By Timothy Shay Arthur, 1853
Society is marked by greater and smaller divisions, as into nations, communities, and families. A man is a member of the commonwealth, a smaller community, as a hamlet or city, and his family at the same time; and the more perfectly all his duties to his family are discharged--the more fully does he discharge his duties to the community and the nation; for a good member of a family cannot be a bad member of the commonwealth, for he who is faithful in what is least, will also be faithful in what is greater. Indeed, the more perfectly a man fulfills all his domestic duties--the more perfectly, in that very act, has he discharged his duty to the whole; for the whole is made up of parts, and its health depends entirely upon the health of the various parts.
There are, of course, general as well as specific duties; but the more conscientious a man is in the discharge of specific duties, the more ready will he be to perform those that are general.
We always feel pain when we hear a young man speak lightly of home, and talk carelessly, or, it may be, with sportive ridicule, of the "old man" and the "old woman," as if they were of but little consequence. We mark it as a bad indication, and feel that the feet of that young man are treading upon dangerous ground. His home education may not have been of the best kind, nor may home influences have reached his higher and better feelings; but he is at least old enough now to understand the causes, and to seek rather to bring into his home all that it needs to render it more attractive, than to estrange himself from it and expose its defects.
Instances of this kind are not of very frequent occurrence. Home has its charms for nearly all, and the very name comes with a blessing to the spirit. This, however, is more the case with those who have been separated from it, than it is with those who yet remain in the old homestead with parents, brothers, and sisters, as their friends and companions.
The earnest love of home, felt by nearly all who have been compelled to leave that pleasant place, is a feeling that should be tenderly cherished: and this love should be kept alive by associations that have in them as perfect a resemblance of home, as it is possible to obtain. It is for this reason that it is bad for a young man to board in a large hotel, where there is nothing in which there is even an image of the home-circle. Each has his separate chamber; but that is not home. All meet together at the common table; but there is no home feeling there, with its many sweet reciprocations. The meal completed, all separate, each to his individual pursuit or pleasure. There is a parlor, it is true; but there are no family gatherings there. One and another sit there, as inclination prompts; but each sits alone, busy with his own thoughts. All this is a poor substitute for home. And yet it offers its attractions to some. A young man in a hotel has more freedom than in a family or private boarding-house. He comes in and goes out unobserved; there is no one to say to him, "why?" or "wherefore?" But this is a dangerous freedom, and one which no young man should desire.
But mere negative evils, so to speak, are not the worst that beset a young man who unwisely chooses a public hotel as a place for boarding. He is much more exposed to temptations there than in a private boarding-house, or at home. Men of licentious habits, in most cases, select hotels as boarding-places; and such rarely scruple to offer to the ardent minds of young men, with whom they happen to fall in company, those allurements that are most likely to lead them away from virtue. And, besides this, there being no evening home-circle in a hotel, a young man who is not engaged earnestly in some pursuit that occupies his hours of leisure from business, has nothing to keep him there, but is forced to seek for something to interest his mind elsewhere, and is, in consequence, more open to temptation.
Home is man's true place. Every man should have a home. Here his first duties lie, and here he finds the strength by which he is able successfully to combat in life's temptations. Happy is that young man who is still blessed with a home--who has his mother's counsel, and the pure love of sisters, to strengthen and cheer him amid life's opening combats.