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Title: Practical Education, Volume II
Author: Edgeworth, Maria, 1767-1849, Edgeworth, Richard Lovell, 1744-1817
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Practical Education, Volume II" ***

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





T. B. Wait and Sons, Printers.



   Chapter                                                      Page

     XIII. _On Grammar and Classical Literature_                   5
      XIV. _On Geography and Chronology_                          31
       XV. _On Arithmetic_                                        37
      XVI. _Geometry_                                             54
     XVII. _On Mechanics_                                         57
    XVIII. _Chemistry_                                            85
      XIX. _On Public and Private Education_                      92
       XX. _On Female Accomplishments, &c._                      109
      XXI. _Memory and Invention_                                138
     XXII. _Taste and Imagination_                               178
    XXIII. _Wit and Judgment_                                    214
     XXIV. _Prudence and Economy_                                248
      XXV. _Summary_                                             267


           _Notes, containing Conversations and Anecdotes of
           Children_                                             283




As long as gentlemen feel a deficiency in their own education, when
they have not a competent knowledge of the learned languages, so long
must a parent be anxious, that his son should not be exposed to the
mortification of appearing inferiour to others of his own rank. It is
in vain to urge, that language is only the key to science; that the
names of things are not the things themselves; that many of the words
in our own language convey scarcely any, or at best but imperfect,
ideas; that the true genius, pronunciation, melody, and idiom of
Greek, are unknown to the best scholars, and that it cannot reasonably
be doubted, that if Homer or Xenophon were to hear their works read by
a professor of Greek, they would mistake them for the sounds of an
unknown language. All this is true; but it is not the ambition of a
gentleman to read Greek like an ancient Grecian, but to understand it
as well as the generality of his contemporaries; to know whence the
terms of most sciences are derived, and to be able, in some degree, to
trace the progress of mankind in knowledge and refinement, by
examining the extent and combination of their different vocabularies.

In some professions, Greek is necessary; in all, a certain proficiency
of Latin is indispensable; how, therefore, to acquire this proficiency
in the one, and a sufficient knowledge of the other, with the least
labour, the least waste of time, and the least danger to the
understanding, is the material question. Some school-masters would
add, that we must expedite the business as much as possible: of this
we may be permitted to doubt. _Festina lente_ is one of the most
judicious maxims in education, and those who have sufficient strength
of mind to adhere to it, will find themselves at the goal, when their
competitors, after all their bustle, are panting for breath, or
lashing their restive steeds. We see some untutored children start
forward in learning with rapidity: they seem to acquire knowledge at
the very time it is wanted, as if by intuition; whilst others, with
whom infinite pains have been taken, continue in dull ignorance; or,
having accumulated a mass of learning, are utterly at a loss how to
display, or how to use their treasures. What is the reason of this
phenomenon? and to which class of children would a parent wish his son
to belong? In a certain number of years, after having spent eight
hours a day in "durance vile," by the influence of bodily fear, or by
the infliction of bodily punishment, a regiment of boys may be drilled
by an indefatigable usher into what are called scholars; but, perhaps,
in the whole regiment not one shall ever distinguish himself, or ever
emerge from the ranks. Can it be necessary to spend so many years, so
many of the best years of life, in toil and misery? We shall calculate
the waste of time which arises from the study of ill written, absurd
grammar, and exercise-books; from the habits of idleness contracted by
school-boys, and from the custom of allowing holydays to young
students; and we shall compare the result of this calculation with the
time really necessary for the attainment of the same quantity of
classical knowledge by rational methods. We do not enter into this
comparison with any invidious intention, but simply to quiet the
apprehensions of parents; to show them the possibility of their
children's attaining a certain portion of learning within a given
number of years, without the sacrifice of health, happiness, or the
general powers of the understanding.

At all events, may we not begin by imploring the assistance of some
able and friendly hand to reform the present generation of grammars
and school-books? For instance, is it indispensably necessary that a
boy of seven years old should learn by rote, that "relative sentences
are independent, _i. e._ no word in a relative sentence is governed
either of verb, or adjective, that stands in another sentence, or
depends upon any appurtenances of the relative; and that the English
word 'That' is always a relative when it may be turned into _which_ in
good sense, which must be tried by reading over the English sentence
_warily_, and judging how the sentence will bear it, but when it
cannot be altered, salvo sensu, it is a conjunction?" Cannot we, for
pity's sake, to assist the learner's memory, and to improve his
intellect, substitute some sentences a little more connected, and
perhaps a little more useful, than the following?

"I have been a soldier--You have babbled--Has the crow ever looked
white?--Ye have exercised--Flowers have withered--We were in a
passion--Ye lay down--Peas were parched--The lions did roar a while

In a book of Latin exercises,[1] the preface to which informs us, that
"it is intended to contain such precepts of morality and religion, as
ought most industriously to be inculcated into the heads of all
learners, contrived so as that children may, as it were, insensibly
suck in such principles as will be of use to them afterwards in the
manly conduct and ordering of their lives," we might expect somewhat
more of pure morality and sense, with rather more elegance of style,
than appear in the following sentences:

"I struck my sister with a stick, and was forced to flee into the
woods; but when I had tarried there awhile, I returned to my parents,
and submitted myself to their mercy, and they forgave me my offence."

"When my dear mother, unknown to my father, shall send me money, I
will pay my creditors their debts, and provide a supper for all my
friends in my chamber, without my brother's consent, and will make
presents to all my relations."

So the measure of maternal tenderness is the sum of money, which the
dear mother, unknown to her husband, shall send to her son; the
measure of the son's generosity is the supper he is to give to all his
friends in his chamber, exclusive of his poor brother, of whose
offence we are ignorant. His munificence is to be displayed in making
presents to all his relations, but in the mean time he might possibly
forget to pay his debts, for "justice is a slow-paced virtue, and
cannot keep pace with generosity."

A reasonable notion of punishment, and a disinterested love of truth,
is well introduced by the following picture. "My master's countenance
was greatly changed when he found his beloved son guilty of a lie.
Sometimes he was pale with anger; sometimes he was red with rage; and
in the mean time, he, poor boy, was trembling, (for what?) for fear of
punishment." Could the ideas of punishment and vengeance be more
effectually joined, than in this portrait of the master red with rage?
After truth has been thus happily recommended, comes honesty. "Many
were fellow-soldiers with valiant Jason when he stole the golden
fleece: many were companions with him, but he bore away the glory of
the enterprise."

Valour, theft, and glory, are here happily combined. It will avail us
nothing to observe, that the golden fleece has an allegorical meaning,
unless we can explain satisfactorily the nature of an allegorical
theft; though to our classical taste this valiant Jason may appear a
glorious hero, yet to the simple judgment of children, he will appear
a robber. It is fastidious, however, to object to Jason in the
exercise-book, when we consider what children are to hear, and to hear
with admiration, as they advance in their study of poetry and

Lessons of worldly wisdom, are not forgotten in our manual, which
professes to teach "_the manly conduct and ordering of life_" to the
rising generation. "Those men," we are told, "who have the most money,
obtain the greatest honour amongst men." But then again, "a poor man
is as happy without riches, _if_ he can enjoy contentedness of mind,
as the richest earl that coveteth greater honour." It may be useful to
put young men upon their guard against hypocrites and knaves; but is
it necessary to tell school-boys, that "it concerneth me, and all men,
to look to ourselves, for the world is so full of knaves and
hypocrites, that he is hard to be found who may be trusted?" That
"they who behave themselves the most warily of all men, and live more
watchfully than others, may happen to do something, which (if it be
divulged) may very much damnify their reputation?" A knowledge of the
world may be early requisite; but is it not going too far, to assure
young people, that "the nations of the world are at this time come to
that pass of wickedness, that the earth is like hell, and many men
have degenerated into devils?"

