Page images
PDF
EPUB

to an acquaintance, (now no more, I believe,) who piqued herself on her personal charms. “O! it was delightful!" was her ingenuous reply, “all the women were so ugly!” There the feeling of competition was carried to the utmost, for the party was rendered delightful to this lady, merely by her conviction that no one present could compete with her in beauty. I shall now treat of competitions of perhaps a lower nature. Competitions general and particular in houses, furniture and style of living.

“ We must live up to our rank or station in life, or to our real or imputed fortune,” is often the language of the head or ruler of every considerable family in Europe, probably, when parsimony or principle does not prevent this feeling from being acted upon. . We must live as our neighbours and equals do,” is another axiomic phrase, by which many persons in society are governed in their domestic arrangements. And a feeling of general competition is its source amongst the first class, and of particular competition amongst the latter.

The man of rank desires to live as his ancestors did, and as his peers do, but does not wish to vie with any particular individual in his own class. The man of a certain station, or consequence, in life, wishes to live like men of his standing in the world; and the rich or seemingly rich man is desirous of living like other men in the world at large, who appear on a level with himself; and these persons are consequently in general competition. But

those who say,

we must live, and do as our neighbours live and do,” are residents probably in the bounded circle of a country town or village, and have some family or persons in view with whom they feel particular competition. In a Metropolis, one has no neighbours, nor is it easy to ascertain who there are one's equals or inferiors. It is in provincial residences that the feeling of particular competition is called forths-it is from the facility of ascertaining, with some degree of accuracy, who our neighbours are, and whether our friends and relations, are equal to ourselves in opulence, that this often ensnaring and ruinous rule of living, this proof of pride of heart and weakness of judgment, escapes the lips, “ One must do as our neighbours do, one must live as one's neighbours live.” And, perhaps, the sense of competition can never be so dangerous as when it prompts to the foregoing expressions, and instead of principle and prudence, makes the expenses of others the regulation of our own.

The following dialogue will not only exemplify my meaning, but at the same time represent a true picture of many family deliberations. • Pray, papa, let me learn mu-' sic," says an ambitious little girl to her indulgent" father; “ Emily D- learns, and why should not I?” “Because her papa is very rich, my dear, and I am not.” “ ! dear рара, ,

I am sure you can afford it as well as he, and really, papa, every body wonders you do not let me learn as Emily does.”

66 But it

ܕܝ

660!

[ocr errors]

costs so much money, Louisa, and these are hard times, besides, Emily has an ear for music, and you perhaps have not.'

"60! dear papa, I am surel have quite as good an ear as she has, and she has very little voice, and I have a great deal. Dear me! every body says I should sing and play so well if I were to learn! and really, papa, people will think you quite stingy.” “Welí, well, child, if I know myself not to be so, that does not signify; but I will hear what your mother says. papa,

I know mamma wishes it as much as I do; she does not like Emily D- should be more accomplished than I am.”

« Nor 1 neither, my dear; but you are young yet.” “ Young, papa! I am two months older than Emily D- 66 Indeed! well, but wait till next year.'

ó. Next year! and let Emily get so much before me! I might then just as well not learn at all." Here, just as the young voice is beginning; probably, to falter with mingled anger and disappointment, the mother enters. “So, my dear, cries her husband, “ I find you have been putting extravagant wishes into our child's head.” “ How so?" “She wishes to learn music, and says that you approve it.” “Well, my dear, and so I do, and where is the extravagance or impropriety? you can afford it; and really, those D-s and those L- -s are so set up, and so conceited of their children's acquirements, that as our Louisa is quite as clever as they are, I do think she ought to have as many advantages.”

.“ I think so too; but if she has a music

master, she must give up her drawing master. I can not with prudence let her have both.” Here an indignant exclamation from both mother and daughter interrupts the speaker, and Louisa falters out, “Give up my drawing master, papa, just as I have begun to copy prints?" " What, my dear, make the poor child give up her master now that he says she has such a genius, that she has already made a better copy of a head of Vandyke, than Emily D-, who has learnt twice the time; and that Harriet L-'s eyes, noses, and ears, though she is so much older, are not to be compared to Louisa's?” “Is this really the case?” cries the gratified father, overcome by these proofs of his child's superiority; “ well then, I fear I must consent to let Louisa have two masters at once, but she must promise to be very diligent, and learn quickly, for I assure you, my dear, that business just now is very dead, and things are not going well, and I feel that I ought to draw in a little; however, I am willing to stretch a point for Louisa's advantage."

Thus, the feeling of competition with the set up D -s and L

-s, comes in aid of parental affection, and parental vanity, and the point is carried! Emily D

ist not be permitted to excel his own daughter in what, by the world, is deemed indispensable knowledge; and the suggestions of a well principled prudence are wholly disregarded. Nor, probably, will these indulgent parents ever hear Emily D- sing or play with any

pleasure again. They will always be comparing her performance with that of their own Louisa, and they will be ready to say, that she sings out of tune, and plays out of time, whenever her musical abilities are the theme of conversation. Yet far be it from me to ridi. cule even the weakness of parental affection. A tender and indulgent parent must ever be in my eyes, an object of affectionate reverence; but in this instance, and I believe it is a common instance, the indulgence was not the result of yielding affection only, but was full as much occasioned by a weak feeling of particular competition, and that feeling was leading the father to permit what his circumstances could but ill afford; he was therefore running the risk of injuring the fortune of that very child, whose young and dangerous ambition he was thus thoughtlessly willing to gratify. Alas! I fear we all have, or have had, though in different instances, and on different occasions, our Emily D-s, and our Harriet Ls.

I shall now recapitulate what has been said in this chapter

That coinpetition is of two kinds, general and particular.

That general competition is often uncon. scious, but that particular competition must be consciously experienced. That both lead to envy and to detraction.

That competition is not confined to the human species, but that petted animals are equally susceptible of it.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »