves as 
doing the duty of Christians, though we subscribe 



OPINION OF WEALTH. 215 

liberally to foreign and popular charities, while 
we withhold the helping hand, or the word of 
sympathy, from the female labourer within our 
own gates. 

I know not that I narrate an uncommon, or 
peculiar circumstance, when I mention a young 
girl, brought up in comparative affluence, who, 
at the sudden death of her father, was .left with- 
out resources. The mother's health failed, through 
grief and misfortune, and she nobly resolved to 
earn a subsistence for both. She turned to the 
needle, with which she had been dextrous for 
amusement, or the decoration of her own apparel. 
A little instruction enabled her to pursue, from 
house to house, the occupation of a dress-maker. 

At first, some of the delicate feelings of early 
culture clung around her. She dared scarcely to 
raise her eyes, at the table of strangers'; and 
when at night, money was given her, she felt 
half ashamed to take it. But want soon extin- 
guished those lingerings of timidity and refine- 
ment. Before her pittance was earned, it was 
mentally devoted to the purchase of some com- 
fort for her enfeebled mother. It soon became 
evident that her common earnings were insuffi- 
cient. She took home extra work, and abridged 
her intervals of rest. Her candle went not out 
by night, and sometimes when her mother had 
retired, she almost extinguished the fire, continu- 



216 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ing to \vork with chilled hands and feet, lest the 
stock of fuel should not suffice until her slender 
earnings would allow her to purchase more. 

Her nervous system became overwrought and 
diseased. Those for whom she worked, were 
often querulous, and hard to please. She felt 
an insuperable longing for a kind word, an 
encouraging look, for some form of sympathy, to 
sustain the sensitive spirit. Those who hired 
her, had not put these into the contract. Work, 
on her part, and money on theirs, was all the 
stipulation. They did not perceive that her step 
grew feeble, as day by day, she passed through 
the crowded streets to her task, or night after 
night returned to nurse her infirm mother. A 
sudden flush came upon her cheek, and she 
sank into the grave, before the parent for whom 
she had toiled. 

The wife of a sailor, during his long periods 
of absence, did all in her power, to aid him in 
diminishing then* expenses. He was not of that 
class, who spend their wages on their arrival 
in port, and forget their family. But as that 
family increased, his earnings, without rigid econ- 
omy on her part, would have been insufficient 
for their support. 

At length, the bitter news came, that her hus- 
band was lost at sea. When the first shock of 
grief had subsided, she summoned her resolution, 



OPINION OP WEALTH. 217 

and determined to do that for her children, which 
their father had so often expressed his wish to 
have done: that they should be kept togeth- 
er, and not be dependent on charity. She med- 
itated what mode of livelihood would best ena- 
ble her to comply with a wish, to her so sa- 
cred. She had great personal strength, and a 
good constitution. She made choice of the hard- 
est work, which is performed by females, be- 
cause it seemed to promise the most immediate 
reward. Often, after her hard task of washing, 
did she forget her weariness, as in the dusky 
twilight, she hastened toward her lowly home, as 
the mother-bird nerves her wing, when she draws 
nearer to her nest. 

But she found her sickly babe a sufferer from 
these absences, and sometimes accidents befel the 
other little ones, from her having no person with 
whom to leave them. The sum which she had 
earned, would not always pay for the injury they 
had sustained by the want of her sheltering care. 
It occasionally happened, that if the lady for 
whom she worked, was out, or engaged with com- 
pany, she returned without her payment, for 
which, either to wait, or to go again, were incon- 
veniences, which those who dwell in abodes of 
plenty cannot estimate. 

Was there not some labour which she could 
perform at home, and thus protect the nurslings, 
19 



218 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

for whose subsistence she toiled? The spinning- 
wheel, and loom, first presented themselves to her 
thought, for she had been skilful in their use, in 
the far-off agricultural village where her youth 
was spent. But domestic manufactures had be- 
come unfashionable, and she could obtain no such 
employment. Coarse needle-work, seemed her 
only resource. At this, she wrought incessantly, 
scarcely allowing herself time to get, or to par- 
take of a scanty meal. But after all was done, 
the remuneration was inadequate to their necessi- 
ties. She could scarcely supply a sufficiency of 
the coarsest food. Her children shivered, as the 
winter drew on. Their garments, though con- 
stantly mended, were thin, and their poor little 
feet, bare and blue. She drew back from the 
miserable fire, that they might be warmed, and 
shuddered as she saw the means of sustaining 
this comfort, wasting away. 

Still, the injunction of her departed husband 
lay deep and warm in her heart. She asked no 
charity. She remitted no exertion. And her 
whole life was as one prayer to God. 

At this crisis, a society formed on the true 
principle of benevolence, to aid poverty through 
its own efforts, arose, to save her from destruc- 
tion. Its express object was to improve the con- 
dition of the tempest-tost mariner, and his suf- 
fering household. It comprised an establishment, 



OPINION OF WEALTH. 219 

where garments were made for seamen; and here 
she obtained a constant supply of needle-work, 
with liberal and prompt payment. One of its 
most beautiful features, was a school, where the 
elementary branches of a good education were 
gratuitously taught. Here, instruction in the use 
of the needle was thoroughly imparted; and as 
soon as the pupils were able to finish a gar- 
ment for the clothing-store, they were encouraged 
by receiving a just payment. 

Now, the small, lowly room of the widow was 
brightened with comfort. And her heart was too 
full for words, when her little girls came running 
from school, with a shout of joy, the eldest one 
exclaiming : 

" See, mother, see, here are twenty cents. 
Take them, and buy a frock for the baby. They 
gave them to me, for making a sailor's gingham 
shirt, strong and good. My teacher says, I shall 
soon sew well enough, to make one of a nicer 
kind, for which I am to receive seventy-five 
cents. Then, I will help pay your house-rent. 
O, I never was so happy in my life. And yet, 
1 could not help crying when I worked, for I re- 
membered that you used to make exactly such 
shirts for dear father ; and I did not know but 
the man for whom I made this, might be lost at 
sea, and never come back to his home any 
more." 



220 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

"Here is a book," said the little sister, "which 
my teacher let me take from the school library 
to bring home, and read to you, while you sit at 
work. And she is so good and kind to me, 
mother; she takes as much pains to have me 
learn, as if we were ever so rich; and I love her 
dearly." 

"Blessings on her," said the widow, through 
her grateful tears. "Heaven's blessing on the So- 
ciety, and on every lady into whose heart God 
has put it to help the desolate poor, through 
their own industry." And night and morning she 
taught her kneeling babes the prayer of gratitude 
for their benefactresses. 

Let us encourage every variety of effort by 
which our sex can win a subsistence, and foster 
in the young that spirit which prefers the happy 
consciousness of being useful, to any form of in- 
dolent and helpless dependence? In our bounty 
to the poor, let us keep in mind the principle of 
aiding them as far as possible, through their own 
exertions, for she who thus studies their moral 
benefit, elevates them in the scale of being, and 
performs an acceptable service to her country and 
to her God. 

Mothers, speak often to your daughters on 
these subjects. Instruct them in the economy of 
charity. Your responsibility comprises both earth 
and heaven. 



OPINION OF WEALTH. 221 

There are many works from writers of the 
present day, which afford valuable hints for con- 
versation, on the subject of being respectable and 
happy without the possession of wealth. From 
your own observation, you can illustrate the truth 
of this theory. You can convince them, from the 
page of history, that virtue, and talent, and the 
heart's true felicity, may exist without the tinsel 
of gold. You can impress on them from a Book 
Divine, that to gain the whole world, would not 
balance one sigh of a lost soul. 

Years and intercourse with mankind will soon 
enough impress the lesson of pecuniary acquisi- 
tion. You need not post in advance of the world, 
with the world's lessons. It is not expected that 
you should erect the "tables of the money- 
changers, and seats for those who sell doves," in 
the temple of those hearts which might, at least 
for a few of their tenderest years, be consecrated 
to " Nature's sweet affections and to God." 



19* 



222 LETTER3 TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER XYIII. 

HOSPITALITY. 

CHILDREN are, in some measure, educated by 
the style of parental hospitality. They are natu- 
rally gregarious, and the expansion of the social 
principle gives them pleasure. They receive the 
strongest impressions through their senses, and 
there is a consent of the senses in the satisfac- 
tion which awaits the coming of a guest. The 
cheerful preparation which they see, the agreeable 
additions to the table, the putting on of the best 
robe, the smiling face of the welcomed friend, the 
kind words addressed to them, cause their little 
hearts to swell with delight. Neither is this 
sharing of their good things with others, an inert 
precept in moral regimen. It fosters a simple 
form of benevolence, and helps to extirpate those 
lesser plants of selfishness, which are prone to a 
quick growth, in the moist, rich soil of infancy. 

Children sometimes see their parents extending 
the rites of hospitality to the sick friend, or the 
sorrowful stranger, and they imbibe that class of 
deeper sympathies, which flow forth towards the 



HOSPITALITY. 223 

homeless and the poor. Nor are the lessons of 
love, to their race, thus learned, of little value. 
The happiness which they feel from seeing others 
happy, is better than that which they derive from 
solitary acquisition. The pleasure thus reflected 
from the smile of a guest, is one of the rudi- 
ments of benevolence. 

Permit your young children, therefore, when- 
ever it is proper, to share the warmth of an un- 
ceremonious hospitality. For this reason, as well 
as for others still more important, be strenuous 
to secure for them the privileges of a home. The 
custom, so prevalent in our larger cities, of aban- 
doning housekeeping, and becoming lodgers either 
in public hotels, or private families, is fraught 
with evils. When such an arrangement is the 
result of necessity, it should be submitted to, like 
any other form of adversity. But if parents could, 
by any additional economy, or increase of per- 
sonal exertion, maintain their own table, and 
family altar, they should do it for the sake of 
their little ones. However small may be the nest, 
where their new-fledged offspring are nurtured, 
no matter, if they can only brood over it with 
their own wing. Under the roof of another, the 
husband and father can neither command the re- 
spect, or exercise the authority, which are his 
prerogatives, nor the wife exhibit before those 
who fashion themselves after her model, the full 



224 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

beauty and energy of conjugal and maternal ex- 
ample. But especially are young children re- 
strained in their freedom and happiness, and 
compelled to feel somewhat of the melancholy 
distrust of strangers and exiles. Instead of being 
cheered by seeing their parents, like the fixed 
stars, diffusing blessings to the remotest satellite, 
they behold them like wandering planets, seeking 
light and heat from others, or perhaps like com- 
ets, whose true rotation has never been calcu- 
lated, careering through and perplexing other 



It is indeed most desirable that little children 
should enjoy the comforts of a home, and share 
the cordial of true hospitality. But it is almost 
equally desirable, that they should be sheltered 
from that ostentatious and heartless intercourse 
which fashion authorizes. Every entrance of it 
under their own roof, interferes with their ac- 
commodation and quiet. Parents and domestics 
are absorbed in preparations which to them are 
mysterious. The access of ornaments, the array 
of fashionable garniture, the heaping together of 
luxuries, are not for them. The attention of 
those whom they love, is turned away, or mo- 
nopolized by objects which they cannot under- 
stand. They shrink back to their nurseries, dis- 
pirited and forsaken. Perhaps they expend upon 
each other their heightened consciousness of un- 



HOSPITALITY. 225 

happiness, while the ruling minds that should 
regulate their tempers are elsewhere. 

