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Title: Practical Education, Volume I
Author: Edgeworth, Maria, 1767-1849, Edgeworth, Richard Lovell, 1744-1817
Language: English
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PRACTICAL EDUCATION:

BY

MARIA EDGEWORTH,

AUTHOR OF LETTERS FOR LITERARY LADIES, AND THE PARENT'S ASSISTANT, &c.
&c.

AND, BY

RICHARD LOVELL EDGEWORTH,

F.R.S. AND M.R.I.A.

IN TWO VOLUMES ... VOL. I.

SECOND AMERICAN EDITION.

PUBLISHED

BY J. FRANCIS LIPPITT, PROVIDENCE, (R. I.) AND T. B. WAIT & SONS,
BOSTON.

T. B. Wait and Sons, Printers.

1815.



PREFACE.


We shall not imitate the invidious example of some authors, who think
it necessary to destroy the edifices of others, in order to clear the
way for their own. We have no peculiar system to support, and,
consequently, we have no temptation to attack the theories of others;
and we have chosen the title of Practical Education, to point out that
we rely entirely upon practice and experience.

To make any progress in the art of education, it must be patiently
reduced to an experimental science: we are fully sensible of the
extent and difficulty of this undertaking, and we have not the
arrogance to imagine, that we have made any considerable progress in a
work, which the labours of many generations may, perhaps, be
insufficient to complete; but we lay before the publick the result of
our experiments, and in many instances the experiments themselves. In
pursuing this part of our plan, we have sometimes descended from that
elevation of style, which the reader might expect in a quarto volume;
we have frequently been obliged to record facts concerning children
which may seem trifling, and to enter into a minuteness of detail
which may appear unnecessary. No anecdotes, however, have been
admitted without due deliberation; nothing has been introduced to
gratify the idle curiosity of others, or to indulge our own feelings
of domestic partiality.

In what we have written upon the rudiments of science, we have pursued
an opposite plan; so far from attempting to teach them in detail, we
refer our readers to the excellent treatises on the different branches
of science, and on the various faculties of the human mind, which are
to be found in every language. The chapters that we have introduced
upon these subjects, are intended merely as specimens of the manner in
which we think young children should be taught. We have found from
experience, that an early knowledge of the first principles of science
may be given in conversation, and may be insensibly acquired from the
usual incidents of life: if this knowledge be carefully associated
with the technical terms which common use may preserve in the memory,
much of the difficulty of subsequent instruction may be avoided.

The sketches we have hazarded upon these subjects, may to some appear
too slight, and to others too abstruse and tedious. To those who have
explored the vast mines of human knowledge, small specimens appear
trifling and contemptible, whilst the less accustomed eye is somewhat
dazzled and confused by the appearance even of a small collection: but
to the most enlightened minds, new combinations may be suggested by a
new arrangement of materials, and the curiosity and enthusiasm of the
inexperienced may be awakened, and excited to accurate and laborious
researches.

With respect to what is commonly called the education of the heart, we
have endeavoured to suggest the easiest means of inducing useful and
agreeable habits, well regulated sympathy and benevolent affections. A
witty writer says, "Il est permis d'ennuyer en moralites d'ici jusqu'
a Constantinople." Unwilling to avail ourselves of this permission, we
have sedulously avoided declamation, and, wherever we have been
obliged to repeat ancient maxims, and common truths, we have at least
thought it becoming to present them in a new dress.

On religion and politics we have been silent, because we have no
ambition to gain partisans, or to make proselytes, and because we do
not address ourselves exclusively to any sect or to any party. The
scrutinizing eye of criticism, in looking over our table of contents,
will also, probably, observe that there are no chapters on courage and
chastity. To pretend to teach courage to Britons, would be as
ridiculous as it is unnecessary; and, except amongst those who are
exposed to the contagion of foreign manners, we may boast of the
superior delicacy of our fair countrywomen; a delicacy acquired from
domestic example, and confirmed by publick approbation. Our opinions
concerning the female character and understanding, have been fully
detailed in a former publication;[1] and, unwilling to fatigue by
repetition, we have touched but slightly upon these subjects in our
chapters on Temper, Female Accomplishments, Prudence, and Economy.

We have warned our readers not to expect from us any new theory of
education, but they need not apprehend that we have written without
method, or that we have thrown before them a heap of desultory remarks
and experiments, which lead to no general conclusions, and which tend
to the establishment of no useful principles. We assure them that we
have worked upon a regular plan, and where we have failed of executing
our design, it has not been for want of labour or attention. Convinced
that it is the duty and the interest of all who write, to inquire what
others have said and thought upon the subject of which they treat, we
have examined attentively the works of others, that we might collect
whatever knowledge they contain, and that we might neither arrogate
inventions which do not belong to us, nor weary the public by
repetition. Some useful and ingenious essays may probably have escaped
our notice; but we flatter ourselves, that our readers will not find
reason to accuse us of negligence, as we have perused with diligent
attention every work upon education, that has obtained the sanction of
time or of public approbation, and, though we have never bound
ourselves to the letter, we hope that we have been faithful to the
spirit, of their authors. Without incumbering ourselves with any part
of their systems which has not been authorized by experience, we have
steadily attempted immediately to apply to practice such of their
ideas as we have thought useful; but whilst we have used the thoughts
of others, we have been anxious to avoid mean plagiarism, and wherever
we have borrowed, the debt has been carefully acknowledged.

The first hint of the chapter on Toys was received from Dr. Beddoes;
the sketch of an introduction to chemistry for children was given to
us by Mr. Lovell Edgeworth; and the rest of the work was resumed from
a design formed and begun twenty years ago. When a book appears under
the name of two authors, it is natural to inquire what share belongs
to each of them. All that relates to the art of teaching to read in
the chapter on Tasks, the chapters on Grammar and Classical
Literature, Geography, Chronology, Arithmetic, Geometry, and
Mechanics, were written by Mr. Edgeworth, and the rest of the book by
Miss Edgeworth. She was encouraged and enabled to write upon this
important subject, by having for many years before her eyes the
conduct of a judicious mother in the education of a large family. The
chapter on Obedience, was written from Mrs. Edgeworth's notes, and was
exemplified by her successful practice in the management of her
children; the whole manuscript was submitted to her judgment, and she
revised parts of it in the last stage of a fatal disease.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Letters for Literary Ladies.



CONTENTS.


Chapter                                                         Page

     I. _Toys_                                                     9
    II. _Tasks_                                                   40
   III. _On Attention_                                            71
    IV. _Servants_                                               109
     V. _Acquaintance_                                           121
    VI. _On Temper_                                              137
   VII. _On Obedience_                                           153
  VIII. _On Truth_                                               168
    IX. _On Rewards and Punishments_                             198
     X. _On Sympathy and Sensibility_                            232
    XI. _On Vanity, Pride, and Ambition_                         261
   XII. _Books_                                                  276



PRACTICAL EDUCATION.



CHAPTER I.

TOYS.


"Why don't you play with your playthings, my dear? I am sure that I
have bought toys enough for you; why can't you divert yourself with
them, instead of breaking them to pieces?" says a mother to her child,
who stands idle and miserable, surrounded by disjointed dolls, maimed
horses, coaches and one-horse chairs without wheels, and a nameless
wreck of gilded lumber.

A child in this situation is surely more to be pitied than blamed; for
is it not vain to repeat, "Why don't you play with your playthings,"
unless they be such as he can play with, which is very seldom the
case; and is it not rather unjust to be angry with him for breaking
them to pieces, when he can by no other device render them subservient
to his amusement? He breaks them, not from the love of mischief, but
from the hatred of idleness; either he wishes to see what his
playthings are made of, and how they are made; or, whether he can put
them together again, if the parts be once separated. All this is
perfectly innocent; and it is a pity that his love of knowledge and
his spirit of activity should be repressed by the undistinguishing
correction of a nursery maid, or the unceasing reproof of a French
governess.

The more natural vivacity and ingenuity young people possess, the
less are they likely to be amused with the toys which are usually put
into their hands. They require to have things which exercise their
senses or their imagination, their imitative, and inventive powers.
The glaring colours, or the gilding of toys, may catch the eye, and
please for a few minutes, but unless some use can be made of them,
they will, and ought, to be soon discarded. A boy, who has the use of
his limbs, and whose mind is untainted with prejudice, would, in all
probability, prefer a substantial cart, in which he could carry weeds,
earth and stones, up and down hill, to the finest frail coach and six
that ever came out of a toy-shop: for what could he do with the coach
after having admired, and sucked the paint, but drag it cautiously
along the carpet of a drawing-room, watching the wheels, which will
not turn, and seeming to sympathize with the just terrors of the lady
and gentleman within, who are certain of being overturned every five
minutes? When he is tired of this, perhaps, he may set about to
unharness horses which were never meant to be unharnessed; or to
currycomb their woollen manes and tails, which usually come off during
the first attempt.

That such toys are frail and useless, may, however, be considered as
evils comparatively small: as long as the child has sense and courage
to destroy the toys, there is no great harm done; but, in general, he
is taught to set a value upon them totally independent of all ideas of
utility, or of any regard to his own real feelings. Either he is
conjured to take particular care of them, because they cost a great
deal of money; or else he is taught to admire them as miniatures of
some of the fine things on which fine people pride themselves: if no
other bad consequence were to ensue, this single circumstance of his
being guided in his choice by the opinion of others is dangerous.
Instead of attending to his own sensations, and learning from his own
experience, he acquires the habit of estimating his pleasures by the
taste and judgment of those who happen to be near him.

"I liked the cart best," says the boy, "but mamma and every body said
that the coach was the prettiest; so I chose the coach."--Shall we
wonder if the same principle afterwards governs him in the choice of
"the toys of age?"

A little girl, presiding at her baby tea-table, is pleased with the
notion that she is like her mamma; and, before she can have any idea
of the real pleasures of conversation and society, she is confirmed in
the persuasion, that tattling and visiting are some of the most
enviable privileges of grown people; a set of beings whom she believes
to be in possession of all the sweets of happiness.

Dolls, beside the prescriptive right of ancient usage, can boast of
such an able champion in Rousseau, that it requires no common share of
temerity to attack them. As far as they are the means of inspiring
girls with a taste for neatness in dress, and with a desire to make
those things for themselves, for which women are usually dependent
upon milliners, we must acknowledge their utility; but a watchful eye
should be kept upon the child, to mark the first symptoms of a love of
finery and fashion. It is a sensible remark of a late female writer,
that whilst young people work, the mind will follow the hands, the
thoughts are occupied with trifles, and the industry is stimulated by
vanity.

Our objections to dolls are offered with great submission and due
hesitation. With more confidence we may venture to attack baby-houses;
an unfurnished baby-house might be a good toy, as it would employ
little carpenters and seamstresses to fit it up; but a completely
furnished baby-house proves as tiresome to a child, as a finished seat
is to a young nobleman. After peeping, for in general only a peep can
be had into each apartment, alter being thoroughly satisfied that
nothing is wanting, and that consequently there is nothing to be done,
the young lady lays her doll upon the state bed, if the doll be not
twice as large as the bed, and falls fast asleep in the midst of her
felicity.

Before dolls, baby-houses, coaches, and cups and saucers, there comes
a set of toys, which are made to imitate the actions of men and women,
and the notes or noises of birds and beasts. Many of these are
ingenious in their construction, and happy in their effect, but that
effect unfortunately is transitory. When the wooden woman has churned
her hour in her empty churn; when the stiff backed man has hammered or
sawed till his arms are broken, or till his employers are tired; when
the gilt lamb has ba-ad, the obstinate pig squeaked, and the provoking
cuckoo cried cuckoo, till no one in the house can endure the noise;
what remains to be done?--Wo betide the unlucky little philosopher,
who should think of inquiring why the woman churned, or how the bird
cried cuckoo; for it is ten to one that in prosecuting such an
inquiry, just when he is upon the eve of discovery, he snaps the wire,
or perforates the bellows, and there ensue "a death-like silence, and
a dread repose."

The grief which is felt for spoiling a new plaything might be borne,
if it were not increased, as it commonly is, by the reproaches of
friends; much kind eloquence, upon these occasions, is frequently
displayed, to bring the sufferer to a proper sense of his folly, till
in due time the contrite corners of his mouth are drawn down, his wide
eyes fill with tears, and, without knowing what he means, he promises
never to be so silly any more. The future safety of his worthless
playthings is thus purchased at the expense of his understanding,
perhaps of his integrity: for children seldom scrupulously adhere to
promises, which they have made to escape from impending punishment.

We have ventured to object to some fashionable toys; we are bound at
least to propose others in their place; and we shall take the matter
up soberly from the nursery.

The first toys for infants should be merely such things as may be
grasped without danger, and which might, by the difference of their
sizes, invite comparison: round ivory or wooden sticks should be put
into their little hands; by degrees they will learn to lift them to
their mouths, and they will distinguish their sizes: square and
circular bits of wood, balls, cubes, and triangles, with holes of
different sizes made in them, to admit the sticks, should be their
playthings. No greater apparatus is necessary for the amusement of the
first months of an infant's life. To ease the pain which they feel
from cutting teeth, infants generally carry to their mouths whatever
they can lay their hands upon; but they soon learn to distinguish
those bodies which relieve their pain, from those which gratify their
palate; and, if they are left to themselves, they will always choose
what is painted in preference to every thing else; nor must we
attribute the look of delight with which they seize toys that are
painted red, merely to the pleasure which their eye takes in the
bright colour, but to the love of the sweet taste which they suck from
the paint. What injury may be done to the health by the quantity of
lead which is thus swallowed, we will not pretend to determine, but we
refer to a medical name of high authority,[2] whose cautions probably
will not be treated with neglect. To gratify the eye with glittering
objects, if this be necessary, may be done with more safety by toys of
tin and polished iron: a common steel button is a more desirable
plaything to a young child than many expensive toys; a few such
buttons tied together, so as to prevent any danger of their being
swallowed, would continue for some time a source of amusement.

When a nurse wants to please or to pacify a child, she stuns its ear
with a variety of noises, or dazzles its eye with glaring colours or
stimulating light. The eye and the ear are thus fatigued without
advantage, and the temper is hushed to a transient calm by expedients,
which in time must lose their effect, and which can have no power over
confirmed fretfulness. The pleasure of exercising their senses, is in
itself sufficient to children without any factitious stimulus, which
only exhausts their excitability, and renders them incapable of being
amused by a variety of common objects, which would naturally be their
entertainment. We do not here speak of the attempts made to sooth a
child who is ill; "to charm the sense of pain," so far as it can be
done by diverting the child's attention from his own sufferings to
outward objects, is humane and reasonable, provided our compassion
does not induce in the child's mind the expectation of continual
attendance, and that impatience of temper which increases bodily
suffering. It would be in vain to read lectures on philosophy to a
nurse, or to expect stoicism from an infant; but, perhaps, where
mothers pay attention themselves to their children, they will be able
to prevent many of the consequences of vulgar prejudice and folly. A
nurse's wish is to have as little trouble as possible with the child
committed to her charge, and at the same time to flatter the mother,
from whom she expects her reward. The appearance of extravagant
fondness for the child, of incessant attention to its humour, and
absurd submission to its caprices, she imagines to be the surest
method of recommending herself to favour. She is not to be imposed
upon by the faint and affected rebukes of the fond mother, who
exclaims, "Oh, nurse, indeed you _do_ spoil that child sadly!--Oh,
nurse, upon my word she governs you entirely!--Nurse, you must not let
her have her own way always.--Never mind her crying, I beg,
nurse."--Nurse smiles, sees that she has gained her point, and
promises what she knows it is not expected she should perform. Now if,
on the contrary, she perceived that the mother was neither to be
flattered nor pleased by these means, one motive for spoiling the
child would immediately cease: another strong one would, it is true,
still remain. A nurse wishes to save herself trouble, and she
frequently consults her own convenience when she humours an infant.
She hushes it to sleep, that she may leave it safely; she stops it
from crying, that she may not hear an irritating noise, that she may
relieve herself as soon as possible from the painful weakness of
compassion, or that she may avoid the danger of being interrogated by
the family as to the cause of the disturbance. It is less trouble to
her to yield to caprice and ill-humour than to prevent or cure it, or
at least she thinks it is so. In reality it is not; for an humoured
child in time plagues its attendant infinitely more than it would have
done with reasonable management. If it were possible to convince
nurses of this, they would sacrifice perhaps the convenience of a
moment to the peace of future hours, and they would not be eager to
quell one storm, at the hazard of being obliged to endure twenty more
boisterous; the candle would then no more be thrust almost into the
infant's eyes to make it take notice of the light through the mist of
tears, the eternal bunch of keys would not dance and jingle at every
peevish summons, nor would the roarings of passion be overpowered by
insulting songs, or soothed by artful caresses; the child would then
be caressed and amused when he looks smiling and good-humoured, and
all parties would be much happier.

Practical education begins very early, even in the nursery. Without
the mountebank pretence, that miracles can be performed by the turning
of a straw, or the dictatorial anathematizing tone, which calls down
vengeance upon those who do not follow to an iota the injunctions of a
theorist, we may simply observe, that parents would save themselves a
great deal of trouble, and their children some pain, if they would
pay some attention to their early education. The temper acquires
habits much earlier than is usually apprehended; the first impressions
which infants receive, and the first habits which they learn from
their nurses, influence the temper and disposition long after the
slight causes which produced them are forgotten. More care and
judgment than usually fall to the share of a nurse are necessary, to
cultivate the disposition which infants show, to exercise their
senses, so as neither to suffer them to become indolent and torpid
from want of proper objects to occupy their attention, nor yet to
exhaust their senses by continual excitation. By ill-timed restraints
or injudicious incitements, the nurse frequently renders the child
obstinate or passionate. An infant should never be interrupted in its
operations; whilst it wishes to use its hands, we should not be
impatient to make it walk; or when it is pacing, with all the
attention to its centre of gravity that is exerted by a rope-dancer,
suddenly arrest its progress, and insist upon its pronouncing the
scanty vocabulary which we have compelled it to learn. When children
are busily trying experiments upon objects within their reach, we
should not, by way of saving them trouble, break the course of their
ideas, and totally prevent them from acquiring knowledge by their own
experience. When a foolish nurse sees a child attempting to reach or
lift any thing, she runs immediately, "Oh, dear love, it can't do it,
it can't!--I'll do it for it, so I will!"--If the child be trying the
difference between pushing and pulling, rolling or sliding, the powers
of the wedge or the lever, the officious nurse hastens instantly to
display her own knowledge of the mechanic powers: "Stay, love, stay;
that is not the way to do it--I'll show it the right way--see
here--look at me love."--Without interrupting a child in the moment of
action, proper care might previously be taken to remove out of its way
those things which can really hurt it, and a just degree of attention
must be paid to its first experiments upon hard and heavy, and more
especially upon sharp, brittle, and burning bodies; but this degree of
care should not degenerate into cowardice; it is better that a child
should tumble down or burn its fingers, than that it should not learn
the use of its limbs and its senses. We should for another reason take
care to put all dangerous things effectually out of the child's reach,
instead of saying perpetually, "Take care, don't touch that!--don't do
that!--let that alone!" The child, who scarcely understands the words,
and not at all the reason of these prohibitions, is frightened by the
tone and countenance with which they are uttered and accompanied; and
he either becomes indolent or cunning; either he desists from
exertion, or seizes the moment to divert himself with forbidden
objects, when the watchful eye that guards them is withdrawn. It is in
vain to encompass the restless prisoner with a fortification of
chairs, and to throw him an old almanack to tear to pieces, or an old
pincushion to explore; the enterprising adventurer soon makes his
escape from this barricado, leaves his goods behind him, and presently
is again in what the nurse calls mischief.

Mischief is with nurses frequently only another name for any species
of activity which they find troublesome; the love which children are
supposed to have for pulling things out of their places, is in reality
the desire of seeing things in motion, or of putting things into
different situations. They will like to put the furniture in a room in
its proper place, and to arrange every thing in what we call order, if
we can make these equally permanent sources of active amusement; but
when things are once in their places, the child has nothing more to
do, and the more quickly each chair arrives at its destined situation,
the sooner comes the dreaded state of idleness and quiet.

A nursery, or a room in which young children are to live, should
never have any furniture in it which they can spoil; as few things as
possible should be left within their reach which they are not to
touch, and at the same time they should be provided with the means of
amusing themselves, not with painted or gilt toys, but with pieces of
wood of various shapes and sizes, which they may build up and pull
down, and put in a variety of different forms and positions; balls,
pulleys, wheels, strings, and strong little carts, proportioned to
their age, and to the things which they want to carry in them, should
be their playthings.

Prints will be entertaining to children at a very early age; it would
be endless to enumerate the uses that may be made of them; they teach
accuracy of sight, they engage the attention, and employ the
imagination. In 1777 we saw L----, a child of two years old, point out
every piece of furniture in the French prints of Gil Blas; in the
print of the Canon at Dinner, he distinguished the knives, forks,
spoons, bottles, and every thing upon the table: the dog lying upon
the mat, and the bunch of keys hanging at Jacintha's girdle; he told,
with much readiness, the occupation of every figure in the print, and
could supply, from his imagination, what is supposed to be hidden by
the foremost parts of all the objects. A child of four years old was
asked, what was meant by something that was very indistinctly
represented as hanging round the arm of a figure in one of the prints
of the London Cries. He said it was a glove; though it had as little
resemblance to a glove, as to a ribbon or a purse. When he was asked
how he knew that it was a glove, he answered, "that it ought to be a
glove, because the woman had one upon her other arm, and none upon
that where the thing was hanging." Having seen the gown of a female
figure in a print hanging obliquely, the same child said, "The wind
blows that woman's gown back." We mention these little circumstances
from real life, to show how early prints may be an amusement to
children, and how quickly things unknown, are learnt by the relations
which they bear to what was known before. We should at the same time
observe, that children are very apt to make strange mistakes, and
hasty conclusions, when they begin to reason from analogy. A child
having asked what was meant by some marks in the forehead of an old
man in a print; and having been told, upon some occasion, that old
people were wiser than young ones, brought a print containing several
figures to his mother, and told her that _one_, which he pointed to,
was wiser than all the rest; upon inquiry, it was found that he had
formed this notion from seeing that one figure was wrinkled, and that
the others were not.

Prints for children should be chosen with great care; they should
represent objects which are familiar; the resemblances should be
accurate, and the manners should be attended to, or at least, the
general moral that is to be drawn from them. The attitude of Sephora,
the boxing lady in Gil Blas, must appear unnatural to children who
have not lived with termagant heroines. Perhaps, the first ideas of
grace, beauty, and propriety, are considerably influenced by the first
pictures and prints which please children. Sir Joshua Reynolds tells
us, that he took a child with him through a room full of pictures, and
that the child stopped, with signs of aversion, whenever it came to
any picture of a figure in a constrained attitude.

Children soon judge tolerably well of proportion in drawing, where
they have been used to see the objects which are represented: but we
often give them prints of objects, and of animals especially, which
they have never seen, and in which no sort of proportion is observed.
The common prints of animals must give children false ideas. The mouse
and the elephant are nearly of the same size, and the crocodile and
whale fill the same space in the page. Painters, who put figures of
men amongst their buildings, give the idea of the proportionate
height immediately to the eye: this is, perhaps, the best scale we can
adopt; in every print for children this should be attended to. Some
idea of the relative sizes of the animals they see represented would
then be given, and the imagination would not be filled with chimeras.

After having been accustomed to examine prints, and to trace their
resemblance to real objects, children will probably wish to try their
own powers of imitation. At this moment no toy, which we could invent
for them, would give them half so much pleasure as a pencil. If we put
a pencil into their hands even before they are able to do any thing
with it but make random marks all over a sheet of paper, it will long
continue a real amusement and occupation. No matter how rude their
first attempts at imitation may be; if the attention of children be
occupied, our point is gained. Girls have generally one advantage at
this age over boys, in the exclusive possession of the scissors: how
many camels, and elephants with amazing trunks, are cut out by the
industrious scissors of a busy, and therefore happy little girl,
during a winter evening, which passes so heavily, and appears so
immeasurably long, to the idle.

Modelling in clay or wax might probably be a useful amusement about
this age, if the materials were so prepared, that the children could
avoid being every moment troublesome to others whilst they are at
work. The making of baskets, and the weaving of sash-line, might
perhaps be employment for children; with proper preparations, they
might at least be occupied with these things; much, perhaps, might not
be produced by their labours, but it is a great deal to give early
habits of industry. Let us do what we will, every person who has ever
had any experience upon the subject, must know that it is scarcely
possible to provide sufficient and suitable occupations for young
children: this is one of the first difficulties in education. Those
who have never tried the experiment, are astonished to find it such a
difficult and laborious business as it really is, to find employments
for children from three to six years old. It is perhaps better, that
our pupils should be entirely idle, than that they should be half
employed. "My dear, have you nothing to do?" should be spoken in
sorrow rather than in anger. When they see other people employed and
happy, children feel mortified and miserable to have nothing to do.
Count Rumford's was an excellent scheme for exciting sympathetic
industry amongst the children of the poor at Munich; in the large
hall, where the elder children were busy in spinning, there was a
range of seats for the younger children, who were not yet permitted to
work; these being compelled to sit idle, and to see the busy
multitude, grew extremely uneasy in their own situation, and became
very anxious to be employed. We need not use any compulsion or any
artifice; parents in every family, we suppose, who think of educating
their own children, are employed some hours in the day in reading,
writing, business, or conversation; during these hours, children will
naturally feel the want of occupation, and will, from sympathy, from
ambition and from impatience of insupportable ennui, desire with
anxious faces, "to have something to do." Instead of loading them with
playthings, by way of relieving their misery, we should honestly tell
them, if that be the truth, "I am sorry I cannot find any thing for
you to do at present. I hope you will soon be able to employ yourself.
What a happy thing it will be for you to be able, by and by, to read,
and write and draw; then you will never be forced to sit idle."

The pains of idleness stimulate children to industry, if they are from
time to time properly contrasted with the pleasures of occupation. We
should associate cheerfulness, and praise, and looks of approbation,
with industry; and, whenever young people invent employments for
themselves, they should be assisted as much as possible, and
encouraged. At that age when they are apt to grow tired in half an
hour of their playthings, we had better give them playthings only for
a very short time, at intervals in the day; and, instead of waiting
till they are tired, we should take the things away before they are
weary of them. Nor should we discourage the inquisitive genius from
examining into the structure of their toys, whatever they may be. The
same ingenious and active dispositions, which prompt these inquiries,
will secure children from all those numerous temptations to do
mischief, to which the idle are exposed. Ingenious children are
pleased with contrivances which answer the purposes for which they are
intended: and they feel sincere regret whenever these are injured or
destroyed: this we mention as a further comfort and security for
parents, who, in the company of young mechanics, are apt to tremble
for their furniture. Children who observe, and who begin to amuse
themselves with _thought_, are not so actively hostile in their
attacks upon inanimate objects. We were once present at the dissection
of a wooden cuckoo, which was attended with extreme pleasure by a
large family of children; and it was not one of the children who broke
the precious toy, but it was the father who took it to pieces. Nor was
it the destruction of the plaything which entertained the company, but
the sight of the manner in which it was constructed. Many guesses were
made by all the spectators about the internal structure of the cuckoo,
and the astonishment of the company was universal, when the bellows
were cut open, and the simple contrivance was revealed to view;
probably, more was learnt from this cuckoo, than was ever learnt from
any cuckoo before. So far from being indifferent to the destruction of
this plaything, H---- the little girl of four years old, to whom it
belonged, remembered, several months afterwards, to remind her father
of his promise to repair the mischief he had done.

"Several toys, which are made at present, are calculated to give
pleasure merely by exciting surprise, and of course give children's
minds such a tone, that they are afterwards too fond of _similar
useless baubles_."[3] This species of delight is soon over, and is
succeeded by a desire to triumph in the ignorance, the credulity, or
the cowardice, of their companions. Hence that propensity to play
tricks, which is often injudiciously encouraged by the smiles of
parents, who are apt to mistake it for a proof of wit and vivacity.
They forget, that "gentle dulness ever loved a joke;" and that even
wit and vivacity, if they become troublesome and mischievous, will be
feared, and shunned. Many juggling tricks and puzzles are highly
ingenious; and, as far as they can exercise the invention or the
patience of young people, they are useful. Care, however, should be
taken, to separate the ideas of deceit and of ingenuity, and to
prevent children from glorying in the mere possession of a secret.

Toys which afford trials of dexterity and activity, such as tops,
kites, hoops, balls, battledores and shuttlecocks, ninepins, and
cup-and-ball, are excellent; and we see that they are consequently
great and lasting favourites with children; their senses, their
understanding, and their passions, are all agreeably interested and
exercised by these amusements. They emulate each other; but, as some
will probably excel at one game, and some at another, this emulation
will not degenerate into envy. There is more danger that this hateful
passion should be created in the minds of young competitors at those
games, where it is supposed that some _knack_ or _mystery_ is to be
learned before they can be played with success. Whenever children play
at such games, we should point out to them how and why it is that they
succeed or fail: we may show them, that, in reality, there is no
_knack_ or _mystery_ in any thing, but that from certain causes
certain effects will follow; that, after trying a number of
experiments, the circumstances essential to success may be discovered;
and that all the ease and dexterity, which we often attribute to the
power of natural genius, is simply the consequence of practice and
industry. This sober lesson may be taught to children without putting
it into grave words or formal precepts. A gentleman once astonished a
family of children by his dexterity in playing at bilboquet: he caught
the ball nine or ten times successively with great rapidity upon the
spike: this success appeared miraculous; and the father, who observed
that it had made a great impression upon the little spectators, took
that opportunity to show the use of spinning the ball, to make the
hole at the bottom ascend in a proper direction. The nature of
centrifugal motion, and its effect, in preserving the _parallelism_ of
_motion_, if we may be allowed the expression, was explained, not at
once, but at different intervals, to the young audience. Only as much
was explained at a time as the children could understand, without
fatiguing their attention, and the abstruse subject was made familiar
by the mode of illustration that was adopted.

It is surprising how much children may learn from their playthings,
when they are judiciously chosen, and when the habit of reflection and
observation is associated with the ideas of amusement and happiness. A
little boy of nine years old, who had had a hoop to play with, asked
"why a hoop, or a plate, if rolled upon its edge, keeps up as long as
it rolls, but falls as soon as it stops, and will not stand if you try
to make it stand still upon its edge?" Was not the boy's understanding
as well employed whilst he was thinking of this phenomenon, which he
observed whilst he was beating his hoop, as it could possibly have
been by the most learned preceptor?

When a pedantic schoolmaster sees a boy eagerly watching a paper kite,
he observes, "What a pity it is that children cannot be made to mind
their grammar as well as their kites!" And he adds, perhaps, some
peevish ejaculation on the natural idleness of boys, and that
pernicious love of play against which he is doomed to wage perpetual
war. A man of sense will see the same thing with a different eye; in
this pernicious love of play he will discern the symptoms of a love of
science, and, instead of deploring the natural idleness of children,
he will admire the activity which they display in the pursuit of
knowledge. He will feel that it is his business to direct this
activity, to furnish his pupil with materials for fresh combinations,
to put him or to let him put himself, in situations where he can make
useful observations, and acquire that experience which cannot be
bought, and which no masters can communicate.

It will not be beneath the dignity of a philosophic tutor to consider
the different effects, which the most common plays of children have
upon the habits of the understanding and temper. Whoever has watched
children putting together a dissected map, must have been amused with
the trial between Wit and Judgment. The child, who quickly perceives
resemblances, catches instantly at the first bit of the wooden map,
that has a single hook or hollow that seems likely to answer his
purpose; he makes, perhaps, twenty different trials before he hits
upon the right; whilst the wary youth, who has been accustomed to
observe differences, cautiously examines with his eye the whole
outline before his hand begins to move; and, having exactly compared
the two indentures, he joins them with sober confidence, more proud of
never disgracing his judgment by a fruitless attempt, than ambitious
of rapid success. He is slow, but sure, and wins the day.

There are some plays which require presence of mind, and which demand
immediate attention to what is actually going forward, in which
children, capable of the greatest degree of abstract attention, are
most apt to be defective. They have many ideas, but none of them
ready, and their knowledge is useless, because it is recollected a
moment too late. Could we, in suitably dignified language, describe
the game of "birds, beasts, and fishes," we should venture to
prescribe it as no very painful remedy for these absent and abstracted
personages. When the handkerchief or the ball is thrown, and when his
bird's name is called for, the absent little philosopher is obliged to
collect his scattered thoughts instantaneously, or else he exposes
himself to the ridicule of naming, perhaps, a fish or a beast, or any
bird but the right. To those children, who, on the contrary, are not
sufficiently apt to abstract their attention, and who are what Bacon
calls "birdwitted," we should recommend a solitary-board. At the
solitary-board they must withdraw their thoughts from all external
objects, hear nothing that is said, and fix their attention solely
upon the figure and the pegs before them, else they will never
succeed; and, if they make one errour in their calculations, they lose
all their labour. Those who are precipitate, and not sufficiently
attentive to the consequences of their own actions, may receive many
salutary lessons at the draught or chess-board--happy, if they can
learn prudence and foresight, by frequently losing the battle.

We are not quite so absurd as to imagine, that any great or permanent
effects can be produced by such slight causes as a game at draughts,
or at a solitary-board, but the combination of a number of apparent
trifles, is not to be neglected in education.

We have never yet mentioned what will probably first occur to those
who would invent employments for children. We have never yet mentioned
a garden; we have never mentioned those great delights to children, a
spade, a hoe, a rake, and a wheelbarrow. We hold all these in proper
respect; but we did not sooner mention them, because, if introduced
too early, they are useless. We must not expect, that a boy six or
seven years old, can find, for any length of time, sufficient daily
occupation in a garden: he has not strength for hard labour; he can
dig soft earth; he can weed groundsel, and other weeds, which take no
deep root in the earth; but after he has weeded his little garden, and
sowed his seeds, there must be a suspension of his labours. Frequently
children, for want of something to do, when they have sowed
flower-seeds in their crooked beds, dig up the hopes of the year to
make a new walk, or to sink a well in their garden. We mention these
things, that parents may not be disappointed, or expect more from the
occupation of a garden, than it can, at a very early age, afford. A
garden is an excellent resource for children, but they should have a
variety of other occupations: rainy days will come, and frost and
snow, and then children must be occupied within doors. We immediately
think of a little set of carpenter's tools, to supply them with active
amusement. Boys will probably be more inclined to attempt making
models, than drawings of the furniture which appears to be the most
easy to imitate; they will imagine that, if they had but tools, they
could make boxes, and desks, and beds, and chests of drawers, and
tables and chairs innumerable. But, alas! these fond imaginations are
too soon dissipated. Suppose a boy of seven years old to be provided
with a small set of carpenter's tools, his father thinks perhaps that
he has made him completely happy; but a week afterwards the father
finds dreadful marks of the file and saw upon his mahogany tables; the
use of these tools is immediately interdicted until a bench shall be
procured. Week after week passes away, till at length the frequently
reiterated speech of "Papa, you bid me put you in mind about my
bench." "Papa" has its effect, and the bench appears. Now the young
carpenter thinks he is quite set up in the world, and projects carts
and boxes, and reading-desks and writing-desks for himself and for his
sisters, if he have any; but when he comes to the execution of his
plans, what new difficulties, what new wants arise! the wood is too
thick or too thin; it splits, or it cannot be cut with a knife; wire,
nails, glue, and above all, the means of heating the glue, are
wanting. At last some frail machine, stuck together with pegs or pins,
is produced, and the workman is usually either too much ridiculed, or
too much admired. The step from pegging to mortising is a very
difficult step, and the want of a mortising-chisel is insuperable: one
tool is called upon to do the duty of another, and the pricker comes
to an untimely end in doing the hard duty of the punch; the saw wants
setting; the plane will plane no longer; and the mallet must be used
instead of the hammer, because the hammer makes so much noise, that
the ladies of the family have voted for its being locked up. To all
these various evils the child submits in despair; and finding, after
many fruitless exertions, that he cannot make any of the fine things
he had projected, he throws aside his tools, and is deterred by these
disappointments from future industry and ingenuity. Such are the
consequences of putting excellent tools into the hands of children
before they can possibly use them: but the tools which are useless at
seven years old, will be a most valuable present at eleven or twelve,
and for this age it will be prudent to reserve them. A rational
toy-shop should be provided with all manner of carpenter's tools, with
wood properly prepared for the young workman, and with screws, nails,
glue, emery-paper, and a variety of articles which it would be tedious
to enumerate; but which, if parents could readily meet within a
convenient assemblage, they would willingly purchase for their
children. The trouble of hunting through a number of different shops,
prevents them at present from purchasing such things; besides, they
may not perhaps be sufficiently good carpenters to know distinctly
every thing that is necessary for a young workman.

Card, pasteboard, substantial but not sharp-pointed scissors, wire,
gum and wax, may, in some degree, supply the want of carpenter's tools
at that early age when we have observed that the saw and plane are
useless. Models of common furniture should be made as toys, which
should take to pieces, so that all their parts, and the manner in
which they are put together, might be seen distinctly; the names of
the different parts should be written[4] or stamped upon them: by
these means the names will be associated with realities; children will
retain them in their memory, and they will neither learn by rote
technical terms, nor will they be retarded in their progress in
mechanical invention by the want of language. Before young people can
use tools, these models will amuse and exercise their attention. From
models of furniture we may go on to models of architecture; pillars of
different orders, the roofs of houses, the manner of slating and
tiling, &c. Then we may proceed to models of simple machines, choosing
at first such as can be immediately useful to children in their own
amusements, such as wheelbarrows, carts, cranes, scales, steelyards,
jacks, and pumps, which children ever view with eager eyes.

From simple, it will be easy to proceed gradually to models of more
complicated, machinery: it would be tiresome to give a list of these;
models of instruments used by manufacturers and artists should be
seen; many of these are extremely ingenious; spinning-wheels, looms,
paper-mills, wind-mills, water-mills, might with great advantage be
shown in miniature to children.

The distracting noise and bustle, the multitude of objects which all
claim the attention at once, prevent young people from understanding
much of what they see, when they are first taken to look at large
manufactories. If they had previously acquired some general idea of
the whole, and some particular knowledge of the different parts, they
would not stare when they get into these places; they would not "stare
round, see nothing, and come home content," bewildered by the sight of
cogs and wheels; and the explanations of the workmen would not be all
jargon to them; they would understand some of the technical terms,
which so much alarm the intellects of those who hear them for the
first time.

We may exercise the ingenuity and judgment of children by these models
of machines, by showing them first the thing to be done, and exciting
them to invent the best means of doing it; afterwards give the models
as the reward for their ingenuity, and let them compare their own
inventions with the contrivances actually in use amongst artificers;
by these means, young people may be led to compare a variety of
different contrivances; they will discern what parts of a machine are
superfluous, and what inadequate, and they will class particular
observations gradually under general principles. It may be thought,
that this will tend to give children only mechanical invention, or we
should call it, perhaps, the invention of machines; and those who do
not require this particular talent, will despise it as unnecessary in
what are called the liberal professions. Without attempting to compare
the value of different intellectual talents, we may observe, that they
are all in some measure dependent upon each other. Upon this subject
we shall enlarge more fully when we come to consider the method of
cultivating the memory and invention.

Chemical toys will be more difficult to manage than mechanical,
because the materials, requisite to try many chemical experiments, are
such as cannot safely be put into the hands of children. But a list of
experiments, and of the things necessary to try them, might easily be
drawn out by a chemist who would condescend to such a task; and if
these materials, with proper directions, were to be found at a
rational toy-shop, parents would not be afraid of burning or poisoning
their children in the first chemical lessons. In some families, girls
are taught the confectionary art; might not this be advantageously
connected with some knowledge of chemistry, and might not they be
better taught than by Mrs. Raffeld or Mrs. Glass?[5] Every culinary
operation may be performed as an art, probably, as well by a cook as
by a chemist; but, if the chemist did not assist the cook now and then
with a little science, epicures would have great reason for
lamentation. We do not, by any means, advise that girls should be
instructed in confectionary arts, at the hazard of their keeping
company with servants. If they learn any thing of this sort, there
will be many precautions necessary to separate them from servants: we
do not advise that these hazards should be run; but if girls learn
confectionary, let them learn the principles of chemistry, which may
assist in this art.[6]

Children are very fond of attempting experiments in dying, and are
very curious about vegetable dyes; but they can seldom proceed for
want of the means of boiling, evaporating, distilling, and subliming.
Small stills, and small tea-kettles and lamps, would be extremely
useful to them: these might be used in the room with the children's
parents, which would prevent all danger: they should continue to be
the property of the parents, and should be produced only when they are
wanted. No great apparatus is necessary for showing children the first
simple operations in chemistry: such as evaporation, crystalization,
calcination, detonation, effervescence, and saturation. Water and
fire, salt and sugar, lime and vinegar, are not very difficult to be
procured; and a wine-glass is to be found in every house. The
difference between an acid and alkali should be early taught to
children; many grown people begin to learn chemistry, without
distinctly knowing what is meant by those terms.

In the selection of chemical experiments for young people, it will be
best to avoid such as have the appearance of jugglers tricks, as it is
not our purpose to excite the amazement of children for the moment,
but to give them a permanent taste for science. In a well known book,
called "Hooper's _Rational Recreations_," there are many ingenious
experiments; but through the whole work there is such a want of an
enlarged mind, and such a love of magic and deception appears, as must
render it not only useless, but unsafe, for young people, in its
present state. Perhaps a selection might be made from it in which
these defects might be avoided: such titles as "_The real apparition:
the confederate counters: the five beatitudes_: and _the book of
fate_," may be changed for others more _rational_. Receipts for
"_Changing winter into spring_," for making "_Self-raising pyramids,
inchanted mirrors_, and _intelligent flies_," might be omitted, or
explained to advantage. Recreation the 5th, "To tell by the dial of a
watch at what hour any person intends to rise;" Recreation the 12th,
"To produce the appearance of a phantom on a pedestal placed on the
middle of a table;" and Recreation the 30th, "To write several letters
which contain no meaning, upon cards; to make them, after they have
been twice shuffled, give an answer to a question that shall be
proposed;" as for example, "What is love?" scarcely come under the
denomination of Rational Recreations, nor will they much conduce to
the end proposed in the introduction to Hooper's work; that is to say,
in his own words, "To enlarge and fortify the mind of man, that he may
advance with tranquil steps through the flowery paths of
investigation, till arriving at some noble eminence, he beholds, with
awful astonishment, the boundless regions of science, and becomes
animated to attain a still more lofty station, whilst his heart is
incessantly rapt with joys of which the groveling herd have no
conception."

Even in those chemical experiments in this book, which are really
ingenious and entertaining, we should avoid giving the old absurd
titles, which can only confuse the understanding, and spoil the taste
of children. The tree of Diana, and "Philosophic wool," are of this
species. It is not necessary to make every thing marvellous and
magical, to fix the attention of young people; if they are properly
educated, they will find more amusement in discovering, or in
searching for the cause of the effects which they see, than in a blind
admiration of the juggler's tricks.

In the papers of the Manchester Society, in Franklin's letters, in
Priestley's and Percival's works, there may be found a variety of
simple experiments which require no great apparatus, and which will at
once amuse and instruct. All the papers of the Manchester Society,
upon the repulsion and attraction of oil and water, are particularly
suited to children, because they state a variety of simple facts; the
mind is led to reason upon them, and induced to judge of the different
conclusions which are drawn from them by different people. The names
of Dr. Percival, or Dr. Wall, will have no weight with children; they
will compare only the reasons and experiments. Oil and water, a cork,
a needle, a plate, and a glass tumbler, are all the things necessary
for these experiments. Mr. Henry's experiments upon the influence that
fixed air has on vegetation, and several of Reaumur's experiments,
mentioned in the memoirs of the French Academy of Sciences, are
calculated to please young people much, and can be repeated without
expense or difficulty.

To those who acquire habits of observation, every thing that is to be
seen or heard, becomes a source of amusement. Natural history
interests children at an early age; but their curiosity and activity
is often repressed and restrained by the ignorance or indolence of
their tutors. The most inquisitive genius grows tired of repeating,
"Pray look at this--What is it? What can the use of this be?" when the
constant answer is, "Oh! it's nothing worth looking at, throw it away,
it will dirty the house." Those who have attended to the ways of
children and parents, well know that there are many little
inconveniences attending their amusements, which the sublime eye of
the theorist in education overlooks, which, nevertheless, are
essential to practical success. "It will dirty the house," puts a stop
to many of the operations of the young philosopher; nor is it
reasonable that his experiments should interfere with the necessary
regularity of a well ordered family. But most well ordered families
allow their horses and their dogs to have houses to themselves; cannot
one room be allotted to the children of the family? If they are to
learn chemistry, mineralogy, botany, or mechanics; if they are to take
sufficient bodily exercise without tormenting the whole family with
noise, a room should be provided for them. We mention exercise and
noise in particular, because we think they will, to many, appear of
the most importance.

To direct children in their choice of fossils, and to give them some
idea of the general arrangements of mineralogy, toy-shops should be
provided with specimens of ores, &c. properly labelled and arranged,
in drawers, so that they may be kept in order. Children should have
empty shelves in their cabinets, to be filled with their own
collections; they will then know how to direct their researches, and
how to dispose of their treasures. If they have proper places to keep
things in, they will acquire a taste for order by the best means, by
feeling the use of it: to either sex, this taste will be highly
advantageous. Children who are active and industrious, and who have a
taste for natural history, often collect, with much enthusiasm, a
variety of pebbles and common stones, which they value as great
curiosities, till some surly mineralogist happens to see them, and
condemns them all with one supercilious "pshaw!" or else a journey is
to be taken, and there is no way in making up the heterogeneous,
cumbersome collection, which must, of course, be abandoned. Nay, if no
journey is to be taken, a visitor, perhaps, comes unexpectedly; the
little naturalist's apartment must be vacated on a few minutes notice,
and the labour of years falls a sacrifice, in an instant, to the
housemaid's undistinguishing broom.

It may seem trifling to insist so much upon such slight things, but,
in fact, nothing can be done in education without attention to minute
circumstances. Many who have genius to sketch large plans, have seldom
patience to attend to the detail which is necessary for their
accomplishment. This is a useful, and therefore, no humiliating
drudgery.

With the little cabinets, which we have mentioned, should be sold
cheap microscopes, which will unfold a world of new delights to
children; and it is very probable that children will not only be
entertained with looking at objects through a microscope, but they
will consider the nature of the magnifying glass. They should not be
rebuffed with the answer, "Oh, it's only a common magnifying glass,"
but they should be encouraged in their laudable curiosity; they may
easily be led to try slight experiments in optics, which will, at
least, give the habits of observation and attention. In Dr.
Priestley's History of Vision, many experiments may be found, which
are not above the comprehension of children of ten or eleven years
old; we do not imagine that any science can be taught by desultory
experiments, but we think that a taste for science may early be given
by making it entertaining, and by exciting young people to exercise
their reasoning and inventive faculties upon every object which
surrounds them. We may point out that great discoveries have often
been made by attention to slight circumstances. The blowing of soap
bubbles, as it was first performed as a scientific experiment by the
celebrated Dr. Hook, before the Royal Society, makes a conspicuous
figure in Dr. Priestley's chapter on the reflection of light; this may
be read to children, and they will be pleased when they observe that
what at first appeared only a trifling amusement, has occupied the
understanding, and excited the admiration, of some great philosophers.

Every child observes the colours which are to be seen in panes of
glass windows: in Priestley's History of Vision, there are some
experiments of Hook's and Lord Brereton's upon these colours, which
may be selected. Buffon's observations upon blue and green shadows,
are to be found in the same work, and they are very entertaining. In
Dr. Franklin's letters, there are numerous experiments, which are
particularly suited to young people; especially, as in every instance
he speaks with that candour and openness to conviction, and with that
patient desire to discover truth, which we should wish our pupils to
admire and imitate.

The history of the experiments which have been tried in the progress
of any science, and of the manner in which observations of minute
facts have led to great discoveries, will be useful to the
understanding, and will gradually make the mind expert in that mental
algebra, on which both reasoning and invention (which is, perhaps,
only a more rapid species of reasoning) depend. In drawing out a list
of experiments for children, it will, therefore, be advantageous to
place them in that order which will best exhibit their relative
connection; and, instead of showing young people the steps of a
discovery, we should frequently pause to try if they can invent. In
this, our pupils will succeed often beyond our expectations; and,
whether it be in mechanics, chemistry, geometry, or in the arts, the
same course of education will be found to have the same advantages.
When the powers of reason have been cultivated, and the inventive
faculty exercised; when general habits of voluntary exertion and
patient perseverance, have been acquired, it will be easy, either for
the pupil himself, or for his friends, to direct his abilities to
whatever is necessary for his happiness. We do not use the phrase,
_success in the world_, because, if it conveys any distinct ideas, it
implies some which are, perhaps, inconsistent with real happiness.

Whilst our pupils occupy and amuse themselves with observation,
experiment, and invention, we must take care that they have a
sufficient variety of manual and bodily exercises. A turning-lathe,
and a work-bench, will afford them constant active employment; and
when young people can invent, they feel great pleasure in the
execution of their own plans. We do not speak from vague theory; we
have seen the daily pleasures of the work-bench, and the persevering
eagerness with which young people work in wood, and brass, and iron,
when tools are put into their hands at a proper age, and when their
understanding has been previously taught the simple principles of
mechanics. It is not to be expected that any exhortations we could
use, could prevail upon a father, who happens to have no taste for
mechanics, or for chemistry, to spend any of his time in his
children's laboratory, or at their work-bench; but in his choice of a
tutor, he may perhaps supply his own defects; and he will consider,
that even by interesting himself in the daily occupations of his
children, he will do more in the advancement of their education, than
can be done by paying money to a hundred masters.

We do not mean to confine young people to the laboratory or the
work-bench, for exercise; the more varied exercises, the better. Upon
this subject we shall speak more fully hereafter: we have in general
recommended all trials of address and dexterity, except games of
chance, which we think should be avoided, as they tend to give a taste
for gambling; a passion, which has been the ruin of so many young men
of promising talents, of so many once happy families, that every
parent will think it well worth his while to attend to the smallest
circumstances in education, which can prevent its seizing hold of the
minds of his children.

In children, as in men, a taste for gaming arises from the want of
better occupation, or of proper emotion to relieve them from the pains
and penalties of idleness; both the vain and indolent are prone to
this taste from different causes. The idea of personal merit is
insensibly connected with what is called _good luck_, and before
avarice absorbs every other feeling, vanity forms no inconsiderable
part of the charm which fixes such numbers to the gaming-table.
Indolent persons are fond of games of chance, because they feel
themselves roused agreeably from their habitual state of apathy, or
because they perceive, that at these contests, without any mental
exertion, they are equal, perhaps superior, to their competitors.

Happy they, who have early been inspired with a taste for science and
literature! They will have a constant succession of agreeable ideas;
they will find endless variety in the commonest objects which surround
them; and feeling that every day of their lives they have sufficient
amusement, they will require no extraordinary excitations, no holyday
pleasures. They who have learnt, from their own experience, a just
confidence in their own powers; they who have tasted the delights of
well-earned praise, will not lightly trust to _chance_, for the
increase of self-approbation; nor will those pursue, with too much
eagerness, the precarious triumphs of fortune, who know, that in their
usual pursuits, it is in their own power to command success
proportioned to their exertions. Perhaps it may be thought, that we
should have deferred our eulogium upon literature till we came to
speak of Tasks; but if there usually appears but little connection in
a child's mind, between books and toys, this must be attributed to his
having had bad books and bad toys. In the hands of a judicious
instructer, no means are too small to be useful; every thing is made
conducive to his purposes, and instead of useless baubles, his pupils
will be provided with play things which may instruct, and with
occupations which may at once amuse and improve the understanding.

It would be superfluous to give a greater variety of instances of the
sorts of amusements which are advantageous; we fear that we have
already given too many, and that we have hazarded some observations,
which will be thought too pompous for a chapter upon Toys. We intended
to have added to this chapter an inventory of the present most
fashionable articles in our toy-shops, and _a list of the new
assortment_, to speak in the true style of an advertisement; but we
are obliged to defer this for the present; upon a future occasion we
shall submit it to the judgment of the public. A revolution, _even in
toy-shops_, should not be attempted, unless there appear a moral
certainty that we both may, and can, change for the better. The danger
of doing too much in education, is greater even than the danger of
doing too little. As the merchants in France answered to Colbert, when
he desired to know "how he could best assist them," children might,
perhaps, reply to those who are most officious to amuse them, "Leave
us to ourselves."

FOOTNOTES:

[2] Dr. Fothergill.

[3] Dr. Beddoes.

[4] We are indebted to Dr. Beddoes for this idea.

[5] We do not mean to do injustice to Mrs. Raffeld's professional
skill.

[6] V. Diderot's ingenious preface to "Chymie de gout et de l'odorat."



CHAPTER II.

TASKS.


"Why don't you get your task, instead of playing with your playthings
from morning till night? You are grown too old now to do nothing but
play. It is high time you should learn to read and write, for you
cannot be a child all your life, child; so go and fetch your _book_,
and learn your _task_."

This angry apostrophe is probably addressed to a child, at the moment
when he is intent upon some agreeable occupation, which is now to be
stigmatized with the name of Play. Why that word should all at once
change its meaning; why that should now be a crime, which was formerly
a virtue; why he, who had so often been desired to _go and play_,
should now be reviled for his obedience, the young casuist is unable
to discover. He hears that he is no longer a child: this he is willing
to believe; but the consequence is alarming. Of the new duties
incumbent upon his situation, he has but yet a confused idea. In his
manly character, he is not yet thoroughly perfect: his pride would
make him despise every thing that is childish, but no change has yet
been wrought in the inward man, and his old tastes and new ambition,
are in direct opposition. Whether to learn to read, be a dreadful
thing or not, is a question he cannot immediately solve; but if his
reasoning faculty be suspended, there is yet a power secretly working
within him, by which he will involuntarily be governed. This power is
the power of association: of its laws, he is, probably, not more
ignorant than his tutor; nor is he aware that whatever word or idea
comes into his mind, with any species of pain, will return, whenever
it is recalled to his memory, with the same feelings. The word Task,
the first time he hears it, is an unmeaning word, but it ceases to be
indifferent to him the moment he hears it pronounced in a terrible
voice. "Learn your task," and "fetch your book," recur to his
recollection with indistinct feelings of pain; and hence, without
further consideration, he will be disposed to dislike both books and
tasks; but his feelings are the last things to be considered upon this
occasion; the immediate business, is to teach him to read. A new era
in his life now commences. The age of learning begins, and begins in
sorrow. The consequences of a bad beginning, are proverbially ominous;
but no omens can avert his fate, no omens can deter his tutor from the
undertaking; the appointed moment is come; the boy is four years old,
and he must learn to read. Some people, struck with a panic fear, lest
their children should never learn to read and write, think that they
cannot be in too great a hurry to teach them. Spelling-books,
grammars, dictionaries, rods and masters, are collected; nothing is to
be heard of in the house but tasks; nothing is to be seen but tears.

"No tears! no tasks! no masters! nothing upon compulsion!" say the
opposite party in education. "Children must be left entirely at
liberty; they will learn every thing better than you can teach them;
their memory must not be overloaded with trash; their reason must be
left to grow."

Their reason will never grow, unless it be exercised, is the reply;
their memory must be stored whilst they are young, because, in youth,
the memory is most tenacious. If you leave them at liberty for ever,
they will never learn to spell; they will never learn Latin; they will
never learn Latin grammar; yet, they must learn Latin grammar, and a
number of other disagreeable things; therefore, we must give them
tasks and task-masters.

In all these assertions, perhaps, we shall find a mixture of truth
and errour; therefore, we had better be governed by neither party, but
listen to both, and examine arguments unawed by authority. And first,
as to the panic fear, which, though no argument, is a most powerful
motive. We see but few examples of children so extremely stupid as not
to have been able to learn to read and write between the years of
three and thirteen; but we see many whose temper and whose
understanding have been materially injured by premature or injudicious
instruction; we see many who are disgusted, perhaps irrecoverably,
with literature, whilst they are fluently reading books which they
cannot comprehend, or learning words by rote, to which they affix no
ideas. It is scarcely worth while to speak of the vain ambition of
those who long only to have it said, that their children read sooner
than those of their neighbours do; for, supposing their utmost wish to
be gratified, that their son could read before the age when children
commonly articulate, still the triumph must be of short duration, the
fame confined to a small circle of "foes and friends," and, probably,
in a few years, the memory of the phenomenon would remain only with
his doting grandmother. Surely, it is the use which children make of
their acquirements which is of consequence, not the possessing them a
few years sooner or later. A man, who, during his whole life, could
never write any thing that was worth reading, would find it but poor
consolation for himself, his friends, or the public, to reflect, that
he had been in joining-hand before he was five years old.

As it is usually managed, it is a dreadful task indeed to learn, and,
if possible, a more dreadful task to teach to read. With the help of
counters, and coaxing, and gingerbread, or by dint of reiterated pain
and terror, the names of the four-and-twenty letters of the alphabet,
are, perhaps, in the course of some weeks, firmly fixed in the pupil's
memory. So much the worse; all these names will disturb him, if he
have common sense, and at every step must stop his progress. To begin
with the vowels: each of these have several different sounds, and,
consequently, ought to have several names, or different signs, to
distinguish them in different circumstances. In the first lesson of
the spelling book, the child begins with a-b, makes ab; b-a makes ba.
The inference, if any general inference can be drawn from this lesson,
is, that when _a_ comes before _b_, it has one sound, and after _b_,
it has another sound; but this is contradicted by and by, and it
appears that _a_ after _b_, has various sounds, as in _ball_, in
_bat_, in _bare_. The letter _i_ in _fire_, is _i_, as we call it in
the alphabet, but in fir, it is changed; in _pin_, it is changed
again; so that the child, being ordered to affix to the same sign a
variety of sounds and names, and not knowing in what circumstances to
obey, and in what to disregard the contradictory injunctions imposed
upon him, he pronounces sounds at hazard, and adheres positively to
the last ruled case, or maintains an apparently sullen, or truly
philosophic and sceptical silence. Must _e_ in _pen_, and _e_ in
_where_, and _e_ in _verse_, and _e_ in _fear_, all be called _e_
alike? The child is patted on the head for reading _u_ as it ought to
be pronounced in _future_; but if, remembering this encouragement, the
pupil should venture to pronounce _u_ in _gun_, and _bun_, in the same
manner, he will, inevitably, be disgraced. Pain and shame, impress
precepts upon the mind: the child, therefore, is intent upon
remembering the new sound of _u_ in _bun_; but when he comes to
_busy_, and _burial_, and _prudence_, his last precedent will lead him
fatally astray, and he will again be called a _dunce_. _O_, in the
exclamation _Oh!_ is happily called by its alphabetical name; but in
_to_, we can hardly know it again, and in _morning_ and _wonder_, it
has a third and a fourth additional sound. The amphibious letter _y_,
which is either a vowel or a consonant, has one sound in one
character, and two sounds in the other; as a consonant, it is
pronounced as in _yesterday_; in _try_, it is sounded as _i_; in
_any_, and in the termination of many other words, it is sounded like
_e_. Must a child know all this by intuition, or must it be whipt into
him? But he must know a great deal more, before he can read the most
common words. What length of time should we allow him for learning,
when _c_ is to be sounded like _k_, and when like _s_? and how much
longer time shall we add for learning, when _s_ shall be pronounced
_sh_, as in _sure_, or _z_, as in _has_; the sound of which last
letter _z_, he cannot, by any conjuration, obtain from the name _zed_,
the only name by which he has been taught to call it? How much time
shall we allow a patient tutor for teaching a docile pupil, when _g_
is to be sounded soft, and when hard? There are many carefully worded
rules in the spelling-books, specifying before what letters, and in
what situations, _g_ shall vary in sound; but, unfortunately, these
rules are difficult to be learned by heart, and still more difficult
to understand. These laws, however positive, are not found to be of
universal application, or at least, a child has not always wit or time
to apply them upon the spur of the occasion. In coming to the words
_ingenious gentleman, get a good grammar_, he may be puzzled by the
nice distinctions he is to make in pronunciation in cases apparently
similar; but he has not yet become acquainted with all the powers of
this privileged letter: in company with _h_, it assumes the character
of _f_, as in _tough_; another time he meets it, perhaps, in the same
company, in the same place, and, as nearly as possible, in the same
circumstances, as in the word _though_; but now _g_ is to become a
silent letter, and is to pass incognito, and the child will commit an
unpardonable errour, if he claimed the incognito as his late
acquaintance _f_. Still, all these are slight difficulties; a moment's
reflection must convince us, that by teaching the common names of
every consonant in the alphabet, we prepare a child for misery, when
he begins to spell or read. A consonant, as sayeth the spelling-book,
is a letter which cannot be pronounced without a vowel before or after
it: for this reason, _B_, is called _be_, and _L_, _el_; but why the
vowel should come first in the one case, or last in the second, we are
not informed; nor are we told why the names of some letters have no
resemblance whatever to their sounds, either with a vowel before or
after them. Suppose, that after having learned the alphabet, a child
was to read the words

    _Here is some apple-pye._
    He would pronounce the letters thus:
    _Acheare ies esoeme apepeele pewie._

With this pronunciation the child would never decipher these simple
words. It will be answered, perhaps, that no child is expected to read
as soon as he has learnt his alphabet: a long initiation of
monosyllabic, dissyllabic, trissyllabic, and polysyllabic words is
previously to be submitted to; nor, after this inauguration, are the
novices capable of performing with propriety the ceremony of reading
whole words and sentences. By a different method of teaching, all this
waste of labour and of time, all this confusion of rules and
exceptions, and all the consequent confusion in the understanding of
the pupil, may be avoided.

In teaching a child to read, every letter should have a precise single
sound annexed to its figure; this should never vary. Where two
consonants are joined together, so as to have but one sound, as ph,
sh, &c. the two letters should be coupled together by a distinct
invariable mark. Letters that are silent should be marked in such a
manner as to point out to the child that they are not to be sounded.
Upon these simple rules our method of teaching to read has been
founded. The signs or marks, by which these distinctions are to be
effected, are arbitrary, and may be varied as the teacher chooses; the
addition of a single point above or below the common letters is
employed to distinguish the different sounds that are given to the
same letter, and a mark underneath such letters as are to be omitted,
is the only apparatus necessary. These marks were employed by the
author in 1776, before he had seen Sheridan's, or any similar
dictionary; he has found that they do not confuse children as much as
figures, because when dots are used to distinguish sounds, there is
only a change of place, and no change of form: but any person that
chooses it, may substitute figures instead of dots. It should,
however, be remembered, that children must learn to distinguish the
figures before they can be useful in discriminating the words.

All these sounds, and each of the characters which denote them, should
be distinctly known by a child before we begin to teach him to read.
And here at the first step we must entreat the teacher to have
patience; to fix firmly in her mind, we say _her_ mind, because we
address ourselves to mothers; that it is immaterial whether a child
learns this alphabet in six weeks or in six months; at all events, let
it not be inculcated with restraint, or made tiresome, lest it should
retard the whole future progress of the pupil. We do not mean to
recommend the custom of teaching in play, but surely a cheerful
countenance is not incompatible with application.

