Saturday, August 29, 2009

"The mill-streams that turn the clappers of the world arise in solitary places."—HELPS.

"Lord! with what care hast Thou begirt us round! Parents first season us. Then schoolmasters. Deliver us to laws. They send us bound to rules of reason."—GEORGE HERBERT.

1. School of Character.—Home is the first and most important school of character. It is there that every human being receives his best moral training, or his worst, for it is there that he imbibes those principles of conduct which endure through manhood, and cease only with life.

2. Home Makes the Man.—It is a common saying, "Manners make the man;" and there is a second, that "Mind makes the man;" but truer than either is a third, that "Home makes the man." For the home-training includes not only manners and mind, but character. It is mainly in the home that the heart is opened, the habits are formed, the intellect is awakened, and character moulded for good or for evil.

3. Govern Society.—From that source, be it pure or impure, issue the principles and maxims that govern society. Law itself is but the reflex of homes. The tiniest bits of opinion sown in the minds of children in private life afterwards issue forth to the world, and become its public opinion; for nations are gathered out of nurseries, and they who hold the leading-strings of children may even exercise a greater power than those who wield the reins of government.

4. The Child Is Father of the Man.—The child's character is the nucleus of the man's; all after-education is but superposition; the form of the crystal remains the same. Thus the saying of the poet holds true in a large degree, "The child is father of the man;" or as Milton puts it, "The childhood shows the man, as morning shows the day." Those impulses to conduct which last the longest and are rooted the deepest, always have their origin near our birth. It is then that the germs of virtues or vices, of feelings or sentiments, are first implanted which determine the character of life.

5. Nurseries.—Thus homes, which are nurseries of children who grow up into men and women, will be good or bad according to the power that governs them. Where the spirit of love and duty pervades the home, where head and heart bear rule wisely there, where the daily life is honest and virtuous, where the government is sensible, kind, and loving, then may we expect from such a home an issue of healthy, useful, and happy beings, capable as they gain the requisite strength, of following the footsteps of their parents, of walking uprightly, governing themselves wisely, and contributing to the welfare of those about them.

6. Ignorance, Coarseness, and Selfishness.—On the other hand, if surrounded by ignorance, coarseness, and selfishness, they will unconsciously assume the same character, and grow up to adult years rude, uncultivated, and all the more dangerous to society if placed amidst the manifold temptations of what is called civilized life. "Give your child to be educated by a slave," said an ancient Greek "and, instead of one slave, you will then have two."

7. Maternal Love.—Maternal love is the visible providence of our race. Its influence is constant and universal. It begins with the education of the human being at the outstart of life, and is prolonged by virtue of the powerful influence which every good mother exercises over her children through life. When launched into the world, each to take part in its labors, anxieties, and trials, they still turn to their mother for consolation, if not for counsel, in their time of trouble and difficulty. The pure and good thoughts she has implanted in their minds when children continue to grow up into good acts long after she is dead; and when there is nothing but a memory of her left, her children rise up and call her blessed.

8. Woman, above All Other Educators, educates humanly. Man is the brain, but woman is the heart of humanity; he its judgment, she its feeling; he its strength, she its grace, ornament and solace. Even the understanding of the best woman seems to work mainly through her affections. And thus, though man may direct the intellect, woman cultivates the feelings, which mainly determine the character. While he fills the memory, she occupies the heart. She makes us love what he can make us only believe, and it is chiefly through her that we are enabled to arrive at virtue.

9. The Poorest Dwelling, presided over by a virtuous, thrifty, cheerful, and cleanly woman may thus be the abode of comfort, virtue and happiness; it may be the scene of every enobling relation in family life; it may be endeared to man by many delightful associations; furnishing a sanctuary for the heart, a refuge from the storms of life, a sweet resting-place after labor, a consolation in misfortune, a pride in prosperity and a joy at all times.

10. The Good Home Is Thus the Best of Schools, not only in youth but in age. There young and old best learn cheerfulness, patience, self-control, and the spirit of service and of duty. The home is the true school of courtesy, of which woman is always the best practical instructor. "Without woman," says the Provencal proverb, "men were but ill-licked cubs." Philanthropy radiates from the home as from a center. "To love the little platoon we belong to in society," said Burke, "is the germ of all public affections." The wisest and best have not been ashamed to own it to be their greatest joy and happiness to sit "behind the heads of children" in the inviolable circle of home.