Yet this is but the lighter shade of the evil. 
Imagine them exposed, as it sometime happens, 
to the excitement of the scene. If the party is 
not very large, mother consents that they should 
just appear. Now, here is a new and wonderful 
happiness. The little casuists are busy to know 
in what it consists. Varied and splendid cos- 
tumes strike their eye. Ah ! fine dress must be 
happiness. Will they henceforth be more content 
with their own simple garb, or more likely to es- 
teem humble virtue, in plain attire? They see 
many rich viands. These are surely a species 
of happiness. Their appetites are solicited, either 
to be repelled, or to be indulged at the expense 
of health and simplicity of taste. If they have 
been adorned and exhibited for the occasion, they 
will be familiarized to the dangerous nutriment 
of flattery. " How pretty !" " What beautiful crea- 
tures !" will be the exclamations of the unthink- 
ing, or of the sycophants who wish to ingratiate 
themselves with the parents. The little wonder- 
ing heart lifts up its valve, and receives the stim- 
ulant. Its humility and chastened resolves are 
put to flight. Affectation and admiration of self, 
prematurely enter. The tare is not only among 
the wheat, but before it. If the little beings have 
not forfeited their frankness, ten to one but you 



226 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

may hear, in words, as well as in conduct, "I 
don't love to do as I am told, nor to get my les- 
son, and it is no matter, for I am a pretty and 
a beautiful creature." 

But the principle of display is not more de- 
structive to the natural and happy simplicity of 
childhood, than the routine of fashionable visiting 
to the welfare of true hospitality. The more ar- 
tificial and ostentatious we become, the farther 
we recede from that hospitality which Reason 
sanctions as a virtue, and the voice of Inspiration 
enjoins as a duty. In ancient times it nourished 
like a vigorous plant. Beneath its branches the 
traveller found shelter from the noon-day sun, 
and covert from the storm. 

Yet in proportion as nations have advanced 
in refinement, they have neglected its culture. 
They may, indeed, have hedged it about with 
ceremonies, or encumbered it with trappings. 
But its verdure has been suffered to fade, and its 
root to perish. Like the stripling shepherd, it 
has drooped beneath the gorgeous armour of 
royalty. Among the smooth stones of the brook, 
it would better have found the defence that it 
needed. 

Under the oak at Mamre, it sat with the patri- 
arch, and entertained angels. It lingered amid 
oriental climes, as in a congenial atmosphere, 
and has never utterly forsaken the tent of the 



HOSPITALITY. 227 

wandering Arab. With a cowled head, it shroud- 
ed itself in cloisters, and for ages neither pilgrim 
or mendicant touched the bell at the convent 
gate in vain. The chosen people in the infancy 
of their nation, revered its injunctions, for they 
were twined with the most tender and thrilling 
recollections, and fortified by a command from 
Jehovah : " The Lord our God loveth the stran- 
ger; love ye, therefore, the stranger, for ye were 
strangers in the land of Egypt." 

The Moslem, amid his ferocity and despotism, 
regards the rites of hospitality. He expresses his 
sense of the solemnity of its requisitions, by the 
proverb anciently incorporated with his language, 
"when the stranger saith alas! the heart of Allah 
is wounded." Some uncivilized nations have of- 
fered a rude homage at its shrine. The roving 
tribes of the North American forests spread their 
only blanket for the stranger's bed. They set 
before him the last morsel of food, though their 
households are in danger of famine. When the 
Old World paid its first visit to the New, the 
Mexicans saluted the men of Spain with clouds 
of fragrant incense, not knowing how soon it 
was to be quenched in their own blood. The 
modern South American Republicks still welcome 
their guests with the simple offering of a fresh 
flower. 

Most of the refined nations of our own times 



228 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

confide the usages of hospitality to the keeping 
of the gentler sex. Especially, in this new West- 
ern World, the household gods, those Lares and 
Penates of. the Romans, are cordially entrusted 
to our care. Elevated as we now are, by intel- 
lectual advantages, beyond all previous example, 
it might rationally be expected that a degree of 
lustre and dignity, heretofore unknown, would 
dignify social intercourse. Still, we see it very 
prominently identified with the pleasures of the 
table. To make the satisfactions of the palate 
the principal tests of hospitality, seems to accord 
with a less refined state of society, or to augur 
some destitution of intellectual resource. 

Would our ladies set the example of less elabo- 
rate entertainments, of less exuberant feasting, 
more room would be left for the mental powers 
to expand, and the feelings to seek interchange, 
in conversation. At least, they might save their 
husband's purses, their servants' tempers, and 
themselves a world of fatigue. Let them recol- 
lect that it is but a relic of barbarism which 
they cherish, when they allure their guests to in- 
dulgence of appetite, perhaps to hurtful excess. 
For temptations of the palate, though they may 
be multiplied by the hospitable lady, out of pure 
benevolence, cannot be yielded to with impunity, 
by all whom her invitations thus expose. Her 
skill in culinary compounds may wound the 



HOSPITALITY. 229 

health of those whom she best loves. It would 
be but a sorry compliment for the dyspeptick 
husband to murmur forth, like him of Eden, his 
sad extenuation, "the woman whom thou gavest 
to be with me, gave me and I did eat;" or for 
the more indignant guest, when ^seeking his phy- 
sician, to exclaim, "the serpent beguiled me, and 
I did eat." 

It was formerly too much the custom to press, 
among the pledges of hospitality, the draught that 
inebriates. More light, and a better creed, have 
modified this practice. But still it is not extinct. 
If it be asked, why the Christian inhabitants of a 
most Christian land should choose as the inter- 
preter of their hospitality an usage more danger- 
ous than the sword of Damocles, there is no bet- 
ter answer than "because it is the fashion." 
The cup will not, indeed, mark him who par- 
takes, with its immediate poison; but may it not 
foster what shall rankle in his veins, with fatal 
contagion, threatening not only the body, but the 
soul? 

When philosophers have inquired how woman, 
whose happiness and safety are so deeply involved 
in the purity of those around, could thus dare to 
trouble the fountains of temperance and of virtue, 
the only reply has been, "it is the fashion? 
Holy men, the guardians of God's altar, have de- 
manded, why she hath been thus faithless to her 
20 



230 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

trust. And she hath answered, " it is the fash- 
ion" But when the garniture is stripped from 
all earthly things, when that dread assembly is 
convened, where none will dare to plead the om- 
nipotence of fashion, when a voice from the 
Throne of the Eternal questions of the plague- 
spot upon the soul of the guest, the brother, the 
husband, or the child, what shall the answer be? 



RESPECT TO AGE. 231 



LETTER XIX. 

RESPECT TO AGE. 

IT is one proof of a good education, and of 
refinement of feeling, to respect antiquity. Some- 
times it seems the dictate of unsophisticated na- 
ture. We venerate a column which has with- 
stood the ravages of time. We contemplate with 
reverence the ivy-crowned castle, through which 
the winds of centuries make melancholy musick. 
We gather with care the fragments of the early 
history of nations, which, however mouldering or 
disjointed, have escaped the shipwreck of time. 
There are some who spare no expense in col- 
lecting coins and relics, which rust has penetra- 
ted, or change of customs rendered valueless, save 
as they have within them the voice of other 
years. Why, then, should we regard with indif- 
ference the living remnants of a former age, 
through whose experience we might both be en- 
riched and made better? 

The sympathy of a kind heart prompts respect 
to the aged. Their early and dear friends have 
departed. They stand alone, with heads whitened 



232 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

and vigour diminished. They have escaped the 
deluge that overwhelmed their cotemporaries. But 
they have not passed unscathed through the 
water-floods of time. Tender and marked atten- 
tions are due to those weary voyagers. They 
ought not to be left as the denizens of some soli- 
tary isle, where love never visits, and which the 
gay vessels newly launched on the sea of life, 
pass by, with flaunting streamers, and regard not. 
The tribute of reverence which is their due, adds 
as much to the honour of him who pays, as to 
the happiness of those who receive it. 

Respect to Age, is best impressed on children 
by the example of their parents, who should daily 
exhibit a transcript of the reverent deportment 
they require them to evince. If then' own pa- 
rents are living, they have the best of all possi- 
ble opportunities to teach that kind observance 
of word, look, and manner, that assiduity to pro- 
mote comfort, that tenderness in concealing infirm- 
ity, that skill to anticipate the unspoken wish, 
that zeal to repay some small part of the count- 
less debt incurred in life's earliest years, which 
they themselves would desire to receive, should 
they live to become old. 

How often do we see disrespect to parents, 
visited with evils in this life. We might infer it 
from the language of the fifth commandment, 
which, in promising a reward to those who 



RESPECT TO AGE. 233 

honour their parents, implies that the punishment 
of those who withhold that honour will be equal- 
ly palpable. The natural progress of events leads 
also to such a result. From a principle of imita- 
tion, the child frames his manners on the model 
which his parents sanction. Their mode of treat- 
ment to their own parents is perpetuated in him. 
The neglect or reverence which their daily con- 
duct exhibits, becomes incorporated with his own 
habits and character; baleful dispositions repro- 
duce themselves : so that what is counted as a 
judgment, may be but the spontaneous action of 
a bitter root, bearing its own fruit. Yet it is not 
surprising that the Almighty, who has not utterly 
disjoined the thread of retribution from the web 
of this brief life, should punish, visibly and fear- 
fully, the sin of disobedience to parents. Without 
dwelling, at this time, on so heinous a dereliction 
of a most sacred duty, let us turn to the interest- 
ing subject of reverence to age. 

The universal opinion of those who scrutinize 
the state of society in our country, is, that in 
the treatment of the aged, there is a diminution 
of respect. Even the authority of parents, and 
teachers, seems to be borne with uneasiness, and 
to be early shaken off. Those, whose memory 
comprises two generations, assert, that in these 
points, without doubt, the former days were bet- 
ter than these. 
20* 



234 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Some have supposed this change naturally to 
arise from the spirit and institutions of a repub- 
lick. Equality of rank, destroys many of the 
barriers of adventitious distinction. But the 
hoary head, when crowned with goodness and 
piety, is an order of nobility, established by God 
himself. It marks a stage of ripened excellence, 
ready for admission among the "just made per- 
fect." If deficiency in duty to those who have 
attained such illustrious distinction, is so obvious, 
as to mark the character of a whole generation, 
it must be traced to the structure of families, 
rather than to the form of our government. 

Reverence for Age, being a divine command, 
should form an inseparable part of the earliest 
Christian education. It must be inculcated with 
the rudiments of religion, when the mind is in 
its forming state. It is inexplicable that parents 
should neglect to impress on their children the 
solemn injunction, " Thou shalt rise up before 
the hoary head, and honour the face of the old 
man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord." The 
command derives force from the situation in 
which it is placed, guarded by the majesty of Him 
from whom it emanates, and linked with the 
duty which man owes to his Maker, and his 
Judge. 

It is rather a surprising fact, that some heath- 
en nations should have been more exemplary in 



RESPECT TO AGE. 235 

their treatment of the aged, than those who en- 
joy moral arid religious culture: that the dim 
teachings of nature should be more operative 
among ignorant men, than the "clear shining of 
the Sun of Righteousness" upon those who be- 
lieve the gospel. 

The Spartans, so proudly adverse to every 
form of delicacy and refinement, paid marked 
deference to age, especially when combined with 
wisdom. A fine tribute to their observance of 
this virtue, "was rendered them by the old man, 
who, having been refused a seat in a crowded 
assembly at Athens, saw the rougher Lacedemo- 
nians rise, in an equally dense throng, and rever- 
ently make room "for him: "the Athenians know 
what is right, but the Spartans practise it." 

The wandering sons of the American forests 
shewed the deepest respect to years. Beneath 
each lowly roof, at every council-fire, the young 
listened reverently to the voice of the aged. In 
their most important exigences, the boldest war- 
riors, the haughtiest chieftains, consulted the 
hoary-headed men, and waited for their words. 
Their deportment illustrated the assertion of 
the friend of Job, "I am young, and ye are 
old; therefore I was afraid to show you my 
opinion." 