A greater variety of ridiculous passages from this tenth edition of
Garretson's Exercise-book, might be selected for the reader's
entertainment; but the following specimens will be sufficient to
satisfy him, that by this original writer, natural history is as well
taught as morality:

Man. "Man is a creature of an upright body; he walketh upright when he
is on a journey; and when night approaches, he lieth flat, and

Horses. "A journey an hundred and fifty miles long, tireth an horse
that hath not had a moderate feed of corn."

Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. "The air is nearer the earth than the
fire; but the water is placed nearest to the earth, because these two
elements compose but one body."

It is an easy task, it will be observed, to ridicule absurdity. It is
easy to pull down what has been ill built; but if we leave the ruins
for others to stumble over, we do little good to society. Parents may
reasonably say, if you take away from our children the books they
have, give them better. They are not yet to be had, but if a demand
for them be once excited, they will soon appear. Parents are now
convinced, that the first books which children read, make a lasting
impression upon them; but they do not seem to consider spelling-books,
and grammars, and exercise-books, as books, but only as tools for
different purposes: these tools are often very mischievous; if we
could improve them, we should get our work much better done. The
barbarous translations, which are put as models for imitation into the
hands of school-boys, teach them bad habits of speaking and writing,
which are sometimes incurable. For instance, in the fourteenth edition
of Clarke's Cornelius Nepos, which the preface informs us was written
by a man full of indignation for the common practices of
grammar-schools, by a man who laments that youth should spend their
time "in tossing over the leaves of a dictionary, and hammering out
such a language as the Latin," we might expect some better translation
than the following, to form the young student's style:

"No body ever heard any other entertainment for the ears at _his_
(Atticus's) meals than a reader, which we truly think very pleasant.
Nor was there ever a supper at his house without some reading, that
their guests might be entertained in their minds as well as their
stomachs; _for_ he invited those whose manners were not different from
his own."

"He (Atticus) likewise had a touch at poetry, that he might not be
unacquainted with this pleasure, we suppose. _For_ he has related in
verses the lives of those who excelled the Roman people in honour, and
the greatness of their exploits. _So_ that he has described under each
of their images, their actions and offices in no more than four or
five verses, _which_ is scarcely to be believed _that_ such great
things could be so briefly delivered."

Those who, in reading these quotations, have perhaps exclaimed, "Why
must we go through this farrago of nonsense?" should reflect, that
they have now wasted but a few minutes of their time upon what
children are doomed to study for hours and years. If a few pages
disgust, what must be the effect of volumes in the same style! and
what sort of writing can we expect from pupils who are condemned to
such reading? The analogy of ancient and modern languages, differs so
materially, that a literal translation of any ancient author, can
scarcely be tolerated. Yet, in general, young scholars are under a
necessity of _rendering_ their Latin lessons into English word for
word, faithful to the taste of their dictionaries, or the notes in
their translations. This is not likely to improve the freedom of their
English style; or, what is of much more consequence, is it likely to
preserve in the pupil's mind a taste for literature? It is not the
time that is spent in pouring over lexicons, it is not the
multiplicity of rules learnt by rote, nor yet is it the quantity of
Latin words crammed into the memory, which can give the habit of
attention or the power of voluntary exertion: without these, you will
never have time enough to teach; with them, there will always be time
enough to learn.--One half hour's vigorous application, is worth a
whole day's constrained and yawning study. If we compare what from
experience we know can be done by a child of ordinary capacity in a
given time, with what he actually does in school-hours, we shall be
convinced of the enormous waste of time incident to the common methods
of instruction. Tutors are sensible of this; but they throw the blame
upon their pupils--"You might have learned your lesson in half the
time, if you had chosen it." The children also are sensible of this;
but they are not able or willing to prevent the repetition of the
reproach. But exertion does not always depend upon the will of the
boy; it depends upon his previous habits, and upon the strength of
the immediate motive which acts upon him. Some children of quick
abilities, who have too much time allotted for their classical
studies, are so fully sensible themselves of the pernicious effect
this has upon their activity of mind, that they frequently defer
_getting their lessons_ to the last moment, that they may be forced by
a sufficient motive to exert themselves. In _classes_ at public
schools, the quick and the slow, the active and indolent, the
stumbling and sure-footed, are all yoked together, and are forced to
keep pace with one another: stupidity may sometimes be dragged along
by the vigour of genius; but genius is more frequently chained down by
the weight of stupidity. We are well aware of the difficulties with
which the public preceptor has to contend; he is often compelled by
his situation to follow ancient usage, and to continue many customs
which he wishes to see reformed. Any reformation in the manner of
instruction in these public seminaries, must be gradual, and will
necessarily follow the conviction that parents may feel of its
utility. Perhaps nothing can be immediately done, more practicably
useful, than to simplify grammar, and to lighten as much as possible
the load that is laid upon the memory. Without a multiplicity of
masters, it would be impossible to suit instruction to the different
capacities, and previous acquirements, of a variety of pupils; but in
a private education, undoubtedly the task may be rendered much easier
to the scholar and to the teacher; much jargon may be omitted; and
what appears from want of explanation to be jargon, may be rendered
intelligible by proper skill and attention. During the first lessons
in grammar, and in Latin, the pupil need not be disgusted with
literature, and we may apply all the principles which we find on other
occasions successful in the management of the attention.[2] Instead of
keeping the attention feebly obedient for an idle length of time, we
should fix if decidedly by some sufficient motive for as short a
period as may be requisite to complete the work that we would have
done. As we apprehend, that even where children are to be sent to
school, it will be a great advantage to them to have some general
notions of grammar, to lead them through the labyrinth of common
school books, we think that we shall do the public preceptor an
acceptable service, if we point out the means by which parents may,
without much labour to themselves, render the first principles of
grammar intelligible and familiar to their children.

