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imagine, could the actor represent, any feelings foreign to that nature, they would only meet with cold indifference.


Adam Smith has remarked with his usual acuteness, that the heathen mythology springs from the principle of sympathy. Men naturally transferred to their imaginary deities the same passions and judgments by which they themselves were guided. Between such a system and the cold abstractions of philosophy, which were powerless over the hearts and actions of man, there was no medium till Christ came, to be in this sense as much as in any other, a mediator between God and man. He brought the attributes of the Deity within the conception of man, by exhibiting them in the perfection of human nature, and, by sharing that nature, raised man by sympathy nearer to the character of Divinity. The sympathetic principle is intimately connected with all our social affections. Whether a natural love for our own species be the foundation of sympathy, or sympathy the source of love, it is certain that the latter never exists without the former. We cannot love without sympathising with the object of our love, without entering into the feelings, the joys, the sorrows of the beloved one.* And we require the same sympathy to be returned to us. We could not believe in the affection which should remain unmoved by our happiness, untouched by our woe. We fly in any deep emotion to the friendly bosom whose feeling we know will respond to our own. This is the natural and ordinary manifestation of sympathy, but, like every other principle of our nature, it requires to be rightly cultivated and directed, to produce on the character all the beneficial effects of which it is capable. Few principles, however, are so completely overlooked in the general conduct of education. It is justly supposed to exist in every heart, and nothing more is thought about it. The study of history, the chief value of which at that early age consists in the means it affords the teacher of rousing the moral sympathies of the young, of awakening a generous hatred of oppression and cruelty, the love of virtue and magnanimity, and inspiring interest for the general welfare of mankind, feelings which there is little to call forth in the nar

* This is true as a general principle, but many things modify it. The unimaginative are little capable of sympathy, and whatever contracts the mind narrows the sympathies, though the power of affection may be unimpaired. The general want of sympathy that women complain of from men whose real attachment cannot be doubted, is owing to the selfishness usually inculcated in a man's education, and the exigence natural to a station of authority. They require the fullest sympathy, but except on great occasions rarely can give it in return. This is an essential point to be remembered by women, who for their own happiness cannot be too little dependent on the sympathy of others.

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row routine of daily life-this study is allowed to be a dry storing up of facts, utterly useless except as an exercise of memory. Perhaps even the child's generous indignation at wrongs long buried in the graves of the victim and the oppressor, or his keen delight in the great deeds of patriots and heroes of past ages, is laughed at as absurd, and by this senseless ridicule the finest sympathies of our nature are chilled it may be for ever. Yet where those sympathies do not exist, although there may be uprightness of conduct, there will be little of the love of virtue or the indignation against vice, which are the surest safeguards against temptation. In the country where they are generally deficient, we may find prudent statesmen, active men of business, and violent partisans in religion and politics, but few great men or great virtues.

One of the sources of deficient sympathy is narrowness of mind; and it may be adduced as one more of the many facts which prove the intimate union between moral and mental culture. For want of such culture women are generally more narrow-minded than men, and their sympathies, so warm and ready within their own circle of home interest and affection, too seldom extend beyond. How many kind-hearted women do we see utterly incapable of feeling interest in anything which does not affect their own immediate concerns! They require, indeed, as much sympathy as other people, and will, perhaps, give as much to the common distresses into which they can enter; but talk to them of a great discovery which is to benefit the community, or of the revolution which changes the fate of a nation, and they listen with stupid apathy, or interrupt you with an account of the last tooth that baby cut.

It is a general law of nature that feelings, which are not properly exercised and directed, become perverted, and prove as active for evil as they night have been for good. So is it with sympathy; and that interest in our kind, which, rightly directed, is the source of some of our noblest virtues, when turned from its proper channels, produces that love of gossip, scandal, and tittle-tattle, which too often disgraces female society. While most men are occupied with politics, literature, or some other topic of importance, the majority of women are forced to turn to gossip to enliven, at least, by some emotion, the dulness of a conversation, limited to the nursery and the household. We do not mean to exonerate men from the charge of liking and propagating scandal, since its worst kinds may generally be traced to the club, the mess-room, and the after-dinner talk; but it is more painful to see women, whose more sensitive nature should teach them to deal gently with the feelings of others, exposing



the faults, judging the actions, and interpreting the words of their neighbours, with as little tenderness as the sterner sex. There are too many who come under St. Paul's description: "They learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, tattlers also, and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not.' Were it only to avoid this despicable habit, it would be well that women should learn to take interest in higher subjects, and to widen their sympathies, so that questions which affect the fate of thousands, the improvement of art, the progress of civilisation, might excite in them, at least, as much curiosity, as the history of a flirtation, or the rumour of a family quarrel.

