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MY OWN CHARACTER-REPROVED BY MR. WHITE FOR MY VANITY -A LESSON ON PRIDE-CHARLES MURPHY-HIS LOVE OF FUNIT LEADS HIM INTO SERIOUS ERRORS-A RIDE IN THE AIR WILLIAM WESTON-AN ALARM-THE EFFECTS OF BOLD DARINGOLD WAKEFIELD--JOHN COPE, THE CHEAT-HONESTY INCULCATED
The foregoing pages will disclose the fact, that the trio were not the only boys who caused our preceptor much anxiety. There was scarce one in the whole group but what had his follies, which demanded correction : no, not even the Philosopher !
My besetting sin was vanity. And this was no wonder, for young heads are easily turned, and that even by just commendation. Tell a boy he is clever, and you tempt him to become as proud and vain as the peacock on the lawn.
My first master had ventured to assert that, if I continued as diligent as I had been under his care, I should one day make a figure in the world—my uncle John, one day when I was visiting him, predicted that I should become a great man-my constant companions had by this time learned to court my counsel—and to sum up all, my preceptor, of whom I am now writing, often held me up as an example, and sometimes would bid me take a seat by his side in the summer-house, that he might talk with me on subjects beyond the grasp of youthful minds in general. What wonder was it, therefore, that I grew vain and arrogant ?
Mr. Whịte soon discovered the error into which I had fallen, and he laboured with all his might to correct it. I well remember the occasion on which it was first displayed to his view. A party of us were standing near his usual seat, to discuss a question which Charles Murphy had mooted : namely, “Whether it would be a fine afternoon.” It was then already one o'clock, and the question was one of importance to us, for having been very diligent in our morning studies, our kind master had promised we should go down to the garden of “Old Reuben,” than which nothing could be a greater treat. Opinion was much divided on this subject. One feared that a light cloud passing over our heads was the forerunner of others in which rain might be concealed ; another feared that the sun being very hot would certainly draw up rain ; while a third concluded, from the crowing of the cock in the poultry yard, that it would as certainly be fine.
They were thus expressing themselves, when, eyeing them with contempt, I requested silence, and having obtained it, I exclaimed : “You are all simpletons, and know nothing at all about the matter. You weather-wise indeed! not see that the wind is in the north ?” “ Yes,” replied all, having taken a view of the weathercock on the steeple of our village church, “but what of that?”
“What of that !” I rejoined ironically; "why Solomon has said, that the north wind drives
So trouble not your wise heads about the matter. It will certainly be fine, and we shall not only see Old Reuben, but taste his strawberries !”
It was a scene worthy the touch of an artist ; for being of a diminutive size, I had to look up in the faces of my companions in order to exhibit my contempt for their sagacity. I was yet doing this, and they, taking no note of my arrogance, were raising the usual hurrah ! at my infallible decision, when I heard the voice of Mr. White calling me to him, and bidding the rest go to play in the distance.
I saw that there was something the matter, but what I could not divine, for it was most unusual for him to give one of his pupils a moral lesson without permitting the others to receive its benefit. But this he did, it soon appeared, out of kindness to me. “I called you here alone,” said he, “that you might not be lowered in the estimation of your companions. Let me ask you, what you think of the conduct you displayed just now when consulting about the weather : a sub
ject which neither you nor they can rightly determine."
Now, although I could have seen in the twinkling of an eye any fault which my companions might have committed, however minute that fault might have been, yet was I as blind as an owl dazzled by the rays of the midday sun to my
Hence I rejoined :—“What conduct, sir ? I am not aware that I have committed any
“Indeed!” replied he ; “I am very sorry for that. It makes me fear that my commendation of
you has had a bad effect upon your mind: that it has only been the means of fostering your pride, and that it is rapidly growing into a habit. Not to be conscious of our besetting sin is a state in which there is much danger. It was not so much what you said to y companions, as the looks you gave them.
You manifested contempt for their capacities, and plainly showed that you deemed no one's voice but your own worthy to be heard. This is an evil of no ordinary magnitude to be found in the breast of a child, for if it grows up with your years, you may become a monster in the world."
“I hope not, sir," I ejaculated ; "for I would not become formidable to my species.”
“Every monster,” rejoined Mr. White, “is not formidable, nor do I wish you to suppose that I thought you would become formidable. The proud man is a monster: for he has departed further from God and original righteousness than any sinner upon earth. Zeno has well said, that nothing is more unseemly than pride, especially
in young persons; and an English poet has put
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
Men would be angels--angels would be gods!' What think you has man to be proud, of ? Of his wisdom? No, surely, for that is given to him from above, and should only tend to make him humble. Of his station in creation ? No, surely, for of all God's creatures, fair and noble as he appears, he alone is a sinner, and therefore should be humble. The disciples of Plato reduced all the causes and arguments for humility to these several heads :- That the spirit of man is light and troublesome—that his body is brutish and sickly—that he is constant in folly and error, and inconsistent in his manners and good purposes—that his labours are vain, intricate, and endless—that his fortune is changeable, seldom pleasing, and never perfect that his wisdom is not perfected till he is on the borders of the grave—and that his death is certain, always ready at the door, and never far off. Now, I appeal to your reason, whether, if we dwell upon these considerations, we shall not see that it is very foolish and hurtful to our minds to be proud ?"