We may observe, that children pay the strictest attention to the
analogies of the language that they speak. Where verbs are defective
or irregular, they supply the parts that are wanting with wonderful
facility, according to the common form of other verbs. They make all
verbs regular. I go_ed_, I read_ed_, I writ_ed_, &c. By a proper
application of this faculty, much time may be saved in teaching
children grammar, much perplexity, and much of that ineffectual labour
which stupifies and dispirits the understanding. By gentle degrees, a
child may be taught the relations of words to each other in common
conversation, before he is presented with the first sample of
grammatical eloquence in Lilly's Accidence. "There be eight parts of
speech." A phrase which in some parts of this kingdom would perhaps be
understood, but which to the generality of boys who go to school,
conveys no meaning, and is got by heart without reflection, and
without advantage. A child can, however, be made to understand these
formidable parts of speech, if they are properly introduced to his
acquaintance: he can comprehend, that some of the words which he hears
express _that something is done_; he will readily perceive, that if
something is done, somebody, or something must do it: he will
distinguish with much facility the word in any common sentence which
expresses an action, and that which denotes the agent. Let the reader
try the experiment immediately upon any child of six or seven years
old who has _not_ learned grammar, and he may easily ascertain the

A few months ago, Mr. ---- gave his little daughter H----, a child of
five years old, her first lesson in English grammar; but no alarming
book of grammar was produced upon the occasion, nor did the father put
on an unpropitious gravity of countenance. He explained to the smiling
child the nature of a verb, a pronoun, and a substantive.

Then he spoke a short familiar sentence, and asked H----, to try if
she could find out which word in it was a verb, which a pronoun, and
which a substantive. The little girl found them all out most
successfully, and formed no painful associations with her first
grammatical lesson. But though our pupil may easily understand, he
will easily forget our first explanations; but provided he understands
them at the moment, we should pardon his forgetfulness, and we should
patiently repeat the same exercise several days successively; a few
minutes at each lesson will be sufficient, and the simplest sentences,
such as children speak themselves, will be the best examples. Mr.
----, after having talked four or five times, for a few minutes at a
time, with his son S----, when S---- was between five and six years
old, about grammar, asked him if he knew what a pronoun meant? The boy
answered, "A word that is said instead of a substantive." As these
words might have been merely remembered by rote, the father questioned
his pupil further, and asked him to name any pronoun that he
recollected. S----immediately said, "_I_ a pronoun." "Name another,"
said his father. The boy answered after some pause, as if he doubted
whether it was or was not a pronoun, _A_. Now it would have been very
imprudent to have made a sudden exclamation at the child's mistake.
The father, without showing any surprise, gently answered, "No, my
dear, _a_ does not stand in the place of any substantive. We say _a
man_, but the word _a_ does not mean a _man_, when it is said by
itself--Does it?"

_S----._ No.

_Father._ Then try if you can find out a word that does.

_S----._ He, and _Sir_.

_Sir_ does stand, in conversation, in the place of a man, or
gentleman; therefore the boy, even by this mistake, showed that he had
formed, from the definition that had been given to him, a general idea
of the nature of a pronoun, and at all events he exercised his
understanding upon the affair, which is the principal point we ought
to have in view.

An interjection is a part of speech familiar to children. Mr. Horne
Tooke is bitter in his contempt for it, and will scarcely admit it
into civilized company. "The brutish inarticulate interjection, which
has nothing to do with speech, and is only the miserable refuge of the
speechless, has been permitted to usurp a place amongst words,
&c."--"The neighing of a horse, the lowing of a cow, the barking of a
dog, the purring of a cat; sneezing, coughing, groaning, shrieking,
and every other involuntary convulsion with oral sound, have almost as
good a title to be called parts of speech, as interjections have."

Mr. Horne Tooke would have been pleased with the sagacity of a child
of five years old (S----) who called _laughing_ an interjection. Mr.
---- gave S----a slight pinch, in order to produce "an involuntary
convulsion with oral sound." And when the interjection Oh! was uttered
by the boy, he was told by his father, that the word was an
interjection; and, that "any word or noise, that expresses a sudden
feeling of the mind, may be called an interjection." S----immediately
said, "is laughing an interjection, then?" We hope that the candid
reader will not imagine, that we produce these _sayings_ of children
of four or five years old, without some sense of the danger of
ridicule; but we wish to give some idea of the sort of simple answers
which children are likely to make in their first grammatical lessons.
If too much is expected from them, the disappointment, which must be
quickly felt, and will be quickly shown by the preceptor, will
discourage the pupil. We must repeat, that the first steps should be
frequently retraced: a child should be _for some weeks_ accustomed to
distinguish an active verb, and its agent, or nominative case, from
every other word in a sentence, before we attempt to advance. The
objects of actions are the next class of words that should be

The fanciful, or at least what appears to the moderns fanciful,
arrangement of the cases amongst grammarians, may be dispensed with
for the present. The idea, that the nominative is a direct, upright
_case_, and that the genitive declines with the smallest obliquity
from it; the dative, accusative, and ablative, falling further and
further from the perpendicularity of speech, is a species of
metaphysics not very edifying to a child. Into what absurdity men of
abilities may be led by the desire of explaining what they do not
sufficiently understand, is fully exemplified in other sciences as
well as grammar.

The discoveries made by the author of Epea Pteroenta, show the
difference between a vain attempt to substitute analogy and rhetoric
in the place of demonstration and common sense. When a child has been
patiently taught in conversation to analyze what he says, he will take
great pleasure in the exercise of his new talent; he will soon
discover, that the cause of the action does not always come before the
verb in a sentence, that sometimes it follows the verb. "John beats
Thomas," and "Thomas is beaten by John," he will perceive mean the
same thing; he may, with very little difficulty, be taught the
difference between a verb active and a verb passive; that one brings
first before the mind the person or thing which performs the action,
and the other represents in the first place the person or thing upon
whom the action is performed. A child of moderate capacity, after he
has been familiarized to this general idea of a verb active and
passive, and after he has been taught the names of the cases, will
probably, without much difficulty, discover that the nominative case
to a passive verb becomes the accusative case to a verb active.
"School-masters are plagued by boys." A child sees plainly, that
school-masters are the persons upon whom the action of plaguing is
performed, and he will convert the sentence readily into "boys plague

We need not, however, be in any hurry to teach our pupil the names of
the cases; technical grammar may be easily learned, after a general
idea of rational grammar has been obtained. For instance, _the verb_
means only _the word_, or the principal word in a sentence; a child
can easily learn this after he has learnt what is meant by a sentence;
but it would be extremely difficult to make him comprehend it before
he could distinguish a verb from a noun, and before he had any idea of
the structure of a common sentence. From easy, we should proceed to
more complicated, sentences. The grammatical construction of the
following lines, for example, may not be immediately apparent to a

    "What modes of sight between each vast extreme,
    The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam;
    Of smell the headlong lioness between,
    And hound sagacious on the tainted green."

"_Of Smell._" A girl of ten years old (C----) was asked if she could
tell what substantive the word "_of_" relates to; she readily
answered, "_modes_." C----had learned a general idea of grammar in
conversation, in the manner which we have described. It is asserted
from experience, that this method of instructing children in grammar
by conversation, is not only practicable, but perfectly easy, and that
the minds of children are adapted to this species of knowledge. During
life, we learn with eagerness whatever is congenial with our present
pursuits, and the acquisition of language is one of the most earnest
occupations of childhood. After distinct and ready knowledge of the
verb and nominative case has been acquired, the pupil should be taught
to distinguish the object of an action, or, in other words, the
objective or accusative case. He should be exercised in this, as in
the former lessons, repeatedly, until it becomes perfectly familiar;
and he should be encouraged to converse about these lessons, and to
make his own observations concerning grammar, without fear of the
preceptor's peremptory frown, or positive reference to "_his rules_."
A child of five years old, was asked what the word "_Here!_" meant; he
answered, "It means to give a thing."