The reverent regard accorded to length of days 
by tb.e rude natives of these western wilds, re- 



236 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

sembled in some measure that which was evinced 
by the chosen people of old ; as if those wander- 
ing tribes preserved in their own habitations the 
smothered embers of the fires swept from the 
altars of Zion. Dwelling, as we do, in the re- 
gions from whence they were exiled; exhuming 
with our plough-shares the very bones from their 
fathers' sepulchres; uttering daily, in the names of 
our rivers and mountains, the dialect of a race 
driven away as an exhalation when the sun aris- 
eth, it would surely have been well, that, in this 
one respect, their spirit had remained among us, 
or, at least, that their example had not been to 
our reproach. 

If we admit that there is a general declension 
in duty to the aged, and if it must be traced to 
error in domestic culture, heads of families are 
responsible for the evil. 

Mothers, is riot much of the fault at our own 
doors ? If so, where is the remedy ? Must it 
not be sought in the power of early instruction, 
and in the influence of example? Is there as 
fair a prospect of success in admonishing those 
who have been long in error, as in forming cor- 
rect habits for the yet uncontaminate 1 

Begin, then, with your little ones. Require 
them to rise and offer a seat, when an old person 
enters the room ; never to interrupt them when 
speaking, but to solicit their advice, and reverence 



RESPECT TO AGE. 237 

their opinions. You will say that these are sim- 
ple rules. Yes. But the lofty tree springs from 
a diminutive germ. Show them the reason for 
even these simple rules, in the book of God. 
Consider the slightest disrespect to aged relatives, 
or any person advanced in years, as a fault of 
magnitude. If you have yourself a parent, or a 
surviving friend of that parent, make your own 
respectful deportment a mirror by which they 
can fashion their own. Confirm these habits, 
until they obtain a permanent root in principle, 
and determine that your own offspring shall not 
swell the number of those who disregard the 
divine precept to "honour the hoary head." 

I was acquainted with the father and mother 
of a large family, who, on the entrance of their 
own aged parents, rose and received them with 
every mark of respect, and also treated their co- 
temporaries as the most distinguished guests. 
Their children, beholding continually this defer- 
ence shown to the aged, made it a part of their 
own conduct. Before they were capable of com- 
prehending the reason on which it was founded, 
they copied it from the ever-open page of paren- 
tal example. The beautiful habit grew with 
their growth. It was rewarded by the approba- 
tion of all who witnessed it. Especially was it 
cheering to the hearts of those who received it, 
and who found the chill and solitude of the vale 



238 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

of years, alleviated by the tender love that walked 
by their side. 

I saw the same children when their own pa- 
rents became old. This hallowed principle, early 
incorporated with their character, bore a rich 
harvest for those who had sown the seed. The 
honour which from infancy they had shewn to 
the hoary head, mingling with the fervour of 
filial affection, produced a delightful combination; 
one which, even to the casual observer, had an 
echo of that voice from heaven, "train up a 
child in the way he should go, and when he is 
old, he will not depart from it." 



HAPPINESS. 239 

' W &*. 



LETTER XX. 

HAPPINESS. 

IT was a pleasant theory of an ancient musi- 
cian, that the "soul was but a harmony." How- 
ever erroneous the philosophy may be, it fur- 
nishes a profitable hint. The habit of eliciting 
from the discord of opposing circumstances a 
song of praise, is of inestimable value. It was 
said of Klopstock, the German poet, that his 
"mind maintained a perpetual spring, a never- 
failing succession of beauty and of fragrance; if 
the rose wounded him, he gathered the lily; if 
the lily died on his bosom, he cherished the 
myrtle." Such affinity had this temperament 
with buoyancy of spirits, and a perpetual flow 
of the freshness of life, that even when the 
snows of four-score years had settled upon his 
brow, he was designated by the epithet of the 
"youth forever? 

This harmony of our nature with the tasks 
that are appointed it, is not only peculiarly 
graceful in woman, but in a measure necessary 
to the complete fulfilment of her destiny. In 



240 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

her capacity of wife and mother, she is the 
keeper of the happiness of others. Can she be 
worthy of such high trust, unless she is able to 
be the keeper of her own? She is expected to 
be a comforter. But how can this be, unless the 
materials of her own character are well-balanced 
and combined? She is expected to add bright- 
ness to the fire-side. Can she do this, unless the 
principle of light is inherent? She is expected 
to be as a sun-beam on the cloud, the bow of 
promise amid the storms of life. Therefore, the 
foundation of her own happiness must be above 
the region of darkness and tempest. 

The desire of happiness is implanted in all cre- 
ated beings. Its capacities are capable of cultiva- 
tion and extension, beyond what at first view 
would be imagined. The means by which it is 
attained and imparted, should be studied as a 
science, especially by that sex whose ministry is 
among those affections which make or mar the 
music of the soul. 

A mind ever open to the accession of know- 
ledge, may be numbered among the elements of 
happiness. The free action of intellect, as well 
as the due exercise of the muscular powers, pro- 
motes the health and harmony of the system. 

The cultivation of friendship, and of the social 
affections, should be assiduously regarded. If, ac- 
cording to the definition of an ancient philoso- 



HAPPINESS. 241 

pher, "happiness be the sharing of pleasure and 
pain with another," it is less important to try to 
escape the evils of this life of trial, than to learn 
the art of dividing them. 

A habit of looking on the bright side of charac- 
ter, and of finding excuses for error, is conducive 
to happiness. It is a modification of benevolence, 
which every day gives opportunity to exercise. 
It is of the same kindred with that spirit of piety 
which expatiates on the blessings of providence, 
and delights to select themes of discourse from 
those mercies which are "new every morning, 
and fresh every moment." 

Enlarged views of mankind lead to forbear- 
ance. The mind that comes in contact with few 
objects, gradually learns to view them through a 
contracted medium, to magnify their relative im- 
portance, and to fasten upon their leading points 
with avidity, or acrimony. Thus, the arrival of 
a stranger in a small village, is an object of 
eager attention. His appearance is described, his 
business canvassed. In a metropolis, the throng 
pass on their several ways unheeded. In seclu- 
ded neighbourhoods, the movements of every in- 
dividual are discussed, his motives conjectured, 
his mistakes " set in a note-book." But the mind, 
accustomed to a wider range, perceives imperfec- 
tion to be the lot of all, and expecting in the 
purest ore, some alloy, learns not bitterly to 
21 



242 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

condemn infirmities of which it is itself a par- 
taker. 

Instruct the young, under your care, not to 
adopt the erroneous opinion of some novices, that 
unless they censure the faults of others, they may 
be supposed unable to detect them. Tenderness 
of heart, is no proof of blindness of mind, any 
more than liberality of opinion implies deficiency 
of intellect. It will often be found a more acute 
exercise of discernment, to discover the excellen- 
ces than the foibles of those who surround them. 
Teach them, therefore, as a means of happiness, 
not severely to condemn the faults they perceive; 
to seek rather for opportunities to admire, or to 
excuse, than to blame ; and often to turn the 
meek glance inward upon their own hearts. 

From the same desire, to promote their own 
happiness, teach them patience. Childhood has 
need of it. The quiet, waiting spirit, is usually 
uncongenial to its vivacity. In its happiest state, 
it has trials, which, though to us, may seem scarce- 
ly to deserve the name, yet are sufficiently great, 
in proportion to the strength given to sustain 
them. The texture of the temper is often se- 
verely tested among companions, and at school. 
Arm your children against these exigences, that 
they need not add to unavoidable evils, the re- 
volting of an unruled spirit. If they sometimes 
encounter blame, when their intentions are cor- 



HAPPINESS. 243 

rect, teach them, that this is not in reality so 
hard to bear, as at first it appears. For those 
who have the support of an approving conscience, 
can enter into that pavilion, and be comforted 
amid the " strife of tongues." If they are blamed 
for their faults, they surely ought not to com- 
plain, since this is but the award of justice. 

Teach them, by your own example, how to 
endure trials with patience ; how to forget them 
in the contemplation of higher things ; how to re- 
pay them with Christian kindness. The great 
Boerhaave, who notwithstanding his goodness had 
many enemies, said, "I will never repeat their 
calumnies. They are sparks, which, if you do 
not blow them, will go out of themselves." Early 
fortify your pupils against those causes that are 
prone to disturb their serenity, and require of 
them as a part of their daily duty, to form the 
habit of being happy. 

The most disinterested have the best materials 
for happiness. They are seen forgetting their 
own sorrows, that they may console those of 
others. May it not, therefore, be assumed that 
the subjugation of self is happiness ? 

The lineaments of cheerfulness are important. 
A smiling brow, and a pleasant-toned voice, are 
adjuncts of happiness. A wife is not always 
aware how much her husband may be thus 
cheered, when he returns harrassed by the per- 



244 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

plexities of business, perhaps soured by inter- 
course with harsh and unfriendly spirits. She 
should spare to add to his secret burdens the ir- 
ritation of her own repinings. Household incon- 
veniences, though they may be great to her, are 
apt to appear to him as the " small dust of the 
balance." It is not wise to choose them as the 
subjects of discourse, except where his counsel 
or decision are imperatively needed. It is sweet 
to a wife to feel that she is regarded as 

" The light and musick of a happy home. 
It was her smile that made the house so gay, 
Her voice that made it eloquent with joy ; 
Her presence peopled it. Her very tread 
Had life and gladness in it." 

But if the lineaments of happiness are so beau- 
tiful in a wife, they are still more indispensable 
to a mother. The child opens the door of its 
heart to the kind tone, the smiling brow, the eye 
reflecting the joy within. Especially while en- 
gaged in teaching her little ones, let the mother 
preserve every symbol of cheerfulness: the mild 
manner, the gentle word, the tender caress. 
Love and knowledge, entering together, form 
a happy and hallowed alliance. We are scarcely 
aware how much little children admire pleasant 



"My children," said a widowed father, "our 
circle has been long desolate. I hope ere long 



HAPPINESS. 245 

to be able to present you with a new mother. 
You must all promise me to love her." Plea- 
sure was visible on every countenance. A new 
mother! It was a delightful idea to their af- 
fectionate hearts. They shouted forth their joy. 
Soon one of the most favoured of the number, 
a boy of a sweet spirit, climbed his father's knee. 
"Please to choose for us a mother who will 
laugh. And we would all like it well, if you 
would bring us home one that knows how to 
play? There spoke forth the free, happy nature 
of childhood. 

Christians ought to be happy, and, being so, 
should make it visible. The words and example 
of our Saviour convey this lesson. "When ye 
fast, be not of a sad countenance." If even the 
penitential parts of our religion do not allow this 
demeanour, can faith, and hope, and joy, re- 
quire it? 

Every woman, in advancing the happiness of 
her family, should look beyond the gratification 
of the present moment, and consult their ultimate 
improvement. She should require all the mem- 
bers of her household to bear their part towards 
this end. The little child, too young to contri- 
bute aught beside, may bring the gift of a smile, 
the charm of sweet manners. The kiss of the 
rose-lipped babe enters into the account. The 
elder children should select from their studies, or 
21* 



246 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

from the books they are perusing, some portion to 
relate, which will administer to general informa- 
tion or rational amusement. All, according to 
their means, should be taught to swell the stock 
of happiness. 

The present age is rich ill devices to promote 
and diversify fire-side enjoyment. Guides for 
drawing, juvenile musick, cabinets of natural his- 
tory, sports that keep study in view, beautiful 
books, combining knowledge with amusement, 
abound and multiply. Parents should zealously 
take part in these with their children. They 
need not fear a loss of dignity. Whatever ren- 
ders home rationally happy, and quickens the lit- 
tle footsteps that turn towards it, is a branch of 
political wisdom, as well as of paternal duty. 

