« ForrigeFortsett »
when they shall themselves become fathers, they will look upon with the utmost sorrow and contrition, that they did not regard, before those whom they offended were to be no more seen. How many thousand things do I remember, which would have highly pleased my father, and I omitted for no other reason but that I thought what he proposed the effect of humour and old age, which I am now convinced had reason and good sense in it! I cannot now go into the parlour to him, and make his heart glad with an account of a matter which was of no consequence, but that I told it and acted in it. The good man and woman are long since in their graves, who used to sit and plot the welfare of us their children, while, perhaps, we were sometimes laughing at the old folks at another end of the house. The truth of it is, were we merely to follow nature in these great duties of life, though we have a strong instinct towards the performing of them, we should be on both sides very deficient. Age is so unwelcome to the generality of mankind, and growth towards manhood so desirable to all, that resignation to decay is too difficult a task in the father; and deference, amidst the impulse of gay desires, appears unreasonable to the son. There are so few who can grow old with a good grace, and yet fewer who can come slow enough into the world, that a father, were he to be actuated by his desires, and a son, were he to consult himself only, could neither of them behave himself as he ought to the other. But when reason interposes against instinct, where it would carry either ont of the erest of the other, there arises that bape.
piest intercourse of good offices between those dearest relations of human life. The father, according to the opportunities which are offered to him, is throwing down blessings on the son, and the son endeavouring to appear the worthy offspring of such a father. It is after this manner that Camillus and his first-born dwell together. Camillus enjoys a pleasing and indolent old age, in which passion is subdued and reason exalted. He waits the day of his dissolution with a resignation mixed with delight, and the son fears the accession of his father's fortune with diffidence, lest he should not enjoy it or become it as well as his predecessor. Add to this, that the father knows he leaves a friend to the children of his friends, an easy landlord to his tenants, and an agreeable companion to his acquaintance. He believes his son's behaviour will make him frequently remembered, but never wanted. This commerce is so well cemented, that without the pomp of saying, “Son, be a friend to such a one when I am gone;' Camillas knows, being in his favour is direction enough to the grateful youth who is to succeed him, without the admonition of his mentioning it. These gentlemen are honoured in all their neighbourhood, and the same effect which the court has on the manners of a kingdom, their characters have on all who live within the influence of them.
My son and I are not of fortune to communicate our good actions or intentions to so many as these gentlemen do; but I will be bold to say, my son has, by the applause and approbation which his behaviour towards me has gained him, occasioned
that many an old man besides myself, has rejoiced. Other men's children follow the example of mine; and I have the inexpressible happiness of overhearing our neighbours, as we ride by, 'point to their children, and say, with a voice of joy, " There they go.'
THE SAME SUBJECT.
An interchange of the parental and filial duties, is friendly to the happiness, and to the virtue, of all concerned. It gives a peculiar sensibility to the heart of man ; infusing a spirit of generosity, and a sense of honour, which have a most benign influence on public good, as well as on private manners. When we read, that Epaminondas, after the battle of Leuctra, declared, that one chief cause of his joy was the consideration of the pleasure which his victory would give his father and mother, is it possible for us to think, that this man, the greatest perhaps, and the best that Greece ever saw, would have been so generous, or so amiable, if he had not knowu who his parents were? In fact, there are not many virtues that reflect greater honour upon our nature, than the parental and the filial. When any uncommon examples of them occur in history, or in poetry, they make their way to the heart at once, and the reader's melting eye bears testimony to their loveliness.
Amidst the triumphs of heroism, Hector never appears so great, as in a domestic scene, when he invokes the blessing of Heaven upon his childi
nor does Priam, on any other occasion, engage our esteem so effectually, or our pity, as when, at the hazard of his life, he goes into the enemies' camp, and into the presence of his fiercest enemy, to beg the body of his son. Achilles's love to his parents forms a distinguishing part of his character; and that single circumstance throws an amiable softness into the most terrific human personage that ever was described in poetry. The interview between Ulysses and his father, after an absence of twenty years, it is impossible to read without such emotion, as will convince every reader of sensibility, that Homer judged well, in making parental and filial virtue the subject of his song, when he meant to show his power over the tender passions.
Virgil was too wise, not to imitate his master in this particular. He expatiates on the same virtue with peculiar complacency, and loves to set it off in the most charming colours. His hero is an illustrious example. When Anchises refuses to leave Troy, and signifies his resolution to perish in its flames, Eneas, that he may not survive his father, or witness the massacre of his household, is on the point of rushing to certain death; and ' nothing less than a miracle prevents him. He then bears on his shoulders the infirm old man to a place of safety, and ever after behaves towards him as becomes a son and a subject, and speaks of his death in terms of the utmost tenderness and veneration. As a father he is equally affectionate ; and his son is not deficient in filial duty.—Turnus, when vanquished, condescends to ask his life, for the sake of his aged parent, who he knew would
be inconsolable for his loss. The young, the gentle, the beautiful Lausus dies in defence of his father; and the father provokes his own destruction, because he cannot live without his son, and wishes to be laid with him in the same grave. The lamentations of Evander over his Pallas, transcend all praise of criticism. And nothing, even in this poem, the most pathetic of all human compositions, is more moving, than what is related of the gallant youth Euryalus; when, on undertaking that night-adventure which proved fatal him, he recommends his helpless parent to the Trojan prince. “She knows not,' says he, of this enterprise; and I go without bidding her farewell : for I call the gods to witness, that I cannot support the sight of a weeping mother.' Let a man read Virgil with attention, and with taste, and then be a cruel parent, or an undutiful child, if he can. And let him ask his own heart this question, whether human nature would not be deprived of many of its best affections, and human society of its best comforts, if the ideas of those projectors were to be realized, who propose to improve the political art, hy annihilating the attachments of consanguinity.
THE ART OF HAPPINESS.
Almost every object that attracts our notice has its bright and its dark side. He who habituates. himself to look at the displeasing side, will sour his disposition, and consequently impair his happiness; while he, who constantly beholds it on