"When I call a person, as, John! John! it seems to me," said a boy of
nine years old (S----) "it seems to me, that the vocative case is both
the verb and its accusative case." A boy who had ever been checked by
his tutor for making his own observations upon the mysterious subject
of grammar, would never have dared to have thought, or to have uttered
a new thought, so freely.--Forcing children to learn any art or
science by rote, without permitting the exercise of the understanding,
must materially injure their powers both of reasoning and of
invention. We acknowledge that Wilkins and Tooke have shown masters
how to teach grammar a little better than it was formerly taught.
Fortunately for the rising generation, all the words under the
denomination of adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions, which were
absolute nonsense to us, may be easily explained to them, and the
commencement of instruction need no longer lay the foundation of
implicit acquiescence in nonsense. We refer to Mr. Horne Tooke's "Epea
Pteroenta," forbearing to dilate upon the principles of his work, lest
we should appear in the invidious light of authors who rob the works
of others to adorn their own. We cannot help expressing a wish, that
Mr. Horne Tooke would have the philanthropic patience to write an
elementary work in a _simple style_, unfolding his grammatical
discoveries to the rising generation.

When children have thus by gentle degrees, and by short and clear
conversations, been initiated in general grammar, and familiarized to
its technical terms, the first page of tremendous Lilly will lose much
of its horror. It has been taken for granted, that at the age of
which we have been speaking, a child can read English tolerably well,
and that he has been used to employ a dictionary. He may now proceed
to translate from some easy books a few short sentences: the first
word will probably be an adverb or conjunction; either of them may
readily be found in the Latin dictionary, and the young scholar will
exult in having translated one word of Latin; but the next word, a
substantive or verb, perhaps will elude his search. Now the grammar
may be produced, and something of the various terminations of a noun
may be explained. If _musam_ be searched for in the dictionary, it
cannot be found, but _musa_ catches the eye, and, with the assistance
of the grammar, it may be shown, that the meaning of words may be
discovered by the united helps of the dictionary and grammar. After
some days patient continuation of this exercise, the use of the
grammar, and of its uncouth collection of words and syllables, will be
apparent to the pupil: he will perceive that the grammar is a sort of
appendix to the dictionary. The grammatical formulæ may then, by
gentle degrees, be committed to memory, and when once got by heart,
should be assiduously preserved in the recollection. After the
preparation which we have recommended, the singular number of a
declension will be learnt in a few minutes by a child of ordinary
capacity, and after two or three days repetition, the plural number
may be added. The whole of the first declension should be well fixed
in the memory before a second is attempted. During this process, a few
words at every lesson may be translated from Latin to English, and
such nouns as are of the first declension, may be compared with
_musa_, and may be declined according to the same form. Tedious as
this method may appear, it will in the end be found expeditious.
Omitting some of the theoretic or didactic part of the grammar, which
should only be read, and which may be explained with care and
patience, the whole of the declensions, pronouns, conjugations, the
list of prepositions and conjunctions, interjections, some adverbs,
the concords, and common rules of syntax, may be comprised with
sufficient repetitions in about two or three hundred lessons of ten
minutes each; that is to say, ten minutes application of the scholar
in the presence of the teacher. A young boy should never be set to
learn a lesson by heart when alone. Forty hours! Is this tedious? If
you are afraid of losing time, begin a few months earlier; but begin
when you will, forty hours is surely no great waste of time: the
whole, or even half of this short time, is not spent in the labour of
getting jargon by rote; each day some slight advance is made in the
knowledge of words, and in the knowledge of their combinations. What
we insist upon is, that _nothing should be done to disgust the pupil_:
steady perseverance, with uniform gentleness, will induce habit, and
nothing should ever interrupt the regular return of the daily lesson.
If absence, business, illness, or any other cause, prevent the
attendance of the teacher, a substitute must be appointed; the idea of
relaxation on Sunday, or a holyday, should never be permitted. In most
public seminaries above one third, in some nearly one half, of the
year is permitted to idleness: it is the comparison between severe
labour and dissipation, that renders learning hateful.

Johnson is made to say by one of his female biographers,[3] that no
child loves the person who teaches him Latin; yet the author of this
chapter would not take all the doctor's fame, and all the lady's wit
and riches, in exchange for the hourly, unfeigned, unremitting
friendship, which he enjoys with a son who had no other master than
his father. So far from being laborious or troublesome, he has found
it an agreeable employment to instruct his children in grammar and the
learned languages. In the midst of a variety of other occupations,
half an hour every morning for many years, during the time of
dressing, has been allotted to the instruction of boys of different
ages in languages, and no other time has been spent in this
employment. Were it asserted that these boys made _a reasonable
progress_, the expression would convey no distinct meaning to the
reader; we shall, therefore, mention an experiment tried this morning,
November 8th, 1796, to ascertain the progress of one of these pupils.
Without previous study, he translated twenty lines of the story of
Ceyx and Alcyone, from Ovid, consulting the dictionary only twice: he
was then desired to translate the passage which he had read into
English verse; and in two or three hours he produced the following
version. Much of the time was spent in copying the lines fairly, as
this opportunity was taken of exciting his attention to writing and
spelling, to associate the habit of application with the pleasure of
voluntary exertion. The _curious_ may, if they think it worth their
while, see the various _readings_ and corrections of the translation
(V. Chapter on Conversation, and Anecdotes of Children) which were
carefully preserved, not as "_Curiosities of Literature_," but for the
sake of truth, and with a desire to show, that the pupil had the
patience to correct. A _genius_ may hit off a few tolerable lines; but
if a child is willing and able to criticise and correct what he
writes, he shows that he selects his expressions from choice, and not
from chance or imitation; and he gives to a judicious tutor the
certain promise of future improvement.

    "Far in a vale there lies a cave forlorn,
    Which Phoebus never enters eve or morn,
    The misty clouds inhale the pitchy ground,
    And twilight lingers all the vale around.
    No watchful cocks Aurora's beams invite;
    No dogs nor geese, the guardians of the night:
    No flocks nor herds disturb the silent plains;
    Within the sacred walls mute quiet reigns,
    And murmuring Lethe soothing sleep invites;
    In dreams again the flying past delights:
    From milky flowers that near the cavern grow,
    Night scatters the collected sleep below."

