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the art of saving money, or of spending it carefully, which is all that that term is usually understood to imply; and which, therefore, is considered as necessary only to people of small fortune. We take a wider view of it as the wise and just distribution of our income, whatever may be its amount; and as such it should be studied by persons of all ranks and all degrees of wealth, from the labourer to the monarch. Economy, in this sense, has, perhaps, never been treated by moral writers in a sufficiently serious light, yet are there few qualities which so deeply affect the welfare and ultimately the moral character of individuals and nations. In these days, when financial embarrassments are hampering the action of every government in Europe; and when in our own country, in spite of industry and enterprise almost unparalleled, the sources of national prosperity are well-nigh dried up by the heavy taxation imposed to pay for our fathers' extravagance, it is scarcely necessary to point out the want of economy in the rulers of a nation as the beginning of national distress and decay. But it is too often forgotten that the welfare of a nation is not an abstract thing, dependent solely on laws and government; but that it is the aggregate of the welfare of individuals composing the nation, and must, therefore, be affected by their private conduct. And in no manner is it more directly affected than by their economy or their want of it. Setting aside the case of actual extravagance to which we shall afterwards more particularly refer, the want of economy, in the sense we have given to the word, as a well-considered system of expenditure, is the source of wide-spread social evil. Unfortunately, the disposal of our income is generally considered as a matter of expediency and convenience, rather than of principle. So long as we do not exceed its limits (and even that is regarded as a very venial offence), we consider ourselves at liberty to spend it as we please, and look upon it as a mere question of personal inclination, whether we give our money for luxuries,* for works of art, or for charitable purposes, or whether, from utter want of method, it is squandered away without bringing any adequate return at all. It is with the disposal of money as with that of time, provided there be no gross violation of morality involved in it; the rest is left to inclination and caprice, as a matter of taste, with which principle has nothing to do. But as soon as we begin to put our life upon system, it is evident that our expenditure must be systematised too. The
*For an excellent explanation of the use and abuse of luxury, we refer our readers to a work we cannot recommend too often nor too strongly"Woman's Rights and Duties," ch. vi.
scheme we form for our lives will involve the distribution of income as well as of time. We shall apportion the former amongst the different objects which money obtains for us, in proportion to the place they hold in that scheme; and the same principles which govern us in other concerns, will be applied to regulate this. The sense of responsibility will then attach to the use of so powerful an instrument of influence as money; and we shall shrink from any employment of it which may encourage social evils, misdirect industry, or waste the resources on which industry subsists. It may be thought, that as we address ourselves to women, we insist too strongly on a point over which they seldom have much control. But though they may have no direct control over their husbands' or fathers' expenditure, their tastes, opinions, and habits, indirectly influence it in a very great degree. If they throw the whole weight of this influence on the side of waste, empty display, or excessive luxury, they are as responsible for the results, as if they had had the immediate management of the money spent. Moreover, the house-keeping department, together with the nursery and school-room, generally comes under their direct control, not to mention the important item of their own dress; and by introducing method into these expenses, and regulating them on the principles of sound economy, they have it in their power to prevent waste, and to promote by example, the same good habits in all who come within reach of their influence.
In glancing, as we have done in the preceding pages, over the application of method to the detail of women's lives, we have not spoken of the education of their children, because that is in itself a serious occupation, not to be mixed up with ordinary household cares. The task of education requires method above any other; method in the regulation of employments and studies; method in the ordering the whole towards a definite purpose; and, above all, the power that method gives of forcing the thoughts at will into the required channel. The fondest mother must often, from various causes, be little inclined to attend to her children's lessons, and to bear the irksomeness of daily teaching. Unless, then, she is in the habitual exercise of this mental self-control, the lessons must frequently be mechanical, and, consequently, of little profit. It seems almost needless to add, that, without method in the mother, methodical habits cannot be formed in the children: and we can often trace through life the effect of early want of training in this respect, in spite of professional habits forced upon the mind in later years.