I could wish that domestic anniversaries were 
more regarded. They furnish rallying points for 
the hope and love of childhood: pictured scenes, 
where memory may fondly linger in future years, 
or in a far-off clime. The birth-day of a parent, 
or a grand-parent, of a brother, a sister, or a fa- 
voured domestic, might be made seasons of le- 
gitimate and cordial gratulation. They might 
cause the blood to course more briskly through 
the bounding veins of our children, as flowery 
spots by the way-side, licensed seasons of seeking 
the happiness of others, rather than of their own. 
The preparation of simple gifts, exercises both 



HAPPINESS. 247 

their ingenuity, their judgment, and their affec- 
tions. Their little secret consultations on such 
subjects, and the rich pleasure they feel in sur- 
prising some dear one with an unexpected gift, 
should be respected. As far as possible, these 
gifts should be the production of their own 
hands, or the purchase of their earnings. The 
latter result is not so difficult as might be ima- 
gined. There are many kinds of needle-work, 
and of domestic occupation, for which a mother 
might feel it both pleasant and proper to compen- 
sate her daughters. Thus she might aid in con- 
firming habits of industry, while she supplied the 
aliment for tokens of friendship, and deeds of 
charity. 

A mother once told me, that from the time her 
little girl first was able to hem a handkerchief 
neatly, she had allowed her a regular price for 
whatever she had done for the family. She com- 
menced a little book, in which she taught her to 
record her receipts and expenditures, with mer- 
cantile punctuality; and perhaps, this laid the 
foundation of an accuracy in accounts, and ca- 
pacity for business, which distinguished her when 
she became a woman. Having an affectionate 
disposition, she made a list of the birth-days, not 
only of her immediate relatives, and the members 
of the household, but those of her pastor, her 
teachers, and her most intimate friends. At the 






248 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

return of these anniversaries, they were often de- 
lighted to receive from her an affectionate note, 
or some article of her own manufacture, or a 
book purchased from the purse, into which she 
never put her hand without a pleasant conscious- 
ness that the contents were the fruits of her own 
industry, and would impart happiness to those 
whom she loved. 

A man of wealth once allotted a portion of 
his ample garden to his young sons. They were 
to cultivate it as they pleased, with a right to 
ask the advice of the gardener, but not to claim 
his personal assistance. For the sallads which 
they proudly brought to the table, the strawber- 
ries that enriched the dessert, the ears of corn 
gathered by their own hands into the garner, they 
received a fair payment. To induce habits of 
punctuality and exactness, their father required 
them to keep an account of every production, 
with the correspondent dates, and to present him 
a bill, in due form, at the close of their harvest- 
season. At receiving the annual amount, their 
first pleasure was to allow their little sister an 
equal portion with themselves. The remainder 
was strictly their own, but with an understanding 
that it was not to be expended in selfish gratifi- 
cations. Many benefits were secured by this wise 
paternal arrangement: the delight ot horticulture 
inspired the boys with a love of home, drew 






HAPPINESS. 249 

them from the risk of sports with promiscuous 
companions, and taught them the manly con- 
sciousness of useful industry, not often tasted by 
the children of the rich ; neatness of penmanship, 
and accuracy in accounts, were collaterally aided; 
while fraternal affection, generosity, and benevo- 
lence, were alike gratified. All these were but 
different forms of happiness. 

The sacred festival of Christmas, the ancient 
one of New- Year, and the annual Thanksgiving 
appointed in many of our States, are periods in 
which the young should be particularly incited 
to remember the poor. Especially at the hal- 
lowed celebration of His lowly birth, whose mis- 
sion was to "seek and to save the lost," should 
their minds be directed to the destitute family, 
the neglected child, or the benighted heathen. In 
furnishing the basket for the sick, and famishing, 
the garment for the shivering sufferer, or the 
volume of instruction for the ignorant, I have 
seen fair brows lighted up with a more joyous 
and eloquent beauty, than the most splendid gift 
could have imparted. For with the latter, there 
would have been the momentary thrill of recep- 
tion, or the pride of exhibition, both centering in 
self; but with the former would entwine the last- 
ing remembrance of having caused the heart of 
the sorrowful to sing for joy. 

Parents, who are always delighted to see their 



250 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

children happy, should consider in what their 
true happiness consists. Mistakes are sometimes 
niade with regard to its nature. I knew a mother 
replete with benevolence and the soul of affection. 
She found her husband and children made happy 
by the pleasures of the palate. Her life was de- 
voted to that end. Elegance, and unending va- 
riety, characterized her table. Her invention was 
taxed, her personal labour often put in requisi- 
tion, for efforts to which the genius of her ser- 
vants was unequal. She loved the glowing smile 
that repaid her toils. The motive was affection- 
ate : what were its results ? In some, convivial- 
ity ; in others, gluttony ; in all, a preference of 
sense to spirit. 

Another mother wished to make a family of 
beautiful daughters happy. She encouraged the 
gay amusements in which youth delights. Ex- 
pensive dresses and rich jewelry were found ne- 
cessary. She could not bear to see her daughters 
outshone and mortified. She taxed the purse of 
her husband beyond its capacity, and contrary to 
his judgment. Her principal argument was, "I 
know you love to see our young people happy." 
Her theory of happiness ended in a spirit of dis- 
play, a necessity of excitement, a habit of com- 
petition, a ruinous extravagance. 

If we would advance the true felicity of others, 
we must not only know in what it consists, but 



HAPPINESS. 251 

must also be happy ourselves. Let us remember 
that we must give account at last, for our happi- 
ness, as well as for any other sacred deposite. 
A capacity for it has been given us; how have 
we improved it? Have we suffered it to grow 
inert, or morbid? 

A cup was put into our hands, capable of 
containing the bright essences which this beau- 
tiful creation yields. Have we allowed it to be 
filled with tears? have we dampened its crystal 
surface with perpetual sighs? 

The flowers of affection were sown along our 
path. Did we gratefully inhale them, or com- 
plain that weeds sometimes mingled with them, 
that the roses were not without thorns, that the 
fairest and purest were never exempt from mil- 
dew, and frost, and death? 

If we are so happy as at last to arrive at 
heaven, and some reproving seraph at its gate, 
should ask why we came mourning or repining 
along our pilgrim-path, and assure us that the 
dispositions of that blessed clime ought to have 
been cultivated below, that joy and praise were 
the elements of its atmosphere, how earnestly 
should we wish that the whole of our life had 
been a preparation for that Eternity of love, and 
that we had travelled thither with a countenance 
always radiant, "an everlasting hymn witliin our 
souls." 



252 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER XXI. 

ADVERSITY. 

To bear the evils and sorrows which may b 
appointed us, with a patient mind, should be the 
continual effort of our sex. It seems, indeed, tc 
be expected of us ; since the passive and enduring 
virtues are more immediately within our pro 
vince. 

How often does adversity strengthen the char 
acter, impart powerful motives of action, and un 
fold hidden energies, 

"As darkness shows us worlds of light, 
We never saw by day." 

The trials and dangers, through which Queer 
Elizabeth past, in early life, gave her a discretior 
and firmness of character, which she could neve: 
have learned amid the effeminacy of courts 
Without these causes, the high enthusiasm wouk 
never have burst forth, which greeted her, when 
about to pass from prison-durance to a throne 
she appeared on horseback at the camp in Til 
bury, and said nobly to the soldiers and people 



ADVERSITY. 253 

"I am come among you all, not as for my re- 
creation and sport, but as being resolved in the 
midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst 
you. I have but the body of a weak and feeble 
woman, but I have the heart of a king, and a 
king of England too, and can lay down for my 
God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, 
my honour and my blood, even in the dust." 

It is universally acknowledged that the vicissi- 
tudes which Louis Philippe, the present king of 
France, for many years sustained, have contribu- 
ted to render him one of the most distinguished 
sovereigns in Europe, as well as one of the most 
exemplary and amiable men, in private life. 

To descend from the scale of royalty, what 
country has such an array of self-made men. as 
our own? men whose hardships lay at the root 
of their greatness, and who, in the " baptism of 
fame, have given themselves their own name." 
How many instances have we seen, where unex- 
pected reverses of fortune, were blest as benefits 
to a rising family, extirpating the rust of indo- 
lence or selfishness, and contributing to render 
each one, more useful, more respectable, more ra- 
tionally happy.' Should such changes happen to 
either ourselves or our children, let us not in- 
dulge despondence, but receive them with cheer- 
ful courage, as rough teachers of a higher wis- 
dom, than might otherwise have been learned. 
22 



254 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Let us, while all is fair and bright around us, 
meditate on the uses of affliction, and thus like 
the "armourer accomplishing the knight," be in 
some measure girded for its approach. None are 
exempted from the visitations of disappointment 
and sorrow. All should be made better by them. 
Every one kindles a flame, which might help to 
melt the dross of selfishness, or consume our in- 
ordinate love of the world ; and their ashes, were 
we more faithful in such husbandry, would quick- 
en the germination of that holy seed, whose ri- 
pened fruit is for a better world. 

We cannot perceive that an unbroken course 
of prosperity is favourable to devotion. Sloth, 
pride, and want of sympathy for the woes of 
others, are too often its attendants. It might 
seem an anomaly to say, that a superabundance 
of gifts from the Author of all our mercies 
should induce forgetfulness of Him. And yet, 
does not our observation of human nature show, 
that the poorest are often the most thankful for 
slight bounty? that the habitual sufferer is prone 
to the deepest devotion? that those on whom lit- 
tle has been bestowed, engrave the name of the 
Giver most legibly upon the living-stone of their 
hearts? 

A poor inhabitant of the northern isles of Scot- 
land left for the first time the rugged shore of 
St. Kilda, where, in the dark cabin of his father, 



ADVERSITY. 255 

he had been nurtured, as the arctick pine, amid 
the crevices of the rock. When the boat ap- 
proached the coast of Mull, he gazed with won- 
der, as on an unbounded hemisphere. A pas- 
senger mocked the simple-hearted man, with tales 
of the magnificence which reigned there. He 
also ridiculed the poverty of St. Kilda. The 
son of the rock listened in silence. If he felt 
the caustick, he forbore to retaliate. At length 
the officious narrator said, "heard ye ever of 
God in that bleak island of St. Kilda?" 

"From whence came you?" inquired the taci- 
turn and grave Highlander. 

"O, from a beauteous land, where the fields 
give us wheat before we ask for it, where rich 
fruits make the air fragrant, and honey fills every 
flower." 

"Came ye from so fair a land? Man might 
forget God there. In my own St. Kilda he never 
can. Building his home on a rock, suspended 
over a precipice, chilled by the wintry wind, 
tossed on the wild ocean, he never can forget 
his God. No, he hangs every moment on his 
arm." 

Where man shall turn for solace in adversity, 
has been his earnest inquiry ever since he was 
placed upon the earth. Since his expulsion from 
Paradise, he has ever had seasons of wandering 
and of woe, " seeking rest, and finding none." 



256 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Nature prompts the sorrowful to repose upon 
some kindred spirit, to lay part of their burden 
upon the nearest in friendship or affection. Yet 
there are evils, which the most perfect union of 
hearts cannot alleviate. The perpetual sadness 
of a broken spirit is beyond the reach of external 
intercourse. Indeed, the most incurable evils 
sometimes spring from the closest affinities. The 
parent may be doomed to see the child, in whom 
his proudest hopes were garnered up, smite 
down those hopes and trample their roots, though 
they grew in the "deep of his heart." Will 
friendship comfort him? The wife may find the 
idol of her love, the victim of vice, or estranged 
from her as an enemy. What remaining affec- 
tion can fill the void in her soul? Bereavements 
may be so bitter and entire, that none shall be 
left to comfort . the lonely survivor. The poor 
chieftain of the forest was not left without a 
parallel, when he exclaimed in his desolation, 
"who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one." 

