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14

THE ELDER SISTER.

For the Mother's Magazine.

THE ELDER SISTER.

care.

“Who is that graceful young lady, with the two little girls tripping on each side of her, my dear Mrs. Grey,” said an elderly female to her compan ion, as they were walking up High-street. Mrs. Grey looked at the beautiful girl as she smilingly nodded in passing, and replied, "that is the oldest daughter of my dear friend, Mrs. Cleaveland. She is one of the most interesting females in the city, and I am often at a loss which to admire most, the judicious maner in which my friend has brought up her eldest daughter, or the excellent principles which regulate the minutest parts of Julia's conduct. She has been taught ever since she was quite a little girl, to regard her younger brothers and sisters, as the object of her peculiar and unvarying

As she has advanced to womanhood, it has become more and more conspicuous, and she is now the most watchful, disinterested, tender being I know.

Her happiness consists in making others happy, particularly her own family. She is always ready to perform for her brothers and sisters, those little offices of love their tender age requires. She attends them when they rise in the morning, dresses them neatly, and never omits attention to their private devotions. When the bell summons them to morning prayer, many a little foot-fall may be heard following her to the dining room, where solemnity and decorum mark their behavior. At table, “ sister Julia,” has many a little pinafore to adjust, and when the hour for school arrives, every satchel is ready for their plump little hands to grasp the strings.

She attends to their lessons, mends their clothes, reconciles all their little differences, walks with them, plays with them, sings for them, and is the source and center of all their enjoyments. Whatever this good girl can do, either for their comfort or improvement, is to her well regulated mind, a source of unal. loyed pleasure. Mrs. Cleaveland, unlike many mothers I know, taught Julia from her childhood, to subdue her natural selfishness, and to consider first, the comfort and advantage of her brothers and sisters. She was never permitted to assume that haughty air which renders so many elder sisters disgusting. She was never allowed to claim or receive undue indulgence on that account, and no favors were bestowed upon her, because of her station in the family. On the contrary, she was taught that whenever it became necessary for one to yield, she would conquer by yielding, and win by kindness, where she might provoke and irritate by contending

As she grew up she practised the most disinterested generosity, and when first impressed by religious truth, one of the most affecting considerations that presented itself to her mind was, I am the eldest sister !" What has the Lord a right to expect from me? What do my parents expect? What do my brothers and sisters expect?” She told me one day, when conversing with her on religious subjects, that there was nothing which more deeply weighed upon her heart, than the responsible situation in which Providence had placed her in her own family. “ To me," said the sweet girl, with tears in her eyes, “my dear parents look, to strengthen their hands in the govern

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ment of our domestic world, to enforce their precepts, to exhibit in my example what the younger ones should practice, and to aid in every way in training up a family for the service of God on earth. With my father and mother I stand connected, by every endearing tie, as the representative of my family, and I know I can do much to aid, or much to defeat them in all their plans for family usefulness, and personal holiness. To me, my little darlings look for a consistent example, a correct tone of sentiment, purity of conversation, and that life of religion which Christianity requires. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with a sense of my responsibility, that I tremble at every step I take, and my daily prayer to my heavenly Father is, " for grace to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith I am called.”

Such was the language of Julia Cleaveland, when nineteen years old, and her daily life bears testimony to the sincerity of her desires. She is constantly aiming at the high standard she has set before her, and every day develops a growing conformity to it. It is not the mere expression of the lips with Julia, it is a deep conviction of her duty which constantly influences all her actions. Blessed is the mother who has such a child! and blessed is the family where such an elder sister dwells! She resembles some guardian angel ever hovering over the objects of her tenderest love, and gently expanding her protecting wing to shield them from the impending danger.