The three sounds of the letter (a) should first be taught; they may be
learned by the dullest child in a week, if the letters are shown to
him for a minute or two, twice a day. Proper moments should be chosen
when the child is not intent upon any thing else; when other children
have appeared to be amused with reading; when the pupil himself
appears anxious to be instructed. As soon as he is acquainted with the
sounds of (_a_) and with their distinguishing marks, each of these
sounds should be formed into syllables, with each of the consonants;
but we should never name the consonants by their usual names; if it
be required to point them out by sounds, let them resemble the real
sounds or powers of the consonants; but in fact it will never be
_necessary_ to name the consonants separately, till their powers, in
combination with the different vowels, be distinctly acquired. It will
then be time enough to teach the common names of the letters. To a
person unacquainted with the principles upon which this mode of
teaching is founded, it must appear strange, that a child should be
able to read before he knows the names of his letters; but it has been
ascertained, that the names of the letters are an incumbrance in
teaching a child to read.


  Vowels.        | Dipthongs.       | Consonants.
                 |                  |
  Sounded as in  | Sounded as in    | & double Consonants
                 |                  |
                 |                  |
  a       fate   | [=ea]     ocean  | c as in     cap
  [.a]    fat    |                  | [c.]        city
  [.a.]   fall   | [=ew]     few    | [=ch]       child
  e       mere   |                  | [=ch.]      machine
  [.e]    met    | [=ia]     filial | g           got
  [e.]    her    |                  | [.g]        age
  [.e.]   where  | [=ie]     Daniel | [=ng]       long
  i       fine   |                  | ing         thing
  [.i]    in     | [=io]     minion | [=le]       able
  [i.]    bird   |                  | [=re]       acre
  [.i.]   machine| [=oi]     voice  | [=ph]       physic
  o       throne |                  | [.s]        has
  [.o]    on     | [=ou]     found  | [=sh]       she
  [o.]    love   |                  | [=sion]     fusion
  [..o]   move   | [=ow]     now    | [=th]       the
  u       pure   |                  | ti          christian
  [ü]     busy   | [ua]      assuage| [=tion]     nation
  [u.]    sun    |                  | [=wh]       who
  [..u]   full   | [=ui]     languid| [=ough]     tough
  [.y]    by     |                  |
  [:y]    ably   | [=oy]     joy    |

  Consonants

  ba ca da fa ga ha ja ka la ma
  na pa qua ra sa ta va wa ya za

  (`) _This mark under a Letter shews that it is not to be
  pronounced, as_ [.e.]ight _in which_ igh _are not
  sounded._

  [Transcriber's Note: The symbols in this table are as follows:

  [.a] indicates dot above letter
  [a.] indicates dot below letter
  [.a.] indicates dot above letter and below letter
  [..o] indicates dot in center of letter
  [:a] indicates two dots above letter
  [=ea] indicates a horizontal line through letters
  [=ch.] indicates a horizontal line through letters and a dot below]


In the quotation from Mrs. Barbauld, at the bottom of the alphabetical
tables, there is a stroke between the letters _b_ and _r_ in
_February_, and between _t_ and _h_, in _there_, to show that these
letters are to be sounded together, so as to make one sound. The same
is to be observed as to (_ng_) in the word _long_, and also as to the
syllable _ing_, which, in the table No. 4, column 4, is directed to be
taught as one sound. The mark (.) of obliteration, is put under (_y_)
in the word _days_, under _e_ final in _there_, and also under one of
the _l_'s and the (_w_) in _yellow_, to show that these letters are
not to be pronounced. The exceptions to this scheme of articulation
are very few; such as occur, are marked, with the number employed in
Walker's dictionary, to denote the exception, to which excellent work,
the teacher will, of course, refer.

Parents, at the first sight of this new alphabet, will perhaps tremble
lest they should be obliged to learn the whole of it before they begin
to teach their children: but they may calm their apprehensions, for
they need only point out the letters in succession to the child, and
sound them as they are sounded in the words annexed to the letters in
the table, and the child will soon, by repetition, render the marks of
the respective letters familiar to the teacher. We have never found
any body complain of difficulty, who has gone on from letter to
letter along with the child who was taught.

As soon as our pupil knows the different sounds of (_a_) combined in
succession with all the consonants, we may teach him the rest of the
vowels joined with all the consonants, which will be a short and easy
work. Our readers need not be alarmed at the apparent slowness of this
method: six months, at the rate of four or five minutes each day, will
render all these combinations perfectly familiar. One of Mrs.
Barbauld's lessons for young children, carefully marked in the same
manner as the alphabet, should, when they are well acquainted with the
sounds of each of the vowels with each of the consonants, be put into
our pupil's hands.[7]

The sound of three or four letters together, will immediately become
familiar to him; and when any of the less common sounds of the vowels,
such as are contained in the second table, and the terminating sounds,
_tion_, _ly_, &c. occur, they should be read to the child, and should
be added to what he has got by rote from time to time. When all these
marks and their corresponding sounds are learnt, the primer should be
abandoned, and from that time the child will be able to read slowly
the most difficult words in the language. We must observe, that the
mark of obliteration is of the greatest service; it is a clue to the
whole labyrinth of intricate and uncouth orthography. The word though,
by the obliteration of three letters, may be as easily read as _the_
or _that_.

It should be observed that all people, before they can read fluently,
have acquired a knowledge of the general appearance of most of the
words in the language, independently of the syllables of which they
are composed. Seven children in the author's family were taught to
read in this manner, and three in the common method; the difference
of time, labour, and sorrow, between the two modes of learning,
appeared so clearly, that we can speak with confidence upon the
subject. We think that nine-tenths of the labour and disgust of
learning to read, may be saved by this method; and that instead of
frowns and tears, the usual harbingers of learning, cheerfulness and
smiles may initiate willing pupils in the most difficult of all human
attainments.

A and H, at four and five years old, after they had learned the
alphabet, without having ever combined the letters into syllables,
were set to read one of Mrs. Barbauld's little books. After being
employed two or three minutes every day, for a fortnight, in making
out the words of this book, a paper with a few raisins well concealed
in its folds, was given to each of them, with these words printed on
the outside of it, marked according to our alphabet:

"Open this, and eat what you find in it."

In twenty minutes, they read it distinctly without any assistance.

The step from reading with these marks, to reading without them, will
be found very easy. Nothing more is necessary, than to give children
the same books, without marks, which they can read fluently with them.

Spelling comes next to reading. New trials for the temper; new perils
for the understanding; positive rules and arbitrary exceptions;
endless examples and contradictions; till at length, out of all
patience with the stupid docility of his pupil, the tutor perceives
the absolute necessity of making him get by heart, with all convenient
speed, every word in the language. The formidable columns in dread
succession arise a host of foes; two columns a day, at least, may be
conquered. Months and years are devoted to the undertaking; but after
going through a whole spelling-book, perhaps a whole dictionary, till
we come triumphantly to spell _Zeugma_, we have forgotten to spell
_Abbot_, and we must begin again with _Abasement_. Merely the learning
to spell so many unconnected words, without any assistance from reason
or analogy, is nothing, compared with the difficulty of learning the
explanation of them by rote, and the still greater difficulty of
understanding the meaning of the explanation. When a child has got by
rote,

    "Midnight, the _depth_ of night;"
    "Metaphysics, the science which treats of immaterial
    beings, and of forms in general abstracted from matter;"

has he acquired any distinct ideas, either of midnight or of
metaphysics? If a boy had eaten rice pudding, till he fancied himself
tolerably well acquainted with rice, would he find his knowledge much
improved, by learning from his spelling-book, the words

    "Rice, a foreign esculent grain?"

Yet we are surprised to discover, that men have so few accurate ideas,
and that so many learned disputes originate in a confused or improper
use of words.

"All this is very true," says a candid schoolmaster; "we see the evil,
but we cannot new-model the language, or write a perfect philosophical
dictionary; and, in the mean time, we are bound to teach children to
spell, which we do with the less reluctance, because, though we allow
that it is an arduous task, we have found from experience, that it can
be accomplished, and that the understandings of many of our pupils,
survive all the perils to which you think them exposed during the
operation."

The understandings may, and do, survive the operation; but why should
they be put in unnecessary danger? and why should we early disgust
children with literature, by the pain and difficulty their first
lessons? We are convinced, that the business of learning to spell, is
made much more laborious to children than it need to be: it may be
useful to give them five or six words every day to learn by heart,
but more only loads their memory; and we should, at first, select
words of which they know the meaning, and which occur most frequently
in reading or conversation. The alphabetical list of words in a
spelling-book, contains many which are not in common use, and the
pupil forgets these as fast as he learns them. We have found it
entertaining to children, to ask them to spell any short sentence as
it has been accidentally spoken. "Put this book on that table." Ask a
child how he would spell these words, if he were obliged to write them
down, and you introduce into his mind the idea that he must learn to
spell, before he can make his words and thoughts understood in
writing. It is a good way to make children write down a few words of
their own selection every day, and correct the spelling; and also
after they have been reading, whilst the words are yet fresh in their
memory, we may ask them to spell some of the words which they have
just seen. By these means, and by repeating, at different times in the
day, those words which are most frequently wanted, his vocabulary will
be pretty well stocked without its having cost him many tears. We
should observe that children learn to spell more by the eye than by
the ear, and that the more they read and write, the more likely they
will be to remember the combination of letters in words which they
have continually before their eyes, or which they feel it necessary to
represent to others. When young people begin to write, they first feel
the use of spelling, and it is then that they will learn it with most
ease and precision. Then the greatest care should be taken to look
over their writing, and to make them correct every word in which they
have made a mistake; because, bad habits of spelling, once contracted,
can scarcely be cured: the understanding has nothing to do with the
business, and when the memory is puzzled between the rules of spelling
right, and the habits of spelling wrong, it becomes a misfortune to
the pupil to write even a common letter. The shame which is annexed to
bad spelling, excites young people's attention, as soon as they are
able to understand, that it is considered as a mark of ignorance and
ill breeding. We have often observed, that children listen with
anxiety to the remarks that are made upon this subject in their
presence, especially when the letters or notes of _grown up people_,
are criticised.

Some time ago, a lady, who was reading a newspaper, met with the story
of an ignorant magistrate, who gave for his toast, at a public dinner,
the two K's, for the King and Constitution. "How very much ashamed the
man must have felt, when all the people laughed at him for his
mistake! they must all have seen that he did not know how to spell;
and what a disgrace for a magistrate too!" said a boy who heard the
anecdote. It made a serious impression upon him. A few months
afterwards, he was employed by his father in an occupation which was
extremely agreeable to him, but in which he continually felt the
necessity of spelling correctly. He was employed to send messages by a
telegraph; these messages he was obliged to write down hastily, in
little journals kept for the purpose; and as these were seen by
several people, when the business of the day came to be reviewed, the
boy had a considerable motive for orthographical exactness. He became
extremely desirous to teach himself, and consequently his success was
from that moment certain. As to the rest, we refer to Lady Carlisle's
comprehensive maxim, "Spell well if you can."

It is undoubtedly of consequence, to teach the rudiments of literary
education early, to get over the first difficulties of reading,
writing, and spelling; but much of the anxiety and bustle, and labour
of teaching these things, may be advantageously spared. If more
attention were turned to the general cultivation of the understanding,
and if more pains were taken to make literature agreeable to
children, there would be found less difficulty to excite them to
mental exertion, or to induce the habits of persevering application.

When we speak of rendering literature agreeable to children, and of
the danger of associating pain with the sight of a book, or with the
sound of the word _task_, we should at the same time avoid the errour
of those who, in their first lessons, accustom their pupils to so much
amusement, that they cannot help afterwards feeling disgusted with the
sobriety of instruction. It has been the fashion of late to attempt
teaching every thing to children in play, and ingenious people have
contrived to insinuate much useful knowledge without betraying the
design to instruct; but this system cannot be pursued beyond certain
bounds without many inconveniences. The habit of being amused not only
increases the desire for amusement, but it lessens even the relish for
pleasure; so that the mind becomes passive and indolent, and a course
of perpetually increasing stimulus is necessary to awaken attention.
When dissipated habits are required, the pupil loses power over his
own mind, and, instead of vigorous voluntary exertion, which he should
be able to command, he shows that wayward imbecility, which can think
successfully only by fits and starts: this paralytic state of mind has
been found to be one of the greatest calamities attendant on what is
called genius; and injudicious education creates or increases this
disease. Let us not therefore humour children in this capricious
temper, especially if they have quick abilities: let us give rewards
proportioned to their exertions with uniform justice, but let us not
grant bounties in education, which, however they may appear to succeed
in effecting partial and temporary purposes, are not calculated to
ensure any consequences permanently beneficial. The truth is, that
useful knowledge cannot be obtained without labour; that attention
long continued is laborious, but that without this labour nothing
excellent can be accomplished. Excite a child to attend in earnest
for a short time, his mind will be less fatigued, and his
understanding more improved, than if he had exerted but half the
energy twice as long: the degree of pain which he may have felt will
be amply and properly compensated by his success; this will not be an
arbitrary, variable reward, but one within his own power, and that can
be ascertained by his own feelings. Here is no deceit practised, no
illusion; the same course of conduct may be regularly pursued through
the whole of his education, and his confidence in his tutor will
progressively increase. On the contrary, if, to entice him to enter
the paths of knowledge, we strew them with flowers, how will he feel
when he must force his way through thorns and briars!

There is a material difference between teaching children in play, and
making learning a task; in the one case we associate factitious
pleasure, in the other factitious pain, with the object: both produce
pernicious effects upon the temper, and retard the natural progress of
the understanding. The advocates in favour of "scholastic badinage"
have urged, that it excites an interest in the minds of children
similar to that which makes them endure a considerable degree of
labour in the pursuit of their amusements. Children, it is said, work
hard at play, therefore we should let them play at work. Would not
this produce effects the very reverse of what we desire? The whole
question must at last depend upon the meaning of the word play: if by
play be meant every thing that is not usually called a task, then
undoubtedly much may be learned at play: if, on the contrary, we mean
by the expression to describe that state of fidgeting idleness, or of
boisterous activity, in which the intellectual powers are torpid, or
stunned with unmeaning noise, the assertion contradicts itself. At
play so defined, children can learn nothing but bodily activity; it is
certainly true, that when children are interested about any thing,
whether it be about what we call a trifle, or a matter of consequence,
they will exert themselves in order to succeed; but from the moment
the attention is fixed, no matter on what, children are no longer at
idle play, they are at active work.

S----, a little boy of nine years old, was standing without any book
in his hand, and seemingly idle; he was amusing himself with looking
at what he called a rainbow upon the floor; he begged his sister
M----to look at it; then he said he wondered what could make it; how
it came there. The sun shone bright through the window; the boy moved
several things in the room, so as to place them sometimes between the
light and the colours which he saw upon the floor, and sometimes in a
corner of the room where the sun did not shine. As he moved the
things, he said, "This is not it;" "nor this;" "this has'n't any thing
to do with it." At last he found, that when he moved a tumbler of
water out of the place where it stood, his rainbow vanished. Some
violets were in the tumbler; S---- thought they might be the cause of
the colours which he saw upon the floor, or, as he expressed it,
"Perhaps these may be the thing." He took the violets out of the
water; the colours remained upon the floor. He then thought that "it
might be the water." He emptied the glass; the colours remained, but
they were fainter. S---- immediately observed, that it was the water
and glass together that made the rainbow. "But," said he, "there is no
glass in the sky, yet there is a rainbow, so that I think the water
alone would do, if we could but hold it together without the glass. Oh
I know how I can manage." He poured the water slowly out of the
tumbler into a basin, which he placed where the sun shone, and he saw
the colours on the floor twinkling behind the water as it fell: this
delighted him much; but he asked why it would not do when the sun did
not shine. The sun went behind a cloud whilst he was trying his
experiments: "There was light," said he, "though there was no
sunshine." He then said he thought that the different thickness of the
glass was the cause of the variety of colours: afterwards he said he
thought that the clearness or muddiness of the different drops of
water was the cause of the different colours.

A rigid preceptor, who thinks that every boy must be idle who has not
a Latin book constantly in his hand, would perhaps have reprimanded
S---- for wasting his time _at play_, and would have summoned him from
his rainbow to his _task_; but it is very obvious to any person free
from prejudices, that this child was not idle whilst he was meditating
upon the rainbow on the floor; his attention was fixed; he was
reasoning; he was trying experiments. We may call this _play_ if we
please, and we may say that Descartes was at play, when he first
verified Antonio de Dominis bishop of Spalatro's treatise of the
rainbow, by an experiment with a glass Globe:[8] and we may say that
Buffon was idle, when his pleased attention was first caught with a
landscape of green shadows, when one evening at sunset he first
observed that the shadows of trees, which fell upon a white wall, were
green. He was first delighted with the exact representation of a green
arbour, which seemed as if it had been newly painted on the wall.
Certainly the boy with his rainbow on the floor was as much amused as
the philosopher with his coloured shadows; and, however high sounding
the name of Antonio de Dominis, bishop of Spalatro, it does not alter
the business in the least; he could have exerted only his _utmost
attention_ upon the theory of the rainbow, and the child did the same.
We do not mean to compare the powers of reasoning, or the abilities of
the child and the philosopher; we would only show that the same
species of attention was exerted by both.

To fix the attention of children, or, in other words, to interest
them about those subjects to which we wish them to apply, must be our
first object in the early cultivation of the understanding. This we
shall not find a difficult undertaking if we have no false
associations, no painful recollections to contend with. We can connect
any species of knowledge with those occupations which are immediately
agreeable to young people: for instance, if a child is building a
house, we may take that opportunity to teach him how bricks are made,
how the arches over doors and windows are made, the nature of the
keystone and butments of an arch, the manner in which all the
different parts of the roof of a house are put together, &c.; whilst
he is learning all this he is eagerly and seriously attentive, and we
educate his understanding in the best possible method. But if,
mistaking the application of the principle, that literature should be
made agreeable to children, we should entice a child to learn his
letters by a promise of a gilt coach, or by telling him that he would
be the cleverest boy in the world if he could but learn the letter
_A_, we use false and foolish motives; we may possibly, by such means,
effect the immediate purpose, but we shall assuredly have reason to
repent of such imprudent deceit. If the child reasons at all, he will
be content after his first lesson with being "the cleverest boy in the
world," and he will not, on a future occasion, hazard his fame, having
much to lose, and nothing to gain; besides, he is now master of a gilt
coach, and some new and larger reward must be proffered to excite his
industry. Besides the disadvantage of early exhausting our stock of
incitements, it is dangerous in teaching to humour pupils with a
variety of objects by way of relieving their attention. The pleasure
of _thinking_, and much of the profit, must frequently depend upon our
preserving the greatest possible connection between our ideas. Those
who allow themselves to start from one object to another, acquire such
dissipated habits of mind, that they cannot, without extreme
difficulty and reluctance, follow any connected train of thought. You
cannot teach those who will not follow the chain of your reasons; upon
the connection of our ideas, useful memory and reasoning must depend.
We will give you an instance: arithmetic is one of the first things
that we attempt to teach children. In the following dialogue, which
passed between a boy of five years old and his father, we may observe
that, till the child followed his father's train of ideas, he could
not be taught.

_Father._ _S----_, how many can you take from one?

_S----._ None.

_Father._ None! Think; can you take nothing from one?

_S----._ None, except that one.

_Father._ Except! Then you can take one from one?

_S----._ Yes, _that one_.

_Father._ How many then can you take from one?

_S----._ One.

_Father._ Very true; but now, can you take two from one?

_S----._ Yes, if they were figures I could, with a rubber-out. (This
child had frequently sums written for him with a black lead pencil,
and he used to rub out his figures when they were wrong with Indian
rubber, which he had heard called _rubber-out_.)

_Father._ Yes, you could; but now we will not talk of figures, we will
talk of things. There may be one horse or two horses, or one man or
two men.

_S----._ Yes, or one coat or two coats.

_Father._ Yes, or one thing or two things, no matter what they are.
Now, could you take two things from one thing?

_S----._ Yes, if there were three things I could take away two things,
and leave one.

His Father took up a cake from the tea-table.

_Father._ Could I take two cakes from this one cake?

_S----._ You could take two pieces.

His Father divided the cake into halves, and held up each half so that
the child might distinctly see them.

_Father._ What would you call these two pieces?

_S----._ Two cakes.

_Father._ No, not two cakes.

_S----._ Two biscuits.

_Father._ Holding up a whole biscuit: What is this?

_S----._ A thing to eat.

_Father._ Yes, but what would you call it?

_S----._ A biscuit.

His Father broke it into halves, and showed one half.

_Father._ What would you call this?

_S----._ was silent, and his sister was applied to, who answered,
"Half a biscuit."

_Father._ Very well; that's all at present.

The father prudently stopped here, that he might not confuse his
pupil's understanding. Those only who have attempted to teach children
can conceive how extremely difficult it is to fix their attention, or
to make them seize the connection of ideas, which it appears to us
almost impossible to miss. Children are well occupied in examining
external objects, but they must also attend to words as well as
things. One of the great difficulties in early instruction arises from
the want of words: the pupil very often has acquired the necessary
ideas, but they are not associated in his mind with the words which
his tutor uses; these words are then to him mere sounds, which suggest
no correspondent thoughts. Words, as M. Condillac well observes,[9]
are essential to our acquisition of knowledge; they are the medium
through which one set of beings can convey the result of their
experiments and observations to another; they are, in all mental
processes, the algebraic signs which assist us in solving the most
difficult problems. What agony does a foreigner, knowing himself to be
a man of sense, appear to suffer, when, for want of language, he
cannot in conversation communicate his knowledge, explain his reasons,
enforce his arguments, or make his wit intelligible? In vain he has
recourse to the language of action. The language of action, or, as
Bacon calls it, of "transitory hieroglyphic," is expressive, but
inadequate. As new ideas are collected in the mind, new signs are
wanted, and the progress of the understanding would be early and
fatally impeded by the want of language. M. de la Condamine tells us
that there is a nation who have no sign to express the number three
but this word, _poellartarrorincourac_. These people having begun, as
Condillac observes, in such an incommodious manner, it is not
surprising that they have not advanced further in their knowledge of
arithmetic: they have got no further than the number three; their
knowledge of arithmetic stops for ever at _poellartarrorincourac_. But
even this cumbersome sign is better than none. Those who have the
misfortune to be born deaf and dumb, continue for ever in intellectual
imbecility. There is an account in the Memoires de l'Academie Royale,
p. xxii-xxiii, 1703, of a young man born deaf and dumb,[10] who
recovered his hearing at the age of four-and-twenty, and who, after
employing himself in repeating low to himself the words which he heard
others pronounce, at length broke silence in company, and declared
that he could talk. His conversation was but imperfect; he was
examined by several able theologians, who chiefly questioned him on
his ideas of God, the soul, and the morality or immorality of actions.
It appeared that he had not thought upon any of these subjects; he did
not distinctly know what was meant by death, and he never thought of
it. He seemed to pass a merely animal life, occupied with sensible,
present objects, and with the few ideas which he received by his sense
of sight; nor did he seem to have gained as much knowledge as he might
have done, by the comparison of these ideas; yet it is said that he
did not appear naturally deficient in understanding.

Peter, the wild boy, who is mentioned in Lord Monboddo's Origin of
Language,[11] had all his senses in remarkable perfection. He lived at
a farm house within half a mile of us in Hertfordshire for some years,
and we had frequent opportunities of trying experiments upon him. He
could articulate imperfectly a few words, in particular, _King
George_, which words he always accompanied with an imitation of the
bells, which rang at the coronation of George the Second; he could in
a rude manner imitate two or three common tunes, but without words.
Though his head, as Mr. Wedgewood and many others had remarked,
resembled that of Socrates, he was an idiot: he had acquired a few
automatic habits of rationality and industry, but he could never be
made to work at any continued occupation: he would shut the door of
the farm-yard five hundred times a day, but he would not reap or make
hay. Drawing water from a neighbouring river was the only domestic
business which he regularly pursued. In 1779 we visited him, and tried
the following experiment. He was attended to the river by a person who
emptied his buckets repeatedly after Peter had repeatedly filled them.
A shilling was put before his face into one of the buckets when it was
empty; he took no notice of it, but filled it with water and carried
it homeward: his buckets were taken from him before he reached the
house and emptied on the ground; the shilling, which had fallen out,
was again shown to him, and put into the bucket. Peter returned to the
river again, filled his bucket and went home; and when the bucket was
emptied by the maid at the house where he lived, he took the shilling
and laid it in a place where he was accustomed to deposit the presents
that were made to him by curious strangers, and whence the farmer's
wife collected the price of his daily exhibition. It appeared that
this savage could not be taught to reason for want of language.

Rousseau declaims with eloquence, and often with justice, against what
he calls a knowledge of words. Words without correspondent ideas, are
worse than useless; they are counterfeit coin, which imposes upon the
ignorant and unwary; but words, which really represent ideas, are not
only of current use, but of sterling value; they not only show our
present store, but they increase our wealth, by keeping it in
continual circulation; both the principal and the interest increase
together. The importance of signs and words, in our reasonings, has
been eloquently explained, since the time of Condillac, by Stewart. We
must use the ideas of these excellent writers, because they are just
and applicable to the art of education; but whilst we use, it is with
proper acknowledgments that we borrow, what we shall never be able to
return.

It is a nice and difficult thing in education, to proportion a child's
vocabulary exactly to his knowledge, dispositions, or conformation;
our management must vary; some will acquire words too quickly, others
too slowly. A child who has great facility in pronouncing sounds,
will, for that reason, quickly acquire a number of words, whilst those
whose organs of speech are not so happily formed, will from that cause
alone, be ready in forming a copious vocabulary. Children who have
many companions, or who live with people who converse a great deal,
have more motive, both from sympathy and emulation, to acquire a
variety of words, than those who live with silent people, and who have
few companions of their own age. All these circumstances should be
considered by parents, before they form their judgment of a child's
capacity from his volubility or his taciturnity. Volubility can easily
be checked by simply ceasing to attend to it, and taciturnity may be
vanquished by the encouragements of praise and affection: we should
neither be alarmed at one disposition nor at the other, but steadily
pursue the system of conduct which will be most advantageous to both.
When a prattling, vivacious child, pours forth a multiplicity of words
without understanding their meaning, we may sometimes beg to have an
explanation of a few of them, and the child will then be obliged to
think, which will prevent him from talking nonsense another time. When
a thoughtful boy, who is in the habit of observing every object he
sees, is at a loss for words to express his ideas, his countenance
usually shows to those who can read the countenance of children, that
he is not stupid; therefore, we need not urge him to talk, but assist
him judiciously with words "in his utmost need:" at the same time we
should observe carefully, whether he grows lazy when we assist him; if
his stock of words does not increase in proportion to the assistance
we give, we should then stimulate him to exertion, or else he will
become habitually indolent in expressing his ideas; though he may
_think_ in a language of his own, he will not be able to understand
our language when we attempt to teach him: this would be a source of
daily misery to both parties.

When children begin to read, they seem suddenly to acquire a great
variety of words: we should carefully examine whether they annex the
proper meaning to these which are so rapidly collected. Instead of
giving them lessons and tasks to get by rote, we should cautiously
watch over every new phrase and every new word which they learn from
books. There are but few books so written that young children can
comprehend a single sentence in them without much explanation. It is
tiresome to those who hear them read to explain every word; it is not
only tiresome, but difficult; besides, the progress of the pupil seems
to be retarded; the grand business of reading, of getting through the
book, is impeded; and the tutor, more impatient than his pupil, says,
"Read on, I cannot stop to explain _that_ to you now. You will
understand the meaning of the sentence if you will read to the end of
the page. You have not read three lines this half hour; we shall never
get on at this rate."

A certain dame at a country school, who had never been able to compass
the word Nebuchadnezzar, used to desire her pupils to "call it
Nazareth, and let it pass."

If they be obliged to pass over words without comprehending them in
books, they will probably do the same in conversation; and the
difficulty of teaching such pupils, and of understanding what they
say, will be equally increased. At the hazard of being tedious, we
must dwell a little longer upon this subject, because much of the
future capacity of children seems to depend upon the manner in which
they first acquire language. If their language be confused, so will be
their thoughts; and they will not be able to reason, to invent, or to
write, with more precision and accuracy than they speak. The first
words that children learn are the names of things; these are easily
associated with the objects themselves, and there is little danger of
mistake or confusion. We will not enter into the grammatical dispute
concerning the right of precedency, amongst pronoun substantives and
verbs; we do not know which came first into the mind of man; perhaps,
in different minds, and in different circumstances, the precedency
must have varied; but this seems to be of little consequence; children
see actions performed, and they act themselves; when they want to
express their remembrance of these actions, they make use of the sort
of words which we call verbs. Let these words be strictly associated
with the ideas which they mean to express, and no matter whether
children know any thing about the disputes of grammarians, they will
understand rational grammar in due time, simply by reflecting upon
their own minds. This we shall explain more fully when we speak
hereafter of grammar; we just mention the subject here, to warn
preceptors against puzzling their pupils too early with grammatical
subtleties.

If any person unused to mechanics was to read Dr. Desagulier's
description of the manner in which a man walks, the number of a-b-c's,
and the travels of the centre of gravity, it would so amaze and
confound him, that he would scarcely believe he could ever again
perform such a tremendous operation as that of walking. Children, if
they were early to hear grammarians talk of the parts of speech, and
of syntax, would conclude, that to speak must be one of the most
difficult arts in the world; but children, who are not usually so
unfortunate as to have grammarians for their preceptors, when they
first begin to speak, acquire language, without being aware of the
difficulties which would appear so formidable in theory. A child
points to, or touches, the table, and when the word table is repeated,
at the same instant he learns the name of the thing. The facility with
which a number of names are thus learned in infancy is surprising; but
we must not imagine that the child, in learning these names, has
acquired much knowledge; he has prepared himself to be taught, but he
has not yet learnt any thing accurately. When a child sees a guinea
and a shilling, and smiling says, "That's a guinea, mama! and that's a
shilling!" the mother is pleased and surprised by her son's
intelligence, and she gives him credit for more than he really
possesses. We have associated with the words guinea and shilling a
number of ideas, and when we hear the same words pronounced by a young
child, we perhaps have some confused belief that he has acquired the
same ideas that we have; hence we are pleased with the mere sound of
words of high import from infantine lips.

Children who are delighted in their turn by the expression of pleasure
in the countenance of others, repeat the things which they perceive
have pleased; and thus their education is begun by those who first
smile upon them, and listen to them when they attempt to speak. They
who applaud children for knowing the names of things, induce them
quickly to learn a number of names by rote; as long as they learn the
names of external objects only, which they can see, and smell, and
touch, all is well; the names will convey distinct ideas of certain
perceptions. A child who learns the name of a taste, or of a colour,
who learns that the taste of sugar is called sweet, and that the
colour of a red rose is called red, has learned distinct words to
express certain perceptions: and we can at any future time recall to
his mind the memory of those perceptions by means of their names, and
he understands us as well as the most learned philosopher. But,
suppose that a boy had learned only the name of gold; that when
different metals were shown to him, he could put his finger upon gold,
and say, "That is gold;" yet this boy does not know all the properties
of gold; he does not know in what it differs from other metals; to
what uses it is applied in arts, manufactures, and commerce; the name
of gold, in his mind, represents nothing more than a substance of a
bright yellow colour, upon which people, he does not precisely know
why, set a great value. Now, it is very possible, that a child might,
on the contrary, learn all the properties, and the various uses of
gold, without having learned its name; his ideas of this metal would
be perfectly distinct; but whenever he wished to speak of gold, he
would be obliged to use a vast deal of circumlocution to make himself
understood; and if he were to enumerate all the properties of the
metal every time he wanted to recal the general idea, his
conversation would be intolerably tedious to others, and to himself
this useless repetition must be extremely laborious. He would
certainly be glad to learn that single word _gold_, which would save
him so much trouble; his understanding would appear suddenly to have
improved, simply from his having acquired a proper sign to represent
his ideas. The boy who had learnt the name, without knowing any of the
properties of gold, would also appear comparatively ignorant, as soon
as it is discovered that he has few ideas annexed to the word. It is,
perhaps, for this reason, that some children seem suddenly to shine
out with knowledge, which no one suspected they possessed; whilst
others, who had appeared to be very quick and clever, come to a dead
stop in their education, and appear to be blighted by some unknown
cause. The children who suddenly shine out, are those who had acquired
a number of ideas, and who, the moment they acquire proper words, can
communicate their thoughts to others. Those children who suddenly seem
to lose their superiority, are those who had acquired a variety of
words, but who had not annexed ideas to them. When their ignorance is
detected, we not only despair of them, but they are apt to despair of
themselves; they see their companions get before them, and they do not
exactly perceive the cause of their sudden incapacity. Where we speak
of sensible, visible, tangible objects, we can easily detect and
remedy a child's ignorance. It is easy to discover whether he has or
has not a complete notion of such a substance as gold; we can
enumerate its properties, and readily point out in what his definition
is defective. The substance can be easily produced for examination;
most of its properties are obvious to the senses; we have nothing to
do but to show them to the child, and to associate with each property
its usual name; here there can be no danger of puzzling his
understanding; but when we come to the explanation of words which do
not represent external objects, we shall find the affair more
difficult. We can make children understand the meaning of those words
which are the names of simple feelings of the mind, such as surprise,
joy, grief, pity; because we can either put our pupils in situations
where they actually feel these sensations, and then we may associate
the name with the feelings; or we may, by the example of other people,
who actually suffer pain or enjoy pleasure, point out what we mean by
the words joy and grief. But how shall we explain to our young pupils,
a number of words which represent neither existing substances nor
simple feelings, when we can neither recur to experiment nor to
sympathy for assistance? How shall we explain, for instance, the words
virtue, justice, benevolence, beauty, taste, &c.? To analyze our own
ideas of these, is no easy task; to explain the process to a young
child, is scarcely possible. Call upon any man, who has read and
reflected, for a definition of virtue, the whole "theory of moral
sentiments" rises, perhaps, to his view at once, in all its elegance;
the paradoxical acumen of Mandeville, the perspicuous reasoning of
Hume, the accurate metaphysics of Condillac, the persuasive eloquence
of Stewart; all the various doctrines that have been supported
concerning the foundation of morals, such as the fitness of things,
the moral sense, the beauty of truth, utility, sympathy, common sense;
all that has been said by ancient and modern philosophers, is recalled
in transient perplexing succession to his memory. If such be the state
of mind of the man who is to define, what must be the condition of the
child who is to understand the definition? All that a prudent person
will attempt, is to give instances of different virtues; but even
these, it will be difficult properly to select for a child. General
terms, whether in morals or in natural philosophy, should, we
apprehend, be as much as possible avoided in early education. Some
people may imagine that children have improved in virtue and wisdom,
when they can talk fluently of justice, and charity, and humanity;
when they can read with a good emphasis any didactic compositions in
verse or prose. But let any person of sober, common sense, be allowed
to cross-examine these proficients, and the pretended extent of their
knowledge will shrink into a narrow compass; nor will their virtues,
which have never seen service, be ready for action.

General terms are, as it were, but the indorsements upon the bundles
of our ideas; they are useful to those who have collected a number of
ideas, but utterly useless to those who have no collections ready for
classification: nor should we be in a hurry to tie up the bundles,
till we are sure that the collection is tolerably complete; the
trouble, the difficulty, the shame of untying them late in life, is
felt even by superior minds. "Sir," said Dr. Johnson, "I don't like to
have any of my opinions attacked. I have made up my faggot, and if you
draw out one you weaken the whole bundle."

Preceptors sometimes explain general terms and abstract notions
vaguely to their pupils, simply because they are ashamed to make that
answer which every sensible person must frequently make to a child's
inquiries, "I don't know."[12] Surely it is much better to say at
once, "I cannot explain this to you," than to attempt an imperfect or
sophistical reply. Fortunately for us, children, if they are not
forced to attend to studies for which they have no taste, will not
trouble us much with moral and metaphysical questions; their attention
will be fully employed upon external objects; intent upon experiments,
they will not be very inquisitive about theories. Let us then take
care that their simple ideas be accurate, and when these are
compounded, their complex notions, their principles, opinions, and
tastes, will necessarily be just; their language will then be as
accurate as their ideas are distinct; and hence they will be enabled
to reason with precision, and to invent with facility. We may observe,
that the great difficulty in reasoning is to fix steadily upon our
terms; ideas can be readily compared, when the words by which we
express them are defined; as in arithmetic and algebra, we can easily
solve any problem, when we have precise signs for all the numbers and
quantities which are to be considered.

It is not from idleness, it is not from stupidity, it is not from
obstinacy, that children frequently show an indisposition to listen to
those who attempt to explain things to them. The exertion of
attention, which is frequently required from them, is too great for
the patience of childhood: the words that are used are so inaccurate
in their signification, that they convey to the mind sometimes one
idea and sometimes another; we might as well require of them to cast
up a sum right whilst we rubbed out and changed the figures every
instant, as expect that they should seize a combination of ideas
presented to them in variable words. Whoever expects to command the
attention of an intelligent child, must be extremely careful in the
use of words. If the pupil be paid for the labour of listening by the
pleasure of understanding what is said, he will attend, whether it be
to his playfellow, or to his tutor, to conversation, or to books. But
if he has by fatal experience discovered, that, let him listen ever so
intently, he cannot understand, he will spare himself the trouble of
fruitless exertion; and, though he may put on a face of attention, his
thoughts will wander far from his tutor and his tasks.

"It is impossible to fix the attention of children," exclaims the
tutor; "when this boy attends he can do any thing, but he will not
attend for a single instant."

Alas! it is in vain to say he _will not_ attend; he _cannot_.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] Some of these lessons, and others by the authors, will shortly be
printed, and marked according to this method.

[8] See Priestley's History of Vision, vol. i. p. 51.

[9] "Art de Penser."

[10] See Condillac's Art de Penser. In the chapter "on the use of
signs," this young man is mentioned.

[11] Vol. II.

[12] Rousseau.



CHAPTER III.

ON ATTENTION.


Pere Bourgeois, one of the missionaries to China, attempted to preach
a Chinese sermon to the Chinese. His own account of the business is
the best we can give.

"They told me _Chou_ signifies a book, so that I thought whenever the
word _Chou_ was pronounced, a book was the subject of discourse; not
at all. Chou, the next time I heard it, I found signified _a tree_.
Now I was to recollect Chou was a book, and a tree; but this amounted
to nothing. Chou I found also expressed _great heats_. Chou is _to
relate_. Chou is _the Aurora_. Chou means _to be accustomed_. Chou
expresses the _loss of a wager_, &c. I should never have done were I
to enumerate all its meanings******.

"I recited my sermon at least fifty times to my servant before I spoke
it in public; and yet I am told, though he continually corrected me,
that of the ten parts of the sermon (as the Chinese express
themselves) they hardly understood three. Fortunately the Chinese are
wonderfully patient."

Children are sometimes in the condition in which the Chinese found
themselves at this learned missionary's sermon, and their patience
deserves to be equally commended. The difficulty of understanding the
Chinese Chou, strikes us immediately, and we sympathise with Pere
Bourgeois's perplexity; yet, many words, which are in common use
amongst us, may perhaps be as puzzling to children. _Block_ (see
Johnson's Dictionary) signifies _a heavy piece of timber, a mass of
matter_. Block means _the wood on which hats are formed_. Block means
_the wood on which criminals are beheaded_. Block is _a sea-term for
pulley_. Block is _an obstruction, a stop_; and, finally, Block means
_a blockhead_.

There are in our language, ten meanings for _sweet_, ten for _open_,
twenty-two for _upon_, and sixty-three for _to fall_. Such are the
defects of language! But, whatever they may be, we cannot hope
immediately to see them reformed, because common consent, and
universal custom, must combine to establish a new vocabulary. None but
philosophers could invent, and none but philosophers would adopt, a
philosophical language. The new philosophical language of chemistry
was received at first with some reluctance, even by chemists,
notwithstanding its obvious utility and elegance. Butter of antimony,
and liver of sulphur, flowers of zinc, oil of vitriol, and spirit of
sulphur by the bell, powder of algaroth, and salt of alembroth, may
yet long retain their ancient titles amongst apothecaries. There does
not exist in the mineral kingdom either butter or oil, or yet flowers;
these treacherous names[13] are given to the most violent poisons, so
that there is no analogy to guide the understanding or the memory: but
Custom has a prescriptive right to talk nonsense. The barbarous
enigmatical jargon of the ancient adepts continued for above a century
to be the only chemical language of men of science, notwithstanding
the prodigious labour to the memory, and confusion to the
understanding, which it occasioned: they have but just now left off
calling one of their vessels for distilling, a death's head, and
another a helmet. Capricious analogy with difficulty yields to
rational arrangement. If such has been the slow progress of a
philosophical language amongst the learned, how can we expect to make
a general, or even a partial reformation amongst the ignorant? And it
may be asked, how can we in education attempt to teach in any but
customary terms? There is no occasion to make any sudden or violent
alteration in language; but a man who attempts to teach, will find it
necessary to select his terms with care, to define them with accuracy,
and to abide by them with steadiness; thus he will make a
philosophical vocabulary for himself. Persons who want to puzzle and
to deceive, always pursue a contrary practice; they use as great a
variety of unmeaning, or of ambiguous words, as they possibly can.[14]
That state juggler, Oliver Cromwell, excelled in this species of
eloquence; his speeches are models in their kind. Count Cagliostro,
and the Countess de la Motte, were not his superiors in the power of
baffling the understanding. The ancient oracles, and the old books of
judicial astrologers, and of alchymists, were contrived upon the same
principles; in all these we are confounded by a multiplicity of words
which convey a doubtful sense.

Children, who have not the habit of listening to words without
understanding them, yawn and writhe with manifest symptoms of disgust,
whenever they are compelled to hear sounds which convey no ideas to
their minds. All supernumerary words should be avoided in cultivating
the power of attention.

The common observation, that we can attend to but one thing at a time,
should never be forgotten by those who expect to succeed in the art of
teaching. In teaching new terms, or new ideas, we must not produce a
number at once. It is prudent to consider, that the actual progress
made in our business at one sitting is not of so much consequence, as
the desire left in the pupil's mind to sit again. Now a child will be
better pleased with himself, and with his tutor, if he acquire one
distinct idea from a lesson, than if he retained a confused notion of
twenty different things. Some people imagine, that as children appear
averse to repetition, variety will amuse them. Variety, to a certain
degree, certainly relieves the mind; but then the objects which are
varied must not all be entirely new. Novelty and variety, joined,
fatigue the mind. Either we remain passive at the show, or else we
fatigue ourselves with ineffectual activity.

A few years ago, a gentleman[15] brought two Eskimaux to London--he
wished to amuse, and at the same time to astonish, them with the great
magnificence of the metropolis. For this purpose, after having
equipped them like English gentlemen, he took them out one morning to
walk through the streets of London. They walked for several hours in
silence; they expressed neither pleasure nor admiration at any thing
which they saw. When their walk was ended, they appeared uncommonly
melancholy and stupified. As soon as they got home, they sat down with
their elbows upon their knees, and hid their faces between their
hands. The only words they could be brought to utter, were, "Too much
smoke--too much noise--too much houses--too much men--too much every
thing!"

Some people who attend public lectures upon natural philosophy, with
the expectation of being much amused and instructed, go home with
sensations similar to those of the poor Eskimaux; they feel that they
have had too much of every thing. The lecturer has not time to explain
his terms, or to repeat them till they are distinct in the memory of
his audience.[16] To children, every mode of instruction must be
hurtful which fatigues attention; therefore, a skilful preceptor will,
as much as possible, avoid the manner of teaching, to which the public
lecturer is in some degree compelled by his situation. A private
preceptor, who undertakes the instruction of several pupils in the
same family, will examine with care the different habits and tempers
of his pupils; and he will have full leisure to adapt his instructions
peculiarly to each.

There are some general observations which apply to all understandings;
these we shall first enumerate, and we may afterwards examine what
distinctions should be made for pupils of different tempers or
dispositions.

Besides distinctness and accuracy in the language which we use,
besides care to produce but few ideas or terms that are new in our
first lessons, we must exercise attention only during very short
periods. In the beginning of every science pupils have much laborious
work; we should therefore allow them time; we should repress our own
impatience when they appear to be slow in comprehending reasons, or in
seizing analogies. We often expect, that those whom we are teaching
should know some things intuitively, because these may have been so
long known to us that we forget how we learned them. We may from habit
learn to pass with extraordinary velocity from one idea to another.
"Some often repeated processes of reasoning or invention," says Mr.
Stewart, "may be carried on so quickly in the mind, that we may not be
conscious of them ourselves." Yet we easily convince ourselves that
this rapid facility of thought is purely the result of practice, by
observing the comparatively slow progress of our understandings in
subjects to which we have not been accustomed: the progress of the
mind is there so slow, that we can count every step.

We are disposed to think that those must be naturally slow and stupid,
who do not perceive the resemblances between objects which strike us,
we say, at the first glance. But what we call the first glance is
frequently the fiftieth: we have got the things completely by heart;
all the parts are known to us, and we are at leisure to compare and
judge. A reasonable preceptor will not expect from his pupils two
efforts of attention at the same instant; he will not require them at
once to learn terms by heart, and to compare the objects which those
terms represent; he will repeat his terms till they are thoroughly
fixed in the memory; he will repeat his reasoning till the chain of
ideas is completely formed.

Repetition makes all operations easy; even the fatigue of thinking
diminishes by habit. That we may not increase the labour of the mind
unseasonably, we should watch for the moment when habit has made one
lesson easy, and when we may go forward a new step. In teaching the
children at the House of Industry at Munich to spin, Count Rumford
wisely ordered that they should be made perfect in one motion before
any other was shown to them: at first they were allowed only to move
the wheel by the treadle with their feet; when, after sufficient
practice, the foot became perfect in its lesson, the hands were set to
work, and the children were allowed to begin to spin with coarse
materials. It is said that these children made remarkable good
spinners. Madame de Genlis applied the same principle in teaching
Adela to play upon the harp.[17]

In the first attempts to learn any new bodily exercise, as fencing or
dancing, persons are not certain what muscles they must use, and what
may be left at rest; they generally employ those of which they have
the most ready command, but these may not always be the muscles which
are really wanted in the new operation. The simplest thing appears
difficult, till, by practice, we have associated the various slight
motions which ought to be combined. We feel, that from want of use,
our motions are not obedient to our will, and to supply this defect,
we exert more strength and activity than is requisite. "It does not
require strength; you need not use so much force; you need not take so
much pains;" we frequently say to those who are making the first
painful awkward attempts at some simple operation. Can any thing
appear more easy than knitting, when we look at the dexterous, rapid
motions of an experienced practitioner? But let a gentleman take up a
lady's knitting needles, and knitting appears to him, and to all the
spectators, one of the most difficult and laborious operations
imaginable. A lady who is learning to work with a tambour needle, puts
her head down close to the tambour frame, the colour comes into her
face, she strains her eyes, all her faculties are exerted, and perhaps
she works at the rate of three links a minute. A week afterwards,
probably, practice has made the work perfectly easy; the same lady
goes rapidly on with her work; she can talk and laugh, and perhaps
even think, whilst she works. She has now discovered that a number of
the motions, and a great portion of that attention which she thought
necessary to this mighty operation, may be advantageously spared.

In a similar manner, in the exercise of our minds upon subjects that
are new to us, we generally exert more attention than is necessary or
serviceable, and we consequently soon fatigue ourselves without any
advantage. Children, to whom many subjects are new, are often fatigued
by these overstrained and misplaced efforts. In these circumstances, a
tutor should relieve the attention by introducing indifferent subjects
of conversation; he can, by showing no anxiety himself, either in his
manner or countenance, relieve his pupil from any apprehension of his
displeasure, or of his contempt; he can represent that the object
before them is not a matter of life and death; that if the child does
not succeed in the first trials, he will not be disgraced in the
opinion of any of his friends; that by perseverance he will certainly
conquer the difficulty; that it is of little consequence whether he
understands the thing in question to-day or to-morrow; these
considerations will calm the over-anxious pupil's agitation, and,
whether he succeed or not, he will not suffer such a degree of pain
as to disgust him in his first attempts.

Besides the command which we, by this prudent management, obtain over
the pupil's mind, we shall also prevent him from acquiring any of
those awkward gestures and involuntary motions which are sometimes
practised to relieve the pain of attention.

Dr. Darwin observes, that when we experience any disagreeable
sensations, we endeavour to procure ourselves temporary relief by
motions of those muscles and limbs which are most habitually obedient
to our will. This observation extends to mental as well as to bodily
pain; thus persons in violent grief wring their hands and convulse
their countenances; those who are subject to the petty, but acute
miseries of false shame, endeavour to relieve themselves by awkward
gestures and continual motions. A plough-boy, when he is brought into
the presence of those whom he thinks his superiors, endeavours to
relieve himself from the uneasy sensations of false shame, by twirling
his hat upon his fingers, and by various uncouth gestures. Men who
think a great deal, sometimes acquire habitual awkward gestures, to
relieve the pain of intense thought.

When attention first becomes irksome to children, they mitigate the
mental pain by wrinkling their brows, or they fidget and put
themselves into strange attitudes. These odd motions, which at first
are voluntary, after they have been frequently associated with certain
states of mind, constantly recur involuntarily with those feelings or
ideas with which they have been connected. For instance, a boy, who
has been used to buckle and unbuckle his shoe, when he repeats his
lesson by rote, cannot repeat his lesson without performing this
operation; it becomes a sort of artificial memory, which is necessary
to prompt his recollective faculty. When children have a _variety_ of
tricks of this sort, they are of little consequence; but when they
have acquired a few constant and habitual motions, whilst they think,
or repeat, or listen, these should be attended to, and the habits
should be broken, otherwise these young people will appear, when they
grow up, awkward and ridiculous in their manners; and, what is worse,
perhaps their thoughts and abilities will be too much in the power of
external circumstances. Addison represents, with much humour, the case
of a poor man who had the habit of twirling a bit of thread round his
finger; the thread was accidentally broken, and the orator stood mute.

We once saw a gentleman get up to speak in a public assembly, provided
with a paper of notes written in pencil: during the exordium of his
speech, he thumbed his notes with incessant agitation; when he looked
at the paper, he found that the words were totally obliterated; he was
obliged to apologize to his audience; and, after much hesitation, sat
down abashed. A father would be sorry to see his son in such a
predicament.

To prevent children from acquiring such awkward tricks whilst they are
thinking, we should in the first place take care not to make them
attend for too long a time together, then the pain of attention will
not be so violent as to compel them to use these strange modes of
relief. Bodily exercise should immediately follow that entire state of
rest, in which our pupils ought to keep themselves whilst they attend.
The first symptoms of any awkward trick should be watched; they are
easily prevented by early care from becoming habitual. If any such
tricks have been acquired, and if the pupil cannot exert his attention
in common, unless certain contortions are permitted, we should attempt
the cure either by sudden slight bodily pain, or by a total suspension
of all the employments with which these bad habits are associated. If
a boy could not read without swinging his head like a pendulum, we
should rather prohibit him from reading for some time, than suffer
him to grow up with this ridiculous habit. But in conversation,
whenever opportunities occur of telling him any thing in which he is
particularly interested, we should refuse to gratify his curiosity,
unless he keeps himself perfectly still. The excitement here would be
sufficient to conquer the habit.

Whatever is connected with pain or pleasure commands our attention;
but to make this general observation useful in education, we must
examine what degrees of stimulus are necessary for different pupils,
and in different circumstances. We have formerly observed,[18] that it
is not prudent early to use violent or continual stimulus, either of a
painful or a pleasurable nature, to excite children to application,
because we should by an intemperate use of these, weaken the mind, and
because we may with a little patience obtain all we wish without these
expedients. Besides these reasons, there is another potent argument
against using violent motives to excite attention; such motives
frequently disturb and dissipate the very attention which they attempt
to fix. If a child be threatened with severe punishment, or flattered
with the promise of some delicious reward, in order to induce his
performance of any particular task, he desires instantly to perform
the task; but this desire will not ensure his success: unless he has
previously acquired the habit of voluntary exertion, he will not be
able to turn his mind from his ardent wishes, even to the means of
accomplishing them. He will be in the situation of Alnaschar in the
Arabian tales, who, whilst he dreamt of his future grandeur, forgot
his immediate business. The greater his hope or fear, the greater the
difficulty of his employing himself.

To teach any new habit or art, we must not employ any alarming
excitements: small, certain, regularly recurring motives, which
interest, but which do not distract the mind, are evidently the best.
The ancient inhabitants of Minorca were said to be the best slingers
in the world; when they were children, every morning what they were to
eat was slightly suspended from high poles, and they were obliged to
throw down their breakfasts with their slings from the places where
they were suspended, before they could satisfy their hunger. The
motive seems to have been here well proportioned to the effect that
was required; it could not be any great misfortune to a boy to go
without his breakfast; but as this motive returned every morning, it
became sufficiently serious to the hungry slingers.

It is impossible to explain this subject so as to be of use, without
descending to minute particulars. When a mother says to her little
daughter, as she places on the table before her a bunch of ripe
cherries, "Tell me, my dear, how many cherries are there, and I will
give them to you?" The child's attention is fixed instantly; there is
a sufficient motive, not a motive which excites any violent passions,
but which raises just such a degree of hope as is necessary to produce
attention. The little girl, if she knows from experience that her
mother's promise will be kept, and that her own patience is likely to
succeed, counts the cherries carefully, has her reward, and upon the
next similar trial she will, from this success, be still more disposed
to exert her attention. The pleasure of eating cherries, associated
with the pleasure of success, will balance the pain of a few moments
prolonged application, and by degrees the cherries may be withdrawn,
the association of pleasure will remain. Objects or thoughts, that
have been associated with pleasure, retain the power of pleasing; as
the needle touched by the loadstone acquires polarity, and retains it
long after the loadstone is withdrawn.

Whenever attention is habitually raised by the power of association,
we should be careful to withdraw all the excitements that were
originally used, because these are now unnecessary; and, as we have
formerly observed, the steady rule, with respect to stimulus, should
be to give the least possible quantity that will produce the effect we
want. Success is a great pleasure; as soon as children become sensible
to this pleasure, that is to say, when they have tasted it two or
three times, they will exert their attention merely with the hope of
succeeding. We have seen a little boy of three years old, frowning
with attention for several minutes together, whilst he was trying to
clasp and unclasp a lady's bracelet; his whole soul was intent upon
the business; he neither saw nor heard any thing else that passed in
the room, though several people were talking, and some happened to be
looking at him. The pleasure of success, when he clasped the bracelet,
was quite sufficient; he looked for no praise, though he was perhaps
pleased with the sympathy that was shown in his success. Sympathy is a
better reward for young children in such circumstances than praise,
because it does not excite vanity, and it is connected with benevolent
feelings; besides, it is not so violent a stimulus as applause.

Instead of increasing excitements to produce attention, we may vary
them, which will have just the same effect. When sympathy fails, try
curiosity; when curiosity fails, try praise; when praise begins to
lose its effect, try blame; and when you go back again to sympathy,
you will find that, after this interval, it will have recovered all
its original power. Doctor Darwin, who has the happy art of
illustrating, from the most familiar circumstances in real life, the
abstract theories of philosophy, gives us the following picturesque
instance of the use of varying motives to prolong exertion.

"A little boy, who was tired of walking, begged of his papa to carry
him. "Here," says the reverend doctor, "ride upon my gold headed
cane;" and the pleased child, putting it between his legs, galloped
away with delight. Here the aid of another sensorial power, that of
pleasurable sensation, superadded power to exhausted volition, which
could otherwise only have been excited by additional pain, as by the
lash of slavery."[19]

Alexander the Great one day saw a poor man carrying upon his shoulders
a heavy load of silver for the royal camp: the man tottered under his
burden, and was ready to give up the point from fatigue. "Hold on,
friend, the rest of the way, and carry it to your own tent, for it is
yours," said Alexander.

There are some people, who have the power of exciting others to great
mental exertions, not by the promise of specific rewards, or by the
threats of any punishment, but by the ardent ambition which they
inspire, by the high value which is set upon their love and esteem.
When we have formed a high opinion of a friend, his approbation
becomes necessary to our own self-complacency, and we think no labour
too great to satisfy our attachment. Our exertions are not fatiguing,
because they are associated with all the pleasurable sensations of
affection, self-complacency, benevolence, and liberty. These feelings,
in youth, produce all the virtuous enthusiasm characteristic of great
minds; even childhood is capable of it in some degree, as those
parents well know, who have never enjoyed the attachment of a grateful
affectionate child. Those, who neglect to cultivate the affections of
their pupils, will never be able to excite them to "noble ends," by
"noble means." Theirs will be the dominion of fear, from which reason
will emancipate herself, and from which pride will yet more certainly
revolt.

If Henry the Fourth of France had been reduced, like Dionysius the
tyrant of Syracuse, to earn his bread as a schoolmaster, what a
different preceptor he would probably have made! Dionysius must have
been hated by his scholars as much as by his subjects, for it is said,
that "he[20] practised upon children that tyranny which he could no
longer exercise over men."

The ambassador, who found Henry the Fourth playing upon the carpet
with his children, would probably have trusted his own children, if he
had any, to the care of such an affectionate tutor.

Henry the Fourth would have attached his pupils whilst he instructed
them; they would have exerted themselves because they could not have
been happy without his esteem. Henry's courtiers, or rather his
friends, for though he was a king he had friends, sometimes expressed
surprise at their own disinterestedness: "This king pays us with
words," said they, "and yet we are satisfied!" Sully, when he was only
Baron de Rosny, and before he had any hopes of being a duke, was once
in a passion with the king his master, and half resolved to leave him:
"But I don't know how it was," says the honest minister, "with all his
faults, there is something about Henry which I found I could not
leave; and when I met him again, a few words made me forget all my
causes of discontent."

Children are more easily attached than courtiers, and full as easily
rewarded. When once this generous desire of affection and esteem is
raised in the mind, their exertions seem to be universal and
spontaneous: children are then no longer like machines, which require
to be wound up regularly to perform certain revolutions; they are
animated with a living principle, which directs all that it inspires.

We have endeavoured to point out the general excitements, and the
general precautions, to be used in cultivating the power of attention;
it may be expected, that we should more particularly apply these to
the characters of different pupils. We shall not here examine whether
there be any original difference of character or intellect, because
this would lead into a wide theoretical discussion; a difference in
the temper and talents of children early appears, and some practical
remarks may be of service to correct defects, or to improve abilities,
whether we suppose them to be natural or acquired. The first
differences which a preceptor observes between his pupils, when he
begins to teach them, are perhaps scarcely marked so strongly as to
strike the careless spectator; but in a few years these varieties are
apparent to every eye. This seems to prove, that during the interval
the power of education has operated strongly to increase the original
propensities. The quick and slow, the timid and presumptuous, should
be early instructed so as to correct as much as possible their several
defects.

The manner in which children are first instructed must tend either to
increase or diminish their timidity, or their confidence in
themselves, to encourage them to undertake great things, or to rest
content with limited acquirements. Young people, who have found from
experience, that they cannot remember or understand one half of what
is forced upon their attention, become extremely diffident of their
own capacity, and they will not undertake as much even as they are
able to perform. With timid tempers, we should therefore begin, by
expecting but little from each effort, but whatever is attempted,
should be certainly within their attainment; success will encourage
the most stupid humility. It should be carefully pointed out to
diffident children, that attentive patience can do as much as
quickness of intellect. If they perceive that time makes all the
difference between the quick and the slow, they will be induced to
persevere. The transition of attention from one subject to another is
difficult to some children, to others it is easy. If all be expected
to do the same things in an equal period of time, the slow will
absolutely give up the competition; but, on the contrary, if they are
allowed time, they will accomplish their purposes. We have been
confirmed in our belief of this doctrine by experiments. The same
problems have been frequently given to children of different degrees
of quickness, and though some succeeded much more quickly than others,
all the individuals in the family have persevered till they have
solved the questions; and the timid seem to have been more encouraged
by this practical demonstration of the infallibility of persevering
attention, than by any other methods which have been tried. When,
after a number of small successful trials, they have acquired some
share of confidence in themselves, when they are certain of the
possibility of their performing any given operations, we may then
press them a little as to velocity. When they are well acquainted with
any set of ideas, we may urge them to quick transition of attention
from one to another; but if we insist upon this rapidity of
transition, before they are thoroughly acquainted with each idea in
the assemblage, we shall only increase their timidity and hesitation;
we shall confound their understandings, and depress their ambition.

It is of consequence to distinguish between slow and sluggish
attention. Sometimes children appear stupid and heavy, when they are
absolutely exhausted by too great efforts of attention: at other
times, they have something like the same dulness of aspect, before
they have had any thing to fatigue them, merely from their not having
yet awakened themselves to business. We must be certain of our pupil's
state of mind before we proceed. If he be incapacitated from fatigue,
let him rest; if he be torpid, rouse him with a rattling peal of
thunder; but be sure that you have not, as it has been said of
Jupiter,[21] recourse to your thunder only when you are in the wrong.
Some preceptors scold when they cannot explain, and grow angry in
proportion to the fatigue they see expressed in the countenance of
their unhappy pupils. If a timid child foresees that an explanation
will probably end in a phillipic, he cannot fix his attention; he is
anticipating the evil of your anger, instead of listening to your
demonstrations; and he says, "Yes, yes, I see, I know, I understand,"
with trembling eagerness, whilst through the mist and confusion of his
fears, he can scarcely see or hear, much less understand, any thing.
If you mistake the confusion and fatigue of terror for inattention or
indolence, and press your pupil to further exertions, you will
confirm, instead of curing, his stupidity. You must diminish his fear
before you can increase his attention. With children who are thus,
from timid anxiety to please, disposed to exert their faculties too
much, it is obvious that no excitation should be used, but every
playful, every affectionate means should be employed to dissipate
their apprehensions.

It is more difficult to manage with those who have sluggish, than with
those who have timid, attention. Indolent children have not usually so
lively a taste for pleasure as others have; they do not seem to hear
or see so quickly; they are content with a little enjoyment; they have
scarcely any ambition; they seem to prefer ease to all sorts of glory;
they have little voluntary exertion; and the pain of attention is to
them so great, that they would preferably endure the pain of shame,
and of all the accumulated punishments which are commonly devised for
them by the vengeance of their exasperated tutors. Locke notices this
listless, lazy humour in children; he classes it under the head
"Sauntering;" and he divides saunterers into two species; those who
saunter only at their books and tasks; and those who saunter at play
and every thing. The book-saunterers have only an acute, the others
have a chronic disease; the one is easily cured, the other disease
will cost more time and pains.

