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never thought of marrying again. About a year after my aunt's death, my dear father died, and left us in very straitened circumstances. Uncle took us at once to live with him-my mother, three sisters, and myself. He placed me in his office, and sent my sisters to school till their education was completed.
We had a family of six cousins resident in the same town, who very often came to see us, and whom we often visited in turn. Uncle always had a party of young people on his birthday. Our cousins were invited, of course; and we had generally ten or a dozen other young friends. Merry gatherings they were; and nobody was merrier than dear old uncle; yet, somehow or other, before the evening was over, he contrived to say something good, which left a lasting impression.
On the day he was sixty, some of the youngest of the party had amused themselves with a mimic wedding. There was a little joking about it at supper, into which uncle entered very heartily. At length Cousin Polly Bowers, a merry girl of eighteen, called out from the middle of the table, “But, Uncle Edward, you never told us what you thought about getting married.”
“Well, Polly," replied uncle, “if you really want to know what I think about it, I'm quite willing to tell you."
There was a twinkle in Uncle Edward's eye, which seemed to betoken fun; so there were a good many expressions of desire that uncle should go on.
“I'll tell you,” said he,” something I once saw in • Punch. It was headed · Advice to Parties intending to Marry;' and there followed in capital letters a single word, • DON'T.'"
“Oh!” cried Cousin Polly; and then there was a general laugh.
"But you don't give that as your advice, do you?” said Cousin Isabel, Polly's elder sister-older by about a year and a half.
“Not in all cases, certainly. And yet I should say, don't lay it down as the great end of life to get married. I am afraid some of the novels young people are so very fond of reading, teach something very like that. Far better be single to the end of the chapter, than marry as some people do.”
"And be an old maid !” exclaimed Polly Bowers, in an undertone, scarcely intending her uncle to hear.
“Yes, Polly,” said uncle, whose ears were very quick: “ some of the best women I know belong to the class of what you call old maids;' and I don't know what we should do without them. There have been some times of trouble and sickness in your house when you would have done very badly, without a very worthy aunt of yours, whom you would put, I suppose, amongst the old maids.' There are amongst them, too, our best teachers, and district visitors, and authors. Don't think that life will of necessity be a useless blank, unless you get married. Still, if you can marry prudently, and with a good prospect of happiness, nobody would be better pleased than I.”.
Polly looked somewhat reproved. After a minute or two, Uncle Edward resumed :
“I am afraid young people don't think as they ought to do, that when they marry, it is for life, and life may be a | long time, perhaps twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years. If
you were going on a journey for a few months, you would | be very careful what kind of companion you chose to go with. Am I not right in saying, that engagements for marriage, which is to last for life, are often formed with less thought than would be expended on the choice of a companion for a journey ?”
"That comes of their beginning to think about such things too soon,” remarked my Uncle George, who had come in to supper.
" I'm afraid there's some truth in that,” said Uncle Edward; “and I should say, don't form engagements too early.”
“But what do you mean by too early, uncle," asked my sister Jane.
“I think it is too early, when young people's judgments are as yet unformed, and they don't know what they are likely to be, or what they are likely to want; and yet further, when there is not a reasonable prospect, at no very distant period, of settling in life.”
“But if people are engaged very early, uncle,” said my Cousin George Bowers, “they can wait, can't they ?”
“ They can, to be sure,” said my uncle ; “but, though I have seen a great many cases in which young people have waited faithfully for years, I have also seen many in which, on one side at least, there was first weariness; and then, on some pretence or other, the engagement was broken off. It was very wrong-very dishonourable ; but so it was.
Another evil I've seen, caused by such very early engagements; young people often marry imprudently early.”
“But what do you call imprudently early, uncle ?"| asked Cousin George.
“I call it imprudently early, when a young couple marry with a house only half or a quarter furnished, trusting that they will be able to furnish it afterwards ; although common sense might tell them that their income is barely sufficient to meet the claims of subsistence. The consequence most likely is, they get into debt. I wish I could instil into all your minds an utter horror of debts. It deadens the conscience; it is the parent of all kinds of trickery and falsehood; it oppresses the spirits ; and it mars domestic peace. So, whatever you do, don't begin life in debt. Wait two, three, half a dozen years, rather than begin in debt. As a rule, if a young couple begin in debt, they feel the grinding influence of it all their lives. Barry," turning to me, “will you go into the next room, and fetch me Cowper's Poems ? "
I found the book and put it into his hand.
