The tremendous question to be settled by our great populace, day by day, is how to get a livelihood. Many of our young men, just starting for themselves, are very much discouraged. They had hoped before this to have set up a household of their own. But their gains have been slow, and their discouragements many. The young man can hardly take care of himself. How can he take care of another? And, to the curse of modern society, before a young man is able to set up a home of his own, he is expected to have enough to support in idleness somebody else; when God intended that they should begin together, and jointly earn a livelihood. So, many of our young men are utterly discouraged, and utterly unfit to resist temptation.
The time the pirate bears down upon the ship is when its sails are down and it is making no headway.
People wish they had more time to think. The trouble is now, that people have too much time to think. Give to many of our commercial men the four hours of these winter nights, with nothing to divert them, and before spring they will have lodgings in an insane asylum.
I remark further, that the winter is especially trying to the moral character of our young men, because some of their homes in winter are especially unattractive. In summer they can sit on the steps, or have a bouquet in the vase on the mantel; and the evenings are so short that soon after gas-light they feel like retiring. Parents do not take enough pains to make these long winter nights attractive.
It is strange that old people know so little about young people. One would think that they had never been young themselves, but had been born with their spectacles on. It is dolorous for young people to spend the three or four hours of a winter’s evening with parents who sit talking over their own ailments and misfortunes, and the nothingness of this world. How dare you talk such blasphemy? God was busy six days in making the world, and has allowed it to hang six thousand years on his holy heart; and that world hath fed you, and clothed you, and shone on you for fifty years: and yet you talk about the nothingness of this world! Do you expect the young people in your family to sit a whole evening and hear you groan about this magnificent, star-lighted, sun-warmed, shower-baptized, flower-strewn, angel-watched, God-inhabited planet? From such homes young men make a wild plunge into dissipation. Many of you have the means: why do you not buy them a violin or a picture? or have your daughter cultured in music until she can help to make home attractive?
There are ten thousand ways of lighting up the domestic circle. It requires no large income, no big house, no rich wardrobe, no chased silver, no gorgeous upholstery, but a parental heart awake to its duty.
Have a doleful home and your children will not stay in it, though you block up the door with Bibles, and tie fast to them a million Heidelberg catechisms.