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EDUCATION OF TALLEYRAND.
Every account we have seen of this wonderful
mentions his extraordinary depravity. We are glad to find, for once, that the press has courage to speak the truth. For it is notorious, that not the press alone, but even the pulpit, in too many instances, is prone to eulogize the dead, even where the justice of their praises is at best but doubtful. In the case of the monster Talleyrand, however, there seems to be but one sentiment; that of unmingled disapprobation.
Contemplating him in this view, some may be led to smile, at first thought, on seeing in the Boston Mercantile Journal, the expression of a wish that the public may be furnished with a well written life of this perverse man. But we think, with the editor, that such a work is a desideratum, and ought to be supplied. We believe such a character as his ought to be held up to the world as a beacon to assist them in avoiding, and in teaching their children to avoid the rocks on which he split.
The paper which we have mentioned, contains one or two statements, which if true, are of great importance to parents and teachers.
• He was the eldest,' it is said, of three brothers, but being lame from his infancy, he was incapable of entering the army, and was early dustined to the church, although he possessed by nature not one of the qualifications which belong lo a minister of the gospel-an expounder of Holy Writ.'
What is to be expected of an individual, when he is thus miseducated? How long ere parents will learn to educate their children according to the indications of their physical and moral constitutions, instead of consulting principally, if not entirely, their own convenience? Such a perversion of the law of God, as revealed in the expanding powers of the young, is as contrary to the best interests of soc.ety, as it is wicked.—But let us proceed with our quotations.
"At the age of thirteen, he received the first prize for learning in his class, and, at the same time was publicly reprimanded for bis irregularities and vices.'
A fine candidate for holy orders! A fine son of the church ! And yet if this were the only parental mistake of the kind ever made, we need not have said a word. The mistake is, in a greater or less degree, universal; even in our own country. But
• Having been forced to yield the rights of primogeniture to a younger brother, he hardly ever slept under the same roof with
his parents, by whom he was despised as a being disgraced by nature, and fit for nothing; and he thus, from his youth, contracted a sombre and taciturn habit. At the serninary he had but few associates, and from his habitual chagrin, he was considered proud. Condemned to the ecclesiastical state against his will, he did not imbibe sacerdotal sentiments and opinions, (and who can wonder?) He even exceeded the indulgence granted in that immoral age to youth and gentle blood, and was early notorious for his libertine and licentious habits.'
If parents were punished, as in Iceland, for the faults of their children, the parents of Talleyrand should have received a punishment of no ordinary severity. If all things are to be set right, in he judgment to come, we are glad it is not ours, 10 bear the esponsibilities of wronging and miseducating such a man as Talleyrand. Esau, as we see, is not the only instance of mental and moral injury by parental mismanagement; nor Stephen Burroughs the only individual whose education made him twice as great a villain as he was by nature.
We have seen deformed or weak children spoiled in both ways; by neglect, and by over kindness.
We have seen the whole character completely changed by these errors.Which is worst, we do not undertake to determine. Let parents strive to avoid both. Let teachers also take hints from the story of this moral scourge of humanity; and let them remember their amazing responsibilities. There is no certainty that a good education might not have made Talleyrand as great a blessing as he has proved a curse, to his species.
Am I my brother's keeper? said the murderous Cain. And a more impudent question, considering the circumstances, never was asked. Thy brother's keeper! Why affront thy Maker with such an inquiry? Thou knewest thou wast the keeper of thy brother. Was he not younger than thyself-less acquainted with men and manners, with the world and its tricks? Wast thou not often his only companion, in the absence of both parents? Whilst thou wast tilling the ground in thy little field, was it not thy duty to have an eye to him and his sheep, and fly to rescue either him or them, if need should be, from any signal dangers?
Nay, more; hadst thou not been told expressly, by thine and his heavenly Father—to say nothing of the directions and lessons thou hadst received from thine earthly parents—. Unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him?'* Was not the same thing said by the same all wise Governor in regard to thy father's duty to thy mother?t And did he not always henceforth regard her as under his care? Did he not listen to her inquiries? When she desired knowledge—and her desires were made known to him-did he turn away his ear? Was he not her constituted keeper? And by what rule wilt thou show that thou wast not equally the keeper of thy brother? Was not Abel the only playmate of thy youth, and hadst thou no attachment to him? Thine only brother, and hadst thou no affection for him? Thine only ward, and hadst thou no duty to perform towards him? Hadst thou no regard to bis health ? Hadst thou nothing to do for the improvement of his mind ? Had he not an immortal soul, and hadst thou nothing to do to promote its eternal welfare ? Did he not look up to thee, his elder brother, in childlike simplicity, as almost a parent to him? And did not this expectation and childlike confidence_did not this alone, lay thee under obligation to him? And art thou heard talking about not being his keeper ?
Oh, Cain, Cain, where is Abel thy brother? In the absence of his parents, thou wast to be both a father and a mother to him.