If, by some unlucky management, a vivacious child acquires a dislike
to literary application, he may appear at his books with all the
stupid apathy of a dunce. In this state of literary dereliction, we
should not force books and tasks of any sort upon him; we should
rather watch him when he is eager at amusements of his own selection,
observe to what his attention turns, and cultivate his attention upon
that subject, whatever it may be. He may be led to think, and to
acquire knowledge upon a variety of subjects, without sitting down to
read; and thus he may form habits of attention and application, which
will be associated with pleasure. When he returns to books, he will
find that he understands a variety of things in them which before
appeared incomprehensible; they will "give him back the image of his
mind," and he will like them as he likes pictures.

As long as a child shows energy upon any occasion, there is hope. If
he "lend his little soul"[22] to whipping a top, there is no danger of
his being a dunce. When Alcibiades was a child, he was one day playing
at dice with other boys in the street; a loaded waggon came up just as
it was his turn to throw. At first he called to the driver to stop,
but the waggoner would not stop his horses; all the boys, except
Alcibiades, ran away, but Alcibiades threw himself upon his face,
directly before the horses, and stretching himself out, bid the
waggoner drive on if he pleased. Perhaps, at the time when he showed
this energy about a game at dice, Alcibiades might have been a
saunterer at his book, and a foolish schoolmaster might have made him
a dunce.

Locke advises that children, who are too much addicted to what is
called play, should be surfeited with it, that they may return to
business with a better appetite. But this advice supposes that play
has been previously interdicted, or that it is something pernicious:
we have endeavoured to show that play is nothing but a change of
employment, and that the attention may be exercised advantageously
upon a variety of subjects which are not called Tasks.[23]

With those who show chronic listlessness, Locke advises that we should
use every sort of stimulus; praise, amusement, fine clothes, eating;
any thing that will make them bestir themselves. He argues, that as
there appears a deficiency of vigour, we have no reason to fear excess
of appetite for any of these things: nay, further still, where none
of these will act, he advises compulsory bodily exercise. If we
cannot, he says, make sure of the invisible attention of the mind, we
may at least get something done, prevent the habit of total idleness,
and perhaps make the children desire to exchange labour of body for
labour of mind. These expedients will, we fear, be found rather
palliative than effectual; if, by forcing children to bodily exercise,
that becomes disagreeable, they may prefer labour of the mind; but, in
making this exchange, or bargain, they are sensible that they choose
the least of two evils. The evil of application is diminished only by
comparison in their estimation; they will avoid it whenever they are
at liberty. The love of eating, of fine clothes, &c. if they stimulate
a slothful child, must be the ultimate object of his exertions; he
will consider the performance of his task merely as a painful
condition on his part. Still the association of pain with literature
continues; it is then impossible that he should love it. There is no
active principle within him, no desire for knowledge excited; his
attention is forced, it ceases the moment the external force is
withdrawn. He drudges to earn his cream bowl duly set, but he will
stretch his lubbar length the moment his task is done.

There is another class of children opposed to saunterers, whom we may
denominate volatile geniuses. They show a vast deal of quickness and
vivacity; they understand almost before a tutor can put his ideas into
words; they observe a variety of objects, but they do not connect
their observations, and the very rapidity with which they seize an
explanation, prevents them from thoroughly comprehending it; they are
easily disturbed by external objects when they are thinking. As they
have great sensibility, their associations are strong and various;
their thoughts branch off into a thousand beautiful, but useless
ramifications. Whilst you are attempting to instruct them upon one
subject, they are inventing, perhaps, upon another; or they are
following a train of ideas suggested by something you have said, but
foreign to your business. They are more pleased with the discovery of
resemblances, than with discrimination of difference; the one costs
them more time and attention than the other: they are apt to say witty
things, and to strike out sparks of invention; but they have not
commonly the patience to form exact judgments, or to bring their first
inventions to perfection. When they begin the race, every body expects
that they should outstrip all competitors; but it is often seen that
slower rivals reach the goal before them. The predictions formed of
pupils of this temperament, vary much, according to the characters of
their tutors. A slow man is provoked by their dissipated vivacity,
and, unable to catch or fix their attention, prognosticates that they
will never have sufficient application to learn any thing. This
prophecy, under certain tuition, would probably be accomplished. The
want of sympathy between a slow tutor and a quick child, is a great
disadvantage to both; each insists upon going his own pace, and his
own way, and these ways are perhaps diametrically opposite. Even in
forming a judgment of the child's attention, the tutor, who is not
acquainted with the manner in which his pupil goes to work, is liable
to frequent mistakes. Children are sometimes suspected of not having
listened to what has been said to them, when they cannot exactly
repeat the words that they have heard; they often ask questions, and
make observations, which seem quite foreign to the present business;
but this is not always a proof that their minds are absent, or that
their attention is dissipated. Their answers often appear to be far
from the point, because they suppress their intermediate ideas, and
give only the result of their thoughts. This may be inconvenient to
those who teach them; but this habit sufficiently proves that these
children are not deficient in attention. To cure them of the fault
which they have, we should not accuse them falsely of another. But it
may be questioned whether this be a fault; it is absolutely necessary,
in many processes of the mind, to suppress a number of intermediate
ideas. Life, if this were not practised, would be too short for those
who think, and much too short for those who speak. When somebody asked
Pyrrhus which of two musicians he liked the best, he answered,
"Polysperchon is the best general." This would appear to be the absurd
answer of an absent person, or of a fool, if we did not consider the
ideas that are implied, as well as those which are expressed.

March 5th, 1796. To-day, at dinner, a lady observed that Nicholson,
Williamson, Jackson, &c. were names which originally meant the sons of
Nicholas, William, Jack, &c. A boy who was present, H----, added, with
a very grave face, as soon as she had finished speaking, "Yes, ma'am,
Tydides." His mother asked him what he could mean by this absent
speech? H---- calmly repeated, "Ma'am, yes; because I think it is like
Tydides." His brother S----eagerly interposed, to supply the
intermediate ideas; "Yes, indeed, mother," cried he, "H---- is not
absent, because _des_, in Greek, means _the son of_ (the race of.)
Tydides is the son of Tydeus, as Jackson is the son of Jack." In this
instance, H---- was not absent, though he did not make use of a
sufficient number of words to explain his ideas.

August, 1796. L----, when he returned home, after some months absence,
entertained his brothers and sisters with a new play, which he had
learned at Edinburgh. He told them, that when he struck the table with
his hand, every person present, was instantaneously to remain fixed in
the attitudes in which they should be when the blow was given. The
attitudes in which some of the little company were fixed, occasioned
much diversion; but in speaking of this new play afterwards, they had
no name for it. Whilst they were thinking of a name for it, H----
exclaimed, "The Gorgon!" It was immediately agreed that this was a
good name for the play, and H----, upon this occasion, was perfectly
intelligible, without expressing all the intermediate ideas.

Good judges, form an accurate estimate of the abilities of those who
converse with them, by what they omit, as well as by what they say. If
any one can show that he also has been in Arcadia, he is sure of being
well received, without producing minutes of his journey. In the same
manner we should judge of children; if they arrive at certain
conclusions in reasoning, we may be satisfied that they have taken all
the necessary previous steps. We need not question their attention
upon subjects where they give proofs of invention; they must have
remembered well, or they could not invent; they must have attended
well, or they could not have remembered. Nothing wearies a quick child
more than to be forced slowly to retrace his own thoughts, and to
repeat the words of a discourse to prove that he has listened to it. A
tutor, who is slow in understanding the ideas of his vivacious pupil,
gives him so much trouble and pain, that he grows silent, from finding
it not worth while to speak. It is for this reason, that children
appear stupid and silent, with some people, and sprightly and
talkative with others. Those who hope to talk to children with any
effect, must, as Rousseau observes, be able to hear as well as to
speak. M. de Segrais, who was deaf, was much in the right to decline
being preceptor to the Duke de Maine. A deaf preceptor would certainly
make a child dumb.

To win the attention of vivacious children, we must sometimes follow
them in their zigzag course, and even press them to the end of their
own train of thought. They will be content when they have obtained a
full hearing; then they will have leisure to discover that what they
were in such haste to utter, was not so well worth saying as they
imagined; that their bright ideas often, when steadily examined by
themselves, fade into absurdities.

"Where does this path lead to? Can't we get over this stile? May I
_only_ go into this wood?" exclaims an active child, when he is taken
out to walk. Every path appears more delightful than the straight
road; but let him try the paths, they will perhaps end in
disappointment, and then his imagination will be corrected. Let him
try his own experiments, then he will be ready to try yours; and if
yours succeed better than his own, you will secure his confidence.
After a child has talked on for some time, till he comes to the end of
his ideas, then he will perhaps listen to what you have to say; and if
he finds it better than what he has been saying himself, he will
voluntarily give you his attention the next time you begin to speak.

Vivacious children are peculiarly susceptible of blame and praise; we
have, therefore, great power over their attachment, if we manage these
excitements properly. These children should not be praised for their
_happy hits_, their first[24] glances should not be extolled; but, on
the contrary, they should be rewarded with universal approbation when
they give proofs of patient industry, when they bring any thing to
perfection. No one can bring any thing to perfection without long
continued attention; and industry and perseverance presuppose
attention. Proofs of any of these qualities may therefore satisfy us
as to the pupil's capacity and habits of attention; we need not stand
by to see the attention exercised, the things produced are sufficient
evidence. Buffon tells us that he wrote his Epoques de la Nature over
eighteen times before he could perfect it to his taste. The high
finish of his composition is sufficient evidence to intelligent
readers, that he exerted long continued attention upon the work; they
do not require to have the eighteen copies produced.

Bacon supposes, that for every disease of the mind, specific remedies
might be found in appropriate studies and exercises. Thus, for
"bird-witted" children he prescribes the study of mathematics,
because, in mathematical studies, the attention must be fixed; the
least intermission of thought breaks the whole chain of reasoning,
their labour is lost, and they must begin their demonstration again.
This principle is excellent; but to apply it advantageously, we should
choose moments when a mathematical demonstration is interesting to
children, else we have not sufficient motive to excite them to
commence the demonstration; they will perceive, that they loose all
their labour if their attention is interrupted; but how shall we make
them begin to attend? There are a variety of subjects which are
interesting to children, to which we may apply Bacon's principle; for
instance, a child is eager to hear a story which you are going to tell
him; you may exercise his attention by your manner of telling this
story; you may employ with advantage the beautiful figure of speech
called _suspension_: but you must take care, that the hope which is
long deferred be at last gratified. The young critics will look back
when your story is finished, and will examine whether their attention
has been wasted, or whether all the particulars to which it was
directed were essential. Though in amusing stories we recommend the
figure called suspension,[25] we do not recommend its use in
explanations. Our explanations should be put into as few words as
possible: the closer the connection of ideas, the better. When we say,
allow time to understand your explanations, we mean, allow time
between each idea, do not fill up the interval with words. Never, by
way of gaining time, pay in sixpences; this is the last resource of a
bankrupt.

We formerly observed that a preceptor, in his first lessons on any new
subject, must submit to the drudgery of repeating his terms and his
reasoning, until these are sufficiently familiar to his pupils. He
must, however, proportion the number of his repetitions to the temper
and habits of his pupils, else he will weary, instead of
strengthening, the attention. When a thing is clear, let him never try
to make it clearer; when a thing is understood, not a word more of
exemplification should be added. To mark precisely the moment when the
pupil understands what is said, the moment when he is master of the
necessary ideas, and, consequently, the moment when repetition should
cease, is, perhaps, the most difficult thing in the art of teaching.
The countenance, the eye, the voice, and manner of the pupil, mark
this instant to an observing preceptor; but a preceptor, who is
absorbed in his own ideas, will never think of looking in his pupil's
face; he will go on with his routine of explanation, whilst his once
lively, attentive pupil, exhibits opposite to him the picture of
stupified fatigue. Quick, intelligent children, who have frequently
found that lessons are reiterated by a patient but injudicious tutor,
will learn a careless mode of listening at intervals; they will say to
themselves, "Oh I shall hear this again!" And if any stray thought
comes across their minds, they will not scruple to amuse themselves,
and will afterwards ask for a repetition of the words or ideas which
they missed during this excursion of fancy. When they hear the warning
advertisement of "certainly for the last time this season," they will
deem it time enough to attend to the performance. To cure them of this
presumption in favour of our patience, and of their own superlative
quickness, we should press that quickness to its utmost speed.
Whenever we call for their attention, let it be on subjects highly
interesting or amusing, and let us give them but just sufficient time
with their fullest exertion to catch our words and ideas. As these
quick gentlemen are proud of their rapidity of apprehension, this
method will probably secure their attention, they will dread the
disgrace of not understanding what is said, and they will feel that
they cannot understand unless they exert prompt, vigorous, unremitted
attention.

The Duchess of Kingston used to complain that she could never acquire
any knowledge, because she never could meet with any body who could
teach her anything "in two words." Her Grace felt the same sort of
impatience which was expressed by the tyrant who expected to find a
royal road to Geometry.

Those who believe themselves endowed with genius, expect to find a
royal road in every science shorter, and less laborious, than the
beaten paths of industry. Their expectations are usually in proportion
to their ignorance; they see to the summit only of one hill, and they
do not suspect the Alps that will arise as they advance: but as
children become less presumptuous, as they acquire more knowledge, we
may bear with their juvenile impatience, whilst we take measures to
enlarge continually their sphere of information. We should not,
however, humour the attention of young people, by teaching them always
in the mode which we know suits their temper best. Vivacious pupils
should, from time to time, be accustomed to an exact enumeration of
particulars; and we should take opportunities to convince them, that
an orderly connection of proofs, and a minute observation of apparent
trifles, are requisite to produce the lively descriptions, great
discoveries, and happy inventions, which pupils of this disposition
are ever prone to admire with enthusiasm. They will learn not to pass
over _old_ things, when they perceive that these may lead to something
_new_; and they will even submit to sober attention, when they feel
that this is necessary even to the rapidity of genius. In the
"Curiosities of Literature," there has been judiciously preserved a
curious instance of literary patience; the rough draught of that
beautiful passage in Pope's translation of the Iliad which describes
the parting of Hector and Andromache. The lines are in Pope's
hand-writing, and his numerous corrections appear; the lines which
seem to the reader to have been struck off at a single happy stroke,
are proved to have been touched and retouched with the indefatigable
attention of a great writer. The fragment, with all its climax of
corrections, was shown to a young vivacious poet of nine years old, as
a practical lesson, to prove the necessity of patience to arrive at
perfection. Similar examples, from real life, should be produced to
young people at proper times; the testimony of men of acknowledged
abilities, of men whom they have admired for genius, will come with
peculiar force in favour of application. Parents, well acquainted with
literature, cannot be at a loss to find opposite illustrations. The
Life of Franklin is an excellent example of persevering industry; the
variations in different editions of Voltaire's dramatic poetry, and in
Pope's works, are worth examining. All Sir Joshua Reynolds's eloquent
academical discourses enforce the doctrine of patience; when he wants
to prove to painters the value of continual energetic attention, he
quotes from Livy the character of Philopoemen, one of the ablest
generals of antiquity. So certain it is, that the same principle
pervades all superior minds: whatever may be their pursuits, attention
is the avowed primary cause of their success. These examples from the
dead, should be well supported by examples from amongst the living. In
common life, occurrences can frequently be pointed out, in which
attention and application are amply rewarded with success.

It will encourage those who are interested in education, to observe,
that two of the most difficult exercises of the mind can, by
practice, be rendered familiar, even by persons whom we do not
consider as possessed of superior talents. Abstraction and
transition--abstraction, the power of withdrawing the attention from
all external objects, and concentrating it upon some particular set of
ideas, we admire as one of the most difficult exercises of the
philosopher. Abstraction was formerly considered as such a difficult
and painful operation, that it required perfect silence and solitude;
many ancient philosophers quarrelled with their senses, and shut
themselves up in caves, to secure their attention from the
distraction caused by external objects. But modern[26] philosophers
have discovered, that neither caves nor lamps are essential to the
full and successful exercise of their mental powers. Persons of
ordinary abilities, tradesmen and shop-keepers, in the midst of the
tumult of a public city, in the noise of rumbling carts and rattling
carriages, amidst the voices of a multitude of people talking upon
various subjects, amidst the provoking interruptions of continual
questions and answers, and in the broad glare of a hot sun, can
command and abstract their attention so far as to calculate yards,
ells, and nails, to cast up long sums in addition right to a farthing,
and to make out multifarious bills with quick and unerring precision.
In almost all the dining houses at Vienna, as a late traveller[27]
informs us "a bill of fare containing a vast collection of dishes is
written out, and the prices are affixed to each article. As the people
of Vienna are fond of variety, the calculation at the conclusion of a
repast would appear somewhat embarrassing; this, however, is done by
mechanical habit with great speed; the custom is for the party who has
dined to name the dishes, and the quantity of bread and wine. The
keller who attends on this occasion, follows every article you name
with the sum, which this adds to the calculation, and the whole is
performed, to whatever amount, without ink or paper. It is curious to
hear this ceremony, which is muttered with great gravity, yet
performed with accuracy and despatch."

We coolly observe, when we read these things, "Yes, this is all habit;
any body who had used himself to it might do the same things." Yet the
very same power of abstracting the attention, when employed upon
scientific and literary subjects, would excite our astonishment; and
we should, perhaps, immediately attribute it to superior original
genius. We may surely educate children to this habit of abstracting
the attention, which we allow depends entirely upon practice. When we
are very much interested upon any subject, we attend to it
exclusively, and, without any effort, we surmount all petty
interposing interruptions. When we are reading an interesting book,
twenty people may converse round about us, without our hearing one
word that they say; when we are in a crowded playhouse, the moment we
become interested in the play, the audience vanish from our sight, and
in the midst of various noises, we hear only the voices of the actors.

In the same manner, children, by their eager looks and their
unaffected absence to all external circumstances, show when they are
thoroughly interested by any story that is told with eloquence suited
to their age. When we would teach them to attend in the midst of noise
and interruptions, we should begin by talking to them about things
which we are sure will please them; by degrees we may speak on less
captivating subjects, when we perceive that their habit of beginning
to listen with an expectation of pleasure is formed. Whenever a child
happens to be intent upon any favourite amusement, or when he is
reading any very entertaining book, we may increase the busy hum
around him, we may make what bustle we please, he will probably
continue attentive; it is useful therefore to give him such amusements
and such books when there is a noise or bustle in the room, because
then he will learn to disregard all interruptions; and when this habit
is formed, he may even read less amusing books in the same company
without being interrupted by the usual noises.

The power of abstracting our attention is universally allowed to be
necessary to the successful labour of the understanding; but we may
further observe, that this abstraction is characteristic in some cases
of heroism as well as of genius. Charles the Twelfth and Archimedes
were very different men; yet both, in similar circumstances, gave
similar proofs of their uncommon power of abstracting their attention.
"What has the bomb to do with what you are writing to Sweden," said
the hero to his pale secretary when a bomb burst through the roof of
his apartment, and he continued to dictate his letter. Archimedes went
on with his demonstration in the midst of a siege, and when a brutal
soldier entered with a drawn sword, the philosopher only begged he
might solve his problem before he was put to death.

Presence of mind in danger, which is usually supposed to depend upon
our quick perception of all the present circumstances, frequently
demands a total abstraction of our thoughts. In danger, fear is the
motive which excites our exertions; but from all the ideas that fear
naturally suggests, we must abstract our attention, or we shall not
act with courage or prudence. In proportion to the violence of our
terror, our voluntary exertion must be great to withdraw our thoughts
from the present danger, and to recollect the means of escape. In some
cases, where the danger has been associated with the use of certain
methods of escape, we use these without deliberation, and consequently
without any effort of attention; as when we see any thing catch fire,
we instantly throw water upon the flames to extinguish them. But in
new situations, where we have no mechanical courage, we must exert
much voluntary, quick, abstract attention, to escape from danger.

When Lee, the poet, was confined in Bedlam, a friend went to visit
him; and finding that he could converse reasonably, or at least
reasonably for a poet, imagined that Lee was cured of his madness. The
poet offered to show him Bedlam. They went over this melancholy,
medical prison, Lee moralising philosophically enough all the time to
keep his companion perfectly at ease. At length they ascended together
to the top of the building; and, as they were both looking down from
the perilous height, Lee seized his friend by the arm, "Let us
immortalize ourselves!" he exclaimed; "let us take this leap. We'll
jump down together this instant." "Any man could jump down," said his
friend, coolly; "we should not immortalize ourselves by that leap; but
let us go down, and try if we can jump up again." The madman, struck
with the idea of a more astonishing leap than that which he had
himself proposed, yielded to this new impulse, and his friend rejoiced
to see him run down stairs full of a new project for securing
immortality.

Lee's friend, upon this occasion, showed rather absence than presence
of mind: before he could have invented the happy answer that saved his
life, he must have abstracted his mind from the passion of fear; he
must have rapidly turned his attention upon a variety of ideas
unconnected by any former associations with the exciting
motive--falling from a height--fractured skulls--certain
death--impossibility of reasoning or wrestling with a madman. This was
the train of thoughts which we might naturally expect to arise in such
a situation, but from all these the man of presence of mind turned
away his attention; he must have directed his thoughts in a contrary
line: first, he must have thought of the means of saving himself, of
some argument likely to persuade a madman, of some argument peculiarly
suited to Lee's imagination, and applicable to his situation; he must
at this moment have considered that alarming situation without
thinking of his fears; for the interval in which all these ideas
passed in his mind, must have been so short that he could not have had
leisure to combat fear; if any of the ideas associated with that
passion had interrupted his reasonings, he would not have invented his
answer in time to have saved his life.

We cannot foresee on what occasions presence of mind may be wanted,
but we may, by education, give that general command of abstract
attention, which is essential to its exercise in all circumstances.

Transition of thought, the power of turning attention quickly to
different subjects or employments, is another of those mental habits,
which in some cases we call genius, and which in others we perceive
depends entirely upon practice. A number of trials in one newspaper,
upon a variety of unconnected subjects, once struck our eye, and we
saw the name of a celebrated lawyer[28] as counsel in each cause. We
could not help feeling involuntary admiration at that versatility of
genius, which could pass from a fractional calculation about a London
chaldron of coals, to the Jamaica laws of insurance; from the bargains
of a citizen, to the divorce of a fine lady; from pathos to argument;
from arithmetic to wit; from cross examination to eloquence. For a
moment we forgot our sober principles, and ascribed all this
versatility of mind to natural genius; but upon reflection we recurred
to the belief, that this dexterity of intellect was not bestowed by
nature. We observe in men who have no pretensions to genius, similar
versatility of mind as to their usual employments. The daily
occupations of Mr. Elwes's huntsman were as various and incongruous,
and required as quick transitions of attention, as any that can well
be imagined.

"At[29] four o'clock he milked the cows; then got breakfast for Mr.
Elwes and friends; then slipping on a green coat, he hurried into the
stable, saddled the horses, got the hounds out of the kennel, and away
they went into the field. After the fatigues of hunting, he
_refreshed_ himself, by rubbing down two or three horses as quickly as
he could; then running into the house to lay the cloth, and wait at
dinner; then hurrying again into the stable to feed the horses,
diversified with an interlude of the cows again to milk, the dogs to
feed, and eight hunters to litter down for the night." Mr. Elwes used
to call this huntsman an idle dog, who wanted to be paid for doing
nothing!

We do not mean to require any such rapid daily transitions in the
exercise of attention from our pupils; but we think that much may be
done to improve versatility of mind, by a judicious arrangement of
their occupations. When we are tired of smelling a rose, we can smell
a carnation with pleasure; and when the sense of smell is fatigued,
yet we can look at the beautiful colours with delight. When we are
tired of thinking upon one subject, we can attend to another; when our
memory is fatigued, the exercise of the imagination entertains us; and
when we are weary of reasoning, we can amuse ourselves with wit and
humour. Men, who have attended much to the cultivation of their mind,
seem to have felt all this, and they have kept some subordinate taste
as a refreshment after their labours. Descartes went from the system
of the world to his flower-garden; Galileo used to read Ariosto; and
the metaphysical Dr. Clarke recovered himself from abstraction by
jumping over chairs and tables. The learned and indefatigable
chancellor d'Aguesseau declared, that change of employment was the
only recreation he ever knew. Even Montaigne, who found his recreation
in playing with his cat, educated himself better than those are
educated who go from intense study to complete idleness. It has been
very wisely recommended by Mr. Locke, that young people should early
be taught some mechanical employment, or some agreeable art, to which
they may recur for relief when they are tired by mental
application.[30]

Doctor Darwin supposes that "animal motions, or configurations of the
organs of sense, constitute our ideas.[31] The fatigue, he observes,
that follows a continued attention of the mind to one object, is
relieved by changing the subject of our thoughts, as the continued
movement of one limb is relieved by moving another in its stead." Dr.
Darwin has further suggested a tempting subject of experiment in his
theory of ocular spectra, to which we refer ingenious preceptors. Many
useful experiments in education might be tried upon the principles
which are there suggested. We dare not here trust ourselves to
speculate upon this subject, because we are not at present provided
with a sufficient number of facts to apply our theory to practice. If
we could exactly discover how to arrange mental employments so as to
induce actions in the antagonist faculties of the mind, we might
relieve it from fatigue in the same manner as the eye is relieved by
change of colour. By pursuing this idea, might we not hope to
cultivate the general power of attention to a degree of perfection
hitherto unknown?

We have endeavoured to show how, by different arrangements and proper
excitations, a preceptor may acquire that command over the attention
of his pupils, which is absolutely essential to successful
instruction; but we must recollect, that when the years commonly
devoted to education are over, when young people are no longer under
the care of a preceptor, they will continue to feel the advantages of
a command of attention, whenever they mix in the active business of
life, or whenever they apply to any profession, to literature, or
science. Their attention must now be entirely voluntary; they will
have no tutor to excite them to exertion, no nice habitual
arrangements to assist them in their daily occupations. It is of
consequence, therefore, that we should substitute the power of
voluntary, for the habit of associated, attention. With young children
we depend upon particular associations of place, time, and manner,
upon different sorts of excitement, to produce habits of employment:
but as our pupils advance in their education, all these temporary
excitements should be withdrawn. Some large, but distant object, some
pursuit which is not to be rewarded with immediate praise, but rather
with permanent advantage and esteem, should be held out to the
ambition of youth. All the arrangements should be left to the pupil
himself, all the difficulties should be surmounted by his own
industry, and the interest he takes in his own success and
improvement, will now probably be a sufficient stimulus; his
preceptor will now rather be his partner than his master, he should
rather share the labour than attempt to direct it: this species of
sympathy in study, diminishes the pain of attention, and gives an
agreeable interest even in the most tiresome researches. When a young
man perceives that his preceptor becomes in this manner the companion
of his exertions, he loses all suspicion that he is compelled to
mental labour; it is improper to say _loses_, for in a good education
this suspicion need not ever be created: he discovers, we should
rather say, that all the habits of attention which he has acquired,
are those which are useful to men as well as to children, and he feels
the advantage of his cultivated powers on every fresh occasion. He
will perceive, that young men who have been ill educated, cannot, by
any motive, command their vigorous attention, and he will feel the
cause of his own superiority, when he comes to any trial of skill with
inattentive _men of genius_.

One of the arguments which Bayle uses, to prove that fortune has a
greater influence than prudence in the affairs of men, is founded upon
the common observation, that men of the best abilities cannot
frequently recollect, in urgent circumstances, what they have said or
done; the things occur to them perhaps a moment after they are past.
The fact seems to be, that they could not, in the proper moment,
command their attention; but this we should attribute to the want of
prudence in their early education. Thus, Bayle's argument does not, in
this point of view, prove any thing in favour of fortune. Those who
can best command their attention, in the greatest variety of
circumstances, have the most useful abilities; without this command of
mind, men of genius, as they are called, are helpless beings; with it,
persons of inferior capacity become valuable. Addison trembled and
doubted, and doubted and trembled, when he was to write a common
official paper; and it is said, that he was absolutely obliged to
resign his place, because he could not decide in time whether he
should write a _that_ or a _which_. No business could have been
transacted by such an imbecile minister.

To substitute voluntary for associated attention, we may withdraw some
of the usually associated circumstances, and increase the excitement;
and we may afterwards accustom the pupil to act from the hope of
distant pleasures. Unless children can be actuated by the view of
future distant advantage, they cannot be capable of long continued
application. We shall endeavour to explain how the value of distant
pleasures can be increased, and made to act with sufficient force upon
the mind, when we hereafter speak of judgment and of imagination.

It has been observed, that persons of wit and judgment have perhaps
originally the same powers, and that the difference in their
characters arises from their habits of attention, and the different
class of objects to which they have turned their thoughts. The manner
in which we are first taught to observe, and to reason, must in the
first years of life decide these habits. There are two methods of
teaching; one which ascends from particular facts to general
principles, the other which descends from the general principles to
particular facts; one which builds up, another which takes to pieces;
the synthetic and the analytic method. The words analysis and
synthesis are frequently misapplied, and it is difficult to write or
to speak long about these methods without confounding them: in
learning or in teaching, we often use them alternately. We first
observe particulars; then form some general idea of classification;
then descend again to new particulars, to observe whether they
correspond with our principle.

Children acquire knowledge, and their attention alternates from
particular to general ideas, exactly in the same manner. It has been
remarked, that men who have begun by forming suppositions, are
inclined to adapt and to compress their consequent observations to
the measure of their theories; they have been negligent in collecting
facts, and have not condescended to try experiments. This disposition
of mind, during a long period of time, retarded improvement, and
knowledge was confined to a few peremptory maxims and exclusive
principles. The necessity of collecting facts, and of trying
experiments, was at length perceived; and in all the sciences this
mode has lately prevailed: consequently, we have now on many subjects
a treasure of accumulated facts. We are, in educating children, to put
them in possession of all this knowledge; and a judicious preceptor
will wish to know, not only how these facts can be crammed speedily
into his pupil's memory, but what order of presenting them will be
most advantageous to the understanding; he will desire to cultivate
his pupil's faculties, that he may acquire new facts, and make new
observations after all the old facts have been arranged in his mind.

By a judicious arrangement of past experiments, and by the rejection
of what are useless, an able instructer can show, in a small compass,
what it has cost the labour of ages to accumulate; he may teach in a
few hours what the most ingenious pupil, left to his own random
efforts, could not have learned in many years. It would take up as
much time to go over all the steps which have been made in any
science, as it originally cost the first discoverers. Simply to repeat
all the fruitless experiments which have been made in chemistry, for
instance, would probably employ the longest life that ever was devoted
to science; nor would the individual have got one step forwarder; he
would die, and with him his recapitulated knowledge; neither he nor
the world would be the better for it. It is our business to save
children all this useless labour, and all this waste of the power of
attention. A pupil, who is properly instructed, with the same quantity
of attention, learns, perhaps, a hundred times as much in the same
time, as he could acquire under the tuition of a learned preceptor
ignorant in the art of teaching.

The analytic and synthetic methods of instruction will both be found
useful when judiciously employed. Where the enumeration of particulars
fatigues the attention, we should, in teaching any science, begin by
stating the general principles, and afterwards produce only the facts
essential to their illustration and proof. But wherever we have not
accumulated a sufficient number of facts to be accurately certain of
any general principle, we must, however tedious the task, enumerate
all the facts that are known, and warn the pupil of the imperfect
state of the science. All the facts must, in this case, be stored up
with scrupulous accuracy; we cannot determine which are unimportant,
and which may prove essentially useful: this can be decided only by
future experiments. By thus stating honestly to our pupils the extent
of our ignorance, as well as the extent of our knowledge; by thus
directing attention to the imperfections of science, rather than to
the study of theories, we shall avoid the just reproaches which have
been thrown upon the dogmatic vanity of learned preceptors.

"For as knowledges are now," says Bacon, "there is a kind of contract
of errour between the deliverer and receiver; for he that delivereth
knowledge, desireth to deliver it in such a form as may be best
believed, and not as may be best examined; and he that receiveth
knowledge, desireth rather present satisfaction than expectant
inquiry; and so rather not to doubt, than not to err; glory making the
author not to lay open his weakness, and sloth making the disciple not
to know his strength."[32]

FOOTNOTES:

[13] V. Preface to Berthollet's Chemical Nomenclature.

[14] V. Condillac's "Art de Penser."

[15] Major Cartwright. See his Journal, &c.

[16] V. Chapter on Mechanics.

[17] V. Adela and Theodore.

[18] Chapter on Tasks.

[19] Zoonomia, vol. i. page 435.

[20] Cicero.

[21] Lucian.

[22] "And lends his little soul at every stroke." _Virg._

[23] V. Chapter II. on Tasks.

[24] Apercues.

[25] Deinology.

[26] V. Condillac Art de Penser.

[27] Mr. Owen.

[28] Mr. Erskine--The Star.

[29] V. Life of John Elwes, Esq. by T. Topham.

[30] V. Chapter on Toys.

[31] Zoonomia, vol. i. p. 21, 24.

[32] Bacon, vol. i. page 84.



CHAPTER IV.

SERVANTS.


"Now, master,"[33] said a fond nurse to her favourite boy, after
having given him sugared bread and butter for supper, "now, master,
kiss me; wipe your mouth, dear, and go up to the drawing room to
mamma; and when mistress asks you what you have had for supper, you'll
say, bread and butter, for you _have had_ bread and butter, you know,
master." "And sugar," said the boy; "I must say bread and butter and
sugar, you know."

How few children would have had the courage to have added, "and
sugar!" How dangerous it is to expose them to such temptations! The
boy must have immediately perceived the object of his nurse's
casuistry. He must guess that she would be blamed for the addition of
the sugar, else why should she wish to suppress the word? His
gratitude is engaged to his nurse for running this risk to indulge
him; his mother, by the force of contrast, appears a severe person,
who, for no reason that he can comprehend, would deprive him of the
innocent pleasure of eating sugar. As to its making him sick, he has
eat it, and he is not sick; as to its spoiling his teeth, he does not
care about his teeth, and he sees no immediate change in them:
therefore he concludes that his mother's orders are capricious, and
that his nurse loves him better because she gives him the most
pleasure. His honour and affection towards his nurse, are immediately
set in opposition to his duty to his mother. What a hopeful beginning
in education! What a number of dangerous ideas may be given by a
single word!

The taste for sugared bread and butter is soon over; but servants
have it in their power to excite other tastes with premature and
factitious enthusiasm. The waiting-maid, a taste for dress; the
footman, a taste for gaming; the coachman and groom, for horses and
equipage; and the butler, for wine. The simplicity of children is not
a defence to them; and though they are totally ignorant of vice, they
are exposed to adopt the principles of those with whom they live, even
before they can apply them to their own conduct.

The young son of a lady of quality, a boy of six or seven years old,
addressed, with great simplicity, the following speech to a lady who
visited his mother.

_Boy._ Miss N----, I wish you could find somebody, when you go to
London, who would keep you. It's a very good thing to be kept.

_Lady._ What do you mean, my dear?

_Boy._ Why it's when--you know, when a person's kept, they have every
thing found for them; their friend saves them all trouble, you know.
They have a _carriage_ and _diamonds_, and every thing they want. I
wish somebody would keep you.

_Lady_, laughing. But I'm afraid nobody would. Do you think any body
would?

_Boy_, after a pause. Why yes, I think Sir ----, naming a gentleman
whose name had, at this time, been much talked of in a public trial,
would be as likely as any body.

The same boy talked familiarly of phætons and gigs, and wished that he
was grown up, that he might drive four horses in hand. It is obvious
that these ideas were put into the boy's head by the servants with
whom he associated.

Without supposing them to be profligate, servants, from their
situation, from all that they see of the society of their superiors,
and from the early prejudices of their own education, learn to admire
that wealth and rank to which they are bound to pay homage. The
luxuries and follies of fashionable life they mistake for happiness;
they measure the respect they pay to strangers by their external
appearance; they value their own masters and mistresses by the same
standard; and in their attachment there is a necessary mixture of that
sympathy which is sacred to prosperity. Setting aside all interested
motives, servants love show and prodigality in their masters; they
feel that they partake the triumph, and they wish it to be as
magnificent as possible. These dispositions break out naturally in the
conversation of servants with one another; if children are suffered to
hear them, they will quickly catch the same tastes. But if these ideas
break out in their unpremeditated gossiping with one another, how much
more strongly will they be expressed when servants wish to ingratiate
themselves into a child's affections by flattery! Their method of
showing their attachment to a family, is usually to exaggerate in
their expressions of admiration of its consequence and grandeur; they
depreciate all whom they imagine to be competitors in any respect with
their masters, and feed and foster the little jealousies which exist
between neighbouring families. The children of these families are thus
early set at variance; the children in the same family are often
taught, by the imprudence or malice of servants, to dislike and envy
each other. In houses where each child has an attendant, the
attendants regularly quarrel, and, out of a show of zeal, make their
young masters and mistresses parties in their animosity. Three or four
maids sometimes produce their little dressed pupils for a few minutes
to _the company_ in the drawing room, for the express purpose of
seeing which shall obtain the greatest share of admiration. This
competition, which begins in their nurses' arms, is continued by daily
artifices through the whole course of their nursery education. Thus
the emulation of children is rendered a torment to them, their
ambition is directed to absurd and vile purposes, the understanding is
perverted, their temper is spoiled, their simplicity of mind, and
their capability of enjoying happiness, materially injured.

The language and manners, the awkward and vulgar tricks which
children learn in the society of servants, are immediately perceived,
and disgust and shock well-bred parents. This is an evil which is
striking and disgraceful; it is more likely to be remedied than those
which are more secret and slow in their operation: the habits of
cunning, falsehood, envy, which lurk in the temper, are not instantly
visible to strangers; they do not appear the moment children are
reviewed by parents; they may remain for years without notice or
without cure.

All these things have been said a hundred times; and, what is more,
they are universally acknowledged to be true. It has passed into a
common maxim with all who reflect, and even with all who speak upon
the subject of education, that "it is the worst thing in the world to
leave children with servants." But, notwithstanding this, each person
imagines that he has found some lucky exception to the general rule.
There is some favourite maid or phoenix of a footman in each family,
who is supposed to be unlike all other servants, and, therefore,
qualified for the education of children. But, if their qualifications
were scrupulously examined, it is to be feared they would not be found
competent to the trust that is reposed in them. They may,
nevertheless, be excellent servants, much attached to their masters
and mistresses, and sincerely desirous to obey their orders in the
management of their pupils; but this is not sufficient. In education
it is not enough to obey the laws; it is necessary to understand them,
to understand the spirit, as well as the letter of the law. The blind
application of general maxims will never succeed; and can that nice
discrimination which is necessary to the just use of good principles,
be expected from those who have never studied the human mind, who have
little motive for the study, whose knowledge is technical, and who
have never had any liberal education? Give, or attempt to give, the
best waiting-maid in London the general maxim, "That pain should be
associated with whatever we wish to make children avoid doing; and
pleasure should be associated with whatever we wish that children
should love to do;" will the waiting-maid understand this, even if you
exchange the word _associated_ for _joined_? How will she apply her
new principle in practice? She will probably translate it into, "Whip
the child when it is troublesome, and give it sweetmeats when it does
as it is bid." With this compendious system of tuition she is well
satisfied, especially as it contains nothing which is new to her
understanding, or foreign to her habits. But if we should expect her
to enter into the views of a Locke or a Barbauld, would it not be at
once unreasonable and ridiculous?

What has been said of the understanding and dispositions of servants,
relates only to servants as they are now educated. Their vices and
their ignorance arise from the same causes, the want of education.
They are not a separate cast in society, doomed to ignorance, or
degraded by inherent vice; they are capable, they are desirous of
instruction. Let them be well educated,[34] and the difference in
their conduct and understanding will repay society for the trouble of
the undertaking. This education must begin as early as possible; let
us not imagine that it is practicable to change the habits of servants
who are already educated, and to make them suddenly fit companions in
a family. They should not, in any degree, be permitted to interfere
with the management of children, until their own education has been
radically reformed. Let servants be treated with the utmost kindness;
let their situations be made as happy as possible; let the reward of
their services and attachment be as liberal as possible; but reward
with justice, do not sacrifice your children to pay your own debts.
Familiarity between servants and children, cannot permanently increase
the happiness of either party. Children, who have early lived with
servants, as they grow up are notoriously apt to become capricious and
tyrannical masters. A boy who has been used to treat a footman as his
play-fellow, cannot suddenly command from him that species of
deference, which is compounded of habitual respect for the person, and
conventional submission to his station; the young master must,
therefore, effect a change in his footman's manner of thinking and
speaking by violent means; he must extort that tribute of respect
which he has neglected so long, and to which, consequently, his right
is disputed.[35] He is sensible, that his superiority is merely that
of situation, and he, therefore, exerts his dormant prerogatives with
jealous insolence. No master is so likely to become the tyrant of his
valet-de-chambre, as he who is conscious that he never _can_ appear to
him a hero. No servant feels the yoke of servitude more galling, than
he who has been partially emancipated, who has lost his habits of
"proud subordination, and his taste for dignified submission."[36]

No mistaken motive of tenderness to domestics should operate upon the
minds of parents; nor should they hesitate, for the general happiness
of their families, to insist upon a total separation between those
parts of it which will injure each other essentially by their union.

Every body readily disclaims the idea of letting children live with
servants; but, besides the exceptions in favour of particular
individuals, there is yet another cause of the difference between
theory and practice upon this subject. Time is left out of the
consideration; people forget that life is made up of days and hours;
and they by no means think, that letting children pass several hours
every day with servants, has any thing to do with the idea of living
with them. We must contract this latitude of expression. If children
pass one hour in a day with servants, it will be in vain to attempt
their education.

Madame Roland, in one of her letters to De Bosc, says, that her little
daughter Eudora had learned to swear; "and yet," continues she, "I
leave her but one half hour a day with servants. Admirez la
disposition!" Madame Roland could not have been much accustomed to
attend to education.

Whilst children are very young, there appears a necessity for their
spending at least half an hour a day with servants; until they are
four or five years old, they cannot dress or undress themselves, or,
if they attempt it, they may learn careless habits, which in girls are
particularly to be avoided. If a mother, or a governess, would make it
a rule to be present when they are dressing, a maid-servant would not
talk to them, and could do them but little injury. It is of
consequence, that the maid-servant should herself be perfectly neat
both from habit and taste. Children observe exactly the manner in
which every thing is done for them, and have the wish, even before
they have the power, to imitate what they see; they love order, if
they are accustomed to it, and if their first attempts at arrangement
are not made irksome by injudicious management. What they see done
every day in a particular manner, they learn to think part of the
business of the day, and they are uneasy if any of the rites of
cleanliness are forgotten; the transition from this uneasiness, to the
desire of exerting themselves, is soon made, particularly if they are
sometimes left to feel the inconveniences of being helpless. This
should, and can, be done, without affectation. A maid cannot be always
ready, the instant she is wanted, to attend upon them; they should not
be waited upon as being masters and misses, they should be assisted as
being helpless.[37] They will not feel their vanity flattered by this
attendance; the maid will not be suffered to amuse them, they will be
ambitious of independence, and they will soon be proud of doing every
thing for themselves.

Another circumstance which keeps children long in subjection to
servants, is their not being able to wield a knife, fork, or spoon,
with decent dexterity. Such habits are taught to them by the careless
maids who feed them, that they cannot for many years be produced even
at the side-table without much inconvenience and constant anxiety. If
this anxiety in a mother were to begin a little sooner, it need never
be intense; patient care in feeding children neatly at first, will
save many a bitter reprimand afterwards; their little mouths and hands
need not be disgusting at their meals, and their nurses had better
take care not to let them touch what is disagreeable, instead of
rubbing their lips rudely with a rough napkin, by way of making them
love to have their mouths clean. These minutiæ must, in spite of
didactic dignity, be noticed, because they lead to things of greater
consequence; they are well worth the attention of a prudent mother or
governess. If children are early taught to eat with care, they will
not, from false shame, desire to dine[38] with the vulgar indulgent
nursery-maid, rather than with the fastidious company at their
mother's table. Children should first be taught to eat with a spoon
what has been neatly cut for them; afterwards they should cut a little
meat for themselves towards the end of dinner, when the rage of hunger
is appeased; they will then have "leisure to be good." The several
operations of learning to eat with a spoon, to cut and to eat with a
knife and fork, will become easy and habitual, if sufficient time be
allowed.

Several children in a family, who were early attended to in all these
little particulars, were produced at table when they were four or five
years old; they suffered no constraint, nor were they ever banished to
the nursery lest _company_ should detect their evil habits. Their eyes
and ears were at liberty during the time of dinner; and instead of
being absorbed in the contemplation of their plates, and at war with
themselves and their neighbours, they could listen to conversation,
and were amused even whilst they were eating. Without meaning to
assert, with Rousseau, that all children are naturally gluttons or
epicures, we must observe, that eating is their first great and
natural pleasure; this pleasure should, therefore, be _entirely_ at
the disposal of those who have the care of their education; it should
be associated with the idea of their tutors or governesses. A
governess may, perhaps, disdain to use the same means to make herself
beloved by a child, as those which are employed by a nursery-maid; nor
is it meant that children should be governed by their love of eating.
Eating need not be made a reward, nor should we restrain their
appetite as a punishment; praise and blame, and a variety of other
excitements, must be preferred when we want to act upon their
understanding. Upon this subject we shall speak more fully hereafter.
All that is here meant to be pointed out, is, that the mere physical
pleasure of eating should not be associated in the minds of children
with servants; it should not be at the disposal of servants, because
they may, in some degree, balance by this pleasure the other motives
which a tutor may wish to put in action. "Solid pudding," as well as
"empty praise," should be in the gift of the preceptor.

Besides the pleasures of the table, there are many others which
usually are associated early with servants. After children have been
pent in a close formal drawing-room, motionless and mute, they are
frequently dismissed to an apartment where there is no furniture too
fine to be touched with impunity, where there is ample space, where
they may jump and sing, and make as much noise as can be borne by the
much-enduring eardrum of the nursery-maid. Children think this
insensibility of ear a most valuable qualification in any person; they
have no sympathy with more refined auditory nerves, and they prefer
the company of those who are to them the best hearers. A medium
between their taste and that of their parents should, in this
instance, be struck; parents should not insist upon eternal silence,
and children should not be suffered to make mere noise essential to
their entertainment. Children should be encouraged to talk at proper
times, and should have occupations provided for them when they are
required to be still; by these means it will not be a restraint to
them to stay in the same room with the rest of the family for some
hours in the day. At other times they should have free leave to run
about either in rooms where they cannot disturb others, or out of
doors; in neither case should they be with servants. Children should
never be sent out to walk with servants.

After they have been poring over their lessons, or stiffening under
the eye of their preceptors, they are frequently consigned immediately
to the ready footman; they cluster round him for their hats, their
gloves, their little boots and whips, and all the well known signals
of pleasure. The hall door bursts open, and they sally forth under the
interregnum of this beloved protector, to enjoy life and liberty; all
the natural, and all the factitious ideas of the love of liberty, are
connected with this distinct part of the day; the fresh air--the green
fields--the busy streets--the gay shops--the variety of objects which
the children see and hear--the freedom of their tongues--the joys of
bodily exercise, and of mental relaxation, all conspire to make them
prefer this period of the day, which they spend with the footman, to
any other in the four-and-twenty hours. The footman sees, and is
flattered by this; he is therefore assiduous to please, and piques
himself upon being more indulgent than the hated preceptor. Servants
usually wish to make themselves beloved by children; can it be
wondered at if they succeed, when we consider the power that is thrown
into their hands?

In towns, children have no gardens, no place where they can take that
degree of exercise which is necessary for their health; this tempts
their parents to trust them to servants, when they cannot walk with
them themselves: but is there no individual in the family, neither
tutor, nor governess, nor friend, nor brother, nor sister, who can
undertake this daily charge? Cannot parents sacrifice some of their
amusements in town, or cannot they live in the country? If none of
these things can be done, without hesitation they should prefer a
public to a private education. In these circumstances, they cannot
educate their children at home; they had much better not attempt it,
but send them at once to school.

In the country, arrangements may easily be made, which will preclude
all those little dangers which fill a prudent parent's mind with
anxiety. Here children want the care of no servant to walk out with
them; they can have gardens, and safe places for exercise allotted to
them. In rainy weather they can have rooms apart from the rest of the
family; they need not be cooped up in an ill-contrived house, where
servants are perpetually in their way.

Attention to the arrangement of a house, is of material consequence.
Children's rooms should not be passage rooms for servants; they
should, on the contrary, be so situated, that servants cannot easily
have access to them, and cannot, on any pretence of business, get the
habit of frequenting them. Some fixed employment should be provided
for children, which will keep them in a different part of the house at
those hours when servants must necessarily be in their bed-chambers.
There will be a great advantage in teaching children to arrange their
own rooms, because this will prevent the necessity of servants being
for any length of time in their apartments; their things will not be
mislaid; their playthings will not be swept away or broken; no little
temptations will arise to ask questions from servants; all necessity,
and all opportunity of intercourse, will thus be cut off. Children
should never be sent with messages to servants, either on their own
business, or on other people's; if they are permitted any times to
speak to them, they will not distinguish what times are proper, and
what are improper.

Servants have so much the habit of talking to children, and think it
such a proof of good nature to be interested about them, that it will
be difficult to make them submit to this total silence and separation.
The certainty that they shall lose their places, if they break through
the regulations of the family, will, however, be a strong motive,
provided that their places are agreeable and advantageous; and parents
should be absolutely strict in this particular. What is the loss of
the service of a good groom, or a good butler, compared with the
danger of spoiling a child? It may be feared that some _secret_
intercourse should be carried on between children and servants; but
this will be lessened by the arrangements in the house, which we have
mentioned; by care in a mother or governess, to know exactly where
children are, and what they are doing every hour of the day; this need
not be a daily anxiety, for when certain hours have once been fixed
for certain occupations, habit is our friend, and we cannot have a
safer. There is this great advantage in measures of precaution and
prevention, that they diminish all temptation, at the same time that
they strengthen the habits of obedience.

Other circumstances will deter servants from running any hazard
themselves; they will not be so fond of children who do not live with
them; they will consider them as beings moving in a different sphere.
Children who are at ease with their parents, and happy in their
company, will not seek inferior society; this will be attributed to
pride by servants, who will not like them for this reserve. So much
the better. Children who are encouraged to converse about every thing
that interests them, will naturally tell their mothers if any one
talks to them; a servant's speaking to them would be an extraordinary
event to be recorded in the history of the day. The idea that it is
dishonourable to tell tales, should never be put into their minds;
they will never be the spies of servants, nor should they keep their
secrets. Thus, as there is no faith expected from the children, the
servants will not trust them; they will be certain of detection, and
will not transgress the laws.

It may not be impertinent to conclude these minute precepts with
assuring parents, that in a numerous family, where they have for above
twenty years been steadily observed, success has been the uniform
result.

FOOTNOTES:

[33] Verbatim from what has been really said to a boy.

[34] Perhaps an institution for the education of attendants upon
children, would be of the highest utility.

Mr. ---- had once an intention of educating forty children for this
purpose; from amongst whom he proposed to select eight or ten as
masters for future schools upon the same plan.

[35] V. The comedy of Wild Oats.

[36] Burke.

[37] Rousseau.

[38] V. Sancho Panza.



CHAPTER V.

ACQUAINTANCE.


"The charming little dears!" exclaims a civil acquaintance, the moment
the children are introduced. "Won't you come to me, love?" At this
question, perhaps, the bashful child backs towards its nurse, or its
mother; but in vain. Rejected at this trying crisis by its natural
protectors, it is pushed forward into the middle of the circle, and
all prospect of retreat being cut off, the victorious stranger seizes
upon her little victim, whom she seats, without a struggle, upon her
lap. To win the affections of her captive, the lady begins by a direct
appeal to personal vanity: "Who curls this pretty hair of yours, my
dear? Won't you let me look at your nice new red shoes? What shall I
give you for that fine colour in your cheeks? Let us see what we can
find in my pocket!"

Amongst the pocket bribes, the lady never fails to select the most
useless trinkets; the child would make a better choice; for, if there
should appear a pocket-book, which may be drawn up by a ribbon from
its slip case, a screen that would unfold gradually into a green star,
a pocket-fan, or a tooth-pick case with a spring lock, the child would
seize upon these with delight; but the moment its attention is fixed,
it is interrupted by the officious exclamation of, "Oh, let me do that
for you, love! Let me open that for you, you'll break your sweet
little nails. Ha! there is a looking-glass; whose pretty face is that?
but we don't love people for being pretty, you know; (mamma says I
must not tell you you are pretty) but we love little girls for being
good, and I am sure you look as if you were never naughty. I am sure
you don't know what it is to be naughty; will you give me one kiss?
and will you hold out your pretty little hand for some sugar-plums?
Mamma shakes her head, but mamma will not be angry, though mamma can
refuse you nothing, I'll answer for it. Who spoils you? Whose
favourite are you? Who do you love best in the world? And will you
love me? And will you come and live with me? Shall I carry you away
with me in the coach to-night? Oh! but I'm afraid I should eat you up,
and then what would mamma say to us both?"

To stop this torrent of nonsense, the child's mother, perhaps,
ventures to interfere with, "My dear, I'm afraid you'll be
troublesome." But this produces only vehement assertions of the
contrary. "The dear little creature can never be troublesome to any
body." Wo be to the child who implicitly believes this assertion!
frequent rebuffs from his _friends_ must be endured before this errour
will be thoroughly rectified: this will not tend to make those friends
more agreeable, or more beloved. That childish love, which varies from
hour to hour, is scarcely worth consideration; it cannot be an object
of competition to any reasonable person; but in early education
nothing must be thought beneath our attention. A child does not retain
much affection, it is true, for every casual visiter by whom he is
flattered and caressed. The individuals are here to-day and gone
to-morrow; variety prevents the impression from sinking into the mind,
it may be said; but the general impression remains, though each
particular stroke is not seen. Young children, who are much caressed
in company, are less intent than others upon pleasing those they live
with, and they are also less independent in their occupations and
pleasures. Those who govern such pupils have not sufficient power over
them, because they have not the means of giving pleasure; because
their praise or blame is frequently counteracted by applause of
visiters. That unbroken course of experience, which is necessary for
the success of a regular plan of education, cannot be preserved. Every
body may have observed the effect, which the extraordinary notice of
strangers produces upon children. After the day is over, and the
company has left the house, there is a cold blank; a melancholy
silence. The children then sink into themselves, and feel the
mortifying change in their situation. They look with dislike upon
everything around them; yawn with ennui, or fidget with fretfulness,
till on the first check which they meet with, their secret discontent
bursts forth into a storm. Resistance, caprice, and peevishness, are
not borne with patience by a governess, though they are submitted to
with smiles by the complaisant visiter. In the same day, the same
conduct produces totally different consequences. Experience, it is
said, makes fools wise; but such experience as this, makes wise
children fools.

Why is this farce of civility, which disgusts all parties, continually
repeated between visiters and children? Visiters would willingly be
excused from the trouble of flattering and spoiling them; but such is
the spell of custom, that no one dares to break it, even when every
one feels that it is absurd.

Children, who are thought to be clever, are often produced to
entertain company; they fill up the time, and relieve the circle from
that embarrassing silence, which proceeds from the having nothing to
say. Boys, who are thus brought forward at six or seven years old, and
encouraged to say what are called _smart_ things, seldom, as they grow
up, have really good understandings. Children, who, like the fools in
former times, are permitted to say every thing, now and then blurt out
those simple truths which politeness conceals: this entertains people,
but, in fact, it is a sort of _naivete_, which may exist without any
great talent for observation, and without any powers of reasoning.
Every thing in our manners, in the customs of the world, is new to
children, and the relations of apparently dissimilar things, strike
them immediately from their novelty. Children are often witty, without
knowing it, or rather without intending it; but as they grow older,
the same kind of wit does not please; the same objects do not appear
in the same point of view; and boys, who have been the delight of a
whole house at seven or eight years old, for the smart things they
could say, sink into stupidity and despondency at thirteen or
fourteen. "Un nom trop fameaux, est un fardeau tres pesant," said a
celebrated wit.

Plain, sober sense, does not entertain common visiters, and children
whose minds are occupied, and who are not ambitious of exhibiting
themselves for the entertainment of the company, will not in general
please. So much the better; they will escape many dangers; not only
the dangers of flattery, but also the dangers of nonsense. Few people
know how to converse with children; they talk to them of things that
are above, or below, their understandings; if they argue with them,
they do not reason fairly; they silence them with sentiment, or with
authority; or else they baffle them by wit, or by unintelligible
terms. They often attempt to try their capacities with quibbles and
silly puzzles. Children, who are expert at answering these, have
rarely been well educated: the extreme simplicity of sensible
children, will surprise those who have not been accustomed to it, and
many will be provoked by their inaptitude to understand the
common-place wit of conversation.

"How many sticks go to a rook's nest?" said a gentleman to a boy of
seven years old; he looked very grave, and having pondered upon the
question for some minutes, answered, "I do not know what you mean by
the word go." Fortunately for the boy, the gentleman who asked the
question, was not a captious querist; he perceived the good sense of
this answer; he perceived that the boy had exactly hit upon the
ambiguous word which was puzzling to the understanding, and he saw
that this showed more capacity than could have been shown by the
parrying of a thousand witticisms. We have seen S----, a remarkably
intelligent boy of nine years old, stand with the most puzzled face
imaginable, considering for a long half hour the common quibble of
"There was a carpenter who made a door; he made it too large; he cut
it and cut it, and he cut it _too little_; he cut it again, and it
fitted." S---- showed very little satisfaction, when he at length
discovered the double meaning of the words "too little;" but simply
said, "I did not know you meant that the carpenter cut _too little
off_ the door."

"Which has most legs, a horse or no horse?" "A horse has more legs
than no horse," replies the unwary child. "But," continues the witty
sophist, "a horse, surely, has but four legs; did you ever see a horse
with five legs?" "Never," says the child; "no horse has five legs."
"Oh, ho!" exclaims the entrapper, "I have you now! No horse has five
legs, you say; then you must acknowledge that _no_ horse has more legs
than _a_ horse. Therefore, when I asked you which has most legs, _a
horse_ or _no horse_, your answer, you see, should have been, _no
horse_."

The famous dilemma of "you have what you have not lost; you have not
lost horns; then you have horns;" is much in the same style of
reasoning. Children may readily be taught to chop logic, and to parry
their adversaries technically in this contest of false wit; but this
will not improve their understandings, though it may, to superficial
judges, give them the appearance of great quickness of intellect. We
should not, _even_ in jest, talk of nonsense to children, or suffer
them _even_ to hear inaccurate language. If confused answers be given
to their questions, they will soon be content with a confused notion
of things; they will be satisfied with bad reasoning, if they are not
taught to distinguish it scrupulously from what is good, and to reject
it steadily. Half the expressions current in conversation, have merely
a nominal value; they represent no ideas, and they pass merely by
common courtesy: but the language of every person of sense has
sterling value; it cheats and puzzles nobody; and even when it is
addressed to children, it is made intelligible. No common
acquaintance, who talks to a child merely for its own amusement,
selects his expressions with any care; what becomes of the child
afterwards, is no part of his concern; he does not consider the
advantage of clear explanations to the understanding, nor would he be
at the pains of explaining any thing thoroughly, even if he were able
to do so. And how few people are able to explain distinctly, even when
they most wish to make themselves understood!

The following conversation passed between a learned doctor (formerly)
of the Sorbonne, and a boy of seven years old.

_Doctor._ So, Sir, I see you are very advanced already in your
studies. You are quite expert at Latin. Pray, Sir, allow me to ask
you; I suppose you have heard of Tully's Offices?

_Boy._ Tully's Offices! No, Sir.

_Doctor._ No matter. You can, I will venture to say, solve me the
following question. It is not very difficult, but it has puzzled some
abler casuists, I can tell you, though, than you or I; but if you will
lend me your attention for a few moments, I flatter myself I shall
make myself intelligible to you.

The boy began to stiffen at this exordium, but he fixed himself in an
attitude of anxious attention, and the doctor, after having taken two
pinches of snuff, proceeded:

"In the Island of Rhodes, there was once, formerly, a great scarcity
of provisions, a famine quite; and some merchants fitted out ten ships
to relieve the Rhodians; and one of the merchants got into port sooner
than the others; and he took advantage of this circumstance to sell
his goods at an exorbitant rate, finding himself in possession of the
market. The Rhodians did not know that the other ships laden with
provisions were to be in the next day; and they, of course, paid this
merchant whatsoever price he thought proper to demand. Now the
question is, in morality, whether did he act the part of an honest man
in this business by the Rhodians? Or should he not rather have
informed them of the nine ships which were expected to come with
provisions to the market the ensuing day?"

The boy was silent, and did not appear to comprehend the story or the
question in the least. In telling his story, the doctor of the
Sorbonne unluckily pronounced the words _ship_ and _ships_ in such a
manner, that the child all along mistook them for _sheep_ and
_sheeps_; and this mistake threw every thing into confusion. Besides
this, a number of terms were made use of which were quite new to the
boy. Getting into port--being in possession of the market--selling
goods at an exorbitant rate; together with the whole mystery of buying
and selling, were as new to him, and appeared to him as difficult to
be understood, as the most abstract metaphysics. He did not even know
what was meant by the ships being expected _in_ the next day; and
"_acting the part_ of an honest man," was to him an unusual mode of
expression. The young casuist made no hand of this case of conscience;
when at last he attempted an answer, he only exposed himself to the
contempt of the learned doctor. When he was desired to repeat the
story, he made a strange jumble about some people who wanted to get
some _sheep_, and about one man who got in his sheep before the other
nine sheep; but he did not know how or why it was wrong in him not to
tell of the other sheep. Nor could he imagine why the _Rhodians_ could
not get sheep without this man. He had never had any idea of a famine.
This boy's father, unwilling that he should retire to rest with his
intellects in this state of confusion, as soon as the doctor had taken
leave, told the story to the child in different words, to try whether
it was the words or the ideas that puzzled him.

"In the Ægean sea, which you saw the other day in the map, there is an
Island, which is called the Island of Rhodes. In telling my story, I
take the opportunity to fix a point in geography in your memory. In
the Ægean sea there is an Island which is called the Island of Rhodes.
There was once a famine in this Island, that is to say, the people had
not food enough to live upon, and they were afraid that they should be
starved to death. Now, some merchants, who lived on the continent of
Greece, filled ten ships with provisions, and they sailed in these
vessels for the Island of Rhodes. It happened that one of these ships
got to the Island sooner than any of the others. It was evening, and
the captain of this ship knew that the others could not arrive until
the morning. Now the people of Rhodes, being extremely hungry, were
very eager to buy the provisions which this merchant had brought to
sell; and they were ready to give a great deal more money for
provisions than they would have done if they had not been almost
starved. There was not half a sufficient quantity of food in this one
ship, to supply all the people who wanted food; and therefore those
who had money, and who knew that the merchant wanted as much money as
he could get in exchange for his provisions, offered to give him a
large price, the price which he asked for them. Had these people
known that nine other ships full of provisions would arrive in the
morning, they would not have been ready to give so much money for
food, because they would not have been so much afraid of being
starved; and they would have known, that, in exchange for their money,
they could have a greater quantity of food the next day. The merchant,
however, did not tell them that any ships were expected to arrive, and
he consequently got a great deal more of their money for his
provisions, than he would have done, if he had told them the fact
which he knew, and which they did not know. Do you think that he did
right or wrong?"