S----, the boy who made this translation, was just ten years old; he
had made but three previous attempts in versification; his reading in
poetry had been some of Gay's fables, parts of the Minstrel, three
odes of Gray, the Elegy in a Country Church-yard, the Tears of Old
May-day, and parts of the second volume of Dr. Darwin's Botannic
Garden; Dryden's translations of the fable of Ceyx and Alcyone he had
never seen; the book had always been locked up. Phædrus and Ovid's
Metamorphoses were the whole of his Latin erudition. These
circumstances are mentioned thus minutely, to afford the inquisitive
teacher materials for an accurate estimate of the progress made by our
method of instruction. Perhaps most boys of S----'s age, in our great
public seminaries, would, upon a similar trial, be found superior.
Competition in the art of translation is not our object; our object is
to show, that half an hour a day, steadily appropriated to grammar and
Latin, would be sufficient to secure a boy of this age, from any
danger of ignorance in classical learning; and that the ease and
shortness of his labour will prevent that disgust, which is too often
induced by forced and incessant application. We may add, that some
attention to the _manner_ in which the pupils repeat their Latin
lessons, has been found advantageous: as they were never put in bodily
fear, by the impatience of a pedagogue, they had leisure and
inclination to read and recite, without awkward gestures and
discordant tones. The whining tones and convulsive gestures often
contracted by boys during the agony of repeating their long lessons,
are not likely to be advantageous to the rising generation of orators.
Practice, and the strong motive of emulation, may, in a public
seminary, conquer these bad habits. After the pupil has learned to
speak ill, he _may_ be taught to speak well; but the chances are
against him: and why should we have the trouble of breaking bad
habits? It is much easier to prevent them. In private education, as
the preceptor has less chance of curing his pupil of the habit of
speaking ill, he should be peculiarly attentive to give the child
constant habits of speaking and reading well. It is astonishing, that
parents, who are extremely intent upon the education of their
children, should overlook some of the essential means of success. A
young man with his head full of Latin and law, will make but a poor
figure at the bar, or in parliament, if he cannot enunciate
distinctly, and if he cannot speak good English extempore, or produce
his learning and arguments with grace and propriety. It is in vain to
expect that a boy should speak well in public, who cannot, in common
conversation, utter three connected sentences without a false concord
or a provincial idiom; he may be taught with much care and cost to
speak _tripod_ sentences;[4] but bring the young orator to the test,
bring him to actual business, rouse any of his passions, throw him off
his guard, and then listen to his language; he will forget instantly
his reading master, and all his rules of pronunciation and rhetoric,
and he will speak the language to which he has been most accustomed.
No master will then be near him to regulate the pitch and tones of his
voice. We cannot believe that even Caius Gracchus could, when he was
warmed by passion, have listened to Licinius's pitch-pipe.[5] Example,
and constant attention to their manner of speaking in common
conversation, we apprehend to be the most certain methods of preparing
young men for public speakers. Much of the time that is spent in
teaching boys to walk upon stilts, might be more advantageously
employed in teaching them to walk well without them. It is all very
well whilst the pupil is under the protection of his preceptor. The
actor on the stage is admired whilst he is elevated by the cothurnus;
but young men are not to exhibit their oratorical talents always with
the advantages of stage effect and decorations. We should imagine,
that much of the diffidence felt by young men of abilities, when they
first rise to speak in public, may be attributed to their immediate
perception of the difference between scholastic exhibitions and the
real business of life; they feel that they have learned to speak two
languages, which must not, on any account, be mixed together; the one,
the vulgar language of common conversation; the other, the refined
language of oratorical composition: the first they are most inclined
to use when they are agitated; and they are agitated when they rise to
speak before numbers: consequently there is an immediate struggle
between custom and institution. Now, a young man, who in common
conversation in his own family has never been accustomed to hear or to
speak vulgar or ungrammatical language, cannot possibly apprehend that
he shall suddenly utter ridiculous expressions; he knows, that, if he
speaks at all, he shall at least speak good English; and he is not
afraid, that, if he is pursued, he shall be obliged to throw away his
cumbrous stilts. The practice of speaking in public, we are sensible,
is a great advantage; but the habit of speaking accurately in private,
is of still greater consequence: this habit depends upon the early and
persevering care of the parent and the preceptor. There is no reason
why children should not be made at the same time good scholars and
good speakers; nor is there any reason why boys, whilst they learn to
write Latin, should be suffered to forget how to write English.

It would be a great advantage to the young classical scholar, if his
Latin and English literature were mixed; the taste for ancient authors
and for modern literature, ought to be cultivated at the same time;
and the beauties of composition, characteristic of different
languages, should be familiarized to the student. Classical knowledge
and taste afford such continual and innocent sources of amusement,
that we should be extremely sorry that any of our pupils should not
enjoy them in their fullest extent; but we do not include a talent for
Latin composition amongst the _necessary_ accomplishments of a
gentleman. There are situations in life, where facility and elegance
in writing Latin may be useful, but such situations are not common;
when a young man is intended for them, he may be trained with more
particular assiduity to this art; perhaps for this purpose the true
Busbyean method is the best. The great Latin and Greek scholars of the
age, have no reason to be displeased by the assertion, that classical
proficiency equal to their own, is not a _necessary_ accomplishment in
a gentleman; if their learning become more rare, it may thence become
more valuable. We see no reason why there should not be Latinists as
well as special pleaders.

We have not laid down any course of classical study; those who
consider the order in which certain authors are read, as of material
consequence in the education of scholars, may consult Milton, Mrs.
Macaulay, "Milne's Well-bred Scholar," &c. where they will find
precise directions.

We have _lately_ seen a collection of exercises for boys,[6] which in
some measure supplies the defect of Mr. Garretson's curious
performance. We wish most earnestly that dictionaries were improved.
The author of "Stemmata Latinitatis," has conferred an essential
service on the public; but still there is wanting a dictionary for
schools, in which elegant and proper English might be substituted for
the barbarous translations now in use. Such a dictionary could not be
compiled, we should think, without an attention to the course of books
that are most commonly used in schools. The first meanings given in
the dictionary, should suit the first authors that a boy reads; this
may probably be a remote or metaphoric meaning: then the radical word
should be mentioned, and it would not cost a master any great trouble
to trace the genealogy of words to the parent stock.

Cordery is a collection of such mean sentences, and uninstructive
dialogue, as to be totally unfit for boys. Commenius's "Visible World
displayed," is far superior, and might, with proper alterations and
better prints, become a valuable _English_ school-book. Both these
books were intended for countries where the Latin language was
commonly spoken, and consequently they are filled with the terms
necessary for domestic life and conversation: for this very reason
they are not good introductions to the classics. Selections from
Bailey's Phædrus, will be proper for young beginners, upon account of
the glossary. We prefer this mode of assisting them with glossaries to
the use of translations, because they do not induce indolent habits,
and yet they prevent the pupil from having unnecessary labour.
Translations always give the pupil more trouble in the end, than they
save in the beginning. The glossary to Bailey's Phædrus, which we have
just mentioned, wants much to be modernized, and the language requires
to be improved. Mr. Valpy's "Select Sentences," would be much more
useful if they had a glossary annexed. As they are, they will,
however, be useful after Phædrus. Ovid's Metamorphoses, with all its
monstrous faults, appears to be the best introduction to the Latin
classics, and to heathen mythology. Norris's Ovid may be safely put
into the hands of children, as it is a selection of the least
exceptionable fables. To accustom boys to read poetry and prose nearly
at the same period, is advantageous. Cornelius Nepos, a _crabbed_
book, but useful from its brevity, and from its being a proper
introduction to Grecian and Roman history, may be read nearly at the
same time with Ovid's Metamorphoses. After Ovid, the pupil may begin
Virgil, postponing some of the Eclogues, and all the Georgics.

