“Let us suppose, now, that this morning you had been all more industriously inclined; and had been engaged in any of your employments with that ardor which some happy young people manifest in the acquisition of knowledge; would you, in that case, have felt any desire to know the date of Mrs. W.’s pelisse, or any curiosity in the proceedings of our neighbors the Joneses? No, you would then have thought it a most impertinent interruption, if any one had attempted to entertain you with such particulars. But when the mind is indolent and empty, then it can receive amusement from the most contemptible sources. Learn, then, to check this mean propensity. Despise such thoughts whenever you are tempted to indulge them. Recollect that this low curiosity is the combined result of idleness, ignorance, emptiness, and ill-nature; and fly to useful occupation, as the most successful antidote against the evil. Nor let it be forgotten that such impertinent remarks as these come directly under the description of those ‘idle words,’ of which an account must be given in the day of judgment. Yes, this vulgar trifling is as inconsistent with the spirit of Christian benevolence, and with the grand rule of ’doing to others as we would that they should do to us,’ as it is with refinement of taste and dignity of character.”
“Who would have thought,” said little Fanny, “that my happening to bite my tongue this morning would have led to all this?”
“It would be a fortunate bite for you, Fanny,” said her mother, “and for your neighbors, if it should make you more careful in the use of it. If we were liable to such a misfortune whenever we use our tongues improperly, some persons would be in a constant agony. Now, if our consciences were but half as sensitive as our nerves, they would answer the purpose much better. Foolish talking pains a good conscience, just as continual speaking hurts a sore tongue; and if we did but regard one smart as much as the other, it would act as a constant check upon the unruly member.”
By JOHN AIKIN and MRS. BARBAULD
“Well, Robert, where have you been walking this after noon?” said Mr. Andrews, to one of his pupils at the close of a holiday.
R. I have been, sir, to Broom heath, and so round by the windmill upon Camp-mount, and home through the meadows by the river-side.
Mr. A. Well, that’s a pleasant round.
R. I thought it very dull, sir; I scarcely met with a single person. I had rather by half have gone along the turnpike road.
Mr. A. Why, if seeing men and horses is your object, you would, indeed, be better entertained on the highroad. But did you see William?
R. We set out together, but he lagged behind in the lane, so I walked on and left him.
Mr. A. That was a pity. He would have been company for you.