The child, who now had rather more the expression of intelligence in
his countenance, than he had when the same question had been put to
him after the former statement of the case, immediately answered, that
he "thought the merchant had done wrong, that he should have told the
people that more ships were to come in the morning." Several different
opinions were given afterwards by other children, and grown people who
were asked the same question; and what had been an unintelligible
story, was rendered, by a little more skill and patience in the art of
explanation, an excellent lesson, or rather exercise in reasoning.

It is scarcely possible that a stranger, who sees a child only for a
few hours, can guess what he knows, and what he does not know; or that
he can perceive the course of his thoughts, which depends upon
associations over which he has no command; therefore, when a stranger,
let his learning and abilities be what they will, attempts to teach
children, he usually puzzles them, and the consequences of the
confusion of mind he creates, last sometimes for years: sometimes it
influences their moral, sometimes their scientific reasoning. "Every
body but my friends," said a little girl of six years old, "tells me I
am very pretty." From this contradictory evidence, what must the child
have inferred? The perplexity which some young people, almost arrived
at the years of discretion, have shown in their first notions of
mathematics, has been a matter of astonishment to those who have
attempted to teach them: this perplexity has been at length discovered
to arise from their having early confounded in their minds the ideas
of a triangle, and an angle. In the most common modes of expression
there are often strange inaccuracies, which do not strike us, because
they are familiar to us; but children, who hear them for the first
time, detect their absurdity, and are frequently anxious to have such
phrases explained. If they converse much with idle visiters, they will
seldom be properly applauded for their precision, and their
philosophic curiosity will often be repressed by unmeaning replies.
Children, who have the habit of applying to their parents, or to
sensible preceptors, in similar difficulties, will be somewhat better
received, and will gain rather more accurate information. S---- (nine
years old) was in a house where a chimney was on fire; he saw a great
bustle, and he heard the servants and people, as they ran backwards
and forwards, all exclaim, that "the chimney was on fire." After the
fire was put out, and when the bustle was over, S---- said to his
father, "What do people mean when they say the _chimney is on fire_?
What is it that burns?" At this question a silly acquaintance would
probably have laughed in the boy's face; would have expressed
astonishment as soon as his visit was over, at such an instance of
strange ignorance in a boy of nine years old; or, if civility had
prompted any answer, it would perhaps have been, "The chimney's being
on fire, my love, means that the chimney's on fire! Every body knows
what's meant by 'the chimney's on fire!' There's a great deal of
smoke, and sparks, and flame, coming out at the top, you know, when
the chimney's on fire. And it's extremely dangerous, and would set a
house on fire, or perhaps the whole neighbourhood, if it was not put
out immediately. Many dreadful fires, you know, happen in towns, as we
hear for ever in the newspaper, by the chimney's taking fire. Did you
never hear of a chimney's being on fire before? You are a very happy
young gentleman to have lived to your time of life, and to be still at
a loss about such a thing. What burns? Why, my dear Sir, the chimney
burns; fire burns in the chimney. To be sure fires are sad accidents;
many lives are lost by them every day. I had a chimney on fire in my
drawing room last year."

Thus would the child's curiosity have been baffled by a number of
words without meaning or connection; on the contrary, when he applied
to a father, who was interested in his improvement, his sensible
question was listened to with approbation. He was told, that the
chimney's being on fire, was an inaccurate common expression; that it
was the soot in the chimney, not the chimney, that burned; that the
soot was sometimes set on fire by sparks of fire, sometimes by flame,
which might have been accidentally _drawn up_ the chimney. Some of the
soot which had been set on fire, was shown to him; the nature of
burning in general, the manner in which the chimney _draws_, the
meaning of that expression, and many other things connected with the
subject, were explained upon this occasion to the inquisitive boy, who
was thus encouraged to think and speak accurately, and to apply, in
similar difficulties, to the friend who had thus taken the trouble to
understand his simple question. A random answer to a child's question,
does him a real injury; but can we expect, that those who have no
interest in education, should have the patience to correct their whole
conversation, and to adapt it precisely to the capacity of children?
This would indeed be unreasonable; all we can do, is to keep our
pupils out of the way of those who _can_ do them no good, and who
_may_ do them a great deal of harm. We must prefer the permanent
advantage of our pupils, to the transient vanity of exhibiting for the
amusement of company, their early wit, or "lively nonsense." Children
should never be introduced for the amusement of the circle; nor yet
should they be condemned to sit stock still, holding up their heads
and letting their feet dangle from chairs that are too high for them,
merely that they may appear what is called _well_ before visiters.
Whenever any conversation is going forward which they can understand,
they should be kindly summoned to partake of the pleasures of society;
its pains and its follies we may spare them. The manners of young
people will not be injured by this arrangement; they will be at ease
in company, because whenever they are introduced into it, they will
make a part of it; they will be interested and happy; they will feel a
proper confidence in themselves, and they will not be intent upon
their courtesies, their frocks, their manner of holding their hands,
or turning out their toes, the proper placing of Sir, Madam, or your
Ladyship, with all the other innumerable trifles which embarrass the
imagination, and consequently the manners, of those who are taught to
think that they are to sit still, and behave in company some way
differently from what they behave every day in their own family.

We have hitherto only spoken of acquaintance who do not attempt or
desire to interfere in education, but who only caress and talk
nonsense to children with the best intentions possible: with these,
parents will find it comparatively easy to manage; they can contrive
to employ children, or send them out to walk; by cool reserve, they
can readily discourage such visiters from flattering their children;
and by insisting upon becoming a party in all conversations which are
addressed to their pupils, they can, in a great measure, prevent the
bad effects of inaccurate or imprudent conversation; they can explain
to their pupils what was left unintelligible, and they can counteract
false associations, either at the moment they perceive them, or at
some well-chosen opportunity. But there is a class of acquaintance
with whom it will be more difficult to manage; persons who are,
perhaps, on an intimate footing with the family, who are valued for
their agreeable talents and estimable qualities; who are, perhaps,
persons of general information and good sense, and who may yet never
have considered the subject of education; or who, having partially
considered it, have formed some peculiar and erroneous opinions. They
will feel themselves entitled to talk upon education as well as upon
any other topic; they will hazard, and they will support, opinions;
they will be eager to prove the truth of their assertions, or the
superiority of their favourite theories. Out of pure regard for their
friends, they will endeavour to bring them over to their own way of
thinking in education; and they will by looks, by hints, by inuendoes,
unrestrained by the presence of the children, insinuate their advice
and their judgment upon every domestic occurrence. In the heat of
debate, people frequently forget that children have eyes and ears, or
any portion of understanding; they are not aware of the quickness of
that comprehension which is excited by the motives of curiosity and
self love. It is dangerous to let children be present at any
arguments, in which the management of their minds is concerned, until
they can perfectly understand the whole of the subject: they will, if
they catch but a few words, or a few ideas, imagine, perhaps, that
there is something wrong, some hardships, some injustice, practised
against them by their friends; yet they will not distinctly know, nor
will they, perhaps, explicitly inquire what it is. They should be sent
out of the room before any such arguments are begun; or, if the
conversation be abruptly begun before parents can be upon their guard,
they may yet, without offending against the common forms of
politeness, decline entering into any discussion until their children
are withdrawn. As to any direct attempt practically to interfere with
the children's education, by blame or praise, by presents, by books,
or by conversation; these should, and really must, be resolutely and
steadily resisted by parents: this will require some strength of mind.
What can be done without it? Many people, who are convinced of the
danger of the interference of friends and acquaintance in the
education of their children, will yet, from the fear of offending,
from the dread of being thought singular, submit to the evil. These
persons may be very well received, and very well liked in the world:
they must content themselves with this reward; they must not expect to
succeed in education, for strength of mind is absolutely necessary to
those who would carry a plan of education into effect. Without being
tied down to any one exclusive plan, and with universal toleration for
different modes of moral and intellectual instruction, it may be
safely asserted, that the plan which is most steadily pursued, will
probably succeed the best. People who are moved by the advice of all
their friends, and who endeavour to adapt their system to every
fashionable change in opinion, will inevitably repent of their weak
complaisance; they will lose all power over their pupils, and will be
forced to abandon the education of their families to chance.

It will be found impossible to educate a child at home, unless all
interference from visiters and acquaintance is precluded. But it is of
yet more consequence, that the members of the family must entirely
agree in their sentiments, or at least in the conduct of the children
under their care. Without this there is no hope. Young people perceive
very quickly, whether there is unanimity in their government; they
make out an alphabet of looks with unerring precision, and decipher
with amazing ingenuity, all that is for their interest to understand.
When children are blamed or punished, they always know pretty well who
pities them, who thinks that they are in the wrong, and who thinks
that they are in the right; and thus the influence of public opinion
is what ultimately governs. If children find that, when mamma is
displeased, grandmamma comforts them, they will console themselves
readily under this partial disgrace, and they will suspect others of
caprice, instead of ever blaming themselves. They will feel little
confidence in their own experience, or in the assertions of others;
they will think that there is always some chance of escape amongst the
multitude of laws and law-givers. No tutor or preceptor can be
answerable, or ought _to undertake to answer for measures which he
does not guide_. Le Sage, with an inimitable mixture of humour and
good sense, in the short history of the education of the robbers who
supped in that cave in which dame Leonardo officiated, has given many
excellent lessons in education. Captain Rolando's tutors could never
make any thing of him, because, whenever they reprimanded him, he ran
to his mother, father, and grandfather, for consolation; and from them
constantly received protection in rebellion, and commiseration for the
wounds which he had inflicted upon his own hands and face, purposely
to excite compassion, and to obtain revenge.

It is obviously impossible, that all the world, the ignorant and the
well-informed, the man of genius, the man of fashion, and the man of
business, the pedant and the philosopher, should agree in their
opinion upon any speculative subject; upon the wide subject of
education they will probably differ eternally. It will, therefore, be
thought absurd to require this union of opinion amongst the
individuals of a family; but, let there be ever so much difference in
their private opinions, they can surely discuss any disputed point at
leisure, when children are absent, or they can, in these arguments,
converse in French, or in some language which their pupils do not
understand. The same caution should be observed, as we just now
recommended, with respect to acquaintance. It is much better, when any
difficulties occur, to send the children at once into any other room,
and to tell them that we do so because we have something to say that
we do not wish them to hear, than to make false excuses to get rid of
their company, or to begin whispering and disputing in their presence.

These precautions are advisable whilst our pupils are young, before
they are capable of comprehending arguments of this nature, and whilst
their passions are vehemently interested on one side or the other. As
young people grow up, the greater variety of opinions they hear upon
all subjects, the better; they will then form the habit of judging for
themselves: whilst they are very young, they have not the means of
forming correct judgments upon abstract subjects, nor are these the
subjects upon which their judgment can be properly exercised: upon the
subject of education, they cannot be competent judges, because they
cannot, till they are nearly educated, have a complete view of the
means, or of the end; besides this, no _man_ is allowed to be judge in
his own case.

Some parents allow their children a vast deal of liberty whilst they
are young, and restrain them by absolute authority when their reason
is, or ought to be, a sufficient guide for their conduct. The contrary
practice will make parents much more beloved, and will make children
both wiser and happier. Let no idle visiter, no intrusive, injudicious
friend, for one moment interfere to lessen the authority necessary for
the purposes of education. Let no weak jealousy, no unseasonable love
of command, restrain young people after they are sufficiently
reasonable to judge for themselves. In the choice of their friends,
their acquaintance, in all the great and small affairs of life, let
them have liberty in proportion as they acquire reason. Fathers do not
commonly interfere with their sons' amusements, nor with the choice of
their acquaintance, so much as in the regulation of their pecuniary
affairs: but mothers, who have had any considerable share in the
education of boys, are apt to make mistakes as to the proper seasons
for indulgence and control. They do not watch the moments when
dangerous prejudices and tastes begin to be formed; they do not
perceive how the slight conversations of acquaintance operate upon the
ever-open ear of childhood; but when the age of passion approaches,
and approaches, as it usually does, in storms and tempest, then all
their maternal fears are suddenly roused, and their anxiety prompts
them to use a thousand injudicious and ineffectual expedients.

A modern princess, who had taken considerable pains in the education
of her son, made both herself and him ridiculous by her anxiety upon
his introduction into the world. She travelled about with him from
place to place, to _make him see_ every thing worth seeing; but he was
not to stir from her presence; she could not bear to have him out of
sight or hearing. In all companies he was _chaperoned_ by his mother.
Was he invited to a ball, she must be invited also, or he could not
accept of the invitation: he must go in the same coach, and return in
the same coach with her. "I should like extremely to dance another
dance," said he one evening to his partner, "but you see I must go; my
mother is putting on her cloak." The tall young man called for some
negus, and had the glass at his lips, when his mamma called out in a
shrill voice, through a vista of heads, "Eh! My son no drink wine! My
son like milk and water!" The son was at this time at years of
discretion.



CHAPTER VI.

ON TEMPER.


We have already, in speaking of the early care of infants, suggested
that the temper should be attended to from the moment of their birth.
A negligent, a careless, a passionate servant, must necessarily injure
the temper of a child. The first language of an infant is
intelligible only to its nurse; she can distinguish between the cry of
pain and the note of ill humour, or the roar of passion. The cry of
pain should be listened to with the utmost care, and every possible
means should be used to relieve the child's sufferings; but when it is
obvious that he cries from ill humour, a nurse should not sooth him
with looks of affection, these she should reserve for the moment when
the storm is over. We do not mean that infants should be suffered to
cry for a length of time without being regarded; this would give them
habits of ill humour: we only wish that the nurse would, as soon as
possible, teach the child that what he wants can be obtained without
his putting himself in a passion. Great care should be taken to
prevent occasions for ill humour; if a nurse neglects her charge, or
if she be herself passionate, the child will suffer so much pain, and
so many disappointments, that it must be in a continual state of
fretfulness. An active, cheerful, good humoured, intelligent nurse,
will make a child good humoured by a regular, affectionate attendance;
by endeavouring to prevent all unnecessary sufferings, and by quickly
comprehending its language of signs. The best humoured woman in the
world, if she is stupid, is not fit to have the care of a child; the
child will not be able to make her understand any thing less than
vociferation. By way of amusing the infant, she will fatigue it with
her caresses; without ever discovering the real cause of his wo, she
will sing one universal lullaby upon all occasions to pacify her
charge.

It requires some ingenuity to discover the cause and cure of those
long and loud fits of crying, which frequently arise from imaginary
apprehensions. A little boy of two years old, used to cry violently
when he awoke in the middle of the night, and saw a candle in the
room. It was observed that the shadow of the person who was moving
about in the room frightened him, and as soon as the cause of his
crying was found out, it was easy to pacify him; his fear of shadows
was effectually cured, by playfully showing him, at different times,
that shadows had no power to hurt him.

H----, about nine months old, when she first began to observe the
hardness of bodies, let her hand fall upon a cat which had crept
unperceived upon the table; she was surprised and terrified by the
unexpected sensation of softness; she could not touch the cat, or any
thing that felt like soft fur, without showing agitation, till she was
near four years old, though every gentle means were used to conquer
her antipathy; the antipathy was, however, cured at last, by her
having a wooden cat covered with fur for a plaything.

A boy, between four and five years old, H----, used to cry bitterly
when he was left alone in a room, in which there were some old family
pictures. It was found that he was much afraid of these pictures: a
maid, who took care of him, had terrified him with the notion that
they would come to him, or that they were looking at him, and would be
angry with him if he was not _good_. To cure the child of this fear of
pictures, a small sized portrait, which was not amongst the number of
those that had frightened him, was produced in broad day light. A
piece of cake was put upon this picture, which the boy was desired to
take; he took it, touched the picture, and was shown the canvas at the
back of it, which, as it happened to be torn, he could easily identify
with the painting: the picture was then given to him for a plaything;
he made use of it as a table, and became very fond of it as soon as he
was convinced that it was not alive, and that it could do him no sort
of injury.

By patiently endeavouring to discover the causes of terror in
children, we may probably prevent their tempers from acquiring many
bad habits. It is scarcely possible for any one, who has not
constantly lived with a child, and who has not known the whole rise
and progress of his little character, to trace the causes of these
strange apprehensions; for this reason, a parent has advantages in
the education of his child, which no tutor or schoolmaster can have.

A little boy was observed to show signs of fear and dislike at hearing
the sound of a drum: to a stranger, such fear must have seemed
unaccountable, but those who lived with the child, knew from what it
arose. He had been terrified by the sight of a merry-andrew in a mask,
who had played upon a drum; this was the first time that he had ever
heard the sound of a drum; the sound was associated with fear, and
continued to raise apprehensions in the child's mind after he had
forgotten the original cause of that apprehension.

We are well aware that we have laid ourselves open to ridicule, by the
apparently trifling anecdotes which have just been mentioned; but if
we can save one child from an hour's unnecessary misery, or one parent
from an hour's anxiety, we shall bear the laugh, we hope, with good
humour.

Young children, who have not a great number of ideas, perhaps for that
reason associate those which they acquire with tenacity; they cannot
reason concerning general causes; they expect that any event, which
has once or twice followed another, will always follow in the same
order; they do not distinguish between proximate and remote causes,
between coincidences and the regular connection of cause and effect:
hence children are subject to feel hopes and fears from things which
to us appear matters of indifference. Suppose, for instance, that a
child is very eager to go out to walk, that his mother puts on her
gloves and her cloak; these being the usual signals that she is going
out, he instantly expects, if he has been accustomed to accompany her,
that he shall have the pleasure of walking out; but if she goes out,
and forgets him, he is not only disappointed at that moment, but the
disappointment, or, at least, some indistinct apprehension, recurs to
him when he is in a similar situation: the putting on of his mother's
cloak and gloves, are then circumstances of vast importance to him,
and create anxiety, perhaps tears, whilst to every other spectator
they are matters of total indifference. Every one, who has had any
experience in the education of such children as are apt to form strong
associations, must be aware, that many of those fits of crying, which
appear to arise solely from ill-humour, are occasioned by association.
When these are suffered to become habitual, they are extremely
difficult to conquer; it is, therefore, best to conquer them as soon
as possible. If a child has, by any accident, been disposed to cry at
particular times in the day, without any obvious cause, we should at
those hours engage his attention, occupy him, change the room he is
in, or by any new circumstance break his habits. It will require some
penetration to distinguish between involuntary tears, and tears of
caprice; but even when children are really cross, it is not, whilst
they are very young, prudent to let them wear out their ill-humour, as
some people do, in total neglect. Children, when they are left to weep
in solitude, often continue in wo for a considerable length of time,
until they quite forget the original cause of complaint, and they
continue their convulsive sobs, and whining note of distress, purely
from inability to stop themselves.

Thus habits of ill-humour are contracted; it is better, by a little
well-timed excitation, to turn the course of a child's thoughts, and
to make him forget his trivial miseries. "The tear forgot as soon as
shed," is far better than the peevish whine, or sullen lowering brow,
which proclaim the unconquered spirit of discontent.

Perhaps, from the anxiety which we have expressed to prevent the petty
misfortunes, and unnecessary tears of children, it may be supposed
that we are disposed to humour them; far from it--We know too well
that a humoured child is one of the most unhappy beings in the world;
a burden to himself, and to his friends; capricious, tyrannical,
passionate, peevish, sullen, and selfish.

An only child runs a dreadful chance of being spoiled. He is born a
person of consequence; he soon discovers his innate merit; every eye
is turned upon him the moment he enters the room; his looks, his
dress, his appetite, are all matters of daily concern to a whole
family; his wishes are divined; his wants are prevented; his witty
sayings are repeated in his presence; his smiles are courted; his
caresses excite jealousy, and he soon learns how to avail himself of
his central situation. His father and mother make him alternately
their idol, and their plaything; they do not think of educating, they
only think of admiring him; they imagine that he is unlike all other
children in the universe, and that his genius and his temper are
independent of all cultivation. But when this little paragon of
perfection has two or three brothers and sisters, the scene changes;
the man of consequence dwindles into an insignificant little boy. We
shall hereafter explain more fully the danger of accustoming children
to a large share of our sympathy; we hope that the economy of kindness
and caresses which we have recommended,[39] will be found to increase
domestic affection, and to be essentially serviceable to the temper.
In a future chapter, "On Vanity, Pride, and Ambition," some remarks
will be found on the use and abuse of the stimuli of praise,
emulation, and ambition. The precautions which we have already
mentioned with respect to servants, and the methods that have been
suggested for inducing habitual and rational obedience, will also, we
hope, be considered as serviceable to the temper, as well as to the
understanding. Perpetual and contradictory commands and prohibitions,
not only make children disobedient, but fretful, peevish, and
passionate.

Idleness, amongst children, as amongst men, is the root of all evil,
and leads to no evil more certainly than to ill temper. It is
said,[40] that the late king of Spain was always so cross during
Passion week, when he was obliged to abstain from his favourite
amusement of hunting, that none of his courtiers liked to approach his
majesty. There is a great similarity between the condition of a prince
flattered by his courtiers, and a child humoured by his family; and we
may observe, that both the child and prince are most intolerable to
their dependants and friends, when any of their daily amusements are
interrupted. It is not that the amusements are in themselves
delightful, but the pains and penalties of idleness are insupportable.
We have endeavoured to provide a variety of occupations, as well as of
amusements, for our young pupils,[41] that they may never know the
misery of the Spanish monarch. When children are occupied, they are
independent of other people, they are not obliged to watch for casual
entertainment from those who happen to be unemployed, or who chance to
be in a humour to play with them; they have some agreeable object
continually in view, and they feel satisfied with themselves. They
will not torment every body in the house with incessant requests. "May
I have this? Will you give me that? May I go out to see such a thing?
When will it be dinner time? When will it be tea time? When will it be
time for me to go to supper?" are the impatient questions of a child
who is fretful from having nothing to do. Idle children are eternal
petitioners, and the refusals they meet with, perpetually irritate
their temper. With respect to requests in general, we should either
grant immediately what a child desires, or we should give a decided
refusal. The state of suspense is not easily borne; the propriety or
impropriety of the request should decide us either to grant, or to
refuse it; and we should not set the example of caprice, or teach our
pupils the arts of courtiers, who watch the humour of tyrants. If we
happen to be busy, and a child comes with an eager request about some
trifle, it is easy so far to command our temper as to answer, "I am
busy, don't talk to me now," instead of driving the petitioner away
with harsh looks, and a peremptory refusal, which make as great an
impression as harsh words. If we are reasonable, the child will soon
learn to apply to us at proper times. By the same steady, gentle
conduct, we may teach him to manage his love of talking with
discretion, and may prevent those ineffectual exhortations to silence,
which irritate the temper of the vivacious pupil. Expostulations, and
angry exclamations, will not so effectually command from our pupils
temperance of tongue, as their own conviction that they are more
likely to gain attention from their friends, if they choose properly
their seasons for conversation.

To prevent, we cannot too often repeat it, is better than to punish,
without humouring children; that is to say, without yielding to their
caprices, or to their _will_, when they express their wishes with
impatience, we may prevent many of those little inconveniences which
tease and provoke the temper; any continual irritation exhausts our
patience; acute pain can be endured with more fortitude.

We have sometimes seen children become fretful from the constant
teasing effect of some slight inconveniences in their dress; we have
pitied poor little boys, who were continually exhorted to produce
their handkerchiefs, and who could scarcely ever get these
handkerchiefs out of the tight pockets into which they had been
stuffed; into such pockets the hand can never enter, or withdraw
itself, without as much difficulty as Trenck had in getting rid of his
handcuffs. The torture of tight shoes, of back-boards, collars, and
stocks, we hope is nearly abandoned; surely all these are unnecessary
trials of fortitude; they exhaust that patience which might be
exercised upon things of consequence. Count Rumford tells us, that he
observed a striking melioration in the temper of all the mendicants in
the establishment at Munich, when they were relieved from the
constant torments of rags and vermin.

Some people imagine, that early sufferings, that a number of small
inconveniences, habitual severity of reproof, and frequent
contradiction and disappointment, inure children to pain, and
consequently improve their temper. Early sufferings, which are
necessary and inevitable, may improve children in fortitude; but the
contradictions and disappointments, which arise immediately from the
will of others, have not the same effect. Children, where their own
interests are concerned, soon distinguish between these two classes of
evils; they submit patiently when they know that it would be in vain
to struggle; they murmur and rebel, if they dare, whenever they feel
the hand of power press upon them capriciously. We should not invent
trials of temper for our pupils; if they can bear with good humour the
common course of events, we should be satisfied.

"I tumbled down, and I _bored_ it very well," said a little boy of
three years old, with a look of great satisfaction. If this little boy
had been thrown down on purpose by his parents as a trial of temper,
it probably would not have been borne so well. As to inconveniences,
in general it is rather a sign of indolence, than a proof of good
temper in children, to submit to them quietly; if they can be remedied
by exertion, why should they be passively endured? If they cannot be
remedied, undoubtedly it is then better to abstract the attention from
them as much as possible, because this is the only method of lessening
the pain. Children should be assisted in making this distinction, by
our applauding their exertions when they struggle against unnecessary
evil, by our commending their patience whenever they endure inevitable
pain without complaints.

Illness, for instance, is an inevitable evil. To prevent children from
becoming peevish, when they are ill, we should give our pity and
sympathy with an increased appearance of affection, whenever they
bear their illness with patience. No artifice is necessary; we need
not affect any increase of pity; patience and good humour in the
sufferer, naturally excite the affection and esteem of the spectators.
The self-complacency, which the young patient must feel from a sense
of his own fortitude, and the perception that he commands the willing
hearts of all who attend him, are really alleviations of his bodily
sufferings; the only alleviations which, in some cases, can possibly
be afforded.

The attention which is thought necessary in learning languages, often
becomes extremely painful to the pupils, and the temper is often hurt
by ineffectual attempts to improve the understanding. We have
endeavoured to explain the methods of managing[42] the attention of
children with the least possible degree of pain. Yesterday a little
boy of three years old, W----, was learning his alphabet from his
father; after he had looked at one letter for some time with great
attention, he raised his eyes, and with a look of much good humour,
said to his father, "It makes me tired to stand." His father seated
him upon his knee, and told him that he did wisely in telling what
tired him: the child, the moment he was seated, fixed his attentive
eyes again upon his letters with fresh eagerness, and succeeded.
Surely it was not humouring this boy to let him sit down when he was
tired. If we teach a child that our assistance is to be purchased by
fretful entreaties; if we show him, that we are afraid of a storm, he
will make use of our apprehensions to accomplish his purposes. On the
contrary, if he perceives that we can steadily resist his tears and
ill humour, and especially if we show indifference upon the occasion,
he will perceive that he had better dry his tears, suspend his rage,
and try how far good humour will prevail. Children, who in every
little difficulty are assisted by others, really believe that others
are in fault whenever this assistance is not immediately offered. Look
at a humoured child, for instance, trying to push a chair along the
carpet; if a wrinkle in the carpet stops his progress, he either beats
the chair, or instantly turns with an angry appealing look to his
mother for assistance; and if she does not get up to help him, he will
cry. Another boy, who has not been humoured, will neither beat the
chair, nor angrily look round for help; but he will look immediately
to see what it is that stops the chair, and when he sees the wrinkle
in the carpet, he will either level or surmount the obstacle: during
this whole operation, he will not feel in the least inclined to cry.
Both these children might have had precisely the same original stock
of patience; but by different management, the one would become
passionate and peevish, the other both good humoured and persevering.
The pleasure of success pays children, as well as men, for long toil
and labour. Success is the proper reward of perseverance; but if we
sometimes capriciously grant, and sometimes refuse, our help, our
pupils cannot learn this important truth, and they imagine that
success depends upon the will of others, and not upon their own
efforts. A child, educated by a fairy, who sometimes came with magic
aid to perform, and who was sometimes deaf to her call, would
necessarily become ill humoured.

Several children, who were reading "Evenings at Home," observed that
in the story of Juliet and the fairy Order, "it was wrong to make the
fairy come whenever Juliet cried, and could not do her task, because
that was the way, said the children, to make the little girl ill
humoured."

We have formerly observed that children, who live much with companions
of their own age, are under but little habitual restraint as to their
tempers; they quarrel, fight, and shake hands; they have long and loud
altercations, in which the strongest voice often gets the better. It
does not improve the temper to be overborne by petulance and clamour:
even mild, sensible children, will learn to be positive if they
converse with violent dunces. In private families, where children mix
in the society of persons of different ages, who encourage them to
converse without reserve, they may meet with exact justice; they may
see that their respective talents and good qualities are appreciated;
they may acquire the habit of arguing without disputing; and they may
learn that species of mutual forbearance in trifles, as well as in
matters of consequence, which tends so much to domestic happiness. Dr.
Franklin, in one of his letters to a young female friend, after
answering some questions which she had asked him, apparently referring
to an argument which had passed some time before, concludes with this
comprehensive compliment: "So, you see, I think you had the best of
the _argument_; and, as you give it up in complaisance to the company,
I think you had also the best of the _dispute_." When young people
perceive that they gain credit by keeping their temper in
conversation, they will not be furious for victory, because
moderation, during the time of battle, can alone entitle them to the
honours of a triumph.

It is particularly necessary for girls to acquire command of temper in
arguing, because much of the effect of their powers of reasoning, and
of their wit, when they grow up, will depend upon the gentleness and
good humour with which they conduct themselves. A woman, who should
attempt to thunder like Demosthenes, would not find her eloquence
increase her domestic happiness. We by no means wish that women should
yield their better judgment to their fathers or husbands; but, without
using any of that debasing cunning which Rousseau recommends, they may
support the cause of reason with all the graces of female gentleness.

A man, in a furious passion, is terrible to his enemies; but a woman
in a passion, is disgusting to her friends; she loses the respect due
to her sex, and she has not masculine strength and courage to enforce
any other species of respect. These circumstances should be considered
by writers who advise that no difference should be made in the
education of the two sexes. We cannot help thinking that their
happiness is of more consequence than their speculative rights, and we
wish to educate women so that they may be happy in the situations in
which they are most likely to be placed. So much depends upon the
temper of women, that it ought to be most carefully cultivated in
early life; girls should be more inured to restraint than boys,
because they are likely to meet with more restraint in society. Girls
should learn the habit of bearing slight reproofs, without thinking
them matters of great consequence; but then they should always be
permitted to state their arguments, and they should perceive that
justice is shown to them, and that they increase the affection and
esteem of their friends by command of temper. Many passionate men are
extremely good natured, and make amends for their extravagances by
their candour, and their eagerness to please those whom they have
injured during their fits of anger. It is said, that the servants of
Dean Swift used to throw themselves in his way whenever he was in a
passion, because they knew that his generosity would recompense them
for standing the full fire of his anger. A woman, who permitted
herself to treat her servants with ill humour, and who believed that
she could pay them for ill usage, would make a very bad mistress of a
family; her husband and her children would suffer from her ill temper,
without being recompensed for their misery. We should not let girls
imagine that they can balance ill humour by some good quality or
accomplishment; because, in fact, there are none which can supply the
want of temper in the female sex.

A just idea of the nature of dignity, opposed to what is commonly
called _spirit_, should be given early to our female pupils. Many
women, who are not disposed to violence of temper, affect a certain
degree of petulance, and a certain stubbornness of opinion, merely
because they imagine that to be gentle, is to be mean; and that to
listen to reason, is to be deficient in spirit.

Enlarging the understanding of young women, will prevent them from the
trifling vexations which irritate those who have none but trifling
objects. We have observed that concerted trials of temper are not
advantageous for very young children. Those trials which are sometimes
prepared for pupils at a more advanced period of education, are not
always more happy in their consequences. We make trifles appear
important; and then we are surprised that they are thought so.

Lord Kames tells us that he was acquainted with a gentleman, who,
though otherwise a man of good understanding, did not show his good
sense in the education of his daughters temper. "He had," says Lord
Kames, "three comely daughters, between twelve and sixteen, and to
inure them to bear disappointments, he would propose to make a visit
which he knew would delight them. The coach was bespoke, and the young
ladies, completely armed for conquest, were ready to take their seats.
But, behold! their father had changed his mind. This, indeed, was a
disappointment; but as it appeared to proceed from whim, or caprice,
it might sour their temper, instead of improving it."[43]

But why should a visit be made a matter of such mighty consequence to
girls? Why should it be a disappointment to stay at home? And why
should Lord Kames advise that disappointments should _be made to
appear_ the effects of chance? This method of making things appear to
be what they are not, we cannot too often reprobate; it will not have
better success in the education of the temper, than in the management
of the understanding; it would ruin the one or the other, or both:
even when promises are made with perfect good faith to young people,
the state of suspense which they create, is not serviceable to the
temper, and it is extremely difficult to promise proper rewards.[44]
The celebrated Serena surely established her reputation for good
temper, without any very severe trials. Our standard of female
excellence, is evidently changed since the days of Griselda; but we
are inclined to think, that even in these degenerate days, public
amusements would not fill the female imagination, if they were not
early represented as such charming things, such great rewards to
girls, by their imprudent friends.

The temper depends much upon the understanding; and whenever we give
our pupils, whether male or female, false ideas of pleasure, we
prepare for them innumerable causes of discontent. "You ought to be
above such things! You ought not to let yourself be vexed by such
trifles!" are common expressions, which do not immediately change the
irritated person's feelings. You must alter the habits of thinking;
you must change the view of the object, before you can alter the
feelings. Suppose a girl has, from the conversation of all her
acquaintance, learned to imagine that there is some vast pleasure in
going to a masquerade; it is in vain to tell her, in the moment that
she is disappointed about her masquerade dress, that "it is a trifle,
and she ought to be above trifles." She cannot be above them at a
moment's warning: but if she had never been inspired with a violent
desire to go to a masquerade, the disappointment would really appear
trifling. We may calculate the probability of any person's
mortification, by observing the vehemence of their hopes; thus we are
led to observe, that the imagination influences the temper. Upon this
subject we shall speak more fully when we treat of Imagination and
Judgment.

To measure the degree of indulgence which may be safe for any given
pupils, we must attend to the effect produced by pleasure upon their
imagination and temper. If a small diminution of their usual
enjoyments disturbs them, they have been rendered not too happy, but
too susceptible. Happy people, who have resources in their own power,
do not feel every slight variation in external circumstances. We may
safely allow children to be as happy as they possibly can be without
sacrificing the future to the present. Such prosperity will not
enervate their minds.

We make this assertion with some confidence, because experience has in
many instances confirmed our opinion. Amongst a large family of
children, who have never been tormented with artificial trials of
temper, and who have been made as happy as it was in the power of
their parents to make them, there is not one ill tempered child. We
have examples every day before us of different ages from three years
old to fifteen.

Before parents adopt either Epicurean or Stoical doctrines in the
education of the temper, it may be prudent to calculate the
probabilities of the good and evil, which their pupils are likely to
meet with in life. The Sybarite, whose night's rest was disturbed by a
doubled rose leaf, deserves to be pitied almost as much as the young
man who, when he was benighted in the snow, was reproached by his
severe father for having collected a heap of snow to make himself a
pillow. Unless we could for ever ensure the bed of roses to our
pupils, we should do very imprudently to make it early necessary to
their repose: unless the pillow of snow is likely to be their lot, we
need not inure them to it from their infancy.

FOOTNOTES:

[39] V. Chapter on Sympathy and Sensibility.

[40] By Mr. Townsend, in his Travels into Spain.

[41] V. Chapter on Toys.

[42] V. Chapter on Attention.

[43] Lord Kames, p. 109.

[44] V. Chapter on Rewards and Punishments.



CHAPTER VII.

ON OBEDIENCE.


Obedience has been often called the virtue of childhood. How far it is
entitled to the name of virtue, we need not at present stop to
examine. Obedience is expected from children long before they can
reason upon the justice of our commands; consequently it must be
taught as a habit. By associating pleasure with those things which we
first desire children to do, we should make them necessarily like to
obey; on the contrary, if we begin by ordering them to do what is
difficult and disagreeable to them, they must dislike obedience. The
poet seems to understand this subject when he says,

    "Or bid her wear your necklace rowed with pearl,
    You'll find your Fanny an obedient girl."[45]

The taste for a necklace rowed with pearl, is not the _first_ taste,
even in girls, that we should wish to cultivate; but the poet's
_principle_ is good, notwithstanding. Bid your child do things that
are agreeable to him, and you may be sure of his obedience. Bid a
hungry boy eat apple pye; order a shivering urchin to warm himself at
a good fire; desire him to go to bed when you see him yawn with
fatigue, and by such seasonable commands you will soon form
associations of pleasure in his mind, with the voice and tone of
authority. This tone should never be threatening, or alarming; it
should be gentle, but decided. Whenever it becomes necessary that a
child should do what he feels disagreeable, it is better to make him
submit at once to necessity, than to create any doubt and struggle in
his mind, by leaving him a possibility of resistance. Suppose a
little boy wishes to sit up later than the hour at which you think
proper that he should go to bed; it is most prudent to take him to bed
at the appointed time, without saying one word to him, either in the
way of entreaty or command. If you entreat, you give the child an idea
that he has it in his power to refuse you: if you command, and he does
not instantly obey, you hazard your authority, and you teach him that
he can successfully set his will in opposition to yours. The boy
wishes to sit up; he sees no reason, in the moral fitness of things,
why he should go to bed at one hour more than at another; all he
perceives is, that such is your will. What does he gain by obeying
you? Nothing: he loses the pleasure of sitting up half an hour longer.
How can you then expect that he should, in consequence of these
reasonings, give up his obvious immediate interest, and march off to
bed heroically at the word of command? Let him not be put to the
trial; when he has for some time been regularly taken to bed at a
fixed hour, he will acquire the habit of thinking that he must go at
that hour: association will make him expect it; and if his experience
has been uniform, he will, without knowing why, think it necessary
that he should do as he has been used to do. When the habit of
obedience to customary necessity is thus formed, we may, without much
risk, engraft upon it obedience to the voice of authority. For
instance, when the boy hears the clock strike, the usual signal for
his departure, you may, if you see that he is habitually ready to obey
this signal, associate your commands with that to which he has already
learned to pay attention. "Go; it is time that you should go to bed
now," will only seem to the child a confirmation of the sentence
already pronounced by the clock: by degrees, your commands, after they
have been regularly repeated, when the child feels no hope of evading
them, will, even in new circumstances, have from association the power
of compelling obedience.

Whenever we desire a child to do any thing, we should be perfectly
certain, not only that it is a thing which he is capable of doing, but
also, that it is something we can, in case it comes to that ultimate
argument, force him to do. You cannot oblige a child to stand up, if
he has a mind to sit down; or to walk, if he does not choose to exert
his muscles for that purpose: but you can absolutely prevent him from
touching whatever you desire him not to meddle with, by your superior
strength. It is best, then, to begin with prohibitions; with such
prohibitions as you can, and will, steadily persevere to enforce: if
you are not exact in requiring obedience, you will never obtain it
either by persuasion or authority. As it will require a considerable
portion of time and unremitting attention, to enforce the punctual
observance of a variety of prohibitions, it will, for your own sake,
be most prudent to issue as few edicts as possible, and to be sparing
in the use of the imperative mood. It will, if you calculate the
trouble you must take day after day to watch your pupil, cost you less
to begin by arranging every circumstance in your power, so as to
prevent the necessity of trusting to laws what ought to be guarded
against by precaution. Do you, for instance, wish to prevent your son
from breaking a beautiful china jar in your drawing room; instead of
forbidding him to touch it, put it out of his reach.--Would you
prevent your son from talking to servants; let your house, in the
first place, be so arranged, that he shall never be obliged to pass
through any rooms where he is likely to meet with servants; let all
his wants be gratified without their interference; let him be able to
get at his hat without asking the footman to reach it for him, from
its inaccessible height.[46] The simple expedient of hanging the hat
in a place where the boy can reach it, will save you the trouble of
continually repeating, "Don't ask William, child, to reach your hat;
can't you come and ask me?" Yes, the boy can come and ask you; but if
you are busy, you will not like to go in quest of the hat; your
reluctance will possibly appear in your countenance, and the child,
who understands the language of looks better than that of words, will
clearly comprehend, that you are displeased with him at the very
instant that he is fulfilling the letter of the law.

A lady, who was fond of having her house well arranged, discovered, to
the amazement of her acquaintance, the art of making all her servants
keep every thing in its place. Even in the kitchen, from the most
minute article to the most unwieldy, every thing was invariably to be
found in its allotted station; the servants were thought miracles of
obedience; but, in fact, they obeyed because it was the easiest thing
they could possibly do. Order was made more convenient to them than
disorder, and, with their utmost ingenuity to save themselves trouble,
they could not invent places for every thing more appropriate than
those which had been assigned by their mistress's legislative economy.
In the same manner we may secure the _orderly_ obedience of children,
without exhausting their patience or our own. Rousseau advises, that
children should be governed solely by the necessity of circumstances;
but there are _one and twenty_ excellent objections to this system;
the first being, that it is impossible: of this Rousseau must have
been sensible in the trials which he made as a preceptor. When he had
the management of a refractory child, he found himself obliged to
invent and arrange a whole drama, by artificial experience, to
convince his little pupil, that he had better not walk out in the
streets of Paris alone; and that, therefore, he should wait until his
pupil could conveniently accompany him. Rousseau had prepared the
neighbours on each side of the street to make proper speeches as his
pupil passed by their doors, which alarmed and piqued the boy
effectually. At length the child was met at a proper time, by a friend
who had been appointed to watch him; and thus he was brought home
submissive. This scene, as Rousseau observes, was admirably well
performed;[47] but what occasion could there be for so much
contrivance and deceit? If his pupil had not been uncommonly deficient
in penetration, he would soon have discovered his preceptor in some of
his artifices; then adieu both to obedience and confidence. A false
idea of the pleasures of liberty misled Rousseau. Children have not
our abstract ideas of the pleasures of liberty; they do not, until
they have suffered from ill judged restraints, feel any strong desire
to exercise what we call free will; liberty is, with them, the liberty
of doing certain specific things which they have found to be
agreeable; liberty is not the general idea of pleasure, in doing
whatever they WILL _to do_. Rousseau desires, that _we should not let
our pupil know, that in doing our will he is obedient to us_. But why?
Why should we not let a child know the truth? If we attempt to conceal
it, we shall only get into endless absurdities and difficulties. Lord
Kames tells us, that he was acquainted with a couple, who, in the
education of their family, pursued as much as possible Rousseau's
plan. One evening, as the father was playing at chess with a friend,
one of his children, a boy of about four years old, took a piece from
the board, and ran away to play with it. The father, whose principles
would not permit him to assert his right to his own chessman, began to
bargain for his property with his son. "Harry," said he, "let us have
back the man, and there's an apple for you." The apple was soon
devoured, and the child returned to the chess board, and kidnapped
another chessman. What this man's ransom might be, we are not yet
informed; but Lord Kames tells us, that the father was obliged to
suspend his game at chess until his son was led away to his supper.
Does it seem just, that parents should become slaves to the liberties
of their children? If one set of beings or another should sacrifice a
portion of happiness, surely those who are the most useful, and the
most capable of increasing the knowledge and the pleasures of life,
have some claim to a preference; and when the power is entirely in
their own hands, it is most probable that they will defend their own
interests. We shall not, like many who have spoken of Rousseau, steal
from him after having abused him. His remarks upon the absurd and
tyrannical restraints which are continually imposed upon children by
the folly of nurses and servants, or by the imprudent anxiety of
parents and preceptors, are excellent. Whenever Rousseau is in the
right, his eloquence is irresistible.

To determine what degree of obedience it is just to require from
children, we must always consider what degree of reason they possess:
whenever we can use reason, we should never use force; it is only
whilst children are too young to comprehend reason,[48] that we should
expect from them implicit submission. The means which have been
pointed out for teaching the habit of obedience, must not be depended
upon for teaching any thing more than the mere habit. When children
begin to reason, they do not act merely from habit; they will not be
obedient at this age, unless their understanding is convinced that it
is for their advantage to be so. Wherever we can explain the reasons
for any of our requests, we should attempt it; but whenever these
cannot be fully explained, it is better not to give a partial
explanation; it will be best to say steadily, "You cannot understand
this now, you will, perhaps, understand it some time hence." Whenever
we tell children, that we forbid them to do such and such things for
any particular reason, we must take care that the reason assigned is
adequate, and that it will in all cases hold good. For instance, if we
forbid a boy to eat unripe fruit, _because it will make him ill_, and
if afterwards the boy eat some unripe gooseberries without feeling ill
in consequence of his disobedience, he will doubt the truth of the
person who prohibited unripe fruit; he will rather trust his own
partial experience than any assertions. The idea of _hurting his
health_, is a general idea, which he does not yet comprehend. It is
more prudent to keep him out of the way of unripe gooseberries, than
to hazard at once his obedience and his integrity. We need not
expatiate further; the instance we have given, may be readily applied
to all cases in which children have it in their power to disobey with
_immediate_ impunity, and, what is still more dangerous, with the
certainty of obtaining immediate pleasure. The gratification of their
senses, and the desire of bodily exercise, ought never to be
unnecessarily restrained. Our pupils should distinctly perceive, that
we wish to make them happy, and every instance, in which they discover
that obedience has really made them happier, will be more in our
favour, than all the lectures we could preach. From the past, they
will judge of the future. Children, who have for many years
experienced, that their parents have exacted obedience only to such
commands as proved to be ultimately wise and beneficial, will surely
be disposed from habit, from gratitude, and yet more from prudence, to
consult their parents in all the material actions of their lives.

We may observe, that the spirit of contradiction, which sometimes
breaks out in young people the moment they are able to act for
themselves, arises frequently from slight causes in their early
education. Children, who have experienced, that submission to the will
of others has constantly made them unhappy, will necessarily, by
reasoning inversely, imagine, that felicity consists in following
their own free will.

The French poet Boileau was made very unhappy by neglect and restraint
during his education: when he grew up, he would never agree with those
who talked to him of the pleasures of childhood.[49] "Peut on," disoit
ce poëte amoureux de l'indépendence, "ne pas regarder comme un grand
malheur, le chagrin continuel et particulier à cet age, de ne jamais
faire sa volonté?" It was in vain, continues his biographer, to boast
to him of the advantages of this happy constraint, which saves youth
from so many follies. "What signifies our knowing the value of our
chains when we have shaken them off, if we feel nothing but their
weight whilst we wear them?" the galled poet used to reply. Nor did
Boileau enjoy his freedom, though he thought with such horror of his
slavery. He declared, that if he had it in his choice, either to be
born again upon the hard conditions of again going through his
childhood, or not to exist, he would rather not exist: but he was not
happy during any period of his existence; he quarrelled with all the
seasons of life; "all seemed to him equally disagreeable; youth,
manhood, and old age, are each subject, he observed, to impetuous
passions, to care, and to infirmities." Hence we may conclude, that
the severity of his education had not succeeded in teaching him to
submit philosophically to necessity, or yet in giving him much
enjoyment from that _liberty_ which he so much coveted. Thus it too
often happens, that an imaginary value is set upon the exercise of the
free will by those who, during their childhood, have suffered under
injudicious restrictions. Sometimes the love of free will is so
uncontrollably excited, even during childhood, that it breaks out,
unfortunately both for the pupils and the preceptors, in the
formidable shape of obstinacy.

Of all the faults to which children are subject, there is none which
is more difficult to cure, or more easy to prevent, than obstinacy. As
it is early observed by those who are engaged in education, it is
sometimes supposed to be inherent in the temper; but, so far from
being naturally obstinate, infants show those strong propensities to
sympathy and imitation, which prepare them for an opposite character.
The folly of the nurse, however, makes an intemperate use of these
happy propensities. She perpetually torments the child to exert
himself for her amusement; all his senses and all his muscles she
commands. He must see, hear, talk, or be silent, move or be still,
when she thinks proper; and often with the desire of amusing her
charge, or of showing him off to the company, she disgusts him with
voluntary exertion. Before young children have completely acquired the
use of their limbs, they cannot perform feats of activity or of
dexterity at a moment's warning. Their muscles do not instantaneously
obey their will; the efforts they make are painful to themselves; the
awkwardness of their attempts is painful to others; the delay of the
body is often mistaken for the reluctance of the mind; and the
impatient tutor pronounces the child to be obstinate, whilst all the
time he may be doing his utmost to obey. Instead of growing angry with
the helpless child, it would be surely more wise to assist his feeble
and inexperienced efforts. If we press him to make unsuccessful
attempts, we shall associate pain both with voluntary exertion and
with obedience.

Little W---- (a boy of three years old) was one day asked by his
father to jump. The boy stood stock still. Perhaps he did not know the
meaning of the word jump. The father, instead of pressing him further,
asked several other children who happened to be in the room to jump,
and he jumped along with them: all this was done playfully. The little
boy looked on silently for a short time, and seemed much pleased.
"Papa jumps!" he exclaimed. His brother L---- lifted him up two or
three times; and he then tried to jump, and succeeded: from sympathy
he learned the command of the muscles which were necessary to his
jumping, and to his obedience. If this boy had been importuned, or
forced to exert himself, he might have been thus taught obstinacy,
merely from the imprudent impatience of the spectators. The reluctance
to stop when a child is once in motion, is often mistaken for
obstinacy: when he is running, singing, laughing, or talking, if you
suddenly command him to stop, he cannot instantly obey you. If we
reflect upon our own minds, we may perceive that we cannot, without
considerable effort, turn our thoughts suddenly from any subject on
which we have been long intent. If we have been long in a carriage,
the noise of the wheels sounds in our ear, and we seem to be yet going
on after the carriage has stopped. We do not pretend to found any
accurate reasoning upon analogy; but we may observe, the difficulty
with which our minds are stopped or put in motion, resembles the
vis-inertiæ of the body.

W---- (three years old) had for some minutes vociferated two or three
words of a song, until the noise could be no longer patiently endured;
his father called to him, and desired that he would not make so much
noise. W---- paused for a moment, but then went on singing the same
words. His brother said, Hush! W---- paused for another second or two;
but then went on with his roundelay. In his countenance there was not
the slightest appearance of ill humour. One of his sisters put him
upon a board which was lying on the floor, and which was a little
unsteady; as he walked cautiously along this board, his attention was
occupied, and he forgot his song.

This inability suddenly to desist from any occupation, may easily grow
into obstinacy, because the pain of checking themselves will be great
in children, and this pain will be associated with the commands of
those who govern them; it is better to stop them by presenting new
objects to their attention, than by the stimulus of a peremptory
voice. Children should never be accused of obstinacy; the accusation
cannot cure, but may superinduce the disease. If, unfortunately, they
have been suffered to contract a disposition to this fault, it may be
cured by a little patience and good temper. We have mentioned how
example and sympathy may be advantageously used; praise and looks of
affection, which naturally express our feeling when children do right,
encourage the slightest efforts to obey; but we must carefully avoid
showing any triumph in our victory over yielding stubbornness.

"Aye, I knew that you would do what we desired at last, you might as
well have done it at first," is a common nursery-maid's speech, which
is well calculated to pique the pride of a half-subdued penitent. When
children are made ashamed of submission, they will become intrepid,
probably unconquerable, rebels.

Neither rewards nor punishments will then avail; the pupil perceives,
that both the wit and the strength of his master are set in
competition with his: at the expense of a certain degree of pain, he
has the power to resist as long as he thinks proper; and there is
scarcely any degree of pain that a tutor dares to inflict, which an
obstinate hero is not able to endure. With the spirit of a martyr, he
sustains reproaches and torture. If, at length, the master changes his
tone, and tries to soften and win the child to his purpose, his
rewards are considered as bribes: if the boy really thinks that he is
in the right to rebel, he must yield his sense of honour to the force
of temptation when he obeys. If he has formed no such idea of honour,
he perhaps considers the reward as the price of his submission; and,
upon a future occasion, he will know how to raise that price by
prolonging his show of resistance. Where the child has formed a false
idea of honour, his obstinacy is only mistaken resolution; we should
address ourselves to his understanding, and endeavour to convince him
of his errour. Where the understanding is convinced, and the _habit_
of opposition still continues, we should carefully avoid calling his
false associations into action; we should not ask him to do any thing
for which he has acquired an habitual aversion; we should alter our
manner of speaking to him, that neither the tones of our voice, the
words, or the looks, which have been his customary signals for
resistance, may recall the same feelings to his mind: placed in new
circumstances, he may acquire new habits, and his old associates will
in time be forgotten. Sufficient time must, however, be allowed; we
may judge when it is prudent to try him on any old dangerous subjects,
by many symptoms: by observing the degree of alacrity with which he
obeys on indifferent occasions; by observing what degree of command he
has acquired over himself in general; by observing in what manner he
judges of the conduct and temper of other children in similar
circumstances; by observing whether the consciousness of his former
self continues in full force. Children often completely forget what
they have been.

Where obstinacy arises from principle, if we may use the expression,
it cannot be cured by the same means which are taken to cure that
species of the disease which depends merely upon habit. The same
courage and fortitude which in one case we reprobate, and try to
conquer with all our might, in the other we admire and extol. This
should be pointed out to children; and if they act from a love of
glory, as soon as they perceive it, they will follow that course which
will secure to them the prize.

Charles XII. whom the Turks, when incensed by his disobedience to the
grand seignior, called Demirbash, or _head of iron_, showed early
symptoms of this headstrong nature; yet in his childhood, if his
preceptor[50] named but glory, any thing could be obtained from
Charles. Charles had a great aversion to learning Latin; but when he
was told that the kings of Poland and Denmark understood it, he began
to study it in good earnest. We do not mean to infer, that emulation
with the kings of Poland and Denmark, was the best possible motive
which Charles the Twelfth's preceptor could have used, to make the
young prince conquer his aversion to Latin; but we would point out,
that where the love of glory is connected with obstinate temper, the
passion is more than a match for the temper. Let us but enlighten this
love of glory, and we produce magnanimity in the place of obstinacy.
Examples, in conversation and in books, of great characters, who have
not been ashamed to change their opinions, and to acknowledge that
they have been mistaken, will probably make a great impression upon
young people; they will from these learn to admire candour, and will
be taught, that it is _mean_ to persist in the wrong. Examples from
books must, however, be also uniformly supported by examples in real
life; preceptors and parents must practise the virtues which they
preach. It is said, that the amiable Fenelon acquired the most
permanent influence over his pupil, by the candour with which he
always treated him. Fenelon did not think that he could lessen his
dignity by confessing himself to be in the wrong.

Young people who have quick abilities, and who happen to live with
those who are inferiour to them either in knowledge or incapacity, are
apt to become positive and self-willed; they measure all the world by
the individuals with whom they have measured themselves; and, as they
have been convinced that they have been in the right in many cases,
they take it for granted that their judgment must be always
infallible. This disease may be easily cured; it is only necessary to
place the patient amongst his superiors in intellect, his own
experience will work his cure: he liked to follow his will, because
his judgment had taught him that he might trust more securely to the
_tact_ of his own understanding, than to the decision of others. As
soon as he discovers more sense in the arguments of his companions, he
will listen to them, and if he finds their reason superior to his own,
he will submit. A preceptor, who wishes to gain ascendency over a
clever positive boy, must reason with all possible precision, and must
always show that he is willing to be decided by the strongest
arguments which can be produced. If he ever prophesies, he sets his
judgment at stake; therefore he should not prophesy about matters of
chance, but rather in affairs where he can calculate with certainty.
If his prophecies are frequently accomplished, his pupil's confidence
in him will rapidly increase; and if he desires that confidence to be
permanent, he will not affect mystery, but he will honestly explain
the circumstances by which he formed his opinions. Young people who
are accustomed to hear and to give reasons for their opinions, will
not be violent and positive in assertions; they will not think that
the truth of any assertion can be manifested by repeating over the
same words a thousand times; they will not ask how many people are of
this or that opinion, but rather what arguments are produced on each
side. There is very little danger that any people, whether young or
old, should continue to be positive, who are in the habit of
exercising their reasoning faculty.

It has been often observed that extremely good humoured, complaisant
children, when they grow up, become ill tempered; and young men who
are generally liked in society as pleasant companions, become surly,
tyrannical masters in their own families, positive about mere trifles,
and anxious to subjugate the _wills_ of all who are any wise dependent
upon them. This character has been nicely touched by de Boissy, in his
comedy called "Dehors trompeurs."

We must observe, that whilst young people are in company, and under
the immediate influence of the excitements of novelty, numbers and
dissipation, it is scarcely possible to form a just estimate of the
goodness of their temper. Young men who are the most ready to yield
their inclinations to the humour of their companions, are not
therefore to be considered as of really compliant dispositions; the
idle or indolent, who have no resources in their own minds, and no
independent occupations, are victims to the yawning demon of ennui the
moment they are left in solitude. They consequently dread so heartily
to be left alone, that they readily give up a portion of their liberty
to purchase the pleasures and mental support which society affords.
When they give up their wishes, and follow the lead of the company,
they in fact give up but very little; their object is amusement; and
this obtained, their time is sacrificed without regret. On the
contrary, those who are engaged in literary or professional pursuits,
set a great value upon their time, and feel considerable reluctance to
part with it without some adequate compensation; they must
consequently be less complaisant companions, and by the generality of
superficial observers, would be thought, perhaps, less complying in
their tempers, than the idle and dissipated. But when the idle man has
past the common season for dissipation, and is settled in domestic
life, his spirits flag from the want of his usual excitements; and, as
he has no amusements in his own family, to purchase by the polite
sacrifice of his opinion or his will, he is not inclined to
complaisance. The pleasures of exercising his free will, becomes
important in his eyes; he has few pleasures, and of those few he is
tenacious. He has been accustomed to submit to others in society; he
is proud to be master at home; he has few emotions, and the emotion
caused by the exertion of command, becomes agreeable and necessary to
him. Thus many of the same causes which make a young man a pleasant
companion abroad, tend naturally to make him a tyrant at home. This
perversity and positiveness of temper, ultimately arise from the want
of occupation, and from deficient energy of mind. We may guard against
these evils by education: when we see a playful, active child, we have
little fear of his temper. "Oh, he will certainly be good tempered, he
is the most obedient, complying creature in the world, he'll do any
thing you ask him." But let us cultivate his understanding, and give
him tastes which shall occupy and interest him agreeably through life,
or else this sweet, complying temper will not last till he is thirty.

An ill cured obstinacy of temper, when it breaks out after young
people have arrived at years of discretion, is terrible. Those who
attempt to conquer obstinacy in children by bodily pain, or by severe
punishments of any kind, often appear to succeed, and to have entirely
eradicated, when they have merely suppressed, the disease for a time.
As soon as the child that is intimidated by force or fear, is relieved
from restraint, he will resume his former habits; he may change the
mode of showing it, but the disposition will continue the same. It
will appear in various parts of the conduct, as the limbs of the giant
appeared unexpectedly at different periods, and in different parts of
the Castle of Otranto.

FOOTNOTES:

[45] Elegy on an old Beauty. Parnell.

[46] Rousseau.

[47] Emilius, vol. i. page 23.

[48] Vol. i. page 59.

[49] Histoire des Membres de l'Académie, par M. d'Alembert. Tome
troisieme, p. 24.

[50] Voltaire's Hist. Charles XII. page 13.



CHAPTER VIII.

ON TRUTH.


It is not necessary here to pronounce a panegyric upon truth; its use
and value is thoroughly understood by all the world; but we shall
endeavour to give some practical advice, which may be of service in
educating children, not only to the love, but to the habits, of
integrity. These are not always found, as they ought to be,
inseparable.

Rousseau's eloquence, and Locke's reasoning, have sufficiently
reprobated, and it is to be hoped have exploded, the system of
lecturing children upon morality; of giving them precepts and general
maxims which they do not understand, and which they cannot apply. We
shall not produce long quotations from books which are in every body's
hands.[51] There is one particular in which Rousseau especially, and
most other authors who have written upon education, have given very
dangerous counsel; they have counselled parents to teach truth by
falsehood. The privilege of using contrivance, and ingenious
deceptions, has been uniformly reserved for preceptors; and the
pupils, by moral delusions, and the theatric effect of circumstances
treacherously arranged, are to be duped, surprised, and cheated, into
virtue. The dialogue between the gardener and Emilius about the
Maltese melon-seed, is an instance of this method of instruction.
Honest Robert, the gardener, in concert with the tutor, tells poor
Emilius a series of lies, prepares a garden, "choice Maltese
melon-seed," and "worthless beans," all to cheat the boy into just
notions of the rights of property, and the nature of exchange and
barter.

Part of the _artificial course of experience_ in that excellent work
on education, Adele and Theodore, is defective upon the same
principle. There should be no moral delusions; no _artificial_ course
of experience; no plots laid by parents to make out the truth; no
listening fathers, mothers, or governesses; no pretended confidence,
or perfidious friends; in one word, no falsehood should be practised:
that magic which cheats the senses, at the same time confounds the
understanding. The spells of Prospero, the strangenesses of the isle,
perplex and confound the senses and understanding of all who are
subjected to his magic, till at length, worked by force of wonders
into credulity, his captives declare that they will believe any thing;
"that there are men dewlapt like bulls; and what else does want
credit," says the Duke Anthonio, "come to me, and I'll be sworn 'tis
true."

Children, whose simplicity has been practised upon by the fabling
morality of their preceptors, begin by feeling something like the
implicit credulity of Anthonio; but the arts of the preceptors are
quickly suspected by their subjects, and the charm is for ever
reversed. When once a child detects you in falsehood, you lose his
confidence; his incredulity will then be as extravagant as his former
belief was gratuitous. It is in vain to expect, by the most eloquent
manifestoes, or by the most secret leagues offensive and defensive, to
conceal your real views, sentiments, and actions, from children. Their
interest keeps their attention continually awake; not a word, not a
look, in which they are concerned, escapes them; they see, hear, and
combine, with sagacious rapidity; if falsehood be in the wind,
detection hunts her to discovery.

Honesty is the best policy, must be the maxim in education, as well as
in all the other affairs of life. We must not only be exact in
speaking truth to our pupils, but to every body else; to acquaintance,
to servants, to friends, to enemies. It is not here meant to enter any
overstrained protest against the common phrases and forms of
politeness; the current coin may not be pure; but when once its alloy
has been ascertained, and its value appreciated, there is no fraud,
though there may be some folly, in continuing to trade upon equal
terms with our neighbours, with money of high nominal, and scarcely
any real, value. No fraud is committed by a gentleman's saying he is
_not at home_, because no deception is intended; the words are silly,
but they mean, and are understood to mean, nothing more than that the
person in question does not choose to see the visiters who knock at
his door. "I am, sir, your obedient and humble servant," at the end of
a letter, does not mean that the person who signs the letter is a
servant, or humble, or obedient, but it simply expresses that he knows
how to conclude his letter according to the usual form of civility.
Change this absurd phrase, and welcome; but do not let us, in the
spirit of Draco, make no distinction between errours and crimes. The
foibles of fashion or folly, are not to be treated with the
detestation due to hypocrisy and falsehood; if small faults are to
incur such grievous punishments, there can, indeed, be none found
sufficiently severe for great crimes; great crimes, consequently, for
want of adequate punishment, will increase, and the little faults,
that have met with disproportionate persecution, will become amiable
and innocent in the eyes of commiserating human nature. It is not
difficult to explain to young people the real meaning, or rather the
nonsense, of a few complimentary phrases; their integrity will not be
increased or diminished by either saying, or omitting to say, "I am
much obliged to you," or "I shall be very happy to see you at dinner,"
&c. We do not mean to include in the harmless list of compliments, any
expressions which are meant to deceive; the common custom of the
country, and of the society in which we live, sufficiently regulates
the style of complimentary language; and there are few so ignorant of
the world as seriously to misunderstand this, or to mistake civility
for friendship.

