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a very proper sentiment by starting on my drive while my neighbors are on their way to church, I may be justly said to set an example of just that thing; but no license can cloak itself under my quiet riding with my family when the worship of the day is over. We have been too long cowed by the fear of setting bad examples, – the convenient cry of the timid, the narrow, and the sinful. I set an example only of that which I actually do. He who does something else does not follow my example, but does a separate and a different thing. If my neighbor or I myself drive quietly to Mount Auburn, or elsewhere, on the Sunday, I do not doubt that some will say we must not be surprised if young men urge as a palliation of their day’s riot our example. The absurdity of the plea is only not palpable because of the long habit of allowing it. The crowning of the Sunday at home is the repeating and singing of hymns. One has grave questions and perplexities about what is commonly called domestic worship, and I sincerely sympathize with the man who honestly and frankly says he does not know what to do. Such a service should be less for the adults than the children, and the prayer that shall engage the attention, enlist the sympathy, instruct the heart, and express the wants of childhood, is the rarest of all utterances. Many a man may be able to pray for himself and for others who wholly fails in his attempts with children. Candidly I think that many of our domestic services are only a weariness to our households, and leave any but the best impression. But about a hymn, that has become a sort of household word, there is something different. It is a rhymed prayer, and the child loves and comprehends it. It is the thing never forgotten. Years, distance, change, death, do not separate us from it. You may have forgotten every maternal precept, the tones of the voice you first loved, the very features of your mother may have become effaced, but with you still, and fresh as at first, is the hymn she taught or sung to you in the Sunday evening twilight of the dear old home, – a presence and an influence forever. Grateful to me at the close of the Sabbath the chorus of childish voices singing their evening hymn, helped out, it may be, by the fingers of the mother and the voice of the father, that so stirs the memories of that dear old home of mine, broken and gone forever! Never mind the music, the want of harmony and time. It is the child-service, and by and by, when weary years separate him from the time and place, or the dark hour draws near, there will come pleasantly, sadly, blessedly, over life's dreary interval and waste, these “sounds from home,”—the evening worship and the closing act of childhood's Sabbath.
With the home lies the religious shaping of the young soul, and from all the week this day is separate for that special work. A mistaken piety demands a rigid and exclusive observance, impossible, in reality, to most men and to all children; indolent self-indulgence leaves it to run wholly waste. In some homes it is all restraint, in some, all license. What we want is the safe and wise middle ground which shall make it pleasant and profitable, neither a gloom for the heart nor a weariness to the body. Then most truly the Sabbath day shall be kept and holy, when, disregarding the limitations of the past, we seek to make it minister to the largest good of all, mindful of Nature's laws and limits, and not expecting of the young, or striving for in ourselves, that which we shall only possess by outraging Divine decrees. To this end have I written, adopting for myself the sentiment of an English writer of the seventeenth century: “I hate superstition on the one side, and looseness on the other; but I find it hard to offend in too much devotion, easy in profaneness. The whole week is sanctified by this day, and according to my care of this is my blessing on the rest. I commit my desires to the imitation of the weak, my actions to the censures of the wise and holy, my weaknesses to the par
don and redress of my merciful God.” 13 *
HE CHARACTER of the New-Englander, perhaps more than that of any other man, is the result of his home. It is not national so much as it is domestic. The virtues which make him stand out among men are not the acquirements of schools and colleges, of travel and society, the transmission of caste, the result of institutions, but virtues brought with him in all their power from the home, and set to work upon the world. He is not a conformer to things as he finds them, but sets himself to make them conform to him. Most tenacious is he of his identity, and, while others lose themselves in their surroundings, he is a Yankee to the end. No clime, no polish, no position, takes that out of him. It is told of a dervish, that by certain signs in the sand he not only decided that a camel had passed that way, but that he was lame and blind and had lost a tooth. And so by signs as unmistakable, sometimes as unnoticed by the
careless, you may detect the presence, the influence of the New-Englander, — though you may not see the man. I remember, some years ago, after passing through the State of Virginia, and becoming familiar with the peculiarities of plantation buildings and plantation life, that when I entered Fairfax County I felt as if I had been suddenly taken back to the quiet farms of my own State. The substantial barns, the well-ordered outbuildings, the familiar implements, the green blinds, and a certain unmistakable air of New England thrift, surprised me, so sudden and so great was the contrast with the exhausted fields, the shabby negro-quarters, the shiftless aspect of all I had lately seen. “This looks like New England!” I exclaimed, and was told that certain Yankee farmers, some years previous, had taken up a tract of exhausted land, and had made it what I saw, - had planted New England there. So it is wherever he goes. The New-Englander is slow to assimilate with other people. He takes his notions, his prejudices, his character, his home, with him. In strange cities I have never failed to detect New-Englanders. There is a something about the individual men and women, but there is more about their homes, which you cannot mistake. Cosmopolite as he is, be it under the tropics, by the western sea, or in the eastern clime, under all his outward conformity, you find him still clinging to the habit and the faith of home.