Still the question returns, where shall we look 
for solace under such adversities as transcend the 
help of man? The poetry of Philosophy replies, 
that Time is the physician of grief. We see that 
he is so for common losses, or for those that 
more immediately affect the passions. But are 
there not afflictions, whose extent is made more 
evident by the lapse of years? where the tem- 



ADVERSITY. 257 

pest of sorrow indeed abates, but where the 
waste of comfort, the desolation of hope, the im- 
possibility of restitution, only become more ap- 
parent? To such, Time acts only as a torch- 
bearer, revealing the extent of a ruin, which he 
has no power to repair. He may, indeed, cause 
the tide of weepirfg to roll back, but it is to dis- 
cover the magnitude of the wreck, the multitude 
of precious things thrown over in the storm, frag- 
ments of treasure, which the tantalizing surge 
displays for a moment, and then swallows up for- 
ever. 

Time may, indeed, be a successful physician 
for the sorrows of youth. Then, the buoyant 
heart voluntarily co-operates with any sanitary 
regimen. It is fruitful in substitutes for lost de- 
lights. In its vigorous policy, it scarcely waits 
for Time to aid in repairing the breaches in its 
sanctuary. When its tendrils are stricken from 
one prop, how soon are they seen clasping an- 
Dther, and covering it with blossoms. 

Far otherwise is it in the wane of life. The 
heart, often bruised, often smitten, clings with a 
more rigid grasp to its diminishing joys. As the 
circle grows narrower, it struggles to spread itself 
over the whole of it, to touch and to guard every 
point. But the pilgrim of many lustrums cannot 
hope to call forth in young bosoms the recipro- 
city which the fervour of his own prime enkin^ 
22* 



258 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

died. Between him and them "is a great gulf 
fixed." The affections lose the power of re-pro- 
duction. They have no longer that Promethean 
fire, by which dead elements are quickened into 
friendship. The path of life has become to them 
as the "valley of dry bones." They wander 
through it, without the ability to bid one skele- 
ton arise, and be clothed with flesh. They be- 
come too inert to enchain even the living and 
willing objects that surround them. Like the ru- 
minating animals, they slumber over the food 
which once they pursued, as the fleet roe-buck 
upon the mountains. 

It is possible also, that, with years, a kind of 
hallowed jealousy may steal over the soul. Per- 
haps it may refuse to admit new imagery to a 
shrine, where its earliest-chosen, longest-consecra- 
ted idols dwelt, and were worshipped. With a 
morbid, yet blameless constancy, it may hermeti- 
cally seal the vase, where its first, purest odours 
had birth and were exhaled. 

Therefore, the medical influence of Time, at 
its highest power, ranks only as a sedative. It 
cannot extirpate those roots of sorrow, which 
strike to the extremest verge of human life. Es- 
pecially will the hoary-headed, if they trust Time 
as their sole physician, find him stupifying their 
senses with a transient opiate, but leaving the 
heart's wounds to rankle and rankle, till, like the 



ADVERSITY. 259 

bereaved patriarch, they "go down into the grave, 
to the lost one, mourning." 

The inquiry still recurs, where shall we turn, 
under the deepest calamities that are appointed 
to humanity? A sterner philosophy than that at 
first quoted, answers, ' rise above them, be insen- 
sible to them." Oh, but man is too frail and sen- 
sitive, too much wrapped up in a net-work of 
nerves, and too faint at heart, to stand against 
the dread artillery of woe. A baleful wind sweeps 
away his strength ; a frown on the face of one 
he loves, drinks up his spirit; the fickle breath 
of the populace inflates him; the dew-drops in 
his broken cistern dry up, and he is in bitter- 
ness ; fever touches his clay-temple, and he is 
gone. Is he, who cannot cope with the feeblest 
agent, expected to stand unmelted in the "seven- 
times heated furnace?" He cannot resist the ele- 
ments : how can he endure the wrath of their 
Omnipotent Ruler, when he "ariseth to shake 
terribly the earth?" 

That remedy for adversity, which neither the 
light of nature discovered, nor the pharmacopeia 
of Time contained, of which Philosophy both in 
its poetry and its stoicism has failed, is contained 
in a single prescription of the Gospel, the sub- 
mission of our will to that which is divine. 
How simply is it illustrated in the aspiration of 
Thomas a Kempis : " Give me what thou wilt, 



260 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

and in what measure, and at what time, thou 
wilt. Do with me what thou knowest to be 
best, what best pleaseth thee. Place me where 
thou wilt, freely dispose of me in all things." 

Still more concisely was it expressed by Fene- 
lon, " I am silent ; I offer myself in sacrifice ; 
henceforth I have no will, save to accomplish 
thine:" but ah, how much more forcibly in that 
agonizing sigh from Gethsemane, "not my will, 
but thine be done" when even the strengthening 
angel was astonished, and Earth trembled as she 
tasted the first trickling drops of her Redeemer's 
blood. 



LOSS OP CHILDREN. 261 



LETTER XXII. 

LOSS OF CHILDREN. 

To bear the loss of children with submission, 
requires the strong exercise of a Christian's faith. 
It seems to contradict the course of nature, that 
the young and blooming should descend to the 
tomb, before the aged and infirm. We expect to 
see the unfolding of a bud which we have 
watched till it had burst its sheath, trembling 
with joy and beauty, as it first met the sunbeam. 
" These same shall comfort us, concerning all our 
toil," is the voice in the heart of every parent, 
who contemplates the children for whom he has 
laboured and prayed. 

The death of a babe, creates no common sor- 
row. Even the burial of one that has never 
breathed, brings a keen pang to a parent's heart. 
The political economist, who estimates the value 
of every being, by the strength of his sinews, or 
the gain which he is capable of producing to 
the community, views the removal of infancy 
as but the wiping away of "the small dust from 
the balance." But he has not, like the mother, 



262 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

knelt and wept over its vacant cradle, stretched 
out his arms at midnight for its pliant form, 
and found only emptiness, listened in vain for 
its little quiet breathing, and felt his heart deso- 
late. The scales in which a mother weighs her 
treasures, are not the same in which the man of 
the world weighs his silver and gold. Her grief 
is often most poignant for the youngest and faint- 
est blossom. Thus feeling anguish, where others 
scarcely see cause for regret, has she not an op- 
portunity more permanently to benefit by the dis- 
cipline of Heaven? Is she not moved to deeper 
sympathy with all who mourn? Is she not bet- 
ter fitted to become a comforter? more strongly 
incited to every deed of mercy ? When she sees 
a little coffin pass, no matter whether the mother 
who mourns be a stranger, or a mendicant, or 
burnt dark beneath an African sun, is she not to 
her, in the pitying thrill of that moment, as a 
sister ? 

Yet not alone in the quickening of sympathy, 
or the excitement to benevolence, do such deep 
afflictions bring gain to the sufferer. Other seeds 
of goodness are sown in the softened soil. The 
thoughts and affections are drawn upward. The 
glorified spirit of the infant is a star to guide the 
mother to its own blissful clime. Is it not her 
wish to be where her babe is? And will she 
not strive to prepare herself for its pure society? 



LOSS OF CHILDREN. 263 

If the cares or sins of earth ever threaten to gain 
the victory, she is arrested by a little hand reach- 
ing from the skies, by the cherub voice which 
implores, "Oh, mother, come to me." 

Sometimes grief loses itself in gratitude, that 
those who once called forth so much solicitude, 
are free from the hazards of this changeful life. 
Here, temptations may foil the strongest, and sins 
overshadow those whose opening course was most 
fair. From all such dangers, the early smitten, 
the "lambs whom the Saviour taketh untas.kedj 
untried," have forever escaped. To be sinless, 
and at rest, is a glorious heritage. Sorrow hath 
no more dominion over them. No longer may 
they be racked with pain, or pale with weakness, 
or emaciated by disease. No longer will their 
dove-like moaning distress the friend watching by 
their sleepless couch, nor the parents shudder, 
with untold agony, to find that they have no 
power to sooth the last fearful death-groan. We, 
who still bear the burdens of a weary pilgrim- 
age, who have still to meet the pang of disease, 
and to struggle ere we pay our last debt to the 
destroyer, cherish as our strongest consolation the 
hope of entering that peaceful haven which they 
have already attained. 

How affecting was the resignation of the poor 
Icelandick mother: "Four children were given 
me. Two are with me, and two with God. 



264 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

Those who are with God are the happiest. I 
do not feel troubled about them. I am only 
anxious that those who remain with me may so 
live, that, by and by, they may be with him too." 

"The most lovely and promising of my chil- 
dren have been smitten," said a mourning parent. 
" If it were not so, I could have borne it better." 
But did not the very goodness and piety which 
endeared them to you, render them more fit to 
be companions of the pure spirits around the 
Throne? Their virtues, their loveliness, seem in- 
deed to have made your loss the greater. But 
would you have had them less virtuous, less 
lovely? You do not grudge that the gift should 
have been in some degree worthy of Him who 
jesumed it. Oh no! You cannot regret that 
their fair promise of excellence was unclouded, 
when they went down to the dust. 

I once saw a sight, mournful, yet beautiful. 
Twin infants, in the same coffin. Their waxen 
brows had been so much alike, that only the eye 
of domestic intimacy could distinguish them. 
One was suddenly wounded by a dart from 
those countless diseases, which are in ambush 
around the first years of life. The other moaned 
and cried incessantly for his companion. Nothing 
could divert or sooth him. But Death united 
them. So soon did the survivor sicken, that his 
brother waited for him in the coffin. There 



LOSS OP CHILDREN. 265 

were bright rose-buds in their little hands, as 
they slumbered side by side. Together they had 
entered the gate of life, and at the gate of death 
were scarcely divided. When, after the silent lapse 
of time, the mother was able to speak of her be- 
reavement with composure, she said, that from 
among the sources whence she had derived com- 
fort, was the thought that they would be always 
together. While in their health and beauty, she 
had sometimes anxiously contemplated those 
many changes and adversities which might di- 
vide their path from each other, "far as the 
poles apart," and possibly estrange those hearts, 
which, like kindred drops, Nature seemed to 
have melted into one. 

Surely, the thought of the indissoluble union 
of their dear ones, must be a consolation to af- 
flicted parents. Here, they met but to part again. 
There, they are to be forever with the Lord. 
Here, they must sometimes have left home, and 
been among strangers. Then, what anxieties dis- 
turb the parental bosom, lest they might be sick, 
and need care or comfort, in error or heaviness, 
and suffer for counsel, and sympathy. But they 
are where nothing hurtful can intrude. No long- 
er they feel the timidity of strangers. They are 
at home in the house of their Father. A fami- 
ly broken up on earth, re-assembled in Heaven. 
Those who dwelt for a little time in the same 
23 



266 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

tent of clay, are gathered together, around the al- 
tar of immortality. 

We sometimes see parents suddenly bereft of 
all their children. To have their most precious 
treasures swept utterly away, and find that home 
desolate, which was wont to resound with the 
voice of young affection, and the tones of inno- 
cent mirth, is a sorrow which none can realize, 
save those who bear it. All human sympathies 
fall short of the occasion. The admonition not 
to mourn, is misplaced. " Jesus wept" Is not 
this a sufficient sanction for the mourner's tear? 
He who appoints such discipline, never intended 
that we should be insensible to it, or that we 
should gird ourselves in the armour of pride to 
meet it, or seal up the fountain of tears, when he 
maketh the heart soft. 

If we attempt to comfort those who lament 
the extinction of a whole family, cut down in 
their tender years, what shall we say? We are 
constrained to acknowledge that earth has no sub- 
stitute for such a loss. Dear afflicted friends, ask 
it not of earth, but look to Heaven. Is not the 
interval of separation short ? How soon will the 
years fleet, ere you lie down to slumber in the 
same narrow bed appointed for all the living. 
If they died in the Redeemer, and you live in 
obedience to his commands, how rapturous will 
be the everlasting embrace in which you shall 



LOSS OP CHILDREN. 267 

enfold them. Can you pourtray, can you even 
imagine that meeting in heaven? 