No other governor present, thou wast to rule over him.' His desires were to be made known to thee, and it was thy duty, and should have been thy pleasure to attend to them. Thou wast to guard, assiduously, his manners and habits. Thou wast to be his instructor and educator, both by precept and example. The lessons heard daily from thy father and mother, thou wast to talk over when alone with him, and it was a part of thy duty to confirm and strengthen in him every good resolution, and assist him in suppressing every vicious inclination. Thine it was to educate him, by thy example, to temperance, purity, chastity, self command, charity, obedience to parents, and love to God and man. Thou wast thy brother's keeper. Thou wast in no little degree, responsible for his health, his manners, bis habits, his intelligence, his virtue, his piety. Thou wast responsible for all this to the tribunal of thine own conscience. Thou wast responsible, still more, if possible, to thy parents. Thou wast responsible, above all, to Him whose voice from the Heavens now calls t:ee to an account-Where is Abel, thy brother?
Thou sayest I know not. Am I my brother's keeper ?
Wretch that thou hast made thyself, lying is to thee a matter of no consequence! Neglectful of thy duty to him, and neglectful of thy first duti s to thyself, thou hast suffered the blackest passions to gain an ascendancy over thee, and now the demons of envy and jealousy enjoy a triumph. Thou hast imbrued thy hand in thy brother's-ibine only brother's blood. Thy maddened rage has eflected the destruction of the only good man but one on earth. Thou hast slain him whom it was thy peculiar duty to preserve, and instruct, and nourish, and cherish. Thou hast destroyed him whom it was thy duty to save. And now darest thou lift thy murderous voice, and say thou knowest not where Abel is? Darest thou to tell his Father and thine, that thou wast not his keeper?
And yet every brother is the keeper of his younger brethren, just as Cain was. Not the sole keeper, perhaps, for there are usually others who have the same duty, in a greater or less degree, assigned to them. But this does not lessen your obligations. You are to do all you can, whether others do much or little. You are to use your utmost efforts to make your younger brother every thing which God and nature and your parents have a right to expect you to make him, both by your precepts and daily lessons, and by your example. You are his keeper ; and sooner or later will a voice from heaven say to you, Where is thy brother?
You are to take care of his health, so far as you know how to do it. To be sure you are not to do what, for want of knowledge, you cannot do. You are not to instruct him on points on which you are yourself ignorant. Neither your earthly parents nor you heavenly parents are such hard taskmasters as to require of you according to what you have not, but only according to what you have.
You are surrounded on every side by the fruits of the season. Some of them are in a half ripe state, unfit as yet for the digestive powers, and their juices as yet unfit for the blood. Have you not been told so? Will you set your brother an example of self denial in this matter, or will you not only neglect to do this, but even by your example lead him into temptation? You see him inclined to be gluttonous. Will you assist your parents and him in overcoming the bad babit, by an example of self-denial and moderation? Or will you suffer your example to mislead him still farther ? You see him inclined to other habits which you know are hurtful, as lying in bed late in the morning, neglecting proper ablutions, taking very hot or very cold or over exciting drinks, or using improper food. And will you do nothing towards reforming him?
Their various Duties.
You are to take care in no small degree, of his mind. Your parents are indeed his principal teachers, but you are, or ought to be, a willing assistant; at least, a monitor. What they inculcate, you should repeat, converse upon, and explain, till it is properly impressed upon the mind. What they direct in regard to conduct, you should enforce, not only by word, but by example. Do you not know that an elder brother may thus greatly assist a parent in the discharge of his duties as an instructer and governor? Did you ever know the younger children of a family, or pupils of a school continue long to behave very ill, where the elder set them a perfect example ?
You are to take care, also, to the utmost of your power, of the disposition and temper-of the affections of the heart. In this, above all else, you are your brother's keeper. As your temper is, to an extent of which you are probably not now aware, his will be. If you are peevish or fretful, it will be natural for him to become so. If you are excitable or amiable, what should hinder him from being so? If you are slanderous, or revengeful, or cruel, why should he not be? If this should not be the result, it is no fault of yours certainly ; you have taken the proper course to produce it.
If you love and reverence and obey your parents, your brother will be likely to love, reverence and obey them also. If you speak well of them in their absence, and are pained when others speak ill of them, he will not be slow to catch the same spirit. Children are imitative beings, as you know. Their characters are formed, in no small degree, from the characters of those who are constantly about them. Do you not know this? But who are more constantly in each other's society, than brothers of the same family? But again.
If you love and reverence God; if you regard his laws, his ordinances, his perfections, his Son our Saviour, his promises and his threatenings; if you labor and pray and strive to obey the commands of God, in every thing—the smallest matters not excepted ; if, in one word, you fear him and keep his commandments, will not a younger brother be likely to do so too? Nay, more ; is it not inevitable that he will, unless your influence is counteracted by the bad example of other persons who are impious or vicious ? Have you ever known an instance in which the fact was otherwise ?
But lastly, what is true in relation to your duty to a younger brother, is true also in relation to your duty to all younger brothers; and to some extent, to elder brothers and sisters.More than this even ; the world around you, in a certain sense, and to a certain extent, are all your brethren. And in so far as they