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great danger of his life ; I was pierced to the heart at the news, and could not forbear going to inquire after his hcalth. My mother took this opportunity of speaking in my behalf ; she told him, with abundance of tears, that I was come to see him, that I could not speak to her for weeping, and that I should certainly break my heart if he refused at that time to give me his blessing, and be reconciled to me.
He was so far from relentmg towards me, that he bid her speak no more of me, unless she had a mind to disturb him in his last moments ; for, sir, you must know that he has the reputation of an honest and religious man, which makes my misfortune so much the greater.
Of all the hardness of heart there is none so inexcusable as that of parents towards their children. An obstinate, inflexible, unforgiving temper, is odious upon all occasions; but here it is unnatural. The love, tenderness, and com. passion, which are apt to arise in us towards those who de pend upon us, is that by which the whole world of life is upheld. The Supreme Being, by the transcendant excel. lency and goodness of his nature, extends his mercy towards all his works ; and because his creatures have not such a spontaneous benevolence and compassion towards those who are under their care and protection, he has implanted in them an instinct, that supplies the place of this inherent good
This instinct in man is more general and uncircumscribed than in brutes, as being enlarged by the dictates of reason and duty. For if we consider ourselves attentively, we shall find that we are not only inclined to love those who descend from us, but that we bear a kind of otopyn, or natu. ral affection, to every thing which relies upon us for its good and preservation. Dependence is a perpetual call upon humanity, and a greater incitement to tenderness and pity, than any other motive whatsoever.
The màn, therefore, who, notwithstanding any passion or resentment, can overcome this powerful instinct, and
extinguish natural affection, debases his mind even below brutality, frustrates, as much as in him lies, the great de. sign of Providence, and strikes out of his nature one of the most divine principles that is planted in it.
Among innumerable arguments which might be brought against such an unreasonable proceeding, I shall only insist
We make it the condition of our forgiveness that we forgive others. In our very prayers we desire no more than to be treated by this kind of retaliation. The case therefore before us seems to be what they call a in point;" the relation between the child and father, being what comes nearest to that between a creature and its Creator. If the father is xorable to the child who has offended, let the offence be of never so high a nature, how will he address himself to the Supreme Being, under the tender appellation of a Father, and desire of him such a forgiveness as he himself refuses to grant ? '
To this I might add many other religious as well as many prudential considerations; but if the last mentioned motive does not prevail, I despair of succeeding by any otherą
It is a melancholy thing to see à coxcomb at the head of a family. He scatters infection through the whole house. His wife and children have always their eyes upon him; if they have more sense than himself, they are out of countenance for him; if less, they submit their understandings to him, and make daily improvements in folly and impertinence. I have been very often secretly concerned, when I have seen a circle of pretty children cramped in their natural parts, and prattling even below themselves, while they are talking after a couple of silly parents. The dulness of a father often extinguishes a genius in the son; or gives such a wrong cast to his mind as it is hard for him ever to wear off. In short, where the head of a family is weak, you hear the repetitions of his insipid pleasantries, shallow conceits, and topical points of mirth, in every member of it. His table, his fireside, his parties of diversion, are all of them so many standing scenes of folly.
This is one reason why I would the more recommend the improvements of the mind to my female readers, that a family may have a double chance for it ; and if it meets with weakness in one of the heads, may ave it made up in the other. It is indeed an unhappy circumstance in a family, where the wife has more knowledge than the husband; but it is better it should be so, than that there should be no knowledge in the whole house. It is highly expedient that at least one of the persons, who sits at the helm of affairs, should give an example of good sense to ter's way.
those who are under them in these little domestic govern. ments.
If folly is of ill consequence in the head of a family, více is much more so, as it is of a more pernicious and of a more contagious nature. When the master is a profligate, the rake runs through the house. You hear the sons talking loosely, and swearing after the father, and see the daugh. ters either familiarized to his discourse, or every moment blushing for him. The very footman will be a fine gentleman in his mas.
He improves by his table talk, and repeats in the kitchen what he learns in the parlour. Invest him with the same title and ornaments, and you would scarce know him from his lord. He practises the same oaths, the same ribaldry, the same way of joking.
It is therefore of very great concern to a family, that the ruler of it should be wise and virtuous. The first of these qualifications does not indeed lie within his power; but though a man cannot abstain from being weak, he may from being vicious. It is in his power to give a good ex. ample of modesty, of temperance, of frugality, of religion, and of all other virtues, which though the greatest ornaments of human nature, may be put in practice by men of the most ordinary capacities.
As wisdom and virtue are the proper qualifications in the master of a house, if he is not accomplished in both of them, it is much better that he should be deficient in the former than in the latter, since the consequences of vice are of an infinitely more dangerous nature than those of folly.
When I read the histories that are left us of Pythagoras, I cannot but take notice of the extraordinary influence which that great philosopher, who was an illustrious pattern of virtue and wisdom, had on his private family. This excellent man, after having perfected himself in the learning of his own country, travelled into all the known parts of the world, on purpose to converse with the most learned men of
every place ; by which means he gleaned up all the knowledge of the age, and is still admired by the greatest men of the present times as a prodigy of science. His wife Theano wrote several books, and after his death taught his philosophy in his public school, which was frequented by numberless disciples of different countries. There are several excellent sayings recorded of her. I shall only mention one, because it does honour to her virtue, as well as to her wisdom. Being asked by some of her sex, in how long a time a woman might be allowed to pray to the gods, after having con. versed with a man ? “ If it were her husband,” says she, " the next day ; if a stranger, never.” Pythagoras had by his wife two sons and three daughters. His two sons, Telauges and Mnesarchus, were both eminent philosophers, and were joined with their mother in the government of the Pythagorean school. Arignote was one of the daughters, whose writings were extant, and very much admired, in the age of Porphyrus. Damo was another of his daughters, in whose hands Pythagoras left his works, with a prohibition to communicate them to strangers, which she observed to the hazard of her life; and though she was offered a great sum for them, rather chose to live in poverty, than not obey the commands of her beloved father. Myla was the third of the daughters, whose works and history were very famous, even in Lucian's time. She was so signally virtuous, that for her unblemished behaviour in her vir. ginity, she was chosen to lead up the chorus of maids in a national solemnity; and for her exemplary conduct in marriage, was placed at the head of all the matrons, in the like public ceremony. The memory of this learned woman was so precious among her countrymen, that her house was after her death converted into a temple, and the street she lived in called by the name of the Musæum. Nor must I omit, whilst I am mentioning this great philosopher, under his character as the master of a