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nerally more convertible to profit, and more likely to promote industry, in the hands of men than of women, the custom of this country may properly be complied with, when it does not interfere with the weightier reason explained in the last paragraph.
The point of the children's actual expectations, together with the expediency of subjecting the illicit commerce of the fexes to every difcouragement which it can receive, makes the difference between the claims of legitimate children and of bastards. But neither reason will in any case justify the leaving of bastards to the world, without provision, education, or profeffion; or, what is more cruel, without the means of continuing in the situation to which the parent has introduced them: which last, is to leave them to inevitable misery.
After the first requisite, namely, a provision for the exigencies of his situation, is satisfied, à parent may diminish a child's portion, in order to punish any flagrant crime, or to punish contumacy and want of filial duty in instances not otherwise criminal : for a child who is conscious of bad behaviour, or of contempt of his parent's will and happiness, cannot reasonably expect the same instances of his munificence.
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A child's vices may be of that fort, and his vicious habits fo incorrigible, as to afford much the same reason for believing that he will waste or misemploy the fortune put into his power, as if he were mad or idiotish, in which case a parent may treat him as a madman or an idiot ; that is, may deem it fufficient to provide for his support, by an annuity equal to his wants and innocent enjoyments, and which he may be restrained from alienating. This seems to be the only case, in which a disinherison, nearly absolute, is justifiable.
Let not a father hope to excuse an inofficious disposition of his fortune, by alleging, that “ every man may do what he will with his “ own.”. All the truth which this expression contains, is, that his discretion is under no control of law; and that his will, however capricious, will be valid. This by no means absolves his conscience from the obligations of a parent, or imports that he may neglect, without injustice, the several wants and expectations of his family, in order to gratify a whim or a pique, or indulge a preference founded in no reasonable distinction of merit or situation. Although, in his intercourse with his family, and in the lesser endearments of domestic life, a pa
rent may not always resist his partiality to a favourite child (which, however, should be both avoided and concealed, as oftentimes productive of lasting jealousies and discontents); yet when he fits down to make his will, these tendernesses must give place to more manly deliberations.
A father of a family is bound to adjust his ceconomy with a view to these demands upon his fortune ; and until a sufficiency for these ends is acquired, or in due time probably will be acquired (for in human affairs probability ought to content us), frugality and exertions of industry are duties. He is also justified in declining expensive liberality; for to take from those who want, in order to give to those who want, adds nothing to the stock of public happiness. Thus far, therefore, and no farther, the plea of “ children,” of “ large families,” “ charity begins at home,” &c. is an excuse for parsimony, and an answer to those who solicit our bounty. Beyond this point, as the use of riches becomes less, the desire of laying up should abate proportionably. The truth is, our children gain not so much as we imagine, in the chance of this world's happiness, or even of its external prosperity, by setting out in it with large capitals. Of those who have died rich, a great part began with little. And, in respect of enjoyment, there is no comparison between a fortune, which a man acquires himself by a fruitful industry, or a series of successes in his business, and one found in his possession, or re: ceived from another.
A principal part of a parent's duty is still be hind, viz. the using of proper precautions and expedients, in order to form and preserve his children's virtue.
To us, who believe that in one stage or other of our existence virtue will conduct to happiness, and vice terminate in misery; and who observe withal, that men's virtues and vices are, to a certain degree, produced or affected by the management of their youth, and the situations in which they are placed ; to all who attend to these reasons, the obligation to consult a child's virtue will appear to differ in nothing from that, by which the parent is bound to provide for his maintenance or fortune. The child's interest is concerned in the one means of happiness as well as in the other; and both means are equally, and almost exclusively, in the parent's power.
For this purpose the first point to be endeavoured after is to impress upon children the idea, of accountableness, that is, to accuftom them to
look forward to the consequences of their actions in another world ; which can only be brought about by the parents visibly acting with a view to these consequences themselves. Parents, to do them justice, are seldom sparing in lessons of virtue and religion; in admonitions which cost little, and which profit less whilst their example exhibits a continual contradiation of what they teach. A father, for instance, will, with much solemnity and apparent earnestness, warn his son against idleness, excess in drinking, debauchery, and extravagance, who himself loiters about all day without employment; comes home every night drunk; is made infamous in his neighbourhood by some profligate connection; and wastes the fortune which should support or remain a provision for his family, in riot, or luxury, or ostentation. Or he will discourse gravely before his children of the obligation and importance of revealed religion, whilst they fee the most frivolous and oftentimes feigned excuses detain him from its reasonable and folemn ordinances. Or he will set before them, perhaps, the supreme and tremendous authority of Almighty God; that such a being ought not to be named, or even thought upon, without sentiments of profound awe and veneration. This