There is a story told of a Chinese mandarin, who paid a visit to a
friend at Paris, at the time when Paris was the seat of politeness.
His well-bred host, on the first evening of his arrival, gave him a
handsome supper, lodged him in the best bed-chamber, and when he
wished him a good night, amongst other civil things, said he hoped the
mandarin would, during his stay at Paris, consider that house as his
own. Early the next morning, the polite Parisian was awakened by the
sound of loud hammering in the mandarin's bed-chamber; on entering the
room, he found the mandarin and some masons hard at work, throwing
down the walls of the house. "You rascals, are you mad?" exclaimed the
Frenchman to the masons. "Not at all, my dear friend," said the
Chinese man, soberly, "I set the poor fellows to work; this room is
too small for my taste; you see I have lost no time in availing myself
of your goodness. Did not you desire me to use this house as if it
were my own, during my stay at Paris?" "Assuredly, my dear friend, and
so I hope you will," replied the French gentleman, "the only
misfortune here is, that I did not understand Chinese, and that I had
no interpreter." They found an interpreter, or a Chinese dictionary,
and when the Parisian phrase was properly translated, the mandarin,
who was an honest man, begged his polite host's pardon for having
pulled down the partition. It was rebuilt; the mandarin learned
French, and the two friends continued upon the best terms with each
other, during the remainder of the visit.

The Chesterfieldian system of endeavouring to please by dissimulation,
is obviously distinguishable by any common capacity, from the usual
forms of civility. There is no hope of educating young people to a
love of integrity in any family, where this practice is adopted. If
children observe that their parents deceive common acquaintance, by
pretending to like the company, and to esteem the characters, of those
whom they really think disagreeable and contemptible, how can they
learn to respect truth? How can children believe in the praise of
their parents, if they detect them in continual flattery towards
indifferent people? It may be thought, by latitudinarians in
politeness, that we are too rigid in expecting this strict adherence
to truth from people who live in society; it may be said, that in
Practical Education, no such Utopian ideas of perfection should be
suggested. If we thought them Utopian, we certainly should not waste
our time upon them; but we do not here speak theoretically of what may
be done, we speak of what has been done. Without the affectation of
using a more sanctified language than other people; without departing
from the common forms of society; without any painful, awkward
efforts, we believe that parents may, in all their conversation in
private and in public, set their children the uniform example of truth
and integrity.

We do not mean that the example of parents can alone produce this
effect; a number of other circumstances must be combined. Servants
must have no communication with children, if you wish to teach them
the habit of speaking truth. The education, and custom, and situation
of servants, are at present such, that it is morally impossible to
depend upon their veracity in their intercourse with children.
Servants think it good natured to try to excuse and conceal all the
little faults of children; to give them secret indulgences, and even
positively to deny facts, in order to save them from blame or
punishment. Even when they are not fond of the children, their example
must be dangerous, because servants do not scruple to falsify for
their own advantage; if they break any thing, what a multitude of
equivocations! If they neglect any thing, what a variety of excuses!
What evasions in actions, or in words, do they continually invent!

It may be said, that as the Spartans taught their children to detest
drunkenness, by showing them intoxicated Helots, we can make falsehood
odious and contemptible to our pupils, by the daily example of its
mean deformity. But if children, before they can perceive the general
advantage of integrity, and before they can understand the utility of
truth, see the partial immediate success of falsehood, how can they
avoid believing in their own experience? If they see that servants
escape blame, and screen themselves from punishment, by telling
falsehoods, they not only learn that falsehood preserves from pain,
but they feel obliged to those who practise it for their sakes; thus
it is connected with the feelings of affection and of gratitude in
their hearts, as well as with a sense of pleasure and safety. When
servants have exacted promises from their _protégés_, those promises
cannot be broken without treachery; thus deceit brings on deceit, and
the ideas of truth and falsehood, become confused and contradictory.
In the chapter upon servants, we have expatiated upon this subject,
and have endeavoured to point out how all communication between
children and servants may be most effectually prevented. To that
chapter, without further repetition, we refer. And now that we have
adjusted the preliminaries concerning parents and servants, we may
proceed with confidence.

When young children first begin to speak, from not having a sufficient
number of words to express their ideas, or from not having annexed
precise ideas to the words which they are taught to use, they
frequently make mistakes, which are attributed to the desire of
deceiving. We should not precipitately suspect them of falsehood; it
is some time before they perfectly understand what we mean by truth.
Small deviations should not be marked with too much rigour; but
whenever a child relates _exactly_ any thing which he has seen, heard,
or felt, we should listen with attention and pleasure, and we should
not show the least doubt of his veracity. Rousseau is perfectly right
in advising, that children should never be questioned in any
circumstances upon which it can be their interest to deceive. We
should, at least, treat children with the same degree of wise lenity,
which the English law extends to all who have arrived at years of
discretion. No criminal is bound to accuse himself. If any mischief
has been committed, we should never, when we are uncertain by whom it
has been done, either directly accuse, or betray injurious suspicions.
We should neither say to the child, "I believe you have done this,"
nor, "I believe you have not done this;" we should say nothing; the
mischief is done, we cannot repair it: because a glass is broken, we
need not spoil a child; we may put glasses out of his reach in future.
If it should, however, happen, that a child voluntarily comes to us
with a history of an accident, may no love of goods or chattels, of
windows, of china, or even of looking-glasses, come in competition
with our love of truth? An angry word, an angry look, may intimidate
the child, who has summoned all his little courage to make this
confession. It is not requisite that parents should pretend to be
pleased and gratified with the destruction of their furniture, but
they may, it is to be hoped, without dissimulation, show that they
set more value upon the integrity of their children, than upon a
looking-glass, and they will "keep their temper still, though china
fall."

H----, one day when his father and mother were absent from home, broke
a looking-glass. As soon as he heard the sound of the returning
carriage, he ran and posted himself at the hall door. His father, the
moment he got out of the carriage, beheld his erect figure, and pale,
but intrepid countenance. "Father," said the boy, "I have _broke_ the
best looking-glass in your house!" His father assured him, that he
would rather all the looking-glasses in his house should be broken,
than that one of his children should attempt to make an excuse. H----
was most agreeably relieved from his anxiety by the kindness of his
father's voice and manner, and still more so, perhaps, by perceiving
that he rose in his esteem. When the glass was examined, it appeared
that the boy had neglected to produce all the circumstances in his own
favour. Before he had begun to play at ball, he had had the precaution
to turn the back of the looking-glass towards him; his ball, however,
accidentally struck against the wooden back, and broke the glass.
H---- did not make out this favourable state of the case for himself
at first; he told it simply after the business was settled, seeming
much more interested about the fate of the glass, than eager to
exculpate himself.

There is no great danger of teaching children to do mischief by this
indulgence to their accidental misfortunes. When they break, or waste
any thing, from pure carelesness, let them, even when they speak the
truth about it, suffer the natural consequences of their carelesness;
but at the same time praise their integrity, and let them distinctly
feel the difference between the slight inconvenience to which they
expose themselves by speaking the truth, and the great disgrace to
which falsehood would subject them. The pleasure of being esteemed,
and trusted, is early felt, and the consciousness of deserving
confidence is delightful to children; but their young fortitude and
courage should never be exposed to severe temptations. It is not
sufficient to excite an admiration of truth by example, by eloquent
praise, or by the just rewards of esteem and affection; we must take
care to form the habits at the same time that we inspire the love of
this virtue. Many children admire truth, and feel all the shame of
telling falsehoods, who yet, either from habit or from fear, continue
to tell lies. We must observe, that though the taste for praise is
strong in childhood, yet it is not a match for any of the bodily
appetites, when they are strongly excited. Those children, who are
restrained as to the choice, or the quantity, of their food, usually
think that eating is a matter of vast consequence, and they are
strongly tempted to be dishonest to gratify their appetites. Children
do not understand the prudential maxims concerning health, upon which
these restraints are founded; and if they can, "by any indirection,"
obtain things which gratify their palate, they will. On the contrary,
young people who are regularly let to eat and drink as much as they
please, can have no temptation from hunger and thirst, to deceive; if
they partake of the usual family meals, and if there are no whimsical
distinctions between wholesome and unwholesome dishes, or epicurean
distinctions between rarities and plain food, the imagination and the
pride of children will not be roused about eating. Their pride is
piqued, if they perceive that they are prohibited from touching what
_grown up people_ are privileged to eat; their imagination is set to
work by seeing any extraordinary difference made by judges of eating
between one species of food and another. In families where a regularly
good table is kept, children accustomed to the sight and taste of all
kinds of food, are seldom delicate, capricious, or disposed to exceed;
but in houses where entertainments are made from time to time with
great bustle and anxiety, fine clothes, and company-manners, and
company-faces, and all that politeness can do to give the appearance
of festivity, deceive children at least, and make them imagine that
there is some extraordinary joy in seeing a greater number of dishes
than usual upon the table. Upon these occasions, indeed, the pleasure
is to them substantial; they eat more, they eat a greater variety, and
of things that please them better than usual; the pleasure of eating
is associated with unusual cheerfulness, and thus the imagination, and
the reality, conspire to make them epicures. To these children, the
temptations to deceive about sweetmeats and dainties are beyond
measure great, especially as ill-bred strangers commonly show their
affection for them by pressing them to eat what they are not allowed
to say "_if you please_" to. Rousseau thinks all children are
gluttons. All children may be rendered gluttons; but few, who are
properly treated with respect to food, and who have any literary
tastes, can be in danger of continuing to be fond of eating. We
therefore, without hesitation, recommend it to parents never to hazard
the truth and honour of their pupils by prohibitions, which seldom
produce any of the effects that are expected.

Children are sometimes injudiciously restrained with regard to
exercise; they are required to promise to keep within certain
boundaries when they are sent out to play; these promises are often
broken with impunity, and thus the children learn habits of successful
deceit. Instead of circumscribing their play grounds, as they are
sometimes called, by narrow inconvenient limits, we should allow them
as much space as we can with convenience, and at all events exact no
promises. We should absolutely make it impossible for them to go
without detection into any place which we forbid. It requires some
patience and activity in preceptors to take all the necessary
precautions in issuing orders, but these precautions will be more
useful in preserving the integrity of their pupils, than the most
severe punishments that can be devised. We are not so unreasonable as
to expect, with some theoretic writers on education, that tutors and
parents should sacrifice the whole of their time to the convenience,
amusement, and education of their pupils. This would be putting one
set of beings "_sadly over the head of another_:" but if parents
would, as much as possible, mix their occupations and recreations with
those of their children, besides many other advantages which have been
elsewhere pointed out with respect to the improvement of the
understanding, they would secure them from many temptations to
falsehood. They should be encouraged to talk freely of all their
amusements to their parents, and to ask them for whatever they want to
complete their little inventions. Instead of banishing all the freedom
of wit and humour, by the austerity of his presence, a preceptor, with
superior talents, and all the resources of property in his favour,
might easily become the _arbiter deliciarum_ of his pupils.

When young people begin to taste the pleasures of praise, and to feel
the strong excitations of emulation and ambition, their integrity is
exposed to a new species of temptation. They are tempted, not only by
the hope of obtaining "well-earned praise," but by the desire to
obtain praise without the labour of earning it. In large schools,
where boys assist each other in their literary exercises, and in all
private families where masters are allowed to show off the
accomplishments of young gentlemen and ladies, there are so many
temptations to fraudulent exhibitions, that we despair of guarding
against their consequences. The best possible method is to inspire
children with a generous contempt for flattery, and to teach them to
judge impartially of their own merits. If we are exact in the measure
of approbation which we bestow, they will hence form a scale by which
they can estimate the sincerity of other people. It is said[52] that
the preceptor of the duke of Burgundy succeeded so well in inspiring
him with disdain for unmerited praise, that when the duke was only
nine years old, he one day called his tutor to account for having
concealed some of his childish faults; and when this promising boy,
and singular prince, was asked "why he disliked one of his courtiers,"
he answered, "Because he flatters me." Anecdotes like these will make
a useful impression upon children. The life of Cyrus, in the
Cyropædia; several passages in Plutarch's Lives; and the lively,
interesting picture which Sully draws of his noble-hearted master's
love of truth, will strongly command the admiration of young people,
if they read them at a proper time of life. We must, however, wait for
this proper time; for if these things are read too early, they lose
all their effect. Without any lectures upon the beauty of truth, we
may, now and then in conversation, when occurrences in real life
naturally lead to the subject, express with energy our esteem for
integrity. The approbation which we bestow upon those who give proofs
of integrity, should be quite in a different tone, in a much higher
style of praise, than any commendations for trifling accomplishments;
hence children will become more ambitious to obtain a reputation for
truth, than for any other less honourable and less honoured
qualification.

We will venture to give two or three slight instances of the
unaffected truth and simplicity of mind, which we have seen in
children educated upon these principles. No good-natured reader will
suspect, that they are produced from ostentation: whenever the
children, who are mentioned, see this in print, it is ten to one that
they will not be surprised at their own good deeds. They will be a
little surprised, probably, that it should have been thought worth
while to record things, which are only what they see and feel every
day. It is this character of every-day goodness which we wish to
represent; not any fine thoughts, fine sentiments, or fine actions,
which come out for holyday admiration. We wish that parents, in
reading any of these little anecdotes, may never exclaim, "Oh that's
charming, that's surprising _for a child_!" but we wish that they may
sometimes smile, and say "That's very natural; I am sure _that_ is
perfectly true; my little boy, or my little girl, say and do just such
things continually."

March, 1792. We were at Clifton; the river Avon ran close under the
windows of our house in Prince's Place, and the children used to be
much amused with looking at the vessels which came up the river. One
night a ship, that was sailing by the windows, fired some of her guns;
the children, who were looking out of the windows, were asked "why the
light was seen when the guns were fired, before the noise was heard?"
C----, who at this time was nine years old, answered, "Because light
comes quicker to the eye, than sound to the ear." Her father was
extremely pleased with this answer; but just as he was going to kiss
her, the little girl said, "Father, the reason of my knowing it, was,
that L---- (her elder brother) just before had told it to me."

There is, it is usually found, most temptation for children to deceive
when they are put in competition with each other, when their ambition
is excited by the same object; but if the transient glory of excelling
in quickness, or abilities of any sort, be much inferiour to the
permanent honour which is secured by integrity, there is, even in
competition, no danger of unfair play.

March, 1792. One evening ---- called the children round the tea-table,
and told them the following story, which he had just met with in "The
Curiosities of Literature."

When the queen of Sheba went to visit king Solomon, she one day
presented herself before his throne with a wreath of real flowers in
one hand, and a wreath of artificial flowers in the other hand; the
artificial flowers were made so exactly to resemble nature, that at
the distance at which they were held from Solomon, it was scarcely
possible that his eye could distinguish any difference between them
and the natural flowers; nor could he, at the distance at which they
were held from him, know them asunder by their smell. "Which of these
two wreaths," demanded the queen of Sheba, "is the work of nature?"
Solomon reflected for some minutes; and how did he discover which was
real? S---- (five years old) _replied_, "Perhaps he went out of the
room very _softly_, and if the woman stood near the door, as he went
near her, he might _see better_."

_Father._ But Solomon was not to move from his place.

_S----._. Then he might wait till the woman was tired of holding them,
and then perhaps she might lay them down on the table, and then
perhaps he might see better.

_Father._ Well, C----, what do you say?

_C----._ I think he might have looked at the stalks, and have seen
which looked stiff like wire, and which were bent down by the weight
of the natural flowers.

_Father._ Well, H----?

_H----._ (ten years old.) I think he might send for a great pair of
bellows, and blow, blow, till the real leaves dropped off.

_Father._ But would it not have been somewhat uncivil of Solomon to
_blow, blow_, with his great pair of bellows, full in the queen of
Sheba's face?

_H----._ (doubting.) Yes, yes. Well, then he might have sent for a
telescope, or a magnifying glass, and looked through it; and then he
could have seen which were the real flowers, and which were
artificial.

_Father._ Well, B----, and what do you say?

_B----._ (eleven years old.) He might have waited till the queen moved
the flowers, and then, if he listened, he might hear the rustling of
the artificial ones.

_Father._ S----, have you any thing more to say?

_S----_ repeated the same thing that B---- had said; his attention was
dissipated by hearing the other children speak. During this pause,
whilst S---- was trying to collect his thoughts, Mrs. E---- whispered
to somebody near her, and accidentally said the word _animals_ loud
enough to be overheard.

_Father._ Well, H----, you look as if you had something to say?

_H----._ Father, I heard my mother say something, and _that_ made me
think of the rest.

Mrs. E---- shook hands with H----, and praised him for this instance
of integrity. H---- then said that "he supposed Solomon thought of
some _animal_ which would feed upon flowers, and sent it to the two
nosegays; and then the animal would stay upon the real flowers."

_Father._ What animal?

_H----._ A fly.

_Father._ Think again.

_H----._ A bee.

_Father._ Yes.

The story says that Solomon, seeing some bees hover about the window,
ordered the window to be thrown open, and watched upon which wreath of
flowers the bee settled.

August 1st, 1796. S---- (nine years old) when he was reading in Ovid
the fable of Perseus and Andromeda, said that he wondered that Perseus
fought with the monster; he wondered that Perseus did not turn him
into stone at once with his Gorgon shield. We believe that S---- saw
that his father was pleased with this observation. A few days
afterwards somebody in the family recollected Mr. E----'s having said,
that when he was a boy he thought Perseus a simpleton for not making
use of the Gorgon's head to turn the monster into stone. We were not
sure whether S---- had heard Mr. E---- say this or not; Mr. E----
asked him whether he recollected to have heard any such thing. S----
answered, without hesitation, that he did remember it.

When children have formed habits of speaking truth, and when we see
that these habits are grown quite easy to them, we may venture to
question them about their thoughts and feelings; this must, however,
be done with great caution, but without the appearance of anxiety or
suspicion. Children are alarmed if they see that you are very anxious
and impatient for their answer; they think that they hazard much by
their reply; they hesitate, and look eagerly in your face, to discover
by your countenance what they ought to think and feel, and what sort
of answer you expect. All who are governed by any species of fear are
disposed to equivocation. Amongst the lower class of Irish labourers,
and _under-tenants_, a class of people who are much oppressed, you can
scarcely meet with any man who will give you a direct answer to the
most indifferent question; their whole ingenuity, and they have a
great deal of ingenuity, is upon the _qui vive_ with you the instant
you begin to speak; they either pretend not to hear, that they may
gain time to think, whilst you repeat your question, or they reply to
you with a fresh question, to draw out your remote meaning; for they,
judging by their own habits, always think you have a remote meaning,
and they never can believe that your words have no intention to
ensnare. Simplicity puzzles them much more than wit: for instance, if
you were to ask the most direct and harmless question, as, "Did it
rain yesterday?" the first answer would probably be, "Is it yesterday
you mean?" "Yes." "Yesterday! No, please your honour, I was not at the
bog at all yesterday. Wasn't I after setting my potatoes? Sure I did
not know your honour wanted me at all yesterday. Upon my conscience,
there's not a man in the country, let alone all Ireland, I'd sooner
serve than your honour any day in the year, and they have belied me
that went behind my back to tell your honour the contrary. If your
honour sent after me, sure I never _got the word_, I'll take my
affidavit, or I'd been at the bog." "My good friend, I don't know what
you mean about the bog; I only ask you whether it rained yesterday."
"Please your honour, I couldn't get a car and horse any way, to draw
home my little straw, or I'd have had the house thatched long ago."
"Cannot you give me a plain answer to this plain question? Did it rain
yesterday?" "Oh sure, I wouldn't go to tell your honour a lie about
the matter. Sarrah much it rained yesterday after twelve o'clock,
barring a few showers; but in the night there was a great fall of rain
any how; and that was the reason prevented my going to Dublin
yesterday, for fear the mistress's band-box should get wet upon my
cars. But, please your honour, if your honour's displeased about it,
I'll not be waiting for a loading; I'll take my car and go to Dublin
to-morrow for the slates, if that be what your honour means. Oh, sure
I would not tell a lie for the entire price of the slates; I know very
well it didn't rain to call rain yesterday. But after twelve o'clock,
I don't say I noticed one way or other."

In this perverse and ludicrous method of beating about the bush, the
man would persist till he had fairly exhausted your patience; and all
this he would do, partly from cunning, and partly from that
apprehension of injustice which he has been taught to feel by hard
experience. The effects of the example of their parents is early and
most strikingly visible in the children of this class of people in
Ireland. The children, who are remarkably quick and intelligent, are
universally addicted to lying. We do not here scruple or hesitate in
the choice of our terms, because we are convinced that this
unqualified assertion would not shock the feelings of the parties
concerned. These poor children are not brought up to think falsehood a
disgrace; they are praised for the ingenuity with which they escape
from the cross examination of their superiors; and their capacities
are admired in proportion to the _acuteness_, or, as their parents
pronounce it, '_cuteness_, of their equivocating replies. Sometimes
(the _garçon_[53]) the little boy of the family is despatched by his
mother to the landlord's neighbouring bog or turf rick, to _bring
home_, in their phraseology, in ours to _steal_, a few turf; if, upon
this expedition, the little Spartan be detected, he is tolerably
certain of being whipped by his mother, or some of his friends, upon
his return home. "Ah, ye little brat! and what made ye tell the
gentleman when he met ye, ye rogue, that ye were going to the rick?
And what business had ye to go and belie me to his honour, ye
unnatural piece of goods! I'll teach ye to make mischief through the
country! So I will. Have ye got no better sense and manners at this
time o'day, than to behave, when one trusts ye abroad, so like an
innocent?" An innocent in Ireland, as formerly in England, (witness
the Rape of the Lock) is synonymous with a fool. "And fools and
innocents shall still believe."

The associations of pleasure, of pride and gayety, are so strong in
the minds of these well educated children, that they sometimes expect
the very people who suffer by their dishonesty, should sympathise in
the self-complacency they feel from roguery. A gentleman riding near
his own house in Ireland, saw a cow's head and fore feet appear at the
_top of a ditch_, through a gap in the hedge by the road's side, at
the same time he heard a voice alternately threatening and encouraging
the cow; the gentleman rode up closer to the scene of action, and he
saw a boy's head appear behind the cow. "My good boy," said he,
"that's a fine cow." "Oh, faith, that she is," replied the boy, "and
I'm teaching her to get her own living, please your honour." The
gentleman did not precisely understand the meaning of the expression,
and had he directly asked for an explanation, would probably have died
in ignorance; but the boy, proud of his cow, encouraged an exhibition
of her talents: she was made to jump across the ditch several times,
and this adroitness in breaking through fences, was termed "getting
her own living." As soon as the cow's education is finished, she may
be sent loose into the world to provide for herself; turned to graze
in the poorest pasture, she will be able and willing to live upon the
fat of the land.

It is curious to observe how regularly the same moral causes produce
the same temper and character. We talk of climate, and frequently
attribute to climate the different dispositions of different nations:
the climate of Ireland, and that of the West Indies, are not precisely
similar, yet the following description, which Mr. Edwards, in his
history of the West Indies, gives of the propensity to falsehood
amongst the negro slaves, might stand word for word for a character of
that class of the Irish people who, until very lately, actually, not
metaphorically, called themselves _slaves_.

"If a negro is asked even an indifferent question by his master, he
seldom gives an immediate reply; but affecting not to understand what
is said, compels a repetition of the question, that he may have time
to consider, not what is the true answer, but what is the most politic
one for him to give."

Mr. Edwards assures us, that many of these unfortunate negroes learn
cowardice and falsehood after they become slaves. When they first come
from Africa, many of them show "a frank and fearless temper;"[54] but
all distinction of character amongst the native Africans, is soon lost
under the levelling influence of slavery. Oppression and terror
necessarily produce meanness and deceit in all climates, and in all
ages; and wherever fear is the governing motive in education, we must
expect to find in children a propensity to dissimulation, if not
confirmed habits of falsehood. Look at the true born Briton under the
government of a tyrannical pedagogue, and listen to the language of
_in-born_ truth; in the whining tone, in the pitiful evasions, in the
stubborn falsehoods which you hear from the school-boy, can you
discover any of that innate dignity of soul which is the boasted
national characteristic? Look again; look at the same boy in the
company of those who inspire no terror; in the company of his
school-fellows, of his friends, of his parents; would you know him to
be the same being? his countenance is open; his attitude erect; his
voice firm; his language free and fluent; his thoughts are upon his
lips; he speaks truth without effort, without fear. Where individuals
are oppressed, or where they believe that they are oppressed, they
combine against their oppressors, and oppose cunning and falsehood to
power and force; they think themselves released from the compact of
truth with their masters, and bind themselves in a strict league with
each other; thus school-boys hold no faith with their schoolmaster,
though they would think it shameful to be dishonourable amongst one
another. We do not think that these maxims are the peculiar growth of
schools; in private families the same feelings are to be found under
the same species of culture: if preceptors or parents are unjust or
tyrannical, their pupils will contrive to conceal from them their
actions and their thoughts. On the contrary, in families where
sincerity has been encouraged by the voice of praise and affection, a
generous freedom of conversation and countenance appears, and the
young people talk to each other, and to their parents, without
distinction or reserve; without any distinction but such as superior
esteem and respect dictate. These are feelings totally distinct from
servile fear: these feelings inspire the love of truth, the ambition
to acquire and to preserve character.

The value of a character for truth, should be distinctly felt by
children in their own family: whilst they were very young, we advised
that their integrity should not be tempted; as they grow up, trust
should by degrees be put in them, and we should distinctly explain to
them, that our confidence is to be deserved before it can be given.
Our belief in any person's truth, is not a matter of affection, but of
experience and necessity; we cannot doubt the assertions of any person
whom we have found to speak uniformly the truth; we cannot believe any
person, let us wish to do it ever so much, if we have detected him in
falsehoods. Before we have had experience of a person's integrity, we
may hope, or take it for granted, that he is perfectly sincere and
honest; but we cannot feel more than _belief upon trust_, until we
have actually seen his integrity tried. We should not pretend that we
have faith in our pupils before we have tried them; we may hope from
their habits, from the examples they have seen, and from the
advantageous manner in which truth has always been represented to
them, that they will act honourably; this hope is natural and just,
but confidence is another feeling of the mind. The first time we trust
a child, we should not say, "I am sure you will not deceive me; I can
trust you with any thing in the world." This is flattery or folly; it
is paying beforehand, which is not the way to get business done; why
cannot we, especially as we are teaching truth, say the thing that
is--"I _hope_ you will not deceive me. If I find that you may be
trusted, you know I shall be able to trust you another time: this must
depend upon you, not entirely upon me." We must make ourselves certain
upon these occasions, how the child conducts himself; nor is it
necessary to use any artifice, or to affect, from false delicacy, any
security that we do not feel; it is better openly to say, "You see, I
do you the justice to examine carefully, how you have conducted
yourself; I wish to be able to trust you another time."

It may be said, that this method of strict inquiry reduces a trust to
no trust at all, and that it betrays suspicion. If you examine
evidently with the belief that a child has deceived you, certainly you
betray injurious suspicion, and you educate the child very ill; but if
you feel and express a strong desire to find that your pupil has
conducted himself honourably, he will be glad and proud of the
strictest scrutiny; he will feel that he has earned your future
confidence, and this confidence, which he clearly knows how he has
obtained, will be more valuable to him than all the belief upon trust
which you could affect to feel. By degrees, after your pupil has
taught you to depend upon him, your confidence will prevent the
necessity of any examination into his conduct. This is the just and
delightful reward of integrity: children know how to feel and
understand it thoroughly: besides the many restraints from which our
confidence will naturally relieve them, they feel the pride for being
trusted; the honour of having a character for integrity: nor can it be
too strongly impressed upon their minds, that this character must be
preserved, as it was obtained, by their own conduct. If one link in
the chain of confidence be broken, the whole is destroyed. Indeed,
where habits of truth are early formed, we may safely depend upon
them. A young person, who has never deceived, would see, that the
first step in falsehood costs too much to be hazarded. Let this appear
in the form of calculation, rather than of sentiment. To habit, to
enthusiasm, we owe much of all our virtues--to reason more; and the
more of them we owe to reason, the better. Habit and enthusiasm are
subject to sudden or gradual changes--but reason continues for ever
the same. As the understanding unfolds, we should fortify all our
pupil's habits; and virtuous enthusiasm, by the conviction of their
utility, of their being essential to the happiness of society in
general, and conducive immediately to the happiness of every
individual. Possessed of this conviction, and provided with
substantial arguments in its support, young people will not be exposed
to danger, either from sophistry or ridicule.

Ridicule certainly is not the test of truth; but it is a test which
truth sometimes finds it difficult to stand. Vice never "bolts her
arguments" with more success, than when she assumes the air of
raillery, and the tone of gayety. All vivacious young people are fond
of wit; we do not mean children, for they do not understand it. Those
who have the best capacities, and the strictest habits of veracity,
often appear to common observers absolutely stupid, from their
aversion to any play upon words, and from the literal simplicity with
which they believe every thing that is asserted. A remarkably
intelligent little girl of four years old, but who had never in her
own family been used to the common phrases which sometimes pass for
humour, happened to hear a gentleman say, as he looked out of the
window one rainy morning, "It rains cats and dogs to-day." The child,
with a surprised, but believing look, immediately went to look out of
the window to see the phenomenon. This extreme simplicity in
childhood, is sometimes succeeded in youth by a strong taste for wit
and humour. Young people are, in the first place, proud to show that
they understand them; and they are gratified by the perception of a
new intellectual pleasure. At this period of their education, great
attention must be paid to them, lest their admiration for wit and
frolic should diminish their reverence and their love for sober truth.
In many engaging characters in society, and in many entertaining
books, deceit and dishonesty are associated with superior abilities,
with ease and gayety of manners, and with a certain air of frank
carelessness, which can scarcely fail to please. Gil Blas,[55] Tom
Jones, Lovelace, Count Fathom, are all of this class of characters.
They should not be introduced to our pupils till their habits of
integrity are thoroughly formed; and till they are sufficiently
skilful in analysing their own feelings, to distinguish whence their
approbation and pleasure in reading of these characters arise. In
books, we do not actually suffer by the tricks of rogues, or by the
lies they tell. Hence their truth is to us a quality of no value; but
their wit, humour, and the ingenuity of their contrivances, are of
great value to us, because they afford us entertainment. The most
honest man in the universe may not have had half so many adventures as
the greatest rogue; in a romance, the history upon oath of all the
honest man's bargains and sales, law-suits and losses; nay, even a
complete view of his ledger and day-book, together with the regular
balancings of his accounts, would probably not afford quite so much
entertainment, even to a reader of the most unblemished integrity and
phlegmatic temper, as the adventures of Gil Blas, and Jonathan Wild,
adorned with all the wit of Le Sage, and humour of Fielding. When Gil
Blas lays open his whole heart to us, and tells us all his sins,
unwhipt of justice, we give him credit for making us his confidant,
and we forget that this sincerity, and these liberal confessions, are
not characteristic of the hero's disposition, but essential only to
the novel. The novel writer could not tell us all he had to say
without this dying confession, and inconsistent openness, from his
accomplished villain. The reader is ready enough to forgive, having
never been duped. When young people can make all these reflections for
themselves, they may read Gil Blas with as much safety as the Life of
Franklin, or any other the most moral performance. "Tout est sain aux
sains,"[56] as Madame de Sevigne very judiciously observes, in one of
her letters upon the choice of books for her grand-daughter. We refer
for more detailed observations upon this subject to the chapter upon
Books. But we cannot help here reiterating our advice to preceptors,
not to force the detestable characters, which are sometimes held up to
admiration in ancient and modern history, upon the common sense, or,
if they please, the moral feelings, of their pupils. The bad actions
of _great_ characters, should not be palliated by eloquence, and fraud
and villainy should never be explained away by the hero's or warrior's
code; a code which confounds all just ideas of right and wrong. Boys,
in reading the classics, must read of a variety of crimes; but that is
no reason that they should approve of them, or that their tutors
should undertake to vindicate the cause of falsehood and treachery. A
gentleman, who has taught his sons Latin, has uniformly pursued the
practice of abandoning to the just and prompt indignation of his
young pupils all the ancient heroes who are deficient in moral
honesty: his sons, in reading Cornelius Nepos, could not absolutely
comprehend, that the treachery of Themistocles or of Alcibiades could
be applauded by a wise and polished nation. Xenophon has made an
eloquent attempt to explain the nature of military good faith.
Cambyses tells his son, that, in taking advantage of an enemy, a man
must be "crafty, deceitful, a dissembler, a thief, and a robber." Oh
Jupiter! exclaims the young Cyrus, what a man, my father, you say I
must be! And he very sensibly asks his father, why, if it be necessary
in some cases to ensnare and deceive men, he had not in his childhood
been taught by his preceptors the art of doing harm to his
fellow-creatures, as well as of doing them good. "And why," says
Cyrus, "have I always been punished whenever I have been discovered in
practising deceit?" The answers of Cambyses are by no means
satisfactory upon this subject; nor do we think that the conversation
between the old general and Mr. Williams,[57] could have made the
matter perfectly intelligible to the young gentleman, whose scrupulous
integrity made him object to the military profession.

It is certain, that many persons of strict honour and honesty in some
points, on others are utterly inconsistent in their principles. Thus
it is said, that private integrity and public corruption frequently
meet in the same character: thus some gentlemen are jockies, and they
have a convenient latitude of conscience as jockies, whilst they would
not for the universe cheat a man of a guinea in any way but in the
sale of a horse: others in gambling, others in love, others in war,
think all stratagems fair. We endeavour to think that these are all
honourable men; but we hope, that we are not obliged to lay down rules
for the formation of such moral prodigies in a system of practical
education.

We are aware, that with children[58] who are educated at public
schools, truth and integrity cannot be taught precisely in the same
manner as in private families; because ushers and schoolmasters cannot
pay the same hourly attention to each of their pupils, nor have they
the command of all the necessary circumstances.--There are, however,
some advantages attending the early commerce which numbers of children
at public seminaries have with each other; they find that no society
can subsist without truth; they feel the utility of this virtue, and,
however they may deal with their masters, they learn to speak truth
towards each other.--This partial species of honesty, or rather of
honour, is not the very best of its kind, but it may easily be
improved into a more rational principle of action. It is illiberal to
assert, that any virtue is to be taught only by one process of
education: many different methods of education may produce the same
effects. Men of integrity and honour have been formed both by private
and public education; neither system should be exclusively supported
by those who really wish well to the improvement of mankind. All the
errours of each system should be impartially pointed out, and such
remedies as may most easily be adopted with any hope of success,
should be proposed. We think, that if parents paid sufficient
attention to the habits of their children, from the age of three to
seven years old, they would be properly prepared for public education;
they would not then bring with them to public schools all that they
have learned of vice and falsehood in the company of servants.[59] We
have purposely repeated all this, in hopes of impressing it strongly.
May we suggest to the masters of these important seminaries, that
Greek and Latin, and all the elegance of classical literature, are
matters but of secondary consequence, compared with those habits of
truth, which are essential to the character and happiness of their
pupils? By rewarding the moral virtues more highly than the mere
display of talents, a generous emulation to excel in these virtues may
with certainty be excited.

Many preceptors and parents will readily agree, that Bacon, in his
"general distribution of human knowledge," was perfectly right not to
omit that branch of philosophy, which his lordship terms "_The
doctrine of rising in the world_." To this art, integrity at length
becomes necessary; for talents, whether for business or for oratory,
are now become so cheap, that they cannot alone ensure pre-eminence to
their possessors.--The public opinion, which in England bestows
celebrity, and necessarily leads to honour, is intimately connected
with the public confidence. Public confidence is not the same thing as
popularity; the one may be won, the other must be earned. There is
amongst all parties, who at present aim at political power, an
unsatisfied demand for honest men. Those who speculate in this line
for their children, will do wisely to keep this fact in their
remembrance during their whole education.

We have delayed, from a full consciousness of the difficulty of the
undertaking, to speak of the method of curing either the habits or the
propensity to falsehood. Physicians, for mental as well as bodily
diseases, can give long histories of maladies; but are surprisingly
concise when they come to treat of the method of cure. With patients
of different ages, and different temperaments, to speak with due
medical solemnity, we should advise different remedies. With young
children, we should be most anxious to break the habits; with children
at a more advanced period of their education, we should be most
careful to rectify the principles. Children, before they reason, act
merely from habit, and without having acquired command over
themselves, they have no power to break their own habits; but when
young people reflect and deliberate, their principles are of much more
importance than their habits, because their principles, in fact, in
most cases, govern their habits. It is in consequence of their
deliberations and reflections that they act; and, before we can change
their way of acting, we must change their way of thinking.

To break _habits_ of falsehood in young children, let us begin by
removing the temptation, whatever it may be. For instance, if the
child has the habit of denying that he has seen, heard, or done things
which he has seen, heard, and done, we must not, upon any account,
ever question him about any of these particulars, but we should
forbear to give him any pleasure which he might hope to obtain by our
faith in his assertions. Without entering into any explanations, we
should absolutely[60] disregard what he says, and with looks of cool
contempt, turn away without listening to his falsities. A total change
of occupations, new objects, especially such as excite and employ the
senses, will be found highly advantageous. Sudden pleasure, from
strong expressions of affection, or eloquent praise, whenever the
child speaks truth, will operate powerfully in breaking his habits of
equivocation. We do not advise parents to try sudden pain with
children at this early age, neither do we advise bodily correction, or
lasting _penitences_, meant to excite shame, because these depress and
enfeeble the mind, and a propensity to falsehood ultimately arises
from weakness and timidity. Strengthen the body and mind by all means;
try to give the pupils command over themselves upon occasions where
they have no opportunities of deceiving: the same command of mind and
courage, proceeding from the consciousness of strength and fortitude,
may, when once acquired, be exerted in any manner we direct. A boy who
tells a falsehood to avoid some trifling pain, or to procure some
trifling gratification, would perhaps dare to speak the truth, if he
were certain that he could bear the pain, or do without the
gratification. Without talking to him about truth or falsehood, we
should begin by exercising him in the art of bearing and forbearing.
The slightest trials are best for beginners, such as their fortitude
can bear, for success is necessary to increase their courage.

Madame de Genlis, in her Adele and Theodore, gives Theodore,
when he is about seven years old, a box of sugar-plums to take
care of, to teach him to command his passions. Theodore produces
the untouched treasure to her mother, from time to time, with great
self-complacency. We think this a good practical lesson. Some years
ago the experiment was tried, with complete success, upon a little boy
between five and six years old. This boy kept raisins and almonds in a
little box in his pocket, day after day, without ever thinking of
touching them. His only difficulty was to remember at the appointed
time, at the week's end, to produce them. The raisins were regularly
counted from time to time, and were, when found to be right, sometimes
given to the child, but not always. When, for several weeks, the boy
had faithfully executed his trust, the time was extended for which he
was to keep the raisins, and every body in the family expressed that
they were now certain, before they counted the raisins, that they
should find the number exact. This confidence, which was not pretended
confidence, pleased the child, but the rest he considered as a matter
of course. We think such little trials as these might be made with
children of five or six years old, to give them early habits of
exactness. The boy we have just mentioned, has grown up with a more
unblemished reputation for truth, than any child with whom we were
ever acquainted. This is the same boy who broke the looking-glass.

When a patient, far advanced in his childhood, is yet to be cured of a
propensity to deceive, the business becomes formidable. It is
dangerous to set our vigilance in direct opposition to his cunning,
and it is yet more dangerous to trust and give him opportunities of
fresh deceit. If the pupil's temper is timid, fear has probably been
his chief inducement to dissimulation. If his temper is sanguine, hope
and success, and perhaps the pleasure of inventing schemes, or of
outwitting his superiors, have been his motives. In one case we should
prove to the patient, that he has nothing to fear from speaking the
truth to us; in the other case we should demonstrate to him, that he
has nothing to hope from telling us falsehoods. Those who are pleased
with the ingenuity of cunning, should have opportunities of showing
their ingenuity in honourable employments, and the highest praise
should be given to their successful abilities whenever they are thus
exerted. They will compare their feelings when they are the objects of
esteem, and of contempt, and they will be led permanently to pursue
what most tends to their happiness. We should never deprive them of
the hope of establishing a character for integrity; on the contrary,
we should explain distinctly to them, that this is absolutely in their
own power. Examples from real life will strike the mind of a young
person just entering into the world, much more than any fictitious
characters, or moral stories; and strong indignation, expressed
incidentally, will have more effect than any lectures prepared for the
purpose. We do not mean, that any artifice should be used to make our
lessons impressive; but there is no artifice in seizing opportunities,
which must occur in real life, to exemplify the advantages of a good
character. The opinions which young people hear expressed of actions
in which they have no share, and of characters with whom they are not
connected, make a great impression upon them. The horror which is
shown to falsehood, the shame which overwhelms the culprit, they have
then leisure to contemplate; they see the effects of the storm at a
distance; they dread to be exposed to its violence, and they will
prepare for their own security. When any such strong impression has
been made upon the mind, we should seize that moment to connect new
principles with new habits of action: we should try the pupil in some
situation in which he has never been tried before, and where he
consequently may feel hope of obtaining reputation, if he deserves it,
by integrity. All reproaches upon his former conduct should now be
forborne, and he should be allowed to feel, in full security, the
pleasures and the honours of his new character.

We cannot better conclude a chapter upon Truth, than by honestly
referring the reader to a charming piece of eloquence, with which Mr.
Godwin concludes his essay upon Deception and Frankness.[61] We are
sensible how much we shall lose by the comparison: we had written this
chapter before we saw his essay.

FOOTNOTES:

[51] We refer to Locke's Thoughts concerning Education, and Rousseau's
Emilius, vol. i.

[52] V. The Life of the Duke of Burgundy in Madame de la Fite's
agreeable and instructive work for children, "Contes, Drames et
Entretiens, &c."

[53] Pronounced gossoon.

[54] Edwards's History West Indies, vol. ii.

[55] See Mrs. Macaulay's Letters on Education.

[56] Every thing is healthful to the healthy.

[57] See Mr. Williams's Lectures on Education, where Xenophon is
quoted, page 16, &c. vol. ii.--also, page 31.

[58] Vide Williams.

[59] V. Servants and "Public and Private Education."

[60] Rousseau and Williams.



CHAPTER IX.

ON REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS.


To avoid, in education, all unnecessary severity, and all dangerous
indulgence, we must form just ideas of the nature and use of rewards
and punishments. Let us begin with considering the nature of
punishment, since it is best to get the most disagreeable part of our
business done the first.

Several benevolent and enlightened authors[62] have endeavoured to
explain the use of penal laws, and to correct the ideas which formerly
prevailed concerning public justice. Punishment is no longer
considered, except by the ignorant and sanguinary, as vengeance from
the injured, or expiation from the guilty. We now distinctly
understand, that the greatest possible happiness of the whole society
must be the ultimate object of all just legislation; that the partial
evil of punishment is consequently to be tolerated by the wise and
humane legislator, only so far as it is proved to be necessary for the
general good. When a crime has been committed, it cannot be undone by
all the art, or all the power of man; by vengeance the most
sanguinary, or remorse the most painful. The past is irrevocable; all
that remains, is to provide for the future. It would be absurd, after
an offence has already been committed, to increase the sum of misery
in the world, by inflicting pain upon the offender, unless that pain
were afterwards to be productive of happiness to society, either by
preventing the criminal from repeating his offence, or by deterring
others from similar enormities. With this double view of restraining
individuals, by the recollection of past sufferings, from future
crimes, and of teaching others, by public examples, to expect, and to
fear, certain evils as the necessary consequences of certain actions
hurtful to society, all wise laws are framed, and all just punishments
are inflicted. It is only by the conviction that certain punishments
are essential to the general security and happiness, that a person of
humanity can, or ought, to fortify his mind against the natural
feelings of compassion. These feelings are the most painful, and the
most difficult to resist, when, as it sometimes unavoidably happens,
public justice requires the total sacrifice of the happiness, liberty,
or perhaps the life, of a fellow-creature, whose ignorance precluded
him from virtue, and whose neglected or depraved education prepared
him, by inevitable degrees, for vice and all its miseries. How
exquisitely painful must be the feelings of a humane judge, in
pronouncing sentence upon such a devoted being! But the law permits of
no refined metaphysical disquisitions. It would be vain to plead the
necessitarian's doctrine of an unavoidable connection between the past
and the future, in all human actions; the same necessity compels the
punishment that compels the crime; nor could, nor ought, the most
eloquent advocate, in a court of justice, to obtain a criminal's
acquittal by entering into a minute history of the errours of his
education.

It is the business of education to prevent crimes, and to prevent all
those habitual propensities which necessarily lead to their
commission. The legislator can consider only the large interests of
society; the preceptor's view is fixed upon the individual interests
of his pupil. Fortunately both must ultimately agree. To secure for
his pupil the greatest possible quantity of happiness, taking in the
whole of life, must be the wish of the preceptor: this includes every
thing. We immediately perceive the connection between that happiness,
and obedience to all the laws on which the prosperity of society
depends.--We yet further perceive, that the probability of our pupil's
yielding not only an implicit, but an habitual, rational, voluntary,
happy obedience, to such laws, must arise from the connection which
_he_ believes, and feels, that there exists between his social duties
and his social happiness. How to induce this important belief, is the
question.

It is obvious, that we cannot explain to the comprehension of a child
of three or four years old, all the truths of morality; nor can we
demonstrate to him the justice of punishments, by showing him that we
give present pain to ensure future advantage. But, though we cannot
demonstrate to the child that we are just, we may satisfy ourselves
upon this subject, and we may conduct ourselves, during his non-age of
understanding, with the scrupulous integrity of a guardian. Before we
can govern by reason, we can, by associating pain or pleasure with
certain actions, give habits, and these habits will be either
beneficial or hurtful to the pupil: we must, if they be hurtful
habits, conquer them by fresh punishments, and thus we make the
helpless child suffer for our negligence and mistakes. Formerly in
Scotland there existed a law, which obliged every farrier who, through
ignorance or drunkenness, pricked a horse's foot in shoeing him, to
deposit the price of the horse until he was sound, to furnish the
owner with another, and in case the horse could not be cured, the
farrier was doomed to indemnify the injured owner. At the same rate of
punishment, what indemnification should be demanded from a careless or
ignorant preceptor?

When a young child puts his finger too near the fire, he burns
himself; the pain immediately follows the action; they are associated
together in the child's memory; if he repeat the experiment often, and
constantly with the same result, the association will be so strongly
formed, that the child will ever afterwards expect these two things to
happen together: whenever he puts his finger into fire, he will expect
to feel pain; he will learn yet further, as these things regularly
follow one another, to think one the cause, and the other the effect.
He may not have words to express these ideas; nor can we explain how
the belief that events, which have happened together, will again
happen together, is by experience induced in the mind. This is a fact,
which no metaphysicians pretend to dispute; but it has not yet, that
we know of, been accounted for by any. It would be rash to assert,
that it will not in future be explained, but at present we are totally
in the dark upon the subject. It is sufficient for our purpose to
observe, that this association of facts, or of ideas, affects the
actions of all rational beings, and of many animals who are called
irrational. Would you teach a dog or a horse to obey you; do you not
associate pleasure, or pain, with the things you wish that they should
practise, or avoid? The impatient and ignorant give infinitely more
pain than is necessary to the animals they educate. If the pain, which
we would associate with any action, do not _immediately_ follow it,
the child does not understand us; if several events happen nearly at
the same time, it is impossible that a child can at first distinguish
which are causes, and which are effects. Suppose, that a mother would
teach her little son, that he must not put his dirty shoes upon her
clean sofa: if she frowns upon him, or speaks to him in an angry tone,
at the instant that he sets his foot and shoe upon the sofa, he
desists; but he has only learned, that putting a foot upon the sofa,
and his mother's frown, follow each other; his mother's frown, from
former associations, gives him perhaps, some pain, or the expectation
of some pain, and consequently he avoids repeating the action which
immediately preceded the frown. If, a short time afterwards, the
little boy, forgetting the frown, accidentally gets upon the sofa
_without his shoes_, no evil follows; but it is not probable, that he
can, by this single experiment, discover that his shoes have made all
the difference in the two cases. Children are frequently so much
puzzled by their confused experience of impunity and punishment, that
they are quite at a loss how to conduct themselves. Whenever our
punishments are not made intelligible, they are cruel; they give pain,
without producing any future advantage. To make punishment
intelligible to children, it must be not only _immediately_, but
_repeatedly_ and _uniformly_, associated with the actions which we
wish them to avoid.

When children begin to reason, punishment affects them in a different
manner from what it did whilst they were governed, like irrational
animals, merely by the direct associations of pleasure and pain. They
distinguish, in many instances, between coincidence and causation;
they discover, that the will of others is the immediate cause,
frequently, of the pain they suffer; they learn by experience, that
the _will_ is not an unchangeable cause, that it is influenced by
circumstances, by passions, by persuasion, by caprice. It must be,
however, by slow degrees, that they acquire any ideas of justice. They
cannot know our views relative to their future happiness; their first
ideas of the justice of the punishments we inflict, cannot, therefore,
be accurate. They regulate these first judgments by the simple idea,
that our punishments ought to be exactly the same always in the same
circumstances; when they understand words, they learn to expect that
our words and actions should precisely agree, that we should keep our
promises, and _fulfil_ our threats. They next learn, that as they are
punished for voluntary faults, they cannot justly be punished until it
has been distinctly explained to them what is _wrong_ or _forbidden_,
and what is _right_ or _permitted_. The words _right_ or _wrong_,
and _permitted_ or _forbidden_, are synonymous at first in the
apprehensions of children; and obedience and disobedience are their
only ideas of virtue and vice. Whatever we command to be done, or
rather whatever we associate with pleasure, they imagine to be right;
whatever we prohibit, provided we have uniformly associated it with
pain, they believe to be wrong. This implicit submission to our
authority, and these confined ideas of right and wrong, are
convenient, or apparently convenient, to indolent or tyrannical
governours; and they sometimes endeavour to prolong the reign of
ignorance, with the hope of establishing in the mind an opinion of
their own infallibility. But this is a dangerous, as well as an
unjust, system. By comparison with the conduct and opinions of others,
children learn to judge of their parents and preceptors; by reading
and by conversation, they acquire more enlarged notions of right and
wrong; and their obedience, unless it then arise from the conviction
of their understandings, depends but on a very precarious foundation.
The mere association of pleasure and pain, in the form of reward and
punishment, with any given action, will not govern them; they will now
examine whether there is any moral or physical _necessary_ connection
between the action and punishment; nor will they believe the
punishment they suffer to be a consequence of the action they have
committed, but rather a consequence of their being obliged to submit
to the will of those who are stronger or more powerful than they are
themselves. Unjust punishments do not effect their intended purpose,
because the pain is not associated with the action which we would
prohibit; but, on the contrary, it is associated with the idea of our
tyranny; it consequently excites the sentiment of hatred towards us,
instead of aversion to the forbidden action. When once, by reasoning,
children acquire even a vague idea that those who educate them are
unjust, it is in vain either to punish or reward them; if they submit,
or if they rebel, their education is equally spoiled; in the one case
they become cowardly, in the other, headstrong. To avoid these evils,
there is but one method; we must early secure reason for our friend,
else she will become our unconquerable enemy. As soon as children are
able, in any instance, to understand the meaning and nature of
punishment, it should, in that instance, be explained to them. Just
punishment is pain, inflicted with the reasonable hope of preventing
greater pain in future. In a family, where there are several children
educated together, or in public schools, punishments may be inflicted
with justice for the sake of example, but still the reformation and
future good of the sufferer is always a principal object; and of this
he should be made sensible. If our practice upon all occasions
correspond with our theory, and if children really perceive, that we
do not punish them to gratify our own spleen or passion, we shall not
become, even when we give them pain, objects of their hatred. The pain
will not be associated with us, but, as it ought to be, with the fault
which was the real cause of it. As much as possible we should let
children feel the natural consequences of their own conduct. The
natural consequence of speaking truth, is the being believed; the
natural consequence of falsehood, is the loss of trust and confidence;
the natural consequence of all the useful virtues, is esteem; of all
the amiable virtues, love; of each of the prudential virtues, some
peculiar advantage to their possessor. But plum-pudding is not the
appropriate reward of truth, nor is the loss of it the natural or
necessary consequence of falsehood. Prudence is not to be rewarded
with the affection due to humanity, nor is humanity to be recompensed
with the esteem claimed by prudence. Let each good and bad quality
have its proper share of praise and blame, and let the consequences of
each follow as constantly as possible. That young people may form a
steady judgment of the danger of any vice, they must uniformly
perceive, that certain painful consequences result from its practice.
It is in vain that we inflict punishments, unless all the precepts and
all the examples which they see, confirm them in the same belief.

In the unfortunate son of Peter the Great, we have a striking instance
of the effects of a disagreement between precept and example,[63]
which, in a less elevated situation, might have escaped our notice. It
seems as if the different parts and stages of his education had been
purposely contrived to counteract each other. Till he was eleven years
old, he was committed to the care of women, and of ignorant bigotted
priests, who were continually inveighing against his father for the
abolition of certain barbarous customs. Then came baron Huysen for his
governour, a sensible man, who had just begun to make something of his
pupil, when prince Menzikof insisted upon having the sole management
of the unfortunate Alexey. Prince Menzikof abandoned him to the
company of the lowest wretches, who encouraged him in continual
ebriety, and in a taste for every thing mean and profligate. At length
came Euphrosyne, his Finlandish mistress, who, upon his trial for
rebellion, deposed to every angry expression which, in his most
unguarded moments, the wretched son had uttered against the tyrannical
father. Amidst such scenes of contradictory experience, can we be
surprised, that Alexey Petrovitch became feeble, ignorant, and
profligate; that he rebelled against the father whom he had early been
taught to fear and hate; that he listened to the pernicious counsels
of the companions who had, by pretended sympathy and flattery,
obtained that place in his confidence which no parental kindness had
ever secured? Those historians who are zealous for the glory of Peter
the Great, have eagerly refuted, as a most atrocious calumny, the
report of his having had any part in the mysterious death of his son.
But how will they apologize for the Czar's neglect of that son's
education, from which all the misfortunes of his life arose?

But all this is past for ever; the only advantage we can gain from
recalling these circumstances, is a confirmation of this important
principle in education; that, when precept and example counteract one
another, there is no hope of success. Nor can the utmost severity
effect any useful purpose, whilst the daily experience of the pupil
contradicts his preceptor's lessons. In fact, severity is seldom
necessary in a well conducted education. The smallest possible degree
of pain, which can, in any case, produce the required effect, is
indisputably the just measure of the punishment which ought to be
inflicted in any given case. This simple axiom will lead us to a
number of truths, which immediately depend upon, or result from it. We
must attend to every circumstance which can diminish the quantity of
pain, without lessening the efficacy of punishment. Now it has been
found from experience, that there are several circumstances which
operate uniformly to this purpose. We formerly observed, that the
effect of punishment upon the minds of children, before they reason,
depends much upon its _immediately_ succeeding the fault, and also
upon its being certainly repeated whenever the same fault is
committed. After children acquire the power of reasoning, from a
variety of new motives, these laws, with respect to punishment, derive
additional force. A trifling degree of pain will answer the purpose,
if it be made inevitable; whilst the fear of an enormous proportion of
uncertain punishment, will not be found sufficient to govern the
imagination. The contemplation of a distant punishment, however
severe, does not affect the imagination with much terror, because
there is still a secret hope of escape in the mind. Hence it is found
from experience, that the most sanguinary penal laws have always been
ineffectual to restrain from crimes.[64] Even if detection be
inevitable, and consequent punishment equally inevitable, if
punishment be not inflicted as soon as the criminal is convicted, it
has been found that it has not, either as a preventative, or a public
example, the same power upon the human mind. Not only should the
punishment be immediate after conviction, but detection should follow
the offence as speedily as possible. Without entering at large into
the intricate arguments concerning identity and consciousness, we may
observe, that the consciousness of having committed the offence for
which he suffers, ought, at the time of suffering, to be strong in the
offender's mind. Though proofs of his identity may have been legally
established in a court of justice; and though, as far as it relates to
public justice, it matters not whether the offence for which he is
punished has been committed yesterday or a year ago; yet, as to the
effect which the punishment produces on the culprit's own mind, there
must be a material difference.

"I desire you to judge of me, not by what I was, but by what I am,"
said a philosopher, when he was reproached for some of his past
transgressions. If the interval between an offence and its punishment
be long, it is possible that, during this interval, a complete change
may be made in the views and habits of the offender; such a change as
shall absolutely preclude all probability of his repeating his
offence. His punishment must then be purely for the sake of example to
others. He suffers pain at the time, perhaps, when he is in the best
social dispositions possible; and thus we punish the present good man
for the faults of the former offender. We readily excuse the violence
which a man in a passion may have committed, when, upon his return to
his sober senses, he expresses contrition and surprise at his own
excesses; he assures us, and we believe him, that he is now a
perfectly different person. If we do not feel any material ill
consequences from his late anger, we are willing, and even desirous,
that the passionate man should not, in his sober state, be punished
for his madness; all that we can desire, is to have some security
against his falling into any fresh fit of anger. Could his habits of
temper be instantly changed, and could we have a moral certainty that
his frenzy would never more do us any injury, would it not be
malevolent and unjust to punish him for his old insanity? If we think
and act upon these principles with respect to men, how much more
indulgent should we be to children? Indulgence is perhaps an improper
word--but in other words, how careful should we be never to chain
children to their dead faults![65] Children, during their education,
must be in a continual state of progression; they are not the same
to-day that they were yesterday; they have little reflection; their
consciousness of the present occupies them; and it would be extremely
difficult from day to day, or from hour to hour, to identify their
minds. Far from wishing that they should distinctly remember all their
past thoughts, and that they should value themselves upon their
continuing the same, we must frequently desire that they should forget
their former errours, and absolutely change their manner of thinking.
They should feel no interest in adhering to former bad habits or false
opinions; therefore, their pride should not be roused to defend these
by our making them a part of their standing character. The character
of children is _to be_ formed--we should never speak of it as
positively fixed. Man has been defined to be a bundle of habits; till
the bundle is made up, we may continually increase or diminish it.
Children who are zealous in defence of their own perfections, are of
all others most likely to become stationary in their intellectual
progress, and disingenuous in their temper. It would be in vain to
repeat to them this sensible and elegant observation--"To confess that
you have been in the wrong, is only saying, in other words, that you
are wiser to-day than you were yesterday." This remark will rather
pique, than comfort, the pride of those who are anxious to prove that
they have been equally wise and immaculate in every day of their
existence.

It may be said, that children cannot too early be made sensible of the
value of reputation, and they must be taught to connect the ideas of
their past and present _selves_, otherwise they cannot perceive, for
instance, why confidence should be placed in them in proportion to
their past integrity; or why falsehood should lead to distrust. The
force of this argument must be admitted; yet still we must consider
the age and strength of mind in children in applying it to practice.
Truth is not instinctive in the mind, and the ideas of integrity, and
of the advantages of reputation, must be very cautiously introduced,
lest, by giving children too perfect a theory of morality, before they
have sufficient strength of mind to adhere to it in practice, we may
make them hypocrites, or else give them a fatal distrust of
themselves, founded upon too early an experience of their own
weakness, and too great sensibility to shame.

Shame, when it once becomes familiar to the mind, loses its effect; it
should not, therefore, be used as a common punishment for slight
faults. Nor should we trust very early in education to the delicate
secret influence of conscience; but we should take every precaution to
prevent the necessity of having recourse to the punishment of
disgrace; and we must, if we mean to preserve the power of conscience,
take care that it be never disregarded with impunity. We must avoid
opposing it to strong temptation; nor should we ever try the integrity
of children, except in situations where we can be perfectly certain of
the result of the experiment. We must neither run the risk of
injuring them by unjust suspicions, nor unmerited confidence. By
prudent arrangements, and by unremitted daily attention, we should
absolutely prevent the possibility of deceit. By giving few commands,
or prohibitions, we may avoid the danger of either secret or open
disobedience. By diminishing temptations to do wrong, we act more
humanely than by multiplying restraints and punishments.

It has been found, that no restraints or punishments have proved
adequate to ensure obedience to laws, whenever strong temptations, and
many probabilities of evasion, combine in opposition to conscience or
fear. The terrors of the law have been for years ineffectually
directed against a race of beings called smugglers: yet smuggling is
still an extensive, lucrative, and not universally discreditable,
profession. Let any person look into the history of the excise
laws,[66] and he will be astonished at the accumulation of penal
statutes, which the active, but ineffectual, ingenuity of prohibitory
legislators has devised in the course of about thirty years. Open war
was declared against all illegal distillers; yet the temptation to
illegal distilling continually increased, in proportion to the heavy
duties laid upon the fair trader. It came at length to a trial of
skill between revenue officers and distillers, which could cheat, or
which could detect, the fastest. The distiller had the strongest
interest in the business, and he usually came off victorious.
_Coursing officers_, and _watching officers_ (once ten _watching
officers_ were set upon one distiller) and _surveyors_ and
_supervisors_, multiplied without end: the land in their fiscal maps
was portioned out into _divisions_ and _districts_, and each gauger
had the charge of all the distillers in his division: the watching
officer went first, and the coursing officer went after him, and after
him the supervisor; and they had _table-books_, and _gauging-rods_,
and _dockets_, and _permits_; permits for sellers, and permits for
buyers, and permits for foreign spirits, printed in red ink, and
permits for British spirits, in black ink; and they went about night
and day with their hydrometers, to ascertain the strength of spirits;
and with their gauging-rods, to measure _wash_. But the pertinacious
distiller was still flourishing; permits were forged; concealed pipes
were fabricated; and the proportion between the _wash_ and _spirits_
was seldom legal. The commisioners complained, and the legislators
went to work again. Under a penalty of one hundred pounds, distillers
were ordered to paint the words _distiller, dealer in spirits_, over
their doors; and it was further enacted, that all the distillers
should furnish, at their own expense, any kind of locks, and
fastenings, which the revenue officers should require for locking up
the doors of their own furnaces, the heads of their own stills, pumps,
pipes, &c. First, suspicions fell upon the public distiller for
exportation; then his utensils were locked up; afterwards the private
distiller was suspected, and he was locked up: then they set him and
his furnaces at liberty, and went back in a passion to the public
distiller. The legislature condescended to interfere, and with a new
lock and key, precisely described in an act of parliament, it was
hoped all would be made secure. Any person being a distiller, who
should lock up his furnace or pipes with a key constructed differently
from that which the act described, or any person making such illegal
key for said distiller, was subject to the forfeiture of one hundred
pounds. The padlock was never fixed upon the mind, and even the lock
and key, prescribed by act of parliament, were found inefficacious.
Any common blacksmith, with a picklock in his possession, laughed at
the combined skill of the two houses of parliament.