In some minds there is a natural love of order, which shows itself at a very early age, and which, as soon as the understand
ing is capable of conceiving a design, will lead to method, and develop itself even under unfavourable circumstances. This turn of mind is generally found joined to a thoughtful disposition; but unless trained by a careful education, it will depend on the strength of character and the vigour of other faculties, whether it results in mere precision, or in the higher forms of method. Where Nature has not facilitated the task, it is with no small toil and difficulty that habits of method can be formed in after life. It will require such an exertion of self-control, watchfulness, and attention to detail, as we shall be inclined in many a moment of weariness to renounce as too trifling as well as too irksome. But time and steady determination will produce their usual effect, and, the habit once formed, the mind will work as easily at stated periods, and on the mandate of the will, as it formerly did on impulse. One great stumbling-block in the way of forming methodical habits, arises from the rules being so unimportant in themselves, while the temptations to break through them come under every plausible form, and are favoured, perhaps, by our most innocent or even amiable inclinations. Here, however, the conscientious view of resolutions spoken of above, must come to our aid. The question is not of the good or evil of the inclination to deviate from the rule, any more than the intrinsic value of the rule itself; both must be considered with reference to a further object, and resisted or upheld only as they help us to fulfil, or tend to infringe, what, on well-considered grounds, we have decided to be a duty. When, for instance, we have, for the sake of acquiring methodical habits, laid out a regular plan of employment, we may often be tempted, as the stated hour recurs, to ask ourselves, "What, after all, is the value of this, that I should make myself a slave to it?" or, in the morning, at the appointed hour of rising, to make philosophical reflections on the trifling utility of the pursuits for the sake of which we deny ourselves an additional hour of rest. But such plausible objections will not prevail, if it be remembered that the plan had an ulterior object, and that these seemingly contemptible details are only means towards its attainment. So considered, they acquire importance enough not to be sacrificed save on a really urgent plea. When this is lost sight of, carelessness soon creeps in, and a slight relaxation of watchfulness before the habit is formed, will soon lead to an easy, thoughtless way of living, au jour le jour, losing sight of higher objects in proportion as we neglect the lesser means of attaining them. When the habit is formed, then, indeed, the details may be set aside. They may be allowed to fall off, as the rude scaffolding, no longer necessary when the edifice is complete within; and the mind,
MEANS OF FORMING
most thoroughly imbued with the spirit of method, may then be most independent of that exterior regularity which, in ordinary circumstances, and to ordinary minds, is its necessary accompaniment.
HABITS OF METHOD.
Having stated what method is, and how important its influence in self-education, we may now proceed to view the detail of labour which, under that influence, must be harmonized into one scheme or system. As we go on, each branch of the subject will furnish a practical illustration of the truth of what we have advanced. We shall see the need of method in the acquisition of knowledge, its influence on memory, its value in preserving due proportion in the cultivation of our various faculties, and, above all, in maintaining that union and balance between our moral and mental powers so necessary to the fulfilment of the great scheme of life. An earnest, practical attempt at carrying this out, will teach us better than any dissertation, that if habit is the great instrument of self-improvement, method is its presiding genius. Without the one, progress in any direction is impossible; without the other, progress in one direction is counterbalanced by deterioration in another; the course of life is disjointed, efforts are desultory, and therefore barren, and man becomes the blind instrument of impulse and circumstances, instead of the intelligent servant of God, studying His purposes in the great scheme of creation and providence, and bending his whole will to bring his own life into conformity with them,-to become, in the words of Scripture, "a fellow-labourer with Christ."
CONSCIENCE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WILL.
WHEN reflecting upon human conduct, we are all conscious of a feeling of moral approbation, attaching to some actions, and disapprobation to others: the actions which excite this internal approbation we term meritorious; those which excite disapproval we term wrong or guilty. We are conscious, also, of a sense of obligation to perform the acts which this moral judgment pronounces to be right, and to refrain from those which it condemns as wrong. To this inward monitor, we give the name of Conscience; and in thus arraigning our actions before its judgmentseat, and stamping their character, it proclaims its right of sovereignty over our whole being.
This supremacy is fully recognised in the Scriptures.* Conscience is there spoken of as "the law of God written in our hearts;" its judgments are appealed to as anticipating those of God himself, and to disobey its commands is considered as disobedience to Him. The office of conscience is thus plainly declared to be not moral judgment only, but the control of the will; and a glance at the constitution of our minds will show, how necessary is such an office to introduce order and harmony into our moral economy.
The various affections and desires of the mind are capable of being excited by their respective objects, and of becoming motives to action. It is evident, that if unregulated by any controlling power, each would prevail in turn, and the will become the mere slave of impulse. Or when any one affection or desire predominated in the natural disposition, or was most called forth by
*Rom. i. 19; ii. 15: 2 Cor. i. 12: 1 Peter iii. 21: 1 John iii. 20, 21, &c.