ON THE MEANS OF SECURING PERSONAL INFLUENCE.
The qualities which seem more especially needful in a character which is to influence others, are, consistency, simplicity, and benevolence, or love.
By consistency of character, I mean consistency of action with principle, of manner with thought, of self with self. The want of this quality is a failing with which our sex is often charged, and justly; but are we to blame? Our hearts are warm, our nerves irritable, and we have seen how little there is, in existing systems of female education, calculated to give wide, lofty, self-devoted principles of action. Without such principles, there can be no consistency of conduct; and without consistency of conduct, there can be no available moral influence.
The peculiar evil arising from want of consistency, is the want of trust or faith which it engenders. This is felt in the common intercourse with the world. In our relations with inconsistent persons, we are like mariners at sea without a compass. On the other hand, intercourse with consistent persons gives to the mind a sort of tranquillity, peculiarly favourable to happiness and to virtue. It is like the effect produced by the perception of an immutable truth, which, from the very force of contrast, is peculiarly grateful to the inhabitants of so changeable a world as this. It is moral repose.
This sort of moral repose is most peculiarly advantageous to children, because it allows ample scope for the development of their mental and moral faculties; banishing from their minds all that chaotic bewilderment into which dependence on inconsistent persons throws them. It is advantageous to them in another, and more important way,—it prepares them for a belief in virtue; a trust in others, which it is easy to train up into a veneration for the source of all virtue; a trust in the origin of all truth. There can be no clearness of moral perception in the governed, where there is