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and need punishment. We may learn this by observing the family of our old friend, Charles Wise. He has taken much pains to govern and educate his children, and has succeeded to admiration. His manner of government possesses great energy, tempered with mildness. Every mistake is not made an act of high criminality; because when every deviation is pupished as a capital offence, it not only occasions offences, which would else be avoided; but breaks duwn the spirits of children, destroys affectionate confidence in their parents, and impels to deceit and falsehood; in order to cover ofsences, lest they sbould meet with undue severity. It is a maxim with him, never to punish, unless the virtue of his authority, and the good of the offender, call for it; and then to proportion the punishment to the nature and magnitude of the crime. Persuasives, as well as penal threatenings, are employed; to wbich are added simple and repeated instructions, concerning the evils to be shunned, and the duties to be performed. There is consistent evenness in every act of government. Though he may be stern and authoritive when occasion calls, yet he is never angry ; though pleasant, and his children are treated with indulgence, yet both have their bounds; and while one never rises with rigorous severity, the other does not degenerate into childish weakness and folly.
They are not allowed to irritate each other by calling ill names, hy dispossessing of property claimed by another, nor by teazing and insulting ; but they are affectionately and yet forcibly taught, that children of the same family should be harmonious in their feeliugs, and condescending in all their ways. Parental examples enforce these necessary virtues. Their father and mother behave with the utmost affection towards each other. They know, where brawls and dissentions take place between man and wife, neither successful government can be maintained, nor can sincere and steadly affection be expected among the children.
And to give weight to the whole, religion is resorted to as a powerful auxiliary. The Scriptures are daily read, and they are present morning and evening to witness his solemn and servent petitions to the throne of grace in their hehalf. Those of proper age are regularly carried to the house of Goi, to hear the prayers and sermons of their pious minister. From him they receive repeated visits, who catechises and instructs them with great simplicity and tenderness. And
the father himself, inculcates on their minds the doctrines of the gospel, as they are able to receive them ; nor does he neglect to get before them the daily examples of a well timed Christian charity, and a steady course of Christian obedience.
They are also trained to literature and polite manners, because he believes that knowledge, sanctified by grace, will make them more respected and extensively useful; and, that if they are religious, they ought not to be rude ; but polished in their behavior. In their education, they are considered as members of a civil and religious community, and that they may be called to act both in church and state ; and as citizens of the world, and candidates for eternity, it concerns them to be pious, learned, and polite.
Though his children are heirs to a large estate, yet he thinks it no disgrace for them to mingle with the children of the poor in their pastimes; if they are well bred and moral. But such as are vicious, profane, and disobedient, whether rich or poor ; are not accounted fit associates for those immortal spirits ; which, for a while, are committed to bodies of clay, and placed under his care, to train up for an eternal state.
This mode of education is attended with good effect. Though it does not totally prevent faults, and render a repetition of the foregoing methods unnecessary ; yet there is so much harmony, good nature, respect for their parents, &c. discernible in them; they are noticed by their acquaintance, as one of the most regular and decent families in their town. We may therefore conclude, if such methods of treating children will not change them into sinless angels ; yet they will prevent such outrageous behavior, as you saw at Mr. Slack's.
But his is not the only wrong mode of family government. Col. Indulgent and bis wife have been guilty of a great extreme, in gratifying all the childish wishes and appetites of their children. They never cross their inclinations, however unreasonable; nor chastise them, let their behavior be ever so ill. Thus their natural perverseness is left unchecked, because the parents are under the dominion of a false tenderness ; or imagine that restraint, however seasonably and wisely administered, will destroy filial affection and laudable ambition. And by the very method they take to prevent these evils, their children are made disobedient, effeminate and sickly.
On a former visit to the Colonel's, I had the opportunity
of seeing most of his defects relative to family government. The whole family, down to the lowest servant, had orders to gratify the children in every wish, and to cross them in nothing. If they wished to ride, the horses were immediately harnessed to the carriage for that purpose ; if they asked to walk on foot beside the carriage, they were taken out and attended by a servant ; when flowers or fruits attracted their attention, the horses must not go a step further, till the servants had gathered what was required; or if they took it into their little heads, that their parents must gather fruits and flowers instead of the servants, they were all compliance with the commands of their young masters.
If they chose to be difficult when they were gathered, and had a mind to throw away the pretty collection made by the servants, or their parents, and then cry for more, they must not be chided ; but the attempt to please them must be repeated, till they were either tired or suited. The toy shops were daily searched in quest of something new and pleasing ; but a few hours' possession cloyed the mind, and their toys were either broken, thrown into the fire, or out of door; and whining, teazing, or loud crying employed, to get others to sup.. ply their place.