This digression from the rewards and punishments of children, to the
distillery laws, may, it is hoped, be pardoned, if the useful moral
can be drawn from it, that, where there are great temptations to
fraud, and continual opportunities of evasion, no laws, however
ingenious, no punishments, however exorbitant, can avail. The history
of coiners, venders, and utterers, of his majesty's coin, as lately
detailed to us by respectable authority,[67] may afford further
illustration of this principle.

There is no imminent danger of children's becoming either coiners or
fraudulent distillers; but an ingenious preceptor will not be much
puzzled in applying the remarks that have been made, to the subject of
education. For the anticlimax, in descending from the legislation of
men to the government of children, no apology is attempted.

The fewer the laws we make for children, the better. Whatever they may
be, they should be distinctly expressed; the letter and spirit should
both agree, and the words should bear but one signification, clear to
all the parties concerned. They should never be subject to the ex post
facto interpretation of an angry preceptor, or a cunning pupil; no
loose general terms should permit tyranny, or encourage quibbling.
There is said[68] to be a Chinese law, which decrees, that whoever
does not show _proper respect_ to the sovereign, is to be punished
with death. What is meant by the words _proper respect_, is not
defined. Two persons made a mistake in some account of an
insignificant affair, in one of their court gazettes. It was declared,
that _to lie_ in a court gazette, is to be wanting in _proper respect_
to the court. Both the careless scribes were put to death. One of the
princes of the blood inadvertently put some mark upon a memorial,
which had been signed by the emperor Bogdo Chan. This was construed to
be a want of _proper respect_ to Bogdo Chan the emperor, and a
horrible persecution hence arose against the scrawling prince and his
whole family. May no schoolmasters, ushers, or others, ever (even as
far as they are able) imitate Bogdo Chan, and may they always define
to their subjects, what they mean by _proper respect_!

There is a sort of mistaken mercy sometimes shown to children, which
is, in reality, the greatest cruelty. People, who are too angry to
refrain from threats, are often too indolent, or too compassionate, to
put their threats in execution. Between their words and actions there
is hence a manifest contradiction; their pupils learn from experience,
either totally to disregard these threats, or else to calculate, from
the various degrees of anger which appear in the threatener's
countenance, what real probability there is of his being as good or as
bad as his word. Far from perceiving that punishment, in this case, is
_pain given with the reasonable hope of making him wiser or happier_,
the pupil is convinced, that his master punishes him only to gratify
the passion of anger, to which he is unfortunately subject. Even
supposing that threateners are exact in fulfilling their threats, and
that they are not passionate, but simply wish to avoid giving pain;
they endeavour to excite the fears of their pupils as the means of
governing them with the least possible pain. But with fear they excite
all the passions and habits which are connected with that mean
principle of action, and they extinguish that vigorous spirit, that
independent energy of soul, which is essential to all the active and
manly virtues. Young people, who find that their daily pleasures
depend not so much upon their own exertions as upon the humour and
caprice of others, become absolute courtiers; they practise all the
arts of persuasion, and all the crouching hypocrisy which can
deprecate wrath, or propitiate favour. Their notions of right and
wrong cannot be enlarged; their recollection of the rewards and
punishments of their childhood, is always connected with the ideas of
tyranny and slavery; and when they break their own chains, they are
impatient to impose similar bonds upon their inferiors.

An argument has been used to prove, that in some cases anger is part
of the _justice_ of punishment, because "mere _reproof_, without
sufficient marks of _displeasure_ and _emotion_, affects a child very
little, and is soon forgotten."[69] It cannot be doubted, that the
expression of indignation is a just consequence of certain faults, and
the general indignation with which these are spoken of before young
people, must make a strong and useful impression upon their minds.
They reflect upon the actions of others; they see the effects which
these produce upon the human mind; they put themselves in the
situation alternately of the person who expresses indignation, and of
him who suffers shame; they measure the fault and its consequences,
and they resolve to conduct themselves so as to avoid that just
indignation of which they dread to be the object. These are the
general conclusions which children draw when they are _impartial
spectators_; but where they are themselves concerned, their feelings
and their reasonings are very different. If they have done any thing
which they know to be wrong, they expect, and are sensible that they
deserve, displeasure and indignation; but if any precise penalty is
annexed to the fault, the person who is to inflict it, appears to them
in the character of a judge, who is bound to repress his own feelings,
and coolly to execute justice. If the judge both reproaches and
punishes, he doubles the punishment. Whenever indignation is
expressed, no vulgar trivial penalties should accompany it; the pupil
should feel that it is indignation against his fault, and not against
himself; and that it is not excited in his preceptor's mind by any
petty personal considerations. A child distinguishes between anger and
indignation very exactly; the one commands his respect, the other
raises his contempt as soon as his fears subside. Dr. Priestley seems
to think that, "it is not possible to express displeasure with
sufficient _force_, especially to a child, when a man is perfectly
cool." May we not reply to this, that it is scarcely possible to
express displeasure with sufficient _propriety_, especially to a
child, when a man is in a passion? The propriety is, in this case, of
at least as much consequence as the force of the reprimand.--The
effect which the preceptor's displeasure will produce, must be, in
some proportion, to the esteem which his pupil feels for him. If he
cannot command his irascible passions, his pupil cannot continue to
esteem him; and there is an end of all that fear of his
disapprobation, which was founded upon esteem, and which can never be
founded upon a stronger or a better basis. We should further consider,
that the opinions of all the bystanders, especially if they be any of
them of the pupil's own age, have great influence upon his mind. It is
not to be expected that they should all sympathize equally with the
angry preceptor; and we know, that whenever the indignation expressed
against any fault, appears, in the least, to pass the bound of exact
justice, the sympathy of the spectators immediately revolts in favour
of the culprit; the fault is forgotten or excused, and all join in
spontaneous compassion. In public schools, this happens so frequently,
that the master's displeasure seldom affects the little community with
any sorrow; combined together, they make each other amends for public
punishments, by private pity or encouragement. In families, which are
not well regulated, that is to say, in which the interests of all the
individuals do not coalesce, the same evils are to be dreaded. Neither
indignation nor _shame_ can affect children in such schools, or such
families; the laws and manners, public precept and private opinion,
contradict one another.

In a variety of instances in society, we may observe, that the best
laws and the best principles are not sufficient to resist the
combination of numbers. Never attempt to affix infamy to a number of
people at once, says a philosophic legislator.[70] This advice showed
that he perfectly understood the nature of the passion of shame.
Numbers keep one another in countenance; they form a society for
themselves; and sometimes by peculiar phrases, and an appropriate
language, confound the established opinions of virtue and vice, and
enjoy a species of self-complacency independent of public opinion, and
often in direct opposition to their former _conscience_. Whenever any
set of men want to get rid of the shame annexed to particular actions,
they begin by changing the names and epithets which have been
generally used to express them, and which they know are associated
with the feelings of shame: these feelings are not awakened by the new
language, and by degrees they are forgotten, or they are supposed to
have been merely prejudices and habits, which _former methods of
speaking_ taught people to reverence. Thus the most disgraceful
combinations of men, who live by violating and evading the laws of
society, have all a peculiar phraseology amongst themselves, by which
jocular ideas are associated with the most disreputable actions.

Those who live by depredation on the river Thames, do not call
themselves thieves, but _lumpers_ and _mudlarks_. Coiners give regular
mercantile names to the different branches of their trade, and to the
various kinds of false money which they circulate: such as _flats_, or
_figs_, or _fig-things_. Unlicensed lottery wheels, are called _little
goes_; and the men who are sent about to public houses to entice poor
people into illegal lottery insurances, are called _Morocco-men_: a
set of villains, hired by these fraudulent lottery keepers, to resist
the civil power during the drawing of the lottery, call themselves
_bludgeon-men_; and in the language of robbers, a receiver of stolen
goods is said to be _staunch_, when it is believed that he will go all
lengths rather than betray the secrets of a gang of highwaymen.[71]

Since words have such power in their turn over ideas, we must, in
education, attend to the language of children as a means of judging
of the state of their minds; and whenever we find, that in their
conversation with one another, they have any slang, which turns moral
ideas into ridicule, we may be certain that this must have arisen from
some defect in their education. The power of shame must then be tried
in some new shape, to break this false association of ideas. Shame, in
a new shape, affects the mind with surprising force, in the same
manner as danger in a new form alarms the courage of veterans. An
extraordinary instance of this, may be observed in the management of
Gloucester jail: a blue and yellow jacket has been found to have a
most powerful effect upon men supposed to be dead to shame. The keeper
of the prison told us, that the most unruly offenders could be kept in
awe by the dread of a dress which exposed them to the ridicule of
their companions, no new term having been yet invented to counteract
the terrors of the yellow jacket. To prevent the mind from becoming
insensible to shame, it must be very sparingly used; and the hope and
possibility of recovering esteem, must always be kept alive. Those who
are excluded from hope, are necessarily excluded from virtue; the loss
of reputation, we see, is almost always followed by total depravity.
The cruel prejudices which are harboured against particular classes of
people, usually tend to make the individuals who are the best disposed
amongst these sects, despair of obtaining esteem; and, consequently,
careless about deserving it. There can be nothing inherent in the
knavish propensity of Jews; but the prevailing opinion, that avarice,
dishonesty and extortion, are the characteristics of a Jew, has
probably induced many of the tribe to justify the antipathy which they
could not conquer. Children are frequently confirmed in faults, by the
imprudent and cruel custom which some parents have of settling early
in life, that such a thing is natural; that such and such dispositions
are not to be cured; that cunning, perhaps, is the characteristic of
one child, and caprice of another. This general odium oppresses and
dispirits: such children think it is in vain to struggle against
nature, especially as they do not clearly understand what is meant by
nature. They submit to our imputations, without knowing how to refute
them. On the contrary, if we treat them with more good sense and
benevolence, if we explain to them the nature of the human mind, and
if we lay open to them the history of their own, they will assist us
in endeavouring to cure their faults, and they will not be debilitated
by indistinct, superstitious fears. At ten or eleven years old,
children are capable of understanding some of the general principles
of rational morality, and these they can apply to their own conduct in
many instances, which, however trivial they may appear, are not
beneath our notice.

June 16, 1796. S---- (nine years old) had lost his pencil; his father
said to him, "I wish to give you another pencil, but I am afraid I
should do you harm if I did; you would not take care of your things if
you did not feel some inconvenience when you lose them." The boy's
lips moved as if he were saying to himself, "I understand this; it is
just." His father guessed that these were the thoughts that were
passing in his mind, and asked whether he interpreted rightly the
motion of the lips. "Yes," said S----, "that was exactly what I was
thinking." "Then," said his father, "I will give you a bit of my own
pencil this instant: all I want is to make the necessary impression
upon your mind; that is all the use of punishment; you know we do not
want to torment you."

As young people grow up, and perceive the consequences of their own
actions, and the advantages of credit and character, they become
extremely solicitous to preserve the good opinion of those whom they
love and esteem. They are now capable of taking the future into their
view as well as the present; and at this period of their education,
the hand of authority should never be hastily used; the voice of
reason will never fail to make herself heard, especially if reason
speak with the tone of affection. During the first years of childhood,
it did not seem prudent to make any punishment lasting, because young
children quickly forget their faults; and having little experience,
cannot feel how their past conduct is likely to affect their future
happiness: but as soon as they have more enlarged experience, the
nature of their punishments should alter; if we have any reason to
esteem or love them less, our contempt and displeasure should not
lightly be dissipated. Those who reflect, are more influenced by the
idea of the duration, than of the intensity of any mental pain. In
those calculations which are constantly made before we determine upon
action or forbearance, some tempers estimate any evil which is likely
to be but of short duration, infinitely below its real importance.
Young men, of sanguine and courageous dispositions, hence frequently
act imprudently; the consequences of their temerity will, they think,
soon be over, and they feel that they are able to support evil for a
short time, however great it may be. Anger, they know, is a
short-lived passion, and they do not scruple running the hazard of
exciting anger in the hearts of those they love the best in the world.
The experience of lasting, sober disapprobation, is intolerably
irksome to them; any inconvenience which continues for a length of
time, wearies them excessively. After they have endured, as the
consequence of any actions, this species of punishment, they will long
remember their sufferings, and will carefully avoid incurring, in
future, similar penalties. Sudden and transient pain appears to be
most effectual with persons of an opposite temperament.

Young people, of a torpid, indolent temperament, are much under the
dominion of habit; if they happen to have contracted any disagreeable
or bad habits, they have seldom sufficient energy to break them. The
stimulus of sudden pain is necessary in this case. The pupil may be
perfectly convinced, that such a habit ought to be broken, and may
wish to break it most sincerely; but may yet be incapable of the
voluntary exertion requisite to obtain success. It would be dangerous
to let the habit, however insignificant, continue victorious, because
the child would hence be discouraged from all future attempts to
battle with himself. Either we should not attempt the conquest of the
habit, or we should persist till we have vanquished. The confidence,
which this sense of success will give the pupil, will probably, in his
own opinion, be thought well worthy the price. Neither his reason nor
his will was in fault; all he wanted, was strength to break the
diminutive chains of habit; chains which, it seems, have power to
enfeeble their captives exactly in proportion to the length of time
they are worn.

Every body has probably found, from their own experience, how
difficult it is to alter little habits in manners, pronunciation, &c.
Children are often teased with frequent admonitions about their habits
of sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating, speaking, &c. Parents
are early aware of the importance of agreeable, graceful manners;
every body who sees children, can judge, or think that they can judge,
of their manners; and from anxiety that children should appear to
advantage in company, parents solicitously watch all their gestures,
and correct all their attitudes according to that image of the "_beau
ideal_," which happens to be most fashionable. The most convenient and
natural attitudes are not always the most approved. The constraint
which children suffer from their obedience, obliges them at length to
rest their tortured muscles, and to throw themselves, for relief, into
attitudes the very reverse of those which they have practised with so
much pain. Hence they acquire opposite habits in their manners, and
there is a continual struggle between these. They find it impossible
to correct, instantaneously, the awkward tricks which they have
acquired, and they learn _ineffectually_ to attempt a conquest over
themselves; or else, which is most commonly the catastrophe, they
learn to hear the exhortations and rebukes of all around them, without
being stimulated to any degree of exertion.[72] The same voices which
lose their power on these trifling occasions, lose, at the same time,
much of their general influence. More _power_ is wasted upon trifling
defects in the manners of children, than can be imagined by any who
have not particularly attended to this subject. If it be thought
indispensably necessary to speak to children eternally about their
manners, this irritating and disagreeable office should devolve upon
somebody whose influence over the children we are not anxious to
preserve undiminished. A little ingenuity in contriving the dress,
writing desks, reading desks, &c. of children, who are any way
defective in their shape, might spare much of the anxiety which is
felt by their parents, and much of the bodily and mental pain which
they alternately endure themselves. For these patients, would it not
be rather more safe to consult the philosophic physician,[73] than the
dancing master who is not bound to understand either anatomy or
metaphysics?

Every preventative which is discovered for any defect, either in
manners, temper, or understanding, diminishes the necessity for
punishment. Punishments are _the abrupt, brutal resource of ignorance,
frequently_,[74] to cure the effects of former negligence. With
children who have been reasonably and affectionately educated,
scarcely any punishments are requisite. This is not an assertion
hazarded without experience; the happy experience of several years,
and of several children of different ages and tempers, justifies this
assertion. As for corporeal punishments, they may be necessary where
boys are to be _drilled_ in a given time into scholars; but the
language of blows need seldom be used to reasonable creatures. The
idea that it is disgraceful to be governed by force, should be kept
alive in the minds of children; the dread of shame is a more powerful
motive than the fear of bodily pain. To prove the truth of this, we
may recollect that few people have ever been known to destroy
themselves in order to escape from bodily pain; but numbers, to avoid
shame, have put an end to their existence. It has been a question,
whether mankind are most governed by hope or by fear, by rewards or by
punishments? This question, like many others which have occasioned
tedious debates, turns chiefly upon words. Hope and fear are sometimes
used to denote mixed, and sometimes unmixed, passions. Those who speak
of them as unmixed passions, cannot have accurately examined their own
feelings.[75] The probability of good, produces hope; the probability
of evil, excites fear; and as this probability appears less or
greater, more remote or nearer to us, the mind fluctuates between the
opposite passions. When the probability increases on either side, so
does the corresponding passion. Since these passions seldom exist in
absolute separation from one another, it appears that we cannot
philosophically speak of either as an independent motive: to the
question, therefore, "which governs mankind the most, hope or fear?"
we cannot give an explicit answer.

When we would determine upon the probability of any good or evil, we
are insensibly influenced, not only by the view of the circumstances
before us, but also by our previous habits; we judge not only by the
general laws of human events, but also by our own individual
experience. If we have been usually successful, we are inclined to
hope; have we been accustomed to misfortunes, we are hence disposed to
fear. "Cæsar and his fortune are on board," exclaimed the confident
hero to the mariners. Hope excites the mind to exertion; fear
represses all activity. As a preventative from vice, you may employ
fear; to restrain the excesses of all the furious passions, it is
useful and necessary: but would you rouse the energies of virtue, you
must inspire and invigorate the soul with hope. Courage, generosity,
industry, perseverance, all the magic of talents, all the powers of
genius, all the virtues that appear spontaneous in great minds, spring
from hope. But how different is the hope of a great and of a little
mind; not only are the objects of this hope different, but the passion
itself is raised and supported in a different manner. A feeble person,
if he presumes to hope, hopes as superstitiously as he fears; he keeps
his attention sedulously fixed upon all the probabilities in his
favour; he will not listen to any arguments in opposition to his
wishes; he knows he is unreasonable, he persists in continuing so; he
does not connect any idea of exertion with hope; his hope usually
rests upon the exertions of others, or upon some fortuitous
circumstances. A man of a strong mind, reasons before he hopes; he
takes in, at one quick, comprehensive glance, all that is to be seen
both for and against him; he is, from experience, disposed to depend
much upon his own exertions, if they can turn the balance in his
favour; he hopes, he acts, he succeeds. Poets, in all ages, have
celebrated the charms of hope; without her propitious influence, life,
they tell us, would be worse than death; without her smiles, nature
would smile in vain; without her promises, treacherous though they
often prove, reality would have nothing to give worthy of our
acceptance. We are not bound, however, to understand literally, the
rhetoric of poets. Hope is to them a beautiful and useful allegorical
personage: sometimes leaning upon an anchor; sometimes "waving her
golden hair;" always young, smiling, enchanting, furnished with a rich
assortment of epithets suited to the ode, the sonnet, the madrigal,
with a traditionary number of images and allusions; what more can a
poet desire? Men, except when they are poets, do not value hope as the
first of terrestrial blessings. The action and energies which hope
produces, are to many more agreeable than the passion itself; that
feverish state of suspense, which prevents settled thought or vigorous
exertion, far from being agreeable, is highly painful to a well
regulated mind; the continued repetition of the same ideas and the
same calculations, fatigues the mind, which, in reasoning, has been
accustomed to arrive at some certain conclusion, or to advance, at
least, a step at every effort. The exercise of the mind, in changing
the views of its object, which is supposed to be a great part of the
pleasure of hope, is soon over to an active imagination, which quickly
runs through all the possible changes; or is this exercise, even while
it lasts, so delightful to a man who has a variety of intellectual
occupations, as it frequently appears to him who knows scarcely any
other species of mental activity? The vacillating state of mind,
peculiar to hope and fear, is by no means favourable to industry; half
our time is generally consumed in speculating upon the reward, instead
of earning it, whenever the value of that reward is not _precisely
ascertainable_. In all occupations, where judgment or accurate
observation is essential, if the reward of our labour is brought
suddenly to excite our hope, there is an immediate interruption of all
effectual labour; the thoughts take a new direction; the mind becomes
tremulous, and nothing decisive can be done, till the emotions of hope
and fear either subside or are vanquished.

M. l'Abbé Chappe, who was sent by the king of France, at the desire of
the French Academy, to Siberia, to observe the transit of Venus, gives
us a striking picture of the state of his own mind when the moment of
this famous observation approached. In the description of his own
feelings, this traveller may be admitted as good authority. A few
hours before the observation, a black cloud appeared in the sky; the
idea of returning to Paris, after such a long and perilous journey,
without having seen the transit of Venus; the idea of the
disappointment to his king, to his country, to all the philosophers
in Europe; threw him into a state of agitation, "which must have been
felt to be conceived." At length the black cloud vanished; his hopes
affected him almost as much as his fears had done; he fixed his
telescope, saw the planet; his eye wandered over the immense space a
thousand times in a minute; his secretary stood on one side with his
pen in his hand; his assistant, with his eye fixed upon the watch, was
stationed on the other side. The moment of the total immersion
arrived; the agitated philosopher was seized with an universal
shivering, and could scarcely command his thoughts sufficiently to
secure the observation.

The uncertainty of reward, and the consequent agitations of hope and
fear, operate as unfavourably upon the moral as upon the intellectual
character. The favour of princes is an uncertain reward. Courtiers are
usually despicable and wretched beings; they live upon hope; but their
hope is not connected with exertion. Those who court popularity, are
not less despicable or less wretched; their reward is uncertain: what
is more uncertain than the affection of the multitude? The Proteus
character of Wharton, so admirably drawn by Pope, is a striking
picture of a man who has laboured through life with the vague _hope_
of obtaining universal applause.

Let us suppose a child to be educated by a variety of persons, all
differing in their tastes and tempers, and in their notions of right
and wrong; all having the power to reward and punish their common
pupil. What must this pupil become? A mixture of incongruous
characters; superstitious, enthusiastic, indolent, and perhaps
profligate: superstitious, because his own contradictory experience
would expose him to fear without reason; enthusiastic, because he
would, from the same cause, form absurd expectations; indolent,
because the _will_ of others has been the measure of his happiness,
and his own exertions have never procured him any certain reward;
profligate, because, probably from the confused variety of his moral
lessons, he has at last concluded that right and wrong are but
unmeaning words. Let us change the destiny of this child, by changing
his education. Place him under the sole care of a person of an
enlarged capacity, and a steady mind; who has formed just notions of
right and wrong; and who, in the distribution of reward and
punishment, of praise and blame, will be prompt, exact, invariable.
His pupil will neither be credulous, rash, nor profligate; and he
certainly will not be indolent; his habitual and his rational belief
will, in all circumstances, agree with each other; his hope will be
the prelude to exertion, and his fear will restrain him only in
situations where action is dangerous.

Even amongst children, we must frequently have observed a prodigious
difference in the quantity of hope and fear which is felt by those who
have been well or ill educated. An ill educated child, is in daily,
hourly, alternate agonies of hope and fear; the present never occupies
or interests him, but his soul is intent upon some future
gratification, which never pays him by its full possession. As soon as
he awakens in the morning, he recollects some promised blessing, and,
till the happy moment arrives, he is wretched in impatience: at
breakfast he is to be blessed with some toy, that he is to have the
moment breakfast is finished; and when he finds the toy does not
delight him, he is _to be blessed_ with a sweet pudding at dinner, or
with sitting up half an hour later at night than his usual bed-time.
Endeavour to find some occupation that shall amuse him, you will not
easily succeed, for he will still anticipate what you are going to say
or to do. "What will come next?" "What shall we do after this?" are,
as Mr. Williams, in his able lectures upon education, observes, the
questions incessantly asked by spoiled children. This species of idle,
restless curiosity, does not lead to the acquisition of knowledge, it
prevents the possibility of instruction; it is not the animation of a
healthy mind, it is the debility of an over-stimulated temper. There
is a very sensible letter in Mrs. Macaulay's book upon education, on
the impropriety of filling the imagination of young people with
prospects of future enjoyment: the foolish system of promising great
rewards, and fine presents, she clearly shows creates habitual
disorders in the minds of children.

The happiness of life depends more upon a succession of small
enjoyments, than upon great pleasures; and those who become incapable
of tasting the moderately agreeable sensations, cannot fill up the
intervals of their existence between their great delights. The
happiness of childhood peculiarly depends upon their enjoyment of
_little_ pleasures: of these they have a continual variety; they have
perpetual occupation for their senses, in observing all the objects
around them, and all their faculties may be exercised upon suitable
subjects. The pleasure of this exercise is in itself sufficient: we
need not say to a child, "Look at the wings of this beautiful
butterfly, and I will give you a piece of plum-cake; observe how the
butterfly curls his proboscis, how he dives into the honeyed flowers,
and I will take you in a coach to pay a visit with me, my dear.
Remember the pretty story you read this morning, and you shall have a
new coat." Without the new coat, or the visit, or the plum-cake, the
child would have had sufficient amusement in the story and the sight
of the butterfly's proboscis: the rewards, besides, have no natural
connection with the things themselves; and they create, where they are
most liked, a taste for factitious pleasures. Would you encourage
benevolence, generosity, or prudence, let each have its appropriate
reward of affection, esteem, and confidence;[76] but do not by
ill-judged bounties attempt to force these virtues into premature
display. The rewards which are given to benevolence and generosity in
children, frequently encourage selfishness, and sometimes teach them
cunning. Lord Kames tells us a story, which is precisely a case in
point. Two boys, the sons of the earl of Elgin, were permitted by
their father to associate with the poor boys in the neighbourhood of
their father's house. One day, the earl's sons being called to dinner,
a lad who was playing with them, said that he would wait until they
returned--"There is no dinner for me at home," said the poor boy.
"Come with us, then," said the earl's sons. The boy refused, and when
they asked him if he had any money to buy a dinner, he answered, "No."
"Papa," said the eldest of the young gentlemen when he got home, "what
was the price of the silver buckles you gave me?" "Five shillings."
"Let me have the money, and I'll give you the buckles." It was done
accordingly, says Lord Kames. The earl, inquiring privately, found
that the money was given to the lad _who had no dinner_. The buckles
were returned, and the boy was highly commended for being kind to his
companion. The commendations were just, but the buckles should not
have been returned: the boy should have been suffered steadily to
abide by his own bargain; he should have been let to feel the
pleasure, and pay the exact price of his own generosity.

If we attempt to teach children that they can be generous, without
giving up some of their own pleasures for the sake of other people, we
attempt to teach them what is false. If we once make them amends for
any sacrifice they have made, we lead them to expect the same
remuneration upon a future occasion; and then, in fact, they act with
a direct view to their own interest, and govern themselves by the
calculations of prudence, instead of following the dictates of
benevolence. It is true, that if we speak with accuracy, we must
admit, that the most benevolent and generous persons act from the hope
of receiving pleasure, and their enjoyment is more exquisite than that
of the most refined selfishness; in the language of M. de
Rochefoucault, we should therefore be forced to acknowledge, that the
most benevolent is always the most selfish person. This seeming
paradox is answered, by observing, that the epithet _selfish_ is given
to those who prefer pleasures in which other people have no share; we
change the meaning of words when we talk of its being selfish to like
the pleasures of sympathy or benevolence, because these pleasures
cannot be confined solely to the idea of self. When we say that a
person pursues his own interest more by being generous than by being
covetous, we take into the account the general sum of his agreeable
feelings; we do not balance prudentially his loss or gain upon
particular occasions. The generous man may himself be convinced, that
the sum of his happiness is more increased by the feelings of
benevolence, than it could be by the gratification of avarice; but,
though his understanding may perceive the demonstration of this moral
theorem, though it is the remote principle of his whole conduct, it
does not occur to his memory in the form of a prudential aphorism,
whenever he is going to do a generous action. It is essential to our
ideas of generosity, that no such reasoning should, at that moment,
pass in his mind; we know that the feelings of generosity are
associated with a number of enthusiastic ideas; we can sympathize with
the virtuous insanity of the man who forgets himself whilst he thinks
of others; we do not so readily sympathize with the cold strength of
mind of the person, who, deliberately preferring _the greatest
possible share of happiness_, is benevolent by rule and measure.

Whether we are just or not, in refusing our sympathy to the man of
reason, and in giving our spontaneous approbation to the man of
enthusiasm, we shall not here examine. But the reasonable man, who has
been convinced of this propensity in human nature, will take it into
his calculations; he will perceive, that he loses, in losing the
pleasure of sympathy, part of the sum total of his possible happiness;
he will consequently wish, that he could add this item of pleasure to
the credit side of his account. This, however, he cannot accomplish,
because, though he can by reason correct his calculations, it is not
in the power, even of the most potent reason, suddenly to break
habitual associations; much less is it in the power of cool reason to
conjure up warm enthusiasm. Yet in this case, enthusiasm _is the thing
required_.

What the man of reason cannot do for himself after his associations
are strongly formed, might have been easily accomplished in his early
education. He might have been taught the same general principles, but
with different habits. By early associating the pleasures of sympathy,
and praise, and affection with all generous and benevolent actions,
his parents might have joined these ideas so forcibly in his mind,
that the one set of ideas should never recur without the other.
Whenever the words benevolence or generosity were pronounced, the
feelings of habitual pleasure would recur; and he would, independently
of reason, desire from association to be generous. When enthusiasm is
fairly justified by reason, we have nothing to fear from her
vehemence.

In rewarding children for the prudential virtues, such as order,
cleanliness, economy, temperance, &c. we should endeavour to make the
rewards the immediate consequence of the virtues themselves; and at
the same time, approbation should be shown in speaking of these useful
qualities. A gradation must, however, always be observed in our
praises of different virtues; those that are the most useful to
society, as truth, justice and humanity, must stand the highest in the
scale; those that are most agreeable, claim the next place. Those good
qualities, which must wait a considerable time for their reward, such
as perseverance, prudence, &c. we must not expect early from young
people. Till they have had experience, how can they form any idea
about the future? Till they have been punctually rewarded for their
industry, or for their prudence, they do not feel the value of
prudence and perseverance. Time is necessary to all these lessons, and
those who leave time out in their calculations, will always be
disappointed in whatever plan of education they may pursue.

Many, to whom the subject is familiar, will be fatigued, probably, by
the detailed manner in which it has been thought necessary to explain
the principles by which we should guide ourselves in the distribution
of rewards and punishments to children. Those who quickly seize, and
apply, general ideas, cannot endure, with patience, the tedious
minuteness of didactic illustration. Those who are actually engaged in
_practical education_, will not, on the contrary, be satisfied with
general precepts; and, however plausible any theory may appear, they
are well aware that its utility must depend upon a variety of small
circumstances, to which writers of theories often neglect to advert.
At the hazard of being thought tedious, those must be minute in
explanation who desire to be generally useful. An old French
writer,[77] more remarkable for originality of thought, than for the
graces of style, was once reproached _by a friend_ with the frequent
repetitions which were to be found in his works. "Name them to me,"
said the author. The critic, with obliging precision, mentioned all
the ideas which had most frequently recurred in the book. "I am
satisfied," replied the honest author; "you remember my ideas; I
repeated them so often to prevent you from forgetting them. Without my
repetitions, we should never have succeeded."

FOOTNOTES:

[61] V. The Inquirer, p. 101.

[62] Beccaria, Voltaire, Blackstone, &c.

[63] See Cox's Travels, vol. ii. 189.

[64] See Beccaria, Blackstone, Colquhoun.

[65] Mezentius. _Virgil._

[66] V. An Enquiry into the Principles of Taxation, p. 37, published
in 1790.

[67] Colquhoun. On the Police of the Metropolis.

[68] V. The grand instructions to the commissioners appointed to frame
a new code of laws for the Russian empire, p. 183, said to be drawn up
by the late Lord Mansfield.

[69] V. Dr. Priestley's Miscellaneous Observations relating to
Education, sect. vii. of correction, p. 67.

[70] V. Code of Russian Laws

[71] Colquhoun.

[72] See the judicious Locke's observations upon the subject of
_manners_, section 67 of his valuable Treatise on Education.

[73] See vol. ii. of Zoonomia.

[74] We believe this is Williams's idea.

[75] Hume's Dissertation on the Passions.

[76] See Locke, and an excellent little essay of Madame de Lambert's.

[77] The Abbe St. Pierre. See his Eloge by D'Alembert.



CHAPTER X.

ON SYMPATHY AND SENSIBILITY.


The artless expressions of sympathy and sensibility in children, are
peculiarly pleasing; people who, in their commerce with the world,
have been disgusted and deceived by falsehood and affectation, listen
with delight to the genuine language of nature. Those who have any
interest in the education of children, have yet a higher sense of
pleasure in observing symptoms of their sensibility; they anticipate
the future virtues which early sensibility seems certainly to promise;
the future happiness which these virtues will diffuse. Nor are they
unsupported by philosophy in these sanguine hopes. No theory was ever
developed with more ingenious elegance, than that which deduces all
our moral sentiments from sympathy. The direct influence of sympathy
upon all social beings, is sufficiently obvious, and we immediately
perceive its necessary connection with compassion, friendship, and
benevolence; but the subject becomes more intricate when we are to
analyse our sense of propriety and justice; of merit and demerit; of
gratitude and resentment; self-complacency or remorse; ambition and
shame.[78]

We allow, without hesitation, that a being destitute of sympathy,
could never have any of these feelings, and must, consequently, be
incapable of all intercourse with society; yet we must at the same
time perceive, that a being endowed with the most exquisite sympathy,
must, without the assistance and education of reason, be, if not
equally incapable of social intercourse, far more dangerous to the
happiness of society. A person governed by sympathy alone, must be
influenced by the bad as well as by the good passions of others; he
must feel resentment with the angry man; hatred with the malevolent;
jealousy with the jealous; and avarice with the miser: the more lively
his sympathy with these painful feelings, the greater must be his
misery; the more forcibly he is impelled to action by this sympathetic
influence, the greater, probably, must be his imprudence and his
guilt. Let us even suppose a being capable of sympathy only with the
best feelings of his fellow-creatures, still, without the direction of
reason, he would be a nuisance in the world; his pity would stop the
hand, and overturn the balance of justice; his love would be as
dangerous as his pity; his gratitude would exalt his benefactor at the
expense of the whole human race; his sympathy with the rich, the
prosperous, the great, and the fortunate, would be so sudden, and so
violent, as to leave him no time for reflection upon the consequences
of tyranny, or the miseries occasioned by monopoly. No time for
reflection, did we say? We forgot that we were speaking of a being
destitute of the reasoning faculty! Such a being, no matter what his
virtuous sympathies might be, must act either like a madman or a fool.
On sympathy we cannot depend, either for the correctness of a man's
moral sentiments, or for the steadiness of his moral conduct. It is
very common to talk of the excellence of a person's heart, of the
natural goodness of his disposition; when these expressions distinctly
mean any thing, they must refer to natural sympathy, or a superior
degree of sensibility. Experience, however, does not teach us, that
sensibility and virtue have any certain connection with each other. No
one can read the works of Sterne, or of Rousseau, without believing
these men to have been endowed with extraordinary sensibility; yet,
who would propose their conduct in life as a model for imitation? That
quickness of sympathy with present objects of distress, which
constitutes compassion, is usually thought a virtue, but it is a
virtue frequently found in persons of an abandoned character.
Mandeville, in his essay upon Charity Schools, puts this in a strong
light.

"Should any one of us," says he, "be locked up in a ground room,
where, in a yard joining to it, there was a thriving good humoured
child at play, of two or three years old, so near us, that through the
grates of the window we could almost touch it with our hands; and if,
whilst we took delight in the harmless diversion, and imperfect
prattle, of the innocent babe, a nasty overgrown sow should come in
upon the child, set it a screaming, and frighten it out of its wits;
it is natural to think that this would make us uneasy, and that with
crying out, and making all the menacing noise we could, we should
endeavour to drive the sow away--But if this should happen to be an
half-starved creature, that, mad with hunger, went roaming about in
quest of food, and we should behold the ravenous brute, in spite of
our cries, and all the threatening gestures we could think of,
actually lay hold of the helpless infant, destroy, and devour it;--to
see her widely open her destructive jaws, and the poor lamb beat down
with greedy haste; to look on the defenceless posture of tender limbs
first trampled upon, then torn asunder; to see the filthy snout
digging in the yet living entrails, suck up the smoking blood, and now
and then to hear the crackling of the bones, and the cruel animal
grunt with savage pleasure over the horrid banquet; to hear and see
all this, what torture would it give the soul beyond expression!******
Not only a man of humanity, of good morals, and commiseration, but
likewise an highwayman, an house-breaker, or a murderer, could feel
anxieties on such an occasion."

Amongst those monsters, who are pointed out by the historian to the
just detestation of all mankind, we meet with instances of casual
sympathy and sensibility; even their vices frequently prove to us,
that they never became utterly indifferent to the opinion and feelings
of their fellow-creatures. The dissimulation, jealousy, suspicion,
and cruelty of Tiberius, originated, perhaps, more in his anxiety
about the opinions which were formed of his character, than in his
fears of any conspiracies against his life. The _"judge within," the
habit of viewing his own conduct in the light in which it was beheld
by the impartial spectator_, prompted him to new crimes; and thus his
unextinguished sympathy, and his exasperated sensibility, drove him to
excesses, from which a more torpid temperament might have preserved
him.[79] When, upon his presenting the sons of Germanicus to the
senate, Tiberius beheld the tenderness with which these young men were
received, he was moved to such an agony of jealousy, as instantly to
beseech the senate that he might resign the empire. We cannot
attribute either to policy or fear, this strong emotion, because we
know that the senate was at this time absolutely at the disposal of
Tiberius, and the lives of the sons of Germanicus depended upon his
pleasure.

The desire to excel, according to "Smith's Theory of Moral
Sentiments," is to be resolved principally into our love of the
sympathy of our fellow-creatures. We wish for their sympathy, either
in our success, or in the pleasure we feel in superiority. The desire
for this refined modification of sympathy, may be the motive of good
and great actions; but it cannot be trusted as a moral principle.
Nero's love of sympathy, made him anxious to be applauded on the stage
as a fiddler and a buffoon. Tiberius banished one of his philosophic
courtiers, and persecuted him till the unfortunate man laid violent
hands upon himself, merely because he had discovered that the emperour
read books in the morning to prepare himself with questions for his
literary society at night. Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, sued in
the most abject manner for an Olympic crown, and sent a critic to the
galleys for finding fault with his verses. Had not these men a
sufficient degree of sensibility to praise, and more than a
sufficient desire for the sympathy of their fellow-creatures?

It is not from any perverse love of sophistry, that the word
sensibility has been used in these instances instead of
_irritability_, which seems better to characterize the temper of a
Dionysius, or a Tiberius; but, in fact, irritability, in common
language, merely denotes an excessive or ill governed degree of
sensibility. The point of excess must be marked: sympathy must be
regulated by education, and consequently the methods of directing
sensibility to useful and amiable purposes, must be anxiously studied
by all who wish either for the happiness or virtue of their pupils.

Long before children can understand reasoning, they can feel sympathy;
during this early period of their education, example and habit, slight
external circumstances, and the propensity to imitation, govern their
thoughts and actions. Imitation is the involuntary effect of sympathy
in children; hence those who have the most sympathy, are most liable
to be improved or injured by early examples. Examples of the
malevolent passions, should therefore be most carefully excluded from
the sight of those who have yet no choice in their sympathy;
expressions of kindness and affection in the countenance, the voice,
the actions, of all who approach, and of all who have the care of
infants, are not only immediately and evidently agreeable to the
children, but ought also to be used as the best possible means of
exciting benevolent sympathies in their mind. Children, who habitually
meet with kindness, habitually feel complacency; that species of
instinctive, or rather of associated affection, which always rises in
the mind from the recollection of past pleasures, is immediately
excited in such children by the sight of their parents. By an easy
transition of ideas, they expect the same benevolence, even from
strangers, which they have experienced from their friends, and their
sympathy naturally prepares them to wish for society; this wish is
often improperly indulged.

At the age when children begin to unfold their ideas, and to express
their thoughts in words, they are such interesting and entertaining
companions, that they attract a large portion of our daily attention:
we listen eagerly to their simple observations; we enter into their
young astonishment at every new object; we are delighted to watch all
their emotions; we help them with words to express their ideas; we
anxiously endeavour to understand their imperfect reasonings, and are
pleased to find, or put them in the right. This season of universal
smiles and courtesy, is delightful to children whilst it lasts, but it
soon passes away; they soon speak without exciting any astonishment,
and instead of meeting with admiration for every attempt to express an
idea, they are soon repulsed for troublesome volubility; even when
they talk sense, they are suffered to talk unheard, or else they are
checked for unbecoming presumption. Children feel this change in
public opinion and manners most severely; they are not sensible of any
change in themselves, except, perhaps, they are conscious of having
improved both in sense and language. This unmerited loss of their late
gratuitous allowance of sympathy, usually operates unfavourably upon
the temper of the sufferers; they become shy and silent, and reserved,
if not sullen; they withdraw from our capricious society, and they
endeavour to console themselves with other pleasures. It is difficult
to them to feel contented with their own little occupations and
amusements, for want of the spectators and the audience which used to
be at their command. Children of a timid temper, or of an indolent
disposition, are quite dispirited and bereft of all energy in these
circumstances; others, with greater vivacity, and more voluntary
exertion, endeavour to supply the loss of universal sympathy, by the
invention of independent occupations; but they feel anger and
indignation, when they are not rewarded with any smiles or any praise
for their "virtuous toil." They naturally seek for new companions,
either amongst children of their own age, or amongst complaisant
servants. Immediately all the business of education is at a stand; for
neither these servants, nor these playfellows, are capable of becoming
their instructers; nor can tutors hope to succeed, who have
transferred their power over the pleasures, and consequently over the
affections of their pupils. Sympathy now becomes the declared enemy of
all the constituted authorities. What chance is there of obedience or
of happiness, under such a government?

Would it not be more prudent to prevent, than to complain of these
evils? Sympathy is our first, best friend, in education, and by
judicious management, might long continue our faithful ally.

Instead of lavishing our smiles and our attention upon young children
for a short period, just at that age when they are amusing playthings,
should we not do more wisely if we reserved some portion of our
kindness a few years longer? By a proper _economy_, our sympathy may
last for many years, and may continually contribute to the most useful
purposes. Instead of accustoming our pupils early to such a degree of
our attention as cannot be supported long on our parts, we should
rather suffer them to feel a little ennui, at that age when they can
have but few independent or useful occupations. We should employ
ourselves in our usual manner, and converse, without allowing children
to interrupt us with frivolous prattle; but whenever they ask sensible
questions, make just observations, or show a disposition to acquire
knowledge, we should assist and encourage them with praise and
affection; gradually as they become capable of taking any part in
conversation, they should be admitted into society, and they will
learn of themselves, or we may teach them, that useful and agreeable
qualities are those by which they must secure the pleasures of
sympathy. Esteem, being associated with sympathy, will increase its
value, and this connection should be made as soon, and kept as sacred,
in the mind as possible.

With respect to the sympathy which children feel for each other, it
must be carefully managed, or it will counteract, instead of assisting
us, in education. It is natural, that those who are placed nearly in
the same circumstances, should feel alike, and sympathize with one
another; but children feel only for the present; they have few ideas
of the future; and consequently all that they can desire, either for
themselves, or for their companions, is what will _immediately_
please. Education looks to the future, and frequently we must ensure
future advantage, even at the expense of present pain or restraint.
The companion and the tutor then, supposing each to be equally good
and equally kind, must command, in a very different degree, the
sympathy of the child. It may, notwithstanding, be questioned, whether
those who are constant companions in their idle hours, when they are
_very_ young, are likely to be either as fond of one another when they
grow up, or even as happy whilst they are children, as those are who
spend less time together. Whenever the humours, interests, and
passions of others cross our own, there is an end of sympathy, and
this happens almost every hour in the day with children; it is
generally supposed, that they learn to live in friendship with each
other, and to bear with one another's little faults habitually; that
they even reciprocally cure these faults, and learn, by experience,
those principles of honour and justice on which society depends. We
may be deceived in this reasoning by a false analogy.

We call the society of children, _society in miniature_; the
proportions of the miniature are so much altered, that it is by no
means an accurate resemblance of that which exists in the _civilized_
world. Amongst children of different ages, strength, and talents,
there must always be tyranny, injustice, and that worst species of
inequality, which arises from superior force on the one side, and
abject timidity on the other. Of this, the spectators of juvenile
disputes and quarrels are sometimes sensible, and they hastily
interfere and endeavour to part the combatants, by pronouncing certain
moral sentences, such as, "Good boys never quarrel; brothers must
love and help one another." But these sentences seldom operate as a
charm upon the angry passions; the parties concerned, hearing it
asserted that they must love one another, at the very instant when
they happen to feel that they cannot, are still further exasperated,
and they stand at bay, sullen in hatred, or approach hypocritical in
reconciliation. It is more easy to prevent occasions of dispute, than
to remedy the bad consequences which petty altercations produce. Young
children should be kept asunder at all times, and in all situations,
in which it is necessary, or probable, that their appetites and
passions should be in direct competition. Two hungry children, with
their eager eyes fixed upon one and the same bason of bread and milk,
do not sympathize with each other, though they have the same
sensations; each perceives, that if the other eats the bread and milk,
he cannot eat it. Hunger is more powerful than sympathy; but satisfy
the hunger of one of the parties, and immediately he will begin to
feel for his companion, and will wish that _his_ hunger should also be
satisfied. Even Mr. Barnet, the epicure, who is so well described in
Moore's excellent novel,[80] _after_ he has crammed himself to the
throat, asks his wife to "try to eat a bit." Intelligent preceptors
will apply the instance of the bason of bread and milk, in a variety
of apparently dissimilar circumstances.

We may observe, that the more quickly children reason, the sooner they
discover how far their interests are any ways incompatible with the
interests of their companions. The more readily a boy calculates, the
sooner he will perceive, that if he were to share his bason of bread
and milk equally with a dozen of his companions, his own portion must
be small. The accuracy of his mental division would prevent him from
offering to part with that share which, perhaps, a more ignorant
accountant would be ready to surrender at once, without being on that
account more generous. Children, who are accurate observers of the
countenance, and who have a superior degree of penetration, discover
very early the symptoms of displeasure, or of affection, in their
friends; they also perceive quickly the dangers of rivalship from
their companions. If experience convinces them, that they must lose in
proportion as their companions gain, either in fame or in favour, they
will necessarily dislike them as rivals; their hatred will be as
vehement, as their love of praise and affection is ardent. Thus
children, who have the most lively sympathy, are, unless they be
judiciously educated, the most in danger of feeling early the
malevolent passions of jealousy and envy. It is inhuman, and in every
point of view unjustifiable in us, to excite these painful feelings in
children, as we too often do, by the careless or partial distribution
of affection and applause. Exact justice will best prevent jealousy;
each individual submits to justice, because each, in turn, feels the
benefit of its protection. Some preceptors, with benevolent
intentions, labour to preserve a perfect equality amongst their
pupils, and, from the fear of exciting envy in those who are inferior,
avoid uttering any encomiums upon superior talents and merit. This
management seldom succeeds; the truth cannot be concealed; those who
feel their own superiority, make painful reflections upon the
injustice done to them by the policy of their tutors; those who are
sensible of their own inferiority, are not comforted by the courtesy
and humiliating forbearance with which they are treated. It is,
therefore, best to speak the plain truth; to give to all their due
share of affection and applause: at the same time, we should avoid
blaming one child at the moment when we praise another: we should
never put our pupils in contrast with one another; nor yet should we
deceive them as to their respective excellences and defects. Our
comparison should rather be made between what the pupil _has been_,
and what he _is_, than between what he _is_, and what any body else
_is not_.[81] By this style of praise we may induce children to become
emulous of their former selves, instead of being envious of their
competitors. Without deceit or affectation, we may also take care to
associate general pleasure in a family with particular commendations:
thus, if one boy is remarkable for prudence, and another for
generosity, we should not praise the generosity of the one at the
expense of the prudence of the other, but we should give to each
virtue its just measure of applause. If one girl sings, and another
draws, remarkably well, we may show that we are pleased with both
agreeable accomplishments, without bringing them into comparison. Nor
is it necessary that we should be in a desperate hurry to balance the
separate degrees of praise which we distribute exactly at the same
moment, because if children are sure that the reward of their industry
and ingenuity is secured by our justice, they will trust to us, though
that reward may be for a few hours delayed. It is only where workmen
have no confidence in the integrity or punctuality of their masters,
that they are impatient of any accidental delay in the payment of
their wages.

With the precautions which have been mentioned, we may hope to see
children grow up in real friendship together. The whole sum of their
pleasure is much increased by mutual sympathy. This happy moral truth,
upon which so many of our virtues depend, should be impressed upon the
mind; it should be clearly demonstrated to the reason; it should not
be repeated as an a priori, sentimental assertion.

Those who have observed the sudden, violent, and surprising effects of
emulation in public schools, will regret the want of this _power_ in
the intellectual education of their pupils at home. Even the
acquisition of talents and knowledge ought, however, to be but a
secondary consideration, subordinate to the general happiness of our
pupils. If we _could_ have superior knowledge, upon condition that we
should have a malevolent disposition, and an irritable temper, should
we, setting every other moral consideration aside, be willing to make
the purchase at such a price? Let any person, desirous to see a
striking picture of the effects of scholastic competition upon the
moral character, look at the life of that wonder of his age, the
celebrated Abeillard. As the taste and manners of the present times
are so different from those of the age in which he lived, we see,
without any species of deception, the real value of the learning in
which he excelled, and we can judge both of his acquirements, and of
his character, without prejudice. We see him goaded on by rivalship,
and literary ambition, to astonishing exertions at one time; at
another, torpid in monkish indolence: at one time, we see him
intoxicated with adulation; at another, listless, desponding, abject,
incapable of maintaining his own self-approbation without the
suffrages of those whom he despised. If his biographer[82] does him
justice, a more selfish, irritable, contemptible, miserable being,
than the learned Abeillard, could scarcely exist.

A philosopher,[83] who, if we might judge of him by the benignity of
his writings, was surely of a most amiable and happy temper, has yet
left us a melancholy and discouraging history of the unsociable
condition of men of superior knowledge and abilities. He supposes that
those who have devoted much time to the cultivation of their
understandings, have habitually less sympathy, or less exercise for
their sympathy, than those who live less abstracted from the world;
that, consequently, "all their social, and all their public
affections, lose their natural warmth and vigour," whilst their
selfish passions are cherished and strengthened, being kept in
constant play by literary rivalship. It is to be hoped, that there
are men of the most extensive learning and genius, now living, who
could, from their own experience, assure us that those are obsolete
observations, no longer applicable to modern human nature. At all
events, we, who refer so much to education, are hopefully of opinion,
that education can prevent these evils, in common with _almost_ all
the other evils of life. It would be an errour, fatal to all
improvement, to believe that the cultivation of the understanding,
impedes the exercise of the social affections. Obviously, a man, who
secludes himself from the world, and whose whole life is occupied with
abstract studies, cannot enjoy any pleasure from his social
affections; his admiration of the dead, is so constant, that he has no
time to feel any sympathy with the living. An individual, of this
ruminating species, is humorously delineated in Mrs. D'Arblay's
Camilla. Men, who are compelled to unrelenting labour, whether by
avarice, or by literary ambition, are equally to be pitied. They are
not models for imitation; they sacrifice their happiness to some
strong passion or interest. Without this ascetic abstinence from the
domestic and social pleasures of life, surely persons may cultivate
their understandings, and acquire, even by mixing with their
fellow-creatures, a variety of useful knowledge.

An ingenious theory[84] supposes the exercise of any of our faculties,
is always attended with pleasure, which lasts as long as that exercise
can be continued without fatigue. This pleasure, arising from the due
exercise of our mental powers, the author of this theory maintains to
be the foundation of our most agreeable sentiments. If there be any
truth in these ideas, of how many agreeable sentiments must a man of
sense be capable! The pleasures of society must to him increase in an
almost incalculable proportion; because, in conversation, his
faculties can never want subjects on which they may be amply
exercised. The dearth of conversation, which every body may have felt
in certain company, is always attended with mournful countenances, and
every symptom of ennui. Indeed, without the pleasures of conversation,
society is reduced to meetings of people, who assemble to eat and
drink, to show their fine clothes, to weary and to hate one another.
The sympathy of bon vivants is, it must be acknowleged, very lively
and sincere towards each other; but this can last only during the hour
of dinner, unless they revive, and prolong, by the powers of
imagination, the memory of the feast. Some foreign traveller[85] tells
us, that "every year, at Naples, an officer of the police goes through
the city, attended by a trumpeter, who proclaims in all the squares
and cross-ways, how many thousand oxen, calves, lambs, hogs, &c. the
Neapolitans have had the honour of eating in the course of the year."
The people all listen with extreme attention to this proclamation, and
are immoderately delighted at the huge amount.

A degree, and scarcely one degree, above the brute sympathy of good
eaters, is that gregarious propensity which is sometimes honoured with
the name of sociability. The current sympathy, or appearance of
sympathy, which is to be found amongst the idle and frivolous in
fashionable life, is wholly unconnected with even the idea of esteem.
It is therefore pernicious to all who partake of it; it excites to no
great exertions; it rewards neither useful nor amiable qualities: on
the contrary, it is to be obtained by vice, rather than by virtue; by
folly much more readily than by wisdom. It is the mere follower of
fashion, and of dissipation, and it keeps those in humour and
countenance, who ought to hear the voice of public reproach, and who
might be roused by the fear of disgrace, or the feelings of shame, to
exertions which should justly entitle them to the approbation and
affection of honourable friends.

Young people, who are early in life content with this _convivial_
sympathy, may, in the common phrase, become _very good, pleasant
companions_; but there is little chance that they should ever become
any thing more, and there is great danger that they may be led into
any degree of folly, extravagance, or vice, to which fashion and the
voice of numbers invite. It sometimes happens, that men of superior
abilities, have such an indiscriminate love of applause and sympathy,
that they reduce themselves to the standard of all their casual
companions, and vary their objects of ambition with the opinion of the
silly people with whom they chance to associate. In public life, party
spirit becomes the ruling principle of men of this character; in
private life, they are addicted to clubs, and associations of all
sorts, in which the contagion of sympathy has a power which the sober
influence of reason seldom ventures to correct. The waste of talents,
and the total loss of principle, to which this indiscriminate love of
sympathy leads, should warn us to guard against its influence by early
education. The gregarious propensity in childhood, should not be
indulged without precautions: unless their companions are well
educated, we can never be reasonably secure of the conduct or
happiness of our pupils: from sympathy, they catch all the wishes,
tastes, and ideas of those with whom they associate; and what is still
worse, they acquire the dangerous habits of resting upon the support,
and of wanting the stimulus of numbers. It is, surely, far more
prudent to let children feel a little ennui, from the want of
occupation and of company, than to purchase for them the juvenile
pleasures of society at the expense of their future happiness.
Childhood, as a part of our existence, ought to have as great a share
of happiness as it can enjoy compatibly with the advantage of the
other seasons of life. By this principle, we should be guided in all
which we allow, and in all which we refuse, to children; by this rule,
we may avoid unnecessary severity, and pernicious indulgence.

As young people gradually acquire knowledge, they will learn to
_converse_, and when they have the habits of conversing rationally,
they will not desire companions who can only chatter. They will prefer
the company of friends, who can sympathize in their occupations, to
the presence of ignorant idlers, who can fill up the void of ideas
with nonsense and noise. Some people have a notion that the
understanding and the _heart_ are not to be educated at the same time;
but the very reverse of this is, perhaps, true; neither can be brought
to any perfection, unless both are cultivated together.

We should not, therefore, expect premature virtues. During childhood,
there occur but few opportunities of exerting the virtues which are
recommended in books, such as humanity and generosity.

The _humanity_ of children cannot, perhaps, properly be said to be
exercised upon animals; they are frequently extremely fond of animals,
but they are not always equable in their fondness; they sometimes
treat their favourites with that caprice which favourites are doomed
to experience; this caprice degenerates into cruelty, if it is
resented by the sufferer. We must not depend merely upon the natural
feelings of compassion, as preservatives against cruelty; the
_instinctive_ feelings of compassion, are strong amongst uneducated
people; yet these do not restrain them from acts of cruelty. They take
delight, it has been often observed, in all tragical, sanguinary
spectacles, because these excite emotion, and relieve them from the
listless state in which their days usually pass. It is the same with
all persons, in all ranks of life, whose minds are uncultivated.[86]
Until young people have fixed _habits_ of benevolence, and a taste for
occupation, perhaps it is not prudent to trust them with the care or
protection of animals. Even when they are enthusiastically fond of
them, they cannot, by their utmost ingenuity, make the animal so happy
in a state of captivity, as they would be in a state of liberty. They
are apt to insist upon doing animals good against their will, and
they are often unjust in the defence of their favourites. A boy of
seven years old, once knocked down his sister, to prevent her crushing
his caterpillar.[87]

Children should not be taught to confine their benevolence to those
animals which are thought beautiful; the fear and disgust which we
express at the sight of certain unfortunate animals, whom we are
pleased to call ugly and shocking, are observed by children, and these
associations lead to cruelty. If we do not prejudice our pupils by
foolish exclamations; if they do not, from sympathy, catch our absurd
antipathies, their benevolence towards the animal world, will not be
illiberally confined to favourite lap-dogs and singing-birds. From
association, most people think that frogs are ugly animals. L----, a
boy between five and six years old, once begged his mother to come out
to look at a _beautiful_ animal which he had just found; she was
rather surprised to find that this beautiful creature was a frog.

If children never see others torment animals, they will not think that
cruelty can be an amusement; but they may be provoked to revenge the
pain which is inflicted upon them; and therefore we should take care
not to put children in situations where they are liable to be hurt or
terrified by animals. Could we possibly expect, that Gulliver should
love the Brobdignagian wasp that buzzed round his cake, and prevented
him from eating his breakfast? Could we expect that Gulliver should be
ever reconciled to the rat against whom he was obliged to draw his
sword? Many animals are, to children, what the wasp and the rat were
to Gulliver. Put bodily fear out of the case, it required all uncle
Toby's benevolence to bear the buzzing of a gnat while he was eating
his dinner. Children, even when they have no cause to be afraid of
animals, are sometimes in situations to be provoked by them; and the
nice casuist will find it difficult to do strict justice upon the
offended and the offenders.

October 2, 1796. S----, nine years old, took care of his brother
H----'s hot-bed for some time, when H---- was absent from home. He was
extremely anxious about his charge; he took one of his sisters to look
at the hot-bed, showed her a hole where the mice came in, and
expressed great hatred against the whole race. He the same day asked
his mother for a bait for the mouse-trap; his mother refused to give
him one, telling him that she did not wish he should learn to kill
animals. How good nature sometimes leads to the opposite feeling!
S----'s love for his brother's cucumbers made him _imagine_ and
compass the death of the mice. Children should be protected against
animals, which we do not wish that they should hate; if cats scratch
them, and dogs bite them, and mice devour the fruits of their
industry, children must consider these animals as enemies; they cannot
love them, and they may learn the habit of revenge, from being exposed
to their insults and depredations. Pythagoras himself would have
insisted upon his exclusive right to the vegetables on which he was to
subsist, especially if he had raised them by his own care and
industry. Buffon,[88] notwithstanding all his benevolent philosophy,
can scarcely speak with patience of his enemies the field mice; who,
when he was trying experiments upon the culture of forest trees,
tormented him perpetually by their insatiable love of acorns. "_I was
terrified_," says he, "at the discovery of half a bushel, and often a
whole bushel, of acorns in each of the holes inhabited by these little
animals; they had collected these acorns for their winter provision."
The philosopher gave orders immediately for the erection of a great
number of traps, and snares baited with broiled nuts; in less than
three weeks nearly three hundred field mice were killed _or taken
prisoners_. Mankind are obliged to carry on a defensive war with the
animal world. "Eat or be eaten," says Dr. Darwin, is the great law of
nature. It is fortunate for us that there are butchers by profession
in the world, and rat-catchers, and cats, otherwise our habits of
benevolence and sympathy would be utterly destroyed. Children, though
they must perceive the necessity for destroying certain animals need
not be themselves executioners; they should not conquer the natural
repugnance to the sight of the struggles of pain, and the convulsions
of death; their aversion of being the cause of pain should be
preserved, both by principle and habit. Those who have not been
habituated to the bloody form of cruelty, can never fix their eye upon
her without shuddering; even those to whom she may have, in some
instances, been early familiarized, recoil from her appearance in any
shape to which they have not been accustomed. At one of the
magnificent shows with which Pompey[89] entertained the Roman people
for five days successively, the populace enjoyed the death of wild
beasts; five hundred lions were killed; but, on the last day, when
twenty elephants were put to death, the people, unused to the sight,
and moved by the lamentable howlings of these animals, were seized
with sudden compassion; they execrated Pompey himself for being the
author of so much cruelty.

Charity for the poor, is often inculcated in books for children; but
how is this virtue to be actually brought into practice in childhood?
Without proper objects of charity are selected by the parents,
children have no opportunities of discovering them; they have not
sufficient knowledge of the world to distinguish truth from falsehood
in the complaints of the distressed: nor have they sufficiently
enlarged views to discern the best means of doing good to their
fellow-creatures. They may give away money to the poor, but they do
not always feel the value of what they give: they give counters:
supplied with all the necessaries and luxuries of life, they have no
use for money; they feel no privation; they make no sacrifice in
giving money away, or at least, none worthy to be extolled as heroic.
When children grow up, they learn the value of money; their generosity
will then cost them rather more effort, and yet can be rewarded only
with the same expressions of gratitude, with the same blessings from
the beggar, or the same applause from the spectator.

Let us put charity out of the question, and suppose that the
generosity of children is displayed in making presents to their
companions, still there are difficulties. These presents are usually
baubles, which at the best can encourage only a frivolous taste. But
we must further consider, that even generous children are apt to
expect generosity equal to their own from their companions; then come
tacit or explicit comparisons of the value or elegance of their
respective gifts; the difficult rules of exchange and barter are to be
learned; and nice calculations of _Tare and Tret_ are entered into by
the repentant borrowers and lenders. A sentimental, two often ends in
a commercial intercourse; and those who begin with the most munificent
dispositions, sometimes end with selfish discontent, low cunning, or
disgusting ostentation. Whoever has carefully attended to young makers
of presents, and makers of bargains, will not think this account of
them much exaggerated.

"Then what is to be done? How are the social affections to be
developed? How is the sensibility of children to be tried? How is the
young heart to display its most amiable feelings?" a sentimental
preceptress will impatiently inquire.