“ Now here,” said he, is something on the very subject.” He then read the piece entitled "Pairing Time Anticipated,' and he read it well and with a great deal of humour. It is too long for me to quote ; but let me beg my young readers, if they have not read the piece, to get the volume and read it; and to read not only that, but all Cowper's poetry besides. When he came to the moral, he made a brief pause, looked round on us all, shut the book and repeated it from memory :
“ Misses, the tale that I relate,
This lesson seems to carry,
But proper time to marry.” Everybody listened with great attention, and when it was finished there was a hearty laugh. As soon as it had subsided, uncle asked, “Now then, have you had enough ; or would you like me to say anything more on this grave subject ?" | “Yes, yes!” called out many voices; the “yes, yes” clearly meaning that he was to continue.
“Well, then, presuming that you have most of you your choice to make, let me guard you against doing anything clandestinely. I am afraid that too often young people meet, exchange letters and gifts, and form engagements
without their parents knowing anything about the matter till it is too late to go back. All this is undutiful and wrong. There are none who love you as your parents do. They have toiled for you, nursed you in sickness, prayed for you; their only solicitude for you is that you may do well; and it is unwise and ungrateful not to ask their counsel. Do nothing by stealth; and deem it a very strong reason indeed for hesitation if you think your parents will disapprove. I have known a good many cases in which young people have had bitterly to repent taking their own way in this matter.
“When I came to this house, more than thirty years ago, I had some fruit trees planted. I waited a good many years very patiently for fruit, but very little grew, and that little was not much worth. “I can tell you how it is, sir,' said another gardener whom I employed, they are all of a bad stock, and Willis might have known that: the sooner you dig them up the better. Be very careful what stock you take your wife or husband from. Dirty, slatternly, termagant, extravagant mothers have sometimes, I dare say, cleanly, orderly, gentle, thrifty daughters; but very seldom. In most cases the scold and the drab will be reproduced. So on the other side. If a young man's parents are ill-tempered, disorderly, and unprincipled, there is great reason to fear that when he comes to be tried, he will be like them. I admit there are cases of a different order ; but the chances are very much what I have described. So, see that you get a wife or a husband, if you are to have one at all, of a good stock."
“ How wise and sober you would have us all be! uncle," said one of my cousins.
“ To be sure I would. I would have you exercise common sense and prudence, and take a little advice, too, from older heads than your own; and I would have you ask wisdom from God; for there is no step in life for which God's guidance is more greatly needed.
“ There's just one thing more,” he said, after a brief pause. “I am glad to think that many of you have began to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, if you marry, let it be only in the Lord.' That is the Lord's own law. Don't allow yourselves to form engagements with any of whom the best you can say is that they are hopeful. I am always very suspicious of that word “hopeful' when it is applied in such circumstances. Dora Telford thought her husband hopeful' when she married him; and you know how badly he treated her, and what a wretched home they had. You will want all the help you can get in your way to heaven; but an unconverted wife or husband is sure to be a hindrance. I have seen some sad failures of Christian principle, and some sad wrecks of Christian profession, through the neglect of the rule.”
“But how, uncle," asked my Cousin Polly Bowers, “ if they are not Christians ?”
Polly had a reason for asking that question. She had, for a good while, been “halting between two opinons," and uncle knew it. He had ground also for suspectingwhich was really the truth—that she had been kept back from the cross, by a half-formed attachment to a young gentleman, who was altogether gay and thoughtless, and whose attentions her better judgment had told her she should reject.
“Then, my dear Polly,” said Uncle Edward, unintentionally giving his reply a directly personal bearing, “be a Christian ; and then make a Christian choice. Give your hearts, all of you, to God, and then form every fresh tie, seeking God's direction, and in humble entire deference to God's will."
I know some very happy homes—my own is one of them —which are in no small measure what they are, through God's blessing on the counsels my Uncle Edward gave us on that birthday.
PRAYER AND PAINSTAKING. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."Psa. lxvi. 18.
"Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”—Mark xiv. 38. It is a great mistake to imagine that prayer will avail without corresponding exertion. God has connected the end with the use of the means; and if we neglect the one, it is presumptuous to hope for the other. Will praying to be enabled to understand the Scriptures, give that understanding, without studying them and meditating upon their sacred contents? Will praying that our faith may be strengthened, strengthen it, while we neglect to make use of the instruments of spiritual stability ? Will praying for holiness make us holy, while we deliberately walk in the paths of unholiness? Can a parent hope that his prayers