" When I meet with the grief of parents, pour- 
trayed upon the tomb-stone," said Addison, "my 
heart melts with compassion ; but when I see 
the tombs of parents themselves, I consider the 
vanity of grieving for those who must so soon 
follow." 

You will not, then, become a prey to despond- 
ence, though loneliness broods over your dwell- 
ing, when you realize that its once cherished in- 
mates have but gone a little in advance to those 
mansions which the Saviour hath prepared for 
all who love him. Can you not sometimes find 
it in your hearts to bless God that your loss is 
the gain of your children? While they were 
here below, it was your chief joy to see them 
happy. Yet you were not sure of the continu- 
ance of their happiness for a single hour. Now, 
you are assured both of the fullness of their 
felicity, and of its fearless continuance. 

We are delighted when our children are in the 
successful pursuit of knowledge, in the bright 
path of virtue, in the possession of the esteem of 
the wise and good. In sending them from home, 
we seek to secure for them the advantages of 
virtuous and refined society, the superintendence 
of pious and affectionate friends. Were one illus- 
trious in power and excellence to take a parental 






268 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

interest in their welfare, or were they admitted 
to be the companions of princes, should we be 
insensible to the honour? Let us not, then, with 
a wholly unreconciled spirit, see them go to be 
angels among angels, and to dwell gloriously in 
the presence of that "high and holy One, who 
inhabiteth Eternity." 

Is it not a holy privilege to add to the number 
of those who serve God without sin ? You must 
not now behold the dazzling of their celestial 
wings, as they unfold them without weariness to 
do his will. But those whom you rocked in your 
cradle, whom you consecrated by prayer and in 
baptism, are of that host. You cannot hear the 
melody of ethereal harps, attuned to unending 
praise. But they, in whose hearts early piety was 
implanted by your prayers, who learned from 
your lips to warble the sacred hymn at eve, 
swell that exulting strain. Perhaps, from their 
cloudless abode, they still watch over you. Per- 
haps, with a seraph smile, they hover around 
you. Will they not rejoice to behold you walk- 
ing to meet them, with a placid brow and sub- 
missive spirit, solacing yourself with such deeds 
of goodness to others as are approved in the 
sight of heaven? 

Afflictions are often the instruments of increas- 
ing and maturing the "peaceable fruits of righ- 
teousness." Peculiar ones ought, therefore, to pro- 



LOSS OF CHILDREN. 269 

duce prominent gain. What sorrows can be 
more peculiar and poignant, than the desolation 
of parents, from whom all their children have 
been removed, and who stand in hopeless soli- 
tude, the last of all their race ? Are they not 
incited to eminence in those efforts of benevo- 
lence, which contain balm for the chastened 
spirit ? 

There was one, and my heart holds her image 
as among the most perfect of earthly beings, who 
in early life was written childless. Her three 
beautiful sons were taken from her in one week. 
In one week! and their places were never sup- 
plied. The little student of seven years was 
smitten while over his books, the second at his 
sports, the youngest on his mother's knee. The 
deepest humility, the most earnest searchings of 
heart, were the immediate results of this bereave- 
ment. It dwelt on her mind, that, for some de- 
ficiency in her Christian character, this chastise- 
ment had been appointed. The language of her 
contrite prayer was, "Lord, what wilt thou have 
me to do?" And he told her. And she became 
a "mother in Israel." A sleepless, untiring be- 
nevolence was the striking lineament of her life. 
After the stroke of widowhood fell upon her, and 
she stood entirely alone, it seemed as if every 
vestige of selfishness was extinct, and that her 
whole existence was devoted to the good of 
23* 



270 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

others. She acquainted herself with the various 
necessities of the poor, the sick, the aged, and 
the orphan. Her almoners bore gifts suited to 
their needs, while the giver sought to be undis- 
covered and unknown. Her charity shrank from 
the notice and praise of man. 

But especially to children, her whole soul 
poured itself forth. She distributed fitting books 
to the idle and to the ignorant, to the erring and 
to the good; to some, that they might be en- 
couraged in the right way, and ,to others, that 
they might be allured to enter it. Those of her 
neighbours and friends she gathered often around 
her table, made them happy by her affability, 
cheered them with her sweet, sacred songs, and 
improved the influence thus gained, to impress 
on them the precepts of heavenly wisdom. May 
I not hope that the heart of some reader en- 
shrines the blessed image of the same benefactor, 
whose countenance was to my childhood more 
beautiful amid the furrows and silver hairs of 
fourscore-and-eight years, than any where youth 
and bloom revelled; for it was beautiful, through 
the goodness that never waxeth old, and it was 
the eye of gratitude that regarded it. 

For the stranger, the emigrant, and the poor 
African, how active were her sympathies. The 
outcast Indian found in her mansion, bread and 
a garment, and, what was dearer to him than all, 



LOSS OF CHILDREN. 271 

kind, pitying words. Endowed with a lofty and- 
cultivated intellect, and with that wealth which 
the world is wont to estimate still more highly, 
she humbled herself to the meanest creature, that 
she might do them good. She seemed willing to 
become "their servant, for Jesus' sake." 

What part her deep afflictions bore in this 
meek and sublimated benevolence, whether they 
were as the crucible to the gold, or as the re- 
finer's fire to the silver, we cannot tell. He who 
sent them, knoweth. 

Though resignation under bereavement, or the 
springing of spiritual graces from its bitter root, 
are solemn and salutary lessons to the beholder, 
is it not possible to advance even higher in the 
school of Christ? 'May not a Christian be able 
to yield, without repining, the dearest idols to 
Him who loved him and gave himself for him? 
To reveal its complacence by gifts, seems to be 
one of the native dialects of love. The little 
child presents its favourite teacher with a fresh 
flower. It hastens to its mother, with the first, 
best rose from its little garden. In the kiss to 
its father, with which it resigns itself to sleep, it 
gives away its whole heart. 

Nor does love falter, though its gifts involve 
sacrifices. The young bride leaves the hearth- 
stone of her earliest remembrances, and lifts her 
timid brow in the home of strangers, or follows 



272 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

her chosen protector to a wild land, and unin- 
habited, willingly trusting to him her "all of 
earth, perchance her all of heaven." The mother 
grudges not the pang, the faded bloom, the weary 
night- watchings with which she rears her infant. 
Must an earthly love ever transcend that which 
is divine? Will Christian parents always yield 
with reluctance their children to that Beneficent 
Being, whom "not having seen, they love?" 

"How have you attained such sweet resigna- 
tion?" said a pastor to a young mother, who had 
newly buried her first-born. She replied, "When 
my boy was with me, I used to think of him 
continually, whether sleeping or waking. To me 
he seemed more beautiful than other children. I 
was disappointed if visitors omitted to praise his 
eyes, or his curls, or the robes that I wrought 
for him with my needle. At first, I believed it 
the natural current of a mothers love. Then I 
feared it was pride, and sought to humble myself 
before Him who resisteth the proud. 

One night, in dreams, I thought an angel stood 
beside me, and said, "where is the little bud that 
thou nursest in thy bosom? I am sent to take 
it. Where is thy little harp? Give it to me. 
It is like those which breathe the praise of God 
in heaven." I awoke in tears. My beautiful 
boy drooped like a bud which the worm pierces. 
His last wailing was like the sad musick from 



LOSS OP CHILDREN. 273 

shattered harp-strings. All my world seemed 
gone. Still, in my agony, I listened, for there 
was a voice in my soul, like the voice of the 
angel who had warned me : " God loveth a 
cheerful giver." I laid my lip on the earth, and 
said, "let my will be thine." And as I arose, 
though the tear lay on my cheek, there was a 
smile there also. Since then, it has been with 
me. Amid the duties f every day, it seems to 
say, "the cheerful giver! the cheerful giver!" 

"That smile," said her venerable pastor, "like 
the faith of Abraham, shall be counted unto thee 
as righteousness." 



274 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 



LETTER XXIII. 

SICKNESS AND DECLINE. 

THOSE who are subject to varieties of physical 
infirmity, should study the philosophy of sickness. 
They should not only learn a fitting deportment 
under it, but seek those spiritual benefits which 
all afflictions are intended to produce. 

Patience and fortitude, when we suffer, found- 
ed on the consciousness that we are in the hands 
of our Heavenly Father, whose love will not fail, 
and whose wisdom cannot err; a docile trust in 
the physician to whom we have confided our 
case ; and that cheerful hope which can find the 
bright side of even unfavourable symptoms, or 
unpleasant occurrences, are among the first les- 
sons in the science of salutary endurance. We 
should be careful to cultivate good feelings to- 
wards all who are around us, and to overrule 
the irritability which sometimes arises from ob- 
struction in the paths of our accustomed useful- 
ness. While by promptness in adopting appoint- 
ed remedies, we voluntarily co-operate with every 
sanitary process, we should guard against that 



SICKNESS AND DECLINE. 275 

undue haste to recover, which plunges ardent 
natures into baneful, and even fatal imprudences. 
Sometimes, a reluctance, and depression of 
spirits, are indulged by those who have the pros- 
pect of becoming mothers, which are both injuri- 
ous and unchristian. One of the weapons with 
which to repel this want of reconciliation, is 
drawn from the armoury of common sense. Is 
not the state of matrimony that, in which the 
Almighty has decreed our race to be perpetuated? 
Those, who have an unconquerable aversion to 
its results, ought not to place themselves in peril. 
If these results were not sufficiently obvious, if 
they "had not been told us from the beginning, 
and understood from the foundations of the earth," 
if changes and sorrows had happened to us, 
which had never befallen others, we might be 
more justified in complaining of a state which 
had caused them. At present, there is neither 
room for surprise, nor right to murmur. As well 
might the voyager, who enters a ship, with full 
knowledge of its destination, complain of arrival 
at the port. 

"Did I but purpose to embark with tb.ee, 
On the smooth surface of a summer sea ? 
But would forsake the ship and make the shore, 
When the winds threaten, or the billows roar?" 

The state to which we allude, involves inconve- 
niences and sufferings, but it should be sufficient 



276 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

for a Christian, that Divine Wisdom has both or- 
dained and illumined it. And how much better 
is it, for the individual, and for all around, how 
much more generous to those most interested in 
her welfare, that instead of yielding to. lassitude, 
or low spirits, she should cultivate cheerfulness, 
arid gratitude. 

How sweetly do the Germans speak of a friend, 
with such expectations, as being in "good hope" 
The mothers of our American forests, that red- 
brow'd and almost forgotten race, passed with the 
same meek brow, and sweet-toned voice, on their 
life of hardship, scarcely pausing, as they planted 
the corn, or gathered in the harvest, or steered 
the canoe, or snared the habitant of the deep, 
until the cry of the new-born was heard. His- 
tory teaches us that the Romans, and other ancient 
nations, laboured to make a state of gestation 
one of cheerful exercise, both to the body and 
mind. The mother of Buonaparte, for several 
months before his birth, was much on horse- 
back, with her husband, entering into those mili- 
tary plans and details which occupied his mind. 
Napoleon, who greatly respected her, sometimes 
intimated that his own structure of character had 
been modified by her heroism, and often re- 
peated emphatically, as a maxim, " the mother 
forms the man" 

The state which we mention, is doubtless a 



SICKNESS AND DECLINE. 277 

discipline of character. Its temporary renuncia- 
tion of the world's pleasures, the apprehension 
which it often creates, and the danger with which 
it may be connected, are themes for communion 
with Him, who alone has power to strengthen, to 
save, and to put into the heart a song of new 
joy. It adds force and tenderness to the aspira- 
tions of the Psalmist, " Let me now fall into the 
hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great." Is 
it not a holy state ? Should it not therefore be 
happy? Does it not call up an irrepressible cou- 
rage, to know that we guard the destinies of a 
being never to die ? Were there no physical ills 
connected with the name of mother, her lot would 
be one of too unmingled felicity, for a mortal. 
Other sicknesses have only the hope to recover. 
But in hers, there is hope both of recovery, and 
of gain ; the great gain of adding another loving 
and beautiful being to the circle already so dear; 
a circle, which it is her prayer may be unbroken, 
in a home of glory. 

