Imágenes de páginas

Pride, when properly distinguished from vanity, is an over-weening personal conceit, arising from the real or fancied possession of some high qualities either of mind or body, or of some distinctions of fortune: whereas vanity is fed by the opinion of others;-flattery acquires an unbounded power over it; it becomes the dupe and the instrument of the selfish views of the flatterer; and as it is often found defective in those advantages it affects to possess, it is always accompanied with the passion of envy, and with those restless sensations which attend an impotent ambition.

"Base envy withers at another's joy,

And hates that excellence it cannot reach."


Those evils which demand the care and diligence of the tutor to eradicate from the mind of youth, are cultivated with assiduity. The coverings of our body, says Locke, which are for modesty, warmth, and defence, are by the folly or vice of parents made matters of vanity or emulation. A child is set a longing after a new suit for the finery of it; and when a little girl is tricked out in her new dress, how can her mother do less than teach her to admire herself, by calling her, her little queen, and her princess? Thus the little ones are taught to be proud of their cloths before they can put them on. And why should they not continue to value themselves for this outside fashionableness of the tailor or milliner, when their parents have so early instructed them to do it?

Madame De Genlis is so guarded against the fostering vanity of children as to proscribe all commendation but

what is given to modesty. But admitting that it may be sometimes proper to encourage the solid virtues by praise, a parent and tutor ought to be very cautious in the manner of using it. They should neither bestow it on wit, nor beauty, nor personal accomplishments; and never let it pass the bounds of moderation, for all excessive commendation corrupts the mind, and renders its desires on this article insatiable.

The allegorical figure of Envy, as given by Ovid is described as a woman, melancholy, pale, livid, and pining; because the envious are never pleased, but always repining at the happiness of others. She is supposed to feed on serpents; because the envious only comfort themselves with the misfortunes of others.

He points out Minerva repairing to the house of Envy, which is hideous with black gore. Her house, says he, is hid in the deep recesses of a cave, where no ray of light nor gale of wholesome wind can enter; dismal, and full of listless cold, ever without fire, ever buried in darkness. Here, when the goddess, dreadful in war, had arrived, she stood before the cave, for it was not lawful for the goddess to enter those abodes, and raising the point of her spear against the gates, the doors fly open. Envy appears within, devouring the flesh of vipers, the nourishment of her vices. Minerva, when she saw her, turned away her eyes; the fiend rises heavily from the ground, and leaves the mangled bodies of the half devoured serpents stalking forward with a sullen pace. When she saw the goddess of surpassing beauty, and clad in bright armour, she fetched a deep

groan, nor could restrain the sighs at an appearance so serene. Paleness sits upon her countenance, her body is wasted to a skeleton, her eyes are turned away in distorted glances, her teeth are black with rust, her breast overflows with gall, and poison hangs upon her tongue. Smiles are ever banished from her, unless when caused by the miseries of others; nor, preyed upon by watchful cares, does she taste the calm delights of sleep. She beholds with regret the successes of men, and pines away at the sight; she torments and is tormented, and bears her punishment in her own breast.* -Thus metorized by Cowley,

[ocr errors]

Envy, at last crawls forth, from hell's dire throng,
Of all the direfull'st! her black locks hung long,
Attir'd with curling serpents; her pale skin
Was almost drop'd from her sharp bones within,
And at her breast stuck vipers, which did prey
Upon her panting heart both night and day,
Sucking black blood from thence: which to repair,
Both day and night they left fresh poisons there.
Her garments were deep-stain'd with human gore,
And torn by her own hands, in which she bore
A knotted whip and bowl, which to the brim,
Did green gall, and the juice of wormwood swim;
With which when she was drunk, she furious grew,
And lash'd herself; thus from the accursed crew,
Envy, the worst of fiends, herself presents,

Envy, good only, when she herself torments."

One would think that this description of Envy, so correctly and so strikingly given by the poet, would be sufficient to deter youth from cherishing a vice so hideous and so destructive to their own peace and happiness.

* Ov. Met. lib. ii. 1. 760.




PERHAPS the most powerful incentives of the mind are esteem and disgrace. To establish these principles in infants, is the duty of parents. Children are soon sensible of commendation and praise. If parents conjointly express to a child the pleasure they feel on his doing well, and show a cold and neglectful countenance on doing ill, it will soon make him sensible of the difference; and when once established, will be of more effect than threats or blows, which loose their force by repetition.

As the child increases in years, the tutor will give greater weight to these incentives; not as particular rewards and punishments of this or that particular action, but as necessarily belonging to, and constantly attending one who by his carriage has brought himself either into a state of disgrace or commendation. Children may be brought by the tutor to conceive, that those who are commended and in esteem for doing well will experience thousands of instances of what use a good reputation is, and how swift and advantageous a harbinger it is, wherever one goes; that they will be beloved by the wise and good, and enjoy every advantage in consequence of it.

On the other hand, the pupil must be brought to feel, that he who falls into disesteem, and cares not to preserve his credit, will unavoidably fall into neglect and contempt; and in that state, the want of whatever might satisfy or delight him, as to this life, will follow. Thus, desires of children will assist their virtue, as they will perceive that their happiness here is dependent on their reputation! and be an encouragement, till they become able to judge and to discover for themselves what is right by their own reason.


Foolhardiness is not the resolution of a rational creature; it might be better named brutish fury. To hurry headlong, without sense and without consideration, into danger, is so contrary to the dictates of nature, that no one can be guilty of it, who is not either lamentably weak, or impiously presumptuous.

No one is so much an enemy to himself as suddenly to approach evil from free choice, and to court danger for its own sake. If it be discovered that a child possesses this temper, from pride, vain glory, or rage, let the heat be immediately abated; and let him be brought to consider, whether the attempt be worth the venture. If it arise from weakness of intellect, which is the common defect, let the parent or tutor be careful to awaken his reason, to which self-preservation will quickly dispose him to hearken.

« AnteriorContinuar »