We shall elsewhere show the influence of imagination in quickening those perceptions on which sympathy so much depends. Genuine sympathy feels for joy, as joy, for suffering, as suffering, however uncongenial their causes may be to our own habits of mind. We may sympathise with the pain of fear, though the fear itself may appear to us causeless. Of course, this feeling cannot extend to emotions arising from unworthy causes. The triumph of the base, the sorrow of the mean and sordid over the failure of their worthless or wicked schemes, only excites contempt and disgust. But when the emotions are not unworthy in themselves, although we cannot enter into their cause, we can and ought to sympathise with them according to the precept, "To rejoice with those that do rejoice, and weep with those that weep." The tenderness which thus condescends to feelings it cannot share, approaches in its character to that of the Divine Being. There are few who have not felt the charm of such a character. Why is it then so rare? It is not uncommon to meet with conscientious, charitable, and pious people; but it is rare, indeed, to find amongst them that warm genuine love of humanity, from which every social virtue flows, as from a copious, inexhaustible spring,-that wide sympathy, which embraces not only the little circle of family and friends, but hunian joy, and human sorrow, wherever they are felt; the generous zeal for the good of mankind, which, beginning at our own door, spreads as far as our power, and where that ceases, can still rejoice that others should accomplish the good denied to its own efforts. This is true benevolence, founded upon our natural sympathies, but trained by habitual exercise into a stealy principle of action.


It would be an error to regard any Christian virtue as more incumbent upon women than men, since the moral law is the same for all human beings. But the exercise of some qualities may be more congenial to their temper and position, and thus, from the natural tenderness of women's feelings, and from their


social position and duties, the ministry of love appears to be their peculiar province. A hard woman is as revolting to our moral feelings as a cowardly man, and no qualities can compensate in her for the want of tenderness. It is woman's mission to spread the charm of feeling over social and domestic life, when men are hardened and embittered by the rugged conflict of the world; it is theirs to show its strength in the hour of sorrow and danger, and theirs to carry its healing influence amongst the poor and oppressed. Nor have they failed in this mission where great occasions have demanded great efforts; and the records of women's love may rank amongst the brightest pages of human history. But great occasions are rare: they are only momentary interruptions of the usual tenor of life. It is in ordinary social and domestic intercourse that we must exercise our virtues, or we shall often not exercise them at all, and in this intercourse certainly we cannot but observe a sad deficiency in benevolence. There is much strong affection in families, much attention to the forms of courtesy in society, but little indeed of that real charity which, like oil poured in between rough surfaces, softens their inevitable friction, and makes the whole machine of life run more easily and smoothly. For want of this the machine jars and jangles, and a thousand petty disturbances are unnecessarily added to the real ills of existence. Instead of genuine good-breeding, which is as different from that of habit and imitation as a mask from the real human countenance, we have the stiffness of conventional forms. Instead of the fascinating manner, and the delicate tact arising from forgetfulness of self in the desire to give pleasure to others, and the quick perception of their feelings, inspired by benevolence, we wrap ourselves up in impenetrable coldness as a defence for our self-esteem, or seem to think that the whole pleasure of social intercourse consists in wounding the self-esteem of others. Worse still, the absent are mercilessly assailed. Their dress, opinions, and character are criticised in turn; their good qualities are passed over, their bad ones are dwelt upon and exaggerated; every ill-natured remark, every story that tells against them, is repeated and welcomed, till a stranger coming in might well, reversing the old heathen saying, exclaim, "How these Christians hate one another." No habit is more directly opposed to the spirit of benevolence; none tends so much to foster a malignant and suspicious temper, to blind us to what is due to our fellow-creatures, and destroy those kindly sympathies which mitigate so many of the ills of life. Yet this habit is so universal that it has almost become the tone of society, and those who refuse to join in it are laughed at as precise or stupid.



Again if we look below the surface we find the whole system of private society founded on selfishness. No one opens his house for the mere purpose of giving or enjoying pleasure. The object of the dinner or the ball is to maintain a certain position in the world, or to buy invitations in return. Those who can give nothing, and whom connection and the caprice of fashion have not included in a certain set, are neglected. The whole affair is a matter of calculation, a balance of profit and loss. Young people brought up in the midst of this system, educated on the principles of vanity and rivalry, taught to regard worldly success as the aim of every effort and the test of merit, are necessarily selfish. To be sure to be the belle of a season, to win the most admirers, perhaps to secure a good establishment, these are the objects on which all their thoughts are taught to centre. The competitors are many, the prizes few; and in the eagerness of the struggle, how can they have thoughts or feelings to bestow on any but themselves? Graceful and accomplished girls fill our drawing-rooms, but how rarely do we observe amongst them that feeling which gives fascination to beauty, and lends a charm even to ugliness itself. It is too evident in look and word that the one idea always predominant is self. If the warm and generous feelings of youth are thus perverted, can we wonder that the old are hard and calculating?

It is obvious that selfishness is the direct antagonist of benevolence. The one is the source of the social affections, of every disinterested feeling that binds us to our fellow-men. The other is the fertile mother of the dissocial passions of injustice, avarice, envy, and every sordid and hateful instinct that disgraces human nature. The prime element of the one is exclusive regard for self; that of the other is forgetfulness of self in the claims, the pleasures, and the pains of others. Both are ruling principles, and cannot co-exist in the same breast. As one increases the other must decrease. The selfish man may indeed occasionally do a charitable action, but we shall easily trace it to a selfish motive, or if self has been for a moment displaced by some unusual appeal to other feelings, it will resume its sway with double force after this momentary suspension. Benevolence springs from sympathy; but the selfish, while requiring the fullest sympathy, give none. They cannot sufficiently lose sight of their own feelings to enter into the feelings of others. On the other hand, as benevolence warms into love, the abnegation of self becomes more complete, till at last our individual existence seems merged in that of another, whose happiness is far dearer to us than our own, and for whose sake all sacrifices seem light. Those only who have felt the influence of an absorbing affection can know its power in effacing self; how self-devotion ceases to


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