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mean to do good. How happy then would it be for mankind, if this affectionate disposition prevailed more generally in the world! How much would the sum of public virtue and public felicity be increased, if men were always inclined to rejoice with those that rejoice, and to weep with those that weep. Blair.
The importance of order in the management of business.
1. WHATEVER may be your business or occupation in life, let the administration of it proceed with method and economy. From time to time examine your situation; and proportion your expense to your growing, or diminishing revenue. Provide what is necessary before you indulge in what is superfluous. Study to do justice to all with whom you deal, before you affect the praise of liberality. In a word, fix such a plan of living as you find that your circumstances will fairly admit, and adhere to it invariably, against every temptation to improper excess.
2. No admonition respecting morals is more necessary than this, to the age in which we live-an age manifestly distinguished by a propensity to thoughtless profusion; wherein all the different ranks of men are observed to press with forward vanity on those who are above them; to vie with their superiors in every mode of luxury and ostentation; and to seek no farther argument for justifying extravagance, than the fashion of the times and the supposed necessity of living like others around them.
3. This turn of mind begets contempt for sober and orderly plans of life. It overthrows all regard to domestic concerns and duties. It pushes men on to hazardous and visionary schemes of gain, and unfortunately unites the two extremes of grasping with rapaciousness and of squandering with profusion. In the midst of such disorder, no prosperity can be of long continuance. While confusion grows upon men's affairs, and prodigality at the same time wastes their substance, poverty makes its advances like an armed man.
4. They tremble at the view of the approaching evil, but have lost the force of mind to make provision against it. Accustomed to move in a round of society and pleasures disproportioned to their condition, they are unable to break through the enchantments of habit; and, with their eyes
a Rev'-e-nue, income.
b Vis'-ion-a-ry, imaginary, not real.
c Ra-pa'-cious-ness, disposition to plun der.
open, sink into the gulf which is before them. Poverty enforces dependence; and dependence increases corruption. Necessity first betrays them into mean compliances; next impels them to open crime; and, beginning with ostentation and extravagance, they end in infamy and guilt.
5. Such are the consequences of neglecting order in our worldly circumstances. Such is the circle in which the profuse and the dissolute daily run.-To what cause, so much as to the want of order, can we attribute those scenes of distress which so frequently excite our pity-fami that once were flourishing reduced to ruin, and the melancholy widow and neglected orphan thrown forth friendless upon the world? What cause has been more fruitful in engendering those atrocious crimes which fill society with disquiet and terror,-in training the gamester to fraud, the robber to violence, and even the assassina to blood?
6. Be assured, then, that order, frugality, and economy are the necessary supports of every personal and private virtue. How humble soever these qualities may appear to some, they are nevertheless the basis on which liberty, independence, and true honor must rise. He who has the steadiness to arrange his affairs with method and regularity, and to conduct his train of life agreeably to his circumstances, can be master of himself in every situation into which he may be thrown.
7. He is under no necessity to flatter or to lie, to stoop to what is mean, or to commit what is criminal. But he who wants that firmness of mind which the observance of order requires, is held in bondage to the world; he can neither act his part with courage as a man, nor with fidelity as a Christian. From the moment you have allowed yourselves to pass the line of economy, and live beyond your fortune, you have entered on the path of danger. Precipices surround you on all sides. Every step which you take may lead to mischiefs that as yet lie hidden, and to crimes that will end in everlasting perdition. Blair.
The Funeral of Maria.
1. MARIA was in her twentieth year. To the beauty of her form, and excellence of her natural disposition, a parent, equally indulgent and attentive, had done the fullest justice. To accomplish her person, and to cultivate her mind, every endeavor had been used, and had been attended with that
a As-sas'-sin, one who kills by secret as- b Ba'-sis, foundation, support.
success which parental efforts commonly meet with, when not prevented by mistaken fondness or untimely vanity.
2. Few young ladies have attracted more admiration; none ever felt it less with all the charms of beauty, and the polish of education, the plainest were not less affected, nor the most ignorant less assuming. She died when every tongue was eloquent of her virtues, when every hope was ripening to reward them.
3. It is by such private and domestic distresses, that the softer emotions of the heart are most strongly excited. The fall of more important personages is commonly distant from our observation; but, even where it happens under our immediate notice, there is a mixture of other feelings, by which our compassion is weakened.
4. The eminently great, or extensively useful, leave behind them a train of interrupted views, and disappointed expectations, by which the distress is complicated beyond the simplicity of pity. But the death of one, who like Maria was to shed the influence of her virtues over the age of a father, and the childhood of her sisters, presents to us a little view of family affliction, which every eye can perceive, and every heart can feel.
5. On scenes of public sorrow and national regret, we gaze as upon those gallery pictures, which strike us with wonder and admiration: domestic calamity is like the miniature of a friend, which we wear in our bosoms, and keep for secret looks and solitary enjoyment.