The amiable feelings of the heart need not be displayed; they may be
sufficiently exercised without the stimulus either of our eloquence or
our applause. In madame de Silleri's account of the education of the
children of the duke of Orleans, there appears rather too much
sentimental artifice and management. When the Duchess of Orleans was
ill, the children were instructed to write "charming notes" from day
to day, and from hour to hour, to inquire how she did. Once when a
servant was going from Saint Leu to Paris, madame de Silleri asked her
pupils if they had any commissions; the little duke de Chartres says
yes, and gave a message about a bird-cage, but he did not recollect to
write to his mother, till somebody whispered to him that he had
forgotten it. Madame de Silleri calls this childish forgetfulness a
"heinous offence;" but was not it very natural, that the boy should
think of his bird cage? and what mother would wish that her children
should have it put into their head, to inquire after her health in the
complimentary style? Another time, madame de Silleri is displeased
with her pupils, because they did not show sufficient sympathy and
concern for her when she had a headache or sore throat. The exact
number of messages which, consistently with the strict duties of
friendship, they ought to have sent, are upon another occasion
prescribed.

"I had yesterday afternoon a violent attack of the colic, and you
discovered the greatest sensibility. By the journal of M. le Brun, I
find it was the duke de Montpensier who thought this morning of
writing to inquire how I did. You left me yesterday in a very calm
state, and there was no reason for anxiety; but, consistently with the
strict duties of friendship, you ought to have given orders before you
went to bed, for inquiries to be made at eight o'clock in the morning,
to know whether I had had any return of my complaint during the night;
and you should again have sent at ten, to learn from myself, the
instant I awoke, the exact state of my health. Such are the benevolent
and tender cares which a lively and sincere friendship dictates. You
must accustom yourselves to the observance of them, if you wish to be
beloved."

Another day madame de Silleri told the duke de Chartres, that he had a
very idiotic appearance, because, when he went to see his mother, his
attention was taken up by two paroquets which happened to be in the
room. All these reproaches and documents could not, we should
apprehend, tend to increase the real sensibility and affection of
children. Gratitude is one of the most certain, but one of the latest,
rewards, which preceptors and parents should expect from their pupils.
Those who are too impatient to wait for the gradual development of the
affections, will obtain from their children, instead of warm, genuine,
enlightened gratitude, nothing but the expression of cold,
constrained, stupid hypocrisy. During the process of education, a
child cannot perceive its ultimate end; how can he judge whether the
means employed by his parents, are well adapted to effect their
purposes? Moments of restraint and of privation, or, perhaps, of
positive pain, must be endured by children under the mildest system of
education: they must, therefore, perceive, that their parents are the
immediate cause of some evils to them; the remote good is beyond their
view. And can we expect from an infant the systematic resignation of
an optimist? Belief upon trust, is very different from that which
arises from experience; and no one, who understands the human heart,
will expect incompatible feelings: in the mind of a child, the feeling
of present pain is incompatible with gratitude. Mrs. Macaulay mentions
a striking instance of extorted gratitude. A poor child, who had been
taught to return thanks for every thing, had a bitter medicine given
to her; when she had drank it, she curtesied, and said, "Thank you for
my good stuff." There was a mistake in the medicine, and the child
died the next morning.

Children who are not sentimentally educated, often offend by their
simplicity, and frequently disgust people of impatient feelings, by
their apparent indifference to things which are expected to touch
their sensibility. Let us be content with nature, or rather let us
never exchange simplicity for affectation. Nothing hurts young people
more than to be watched continually about their feelings, to have
their countenances scrutinized, and the degrees of their sensibility
measured by the surveying eye of the unmerciful spectator. Under the
constraint of such examinations, they can think of nothing, but that
they are looked at, and feel nothing but shame or apprehension: they
are afraid to lay their minds open, lest they should be convicted of
some deficiency of feeling. On the contrary, children who are not in
dread of this sentimental inquisition, speak their minds, the truth,
and the whole truth, without effort or disguise: they lay open their
hearts, and tell their thoughts as they arise, with simplicity that
would not fear to enter even "The palace of Truth."[90]

A little girl, Ho----, who was not quite four years old, asked her
mother to give her a plaything: one of her sisters had just before
asked for the same thing. "I cannot give it to you both," said the
mother.

_Ho----._ No, but I wish you to give it to me, and not to E----.

_Mother._ Don't you wish your sister to have what she wants?

_Ho----._ Mother, if I say that I _don't_ wish so, will you give it to
me?

Perhaps this _naivete_ might have displeased some scrupulous admirers
of politeness, who could not discover in it symptoms of that
independent simplicity of character, for which the child who made this
speech was distinguished.

"Do you _always_ love me?" said a mother to her son, who was about
four years old.

"Always," said the child, "except when I am asleep."

_Mother._ "And why do you not love me when you are asleep?"

_Son._ "Because I do not think of you then."

This sensible answer showed, that the boy reflected accurately upon
his own feelings, and a judicious parent must consequently have a
sober certainty of his affection. The thoughtless caresses of
children who are never accustomed to reason, are lavished alike upon
strangers and friends, and their fondness of to-day may, without any
reasonable cause, become aversion by to-morrow.

Children are often asked to tell which of their friends they love the
best, but they are seldom required to assign any reason for their
choice. It is not prudent to question them frequently about their own
feelings; but whenever they express any decided preference, we should
endeavour to _lead_, not to _drive_ them to reflect upon the reasons
for their affection. They will probably at first mention some
particular instance of kindness, which they have lately received from
the person whom they prefer. "I like such a person because he mended
my top." "I like such another because he took me out to walk with him
and let me gather flowers." By degrees we may teach children to
generalize their ideas, and to perceive that they like people for
being either useful or agreeable.

The desire to return kindness by kindness, arises very early in the
mind; and the hope of conciliating the good will of the powerful
beings by whom they are surrounded, is one of the first wishes that
appears in the minds of intelligent and affectionate children. From
this sense of mutual dependence, the first principles of social
intercourse are deduced, and we may render our pupils either mean
sycophants, or useful and honourable members of society, by the
methods which we use to direct their first efforts to please. It
should be our object to convince them, that the exchange of mutual
good offices contributes to happiness; and whilst we connect the
desire to assist others with the perception of the beneficial
consequences that eventually arise to themselves, we may be certain
that children will never become blindly selfish, or idly sentimental.
We cannot help admiring the simplicity, strength of mind, and good
sense, of a little girl of four years old, who, when she was put into
a stage coach with a number of strangers, looked round upon them all,
and, after a few minutes silence, addressed them, with the imperfect
articulation of infancy, in the following words:

"If you'll be good to me, I'll be good to you."

Whilst we were writing upon sympathy and sensibility, we met with the
following apposite passage:

"In 1765, I was," says M. de St. Pierre, "at Dresden, at a play acted
at court; it was the Pere de Famille. The electoress came in with one
of her daughters, who might be about five or six years old. An officer
of the Saxon guards, who came with me to the play, whispered, 'That
child will interest you as much as the play.' As soon as she was
seated, she placed both her hands on the front of the box, fixed her
eyes upon the stage, and continued with her mouth open, all attention
to the motions of the actors. It was truly touching to see their
different passions painted on her face as in a glass. There appeared
in her countenance successively, anxiety, surprise, melancholy, and
grief; at length the interest increasing in every scene, tears began
to flow, which soon ran in abundance down her little cheeks; then came
agitation, sighs, and loud sobs; at last they were obliged to carry
her out of the box, lest she should choke herself with crying. My next
neighbour told me, that every time that this young princess came to a
pathetic play, she was obliged to leave the house before the
catastrophe."

"I have seen," continues M. de St. Pierre, "instances of sensibility
still more touching amongst the children of the common people, because
the emotion was not here produced by any theatrical effect. As I was
walking some years ago in the Pre St. Gervais, at the beginning of
winter, I saw a poor woman lying on the ground, busied in weeding a
bed of sorrel; near her was a little girl of six years old at the
utmost, standing motionless, and all purple with cold. I addressed
myself to this woman, who appeared to be ill, and I asked her what was
the matter with her. Sir, said she, for these three months I have
suffered terribly from the rheumatism, but my illness troubles me less
than this child, she never will leave me; if I say to her, Thou art
quite frozen, go and warm thyself in the house, she answers me, Alas!
mamma, if I leave you, you'll certainly fall ill again!"

"Another time, being at Marly, I went to see, in the groves of that
magnificent park, that charming group of children who are feeding with
vine leaves and grapes a goat who seems to be playing with them. Near
this spot is an open summer house, where Louis XV. on fine days, used
sometimes to take refreshment. As it was showery weather, I went to
take shelter for a few minutes. I found there three children, who were
much more interesting than children of marble. They were two little
girls, very pretty, and very busily employed in picking up all round
the summer house dry sticks, which they put into a sort of wallet
which was lying upon the king's table, whilst a little ill clothed
thin boy was devouring a bit of bread in one corner of the room. I
asked the tallest of the children, who appeared to be between eight
and nine years old, what she meant to do with the wood which she was
gathering together with so much eagerness. She answered, 'Sir, you see
that little boy, he is very unhappy. He has a mother-in-law' (Why
always _a mother-in-law_?) 'He has a mother-in-law, who sends him all
day long to look for wood; when he does not bring any home, he is
beaten; when he has got any, the Swiss who stands at the entrance of
the park takes it all away from him, and keeps it for himself. The boy
is almost starved with hunger, and we have given him our breakfast.'
After having said these words, she and her companion finished filling
the little wallet, they packed it upon the boy's shoulders, and they
ran before their unfortunate friend to see that he might pass in
safety."

We have read these three anecdotes to several children, and have found
that the _active_ friends of the little wood-cutter were the most
admired. It is probable, that amongst children who have been much
praised for expressions of sensibility, the young lady who wept so
bitterly at the play-house, would be preferred; affectionate children
will like the little girl who stood purple with cold beside her sick
mother; but if they have been well educated, they will probably
express some surprise at her motionless attitude; they will ask why
she did not try to help her mother to weed the bed of sorrel.

It requires much skill and delicacy in our conduct towards children,
to preserve a proper medium between the indulging and the repressing
of their sensibility. We are cruel towards them when we suspect their
genuine expressions of affection; nothing hurts the temper of a
generous child more than this species of injustice. Receive his
expressions of kindness and gratitude with cold reserve, or a look
that implies a doubt of his truth, and you give him so much pain, that
you not only repress, but destroy his affectionate feelings. On the
contrary, if you appear touched and delighted by his caresses, from
the hope of pleasing, he will be naturally inclined to repeat such
demonstrations of sensibility: this repetition should be gently
discouraged, lest it should lead to affectation. At the same time,
though we take this precaution, we should consider, that children are
not early sensible that affectation is either ridiculous or
disgusting; they are not conscious of doing any thing wrong by
repeating what they have once perceived to be agreeable in their own,
or in the manners of others. They frequently imitate, without any idea
that imitation is displeasing; their object, as Locke observes, is to
please by affectation; they only mistake the means: we should rectify
this mistake without treating it as a crime.

A little girl of five years old stood beside her mother, observing the
distribution of a dish of strawberries, the first strawberries of the
year; and seeing a number of people busily helping, and being helped
to cream and sugar, said in a low voice, not meant to attract
attention, "I like to see people helping one another." Had the child,
at this instant, been praised for this natural expression of sympathy,
the pleasure of praise would have been immediately substituted in her
mind, instead of the feeling of benevolence, which was in itself
sufficiently agreeable; and, perhaps, from a desire to please, she
would, upon the next favourable occasion, have repeated the same
sentiment; this we should immediately call affectation; but how could
the child foresee, that the repetition of what we formerly liked,
would be offensive? We should not first extol sympathy, and then
disdain affectation; our encomiums frequently produce the faults by
which we are disgusted. Sensibility and sympathy, when they have
proper objects, and full employment, do not look for applause; they
are sufficiently happy in their own enjoyments. Those who have
attempted to teach children, must have observed, that sympathy is
immediately connected with all the imitative arts; the nature of this
connection, more especially in poetry and painting, has been pointed
out with ingenuity and eloquence by those[91] whose excellence in
these arts entitle their theories to our prudent attention. We shall
not attempt to repeat; we refer to their observations. Sufficient
occupation for sympathy, may be found by cultivating the talents of
young people.

Without repeating here what has been said in many other places, it may
be necessary to remind all who are concerned in _female_ education,
that peculiar caution is necessary to manage female sensibility: to
make, what is called the heart, a source of permanent pleasure, we
must cultivate the reasoning powers at the same time that we repress
the enthusiasm of _fine feeling_. Women, from their situation and
duties in society, are called upon rather for the daily exercise of
quiet domestic virtues, than for those splendid acts of generosity,
or those exaggerated expressions of tenderness, which are the
characteristics of heroines in romance. Sentimental authors, who paint
with enchanting colours all the graces and all the virtues in happy
union, teach us to expect that this union should be indissoluble.
Afterwards, from the natural influence of association, we expect in
real life to meet with virtue when we see grace, and we are
disappointed, almost disgusted, when we find virtue unadorned. This
false association has a double effect upon the conduct of women; it
prepares them to be pleased, and it excites them to endeavour to
please by adventitious charms, rather than by those qualities which
merit esteem. Women, who have been much addicted to common
novel-reading, are always acting in imitation of some Jemima, or
Almeria, who never existed, and they perpetually mistake plain William
and Thomas for "_My Beverly!_" They have another peculiar misfortune;
they require continual great emotions to keep them in tolerable humour
with themselves; they must have tears in their eyes, or they are
apprehensive that their hearts are growing hard. They have accustomed
themselves to such violent stimulus, that they cannot endure the
languor to which they are subject in the intervals of delirium. Pink
appears pale to the eye that is used to scarlet; and common food is
insipid to the taste which has been vitiated by the high seasonings of
art.

A celebrated French actress, in the wane of her charms, and who, for
that reason, began to feel weary of the world, exclaimed, whilst she
was recounting what she had suffered from a faithless lover, "Ah!
c'étoit le bon temps, j'étois bien malheureuse!"[92]

The happy age in which women can, with any grace or effect, be
romantically wretched, is, even with the beautiful, but a short season
of felicity. The sentimental sorrows of any female mourner, of more
than thirty years standing, command but little sympathy, and less
admiration; and what other consolations are suited to sentimental
sorrows?

Women, who cultivate their reasoning powers, and who acquire tastes
for science and literature, find sufficient variety in life, and do
not require the _stimulus_ of dissipation, or of romance. Their
sympathy and sensibility are engrossed by proper objects, and
connected with habits of useful exertion: they usually feel the
affection which others profess, and actually enjoy the happiness which
others describe.

FOOTNOTES:

[78] Adam Smith.

[79] See Smith.

[80] Edward.

[81] V. Rousseau and Williams.

[82] Berington. See his Life of Abeillard.

[83] Dr. John Gregory. Comparative View of the State and Faculties of
Man with those of the Animal World. See vol. ii. of Works, from page
100 to 114.

[84] Vernet's Théorie des Sentiments Agréables.

[85] V. Varieties of Literature, vol. i.

[86] Can it be true, that an English nobleman, in the 18th century,
won a bet by procuring a man to eat a cat alive?

[87] See Moore's Edward for the boy and larks, an excellent story for
children.

[88] Mem. de l'Acad. R. for the year 1742, p. 332.

[89] V. Middleton's Life of Cicero, vol. i. page 474.

[90] V. Le Palais de la Verite.--Madame de Genlis Veillées du Château.

[91] Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses. Dr. Darwin's Critical
Interludes in the Botanic Garden, and his chapter on Sympathy and
Imitation in Zoonomia.

[92] D'Alembert.



CHAPTER XI.

ON VANITY, PRIDE, AND AMBITION.


We shall not weary the reader by any common-place declamations upon
these moral topics. No great subtilty of distinction is requisite to
mark the differences between Vanity and Pride, since those differences
have been pointed out by every moralist, who has hoped to please
mankind by an accurate delineation of the failings of human nature.
Whatever distinctions exist, or may be supposed to exist, between the
characters in which pride or vanity predominates, it will readily be
allowed, that there is one thing in which they both agree--they both
receive pleasure from the approbation of others, and from their own.
We are disgusted with the vain man, when he intemperately indulges in
praise of himself, however justly he may be entitled to that praise,
because he offends against those manners which we have been accustomed
to think polite, and he claims from us a greater portion of sympathy
than we can possibly afford to give him. We are not, however, pleased
by the negligence with which the proud man treats us; we do not like
to see that he can exist in independent happiness, satisfied with a
cool internal sense of his own merits; he loses our sympathy, because
he does not appear to value it.

If we could give our pupils exactly the character we wish, what
degrees of vanity and pride should we desire them to have, and how
should we regulate these passions? Should we not desire, that their
ambition to excel might be sufficient to produce the greatest possible
exertions, directed to the best possible objects; that their opinion
of themselves should be strictly just, and should never be expressed
in such a manner as to offend against propriety, or so as to forfeit
the sympathy of mankind? As to the degree of pleasure which they
should feel from their secret reflections upon their own meritorious
conduct, we should certainly desire this to be as lasting, and as
exquisite, as possible. A considerable portion of the happiness of
life arises from the sense of self-approbation; we should, therefore,
secure this gratification in its utmost perfection. We must observe,
that, however independent the proud man imagines himself to be of the
opinions of all around him, he must form his judgment of his own
merits from some standard of comparison, by some laws drawn from
observation of what mankind in general, or those whom he particularly
esteems, think wise or amiable. He must begin then in the same manner
with the vain man, whom he despises, by collecting the suffrages of
others; if he selects, with perfect wisdom, the opinions which are
most just, he forms his character upon excellent principles; and the
more steadily he abides by his first views, the more he commands and
obtains respect. But if, unfortunately, he makes a mistake at first,
his obstinacy in errour is not to be easily corrected, for he is not
affected by the general voice of disapprobation, nor by the partial
loss of the common pleasures of sympathy. The vain man, on the
contrary, is in danger, let him form his first notions of right and
wrong ever so justly, of changing them when he happens to be in
society with any persons who do not agree with him in their moral
opinions, or who refuse him that applause which supports his own
feeble self-approbation. We must, in education, endeavour to guard
against these opposite dangers; we must enlighten the understanding,
to give our pupils the power of forming their rules of conduct
rightly, and we must give them sufficient strength of mind to abide by
the principles which they have formed. When we first praise children,
we must be careful to associate pleasure with those things which are
really deserving of approbation. If we praise them for beauty, or for
any happy expressions which entertain us, but which entertain us
merely as the sprightly nonsense of childhood, we create vanity in the
minds of our pupils; we give them false ideas of merit, and, if we
excite them to exertions, they are not exertions directed to any
valuable objects. Praise is a strong stimulus to industry, if it be
properly managed; but if we give it in too large and lavish quantities
early in life, we shall soon find that it loses its effect, and yet
that the _patient_ languishes for want of the excitation which custom
has rendered almost essential to his existence. We say the _patient_,
for this mental languor may be considered entirely as a disease. For
its cure, see the second volume of Zoonomia, under the article Vanity.

Children, who are habituated to the daily and hourly food of praise,
continually require this sustenance unless they are attended to; but
we may gradually break bad habits. It is said, that some animals can
supply themselves at a single draught with what will quench their
thirst for many days. The human animal may, perhaps, by education, be
taught similar foresight and abstinence in the management of his
thirst for flattery. Young people, who live with persons that seldom
bestow praise, do not expect that stimulus, and they are content if
they discover by certain signs, either in the countenance, manner, or
tone of voice, of those whom they wish to please, that they are
tolerably well satisfied. It is of little consequence by what language
approbation is conveyed, whether by words, or looks, or by that
silence which speaks with so much eloquence; but it is of great
importance that our pupils should set a high value upon the
expressions of our approbation. They will value it in proportion to
their esteem and their affection for us; we include in the word
_esteem_, a belief in our justice, and in our discernment. Expressions
of affection, associated with praise, not only increase the pleasure,
but they alter the nature the of that pleasure; and if they gratify
vanity, they at the same time excite some of the best feelings of the
heart. The selfishness of vanity is corrected by this association; and
the two pleasures of sympathy and self-complacency should never, when
we can avoid it, be separated.

Children, who are well educated, and who have acquired an habitual
desire for the approbation of their friends, may continue absolutely
indifferent to the praise of strangers, or of _common_ acquaintance;
nor is it probable that this indifference should suddenly be
conquered, because the greatest part of the pleasure of praise in
their mind, depends upon the esteem and affection which they feel for
the persons by whom it is bestowed. Instead of desiring that our
pupils should entirely repress, in the company of their own family,
the pleasure which they feel from the praise that is given to them by
their friends, we should rather indulge them in this natural expansion
of mind; we should rather permit their youthful vanity to display
itself openly to those whom they most love and esteem, than drive
them, by unreasonable severity, and a cold refusal of sympathy, into
the society of less rigid observers. Those who have an aversion to
vanity, will not easily bear with its uncultivated intemperance of
tongue; but they should consider, that much of what disgusts them, is
owing to the simplicity of childhood, which must be allowed time to
learn that respect for the feelings of others, which teaches us to
restrain our own: but we must not be in haste to restrain, lest we
teach hypocrisy, instead of strength of mind, or real humility. If we
expect that children should excel, and should not know that they
excel, we expect impossibilities; we expect at the same time,
intelligence and stupidity. If we desire that they should be excited
by praise, and that, at the same time, they should feel no pleasure in
the applause which they have earned, we desire things that are
incompatible. If we encourage children to be frank and sincere, and
yet, at the same time, reprove them whenever they naturally express
their opinions of themselves, or the pleasurable feelings of
self-approbation, we shall counteract our own wishes. Instead of
hastily blaming children for the sincere and simple expression of
their self-complacency, or of their desire for the approbation of
others, we should gradually point out to them the truth--that those
who refrain from that display of their own perfections which we call
vanity, in fact are well repaid for the constraint which they put upon
themselves, by the superior degree of respect and sympathy which they
obtain; that vain people effectually counteract their own wishes, and
meet with contempt, instead of admiration. By appealing constantly,
when we praise, to the judgment of the pupils themselves, we shall at
once teach them the habit of re-judging flattery, and substitute, by
insensible degrees, patient, steady confidence in themselves, for the
wavering, weak, impatience of vanity. In proportion as any one's
confidence in himself increases, his anxiety for the applause of
others diminishes: people are very seldom vain of any accomplishments
in which they obviously excel, but they frequently continue to be vain
of those which are doubtful. Where mankind have not confirmed their
own judgment, they are restless, and continually aim either at
convincing others, or themselves, that they are in the right. Hogarth,
who invented a new and original manner of satirizing the follies of
mankind, was not vain of this talent, but was extremely vain of his
historical paintings, which were indifferent performances. Men of
acknowledged literary talents, are seldom fond of amateurs; but, if
they are but half satisfied of their own superiority, they collect the
tribute of applause with avidity, and without discrimination or
delicacy. Voltaire has been reproached with treating strangers rudely
who went to Ferney, to see and admire a philosopher as a prodigy.
Voltaire valued his time more than he did this vulgar admiration; his
visiters, whose understanding had not gone through exactly the same
process, who had not, probably, been satisfied with public applause,
and who set, perhaps, a considerable value upon their own praise,
could not comprehend this appearance of indifference to admiration in
Voltaire, especially when it was well known that he was not insensible
of fame. He was, at an advanced age, exquisitely anxious about the
fate of one of his tragedies; and a public coronation at the theatre
at Paris, had power to inebriate him at eighty-four. Those who have
exhausted the stimulus of wine, may yet be intoxicated by opium. The
voice of numbers appears to be sometimes necessary to give delight to
those who have been fatigued with the praise of individuals; but this
taste for _acclamation_ is extremely dangerous. A multitude of good
judges seldom meet together.

By a slight difference in their manner of reasoning, two men of
abilities, who set out with the same desire for fame, may acquire
different habits of pride, or of vanity; the one may value the number,
the other may appreciate the judgment of his admirers. There is
something not only more wise, but more elevated, in this latter
species of select triumph; the noise is not so great; the music is
better. "If I listened to the music of praise," says an historian, who
obviously was not insensible to its charms, "I was more seriously
satisfied with the approbation of my _judges_. The candour of Dr.
Robertson embraced his disciple. A letter from Mr. Hume overpaid the
labour of ten years."[93] Surely no one can be displeased with this
last generous expression of enthusiasm; we are not so well satisfied
with Buffon, when he ostentatiously displays the epistles of a prince
and an empress.[94]

Perhaps, by pointing out at proper opportunities the difference in our
feelings with respect to vulgar and refined vanity, we might make a
useful impression upon those who have yet their habits to form. The
conversion of vanity into pride, is not so difficult a process as
those, who have not analyzed both, might, from the striking difference
of their appearance, imagine. By the opposite tendencies of education,
opposite characters from the same original dispositions are produced.
Cicero, had he been early taught to despise the applause of the
multitude, would have turned away like the proud philosopher, who
asked his friends what absurdity he had uttered, when he heard the
populace loud in acclamations of his speech; and the cynic, whose
vanity was seen through the holes in his cloak, might, perhaps, by a
slight difference in his education, have been rendered ambitious of
the Macedonian purple.

In attempting to convert vanity into pride, we must begin by
exercising the vain patient in forbearance of present pleasure; it is
not enough to convince his understanding, that the advantages of proud
humility are great; he may be perfectly sensible of this, and may yet
have so little command over himself, that his loquacious vanity may
get the better, from hour to hour, of his better judgment. Habits are
not to be instantaneously conquered by reason; if we do not keep this
fact in our remembrance, we shall be frequently disappointed in
education; and we shall, perhaps, end by thinking that reason can do
nothing, if we begin by thinking that she can do every thing. We must
not expect that a vain child should suddenly break and forget all his
past associations; but we may, by a little early attention, prevent
much of the trouble of curing, or converting, the disease of vanity.

When children first begin to learn accomplishments, or to apply
themselves to literature, those who instruct, are apt to encourage
them with too large a portion of praise; _the smallest quantity of
stimulus that can produce the exertion we desire, should be used_; if
we use more, we waste our power, and injure our pupil. As soon as
habit has made any exertion familiar, and consequently easy, we may
withdraw the original excitation, and the exertion will still
continue. In learning, for instance, a new language, at first, whilst
the pupil is in the midst of the difficulties of regular and irregular
verbs, and when, in translation, a dictionary is wanted at every
moment, the occupation itself cannot be very agreeable; but we are
excited by the hope that our labour will every day diminish, and that
we shall at last enjoy the entertainment of reading useful and
agreeable books. Children, who have not learnt by experience the
pleasures of literature, cannot feel this hope as strongly as we do,
we, therefore, excite them by praise; but by degrees they begin to
feel the pleasure of success and occupation; when these are felt, we
may and ought to withdraw the unnecessary excitements of praise. If we
continue, we mislead the child's mind, and, whilst we deprive him of
his natural reward, we give him a factitious taste. When any moral
habit is to be acquired, or when we wish that our pupil should cure
himself of any fault, we must employ at first strong excitement, and
reward with warmth and eloquence of approbation; when the fault is
conquered, when the virtue is acquired, the extraordinary excitement
should be withdrawn, and all this should not be done with an air of
mystery and artifice; the child should know all that we do, and why
we do it; the sooner he learns how his own mind is managed, the
better--the sooner he will assist in his own education.

Every body must have observed, that languor of mind succeeds to the
intoxication of vanity; if we can avoid the intoxication, we shall
avoid the languor. Common sayings often imply those sensible
observations which philosophers, when they theorize only, express in
other words. We frequently hear it said to a child, "Praise spoils
you; my praise did you harm; you can't bear praise well; you grow
conceited; you become idle; you are good for nothing, because you have
been too much flattered." All these expressions show, that the
consequences of over-stimulating the mind by praise, have been vaguely
taken notice of in education; but no general rules have been deduced
from these observations. With children of different habits and
temperaments, the same degree of excitement acts differently, so that
it is scarcely possible to fix upon any positive quantity fit for all
dispositions--the quantity must be relative; but we may, perhaps, fix
upon a criterion by which, in most cases, the proportion may be
ascertained. The golden rule,[95] which an eminent physician has given
to the medical world for ascertaining the necessary and useful
quantity of stimulus for weak and feverish patients, may, with
advantage, be applied in education. Whenever praise produces the
intoxication of vanity, it is hurtful; whenever the appearances of
vanity diminish in consequence of praise, we may be satisfied that it
does good, that it increases the pupil's confidence in himself, and
his strength of mind. We repeat, that persons who have confidence in
themselves, may be proud, but are never vain; that vanity cannot
support herself without the concurring flattery of others; pride is
satisfied with his own approbation. In the education of children who
are more inclined to pride than to vanity, we must present large
objects to the understanding, and large motives must be used to excite
voluntary exertion. If the understanding of proud people be not early
cultivated, they frequently fix upon some false ideas of honour or
dignity, to which they are resolute martyrs through life. Thus the
high-born Spaniards, if we may be allowed to reason from the imperfect
history of national character. The Spaniards, who associate the ideas
of dignity and indolence, would rather submit to the evils of poverty,
than to the imaginary disgrace of working for their bread. Volney, and
the baron de Tott, give us some curious instances of the pride of the
Turks, which prevents them from being taught any useful arts by
foreigners. To show how early false associations are formed and
supported by pride, we need but recollect the anecdote of the child
mentioned by de Tott.[96] The baron de Tott bought a pretty toy for a
present for a little Turkish friend, but the child was too proud to
seem pleased with the toy; the child's grandfather came into the room,
saw, and was delighted with the toy, sat down on the carpet, and
played with it until he broke it. We like the second childhood of the
grandfather better than the premature old age of the grandson.

The self-command which the fear of disgrace insures, can produce
either great virtues, or great vices. Revenge and generosity are, it
is said, to be found in their highest state amongst nations and
individuals characterized by pride. The early objects which are
associated with the idea of honour in the mind, are of great
consequence; but it is of yet more consequence to teach proud minds
early to bend to the power of reason, or rather to glory in being
governed by reason. They should be instructed, that the only possible
means of maintaining their opinions amongst persons of sense, is to
support them by unanswerable arguments. They should be taught, that,
to secure respect, they must deserve it; and their self-denial, or
self-command, should never obtain that tacit admiration which they
most value, except where it is exerted for useful and rational
purposes. The constant custom of appealing, in the last resort, to
their own judgment, which distinguishes the proud from the vain, makes
it peculiarly necessary that the judgment, to which so much is
trusted, should be highly cultivated. A vain man may be tolerably well
conducted in life by a sensible friend; a proud man ought to be able
to conduct himself perfectly well, because he will not accept of any
assistance. It seems that some proud people confine their benevolent
virtues within a smaller sphere than others; they value only their own
relations, their friends, their country, or whatever is connected with
themselves. This species of pride may be corrected by the same means
which are used to increase sympathy.[97] Those who, either from
temperament, example, or accidental circumstances, have acquired the
habit of repressing and commanding their emotions, must be carefully
distinguished from the selfish and insensible. In the present times,
when the affectation of sensibility is to be dreaded, we should rather
encourage that species of pride which disdains to display the
affections of the heart. "You Romans triumph over your tears, and call
it virtue! I triumph in my tears," says Caractacus; his tears were
respectable, but in general the Roman triumph would command the most
sympathy.

Some people attribute to pride all expressions of confidence in one's
self: these may be offensive to common society, but they are sometimes
powerful over the human mind, and where they are genuine, mark
somewhat superior in character. Much of the effect of lord Chatham's
eloquence, much of his transcendent influence in public, must be
attributed to the confidence which he showed in his own superiority.
"I trample upon impossibilities!" was an exclamation which no
inferiour mind would dare to make. Would the house of commons have
permitted any one but lord Chatham to have answered an oration by
"Tell me, gentle shepherd, where?" The danger of failing, the hazard
that he runs of becoming ridiculous who verges upon the moral sublime,
is taken into our account when we judge of the action, and we pay
involuntary tribute to courage and success: but how miserable is the
fate of the man who mistakes his own powers, and upon trial is unable
to support his assumed superiority; mankind revenge themselves without
mercy upon his ridiculous pride, eager to teach him the difference
between insolence and magnanimity. Young people inclined to over-rate
their own talents, or to under-value the abilities of others, should
frequently have instances given to them from real life, of the
mortifications and disgrace to which imprudent boasters expose
themselves. Where they are able to demonstrate their own abilities,
they run no risk in speaking with decent confidence; but where their
success depends, in any degree, either upon fortune or opinion, they
should never run the hazard of presumption. Modesty prepossesses
mankind in favour of its possessor, and has the advantage of being
both graceful and safe: this was perfectly understood by the crafty
Ulysses, who neither raised his eyes, nor stretched his sceptered
hand, "when he first rose to speak." We do not, however, recommend
this artificial modesty; its trick is soon discovered, and its
sameness of dissimulation presently disgusts. Prudence should prevent
young people from hazardous boasting; and good nature and good sense,
which constitute real politeness, will restrain them from obtruding
their merits to the mortification of their companions: but we do not
expect from them total ignorance of their own comparative merit. The
affectation of humility, when carried to the extreme, to which all
affectation is liable to be carried, appears full as ridiculous as
troublesome, and offensive as any of the graces of vanity, or the airs
of pride. Young people are cured of presumption by mixing with
society, but they are not so easily cured of any species of
affectation.

In the chapter on female accomplishments, we have endeavoured to point
out, that the enlargement of understanding in the fair sex, which must
result from their increasing knowledge, will necessarily correct the
feminine foibles of vanity and affectation.

Strong, prophetic, eloquent praise, like that which the great lord
Chatham bestowed on his son, would rather inspire in a generous soul
noble emulation, than paltry vanity. "On this boy," said he, laying
his hand upon his son's head, "descends my mantle, with a double
portion of my spirit!" Phillip's praise of his son Alexander, when the
boy rode the unmanageable horse,[98] is another instance of the kind
of praise capable of exciting ambition.

As to ambition, we must decide what species of ambition we mean,
before we can determine whether it ought to be encouraged or
repressed; whether it should be classed amongst virtues or vices; that
is to say, whether it adds to the happiness or the misery of human
creatures. "The inordinate desire of fame," which often destroys the
lives of millions when it is connected with ideas of military
enthusiasm, is justly classed amongst the "_diseases of volition_:"
for its description and cure we refer to Zoonomia, vol. ii. Achilles
will there appear to his admirers, perhaps, in a new light.

The ambition to rise in the world, usually implies a mean, sordid
desire of riches, or what are called honours, to be obtained by the
common arts of political intrigue, by cabal to win popular favour, or
by address to conciliate the patronage of the great. The experience of
those who have been governed during their lives by this passion, if
passion it may be called, does not show that it can confer much
happiness either in the pursuit or attainment of its objects. See Bubb
Doddington's Diary, a most useful book; a journal of the petty
anxieties, and constant dependence, to which an ambitious courtier is
necessarily subjected. See also Mirabeau's "Secret History of the
Court of Berlin," for a picture of a man of great abilities degraded
by the same species of low unprincipled competition. We may find in
these books, it is to be hoped, examples which will strike young and
generous minds, and which may inspire them with contempt for the
objects and the means of vulgar ambition. There is a more noble
ambition, by which the enthusiastic youth, perfect in the theory of
all the virtues, and warm with yet unextinguished benevolence, is apt
to be seized; his heart beats with the hope of immortalizing himself
by noble actions; he forms extensive plans for the improvement and the
happiness of his fellow creatures; he feels the want of power to carry
these into effect; power becomes the object of his wishes. In the
pursuit, in the attainment of this object, how are his feelings
changed! M. Necker, in the preface to his work on French finance,[99]
paints, with much eloquence, and with an appearance of perfect truth,
the feelings of a man of virtue and genius, before and after the
attainment of political power. The moment when a minister takes
possession of his place, surrounded by crowds and congratulations, is
well described; and the succeeding moment, when clerks with immense
portfolios enter, is a striking contrast. Examples from romance can
never have such a powerful effect upon the mind, as those which are
taken from real life; but in proportion to the just and lively
representation of situations, and passions resembling reality,
fictions may convey useful moral lessons. In the Cyropædia there is an
admirable description of the day spent by the victorious Cyrus, giving
audience to the unmanageable multitude, after the taking of Babylon
had accomplished the fullness of his ambition.[100]

It has been observed, that these examples of the insufficiency of the
objects of ambition to happiness, seldom make any lasting impression
upon the minds of the ambitious. This may arise from two causes; from
the reasoning faculty's not having been sufficiently cultivated, or
from the habits of ambition being formed before proper examples are
presented to the judgment for comparison. Some ambitious people, when
they reason coolly, acknowledge and feel the folly of their pursuits;
but still, from the force of habit, they act immediately in obedience
to the motives which they condemn: others, who have never been
accustomed to reason firmly, believe themselves to be in the right in
the choice of their objects; and they cannot comprehend the arguments
which are used by those who have not the same way of thinking as
themselves. If we fairly place facts before young people, who have
been habituated to reason, and who have not yet been inspired with the
passion, or enslaved by the habits of vulgar ambition, it is probable,
that they will not be easily effaced from the memory, and that they
will influence the conduct through life.

It sometimes happens to men of a sound understanding, and a
philosophic turn of mind, that their ambition decreases with their
experience. They begin with some ardor, perhaps, an ambitious pursuit;
but by degrees they find the pleasure of the occupation sufficient
without the fame, which was their original object. This is the same
process which we have observed in the minds of children with respect
to the pleasures of literature, and the taste for sugar-plums.

Happy the child who can be taught to improve himself without the
stimulus of sweetmeats! Happy the man who can preserve activity
without the excitements of ambition!

FOOTNOTES:

[93] Gibbon. Memoirs of his Life and Writings, page 148.--Perhaps
Gibbon had this excellent line of Mrs. Barbauld's in his memory:

    "And pay a life of hardships with a line."

[94] See Peltier's state of Paris in the years 1795 and 1796.

[95] See Zoonomia, vol. i. p. 99.

[96] V. De Tott's Memoirs, p. 138, a note.

[97] V. Sympathy.

[98] V. Plutarch.

[99] Necker de l'Administration des Finances de la France, vol. i. p.
98.

[100] Cyropædia, vol. ii. page 303.



CHAPTER XII.

BOOKS.


The first books which are now usually put into the hands of a child,
are Mrs. Barbauld's Lessons; they are by far the best books of the
kind that have ever appeared; those only who know the difficulty and
the importance of such compositions in education, can sincerely
rejoice, that the admirable talents of such a writer have been
employed in such a work. We shall not apologize for offering a few
remarks on some passages in these little books, because we are
convinced that we shall not offend.

Lessons for children from three to four years old, should, we think,
have been lessons for children from four to five years old; few read,
or ought to read, before that age.

"Charles shall have a pretty new lesson."

In this sentence the words pretty and new are associated; but they
represent ideas which ought to be kept separate in the mind of a
child. The love of novelty is cherished in the minds of children by
the common expressions that we use to engage them to do what we
desire. "You shall have a new whip, a new hat," are improper modes of
expression to a child. We have seen a boy who had literally twenty new
whips in one year, and we were present when his father, to comfort him
when he was in pain, went out to buy him a _new_ whip, though he had
two or three scattered about the room.

The description, in the first part of Mrs. Barbauld's Lessons, of the
naughty boy who tormented the robin, and who was afterwards supposed
to be eaten by bears, is more objectionable than any in the book: the
idea of killing is in itself very complex, and, if explained, serves
only to excite terror; and how can a child be made to comprehend why a
cat _should_ catch mice, and not kill birds? or why should this
species of honesty be expected from an animal of prey?

"I want my dinner."

Does Charles take it for granted, that what he eats is his own, and
that he _must_ have his dinner? These and similar expressions are
words of course; but young children should not be allowed to use them:
if they are permitted to assume the tone of command, the feelings of
impatience and ill temper quickly follow, and children become the
little tyrants of a family. Property is a word of which young people
have general ideas, and they may, with very little trouble, be
prevented from claiming things to which they have no right. Mrs.
Barbauld has judiciously chosen to introduce a little boy's daily
history in these books; all children are extremely interested for
Charles, and they are very apt to expect that every thing which
happens to him, is to happen to them; and they believe, that every
thing he does, is right; therefore, his biographer should, in another
edition, revise any of his expressions which may mislead the future
tribe of his little imitators.

"Maid, come and dress Charles."

After what we have already said with respect to servants, we need only
observe, that this sentence for Charles should not be read by a child;
and that in which the maid is said to bring home a gun, &c. it is easy
to strike a pencil line across it. All the passages which might have
been advantageously omitted in these excellent little books, have been
carefully obliterated before they were put into the hands of children,
by a mother who knew the danger of early false associations.

"Little boys don't eat butter."

"No body wears a hat in the house."

This is a very common method of speaking, but it certainly is not
proper towards children. Affirmative sentences should always express
real facts. Charles must know that some little boys do eat butter;
and that some people wear their hats in their houses. This mode of
expression, "No body does that!" "Every body does this!" lays the
foundation for prejudice in the mind. This is the language of fashion,
which, more than conscience, makes cowards of us all.

"I want some wine."

Would it not be better to tell Charles, in reply to this speech, that
wine is not good for him, than to say, "Wine for little boys! I never
heard of such a thing!" If Charles were to be ill, and it should be
necessary to give him wine; or were he to see another child drink it,
he would lose confidence in what was said to him. We should be very
careful of our words, if we expect our pupils to have confidence in
us; and if they have not, we need not attempt to educate them.

"The moon shines at night, when the sun is gone to bed."

When the sun is out of sight, would be more correct, though not so
pleasing, perhaps, to the young reader. It is very proper to teach a
child, that when the sun disappears, when the sun is below the
horizon, it is the time when most animals go to rest; but we should
not do this by giving so false an idea, as that the sun is gone to
bed. Every thing relative to the system of the universe, is above the
comprehension of a child; we should, therefore, be careful to prevent
his forming erroneous opinions. We should wait for a riper period of
his understanding, before we attempt positive instruction upon
abstract subjects.

The enumeration of the months in the year, the days in the week, of
metals, &c. are excellent lessons for a child who is just beginning to
learn to read. The classification of animals into quadrupeds, bipeds,
&c. is another useful specimen of the manner in which children should
be taught to generalize their ideas. The pathetic description of the
poor timid hare running from the hunters, will leave an impression
upon the young and humane heart, which may, perhaps, save the life of
many a hare. The poetic beauty and eloquent simplicity of many of Mrs.
Barbauld's Lessons, cultivate the imagination of children, and their
taste, in the best possible manner.

The description of the white swan with her long arched neck, "winning
her easy way" through the waters, is beautiful; so is that of the
nightingale singing upon her lone bush by moon-light. Poetic
descriptions of real objects, are well suited to children; apostrophe
and personification they understand; but all allegoric poetry is
difficult to manage for them, because they mistake the poetic
attributes for reality, and they acquire false and confused ideas.
With regret children close Mrs. Barbauld's little books, and parents
become yet more sensible of their value, when they perceive that none
can be found immediately to supply their place, or to continue the
course of agreeable ideas which they have raised in the young pupil's
imagination.

"Evenings at Home," do not immediately join to Lessons for Children
from three to four years old; and we know not where to find any books
to fill the interval properly. The popular character of any book is
easily learned, and its general merit easily ascertained; this may
satisfy careless, indolent tutors, but a more minute investigation is
necessary to parents who are anxious for the happiness of their
family, or desirous to improve the art of education. Such parents will
feel it to be their duty to look over every page of a book before it
is trusted to their children; it is an arduous task, but none can be
too arduous for the enlightened energy of parental affection. We are
acquainted with the mother of a family, who has never trusted any book
to her children, without having first examined it herself with the
most scrupulous attention; her care has been repaid with that success
in education, which such care can alone ensure. We have several books
before us marked by her pencil, and volumes which, having undergone
some necessary operations by her scissors, would, in their mutilated
state, shock the sensibility of a nice librarian. But shall the
education of a family be sacrificed to the beauty of a page, or even
to the binding of a book? Few books can safely be given to children
without the previous use of the pen, the pencil, and the scissors. In
the books which we have before us, in their corrected state, we see
sometimes a few words blotted out, sometimes half a page, sometimes
many pages are cut out. In turning over the leaves of "The Children's
Friend," we perceive, that the different ages at which different
stories should be read, have been marked; and we were surprised to
meet with some stories marked for six years old, and some for sixteen,
in the same volume. We see that different stories have been marked
with the initials of different names by this cautious mother, who
considered the temper and habits of her children, as well as their
ages.

As far as these notes refer peculiarly to her own family, they cannot
be of use to the public; but the principles which governed a judicious
parent in her selection, must be capable of universal application.

It may be laid down as a first principle, that we should preserve
children from the knowledge of any vice, or any folly, of which the
idea has never yet entered their minds, and which they are not
necessarily disposed to learn by early example. Children who have
never lived with servants, who have never associated with ill educated
companions of their own age, and who, in their own family, have heard
nothing but good conversation, and seen none but good examples, will,
in their language, their manners, and their whole disposition, be not
only free from many of the faults common amongst children, but they
will absolutely have no idea that there are such faults. The language
of children who have heard no language but what is good, must be
correct. On the contrary, children who hear a mixture of low and high
vulgarity before their own habits are fixed, must, whenever they
speak, continually blunder; they have no rule to guide their judgment
in their selection from the variety of dialects which they hear;
probably they may often be reproved for their mistakes, but these
reproofs will be of no avail, whilst the pupils continue to be puzzled
between the example of the nursery and of the drawing-room. It will
cost much time and pains to correct these defects, which might have
been with little difficulty prevented. It is the same with other bad
habits. Falsehood, caprice, dishonesty, obstinacy, revenge, and all
the train of vices which are the consequences of mistaken or neglected
education, which are learned by bad example, and which are not
inspired by nature, need scarcely be known to children whose minds
have from their infancy been happily regulated. Such children should
sedulously be kept from contagion. No books should be put into the
hands of this happy class of children, but such as present the best
models of virtue: there is no occasion to shock them with caricatures
of vice. Such caricatures they will even understand to be well drawn,
because they are unacquainted with any thing like the originals.
Examples to deter them from faults to which they have no propensity,
must be useless, and may be dangerous. For the same reason that a book
written in bad language, should never be put into the hands of a child
who speaks correctly, a book exhibiting instances of vice, should
never be given to a child who thinks and acts correctly. The love of
novelty and of imitation, is so strong in children, that even for the
pleasure of imitating characters described in a book, or actions which
strike them as singular, they often commit real faults.

To this danger of catching faults by sympathy, children of the
greatest simplicity are, perhaps, the most liable, because they least
understand the nature and consequences of the actions which they
imitate.

During the age of imitation, children should not be exposed to the
influence of any bad examples until their habits are formed, and until
they have not only the sense to choose, but the fortitude to abide
by, their own choice. It may be said, that "children must know that
vice exists; that, even amongst their own companions, there are some
who have bad dispositions; they cannot mix even in the society of
children, without seeing examples which they ought to be prepared to
avoid."

These remarks are just with regard to pupils who are intended for a
public school, and no great nicety in the selection of their books is
necessary; but we are now speaking of children who are to be brought
up in a private family. Why should they be prepared to mix in the
society of children who have bad habits or bad dispositions? Children
should not be educated for the society of children; nor should they
live in that society during their education. We must not expect from
them premature prudence, and all the social virtues, before we have
taken any measures to produce these virtues, or this tardy prudence.
In private education, there is little chance that one errour should
balance another; the experience of the pupil is much confined; the
examples which he sees, are not so numerous and various as to
counteract each other. Nothing, therefore, must be expected from the
counteracting influence of opposing causes; nothing should be trusted
to chance. Experience must preserve one uniform tenour; and examples
must be selected with circumspection. The less children associate with
companions of their own age, the less they know of the world; the
stronger their taste for literature; the more forcible will be the
impression that will be made upon them by the pictures of life, and
the characters and sentiments which they meet with in books. Books for
such children, ought to be _sifted_ by an academy[101] of enlightened
parents.

Without particular examples, the most obvious truths are not brought
home to our business. We shall select a few examples from a work of
high and deserved reputation, from a work which we much admire,
"Berquin's Children's Friend." We do not mean to criticise this work
as a literary production; but simply to point out to parents, that,
even in the best books for children, much must still be left to the
judgment of the preceptor; much in the choice of stories, and
particular passages suited to different pupils.

In "The Children's Friend," there are several stories well adapted to
one class of children, but entirely unfit for another. In the story
called the Hobgoblin, Antonia, a little girl "who has been told a
hundred foolish stories by her maid, particularly one about a
black-faced goblin," is represented as making a lamentable outcry at
the sight of a chimney-sweeper; first she runs for refuge to the
kitchen, the last place to which she should run; then to the pantry;
thence she jumps out of the window, "half dead with terror," and, in
the elegant language of the translator, _almost splits her throat with
crying out Help! Help!_--In a few minutes she discovers her errour, is
heartily ashamed, and "ever afterwards Antonia was the first to laugh
at silly stories, told by silly people, of hobgoblins and the like, to
frighten her."

For children who have had the misfortune to have heard the hundred
foolish stories of a foolish maid, this apparition of the
chimney-sweeper is well managed; though, perhaps, ridicule might not
effect so sudden st cure in all cases as it did in that of Antonia. By
children who have not acquired terrors of the black-faced goblin, and
who have not the habit of frequenting the kitchen and the pantry, this
story should never be read.

"The little miss deceived by her maid," who takes her mamma's keys out
of her drawers, and who steals sugar and tea for her maid, that she
may have the pleasure of playing with a cousin whom her mother had
forbidden her to see, is not an example that need be introduced into
any well regulated family. The picture of Amelia's misery, is drawn by
the hand of a master. Terror and pity, we are told by the tragic
poets, purify the mind; but there are minds that do not require this
species of purification. Powerful antidotes are necessary to combat
powerful poisons; but where no poison has been imbibed, are not
antidotes more dangerous than useful?

The stories called "The Little Gamblers; Blind Man's Buff; and Honesty
the best Policy," are stories which may do a great deal of good to bad
children, but they should never be given to those of another
description. The young gentlemen who cheat at cards, and who pocket
silver fish, should have no admittance any where. It is not necessary
to put _children_ upon their guard against associates whom they are
not likely to meet; nor need we introduce The Vulgar and Mischievous
School-Boy, to any but school-boys. Martin, who throws squibs at
people in the street, who fastens rabbits' tails behind their backs,
who fishes for their wigs, who sticks up pins in his friends' chairs,
who carries a hideous mask in his pocket to frighten little children,
and who is himself frightened into repentance by a spectre with a
speaking trumpet, is a very objectionable, though an excellent
dramatic character. The part of the spectre is played by the groom;
this is ill contrived in a drama for children; grooms should have
nothing to do with their entertainments; and Cæsar, who is represented
as a pleasing character, should not be supposed to make the postillion
a party in his inventions.

"_A good heart compensates for many indiscretions_," is a dangerous
title for a play for young people; because _many_ is an indefinite
term; and in settling how many, the calculations of parents and
children may vary materially. This little play is so charmingly
written, the character of the imprudent and generous Frederick is so
likely to excite imitation, that we must doubly regret his intimacy
with the coachman, his running away from school, and drinking beer at
an ale-house in a fair. The coachman is an excellent old man; he is
turned away for having let master Frederick mount his box, assume the
whip, and overturn a handsome carriage. Frederick, touched with
gratitude and compassion, gives the old man all his pocket money, and
sells a watch and some books to buy clothes for him. The motives of
Frederick's conduct are excellent, and, as they are misrepresented by
a treacherous and hypocritical cousin, we sympathize more strongly
with the hero of the piece; and all his indiscretions appear, at
least, amiable defects. A nice observer[102] of the human heart says,
that we are never inclined to to cure ourselves of any defect which
makes us agreeable. Frederick's real virtues will not, probably,
excite imitation so much as his imaginary excellences. We should take
the utmost care not to associate in the mind the ideas of imprudence
and of generosity; of hypocrisy and of prudence: on the contrary, it
should be shown that prudence is necessary to real benevolence; that
no virtue is more useful, and consequently more respectable, than
justice. These homely truths will never be attended to as the
counter-check moral of an interesting story; stories which require
such morals, should, therefore, be avoided.

It is to be hoped, that select parts of The Children's Friend,[103]
translated by some able hand, will be published hereafter for the use
of private families. Many of the stories, to which we have ventured to
object, are by no means unfit for school-boys, to whom the characters
which are most exceptionable cannot be new. The vulgarity of language
which we have noticed, is not to be attributed to M. Berquin, but to
his wretched translator. L'Ami des Enfans, is, in French, remarkably
elegantly written. The Little Canary Bird, Little George, The
Talkative Little Girl, The Four Seasons, and many others, are
excellent both in point of style and dramatic effect; they are exactly
suited to the understandings of children; and they interest without
any improbable events, or unnatural characters.

In fiction it is difficult to avoid giving children false ideas of
virtue, and still more difficult to keep the different virtues in
their due proportions. This should be attended to with care in all
books for young people; nor should we sacrifice the understanding to
the enthusiasm of eloquence, or the affectation of sensibility.
Without the habit of reasoning, the best dispositions can give us no
solid security for happiness; therefore, we should early cultivate the
reasoning faculty, instead of always appealing to the imagination. By
sentimental persuasives, a child may be successfully governed for a
time, but that time will be of short duration, and no power can
continue the delusion long.

In the dialogue upon this maxim, "that a competence is best," the
reasoning of the father is not a match for that of the son; by using
less eloquence, the father might have made out his case much better.
The boy sees that many people are richer than his father, and
perceiving that their riches procure a great number of conveniences
and comforts for them, he asks why his father, who is as good as these
opulent people, should not also be as rich. His father tells him, that
he is rich, that he has a large garden, and a fine estate; the boy
asks to see it, and his father takes him to the top of a high hill,
and, showing him an extensive prospect, says to him, "All this is my
estate." The boy cross questions his father, and finds out that it is
not his estate, but that he may enjoy the pleasure of looking at it;
that he can buy wood when he wants it for firing; venison, without
hunting the deer himself; fish, without fishing; and butter, without
possessing all the cows that graze in the valley; therefore he calls
himself master of the woods, the deer, the herds, the huntsmen, and
the labourers that he beholds. This is[104] poetic philosophy, but it
is not sufficiently accurate for a child; it would confound his ideas
of property, and it would be immediately contradicted by his
experience. The father's reasoning is perfectly good, and well adapted
to his pupil's capacity, when he asks, "whether he should not require
a superfluous appetite to enjoy superfluous dishes at his meals." In
returning from his walk, the boy sees a mill that is out of repair, a
meadow that is flooded, and a quantity of hay spoiled; he observes,
that the owners of these things must be sadly vexed by such accidents,
and his father congratulates himself upon their not being his
property. Here is a direct contradiction; for a few minutes before he
had asserted that they belonged to him. Property is often the cause of
much anxiety to its possessor; but the question is, whether the pains,
or the pleasures of possessing it, predominate; if this question could
not be fully discussed, it should not be partially stated. To silence
a child in argument is easy, to convince him is difficult; sophistry
or wit should never be used to confound the understanding. Reason has
equal force from the lips of the giant and of the dwarf.

These minute criticisms may appear invidious; but it is hoped that
they will be considered only as illustrations of general principles;
illustrations necessary to our subject. We have chosen M. Berquin's
work because of its universal popularity; probably all the examples
which have been selected, are in the recollection of most readers, or
at least it is easy to refer to them, because "The Children's Friend"
is to be found in every house where there are any children. The
principles by which we have examined Berquin, may be applied to all
books of the same class. Sandford and Merton, Madame de Silleri's
Theatre of Education, and her Tales of the Castle, Madame de la Fite's
Tales and Conversations, Mrs. Smith's Rural Walks, with a long list of
other books for children, which have considerable merit, would deserve
a separate analysis, if literary criticism were our object. A critic
once, with indefatigable ill-nature, picked out all the faults of a
beautiful poem, and presented them to Apollo. The god ordered a
bushel of his best Parnassian wheat to be carefully winnowed, and he
presented the critic with the chaff. Our wish is to separate the small
portion of what is useless, from the excellent nutriment contained in
the books we have mentioned.

With respect to sentimental stories,[105] and books of mere
entertainment, we must remark, that they should be sparingly used,
especially in the education of girls. This species of reading,
cultivates what is called the heart prematurely; lowers the tone of
the mind, and induces indifference for those common pleasures and
occupations which, however trivial in themselves, constitute by far
the greatest portion of our daily happiness. Stories are the novels of
childhood. We know, from common experience, the effects which are
produced upon the female mind by immoderate novel reading. To those
who acquire this taste, every object becomes disgusting which is not
in an attitude for poetic painting; a species of moral picturesque is
sought for in every scene of life, and this is not always compatible
with sound sense, or with simple reality. Gainsborough's Country Girl,
as it has been humorously[106] remarked, "is a much more picturesque
object, than a girl neatly dressed in a clean white frock; but for
this reason, are all children to go in rags?" A tragedy heroine,
weeping, swooning, dying, is a moral picturesque object; but the
frantic passions, which have the best effect upon the stage, might,
when exhibited in domestic life, appear to be drawn upon too large a
scale to please. The difference between reality and fiction, is so
great, that those who copy from any thing but nature, are continually
disposed to make mistakes in their conduct, which appear ludicrous to
the impartial spectator. Pathos depends on such nice circumstances,
that domestic, sentimental distresses, are in a perilous situation;
the sympathy of their audience, is not always in the power of the fair
performers. Frenzy itself may be turned to farce.[107] "Enter the
princess mad in white satin, and her attendant mad in white linen."

Besides the danger of creating a romantic taste, there is reason to
believe, that the species of reading to which we object, has an effect
directly opposite to what it is intended to produce. It diminishes,
instead of increasing, the sensibility of the heart; a combination of
romantic imagery, is requisite to act upon the associations of
sentimental people, and they are virtuous only when virtue is in
perfectly good taste. An eloquent philosopher[108] observes, that in
the description of scenes of distress in romance and poetry, the
distress is always made _elegant_; the imagination, which has been
accustomed to this delicacy in fictitious narrations, revolts from the
disgusting circumstances which attend real poverty, disease and
misery; the emotions of pity, and the exertions of benevolence, are
consequently repressed precisely at the time when they are necessary
to humanity.

With respect to pity, it is a spontaneous, natural emotion, which is
strongly felt by children, but they cannot properly be said to feel
benevolence till they are capable of reasoning. Charity must, in them,
be a very doubtful virtue; they cannot be competent judges as to the
general utility of what they give. Persons of the most enlarged
understanding, find it necessary to be extremely cautious in
charitable donations, lest they should do more harm than good.
Children cannot see beyond the first link in the chain which holds
society together; at the best, then, their charity can be but a
partial virtue. But in fact, children have nothing to give; they think
that they give, when they dispose of property of their parents; they
suffer no privation from this sort of generosity, and they learn
ostentation, instead of practising self-denial. Berquin, in his
excellent story of "The Little Needle Woman," has made the children
give their own work; here the pleasure of employment is immediately
connected with the gratification of benevolent feelings; their pity is
not merely passive, it is active and useful.

In fictitious narratives, affection for parents, and for brothers and
sisters, is often painted in agreeable colours, to excite the
admiration and sympathy of children. Caroline, the charming little
girl, who gets upon a chair to wipe away the tears that trickle down
her eldest sister's cheek when her mother is displeased with her,[109]
forms a natural and beautiful picture; but the desire to imitate
Caroline must produce affectation. All the simplicity of youth, is
gone the moment children perceive that they are extolled for the
expression of fine feelings, and fine sentiments. Gratitude, esteem
and affection, do not depend upon the table of consanguinity; they are
involuntary feelings, which cannot be raised at pleasure by the voice
of authority; they will not obey the dictates of interest; they
secretly despise the anathemas of sentiment. Esteem and affection, are
the necessary consequences of a certain course of conduct, combined
with certain external circumstances, which are, more or less, in the
power of every individual. To arrange these circumstances prudently,
and to pursue a proper course of conduct steadily, something more is
necessary than the transitory impulse of sensibility, or of
enthusiasm.

There is a class of books which amuse the imagination of children,
without acting upon their feelings. We do not allude to fairy tales,
for we apprehend that these are not now much read; but we mean voyages
and travels; these interest young people universally. Robinson Crusoe,
Gulliver, and the Three Russian Sailors, who were cast away upon the
coast of Norway, are general favourites. No child ever read an account
of a shipwreck, or even a storm, without pleasure. A desert island is
a delightful place, to be equalled only by the skating land of the
rein-deer, or by the valley of diamonds in the Arabian Tales. Savages,
especially if they be cannibals, are sure to be admired, and the more
hair-breadth escapes the hero of the tale has survived, and the more
marvellous his adventures, the more sympathy he excites.[110]

Will it be thought to proceed from a spirit of contradiction, if we
remark, that this species of reading should not early be chosen for
boys of an enterprising temper, unless they are intended for a
sea-faring life, or for the army? The taste for adventure, is
absolutely incompatible with the sober perseverance necessary to
success in any other liberal professions. To girls, this species of
reading cannot be as dangerous as it is to boys; girls must very soon
perceive the impossibility of their rambling about the world in quest
of adventures; and where there appears an obvious impossibility in
gratifying any wish, it is not likely to become, or at least to
continue, a torment to the imagination. Boys, on the contrary, from
the habits of their education, are prone to admire, and to imitate,
every thing like enterprise and heroism. Courage and fortitude, are
the virtues of men, and it is natural that boys should desire, if they
believe that they possess these virtues, to be placed in those great
and extraordinary situations which can display them to advantage. The
taste for adventure, is not repressed in boys by the impossibility of
its indulgence; the world is before them, and they think that fame
promises the highest prize to those who will most boldly venture in
the lottery of fortune. The rational probability of success, few young
people are able, fewer still are willing, to calculate; and the
calculations of prudent friends, have little power over their
understandings, or at least, over their imagination, the part of the
understanding which is most likely to decide their conduct.--From
general maxims, we cannot expect that young people should learn much
prudence; each individual admits the propriety of the rule, yet
believes himself to be a privileged exception. Where any prize is
supposed to be in the gift of fortune, every man, or every young man,
takes it for granted that he is a favourite, and that it will be
bestowed upon him. The profits of commerce and of agriculture, the
profits of every art and profession, can be estimated with tolerable
accuracy; the value of activity, application and abilities, can be
respectively measured by some certain standard. Modest, or even
prudent people, will scruple to rate themselves in all of these
qualifications superior to their neighbours; but every man will allow
that, in point of good fortune, at any game of chance, he thinks
himself upon a fair level with every other competitor.

When a young man deliberates upon what course of life he shall follow,
the patient drudgery of a trade, the laborious mental exertions
requisite to prepare him for a profession, must appear to him in a
formidable light, compared with the alluring prospects presented by an
adventuring imagination. At this time of life, it will be too late
suddenly to change the taste; it will be inconvenient, if not
injurious, to restrain a young man's inclinations by force or
authority; it will be imprudent, perhaps fatally imprudent, to leave
them uncontroled. Precautions should therefore be taken long before
this period, and the earlier they are taken, the better. It is not
idle refinement to assert, that the first impressions which are made
upon the imagination, though they may be changed by subsequent
circumstances, yet are discernible in every change, and are seldom
entirely effaced from the mind, though it may be difficult to trace
them through all their various appearances. A boy, who at seven years
old, longs to be Robinson Crusoe, or Sinbad the sailor, may at
seventeen, retain the same taste for adventure and enterprise, though
mixed so as to be less discernible, with the incipient passions of
avarice and ambition; he has the same dispositions modified by a
slight knowledge of real life, and guided by the manners and
conversation of his friends and acquaintance. Robinson Crusoe and
Sinbad, will no longer be his favourite heroes; but he will now admire
the soldier of fortune, the commercial adventurer, or the nabob, who
has discovered in the east the secret of Aladdin's wonderful lamp; and
who has realized the treasures of Aboulcasem.

