when the case is that of a starving man stealing a morsel of bread that he may eat. In the same manner, there are some sufferings, so great and so urgent, that a sound morality will teach us to dispense with our general maxims, and, for no possible calculation of difiant evils, to turn a deaf ear to the cries of humanity.

[ocr errors][merged small]



ONE of the most confiderable difficulties that present themselves in the execution of a plan of domestic education, relates to the degrees of intercourse which is to be allowed to take place between children and servants.

The parent and the preceptor may be in the utmost degree prudent in their conduct, and delicate in their treatment and communications. But servants will inevitably counteract the salutary results. The judicious friends of our infancy may conduct themselves towards us with an even hand and a prudent rule ; but servants will sometimes be despotic and unreasonable, and perhaps oftener prompt to injurious indulgencies, infusing into the youthful bofom the passions of empire and command. They will initiate us in low maxims, and coarse and vulgar modes of thinking. They will instruct us in the practice of cunning, and the arts of deceit. They will teach us to exhibit a ftudied countenance to those who preside over us, and to triumph in the


attend upon the intercourse of children and fervants, áre' undoubtedly real. It is somewhat surprising that the perception of them should not have led men to reason more deeply and generally upon the condition of fervants.

A rich man has in his house various apartments. The lower tier of apartments is inhabited by a species of beings in whom we apprehend the most sordid defects. If they are not in an emphatical degree criminal, at least their ignorance makes them dangerous, and their fubjection renders them narrow.

The only safety to persons of a generous fiation, is to avoid their society. Adults are usually wise enough to be aware of this, but the thoughtlessness of childhood renders our offspring perpctually in danger of falling a prey,

If we were told of a man who appropriated a considerable portion of his house to the habitation of rats, and pole-cats, and serpents, and wolves, we certainly should not applaud either. his tasie or his judgment.

To a man who had studied philofophy in the school of science and retirement, who had drawn his lessons from the storehouse of reason, and was unacquainted with the practices of mankind, the house of a rich man would undoubtedly afford an impressive spectacle.

jury. The true mode of benefiting others, is not through the medium of anguish and torture, I cannot be sure that I distinguish rightly between virtue and defect : I cannot be fure that my efforts to remove defects will be crowned with success: I am nevertheless contented to endeavour their removal by expedients of affection and kindness, but not by the intervention of rigour and austerity. It becomes me to seek, to the extent of my power, to add to men's virtue, as well as happiness; I may allow myself, to a certain degree, in expoftulation and sorrow; but I ought perhaps never, of my own mere good-pleasure, to incarcerate them in the house of correction that they may learn wisdom.

One further consideration that is of great importance on this subject, is, that the case of the man who demands my charity in the streets, is often of the most pressing nature, and is therefore no proper field for experiments. I have sometimes been told, that the existence of beggars is a reproach to the government, and that the evil must be suffered to gain its proper height to force a remedy. But I cannot consent to lending even my passive assistance, to the starving men to death, that the laws

may formed. The police of most countries reasonably suspends tbe penalties ordinarily commanded, 04


be re

berty to indulge. There is scarcely a caprice which crosses their fancy, that they cannot gratify. They are attired with every thing that fashion or taste can prescribe, and all in its finest texture and its newest gloss. They are incensed with the most costly perfumes. They are enabled to call into play every expedient that can contribute to health, the freshness of their complexion, and the sleekness of their skin. They are mafiers of their time, can pass from one voluntary labour to another, and resort, as their fancy prompts, to every splendid and costly amusement.

The wealth of the servant amounts perhaps to ten or fifteen pounds a year; and it is not unfrequent to hear perfons of ten or fifteen thousand a a year

the enormousness of wages. With this he is to purchase many articles of his apparel, coarse in their texture, or already tarnished, the ape of finery and wealth. His utmost economy is necessary, to provide hiinself with these. He can scarcely obtain for himself an occasional amusement, or, if he were smitten with the desire of knowledge, the means of instruction. If he be put upon board-wages; his first enquiry is at how humble a price he can procure a sordid meal. The purchase of his meals for a whole week, would not furnish out


exclaim upon

« VorigeDoorgaan »