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Importance of a Dictionary.
15 loose frock or upper garment; and a good substantial old English word it is.
To say nothing, however, of the value of the word itself, the course Honestus took secured several important advantages.
1. It proved to his children that he was in earnest, in his efforts to have them to acquire language, since it was a study which he was himself daily pursuing. Children are imitative creatures. How often have I seen very young children, imitate in their plays, the employments of those around them, especially of those whom they love! How often, did I say? Left to themselves, they almost always do this. The little girl wants her doll-her babe, rather-her chairs, her table, her side board, her tea cups, her mirror, &c.; or perhaps, she receives company, or teaches school : and the little boy apes the employments of his father and others with nearly the same exactness. But surely I need not repeat what every one knows. And yet, where is the parent to be found, once in a hundred times, who makes the proper inference, and governs himself accordingly? Where are the father and mother who pursue the same course of conduct, in every thing, especially in morals, at table nd elsewhere in the family, which they require their children to pursue? Where is the parent-Honestus and a few like him excepted—who, in order to have a son fond of chemistry or geology, or language, first makes it one of the subjects of familiar conversation and experiment in the family?
2. The practice of consulting a dictionary, and finding the correct definition of all words which we do not fully understand, is one of the very best means which can possibly be devised for enriching and extending a person's vocabulary; and the sooner children and other people are brought into it the better. I have known one man whose intelligence was quite above mediocrity for the region where he lived, who owed it entirely or almost entirely to this habit.
3. It leads to the habit of general observation. Nature, around us—the world—is a great dictionary, full of words of the most interesting and important meaning; and yet how few of us ever consult it? We may, indeed, and often do know that such or such a word stands in such or such a place, as I knew gabardine did ; but we might as well be ignorant on the subject, as to any practical purpose. have
eyes, not, and ears, but we hear not; neither do we understand what is going on before us.
Let me say again, I would not force the conversation of tbe family at table and elsewhere, upon important topics, till they become tired of it, or feel constraint; neither would I inculcate
but see 16
Imprisoning Birds in Cages.
the idea, by precept or example, that I regarded all study as only mere play. And yet until the taste for study has been formed and encouraged in this manner, and under these circumstances, and until it is kept alive and increased by more or less of parental co-operation, those teachers labor almost in vain who attempt to make good scholars of our children.
So strong indeed is the love of knowledge and inquiry implanted in the human mind, that a scholar may be formed here and there in spite of bad circumstances; but the mass will continue to be parrots or dolts; and ignorant and stupid parents will perhaps continue to wonder why so few of their children are good scholars.
MORAL INFLUENCE OF CRUELTY.
We are told, in some of the newspapers, that a humane prince of one of the smaller German States, has lately imposed a tax of five dollars on every bird found imprisoned in a cage, within his territories.
We are glad to have it in our power to record, in our journal, a fact of this kind ; nor does it give us the less pleasure because it transpired on the eastern continent. May it be followed, in its spirit, by many a prince in both hemispheres ; especially by those minor princes, as they are commonly regarded, who sign the decrees, and pass the sentences of the family and the school ; and whose individual labors have more influence, with here and there an exception, to curse and bless mankind, than those who are only the nominal monarchs of their millions or their tens of millions.
We have been pained a hundred times, to see families of children trained up with the sad example of bird cages before their eyes, by parents who, at any moment of their lives, would shudder at the thought of blunting the moral feelings, or rendering callous the sensibilities of a single human being; and, above all, of those whose lives and whose happiness, present and future, are dearer to them than their own. For it is not the individual always no, nor yet often
of coarser feelings and grosser sensibilities, who accustoms his rising charge to the scenes to which we have alluded. On the contrary, it is generally the persons whose sentiments are in the main, correct, and whose principles and, indeed, whose whole nature are, for the most part, refined and elevated.
Their very great Sufferings.
But whence arises this mistake? Does it not originate in want of thought? Has the parent, of this description, ever reflected at all on the subject? Does he know any thing of the manner in which juvenile character is formed ? Does he understand clearly that he is to be the arbiter, not of the fortune only, but of the fate of his household ?
Had we not so often witnessed the sensibility of most parents in regard to some of the wants and woes around them, and their utter insensibility in regard to others, it might be difficult for us to believe that, of which we have now the fullest assurance. We could as soon be induced to put bitter for sweet or sweet for bitter ; and with nearly as little difficulty, be led to confound light and darkness.
There must be something so incompatible in the idea of a virtuous, refined and sensible family, whose social hours present scenes if such can any where be found which, more than any thing else below the sun, give an antepast of high heaven, with bird cages and their suffering inmates scattered over their otherwise well arranged and well ordered premises.
