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You beg I will pardon you for presuming to offer good advice. Does a good act require pardon? Not having committed an offence, you can obtain no pardon; but my thanks I can give, which you will accept, with an injunction never to withhold any caution or advice which you may think necessary or beneficial. We ought to use our utmost endeavours to conquer our passions and evil propensities, to conform our lives to the strict rules of morality, and the best practice of Christianity."
Late in life, Mr Lawrence said of those early days, and of the correspondence with his sisters :
"My interest in home, and my desire to have something to tell my sisters to instruct and improve them, as well as to have their comments upon whatever I communicated, was a powerful motive for me to spend a portion of each evening in reading and study during the first year I came to Boston.
“Of his mother, Mr Lawrence always spoke in the strongest terms of veneration and love, and in many
of his letters are found messages of affection, such as could have emanated only from a heart overflowing with filial gratitude. Her form bending over their bed in silent prayer at the hour of twilight, when she was about leaving them for the night, is still among the earliest recollections of her children.”
When he was nearly fifty years of age, he wrote to her thus :
“MY DEAR AND HONOURED MOTHER,—My mind turns back to you with an interest that animates and quickens my pulse ; for, under God, it is by your good influence and teachings that I am prepared to enjoy those blessings which He has so richly scattered in my path in all my onward progress in life. How could it be otherwise than that your image should be with me, unless I should prove wholly unworthy of you ?”
Soon after, in a letter to his sister, he alluded to his mother in the following language
“My thoughts this morning have been much engaged with my early home, and that dear one who is left us, and her care of our early days, and her Christian instruction and example to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; each generation of whom, I trust, will be made better in some of its members by her.”
These letters shew that he not only loved home and its inmates, but also that his attachment continued through life. No doubt it served as a restraint upon his passions and propensities amid the temptations of life. The recollection of those who are near and dear to us in the flesh, often furnishes one of the most powerful motives to avoid evil. The youth of whom this is not true, are those who make shipwreck of their hopes, and go down to dishonoured graves.
Some writer has said that “good mothers make good men.” The subject of this volume, in his relation to maternal care, furnishes a good illustration of the truth of this remark. While he did not forget what he owed to a pious father, his heart swelled with gratitude for a mother's love. Would that youth everywhere might prize so highly this source of so much joy and bliss. But too many of them regard the anxieties and warnings of parents as entirely unnecessary, and feel that the restraints they impose are overbearing and oppressive. Not so with Amos Lawrence. .He knew that his parents were wiser than himself, and that all their commands were designed for his highest good. He therefore rendered cheerful submission to them.
“ To the kindest affections and sympathies his mother united energy and decision, and in her household enforced that strict and unhesitating obedience which she considered as the foundation of all success in the education of children.”
He was much indebted to the strict rules of discipline enforced by his mother for his own good habits in after life.
General Washington always said that he owed his principles of virtue and honour to the counsels of his mother. In his manhood he treated her with as much respect and affection as he did in his youth. When she was informed that he was elected President of the United States, she said, in substance, that she was not surprised, for “George was always a good boy.” She believed that “good boys make good men.”
John Quincy Adams once said, “ It is due to gratitude and nature that I should acknowledge and own that, such as I have been, whatever it was, such as I am, whatever it is, and such as I hope to be in all futurity, must be ascribed, under Providence, to the precepts and example of my mother.”
Augustine, Lord Bacon, Jonathan Edwards, Richards, Cecil, John Wesley, Sir Isaac Newton, Dwight, all speak in similar terms of the influence of their early homes.
Even when sons have spent the years of early manhood in prodigality, they have been constrained to ascribe their reformation, in numerous instances, parental fidelity. Thus, Augustine was the son of a
devoted, godly mother, who instructed him in those truths and principles essential to purity and success ; and yet he became a vicious wanderer. For years he plunged into sin, without any regard to the wishes of a kind parent or the commandments of God. But finally he reformed and became a good man, as he confessed, through the remembered lessons of the fireside. So it was with John Newton. He was blessed with an excellent mother. She early instilled the most useful and important truths into his mind; and still, at fifteen years of age, he excelled all the vicious youths around him in wickedness. He was a sailor, and no sailor was more abandoned than he. At length, however, he was converted to God, as he said, through the lessons of his childhood.
Such facts shew that the case of Mr Lawrence, as far as relates to the influence of his early home, is not an isolated one.
We just turn to the life of another eminent merchant, Samuel Budgett of England; and we find that the same thing was true of him. His parents were poor, and he endured many hardships in early life. The first halfpenny he ever possessed was received for a horseshoe which he found in the road. But he loved his home with all its penury, because there dwelt the dearest objects of affection. From childhood it was his determination to do what he could for the family. By rigid economy he had saved thirty pounds; when he left home to serve as an apprentice, every farthing of it he presented to his parents as his parting gift. In the annals of human glory there is nothing more oble nd commendable than this act. A beholder would have
said within himself, “That youth will win a high and honoured place among the worthies of earth.” The act was the foreshadowing of a bright and glorious career. It was the evidence of a spirit within the boy that would triumph over the greatest obstacles. Twice, at subsequent periods, he gave all he possessed to his needy but worthy sisters. There was scarcely an hour when his thoughts ceased to dwell upon his home and kindred. It seemed to be the all-animating stimulus in his pursuit. Nor did the love of home cease to influence him when extensive business made the heaviest drafts upon his time. So long as his parents and sisters lived, he loved and served them with the affection of a child and brother.
In this respect Budgett and Lawrence were much alike. Both ascribed the principles they cherished, and the consequent success they enjoyed, in a great measure to the culture of early life.
Such facts are a cutting rebuke to the sentiments which some youth entertain concerning filial devotion. There are those among them who regard such expressions of attachment as a weakness, and think that acting independent of parental restraints is alone manly. Alas for their mistaken views of true manhood! In contrast with the young Lawrences and Budgetts, they sink into insignificance and meanness. They are not worthy of the name and place of sons, so heartless and unnatural is their spirit. Every good man frowns upon their ingratitude; neither can the bad commend them in their “heart of hearts."
A few years since a young clerk was pointed out to the writer, in the city of Boston, as an object of special