6. The last time I saw Maria, was in the midst of a crowded assembly of the fashionable and the gay, where she fixed all eyes by the gracefulness of her motions, and the native dignity of her mien; yet, so tempered was that superiority which they conferred with gentleness and modesty, that not a murmur was heard, either from the rivalship of beauty, or the envy of homeliness. From that scene the transition was so violent to the hearse and the pall, the grave and the sod, that once or twice my imagination turned rebel to my senses: I beheld the objects around me as the painting of a dream, and thought of Maria as still living.
7. I was soon, however, recalled to the sad reality.-The figure of her father bending over the grave of his darling child; the silent, suffering composure, in which his countenance was fixed; the tears of his attendants, whose grief was light and capable of tears; these gave me back the truth, and reminded me that I should see her no more. There was a
Com'-pli-ca-ted, intricate, perplexed.
c Trans-i"-tion, a passing from one state. to another.
flow of sorrow, with which I suffered myself to be borne along with a melancholy kind of indulgence; but when her father dropped the cord with which he had helped to lay his Maria in the earth, its sound on the coffin chilled my heart, and horror for a moment took place of pity!
8. It was but for a moment.-He looked eagerly into the grave; made one involuntary motion to stop the assistants, who were throwing the earth into it; then, suddenly recollecting himself, clasped his hands together, threw up his eyes to heaven, and then, first, I saw a few tears drop from them. I gave language to all this. It spoke a lesson of faith, and piety, and resignation.-I went away sorrowful, but my sorrow was neither ungentle nor unmanly; I cast on this world a glance rather of pity than of enmity; and on the next, a look of humbleness and hope!
9. Such, I am persuaded, will commonly be the effect of scenes like that I have described, on minds neither frigid nor unthinking: for, of feelings like these, the gloom of the ascetica is as little susceptible as the levity of the giddy. There needs a certain pliancy of mind which society alone can give,though its vices often destroy it,-to render us capable of that gentle melancholy, which makes sorrow pleasant, and affliction useful.
10. It is not from a melancholy of this sort, that men are prompted to the cold, unfruitful virtues of monkish solitude. These are often the effects, rather of passion secluded than repressed, rather of temptation avoided than overcome. The crucifix and the rosary, the death's head and the bones, if custom has not made them indifferent, will rather chill desire than excite virtue; but, amidst the warmth of social affection, and of social sympathy, the heart will feel the weakness, and enjoy the duties of humanity.
11. Perhaps it will be said, that such situations and such reflections as the foregoing, will only affect minds already too tender, and be disregarded by those who need the lessons they impart. But this, I apprehend, is to allow too much to the force of habit, and the resistance of prejudice.
12. I will not pretend to assert, that rooted principles and long-established conduct are suddenly to be changed by the effects of situation, or the eloquence of sentiment; but, if it be granted that such change ever took place, who shall determine by what imperceptible motive, or accidental impression, it was first begun? And, even if the influence of such a call to thought can only smother in its birth, one allurement to
a As cet'- c, a retired and devout person. Cru'-ci-fix, a little cross with the body of Christ.
c Ro'-sa-ry, a string of beads on which prayers are numbered.
evil, or confirm one wavering purpose to virtue, I shall not have unjustly commended that occasional indulgence of pensiveness and sorrow, which will thus be rendered, not only one of the refinements, but one of the improvements of life. Mackenzie.
The Vision of Mirza.
1. On the fifth day of the moon, which according to the custom of my forefathers I always kept holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdat, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As I was here airing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation on the vanity of human life; and, passing from one thought to another, "Surely," said I, “man is but a shadow, and life a dream."
2. While I was thus musing, I cast my eyes toward the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one, in the habit of a shepherd, with a musical instrument in his hand. As I looked upon him he applied it to his lips, and began to play upon it. The sound of it was exceedingly sweet, and wrought into a variety of tunes that were inexpressibly melodious, and altogether different from any thing I had ever heard.--They put me in mind of those heavenly airs that are played to the departed souls of good men upon their first arrival in paradise, to wear out the impressions of their last agonies, and qualify them for the pleasures of that happy place.
3. My heart melted away in secret raptures. I had been often told that the rock before me was the haunt of a Genius, and that several had been entertained with music who had passed by it, but never heard that the musician had before made himself visible. When he had raised my thoughts, by those transporting airs which he played, to taste the pleasure of his conversation, as I looked upon him like one astonished, he beckoned to me, and, by the waving of his hand, directed me to approach the place where he sat.
4. I drew near, with that reverence which is due to a superior nature; and, as my heart was entirely subdued by the captivating strains I had heard, I fell down at his feet and wept. The Genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability, that familiarized him to my imagination,
a Pen'-sive-ness, thoughtfulness, sad- b Af-fa-bil-i-ty, civility, readiness to con