Mrs. Grey had been so animated in portraying the character of Julia Cleaveland, that she had not noticed the agitation which had affected her friend, and which now increased so violently that she abruptly stopped and inquired the cause.

dear friend," she replied, "the account you give of this sweet young lady plants daggers in my soul. My eldest daughter, Emily, might have been all this to me: but, alas! she is now reaping the bitter fruits of what my own hands so abundantly sowed in her childhood, and I am enduring the reproaches of conscience, armed by myself with ten thousand stings!" Here Mrs. Grey's friend burst into tears, and the gush of feelings long struggled with, gave relief to her sorrowful heart. When a little composed, she continued, “ You know that Emily was my oldest daughter. From childhood, she was arrogant and self-willed; always contending, that her station as the elder sister entitled her to more indulgence than the younger children. She insisted upon her brothers and sisters serving her, and when favors were to be shared by the little group, she claimed the first, and the best. As she grew up, she became selfish, proud, and unaimable. For a long time my blind partiality never discerned the dreadful consequences of my own foolish indulgence, and her faults 'grew with her growth, and strengthened with her strength.' Disputes, and quarrels became common amongst my little ones, and when I reproved them, they would all reply, "Oh, mamma, sister Emily did this, and you said nothing to her! Sister Emily said that, and you never found fault! These replies opened my eyes completely to my folly. I reasoned, I expostulated with my oldest daughter, but, alas, it was too late. The usual reply I received was, “ I am the oldest, it is my right, and I will have it so." Alas! my family soon presented a scene of discord, and confusion, which with all my efforts, I was unable to control. It is now but a few days since my poor misguided girl eloped

“Oh, my

16

HOME THE PROPER SPHERE OF WOMAN.

with a profligate young man, and in her eighteenth year has commenced a career which will terminate in misery in two worlds, unless Almighty grace interpose for her rescue."

Here the distressed mother was obliged to pause. Sighs, and sobs too bitter to be suppressed, almost overwhelmed her. Her sympathising friend, Mrs. Grey, hastened forward to her dwelling, and when she had seated the afflicted mother upon the sofa, she mentally exclaimed, “How much is in the power of the elder sister !"

Mothers, look at the contrast! Have you in your own dwellings no portraits which resemble these? Examine the likeness, and however unskilful the artist may have been in portraying the features, you may perhaps traace some resemblance which may rouse your apprehensions lest an Emily may be your child, and you may become the sad and sorowful parent, over whose simple tale your sympathy has just wept. Mothers, who have in your elder daughters a Julia, watch well the tender child ! pray earnestly that she may be all, yea more than all here described; for much, very much depends upon the influence of the elder sister

MONICA, Wilmington.

For the Mother's Magazine.
THE MOTHER'S RETROSPECT.
Look back, my soul; what hast thou done

Thy tender offspring to improve ;
Whai, through the year, whose course has run,

To win them to a Savior's love?
While hours, and days, and months have fled

That never, never will return,
Hast thou thy children constant led

The paths of wisdom to discern?
Has discipline held fast the rein,

With prudent, firm, yet gentle hand,
Those infant vices to restrain,

That sought thy counsels to withstand ?
Has kind instruction been distilled,

From morning's dawn, till evening's shade,
Were hours of relaxation filled,

With usefulness that ne'er betrayed ?
And has thou thine own weakness felt,

Thy constant need of help divine;
And when in secret thou hast knelt,

Has faith declared each promise thine ?
As Abram's daughter hast thou plead,

That gracious covenant-"I will be,
A God to thee, and to thy seed,"

Through time, and in eternity ?
Hast thou besought the Lord to bring,

Thy tender offspring to his feet:
That they might own their sovereign King,

Confessing that his love is great ?
Hast felt that they were not too young,

His pardoning mercy to receive,
And mingle in the convert's throng?

And feeling-couldst thou still believe ?
Look back, my soul, impartial trace

The scenes of the departed year;
Implore forgiveness, seek for grace,

And heaven in mercy, heed thy prayer.
Look forward, too, lest days to come,

Sull witness thine unfaithfulness;
Christ be thy hope and heaven thy home,

Thine offspring, a believing race.

H. T.

1

THE

MOTHER'S MAGAZINE:

FOR FEBRUARY, 1834.

For the Mother's Magazine.

EARLY HABITS OF INDUSTRY.