The history of realities, written in an entertaining manner, appears
not only better suited to the purposes of education, but also more
agreeable to young people than improbable fictions. We have seen the
reasons why it is dangerous to pamper the taste early with mere books
of entertainment; to voyages and travels, we have made some
objections. Natural history, is a study particularly suited to
children: it cultivates their talents for observation, applies to
objects within their reach, and to objects which are every day
interesting to them. The histories of the bee, the ant, the
caterpillar, the butterfly, the silk-worm, are the first things that
please the taste of children, and these are the histories of
realities.

Amongst books of mere entertainment, no one can be so injudicious, or
so unjust, as to class the excellent "Evenings at Home." Upon a close
examination, it appears to be one of the best books for young people
from seven to ten years old, that has yet appeared. We shall not
pretend to enter into a minute examination of it; because, from what
we have already said, parents can infer our sentiments, and we wish to
avoid tedious, unnecessary detail. We shall, however, just observe,
that the lessons on natural history, on metals, and on chemistry, are
particularly useful, not so much from the quantity of knowledge which,
they contain, as by the agreeable manner in which it is communicated:
the mind is opened to extensive views, at the same time that nothing
above the comprehension of children is introduced. The mixture of
moral and, scientific lessons, is happily managed so as to relieve
the attention; some of the moral lessons, contain sound argument, and
some display just views of life. "Perseverance against Fortune;" "The
Price of Victory;" "Eyes and no Eyes," have been generally admired as
much by parents as by children.

There is a little book called "Leisure Hours," which contains a great
deal of knowledge suited to young people; but they must observe, that
the style is not elegant; perhaps, in a future edition, the style may
be revised. The "Conversations d'Emile," are elegantly written, and
the character of the mother and child admirably well preserved. White
of Selborne's Naturalist's Calendar, we can recommend with entire
approbation: it is written in a familiar, yet elegant style; and the
journal form, gives it that air of reality which is so agreeable and
interesting to the mind. Mr. White will make those who have observed,
observe the more, and will excite the spirit of observation in those
who never before observed.

Smellie's Natural History, is a useful, entertaining book; but it
_must_ be carefully looked over, and many pages and half pages must be
entirely sacrificed. And here one general caution may be necessary. It
is hazarding too much, to make children promise not to read parts of
any book which is put into their hands; when the book is too valuable,
in the parent's estimation, to be cut or blotted, let it not be given
to children when they are alone; in a parent's presence, there is no
danger, and the children will acquire the habit of reading the
passages that are selected without feeling curiosity about the rest.
As young people grow up, they will judge of the selections that have
been made for them; they will perceive why such a passage was fit for
their understanding at one period, which they could not have
understood at another. If they are never forced to read what is
tiresome, they will anxiously desire to have passages selected for
them; and they will not imagine that their parents are capricious in
these selections; but they will, we speak from experience, be
sincerely grateful to them for the time and trouble bestowed in
procuring their literary amusements.

When young people have established their character for truth and exact
integrity, they should be entirely trusted with books as with every
thing else. A slight pencil line at the side of a page, will then be
all that is necessary to guide them to the best parts of any book.
Suspicion would be as injurious, as too easy a faith is imprudent:
confidence confirms integrity; but the habits of truth must be formed
before dangerous temptations are presented. We intended to have given
a list of books, and to have named the pages in several authors, which
have been found interesting to children from seven to nine or ten
years old. The Reviews; The Annual Registers; Enfield's Speaker;
_Elegant Extracts_; The Papers of the Manchester Society; The French
Academy of Sciences; Priestley's History of Vision; and parts of the
Works of Franklin, of Chaptal, Lavoisier and Darwin, have supplied us
with our best materials. Some periodical papers from the World,
Rambler, Guardian, and Adventurer, have been chosen: these are books
with which all libraries are furnished. But we forbear to offer any
list; the passages we should have mentioned, have been found to please
in one family; but we are sensible, that as circumstances vary, the
choice of books for different families, ought to be different. Every
parent must be capable of selecting those passages in books which are
most suited to the age, temper, and taste of their children. Much of
the success, both of literary and moral education, will depend upon
our seizing the happy moments for instruction; moments when knowledge
immediately applies to what children are intent upon themselves; the
step which is to be taken by the understanding, should immediately
follow that which has already been secured. By watching the turn of
mind, and by attending to the conversation of children, we may
perceive exactly what will suit them in books; and we may preserve the
connection of their ideas without fatiguing their attention. A
paragraph read aloud from the newspaper of the day, a passage from any
book which parents happen to be reading themselves, will catch the
attention of the young people in a family, and will, perhaps, excite
more taste and more curiosity, than could be given by whole volumes
read at times when the mind is indolent or intent upon other
occupations.

The custom of reading aloud for a great while together, is extremely
fatiguing to children, and hurtful to their understandings; they learn
to read on without the slightest attention or thought; the more
fluently they read, the worse it is for them; for their preceptors,
whilst words and sentences are pronounced with tolerable emphasis,
never seem to suspect that the reader can be tired, or that his mind
may be absent from his book. The monotonous tones which are acquired
by children who read a great deal aloud, are extremely disagreeable,
and the habit cannot easily be broken: we may observe, that children
who have not acquired bad customs, always read as they speak, when
they understand what they read; but the moment when they come to any
sentence which they do not comprehend, their voice alters, and they
read with hesitation, or with false emphasis: to these signals a
preceptor should always attend, and the passage should be explained
before the pupil is taught to read it in a musical tone, or with the
proper emphasis: thus children should be taught to read by the
understanding, and not merely by the ear. Dialogues, dramas, and well
written narratives, they always read _well_, and these should be their
exercises in the art of reading: they should be allowed to put down
the book as soon as they are tired; but an attentive tutor will
perceive when they ought to be stopped, _before_ the utmost point of
fatigue. We have heard a boy of nine years old, who had never been
taught elocution by any reading master, read simple pathetic passages,
and natural dialogues in "Evenings at Home," in a manner which would
have made even Sterne's critic forget his stop-watch.

By reading much at a time, it is true that a great number of books
are run through in a few years; but this is not at all our object; on
the contrary, our greatest difficulty has been to find a sufficient
number of books fit for children to read. If they early acquire a
strong taste for literature, no matter how few authors they may have
perused. We have often heard young people exclaim, "I'm glad I have
not read such a book--I have a great pleasure to come!"--Is not this
better than to see a child yawn over a work, and count the number of
tiresome pages, whilst he says, "I shall have got through this book by
and by; and what must I read when I have done this? I believe I never
shall have read all I am to read! What a number of tiresome books
there are in the world! I wonder what can be the reason that I must
read them all! If I were but allowed to skip the pages that I don't
understand, I should be much happier, for when I come to any thing
entertaining in a book, I can keep myself awake, and then I like
reading as well as any body does."

Far from forbidding to skip the incomprehensible pages, or to close
the tiresome volume, we should exhort our pupils never to read one
single page that tires, or that they do not fully understand. We need
not fear, that, because an excellent book is not interesting at one
period of education, it should not become interesting at another; the
child is always the best judge of what is suited to his present
capacity. If he says, "Such a book tires me," the preceptor should
never answer with a forbidding, reproachful look, "I am surprised at
that, it is no great proof of your taste; the book, which you say
tires you, is written by one of the best authors in the English
language." The boy is sorry for it, but he cannot help it; and he
concludes, if he be of a timid temper, that he has no taste for
literature, since the best authors in the English language tire him.
It is in vain to tell him, that the book is "universally allowed to be
very entertaining."

    "If it be not such to me,
    What care I how fine it be!"

The more encouraging and more judicious parent would answer upon a
similar occasion, "You are very right not to read what tires you, my
dear; and I am glad that you have sense enough to tell me that this
book does not entertain you, though it is written by one of the best
authors in the English language. We do not think at all the worse of
your taste and understanding; we know that the day will come when this
book will probably entertain you; put it by until then, I advise you."

It may be thought, that young people who read only those parts of
books which are entertaining, or those which are selected for them,
are in danger of learning a taste for variety, and desultory habits,
which may prevent their acquiring accurate knowledge upon any subject,
and which may render them incapable of that literary application,
without which nothing can be well learned. We hope the candid
preceptor will suspend his judgment, until we can explain our
sentiments upon this subject more fully, when we examine the nature of
invention and memory.[111]

The secret fear, that stimulates parents to compel their children to
constant application to certain books, arises from the opinion, that
much chronological and historical knowledge must at all events be
acquired during a certain number of years. The knowledge of history is
thought a necessary accomplishment in one sex, and an essential part
of education in the other. We ought, however, to distinguish between
that knowledge of history and of chronology which is really useful,
and that which is acquired merely for parade. We must call that useful
knowledge, which enlarges the view of human life and of human nature,
which teaches by the experience of the past, what we may expect in
future. To study history as it relates to these objects, the pupil
must have acquired much previous knowledge; the habit of reasoning,
and the power of combining distant analogies. The works of Hume, of
Robertson, Gibbon, or Voltaire, can be properly understood only by
well informed and highly cultivated understandings. Enlarged views of
policy, some knowledge of the interests of commerce, of the progress
and state of civilization and literature in different countries, are
necessary to whoever studies these authors with real advantage.
Without these, the finest sense, and the finest writing, must be
utterly thrown away upon the reader. Children, consequently, under the
name of fashionable histories, often read what to them is absolute
nonsense: they have very little motive for the study of history, and
all that we can say to keep alive their interest, amounts to the
common argument, "that such information will be useful to them
hereafter, when they hear history mentioned in conversation."

Some people imagine, that the memory resembles a store-house, in which
we should early lay up facts; and they assert, that, however useless
these may appear at the time when they are laid up, they will
afterwards be ready for service at our summons. One allusion may be
fairly answered by another, since it is impossible to oppose allusion
by reasoning. In accumulating facts, as in amassing riches, people
often begin by believing that they value wealth only for the use they
shall make of it; but it often happens, that during the course of
their labours, they learn habitually to set a value upon the coin
itself, and they grow avaricious of that which they are sensible has
little intrinsic value. Young people who have accumulated a vast
number of facts, and names, and dates, perhaps intended originally to
make some good use of their treasure; but they frequently forget their
laudable intentions, and conclude by contenting themselves with the
display of their nominal wealth. Pedants and misers forget the real
use of wealth and knowledge, and they accumulate without rendering
what they acquire useful to themselves or to others.

A number of facts are often stored in the mind, which lie there
useless, because they cannot be found at the moment when they are
wanted. It is not sufficient, therefore, in education, to store up
knowledge; it is essential to arrange facts so that they shall be
ready for use, as materials for the imagination, or the judgment, to
select and combine. The power of retentive memory is exercised too
much, the faculty of recollective memory is exercised too little, by
the common modes of education. Whilst children are reading the history
of kings, and battles, and victories; whilst they are learning tables
of chronology and lessons of geography by rote, their inventive and
their reasoning faculties are absolutely passive; nor are any of the
facts which they learn in this manner, associated with circumstances
in real life. These trains of ideas may with much pains and labour be
fixed in the memory, but they must be recalled precisely in the order
in which they were learnt by rote, and this is not the order in which
they may be wanted: they will be conjured up in technical succession,
or in troublesome multitudes.--Many people are obliged to repeat the
alphabet before they can recollect the relative place of any given
letter; others repeat a column of the multiplication table before they
can recollect the given sum of the number they want. There is a common
rigmarole for telling the number of days in each month in the year;
those who have learnt it by heart, usually repeat the whole of it
before they can recollect the place of the month which they want; and
sometimes in running over the lines, people miss the very month which
they are thinking of, or repeat its name without perceiving that they
have named it. In the same manner, those who have learned historical
or chronological facts in a technical mode, must go through the whole
train of their rigmarole associations before they can hit upon the
idea which they want. Lord Bolingbroke mentions an acquaintance of
his, who had an amazing collection of facts in his memory, but
unfortunately he could never produce one of them in the proper moment;
he was always obliged to go back to to some fixed landing place, from
which he was accustomed to take his flight. Lord Bolingbroke used to
be afraid of asking him a question, because when once he began, he
went off like a larum, and could not be stopped; he poured out a
profusion of things which had nothing to do with the point in
question; and it was ten to one but he omitted the only circumstance
that would have been really serviceable. Many people who have
tenacious memories, and who have been ill educated, find themselves in
a similar condition, with much knowledge baled up, an incumbrance to
themselves and to their friends. The great difference which appears in
men of the same profession, and in the same circumstances, depends
upon the application of their knowledge more than upon the quantity of
their learning.

With respect to a knowledge of history and chronologic learning, every
body is now nearly upon a level; this species of information cannot be
a great distinction to any one; a display of such common knowledge, is
considered by literary people, and by men of genius especially, as
ridiculous and offensive. One motive, therefore, for loading the minds
of children with historic dates and facts, is likely, even from its
having universally operated, to cease to operate in future. Without
making it a laborious task to young people, it is easy to give them
such a knowledge of history, as will preserve them from the shame of
ignorance, and put them upon a footing with men of good sense in
society, though not, perhaps, with men who have studied history for
the purpose of shining in conversation. For our purpose, it is not
necessary early to study voluminous philosophic histories; these
should be preserved for a more advanced period of their education. The
first thing to be done, is to seize the moment when curiosity is
excited by the accidental mention of any historic name or event. When
a child hears his father talk of the Roman emperors, or of the Roman
people, he naturally inquires who these people were; some short
explanation may be given, so as to leave curiosity yet unsatisfied.
The prints of the Roman emperors' heads, and Mrs. Trimmer's prints of
the remarkable events in the Roman and English history, will entertain
children. Madame de Silleri, in her Adela and Theodore, describes
historical hangings, which she found advantageous to her pupils. In a
prince's palace, or a nobleman's palace, such hangings would be
suitable decorations, or in a public seminary of education it would be
worth while to prepare them: private families would, perhaps, be
alarmed at the idea of expense, and at the idea, that their house
could not readily be furnished in proper time for the instruction of
children. As we know the effect of such apprehensions of difficulty,
we forbear from insisting upon historical hangings, especially as we
think that children should not, by any great apparatus for teaching
them history, be induced to set an exorbitant value upon this sort of
knowledge, and should hence be excited to cultivate their memories
without reasoning or reflecting. If any expedients are thought
necessary to fix historic facts early in the mind, the entertaining
display of Roman emperors, and British kings and queens, may be made,
as madame de Silleri recommends, in a magic lantern, or by the Ombres
Chinoises. When these are exhibited, there should be some care taken
not to introduce any false ideas. Parents should be present at the
spectacle, and should answer each eager question with prudence. "Ha!
here comes queen Elizabeth!" exclaims the child; "was she a good
woman?" A foolish show-man would answer, "Yes, master, she was the
greatest queen that ever sat upon the English throne!" A sensible
mother would reply, "My dear, I cannot answer that question; you will
read her history yourself, you will judge by her actions, whether she
was, or was not, a good woman." Children are often extremely impatient
to settle the precise merit and demerit of every historical personage,
with whose names they become acquainted; but this impatience should
not be gratified by the short method of referring to the characters
given of these persons in any common historical abridgment. We should
advise all such characters to be omitted in books for children; let
those who read, form a judgment for themselves: this will do more
service to the understanding, than can be done by learning by rote the
opinion of any historian. The good and bad qualities; the decisive,
yet contradictory, epithets, are so jumbled together in these
characters, that no distinct notion can be left in the reader's mind;
and the same words recur so frequently in the characters of different
kings, that they are read over in a monotonous voice, as mere
concluding sentences, which come of course, at the end of every reign.
"King Henry the Fifth, was tall and slender, with a long neck,
engaging aspect, and limbs of the most elegant turn. **********. His
valour was such as no danger could startle, and no difficulty could
oppose. He managed the dissentions amongst his enemies with such
address as spoke him consummate in the arts of the cabinet. He was
chaste, temperate, modest, and devout, scrupulously just in his
administration, and severely exact in the discipline of his army, upon
which he knew his glory and success in a great measure depended. In a
word, it must be owned that he was without an equal in the arts of
war, policy, and government. His great qualities were, however,
somewhat obscured by his ambition, and his natural propensity to
cruelty."

Is it possible that a child of seven or eight years old can acquire
any distinct, or any just ideas, from the perusal of this character of
Henry the fifth? Yet it is selected as one of the best drawn
characters from a little abridgment of the history of England, which
is, in general, as well done as any we have seen. Even the least
exceptionable historic abridgments require the corrections of a
patient parent. In abridgments for children, the facts are usually
interspersed with what the authors intend for moral reflections, and
easy explanations of political events, which are meant to be suited
to _the meanest capacities_. These reflections and explanations do
much harm; they instil prejudice, and they accustom the young
unsuspicious reader to swallow absurd reasoning, merely because it is
often presented to him. If no history can be found entirely free from
these defects, and if it be even impossible to correct any completely,
without writing the whole over again, yet much may be done by those
who hear children read. Explanations can be given at the moment when
the difficulties occur. When the young reader pauses to think, allow
him to think, and suffer him to question the assertions which he meets
with in books, with freedom, and that minute accuracy which is only
tiresome to those who cannot reason. The simple morality of childhood
is continually puzzled and shocked at the representation of the crimes
and the virtues of historic heroes. History, when divested of the
graces of eloquence, and of that veil which the imagination is taught
to throw over antiquity, presents a disgusting, terrible list of
crimes and calamities: murders, assassinations, battles, revolutions,
are the memorable events of history. The love of glory atones for
military barbarity; treachery and fraud are frequently dignified with
the names of prudence and policy; and the historian, desirous to
appear moral and sentimental, yet compelled to produce facts, makes
out an inconsistent, ambiguous system of morality. A judicious and
honest preceptor will not, however, imitate the false tenderness of
the historian for the dead; he will rather consider what is most
advantageous to the living; he will perceive, that it is of more
consequence that his pupils should have distinct notions of right and
wrong, than that they should have perfectly by rote all the Grecian,
Roman, English, French, all the fifty volumes of the Universal
History. A preceptor will not surely attempt, by any sophistry, to
justify the crimes which sometimes obtain the name of heroism; when
his ingenious indignant pupil verifies the astonishing numeration of
the hundreds and thousands that were put to death by a conqueror, or
that fell in one battle, he will allow this astonishment and
indignation to be just, and he will rejoice that it is strongly felt
and expressed.

Besides the false characters which are sometimes drawn of individuals
in history, national characters are often decidedly given in a few
epithets, which prejudice the mind, and convey no real information.
Can a child learn any thing but national prepossession, from reading
in a character of the English nation, that "boys, before they can
speak, discover that they know the proper guards in boxing with their
fists; a quality that, perhaps, is peculiar to the English, and is
seconded by a strength of arm that few other people can exert? _This_
gives their soldiers an infinite superiority in all battles that are
to be decided by the bayonet screwed upon the musket."[112] Why should
children be told, that the Italians are _naturally_ revengeful; the
French _naturally_ vain and perfidious, excessively credulous and
litigious; that the Spaniards are _naturally_ jealous and
haughty?[113] The patriotism of an enlarged and generous mind cannot,
surely, depend upon the early contempt inspired for foreign
nations.--We do not speak of the education necessary for naval and
military men--with this we have nothing to do; but surely it cannot be
necessary to teach national prejudices to any other class of young
men. If these prejudices are ridiculed by sensible parents, children
will not be misled by partial authors; general assertions will be of
little consequence to those who are taught to reason; they will not be
overawed by nonsense wherever they may meet with it.

The words whig and tory, occur frequently in English history, and
liberty and tyranny are talked of--the influence of the crown--the
rights of the people. What are children of eight or nine years old to
understand by these expressions? and how can a tutor explain them,
without inspiring political prejudices? We do not mean here to enter
into any political discussion; we think, that children should not be
taught the principles of their preceptors, whatever they may be; they
should judge for themselves, and, until they are able to judge, all
discussion, all explanations, should be scrupulously avoided. Whilst
they are children, the plainest chronicles are for them the best
histories, because they express no political tenets and dogmas. When
our pupils grow up, at whatever age they may be capable of
understanding them, the best authors who have written on each side of
the question, the best works, without any party considerations, should
be put into their hands; and let them form their own opinions from
facts and arguments, uninfluenced by passion, and uncontrolled by
authority.

As young people increase their collection of historic facts, some
arrangement will be necessary to preserve these in proper order in the
memory. Priestley's Biographical Chart, is an extremely ingenious
contrivance for this purpose; it should hang up in the room where
children read, or rather where they live, for we hope no room will
ever be dismally consecrated to their studies. Whenever they hear any
celebrated name mentioned, or when they meet with any in books, they
will run to search for these names in the biographical chart; and
those who are used to children, will perceive, that the pleasure of
this search, and the joy of the discovery, will fix biography and
chronology easily in their memories. Mortimer's Student's Dictionary,
and Brookes's Gazetteer, should, in a library or room which children
usually inhabit, be always within the reach of children. If they are
always consulted at the very moment they are wanted, much may be
learned from them; but if there be any difficulty in getting at these
dictionaries, children forget, and lose all interest in the things
which they wanted to know. But if knowledge becomes immediately
useful, or entertaining to them, there is no danger of their
forgetting. Who ever forgets Shakespeare's historical plays? The
arrangements contrived and executed by others, do not always fix
things so firmly in our remembrance, as those which we have had some
share in contriving and executing ourselves.

One of our pupils has drawn out a biographical chart upon the plan of
Priestley's, inserting such names only as he was well acquainted with;
he found, that in drawing out this chart, a great portion of general
history and biography was fixed in his memory. Charts, in the form of
Priestley's, but without the names of the heroes, &c. being inserted,
would, perhaps, be useful for schools and private families.

There are two French historical works, which we wish were well
translated for the advantage of those who do not understand French.
The chevalier Meheghan's Tableau de l'Histoire Moderne, which is
sensibly divided into epochs; and Condillac's View of Universal
History, comprised in five volumes, in his "Cours d'Etude pour
l'Instruction du Prince de Parme." This history carries on, along with
the records of wars and revolutions, the history of the progress of
the human mind, of arts, and sciences; the view of the different
governments of Europe, is full and concise; no prejudices are
instilled; yet the manly and rational eloquence of virtue, gives life
and spirit to the work. The concluding address, from the preceptor to
his royal pupil, is written with all the enlightened energy of a man
of truth and genius. We do not recommend Condillac's history as an
elementary work; for this it is by no means fit; but it is one of the
best histories that a young man of fifteen or sixteen can read.

It is scarcely possible to conceive, that several treatises on
grammar, the art of reasoning, thinking, and writing, which are
contained in M. Condillac's course of study, were designed by him for
elementary books, for the instruction of a child from seven to ten
years old. It appears the more surprising that the abbé should have
so far mistaken the capacity of childhood, because, in his judicious
preface, he seems fully sensible of the danger of premature
cultivation, and of the absurdity of substituting a knowledge of words
for a knowledge of things. As M. Condillac's is a work of high
reputation, we may be allowed to make a few remarks on its practical
utility, and this may, perhaps, afford us an opportunity of explaining
our ideas upon the use of metaphysical, poetical, and critical works,
in early education. We do not mean any invidious criticism upon
Condillac, but in "Practical Education" we wish to take our examples
and illustrations from real life. The abbé's course of study, for a
boy of seven years old, begins with metaphysics. In his preface he
asserts, that the arts of speaking, reasoning, and writing, differ
from one another only in degrees of accuracy, and in the more or less
perfect connection of ideas. He observes, that attention to the manner
in which we acquire, and in which we arrange our knowledge, is
necessary equally to those who would learn, and to those who would
teach, with success. These remarks are just; but does not he draw an
erroneous conclusion from his own principles, when he infers, that the
first lessons which we should teach a child, ought to be metaphysical?
He has given us an abstract of those which he calls preliminary
lessons, on the operations of the soul, on attention, judgment,
imagination, &c.--he adds, that he thought it useless to give to the
public the conversations and explanations which he had with his pupil
on these subjects. Both parents and children must regret the
suppression of these explanatory notes; as the lessons appear at
present, no child of seven years old can understand, and few
preceptors can or will make them what they ought to be. In the first
lesson on the different species of ideas, the abbé says,

"The idea, for instance, which I have of Peter, is singular, or
individual; and as the idea of man is general relatively to the ideas
of a nobleman and a citizen, it is particular as it relates to the
idea of animal."[114]

"Relatively to the ideas of a nobleman and a citizen." What a long
explanation upon these words there must have been between the abbé and
the prince! The whole view of society must have been opened at once,
or the prince must have swallowed prejudices and metaphysics together.
To make these things familiar to a child, Condillac says, that we must
bring a few or many examples; but where shall we find examples? Where
shall we find proper words to express to a child ideas of political
relations mingled with metaphysical subtleties?

Through this whole chapter, on particular and general ideas, the abbé
is secretly intent upon a dispute began or revived in the thirteenth
century, and not yet finished, between the Nominalists and the
Realists; but a child knows nothing of this.

In the article "On the Power of Thinking," an article which he
acknowledges to be a little difficult, he observes, that the great
point is to make the child comprehend what is meant by attention; "for
as soon as he understands that, all the rest," he assures us, "will be
easy." Is it then of less consequence, that the child should learn the
habit of attention, than that he should learn the meaning of the word?
Granting, however, that the definition of this word is of consequence,
that definition should be made proportionably clear. The tutor, at
least, must understand it, before he can hope to explain it to his
pupil. Here it is:

"*** when amongst many sensations which you experience at the same
time, _the direction of the organs_ makes you take notice of one, so
that you do not observe the others any longer, this sensation becomes
what we call _attention_."[115]

This is not accurate; it is not clear whether the direction of the
organs be the cause, or the effect, of attention; or whether it be
only a concomitant of the sensation. Attention, we know, can be
exercised upon abstract ideas; for this objection M. Condillac has
afterwards a provisional clause, but the original definition remains
defective, because the direction of the organs is not, though it be
stated as such, essential: besides, we are told only, that the
sensation described becomes (devient) what we call attention. What
attention actually is, we are still left to discover. The matter is
made yet more difficult; for when we are just fixed in the belief,
that attention depends "upon our remarking one sensation, and not
remarking others which we may have at the same time," we are in the
next chapter given to understand, that "in comparison we may have _a
double attention, or two attentions_, which are only two sensations,
which make themselves be taken notice of equally, and consequently
comparison consists only of sensations."[116]

The doctrine of simultaneous ideas here glides in, and we concede
unawares all that is necessary to the abbé's favourite system, "that
sensation becomes successively attention, memory, comparison,
judgment, and reflection;[117] and that the art of reasoning is
reducible to a series of identic propositions." Without, at present,
attempting to examine this system, we may observe, that in education
it is more necessary to preserve the mind from prejudice, than to
prepare it for the adoption of any system. Those who have attended to
metaphysical proceedings, know, that if a few apparently trifling
concessions be made in the beginning of the business, a man of
ingenuity may force us, in the end, to acknowledge whatever he
pleases. It is impossible that a child can foresee these consequences,
nor is it probable that he should have paid such accurate attention to
the operations of his own mind, as to be able to detect the fallacy,
or to feel the truth, of his tutor's assertions. A metaphysical
catechism may readily be taught to children; they may learn to answer
almost as readily as Trenck answered in his sleep to the guards who
regularly called to him every night at midnight. Children may answer
expertly to the questions, "What is attention? What is memory? What is
imagination? What is the difference between wit and judgment? How many
sorts of ideas have you, and which are they?" But when they are
perfect in their responses to all these questions, how much are they
advanced in real knowledge?

Allegory has mixed with metaphysics almost as much as with poetry;
personifications of memory and imagination are familiar to us; to each
have been addressed odes and sonnets, so that we almost believe in
their individual existence, or at least we are become jealous of the
separate attributes of these ideal beings. This metaphysical mythology
may be ingenious and elegant, but it is better adapted to the
pleasures of poetry than to the purposes of reasoning. Those who have
been accustomed to respect and believe in it, will find it difficult
soberly to examine any argument upon abstract subjects; their
favourite prejudices will retard them when they attempt to advance in
the art of reasoning. All accurate metaphysical reasoners have
perceived, and deplored, the difficulties which the prepossessions of
education have thrown in their way; and they have been obliged to
waste their time and powers in fruitless attempts to vanquish these in
their own minds, or in those of their readers. Can we wish in
education to perpetuate similar errors, and to transmit to another
generation the same artificial imbecility? Or can we avoid these
evils, if with our present habits of thinking and speaking, we attempt
to teach metaphysics to children of seven years old?

A well educated, intelligent young man, accustomed to accurate
reasoning, yet brought up without any metaphysical prejudices, would
be a treasure to a metaphysician to cross examine: he would be eager
to hear the unprejudiced youth's evidence, as the monarch, who had
ordered a child to be shut up, without hearing one word of any human
language, from infancy to manhood, was impatient to hear what would be
the first word that he uttered. But though we wish extremely well to
the experiments of metaphysicians, we are more intent upon the
advantage which our unprejudiced pupils would themselves derive from
their judicious education: probably they would, coming fresh to the
subject, make some discoveries in the science of metaphysics: they
would have no paces[118] to show; perhaps they might advance a step or
two on this difficult ground.

When we object to the early initiation of novices into metaphysical
mysteries, we only recommend it to preceptors not to teach; let pupils
learn whatever they please, or whatever they can, without reading any
metaphysical books, and without hearing any opinions, or learning any
definitions by rote; children may reflect upon their own feelings, and
they should be encouraged to make accurate observations upon their own
minds. Sensible children will soon, for instance, observe the effect
of habit, which enables them to repeat actions with ease and facility,
which they have frequently performed. The association of ideas, as it
assists them to remember particular things, will soon be noticed,
though not, perhaps, in scientific words. The use of the association
of pain or pleasure, in the form of what we call reward and
punishment, may probably be early perceived. Children will be
delighted with these discoveries if they are suffered to make them,
and they will apply this knowledge in their own education. Trifling
daily events will recall their observations, and experience will
confirm, or correct, their juvenile theories. But if metaphysical
books, or dogmas, are forced upon children in the form of lessons,
they will, as such, be learned by rote, and forgotten.

To prevent parents from expecting as much as the abbé Condillac does
from the comprehension of pupils of six or seven years old upon
abstract subjects, and to enable preceptors to form some idea of the
perfect simplicity in which children, unprejudiced upon metaphysical
questions, would express themselves, we give the following little
dialogues, word for word, as they passed:

1780. _Father._ Where do you think?

_A----._ (Six and a half years old.) In my mouth.

_Ho----._ (Five years and a half old.) In my stomach.

_Father._ Where do you feel that you are glad, or sorry?

_A----._ In my stomach.

_Ho----._ In my eyes.

_Father._ What are your senses for?

_Ho----._ To know things.

Without any previous conversation, Ho---- (five years and a half old)
said to her mother, "I think you will be glad my right foot is sore,
because you told me I did not lean enough upon my left foot." This
child seemed, on many occasions, to have formed an accurate idea of
the use of punishment, considering it always as pain given to cure us
of some fault, or to prevent us from suffering more pain in future.

April, 1792. H----, a boy nine years and three quarters old, as he was
hammering at a work-bench, paused for a short time, and then said to
his sister, who was in the room with him, "Sister, I observe that when
I don't look at my right hand when I hammer, and only think where it
ought to hit, I can hammer much better than when I look at it. I don't
know what the reason of that is; unless it is because I think in my
head."

_M----._ I am not sure, but I believe that we do think in our heads.

_H----._ Then, perhaps, my head is divided into two parts, and that
one thinks for one arm, and one for the other; so that when I want to
strike with my right arm, I think where I want to hit the wood, and
then, without looking at it, I can move my arm in the right direction;
as when my father is going to write, he sometimes sketches it.

_M----._ What do you mean, my dear, by sketching it?

_H----._ Why, when he moves his hand (flourishes) without touching the
paper with the pen. And at first, when I want to do any thing, I
cannot move my hand as I mean; but after being used to it, then I can
do much better. I don't know why.

After going on hammering for some time, he stopped again, and said,
"There's another thing I wanted to tell you. Sometimes I think to
myself, that it is right to think of things that are sensible, and
then when I want to set about thinking of things that are sensible, I
_cannot_; I can only think of that over and over again."

_M----._ You can only think of what?

_H----._ Of those words. They seem to be said to me over and over
again, till I'm quite tired, "That it is right to think of things that
have some sense."

The childish expressions in these remarks have not been altered,
because we wished to show exactly how children at this age express
their thoughts. If M. Condillac had been used to converse with
children, he surely would not have expected, that any boy of seven
years old could have understood his definition of attention, and his
metaphysical preliminary lessons.

After these preliminary lessons, we have a sketch of the prince of
Parma's subsequent studies. M. Condillac says, that his royal highness
(being not yet eight years old) was now "perfectly well acquainted
with the system of intellectual operations. He comprehended already
the production of his ideas; he saw the origin and the progress of the
habits which he had contracted, and he perceived how he could
substitute just ideas for the false ones which had been given to him,
and good habits instead of the bad habits which he had been suffered
to acquire. He had become so quickly familiar with all these things,
that he retraced their connection without effort, quite
playfully."[119]

This prince must have been a prodigy! After having made him reflect
upon his own infancy, the abbé judged that the infancy of the world
would appear to his pupil "the most curious subject, and the most easy
to study." The analogy between these two infancies seems to exist
chiefly in words; it is not easy to gratify a child's curiosity
concerning the infancy of the world. Extracts from L'Origine des Loix,
by M. Goguet, with explanatory notes, were put into the prince's
hands, to inform him of what happened in the commencement of society.
These were his evening studies. In the mornings he read the French
poets, Boileau, Moliere, Corneille, and Racine. Racine, as we are
particularly informed, was, in the space of one year, read over a
dozen times. Wretched prince! Unfortunate Racine! The abbé
acknowledges, that at first these authors were not understood with the
same ease as the preliminary lessons had been: every word stopped the
prince, and it seemed as if every line were written in an unknown
language. This is not surprising, for how is it possible that a boy
of seven or eight years old, who could know nothing of life and
manners, could taste the wit and humour of Moliere; and, incapable as
he must have been of sympathy with the violent passions of tragic
heroes and heroines, how could he admire the lofty dramas of Racine?
We are willing to suppose, that the young prince of Parma was quick,
and well informed for his age; but to judge of what is practicable, we
must produce examples from common life, instead of prodigies.

S----, a boy of nine years old, of whose abilities the reader will be
able to form some judgment from anecdotes in the following pages,
whose understanding was not wholy uncultivated, when he was between
nine and ten years old, expressed a wish to read some of Shakespeare's
plays. King John was given to him. After the book had been before him
for one winter's evening, he returned it to his father, declaring that
he did not understand one word of the play; he could not make out what
the people were about, and he did not wish to read any more of it. His
brother H----, at twelve years old, had made an equally ineffectual
attempt to read Shakespeare; he was also equally decided and honest in
expressing his dislike to it; he was much surprised at seeing his
sister B----, who was a year or two older than himself, reading
Shakespeare with great avidity, and he frequently asked what it was in
that book that could entertain her. Two years afterwards, when H----
was between fourteen and fifteen, he made another trial, and he found
that he understood the language of Shakespeare without any difficulty.
He read all the historical plays with the greatest eagerness, and
particularly seized the character of Falstaff. He gave a humorous
description of the figure and dress which he supposed Sir John should
have, of his manner of sitting, speaking, and walking. Probably, if
H---- had been pressed to read Shakespeare at the time when he did not
understand it, he might never have read these plays with real
pleasure during his whole life. Two years increase prodigiously the
vocabulary and the ideas of young people, and preceptors should
consider, that what we call literary taste, cannot be formed without a
variety of knowledge. The productions of our ablest writers cannot
please, until we are familiarized to the ideas which they contain, or
to which they allude.[120]

Poetry is usually supposed to be well suited to the taste and capacity
of children. In the infancy of taste and of eloquence, rhetorical
language is constantly admired; the bold expression of strong feeling,
and the simple description of the beauties of nature, are found to
interest both cultivated and uncultivated minds. To understand
descriptive poetry, no previous knowledge is required, beyond what
common observation and sympathy supply; the analogies and transitions
of thought, are slight and obvious; no labour of attention is
demanded, no active effort of the mind is requisite to follow them.
The pleasures of simple sensation are, by descriptive poetry, recalled
to the imagination, and we live over again our past lives without
increasing, and without desiring to increase, our stock of knowledge.
If these observations be just, there must appear many reasons, why
even that species of poetry which they can understand, should not be
the early study of children; from time to time it may be an agreeable
amusement, but it should not become a part of their daily occupations.
We do not want to retrace perpetually in their memories a few musical
words, or a few simple sensations; our object is to enlarge the sphere
of our pupil's capacity, to strengthen the habits of attention, and to
exercise all the powers of the mind. The inventive and the reasoning
faculties must be injured by the repetition of vague expressions, and
of exaggerated description, with which most poetry abounds. Childhood
is the season for observation, and those who observe accurately, will
afterwards be able to describe accurately: but those, who merely read
descriptions, can present us with nothing but the pictures of
pictures. We have reason to believe, that children, who have not been
accustomed to read a vast deal of poetry, are not, for that reason,
less likely to excel in poetic language. The reader will judge from
the following explanations of Gray's Hymn to Adversity, that the boy
to whom they were addressed, was not much accustomed to read even the
most popular English poetry; yet this is the same child, who a few
months afterwards, wrote the translation from Ovid, of the Cave of
Sleep, and who gave the extempore description of a summer's evening in
tolerably good language.

Jan. 1796. S---- (nine years old) learned by heart the Hymn to
Adversity. When he came to repeat this poem, he did not repeat it
well, and he had it not perfectly by heart. His father suspected that
he did not understand it, and he examined him with some care.

_Father._ "Purple tyrants!" Why purple?

_S----._ Because purple is a colour something like red and black; and
tyrants look red and black.

_Father._ No. Kings were formerly called tyrants, and they wore purple
robes: the purple of the ancients is supposed to be not the colour
which we call purple, but that which we call scarlet.

    "When first thy sire to send on earth
    Virtue, his darling child, design'd,
    To thee he gave the heavenly birth,
    And bade to form her infant mind."

When S---- was asked who was meant in these lines by "thy sire," he
frowned terribly; but after some deliberation, he discovered that "thy
sire" meant Jove, the father, or sire of Adversity: still he was
extremely puzzled with "the heavenly birth." First he thought that the
heavenly birth was the birth of Adversity; but upon recollection, the
heavenly birth was to be trusted to Adversity, therefore she could not
be trusted with the care of herself. S---- at length discovered, that
Jove must have had two daughters, and he said he supposed that Virtue
must have been one of these daughters, and that she must have been
sister to Adversity, who was to be her nurse, and who was to form her
infant mind: he now perceived that the expression, "Stern, rugged
nurse," referred to Adversity; before this, he said, he did not know
who it meant, whose "rigid lore" was alluded to in these two lines, or
who bore it with patience.

    "Stern, rugged nurse, thy rigid lore
    With patience many a year she bore."

The following stanza S---- repeated a second time, as if he did not
understand it.

    "Scared at thy frown, terrific fly
    Self pleasing follies, idle brood,
    Wild laughter, noise, and thoughtless joy,
    And leave us leisure to be good.
    Light they disperse, and with them go
    The summer friend, the flattering foe;
    By vain prosperity receiv'd,
    To her they vow their truth, and are again believ'd."

_Father._ Why does the poet say _wild_ laughter?

_S----._ It means, not reasonable.

_Father._ Why is it said,

    "By vain prosperity receiv'd,
    To her they vow their truth, and are again believ'd?"

_S----._ Because the people, I suppose, when they were in prosperity
before, believed them before, but I think that seems confused.

    "Oh gently on thy suppliant's head,
    Dread goddess, lay thy chastening hand."

S---- did not seem to comprehend the first of these two lines; and
upon cross examination, it appeared that he did not know the meaning
of the word _suppliant_; he thought it meant "a person who supplies
us."

    "Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
    Nor circled by the vengeful band,
    As by the impious thou art seen."

It may appear improbable, that a child who did not know the meaning
of the word suppliant, should understand the Gorgon terrors, and the
vengeful band, yet it was so: S---- understood these lines distinctly;
he said, "Gorgon terrors, yes, like the head of Gorgon." He was at
this time translating from Ovid's Metamorphoses; and it happened that
his father had explained to him the ideas of the ancients concerning
the furies; besides this, several people in the family had been
reading Potter's Æschylus, and the furies had been the subject of
conversation. From such accidental circumstances as these, children
often appear, in the same instant almost, to be extremely quick, and
extremely slow of comprehension; a preceptor who is well acquainted
with all his pupil's previous knowledge, can rapidly increase his
stock of ideas by turning every accidental circumstance to account:
but if a tutor persists in forcing a child to a regular course of
study, all his ideas must be collected, not as they are wanted in
conversation or in real life, but as they are wanted to get through a
lesson or a book. It is not surprising, that M. Condillac found such
long explanations necessary for his young pupil in reading the
tragedies of Racine; he says, that he was frequently obliged to
translate the poetry into prose, and frequently the prince could
gather only some general idea of the whole drama, without
understanding the parts. We cannot help regretting, that the
explanations have not been published for the advantage of future
preceptors; they must have been almost as difficult as those for the
preliminary lessons. As we are convinced that the art of education can
be best improved by the registering of early experiments, we are very
willing to expose such as have been made, without fear of fastidious
criticism or ridicule.

May 1, 1796. A little poem, called "The Tears of Old May-day,"
published in the second volume of the World, was read to S----. Last
May-day the same poem had been read to him; he then liked it much,
and his father wished to see what effect it would have upon this
second reading. The pleasure of novelty was worn off, but S---- felt
new pleasure from his having, during the last year, acquired a great
number of new ideas, and especially some knowledge of ancient
mythology, which enabled him to understand several allusions in the
poem which had before been unintelligible to him. He had become
acquainted with the muses, the graces, Cynthia, Philomel, Astrea, who
are all mentioned in this poem; he now knew something about the
Hesperian fruit, Amalthea's horn, choral dances, Libyan Ammon, &c.
which are alluded to in different lines of the poem: he remembered the
explanation which his father had given him the preceding year, of a
line which alludes to the island of Atalantis:

    "Then vanished many a sea-girt isle and grove,
    Their forests floating on the wat'ry plain;
    Then famed for arts, and laws deriv'd from Jove,
    My Atalantis sunk beneath the main."

S----, whose imagination had been pleased with the idea of the
fabulous island of Atalantis, recollected what he had heard of it; but
he had forgotten the explanation of another stanza of this poem, which
he had heard at the same time:

    "To her no more Augusta's wealthy pride,
    Pours the full tribute from Potosi's mine;
    Nor fresh blown garlands village maids provide,
    A purer offering at her rustic shrine."

S---- forgot that he had been told that London was formerly called
Augusta; that Potosi's mines contained silver; and that pouring the
tribute from Potosi's mines, alludes to the custom of hanging silver
tankards upon the May-poles in London on May-day; consequently the
beauty of this stanza was entirely lost upon him. A few circumstances
were now told to S----, which imprinted the explanation effectually in
his memory: his father told him, that the publicans, or those who keep
public houses in London, make it a custom to lend their silver
tankards to the poor chimney-sweepers and milk-maids, who go in
procession through the streets on May-day. The confidence that is put
in the honesty of these poor people, pleased S----, and all these
circumstances fixed the principal idea more firmly in his mind.

The following lines could please him only by their sound, the first
time he heard them:

    "Ah! once to fame and bright dominion born,
      The earth and smiling ocean saw me rise,
    With time coeval, and the star of morn,
      The first, the fairest daughter of the skies.

    "Then, when at heaven's prolific mandate sprung
      The radiant beam of new-created day,
    Celestial harps, to airs of triumph strung,
      Hail'd the glad dawn, and angel's call'd me May.

    "Space in her empty regions heard the sound,
      And hills and dales, and rocks and valleys rung;
    The sun exulted in his glorious round,
      And shouting planets in their courses sung."

The idea which the ancients had of the music of the spheres was here
explained to S----, and some general notion was given to him of the
_harmonic numbers_.

What a number of new ideas this little poem served to introduce into
the mind! These explanations being given precisely at the time when
they were wanted, fixed the ideas in the memory in their proper
places, and associated knowledge with the pleasures of poetry. Some of
the effect of a poem must, it is true, be lost by interruptions and
explanations; but we must consider the general improvement of the
understanding, and not merely the cultivation of poetic taste. In the
instance which we have just given, the pleasure which the boy received
from the poem, seemed to increase in proportion to the exactness with
which it was explained. The succeeding year, on May-day 1797, the same
poem was read to him for the third time, and he appeared to like it
better than he had done upon the first reading. If, instead of
perusing Racine twelve times in one year, the young prince of Parma
had read any one play or scene at different periods of his education,
and had been led to observe the increase of pleasure which he felt
from being able to understand what he read better each succeeding time
than before, he would probably have improved more rapidly in his taste
for poetry, though he might not have known Racine by rote quite so
early as at eight years old.

We considered parents almost as much as children, when we advised that
a great deal of poetry should not be read by very young pupils; the
labour and difficulty of explaining it can be known only to those who
have tried the experiment. The Elegy in a country church-yard, is one
of the most popular poems, which is usually given to children to learn
by heart; it cost at least a quarter of an hour to explain to
intelligent children, the youngest of whom was at the time nine years
old, the first stanza of that elegy. And we have heard it asserted by
a gentleman not unacquainted with literature, that perfectly to
understand l'Allegro and Il Penseroso, requires no inconsiderable
portion of ancient and modern knowledge. It employed several hours on
different days to read and explain Comus, so as to make it
intelligible to a boy of ten years, who gave his utmost attention to
it. The explanations on this poem were found to be so numerous and
intricate, that we thought it best not to produce them here.
Explanations which are given by a reader, can be given with greater
rapidity and effect, than any which a writer can give to children: the
expression of the countenance is advantageous, the sprightliness of
conversation keeps the pupils awake, and the connection of the parts
of the subject can be carried on better in speaking and reading, than
it can be in written explanations. Notes are almost always too formal,
or too obscure; they explain what was understood more plainly before
any illustration was attempted, or they leave us in the dark the
moment we want to be enlightened. Wherever parents or preceptors can
supply the place of notes and commentators, they need not think their
time ill bestowed. If they cannot undertake these troublesome
explanations, they can surely reserve obscure poems for a later period
of their pupil's education. Children, who are taught at seven or eight
years old to repeat poetry, frequently get beautiful lines by rote,
and speak them fluently, without in the least understanding the
meaning of the lines. The business of a poet is to please the
imagination, and to move the passions: in proportion as his language
is sublime or pathetic, witty or satirical, it must be unfit for
children. Knowledge cannot be detailed, or accurately explained, in
poetry; the beauty of an allusion depends frequently upon the
elliptical mode of expression, which passing imperceptibly over all
the intermediate links in our associations, is apparent only when it
touches the ends of the chain. Those who wish to instruct, must pursue
the opposite system.

In Doctor Wilkins's Essay on Universal Language, he proposes to
introduce a note similar to the common note of admiration, to give the
reader notice when any expression is used in an ironical or in a
metaphoric sense. Such a note would be of great advantage to children:
in reading poetry, they are continually puzzled between the obvious
and the metaphoric sense of the words.[121] The desire to make
children learn a vast deal of poetry by heart, fortunately for the
understanding of the rising generation, does not rage with such
violence as formerly. Dr. Johnson successfully laughed at infants
lisping out, "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us." His reproof
was rather ill-natured, when he begged two children who were produced,
to repeat some lines to him, "Can't the pretty dears repeat them both
together?" But this reproof has probably prevented many exhibitions of
the same kind.

Some people learn poetry by heart for the pleasure of quoting it in
conversation; but the talent for quotation, both in conversation and
in writing, is now become so common, that it cannot confer
immortality.[122] Every person has by rote certain passages from
Shakespeare and Thomson, Goldsmith and Gray: these trite quotations
fatigue the literary ear, and disgust the taste of the public. To this
change in the fashion of the day, those who are influenced by fashion,
will probably listen with more eagerness, than to all the reasons that
have been offered. But to return to the prince of Parma. After reading
Corneille, Racine, Moliere, Boileau, &c. the young prince's taste was
formed, as we are assured by his preceptor, and he was now fit for the
study of grammar. So much is due to the benevolent intentions of a man
of learning and genius, who submits to the drudgery of writing an
elementary book on grammar, that even a critic must feel unwilling to
examine it with severity. M. Condillac, in his attempt to write a
rational grammar, has produced, if not a grammar fit for children, a
philosophical treatise, which a well educated young person will read
with great advantage at the age of seventeen or eighteen. All that is
said of the natural language of signs, of the language of action, of
pantomimes, and of the institution of M. l'Abbé l'Epée for teaching
languages to the deaf and dumb, is not only amusing and instructive to
general readers, but, with slight alterations in the language, might
be perfectly adapted to the capacity of children. But when the Abbé
Condillac goes on to "Your highness knows what is meant by a system,"
he immediately forgets his pupils age. The reader's attention is
presently deeply engaged by an abstract disquisition on the relative
proportion, represented by various circles of different extent, of the
wants, ideas, and language of savages, shepherds, commercial and
polished nations, when he is suddenly awakened to the recollection,
that all this is addressed to a child of eight years old: an allusion
to the prince's little chair, completely rouses us from our reverie.

"As your little chair is made in the same form as mine, which is
higher, so the system of ideas is fundamentally the same amongst
savage and civilized nations; it differs only in degrees of extension,
as after one and the same model, seats of different heights have been
made."[123]

Such mistakes as these, in a work intended for a child, are so
obvious, that they could not have escaped the penetration of a great
man, had he known as much of the practice as he did of the theory of
the art of teaching.

To analyze a thought, and to show the construction of language, M.
Condillac, in this volume on grammar, has chosen for an example a
passage from an _Eloge_ on Peter Corneille, pronounced before the
French academy by Racine, on the reception of Thomas Corneille, who
succeeded to Peter. It is in the French style of academical panegyric,
a representation of the chaotic state in which Corneille found the
French theatre, and of the light and order which he diffused through
the dramatic world by his creative genius. A subject less interesting,
or more unintelligible to a child, could scarcely have been selected.
The lecture on the anatomy of Racine's thought, lasts through fifteen
pages; according to all the rules of art, the dissection is ably
performed, but most children will turn from the operation with
disgust.

The Abbé Condillac's treatise on the art of writing, immediately
succeeds to his grammar. The examples in this volume are much better
chosen; they are interesting to all readers; those especially from
madame de Sevigné's letters, which are drawn from familiar language
and domestic life. The enumeration of the figures of speech, and the
classification of the flowers of rhetoric, are judiciously suppressed;
the catalogue of the different sorts of _turns_, phrases proper for
maxims and principles, turns proper for sentiment, ingenious turns and
quaint turns, stiff turns and easy turns, might, perhaps, have been
somewhat abridged. The observations on the effect of unity in the
whole design, and in all the subordinate parts of a work, though they
may not be new, are ably stated; and the remark, that the utmost
propriety of language, and the strongest effect of eloquence and
reasoning, result from the greatest possible attention to the
connection of our ideas, is impressed forcibly upon the reader
throughout this work.

How far works of criticism in general are suited to children, remains
to be considered. Such works cannot probably suit their taste, because
the taste for systematic criticism cannot arise in the mind until many
books have been read; until the various species of excellence suited
to different sorts of composition, have been perceived, and until the
mind has made some choice of its own. It is true, that works of
criticism may teach children to talk well of what they read; they will
be enabled to repeat what good judges have said of books. But this is
not, or ought not to be, the object. After having been thus
officiously assisted by a connoisseur, who points out to them the
beauties of authors, will they be able afterwards to discover beauties
without his assistance? Or have they as much pleasure in being told
what to admire, what to praise, and what to blame, as if they had been
suffered to feel and to express their own feelings naturally? In
reading an interesting play, or beautiful poem, how often has a man of
taste and genius execrated the impertinent commentator, who
interrupts him by obtruding his ostentatious notes--"The reader will
observe the beauty of this thought." "This is one of the finest
passages in any author, ancient or modern." "The sense of this line,
which all former annotators have mistaken, is obviously restored by
the addition of the vowel i." &c.

Deprived, by these anticipating explanations, of the use of his own
common sense, the reader detests the critic, soon learns to disregard
his references, and to skip over his learned truisms. Similar
sensations, tempered by duty or by fear, may have been sometimes
experienced by a vivacious child, who, eager to go on with what he is
reading, is prevented from feeling the effect of the whole, by a
premature discussion of its parts. We hope that no keen hunter of
paradoxes will here exult in having detected us in a contradiction: we
are perfectly aware, that but a few pages ago we exhibited examples of
detailed explanations of poetry for children; but these explanations
were not of the criticising class; they were not designed to tell
young people what to admire, but simply to assist them to understand
before they admired.

Works of criticism are sometimes given to pupils, with the idea that
they will instruct and form them in the art of writing: but few things
can be more terrific or dangerous to the young writer, than the voice
of relentless criticism. Hope stimulates, but fear depresses the
active powers of the mind; and how much have they to fear, who have
continually before their eyes the mistakes and disgrace of others; of
others, who with superior talents have attempted and failed! With a
multitude of precepts and rules of rhetoric full in their memory, they
cannot express the simplest of their thoughts; and to write a sentence
composed of members, which have each of them names of many syllables,
must appear a most formidable and presumptuous undertaking. On the
contrary, a child who, in books and in conversation, has been used to
hear and to speak correct language, and who has never been terrified
with the idea, that to write, is to express his thoughts in some new
and extraordinary manner, will naturally write as he speaks, and as he
thinks. Making certain characters upon paper, to represent to others
what he wishes to say[124] to them, will not appear to him a matter of
dread and danger, but of convenience and amusement, and he will write
prose without knowing it.

Amongst some "Practical Essays,"[125] lately published, "to assist the
exertions of youth in their literary pursuits," there is an essay on
letter-writing, which might deter a timid child from ever undertaking
such an arduous task as that of writing a letter. So much is said from
Blair, from Cicero, from Quintilian; so many things are requisite in a
letter; purity, neatness, simplicity; such caution must be used to
avoid "exotics transplanted from foreign languages, or raised in the
hot-beds of affectation and conceit;" such attention to the
mother-tongue is prescribed, that the young nerves of the
letter-writer must tremble when he takes up his pen. Besides, he is
told that "he should be extremely reserved on the head of pleasantry,"
and that "as to sallies of wit, it is still more dangerous to let them
fly at random; but he may repeat the smart sayings of others if he
will, or relate _part_ of some droll adventure, to enliven his
letter."

The anxiety that parents and tutors frequently express, to have their
children write letters, and good letters, often prevents the pupils
from writing during the whole course of their lives. Letter-writing
becomes a task and an evil to children; whether they have any thing to
say or not, write they must, this post or next, without fail, _a
pretty letter_ to some relation or friend, who has exacted from them
the awful promise of punctual correspondence. It is no wonder that
school-boys and school-girls, in these circumstances, feel that
necessity is _not_ the mother of invention; they are reduced to the
humiliating misery of begging from some old practitioner a beginning,
or an ending, and something to say to fill up the middle.

Locke humorously describes the misery of a school-boy who is to write
a theme; and having nothing to say, goes about with the usual petition
in these cases to his companions, "Pray give me a little sense." Would
it not be better to wait until children have sense, before we exact
from them themes and discourses upon literary subjects? There is no
danger, that those who acquire a variety of knowledge and numerous
ideas, should not be able to find words to express them; but those who
are compelled to find words before they have ideas, are in a
melancholy situation. To form a style, is but a vague idea; practice
in composition, will certainly confer ease in writing, upon those who
write when their minds are full of ideas; but the practice of sitting
with a melancholy face, with pen in hand, waiting for inspiration,
will not much advance the pupil in the art of writing. We should not
recommend it to a preceptor to require regular themes at stated
periods from his pupils; but whenever he perceives that a young man is
struck with any new ideas, or new circumstances, when he is certain
that his pupil has acquired a fund of knowledge, when he finds in
conversation that words flow readily upon certain subjects, he may,
without danger, upon these subjects, excite his pupil to try his
powers of writing. These trials need not be frequently made: when a
young man has once acquired confidence in himself as a writer, he will
certainly use his talent whenever proper occasions present themselves.
The perusal of the best authors in the English language, will give
him, if he adhere to these alone, sufficient powers of expression. The
best authors in the English language are so well known, that it would
be useless to enumerate them. Dr. Johnson says, that whoever would
acquire a pure English style, must give his days and nights to
Addison. We do not, however, feel this exclusive preference for
Addison's melodious periods; his page is ever elegant, but sometimes
it is too diffuse.--Hume, Blackstone, and Smith, have a proper degree
of strength and energy combined with their elegance. Gibbon says, that
the perfect composition and well turned periods of Dr. Robertson,
excited his hopes, that he might one day become his equal in writing;
but "the calm philosophy, the careless inimitable beauties of his
friend and rival Hume, often forced him to close the volume with a
mixed sensation of delight and despair." From this testimony we may
judge, that a simple style appears to the best judges to be more
difficult to attain, and more desirable, than that highly ornamented
diction to which writers of inferior taste aspire. Gibbon tells us,
with great candour, that his friend Hume advised him to beware of the
rhetorical style of French eloquence. Hume observed, that the English
language, and English taste, do not admit of this profusion of
ornament.

Without meaning to enter at large into the subject, we have offered
these remarks upon style for the advantage of those who are to direct
the taste of young readers; what they admire when they read, they will
probably imitate when they write. We objected to works of criticism
for young children, but we should observe, that at a later period of
education, they will be found highly advantageous. It would be absurd
to mark the precise age at which Blair's Lectures, or Condillac's Art
d'Ecrire, ought to be read, because this should be decided by
circumstances; by the progress of the pupils in literature, and by the
subjects to which their attention happens to have turned. Of these,
preceptors, and the pupils themselves, must be the most competent
judges. From the same wish to avoid all pedantic attempts to dictate,
we have not given any regular course of study in this chapter. Many
able writers have laid down extensive plans of study, and have named
the books that are essential to the acquisition of different branches
of knowledge. Amongst others we may refer to Dr. Priestley's, which is
to be seen at the end of his Essays on Education. We are sensible that
order is necessary in reading, but we cannot think that the same order
will suit all minds, nor do we imagine that a young person cannot
read to advantage unless he pursue a given course of study. Men of
sense will not be intolerant in their love of learned order.

If parents would keep an accurate list of the books which their
children read, of the ages at which they are read, it would be of
essential service in improving the art of education. We might then
mark the progress of the understanding with accuracy, and discover,
with some degree of certainty, the circumstances on which the
formation of the character and taste depend. Swift has given us a list
of the books which he read during two years of his life; we can trace
the ideas that he acquired from them in his Laputa, and other parts of
Gulliver's travels. Gibbon's journal of his studies, and his account
of universities, are very instructive to young students. So is the
life of Franklin, written by himself. Madame Roland has left a history
of her education; and in the books she read in her early years, we see
the formation of her character. Plutarch's Lives, she tells us, first
kindled republican enthusiasm in her mind; and she regrets that, in
forming her ideas of universal liberty, she had only a partial view of
affairs. She corrected these enthusiastic ideas during the last
moments of her life in prison. Had the impression which her study of
the Roman history made upon her mind been known to an able preceptor,
it might have been corrected in her early education. When she was led
to execution, she exclaimed, as she passed the statue of Liberty, "Oh
Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!"[126]

Formerly it was wisely said, "Tell me what company a man keeps, and I
will tell you what he is;" but since literature has spread a new
influence over the world, we must add, "Tell me what company a man has
kept, and what books he has read, and I will tell you what he is."

FOOTNOTES:

[101] V. Academie della Crusca.

[102] Marmontel. "On ne se guérit pas d'un dêfaut qui plait."

[103] We have heard that such a translation was begun.

[104] V. Hor. 2 Epist. lib. ii.

[105] V. Sympathy and Sensibility.

[106] V. A letter of Mr. Wyndham's to Mr. Repton, in Repton, on
Landscape Gardening.

[107] The Critic.

[108] Professor Stewart.

[109] Berquin.

[110] V. Sympathy and Sensibility.

[111] Chapter on Invention and Memory.

[112] V. Guthrie's Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar,
page 186.

[113] Ibid, page 398.

[114] L'idée, par exemple, que j'ai de Pierre, est singuliére ou
individuelle, et comme l'idêe d'homme est générale par rapport aux
idées de noble et de roturier, elle est particuliére par rapport à
l'idée d'animal. Leçons Préliminaires, vol. i. p. 43.

[115] Ainsi lorsque, de plusieurs sensations qui se font en même temps
sur vous, la direction des organs vous en fait remarquer une, de
maniére que vous ne remarquez plus les autres, cette sensation devient
ce que nous appellons _attention_. Leçons Préliminaires, page 46.

[116] "La comparaison n'est donc qu'une double attention. Nous venons
de voir que l'attention n'est qu'une sensation qui se fait remarquer.
Deux attentions ne sont donc que deux sensations qui se font remarquer
également; et par conséquent il n'y a dans la comparaison que des
sensations." Leçons Préliminaires, p. 47.

[117] V. Art de Penser, p. 324.

[118] V. Dunciad.

[119] Motif des études qui ont été faites aprés Leçons Préliminaires,
p. 67. Lejeune prince connoissoit déja le systême des operations de
son ame, il comprenoit la génération de ses idées, il voyoit l'origine
et le progrès des habitudes qu'il avoit contractées, et il concevoit
comment il pouvoit substituer des idées justes aux idées fausses qu'on
lui avoit données, et de bonnes habitudes aux mauvaises qu'on lui
avoit laissé prendre. Il s'ètoit familiarié si promptement avec toutes
ces choses, qu'il s'en retraçoit la suite sans effort, et comme en
badinant.

[120] As this page was sent over to us for correction, we seize the
opportunity of expressing our wish, that "Botanical Dialogues, by a
Lady," had come sooner to our hands; it contains much that we think
peculiarly valuable.

[121] In Dr. Franklin's posthumous Essays, there is an excellent
remark with respect to typography, as connected with the art of
reading. The note of interrogation should be placed at the beginning,
as well as at the end of a question; it is sometimes so far distant,
as to be out of the reach of an unpractised eye.

[122] Young.

[123] Comme votre petite chaise est faite sur le même modèle que la
mienne qui est plus élevée, ainsi le système des idées est le même
pour le fond chez les peuples sauvages et chez les peuples civilisés;
il ne differe, qui parce qu'il est plus on moins etendu; c'est un même
modele d'apres lequel on a fait des sieges de différent
hauteur.--Grammaire, page 23.

[124] Rousseau.

[125] Milne's Well-bred Scholar.

[126]

    "Oh Liberté, que de forfaits on commet en ton nom!"

V. Appel à l'Impartielle Postérité.


END OF VOL. I.





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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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