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THE AUTHORITY IN A HOUSEHOLD.
We touched on authority as the basis of household happiness, a proof how antiquated are our notions. But if the very mention of authority, even in connection with the training of children, give an air of mustiness to our page, how shall we face the reader of to-day, when we avow that we judge no family to be truly and rationally happy, unless the head of it possess absolute authority, in such sense that his known wish is law, his expressed will imperative? Is this an anti-democratic sentiment? By no means. The ideal family supposes a head who is himself under law, and that of the most stringent and inevitable kind. It supposes him to hold and exercise authority under a deep sense of duty, as being something with which God clothed him when he made him husband and father, and which he is, therefore, on no occasion or account, at liberty to put off or set aside as a thing indifferent. This power is necessary to the full development and exercise of that beautiful virtue of obedience, without which the human will must struggle on hopelessly forever, being forbidden by its very constitution to know happiness on any other terms. It is an ill sign of the times, that the old-fashioned promise of obedience in the marriage ceremony is now only a theme for small wit. Those wise fathers who placed it there knew the human heart better than we suppose. They knew that, as surely as man and wife are one, so surely do they thus united become a Cerberus-like monster if they retain more than one head. The old song says :
• One of us two must obey:
Is it man or woman? say?" A house in which this question remains undecided is always a pitiable spectacle, for both nature and religion are set aside there.
We had not dared to touch on this incendiary topic if we had not been sure of such support as admits not of gainsaying. Shakspeare's shrewdness, his knowledge of the human heart, his high ideal of woman as wife and mother, not to speak of his poetic appreciation of the beauty of fitness, render his opinion peculiarly valuable on this ticklish point. Hear him :
6* Thy husband is thy life, thy lord, thy keeper,
If now we should in turn read a homily to this supreme head, (which is bound to have ears,) we might perhaps forfeit all the gratitude we suppose ourselves to have earned from him. We should show him such a list of the duties which true headship imposes, that he would be glad to be diminished, and perhaps change places with the least important of his subjects. The possession of unquestionable authority almost makes him responsible for the happiness of the household. No sunshine is so checring as the countenance of a father who is feared as well as loved. Å brow clouded with care, a mind too much absorbed by schemes of gain or ambition to be able to unbend itself in the domestic circle, a temper which vacillates between impatience under annoyance, and the decision which puts an end to it, a disposition to indulgence which has no better foundation than mere indolence, and which is, therefore, sure to be unequal—these are all forbidden to him whose right it is to rule. In short, unless he rule himself, he is obviously unfit to rule anybody else; so that, to assume this high position under law and gospel, is to enter into bonds to be good! which appears to us a fair offset against the duty of obedience on the other side.
One reason, certainly, why there is less household feeling than formerly, is that young married people, at present, think it necessary to begin life where their fathers left off—with a complete establishment, and not a loop-hole left for those little plans of future addition to domestic comforts or luxuries which give such a pleasant stimulus to economy, and confer so tender a value on the things purchased by means of an especial self-denial in another quarter. Charles Lamb, who was an adept in these gentle philosophies, said that after he had the ability to buy a choice book when he chose, the indulgence had, somehow, lost its sweetness, and brought nothing of the relish that used to attend a purchase after he and Mary had been looking and longing, and at last only dared buy upon the strength of days' or weeks' economizing. This is a secret worth learning by those who would get the full flavor of life, and make home the centre of a thousand delightful interests and memories.
BORROWING “OUT WEST." Your true republican, when he finds that you possess any thing which would contribute to his convenience, walks in with, “ Are you going to use your horses to-day?” if horses happen to be the thing he needs.
“Yes, I shall probably want them.”
“Oh, well; if you want them- I was thinking to get 'em to go up north a piece.”
Or, perhaps, the desired article comes within the female department.
“Mother wants to get some butter : that 'ere butter you bought of Miss Barton this mornin'."
And away goes your golden store, to be repaid, perhaps, with some cheesy, greasy stuff, brought in a dirty pail, with, Here's your butter !"
A girl came in to borrow a “wash-dish,” “because we've got company.” Presently she came back : “Mother says you've forgot to send a towel.”