We recommend that some English books should be put into the hands of
boys whilst they are going through Phædrus, Ovid, and Cornelius Nepos,
which may suit with the ideas they acquire from these Latin authors.
Plutarch's Lives, for instance, will be useful and interesting. When
we mention Plutarch's Lives, we cannot help recollecting how many
great people have acknowledged the effect of this book in their early
education. Charles the Twelfth, Rousseau, Madame Roland, Gibbon, we
immediately remember, and we are sure we have noticed many others. An
abridgment of Plutarch, by Mrs. Helme, which we have looked into,
appears (the preface excepted) to be well written; and we see another
abridgment of Plutarch advertised, which we hope may prove
serviceable: good prints to a Plutarch for children, would be very

As an English introduction to mythology, we recommend the first volume
of Lord Chesterfield's Letters, as a most elegant view of heathen
mythology. But if there be any danger that the first volume should
introduce the remainder of Lord Chesterfield's work to the
inexperienced reader, we should certainly forbear the experiment: it
would be far better for a young man never to be acquainted with a
single heathen deity, than to purchase Lord Chesterfield's classical
knowledge at the hazard of contamination from his detestable system of
morals. Without his Lordship's assistance, Mrs. Monsigny's Mythology
can _properly_ initiate the young pupil of either sex into the
mysteries of ancient fables. The notes to Potter's Æschylus, are also
well suited to our purpose. In Dr. Darwin's "Botanic Garden," there
are some beautiful poetic allusions to ancient gems and ancient
fables, which must fix themselves in the memory or in the imagination
of the pupil. The sooner they are read, the better; we have felt the
advantage of putting them into the hands of a boy of nine or ten years
old. The ear should be formed to English as well as to Latin poetry.

Classical poetry, without the knowledge of mythology, is
unintelligible: if children study the one, they must learn the other.
Divested of the charms of poetry, and considered without classical
prepossession, mythology presents a system of crimes and absurdities,
which no allegorical, metaphysical, or literal interpreters of modern
times, can perfectly reconcile to common sense, or common morality;
but our poets have naturalized ancient fables, so that mythology is
become essential even to modern literature. The associations of taste,
though arbitrary, are not easily changed in a nation whose literature
has attained to a certain pitch of refinement, and whose critical
judgments must consequently have been for some generations
traditional. There are subjects of popular allusion, which poets and
orators regard as common property; to dispossess them of these, seems
impracticable, after time has sanctioned the prescriptive right. But
new knowledge, and the cultivation of new sciences, present objects of
poetic allusion which, skilfully managed by men of inventive genius,
will oppose to the habitual reverence for antiquity, the charms of
novelty united to the voice of philosophy.[7]

In education we must, however, consider the actual state of manners in
that world in which our pupils are to live, as well as our wishes or
our hopes of its gradual improvement.[8] With a little care,
preceptors may manage so as to teach mythology without in the least
injuring their pupils. Children may be familiarized to the strange
manners and strange personages of ancient fable, and may consider them
as a set of beings who are not to be judged by any rules of morality,
and who have nothing in common with ourselves. The caricatura of some
of the passions, perhaps, will not shock children who are not used to
their natural appearance; they will pass over the stories of love and
jealousy, merely because they do not understand them. We should rather
leave them completely unintelligible, than attempt, like Mr. Riley, in
his mythological pocket dictionary for youth, to elucidate the whole
at once, by assuring children that Saturn was Adam, that Atlas is
Moses, and his brother Hesperus, Aaron; that Vertumnus and Pomona were
Boaz and Ruth; that Mars _corresponds_ with Joshua; that Apollo
_accords_ with David, since they both played upon the harp; that
Mercury can be no other than our Archangel Michael, since they both
have wings on their arms and feet; that, in short, to complete the
concordance, Momus is a striking likeness of Satan. The ancients, Mr.
Riley allows, have so much disfigured these personages, that it is
hard to know many of the portraits again at first sight; however, he
is persuaded that "the young student will find a peculiar
gratification in tracing the likeness," and he has kindly furnished us
with a catalogue to explain the exhibition, and to guide us through
his new pantheon.

As books of reference, the convenient size, and compressed
information, of _pocket_ mythological dictionaries, will recommend
them to general use; but we object to the miserable prints with which
they are sometimes disgraced. The first impression made upon the
imagination[9] of children, is of the utmost consequence to their
future taste. The beautiful engravings[10] in Spence's Polymetis, will
introduce the heathen deities in their most graceful and picturesque
forms to the fancy. The language of Spence, though classical, is not
entirely free from pedantic affectation, and his dialogues are,
perhaps, too stiff and long winded for our young pupils. But a parent
or preceptor can easily select the useful explanations; and in
turning over the prints, they can easily associate some general
notion of the history and attributes of the gods and goddesses with
their forms: the little eager spectators will, as they crowd round the
book, acquire imperceptibly all the necessary knowledge of mythology,
imbibe the first pleasing ideas of taste, and store their imagination
with classic imagery. The same precautions that are necessary to
educate the eye, are also necessary to form the ear and understanding
of taste. The first mythological descriptions which our pupils read,
should be the best in their kind. Compare the following account of
Europa in a pocket dictionary, with her figure in a poetical
gem--"Europa, the daughter of Agenor, king of the Phoenicians, and
sister of Cadmus. This princess was so beautiful, that, they say, one
of the companions of Juno had robbed her of a pot of paint to bestow
on this lady, which rendered her so handsome. She was beloved of
Jupiter, who assumed the shape of a bull to run away with her, swam
over the sea with her on his back, and carried her into that part of
the world now called Europe, from her name." So far the dictionary;
now for the poet.

    "Now lows a milk-white bull on Afric's strand,
    And crops with dancing head the daisy'd land;
    With rosy wreathes Europa's hand adorns
    His fringed forehead and his pearly horns;
    Light on his back the sportive damsel bounds,
    And, pleas'd, he moves along the flowery grounds;
    Bears with slow step his beauteous prize aloof,
    Dips in the lucid flood his ivory hoof;
    Then wets his velvet knees, and wading laves
    His silky sides, amid the dimpling waves.
    While her fond train with beckoning hands deplore,
    Strain their blue eyes, and shriek along the shore:
    Beneath her robe she draws her snowy feet,
    And, half reclining on her ermine seat,
    Round his rais'd neck her radiant arms she throws,
    And rests her fair cheek on his curled brows;
    Her yellow tresses wave on wanton gales,
    And high in air her azure mantle sails."[11]


[1] Garretson's Exercises, the tenth edition.

[2] V. Chapter on Attention.

[3] Mrs. Piozzi.

[4] V. Blair.

[5] V. Plutarch.

[6] Valpy's Exercises.

[7] V. Darwin's Poetry.

[8] Since the above was written, we have seen a letter from Dr. Aikin
to his son on the _morality_ and _poetic merit_ of the fable of Circe,
which convinces us that the observations that we have hazarded are not

[9] Chapter on Imagination.

[10] We speak of these engravings as _beautiful_, for the times in
which they were done; modern artists have arrived at higher

[11] Darwin. V. Botanic Garden.