IF, as a distinguished writer has observed, “ Man is a bundle of habits," there is perhaps scarcely a subject to which maternal influence should be more unceasingly directed, than the early formation of right habits. And probably there is no one habit more important in a character formed for usefulness, than that of industry and regular application to business.

This habit should be commenced at a very early period; long before the little ones can be very profitable from the fruits of their industry. I know it is often alleged that the labour and care of teaching young children various useful employments, is greater than all the benefits which may be expected to result. But this, I believe, is a fact only in regard to a few of their first lessons.

I have a friend, who is both a gentleman and a scholar. For the sake of employment, his father required his little son, from the early age of eight years, to copy all his letters. I have often heard this friend ascribe his business talent, which, in regard to despatch, punctuality, and order, is seldom equalled, to his father's unremitting efforts, to keep him, at stated intervals, regularly employed.

In the formation of character, I had almost said, habits are every thing. Could the whole amount of knowledge, which a young man has acquired, just entering professional life, after nine years laborious preparatory study, have been at once imparted to his mind, without any effort on his part, the value to him would be immeasurably less than the slow process by which it was acquired. The mental discipline, the intellectual habits, are worth even more to him than the knowledge gained.

But the importance of a habit may perhaps be best ascertained by its practical result. We refer mothers to the annals of great and good men, in all ages of the world, who have been the benefactors of mankind. By atten tion to their early history, it will be found, that their learning and talents are not merely the effects of genius, as many suppose, but are the precious fruits of which industry and persevering application were the early bud. The

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EARLY IIABITS OF INDUSTRY.

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Bible furnishes impressive examples on this subject. Adam in a state of innocence, was required to “ dress the garden, and to keep it."

The glorified beings in heaven rest not day nor night. It is said of the great exemplar of the Christian, that “ he went about doing good.” We are both instructed and warned by such scripture passages as the following: Ex. xx. 9. Eccl. ix. 10: v. 12. Prov. xxiv. 30-34: XX. 4. Ezekiel x. 49. Rom. xii. 11. 2 Thess. v. 10–12. Rev. vii. 15.

When habits of industry and personal effort have been faithfully cherished, it will not be difficult to cultivate those of benevolence and self-denial. Children should be early encouraged and induced to contribute to the various institutions of benevolence in our country; but let it never be done without an effort, and a sacrifice, on their part. They should be made to feel, with David, that " they will not offer to the Lord a sacrifice which costs them nothing."

It is a principle which they may easily apprehend, and one that will be of great value in forming their future characters. At a very early age they can be made to understand something of the wants and woes of the heathen world; and when their sympathies are excited, instruct them in what manner they may begin to aid in sending abroad the blessings of salvation.

Mothers may encourage their little ones to resolve how much they will endeavour to earn in this way, and for such purposes in a year. Let a little book of accounts be prepared for them, in which all their little earnings shall regularly be entered, and as soon as they are able, let them keep these accounts themselves. In this way, several useful habits may be associated, children may be thus early taught that money is valuable, rather as enabling them to do good, than as a means of selfish or sensual gratification.

The want of suitable regular employment for children, particularly for boys, is an evil extensively felt and deplored, especially by men in professional life, and the inhabitants of large cities and populous villages. Perhaps there is no one class of persons in our country, so highly favored in this particular as farmers; and it is one of the peculiar blessings of their condition, of which I fear they are not sufficiently aware, to be suriably grateful.

But in respect to others, a remedy must be supplied, or their children will be ruined. If all other resources fail, it is better to consider a regular portion of each day as “a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together,” to be again dispersed for the same object, rather than indulge or connive at habits of idleness.

At one of the most respectable colleges in New-England,* the President and Professors have had the wisdom and precaution for a number of years, regularly to send their sons, during a considerable portion of each year, among their friends in the country, to labor on farms. The boys themselves are delighted with the plan, and all the judicious commend it, as affording the most healthful, improving, and pleasant employment. And probably even greater attainments are made in their studies, than if constantly confined in school the whole year. And perhaps not the least advantage which

* Hanover, N. H.

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