“ The pen and ink, and a sheet o' paper and a wafer," is no unusual request; and when the pen is returned, you are generally informed that you sent “ an awful bad pen.”
I have been frequently reminded of one of Johnson's humorous sketches. A man returning a broken wheelbarrow to a Quaker with, “ Here, I've broke your rotten wheelbarrow usin' on't: I wish you'd get it mended right off, 'cause I want to borrow it again this afternoon;" the Quaker is made to reply, “ Friend, it shall be done:” and I wished I possessed more of his spirit.
Like many other virtues, hospitality is practised in its perfection by the poor. If the rich did their share, how would the woes of this world be lightened ! how would the diffusive blessing irradiate a wider and a wider circle, until the vast confines of society would bask in the reviving ray! If every forlorn widow whose heart bleeds over the recollection of past happiness inade bitter by contrast with present poverty and sorrow, found comfortable home in the ample establishment of her rich kinsman; if every young man struggling for a foothold on the slippery soil of life were cheered and aided by the countenance of some neighbor whom fortune had endowed with the power to confer happiness ; if the lovely girls, shrinking and delicate, whom we see every day toiling timidly for a mere pittance to sustain frail life and guard the sacred remnant of gentility, were taken by the hand, invited and encouraged, by ladies who pass them by with a cold nod—but where shall we stop in enumerating the cases in which true, genial hospitality, practised by the rich ungrudgingly, without a selfish drawback-in short, practised as the poor practise it-would prove a fountain of blessedness, almost an antidote to half the keener miseries under which society groans !
Yes: the poor—and children—understand hospitality after the pure model of Christ and his apostles.
The forms of society are in a high degree inimical to true hospitality. Pride has crushed genuine social feeling out of too many
hearts, and the consequence is a cold sterility of intercourse, a soul-stifling ceremoniousness, a sleepless vigilance for self, totally incompatible with that free, flowing, genial intercourse with humanity, so nourishing to all the better feelings. The sacred love of home—that panacea for many of life's ills—suffers with the rest. Few people have homes nowadays. The fine, cheerful, every-day parlor, with its table covered with the implements of real occupation and real amusement-mamma on the sofa, with her needle-grandmamma in her great chair, knitting-pussy winking at the fire between them—is gone. In its place we have two gorgeous rooms, arranged for company, but empty of human life; tables covered with gaudy, ostentatious, and useless articles -a very mockery of any thing like rational pastime—the light of heaven as cautiously excluded as the delicious music of free, childish voices; every member of the family wandering in forlorn loneliness, or huddled in some ““ back room” basement," in which are collected the only means of comfort left them under this miserable arrangement. This is the substitute which hundreds of people accept in place of home! Shall we look in such places for hospitality? As soon expect figs from thistles. Invitations there will be occasionally, doubtless, for "society” expects it; but let a country cousin present himself, and see whether he will be put into the state apartments. Let no infirm and indigent relative expect a place under such a roof. Let not even the humble individual who placed the stepping-stone which led to that fortune ask a share in the abundance which would never have had a beginning but for his timely aid. “We have changed all that!”
This highly-finished and fascinating writer was born in Salem, Massachusetts, about the year 1805. He was educated at Bowdoin College, and was graduated there in 1825, Professor Longfellow being one of bis classmates. In 1937 he published the first, and in 1812 the second, volume of bis Tucice- Told Tales,-s0 called because they had before appeared in annuals and periodicals.' His next
I of the character of these Ticice- Told Toles the “Christian Examiner" thus speaks :-“ These tales abound with beautiful imagery, sparkling metaphors, novel and brilliant comparisons. They are everywbere full of those bright gems of thought which no reader can ever forget. They bave also a high moral tone. It is for this, for their reverence for tbings sacred, for their many touching lessons concerning faith, Providence, conscience, and duty, for the beautiful morals so often spontaneously conveyed, not with purpose prepense, but from the fulness of tbo auibor's own heart, that we are led to notice them in this journal."--$15. 188. Read also an enthusiastic review of them in the "North American Review," xlv. 59.