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I grant that it will not be easy to set one's self against the drift which sets against a woman from the moment of her marriage. “At the altar she imagines herself united to a man of warm affections, noble thoughts, and great protective power, — one for whose head the church roof is scarcely holy cover enough but she finds herself at home, instead of all this, to have married a craving body of wants, – shirts that want washing, hose that want mending, whims that want attending to, ailments that want poulticing, appetites that want cooking for, perverseness that wants bearing with, passions that want patience, and cowardly spirits that want comforting.” The ideal of motherhood too vanishes with equal rapidity and entireness in presence of the harsh and tangible reality. Children are not cherubs, nor always such as we imagine those the Saviour blessed. They, too, are a bundle of wants, – troubles that want soothing, tears that want wiping, effort that wants encouraging, hunger that wants appeasing, clothes that want patching, and mischief and disobedience that want the closet or the rod. If against all these the mother and wife make head, rising superior to all their wear and worry, and causing home to feel all the genuine nobleness of her womanhood, her children shall call her blessed, and her husband shall rise up and praise her.
The key-note of the family is struck by the parents. The home is what they make it. The plastic mind of the child inevitably takes the impression they put upon it. The earlier years of childhood, the later years of youth, the intercourse and mutual influence of brother and sister, the character of the man and woman,— themselves the future teachers and guides of their own children, – depend largely upon what they have found their parents to be in their own home. What responsibility rests on us each and all from the beginning ! — that the man select with prudence, and the woman reject what she cannot prudently accept ; that in the early days of wedded life, before cares and children come, the art of living together be well learned; that when the family is once established, the father neglect it not for his business, or the mother for her work. The home has affections which should be cherished, aspirations which should be recognized, capacities which should be fostered. It has minds to be cultivated, hearts to be kept pure and made noble, souls to be saved; and, if you would have it not like the garden of the sluggard, all grown over with briers and thorns, but what home may be, the place of your pride and your joy, the rest of your body and the calm haven of your spirit, if you would see good days and be made glad by the virtues and the successes of your children, make it a simple place of simple pleasures and grateful duties, a place in which each lives with each and for each, in which parent and child grow up together, the parent wisely cultivating and supporting, the child returning the reverence and love that are natural to it; make it a place your child goes out from reluctantly, not with a mere vapid sentiment or a positive disgust, but with a deep, unchanging love, a love that ever and ever repeats, as he sadly separates from it, or from distant lands or years looks back upon it, “There is no place like home.”
HE HOME-CIRCLE established, the life in the home commenced, of what kind and to what purpose shall the intercourse be between these immortal spirits brought by the will of God into the most intimate relations? Shall it be of chance, a thing unthought of guided neither one way nor the other; or shall it be under law, always looking to some definite end, to which, however indirectly, it is always draw
ing nearer? Perhaps the question is an open one. Some would say that to attempt any thing like law in a thing so constant, so free, so familiar as domestic life, would be seriously to abridge it in these its most valuable characteristics. It would make it unnatural and constrained, and render its intercourse but an epitome of the intercourse of men in the world. That we certainly do not want. Heaven forbid that the hollow artificiality and constraint which characterize our social lives should gain a footing in our homes. There should be one place sacred to human nature and the human heart, one place uncontaminated by the restraints of society which make men to each other so unlike what they are in themselves. There ought to be within the home the fullest and frankest interchange of thought, conviction, and purpose, the most unrestricted living out of the life within. Will the establishment of some controlling power check or prevent this? Will it not rather promote it? The consequence of all judicious law, thoroughly administered, is freedom. Perfect liberty is that which is perfectly submissive to a perfect law. The perfect liberty of the Saviour was the result of his perfect submission to the Divine law. The liberty we admire in the playful limbs of the young animal, in the grace of the swallow's flight, or the proud sweep of the eagle's wing, is the perfect submission to the law which controls and makes possible such results. This is liberty which never can exist except under law. Where there is no law, liberty is changed to license, and the difference you may see in the graceless plunges of the kite when the string is broke, in the mad erratics of the locomotive when it has left the track, or, among men, in the atrocities of a mob, a rebellion of slaves, or a mutiny of Sepoys. Law is the builder of the world, the conservator and the impulse of society, and right laws never fetter, but free. If we are to free the