Let us look at the history of these poor birds. Born to a milder climate, they are with the extremest difficulty sustained in ours, when watched with the most assiduous care. Many die, sooner or later, victims to the excessive or unnatural heat of the rooms in which they are kept; to say nothing of those that die from the long continued cold. Many die from the bad air they breathe, ind the bad, half-poisoned food they eat. Many die for the want of the pure light of that luminary, which was made for the slave as well as the master. *
But it is not the early death of these beautiful creatures alone, which ought to call forth our pity. The living are more to be commiserated than the dying. We mean by this, that the long sickness which they must suffer, and the unnumbered pangs they must in all probability endure in silence, long before nature gives up the struggle, should awaken, if aught had power to do
* Dr Jerome V. C. Smith, of Boston, in a late lecture before the Boston Physiological Society, gave as a reason why the singing and other birds brought from foreign countries die prematurely, the fact that we inhumanly withbold from them the gravel which is necessary to that part of digestion which takes place in the gizzard, and which, it is supposed, the gravel stones facilitate. But had Dr Smith forgotten that the monkey, 100, and, indeed, all the quadrupeds, and nearly all the reptiles of tropical climes, die prematurely when brought here, as well as the birds ? Do they die, too, for want of gravel ? The truth is, that though the gravel ought not to be inhumanly withheld, the early sickness and premature dissolution, buth of the birds and quadrupeds, is owing prin. cipally to the causes alluded to in the remarks which called forth this note.
Moral Tendency of Menageries.
it, the most unreflecting; and rouse from their stupor the most stupid.
We have not yet so much as alluded to the suffering and wo induced by the merciless war inflicted on the unotsending tribes, in order to secure them ; or to the numbers slain or wounded in the war; or the moving lamentation and wo among the friends of the captured ; or to the loss of thousands on the voyage of transportation. Yet this is an item in the grand account; an item, too, in the account of somebody, at the grand tribunal. We are aware, that where there is no law there is no transgression ; and that ignorance, when that ignorance is in no wise voluntary, is a partial apology for what would otherwise be crime. Yet who is he, where is he, that can plead an involuntary ignorance on the subject before us, in a country studded with bibles, churches and school houses ? On somebody, we repeat it, then, an awful responsibility 'must rest. The whole weight of the guilt of frightening, hunting, wounding, starving, freezing, roasting, smothering, fettering, murdering, the myriads, not only of singing birds, but of all other living beings, whom the folly, the avarice, the cupidity of man have tempted him to seize and convey from country to country, even at the hazard of his own life and the lives of many a fellow man - the whole weight of all this guilt, we say, rests somewhere. Not a particle of it is forgotten in the mind of God. Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without his notice; no, nor ever will. Not a drop of the blood of those over whom we were placed as lords, but not as tyrants, to bless but not to curse, falls to the ground, without eliciting a cry of vengeance that shall be heard, and must be heard before the Eternal Throne.
• I would not enter on my list of friends,' says Cowper, 'the man who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.?
Neither would we, if could help it. More than this, we would abolish, if we had it in our power, every form of slavery, from the slavery of the silver trout, or the gold or silver fish to that of the huge elephant. We would abolish it, by supplying a morbid desire to see something new, rather than to improve, and to feast ourselves on distortion rather than pure nature, with the love of true, healthy pleasures, and with a hearty desire for solid improvement. We would pull down by building something better in the first place. Nor would we be over-solicitous to avoid pulling down, or at least breaking up, in this way, that is, by the force of public opinion, all our fashionable menageries and travelling caravans of new and curious animals.
If this last assertion should surprise any individual, we beg
him to consider well what we have said, as well as what we are to say, presently. We are not ignorant, that by denouncing the exhibition of living animals, we not only set ourselves against public sentiment, but against the sober opinion of many enlightened and good men. They suppose these exhibitions improve the public taste as well as afford a never failing fund of information, of the choicest kind, to the student of natural history ; which is undoubtedly true. But this is only one side of the subject.* We would reverse the picture. We have shown a part of the other side. We will look farther, at the moral tendencies of these things.
Have we ever thought how the habitual possession of living beings, obviously without their freedom, and often in exile, must gradually tend to reconcile the infantile mind to the slavery of all animals below men ? And how from mere reconciliation to it, by a transition scarcely appreciable, we pass to entire approbation? And how, too, from the slavery of brute animals, we soon learn to look with indifference on the slavery of individuals endowed with souls, and beaming with immortality ?
Do those who have been all their lives long accustomed to the varied forms of slavery we have mentioned, know how much they benumbed their moral sensibilities and deadened their sympathies with human sorrow and human suffering? Can they believe, for one moment, that when they now meet those who deserve their commiseration or their charity-those whose minds or bodies cry aloud for sympathy and assistance - they have any of that acuteness of feeling which they would have had in other circumstances? We talk of slavery, its physical and moral evils and consequences; but are not many of our most worthy citizens as truly slaveholders, in spirit, as those whom they so much despise or pity ?
It sometimes surprises us, when we consider what a strange bundle of inconsistencies the creature is, whom we call man. How little known to himself !
If! How little studied! How little developed, even after the lapse of so many generations! He hates slavery, and yet hugs it to his bosom. He hates him who occasions it, and yet is in spirit the very same. He hates chains, and yet forges and applies them, not only to those around him, but to himself: and the more they clank, the louder he cries, Hurra for freedom !
The stuffed skins of most birds and animals, if prepared in a suitable manner, may be made to answer nearly all the purposes of ihe youthful student. A com: petent knowledge of this department of nature certainly has been obtained with. out the menagerie or the caravan; and it is a maxim with us, that what man has done, man may do.