The care of the sick, is a science to which 
time and attention should be devoted. It is a 
part of the business of our sex. Appointed as 
we are, to varieties of indisposition, we are the 
more readily " touched with the infirmities" of 
others. Let us see that our daughters are early 
versed in those details, by which suffering is alle- 
viated. It is not enough to carry a nursing-kind- 
24 



278 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ness in the heart. Many do this, who yet seem 
unable properly, or effectually, to express it. 
While performing services in the chamber of the 
sick, they perhaps forget to shade the light from 
the enfeebled eye, or to soften the footstep, or tone, 
for the trembling nerve, or to prepare properly 
the little nourishment that impaired digestion can 
admit; so that with the most laborious efforts, 
and kindest sympathies, they' fail to administer 
comfort. 

It would seem that slow, wasting sickness, was 
a severe trial of the passive virtues, and the 
Christian graces. Yet how often do we see it 
calling forth the most affecting patience and re- 
signation. Among" many such instances, I think 
now of a friend of early days, who was appointed 
to the debility and weariness of a long decline. 
Her social feelings, and her warm sympathies for 
others' sorrow, seemed to act as remedies for her 
own. Without complaint, she resigned the inter- 
course with Nature, which had been to her 
inexpressibly dear ; the walk, the ride, the sight 
of the fresh-smelling buds on her favourite trees, 
and the first, soft grass, stealing with early vio- 
lets, over the walks that winter had embrowned. 
Gradually, her books, companions from the cra- 
dle, and her pen, so prized in her hours of in- 
tellectual musing, were resigned. Still, there was 
no murmur. And when the fearful cough, in- 



SICKNESS AND DECLINE. 279 

vading her last resort, almost precluded the con- 
versation in which she both delighted and excelled, 
her gentle eye told the peace within. One night, 
which her physicians intimated would be her last 
on earth, I was privileged to be with her, for I 
desired to stand at her side, when the broken 
clay should yield up the beautiful spirit. Ema- 
ciation, and infantine helplessness, were upon her, 
and delirium had dictated her broken speech for 
many days. Yet she fancied herself surrounded 
by bright objects, by the orange-groves, and jes- 
samine bowers of sunnier skies, and by the 
winged spirits of the happy dead, to whom she 
was so near. But though reason wandered, the 
memory of the heart was perfect, and I never 
once approached her pillow, that she did not re- 
gard me with loving eyes, or draw my head 
downward to hers, or detain my hand in her flut- 
tering clasp, or thank me for the drop with which 
I moistened her lips, or whisper a kind wish that 
I would rest beside her, and not fatigue myself 
for her sake. And it was the more affecting, that 
the imperishable elements of her own lovely na- 
ture, and changeless friendship, should gleam 
forth with such purity, amid fragments of wild 
thought, and incoherent exclamations, and misty 
gazings into a shadowy world. And so Death 
stole upon her like a gentle sleep, into which she 



280 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

entered with a smile ; " patience having had its 
perfect work." 

Entire resignation, is probably the highest at- 
tainment of our faith. Though it comes forth 
out of " great tribulation, as the fine gold from 
the fire of the refiner," yet its rudiments should 
be studied amid the common business of life. 
Like Demosthenes, preserving the key-note of 
eloquence, amid the thunder of the sea, we 
should rehearse them, amid the daily throng of 
perplexities and toils. When serene piety has 
learned to surmount both the lesser and greater 
evils of life, when we have no longer any will, 
but to accomplish that of Him who sent us, we 
are rapidly preparing for a removal where His 
face is seen without a cloud. 

While a slow and hopeless decline asks only 
the exercise of resignation, there are varieties of 
'chronic disease which require the action of other 
graces. Though many of the pleasures of life 
are stricken off, some of its duties and responsi- 
bilities remain. To balance these correctly, to 
endure seclusion, perhaps to suffer pain, yet not 
to shrink from obligation, need the exercise of 
no common judgment, or in-operative piety. To 
cultivate any remaining capacity of usefulness, 
to advance the comfort of those around, is a 
source of consolation. This seemed to be under- 
stood by the wife of the poor shepherd of Salis- 



SICKNESS AND DECLINE. 281 

bury Plain, who, being disabled from all use of 
her feet by rheumatism, was most thankful that 
she could still sit up in her bed, and mend clothes 
for her family. Equally persevering, though of 
a different character, was the industry of the 
authoress of that beautiful story, who saved the 
dotting of her i's, and the crossing of her tf's, for 
a day of head-ache. 

Protracted debility gives leisure for meditation. 
The mind has scope to expatiate on such oppor- 
tunities of doing good as are left within its power. 
How may those within its more immediate circle 
be benefitted? Are there any children, or young 
people in the household, to whom it may be a 
teacher of patience and wisdom? Is there any 
grey-haired person whom it may make happy? 
The old are cheered by having the current of 
thought turned to their early days, and by find- 
ing an attentive listener to their narratives. Tell 
them also of what transpires day by day ; keep 
up their interest in passing events : for their 
memory does not decay so much from necessity, 
as through the neglect of others to feed it with 
fresh aliment. Sometimes read or relate to them 
healthful works of the imagination. They restore 
emotions which stir the stream of life, and keep 
it from growing stagnant. They bring back a 
host of pleasant memories, and give new life to 
buried joys. 

24* 



Z2 LETTEJRS TO MOTHERS. 

It is often salutary to unite the aged with 
happy and well-behaved children. The extremes 
of human life tend naturally and gracefully to- 
wards each other, like the horns of the waxing 
and waning moon. Though the chief consola- 
tion of age should be drawn from the world 
which it approaches, we must not suffer it to feel 
useless in that world where it still lingers. 

Let us grudge no exertion, whether in health 
or sickness, to make the aged happy, remember- 
ing how soon we must be numbered among them, 
if we are spared from the grave. For how si- 
lently do years steal over us. Our babes grow 
up, and bring their own babes to be dandled 
upon our knees. Still, we fail to realize how 
rapidly we drift down the stream of time. In 
the beautiful expression of Scripture, "grey hairs 
are here and there upon him, but he knoweth it 
not." 

Should it be the will of our Heavenly Father, 
that any of us should remain after our cotempo- 
raries are gone to rest, let us strive to grow old 
gracefully. Let us not hastily renounce our part 
in accustomed duty, or be ready to make our- 
selves cyphers in existence, or jealously conceive 
that we are burdens to those around. But, pre- 
serving an interest in the history of our own 
times, and in the concerns of those around us, 
let us not captiously ask, "why the former days 



SICKNESS AND DECLINE. 283 

were better than these, for we do not inquire 
wisely concerning this." 

Especially let us cultivate love and forbearance 
for the young. Taking part in their simple and 
highly-relished pleasures, let us keep our seat at 
life's banquet, as a satisfied, not satiated guest. 
Let the recollection of our own early levities 
soften every disposition to censure those who 
are beginning the race of life ; and let us teach 
them that the fruits of true wisdom ripen and 
mellow, rather than acidulate, by the lapse of 
years. 

Let us pay, without murmuring, the tax which 
Earth levies upon its ancient tenants. If the 
deafened ear no longer excites the mind, if the 
right hand forgets its cunning, if the feet refuse 
the burden which from infancy they bore, it is 
because those weary labourers have need of re- 
pose. The Sabbath of existence has come. It 
brings with it a season of silence, in which to 
meditate, to release the soul from earthly ties, to 
prepare it for a higher state of being. Present 
events make but slight impression. The far-off 
past is more vivid than the moving current of 
things. Memory reverses her tablet, bringing 
again the lines with which life began. Among 
those traces, there will be room for penitence, 
for gratitude, for renunciation of all self-righ- 
teousness. Then, may trust in a Redeemer, 



284 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

and well-grounded confidence of acceptance with 
Heaven, be the soul's incorruptible armour, as 
we 

'Walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore, 
Of that vast Ocean we must sail BO soon." 



DEATH. 285 



LETTER XXIV. 

DEATH. 

THERE is a subject, which, perhaps more than 
any other, is presented to children errroneously 
and injuriously. It is that of the exchange of 
worlds. They see it surrounded with every ac- 
companiment of gloom. They may be told that 
the soul of the departed friend is in a happier 
world. But they witness bitter and uncontroul- 
able mourning, and the evidence of their senses 
overpowers the lifeless precept. Fear of death 
takes possession of them, before they can compre- 
hend the faith which looks beyond the coffin, the 
knell, and the tomb: so, that "all their life-time 
they are subject to bondage." 

Christians err in not speaking to each other 
more frequently and familiarly of death. Teach- 
ers of youth, and mothers, should not hesitate to 
make it the theme of their discourse. And when 
they do so, let them divest their brow of gloom, 
and their tone of sadness. While they mingle it 
with solemnity, they should soften it from terror, 
lest they bow down the tender mind, like those 



2b LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

heavy rains, which wash away the bloom of the 
unfolding flower. 

I once attended a funeral in a remote village 
of Moravians. It was in the depth of summer. 
Every little garden put forth beauty, and every 
tree was heavy with fresh, cool verdure. 

It was a Sabbath afternoon, when a dead in- 
fant was brought into the church. The children 
of the small congregation wished to sit near it, 
and fixed their eyes upon its placid brow, as on 
a fair piece of sculpture. The sermon of the 
clergyman was to them. It was a paternal ad- 
dress, humbling itself to their simplicity, yet lofty, 
through the deep, sonorous tones of their native 
German. Earnestly and tenderly they listened, 
as he told them how the baby went from its 
mother's arms to those of the compassionate Re- 
deemer. When the worship closed, and the pro- 
cession was formed, the children, two and two, 
followed the mourners, leading each other by the 
hand, the little girls clothed in white. 

The place of slumber for the dead, was near 
the church, where they had heard of Jeus. It 
was a green, beautiful knoll, on which the sun, 
drawing towards the west, lingered with a smile 
of blessing. The turf had the richness of velvet, 
not a weed or a straw defaced it. Every swell- 
ing mound was planted with flowers, and a kind 
of aromatic thyme, thickly clustering, and almost 



DEATH. 287 

shutting over the small, horizontal tomb-stones, 
which recorded only the name and date of the 
deceased. In such a spot, so sweet, so lowly, so 
secluded, the clay might willingly wait its re- 
union with the spirit. 

Before the corpse, walked the young men of 
the village, bearing instruments of music. They 
paused at the gate of the place of burial. Then 
a strain from voice and flute, rose, subdued and 
tremulous, like the strings of the wind-harp. It 
seemed as if a timid, yet prevailing suppliant, 
sought admission to the ancient city of the dead. 

The gate unclosed. As they slowly wound 
around the gentle ascent, to the open grave, the 
Pastor, with solemn intonation, repeated passages 
from the Book of God. Thrilling, beyond ex- 
pression, amid the silence of the living, and the 
slumber of the dead, were the blessed words of 
our Saviour, "I am the resurrection and the 
life." 

He ceased, and all gathered round the brink 
of the pit. The little ones drew near, and look- 
ed downwards into its depths, sadly, but with- 
out fear. Then came a burst of music, swelling 
higher and higher, till it seemed no longer of 
earth. Methought it was the welcome in heav- 
en, to the innocent spirit, the joy of angels over 
a new immortal, that had never sinned. Wrap- 
ped, as it were, in that glorious melody, the little 



288 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

body was let down to its narrow cell. And all 
grief, even the parent's grief, was swallowed up, 
in that high triumph-strain. Devotion was there, 
giving back what it loved, to the God of love, 
not with tears, but with music. Faith was there, 
standing among flowers, and restoring a bud to 
the Giver, that it might bloom in a garden which 
could never fade. 

Will those children ever forget the lesson learn- 
ed at that infant's grave? When I looked on 
their sweet, serious faces, as they walked lov- 
ingly from the place of tombs, I thought they 
felt, what those of grey hairs are often "too 
slow of heart to believe," that in death, there is 
victory. 

In order to give to those whom we instruct, 
cheering and consoling views of Death, we must 
correct our own. We must make it the subject 
of daily contemplation, praying for divine grace, 
to consider it as the consummation of our highest 
hope, the end for which we wiere bom, the sum- 
mons to arise, and take upon us the nature of 
angels. We have seen, or read, with what calm- 
ness the righteous have passed away. Some- 
times, scarce a feature has been changed, a 
thought ruffled, in the transition. Beda, while dic- 
tating from the Bible, to his disciples, put his 
hand into the hand of death, and scarcely felt its 
coldness. Herder was writing a hymn to the 



DEATH. 289 

Deity, with his pen upon the last line, when he 
passed into his presence. 

We should not shun the chamber of the dying. 
The bed on which they lie, is the teacher of 
wisdom, both solemn and sublime. The pious 
Margaret, mother of king Henry 7th, maintained 
under her own roof, a number of poor persons. 
She supplied their wants, and consoled them in 
sickness, and in pain. Especially would she be 
always by their side, at then* death, and attend 
them to their grave. Being asked, why she thus 
voluntarily exposed herself to such scenes of sad- 
ness, she replied, "that I may learn how to 
die." 

The Almighty has surrounded Death, with 
many circumstances of dread, that the rash and 
thoughtless might not rush upon it, when harrow- 
ed up by disappointment, or disgusted at the 
world. The heathen in his ignorance, and the 
sinner in his guilt, alike tremble at its approach. 
But the Christian should neither shrink back from 
the last messenger, nor grieve bitterly for those 
friends who are called before him. Nature's tear 
at parting, cannot be restrained. Yet let no vio- 
lent and bitter sorrow visit the death-bed of the 
Christian. It is a Pagan sentiment. It should 
find no place near their pillow, for whom Christ 
died. While we mourn, the happy, unfettered 
spirit traverses a celestial region. It has attain- 
25 



290 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ed a purer existence. By a voice, which our 
earthly ear might not hear, God called it, and 
it arose, and put off its cumbrous garments, that 
it might perfectly do his will. An invisible hand 
drew it within the casement of the ark. Why 
should we, who still ride the billows, and bide 
the storm, lament for the bark that hath found 
a secure shelter? a haven from whence it shall 
go forth no more? Why should we forget to 
give glory to God, for having taken to unchang- 
ing bliss, the friend whom we loved? 

Death, to the suffering body, and the willing 
soul, is the herald of release. Its terrors, for 
surely it hath terrors, arise from other sources : 
from tilings left undone, that ought to have been 
done, and from things done, that ought not to 
have been done. Let us guard against these 
fearful evils, now in the time of health and hope, 
and live every day, as if it were to be our last 
on earth. When disappointments press on the 
spirit, and the world seems joyless, some have 
mistaken this despondence for resignation to death. 
But the repining, with which we look on the 
cloud, or the tempest, or the broken idol, is not 
the principle which will bear us triumphantly 
through the dark valley. It is possible to be 
weary of life, and yet unwilling to die. Faith- 
ful duty, and daily penitence, and prayerful trust, 
are the safest armour for those, who know not 



DEATH. 291 

at what hour they may be summoned. "Do 
all things, as if you were to die to-morrow," 
said a writer of antiquity. Thus, Death, com- 
ing as a guest, long prepared for, may be both 
welcomed by us, and bear to us the welcome 
of angels. 

We pay deference to good teachers. We de- 
sire to secure the benefits of their wisdom for 
ourselves and for our children. But who teaches 
like Death? Who like him reveals character? 
and unveils motives which had lain for many 
years in a locked casket? and strips the illusion 
from the things which men covet? and makes us 
feel our own pitiable weakness, in not being able 
to soften the last pang for those we love ? " The 
sun is best seen at his rising and setting," says 
Boyle; "so men's native dispositions are most 
clearly perceived while they are children, and 
when they come to die." Though the chamber, 
where the man of wealth meets his doom, dis- 
plays every comfort and luxury that art can de- 
vise, who can behold the almost infantine help- 
lessness of their possessor, without a new and 
deep feeling of the poverty of all costly things, 
the silk, the velvet, and the silver, which so many 
envy, and for which some sell their souls ? Truly 
they seem as the "small dust of the balance," 
when he may not reach out a hand to touch 
them, or even bestow a glance upon them, for a 



292 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

heavy business absorbs him, and time is for him 
no longer, and his soul is demanded, and must 
go forth, to give account of itself, and of the use 
it has made of those treasures from which it 
parts. 

We should consider the goodness of God, in 
giving to our wearied frames the repose of the 
grave. The dim eye seeks a long sleep. The 
ear rests from the toil of gathering sounds. The 
lip grows silent. The limbs cease from their 
labour. The senses, those reporters of the mind, 
resign their office. In the citadel of life, the 
sentinels slumber. The red fluid, so long circu- 
lating through its thousand channels, stagnates. 
The clay fabric, mysteriously tenanted by the un- 
resting spirit, is ready to dissolve. "God giveth 
his beloved, sleep." 

Let not the couch where Nature takes her last 
farewell, be troubled by demonstrations of undis- 
ciplined sorrow from those who surround it. 
The ill-judged efforts of friends, too often height- 
en the suffering they would fain relieve. Changes 
of position, fruitless attempts to administer medi- 
cine or nourishment, the restless ofliciousness of 
grieving affection, distress the voyager to the 
world of spirits. Even a heathen emperor could 
counsel that the great transition should be made 
with calmness. "Thou hast taken ship, thou 
hast sailed, thou hast come to land. Go tran- 



DEATH. 293 

quilly out of the ship into another life. Are not 
the Gods there?" 

Death, physiologically considered, is the tend- 
ing of the mortal part to its appointed and need- 
ful rest. It is not probably attended by the ex- 
treme agony with which imagination invests it. 
The principle of consciousness is often sooner 
released, than some of the organs on which it has 
been accustomed to act. They continue a part 
of their functions, from habit, rather than voli- 
tion, as the strings of the harp may vibrate with 
a prolonged echo, after the hand that swept them 
has departed; so that the friend, on whose con- 
vulsions we gaze, is sometimes insensible to the 
pain at whose indications we shudder. 

But, admitting that the pangs of death trans- 
cend what have been endured through life : how 
brief are they, how unworthy to be "compared 
to the glory that shall be revealed." May we not 
even suppose the happiness of heaven to be 
heightened by the contrast? The deep darkness 
of the shadowy vale, yielding to a day which 
knows no night, the sharp severance of body and 
soul, lost in those pleasures which the "heart of 
man hath never conceived," the moans of disso- 
lution, exchanged for the musick of cherubim and 
seraphim, the tear of parting from earthly friends, 
forgotten in the greeting of the "spirits of the 
just made perfect," what is there in the whole 
25* 



294 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

ran^e of material things that can furnish type or 
shadow of such a contrast? Was it not in the 
mind of the eloquent Pascal, when he said, "the 
glory of our faith shines with much greater bright- 
ness, by our passing to immortality, through the 
shades of death." 

How many instances have we known, of not 
merely a calm departure, but a joyful translation 
to the realms of bliss. A pious clergyman of 
Scotland had lived to a venerable old age. One 
morning, after breakfasting with his family, he 
reclined a while in his chair, silently meditating. 
Suddenly he spoke, "Daughter, hark! doth not 
my Master call me?" Asking for his Bible, he 
perceived that his eyes were dim, and he could 
no longer read its precious words. " Find for 
me," said he, " the eighth chapter of Romans, and 
lay my finger on the passage, 'I am persuaded 
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor prin- 
cipalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor 
things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any 
other creature, shall be able to separate us from 
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our 
Lord.' Now is my finger placed upon these 
blessed words?" Being assured that it was, he 
said, "Then God bless you, God bless you all, 
dear children. I have refreshed myself with you 
this morning, and shall be at the banquet of my 
Saviour ere it is night." And thus he died. 



DEATH. 295 

Another pious man, who had practised daily 
reading and explanation of the Scriptures in his 
family, continued it during his last illness. Once, 
while remarking upon a chapter, he suddenly 
exclaimed, "What brightness do I see? Have 
you lighted any candles?" They replied that 
they had not, for it was a summer's afternoon, 
and the twilight had not yet come. Then, in a 
clear, glad voice, he said, " now, farewell, world ! 
and welcome, heaven! for the day-star from on 
high hath visited me. Oh, speak it when I am 
gone, and tell it at my funeral, that God dealeth 
familiarly with man. I feel his mercy, I see his 
majesty; whether in the body, or out of the body, 
I cannot tell: God knoweth. But I behold things 
unutterable." And, filled with joy, he expired. 

Once, when Spring had begun to quicken the 
swelling buds, a fair form that was wont to linger 
among them, came not forth from her closely- 
curtained chamber. She was beautiful and young, 
but Death had come for her. His purple tinge 
was upon her brow. The lungs moved feebly, 
and with a gasping sound. It would seem that 
speech had forsaken her. The mother bent over 
her pillow. She was her only one. Earnestly 
she besought her for one word, "only one more 
word, my beloved." It was in vain. 

Yet again, the long fringes of her blue eyes 
opened, and what a bursting forth of glorious 



296 LETTERS TO MOTHERS. 

joy! They were raised upward, they expanded, 
as though the soul would spring from them in 
extasy. Then, there was a whispering of the 
pale lips. The mother knelt down, and covered 
her face. She knew that the darling whom she 
had brought into the world, was to be offered up. 

But there was one, deep, sweet, harp-like ar- 
ticulation, "praise." And all was over. Then, 
from that kneeling mother, came the same tremu- 
lous word, "jjraise." Yet there was an ashy 
paleness on her brow, and they laid her, faint- 
ing, by the side of the breathless and beautiful. 
There she revived, and finished the sentence that 
the young seraph had begun, "praise ye the 
Lord." The emotions of that death-scene were 
too sublimated for tears. 

More surely might we hope thus to part with 
our dear ones, and thus to die in Jesus, did we, 
in our brief probation, live near him, and for him. 

Mothers, while we guard with solicitude, for 
our children, the principle of life, so wonderful 
in its infusion, so solemn in its departure, so 
mysterious in the modes of its future, disem- 
bodied existence, let us nurse in them, with equal 
vigilance, that faith which turns the pang of 
separation into praise, and lights the paleness of 
death with a smile of glory. 

Approaching the close of thoughts which it 
has been so pleasant both to cherish and to ex- 






DEATH. 297 



press, I hope it may not be imagined that this 
simple volume arrogates aught of oracular wis- 
dom. It is but as the basket, into which a few 
flowers have fallen, a few fruits been gathered, as 
I pursued my pilgrim-way. 

Friends, who have here with me meditated on 
many duties, and on the event that terminates 
them, dear friends, whom I shall never see in the 
flesh, may we meet in the vestments of immor- 
tality. With those whom we have given birth, 
and nurtured, and borne upon our prayers, in the 
midnight watch, and at the morning dawn, may 
we stand, not one lost, a glorious company, where 
is neither shade of infirmity, or sigh of penitence, 
or fear of change, but where "affection's cup 
hath lost the taste of tears." 



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