( Originally Published 1879 )
I have been told by men, who had passed unharmed through the temptations of youth, that they owed their escape from many dangers to the intimate companion-ship of affectionate and pure-minded sisters. They have been saved from a hazardous meeting with idle company by some home engagement, of which their sisters were the charm; they have refrained from mixing with the impure, because they would not bring home thoughts and feelings which they could not share with those trusting and loving friends; they have put aside the wine-cup, and abstained from stronger potations, because they would not profane with their fumes the holy kiss, with which they were accustomed to bid their sisters good-night."
A proper amount of labor, well-spiced with sunny sports, is almost absolutely necessary to the formation of a firm, hardy, physical constitution, and a cheerful and happy mind. Let all youth not only learn to choose and enjoy proper amusements, but let them learn to invent them at home, and use them there, and thus form ideas of such homes as they shall wish to have their own children enjoy. Not half the people know how to make a home. It is one of the greatest and most useful studies of life to learn how to make a home—such a home as men, and women, and children should dwell in. It is a study that should be early introduced to the attention of youth. It would be well if books were written upon this most interesting subject, giving many practical rules and hints, with a long chapter on Amusements.
That was a good remark of Seneca, when he said, "Great is he who enjoys his earthen-ware as if it were plate, and not less great is the man to whom all his plate is no more than earthen-ware." Every home should be cheerful. Innocent joy should reign in every heart. There should be domestic amusements, fireside pleasures, quiet and simple it may be, but such as shall make home happy, and not leave it that irksome place which will oblige the youthful spirit to look elsewhere
for joy. There are a thousand unobtrusive ways in which we may add to the cheerfulness of home. The very modulations of the voice will often make a wonderful difference. How many shades of feeling are expressed by the voice ! what a change comes over us at the change of its tones ! No delicately tuned harp-string can awaken more pleasure; no grating discord can pierce with more pain.
Let. parents talk much and talk well at home. A father who is habitually silent in his own house, may be in many respects a wise man; but he is not wise in his silence. We sometimes see parents, who are the life of every company which they enter, dull, silent and uninteresting at home among the children. If they have not mental activity and mental stories sufficient for both, let them first provide for their own household. Ireland exports beef and wheat, and lives on potatoes; and they fare as poorly who reserve their social charms for companions abroad, and keep their dullness for home consumption. It is better to instruct children and make them happy at home, than it is to charm strangers or amuse friend's. A silent house is a dull place for young people, a place from which they will escape if they can. They will talk of being "shut• up" there; and the youth who does not love home is in danger.
The true mother loves to see her son come home to her. He may be almost as big as her house; a whiskerando, with as much hair on his face as would stuff her arm chair, and she may be a mere shred of a woman; but he's "her boy;" and if he grew twice as big he'd be "her boy" still; aye, and if he take unto himself a wife, he's her boy still, for all that. She does not believe a word of the old rhyme-
"Your son is your son till he gets him a wife;
But your daughter's your daughter all the days of her life."
And what will bring our boys back to our homesteads, but our making those, homesteads pleasant to them in their youth. Let us train a few roses on the humble wall, and their scent and beauty will be long remembered; and many a lad, instead of going to a spree, will turn to his old bed, and return to his work again, strengthened, invigorated, and refreshed, instead of battered, weakened, and, perhaps, disgraced.
Fathers, mothers, remember this: and if you would not have your children lost to you in after-life—if you would have your married daughters not forget their old home in the new one—if you would have your sons lend a hand to keep you in the old rose-covered cottage, instead of letting you go to the naked walls of a workhouse—make home happy to them when they are young. Send them out into the world in the full belief that there is "no place like home," aye, "be it ever so homely." And even if the old home should, in the course of time, be pulled down, or be lost to your children, it will still live in their memories. The kind looks, and kind words, and thoughtful love of those who once inhabited it, will not pass away. Your home will be like the poet's vase
"You may break, you may ruin, the vase if you will, But the scent of the roses will cling to it still."
Music is an accomplishment usually valuable as a home enjoyment, as rallying round the piano the various members of a family, and harmonizing their hearts, as well as their voices, particularly in devotional strains. We know no more agreeable and interesting spectacle than that of brothers and sisters playing and singing together those elevated compositions in music and poetry which gratify the taste and purify the heart, while their parents sit delighted by. We have seen and heard an elder sister thus leading the family choir, who was the soul of harmony to the whole household, and whose life was a perfect example. Parents should not fail to consider the great value of home music. Buy a good instrument and teach your family to sing and play, then they can produce sufficient amusement at home themselves so the sons will not think of looking elsewhere for it, and thus often be led into dens of vice and immorality. The reason that so many become dissipated and run to every place of amusement, no matter what its character, making every effort possible to get away from home at night, is the lack of entertainment at home.