Their constitutions were injured, and threatening diseases engendered, by sweet meats, rich cakes, wines, &c. When at table, the parents never ventured to choose for them; and though their table was always furnished with a sufficient variety, yet if a child called for any thing else, a servant was dispatched to procure it. The elder daughters were not taught needle work, nor any thing useful, because their time was too much taken up in the dressing room, at operas, assemblies, &c. to afford them any time for such instruction. Gardening, and all employments, were deemed a disgrace to children of their rank; and the dear creatures were rarely sent to school, either because they had no inclination for it, or lest their dispositions should be crossed ; or their delicate constitutions injured by fatigue, or intemperate weather. And to amuse them at home, nothing in the house was denied them, not even the looking-glass and hammer, by which the house was sometimes strewed with broken pieces of china, glass, &c.; and growing tired of these, they pined and fretted for other amusements; and it is said, they cried for the The tendency of such extreme indulgence, is very perni
cious. Such as are never accustomed to obey, are never fit to command. None are more likely to be tyrannical and cruel ; inconsistent and hard to be pleased. When they become heads of families, they are utterly unfit to manage family concerns ; they neither know how to conduct them, nor when they are rightly conducted by others. have any accomplishments, they are of an ephemeral duration, and will not bear inspection. They have been drawn from sources of superficial art, and can never supply the want of the solid and the graceful. The government of Mr. Slack (if any thing in his
family deserves that name) is of a very different character. Though in some instances it is too indulgent, yet it is mixed with numerous improprieties. His children grow up like the unpruned tree, because he will not teach them good manners, lest they should resemble some who are called polite. Their rudenesss and awkwardness are, therefore, offensive at home and abroad. When he threatens to punish them, he seldom keeps his word; and if he attempts, it is when they least deserve it; or his wife will interfere, and rescue them out of his hands. She will rarely allow him to punish, yet often undertakes it herself ; but usually begins with the rod, and ends by giving sugar or pie, to appease their almost incessant bawling. What one denies, the other will grant; so that they commonly unite in nothing, which concerns the management of their children. Nor are they better united between themselves, but are unsociable, sour, and snappish. Such a course of life and procedure, cannot fail to make all under their care, perverse, unruly, and offensive.
Mr. Severitus differs totally from all the others, in the gov. ernment he administers. One can hardly go into his house, unless he sees one or more rods, which generally have the appearance of being used to whip horses; but have been brocmed at the end, by upmerciful stripes on the backs of his children. With him, the fear of the rod is the soul of good government, and an hourly severity must teach his children to tremble, when they hear his steps. When he chastises, anger hardens him against parental tenderness, and he puts on the appearance and conduct of a tyrant. Mistakes and childish inadvertencies, are punished with as great severity, as the worst of crimes. He is shunned by his children, as if his very presence were hateful; and if called before him, the little creatures quake with terror ; and come with as much reicc
tance, as if they were to be delivered over to the hands of the executioner. Such severity occasions the denial of many faults, which they would confess with sorrow, and sincere purposes of amendment, if they could have any ground to hope for pardon. Hence, their spirits are borne down, and discouraged, their tempers soured and spoiled; while they regard their father as an unfeeling monster, destitute of love, and to whom they owe neither obedience nor affection.
Other modes of family government might be noticed, which have several of the above forms blended, or, in most things, are unlike them all. But nothing further need now be said. If you live to advanced age, there will be opportunities to observe most of them, and in such a manner as will afford lessons of instruction. The preceding remarks are intended to teach you; treasure them up, therefore, in the memory ; make right reflections on them; and let them help in the regulation of your future practice. And should Provi. dence, hereafter, commit a family to your care and management; it may be found that what I have said, will be highly useful
The whole was spoken with so much seriousness, and with such concern for the future good conduct of his son, that it made a no small impression on his mind. It excited gratitude, and led to a firm resolution; not to allow observations of such weight and importance to steal from the heart, or to lie there unimproved.
What he had lately seen and heard, served to increase his desire to extend his acquaintance with men and things. Though he met with several things worthy of notice, within his little circle of acquaintance ; yet the belief, that to extend his acquaintance, would furnish some rare and pleasing objects of reflection, which would be useful to himself, and might he put into a form to be useful to the world, gave a kind of impatience to wait for the hour of freedom. Yet regard for parental authority, and an unfeigned affection for parents who shewed themselves worthy of his esteem ; were sufficient to bind his roving fancy for the present, and give a sort of forced contentment ; which he endeavored to feed by the few surrounding objects, that afforded either diversion or instruction.