The usual manner of teaching Geography and Chronology, may, perhaps,
be necessary in public seminaries, where a number of boys are to learn
the same thing at the same time; but what is learned in this manner,
is not permanent; something besides merely committing names and dates
to the memory, is requisite to make a useful impression upon the
memory. For the truth of this observation, an appeal is made to the
reader. Let him recollect, whether the Geography and Chronology which
he learned whilst a boy, are what he now remembers--Whether he has not
obtained his present knowledge from other sources than the tasks of
early years. When business, or conversation, calls upon us to furnish
facts accurate as to place and time, we retrace our former
heterogeneous acquirements, and select those circumstances which are
connected with our present pursuit, and thus we form, as it were, a
nucleus round which other facts insensibly arrange themselves. Perhaps
no two men in the world, who are well versed in these studies, connect
their knowledge in the same manner. Relation to some particular
country, some favourite history, some distinguished person, forms the
connection which guides our recollection, and which arranges our
increasing nomenclature. By attending to what passes in our own minds,
we may learn an effectual method of teaching without pain, and without
any extraordinary burden to the memory, all that is useful of these
sciences. The details of history should be marked by a few
chronological æras, and by a few general ideas of geography. When
these have been once completely associated in the mind, there is
little danger of their being ever disunited: the sight of any country
will recall its history, and even from representations in a map, or on
the globe, when the mind is wakened by any recent event, a long train
of concomitant ideas will recur.

The use of technical helps to the memory, has been condemned by many,
and certainly, when they are employed as artifices to supply the place
of real knowledge, they are contemptible; but when they are used as
indexes to facts that have been really collected in the mind; when
they serve to arrange the materials of knowledge in appropriate
classes, and to give a sure and rapid clue to recollection, they are
of real advantage to the understanding. Indeed, they are now so
common, that pretenders cannot build the slightest reputation upon
their foundation. Were an orator to attempt a display of long
chronological accuracy, he might be wofully confounded by his
opponent's applying at the first pause,

    [12]Els_luk_ he would have said!

Ample materials are furnished in Gray's Memoria Technica, from which a
short and useful selection may be made, according to the purposes
which are in view. For children, the little ballad of the Chapter of
Kings, will not be found beneath the notice of mothers who attend to
education. If the technical terminations of Gray are inserted, they
will never be forgotten, or may be easily recalled.[13] We scarcely
ever forget a ballad if the tune is popular.

For pupils at a more advanced age, it will be found advantageous to
employ technical helps of a more scientific construction. Priestley's
Chart of Biography may, from time to time, be hung in their view.
Smaller charts, upon the same plan, might be provided with a few names
as land-marks; these may be filled up by the pupil with such names as
he selects from history; they may be bound in octavo, like maps, by
the middle, so as to unfold both ways--Thirty-nine inches by nine will
be a convenient size. Prints, maps, and medals, which are part of the
constant furniture of a room, are seldom attended to by young people;
but when circumstances excite an interest upon any particular subject,
then is the moment to produce the symbols which record and communicate

Mrs. Radcliffe, in her judicious and picturesque Tour through Germany,
tells us, that in passing through the apartments of a palace which the
archduchess Maria Christiana, the sister of the late unfortunate queen
of France, had left a few hours before, she saw spread upon a table a
map of all the countries then included in the seat of the war. The
positions of the several corps of the allied armies were marked upon
this chart with small pieces of various coloured wax. Can it be
doubted, that the strong interest which this princess must have taken
in the subject, would for ever impress upon her memory the geography
of this part of the world?

How many people are there who have become geographers since the
beginning of the present war. Even the common newspapers disseminate
this species of knowledge, and those who scarcely knew the situation
of Brest harbour a few years ago, have consulted the map with that
eagerness which approaching danger excites; they consequently will
tenaciously remember all the geographical knowledge they have thus
acquired. The art of creating an interest in the study of geography,
depends upon the dexterity with which passing circumstances are seized
by a preceptor in conversation. What are maps or medals, statues or
pictures, but technical helps to memory? If a mother possess good
prints, or casts of ancient gems, let them be shown to any persons of
taste and knowledge who visit her; their attention leads that of our
pupils; imitation and sympathy are the parents of taste, and taste
reads in the monuments of art whatever history has recorded.

In the Adele and Theodore of Madame de Silleri, a number of
adventitious helps are described for teaching history and chronology.
There can be no doubt that these are useful; and although such an
apparatus cannot be procured by private families, fortunately the
print-shops of every provincial town, and of the capital in
particular, furnish even to the passenger a continual succession of
instruction. Might not prints, assorted for the purposes which we have
mentioned, be _lent_ at circulating libraries?

To assist our pupils in geography, we prefer a globe to common maps.
Might not a cheap, portable, and convenient globe, be made of oiled
silk, to be inflated by a common pair of bellows? Mathematical
exactness is not requisite for our purpose, and though we could not
pretend to the precision of our best globes, yet a balloon of this
sort would compensate by its size and convenience for its inaccuracy.
It might be hung by a line from its north pole, to a hook screwed into
the horizontal architrave of a door or window; and another string from
its south pole might be fastened at a proper angle to the floor, to
give the requisite elevation to the axis of the globe. An idea of the
different projections of the sphere, may be easily acquired from this
globe in its flaccid state, and any part of it might be consulted as a
map, if it were laid upon a convex board of a convenient size.
Impressions from the plates which are used for common globes, might be
taken to try this idea without any great trouble or expense; but we
wish to employ a much larger scale, and to have them five or six feet
diameter. The inside of a globe of this sort might be easily
illuminated, and this would add much to the novelty and beauty of its

In the country, with the assistance of a common carpenter and
plasterer, a large globe of lath and plaster may be made for the
instruction and entertainment of a numerous family of children. Upon
this they should leisurely delineate from time to time, by their given
latitudes and longitudes, such places as they become acquainted with
in reading or conversation. The capital city, for instance, of the
different countries of Europe, the rivers, and the neighbouring towns,
until at last the outline might be added: for the sake of convenience,
the lines, &c. may be first delineated upon a piece of paper, from
which they may be accurately transferred to their proper places on the
globe, by the intervention of black-leaded paper, or by pricking the
lines through the paper, and pouncing powdered blue through the holes
upon the surface of the globe.

We enter into this detail because we are convinced, that every
addition to the active manual employment of children, is of
consequence, not only to their improvement, but to their happiness.

Another invention has occurred to us for teaching geography and
history together. Priestley's Chart of History, though constructed
with great ingenuity, does not invite the attention of young people:
there is an intricacy in the detail which is not obvious at first. To
remedy what appears to us a difficulty, we propose that eight and
twenty, or perhaps thirty, octavo maps of the globe should be
engraved; upon these should be traced, in succession, the different
situations of the different countries of the world, as to power and
extent, during each respective century: different colours might denote
the principal divisions of the world in each of these maps; the same
colour always denoting the same country, with the addition of one
strong colour; red, for instance, to distinguish that country which
had at each period the principal dominion. On the upper and lower
margin in these maps, the names of illustrious persons might be
engraven in the manner of the biographical chart; and the reigning
opinions of each century should also be inserted. Thus history,
chronology, and geography, would appear at once to the eye in their
proper order, and regular succession, divided into centuries and
periods, which easily occur to recollection.

We forbear to expatiate upon this subject, as it has not been actually
submitted to experiment; carefully avoiding in the whole of this work
to recommend any mode of instruction which we have not actually put in
practice. For this reason, we have not spoken of the abbé Gaultier's
method of teaching geography, as we have only been able to obtain
accounts of it from the public papers, and from reviews; we are,
however, disposed to think favourably beforehand, of any mode which
unites amusement with instruction. We cannot forbear recommending, in
the strongest manner, a few pages of Rollin in his "Thoughts upon
Education,"[14] which we think contain an excellent specimen of the
manner in which a well informed preceptor might lead his pupils a
geographical, historical, botanical, and physiological tour upon the
artificial globe.

We conclude this chapter of hints, by repeating what we have before
asserted, that though technical assistance may be of ready use to
those who are really acquainted with that knowledge to which it
refers, it never can supply the place of accurate information.

The causes of the rise and fall of empires, the progress of human
knowledge, and the great discoveries of superior minds, are the real
links which connect the chain of political knowledge.


[12] V. Gray's Memoria Technica, and the Critic.

[13] Instead of

William the conqueror long did reign, And William his son by an arrow
was slain.


William the Con_sau_ long did reign, And Ruf_koi_ his son by an arrow
was slain.

And so on from Gray's Memoria Technica to the end of the chapter.

[14] Page 24.



The man who is ignorant that two and two make four, is stigmatized
with the character of hopeless stupidity; except, as Swift has
remarked, in the arithmetic of the customs, where two and two do not
always make the same sum.

We must not judge of the understanding of a child by this test, for
many children of quick abilities do not immediately assent to this
proposition when it is first laid before them. "Two and two make
four," says the tutor. "Well, child, why do you stare so?"

The child stares because the word _make_ is in this sentence used in a
sense which is quite new to him; he knows what it is to make a bow,
and to make a noise, but how this active verb is applicable in the
present case, where there is no agent to perform the action, he cannot
clearly comprehend. "Two and two _are_ four," is more intelligible;
but even this assertion, the child, for want of a distinct notion of
the sense in which the word _are_ is used, does not understand. "Two
and two _are called_ four," is, perhaps, the most accurate phrase a
tutor can use; but even these words will convey no meaning until they
have been associated with the pupil's perceptions. When he has once
perceived the combination of the numbers with real objects, it will
then be easy to teach him that the words _are called_, _are_, and
_make_, in the foregoing proposition, are synonymous terms.

We have chosen the first simple instance we could recollect, to show
how difficult the words we generally use in teaching arithmetic, must
be to our young pupils. It would be an unprofitable task to enumerate
all the puzzling technical terms which, in their earliest lessons,
children are obliged to hear, without being able to understand.

It is not from want of capacity that so many children are deficient in
arithmetical skill; and it is absurd to say, "such a child has no
genius for arithmetic. Such a child cannot be made to comprehend any
thing about numbers." These assertions prove nothing, but that the
persons who make them, are ignorant of the art of teaching. A child's
seeming stupidity in learning arithmetic, may, perhaps, be a proof of
intelligence and good sense. It is easy to make a boy, who does not
reason, repeat by rote any technical rules which a common
writing-master, with magisterial solemnity, may lay down for him; but
a child who reasons, will not be thus easily managed; he stops,
frowns, hesitates, questions his master, is wretched and refractory,
until he can discover why he is to proceed in such and such a manner;
he is not content with seeing his preceptor make figures and lines
upon a slate, and perform wondrous operations with the self-complacent
dexterity of a conjurer. A sensible boy is not satisfied with merely
seeing the total of a given sum, or the answer to a given question,
_come out right_; he insists upon knowing why it is right. He is not
content to be led to the treasures of science blindfold; he would tear
the bandage from his eyes, that he might know the way to them again.

That many children, who have been thought to be slow in learning
arithmetic, have, after their escape from the hands of pedagogues,
become remarkable for their quickness, is a fact sufficiently proved
by experience. We shall only mention one instance, which we happened
to meet with whilst we were writing this chapter. John Ludwig, a Saxon
peasant, was dismissed from school when he was a child, after four
years ineffectual struggle to learn the common rules of arithmetic. He
had been, during this time, beaten and scolded in vain. He spent
several subsequent years in common country labour, but at length some
accidental circumstances excited his ambition, and he became expert in
all the common rules, and mastered the rule of three and fractions, by
the help of an old school book, in the course of one year. He
afterwards taught himself geometry, and raised himself, by the force
of his abilities and perseverance, from obscurity to fame.

We should like to see the book which helped Mr. Ludwig to conquer his
difficulties. Introductions to Arithmetic are, often, calculated
rather for adepts in science, than for the ignorant. We do not pretend
to have discovered any shorter method than what is common, of teaching
these sciences; but, in conformity with the principles which are laid
down in the former part of this work, we have endeavoured to teach
their rudiments without disgusting our pupils, and without habituating
them to be contented with merely technical operations.

In arithmetic, as in every other branch of education, the principal
object should be, to preserve the understanding from implicit belief;
to invigorate its powers; to associate pleasure with literature, and
to induce the laudable ambition of progressive improvement.

As soon as a child can read, he should be accustomed to count, and to
have the names of numbers early connected in his mind with the
combinations which they represent. For this purpose, he should be
taught to add first by things, and afterwards by signs or figures. He
should be taught to form combinations of things by adding them
together one after another. At the same time that he acquires the
names that have been given to these combinations, he should be taught
the figures or symbols that represent them. For example, when it is
familiar to the child, that one almond, and one almond, are called two
almonds; that one almond, and two almonds, are called three almonds,
and so on, he should be taught to distinguish the figures that
represent these assemblages; that 3 means one and two, &c. Each
operation of arithmetic should proceed in this manner, from
individuals to the abstract notation of signs.

One of the earliest operations of the reasoning faculty, is
abstraction; that is to say, the power of classing a number of
individuals under one name. Young children call strangers either men
or women; even the most ignorant savages[15] have a propensity to

We may err either by accustoming our pupils too much to the
consideration of tangible substances when we teach them arithmetic, or
by turning their attention too much to signs. The art of forming a
sound and active understanding, consists in the due mixture of facts
and reflection. Dr. Reid has, in his "Essay on the Intellectual Powers
of Man," page 297, pointed out, with great ingenuity, the admirable
economy of nature in limiting the powers of reasoning during the first
years of infancy. This is the season for cultivating the senses, and
whoever, at this early age, endeavours to force the tender shoots of
reason, will repent his rashness.

In the chapter "on Toys," we have recommended the use of plain,
regular solids, cubes, globes, &c. made of wood, as playthings for
children, instead of uncouth figures of men, women and animals. For
teaching arithmetic, half inch cubes, which can be easily grasped by
infant fingers, may be employed with great advantage; they can be
easily arranged in various combinations; the eye can easily take in a
sufficient number of them at once, and the mind is insensibly led to
consider the assemblages in which they may be grouped, not only as
they relate to number, but as they relate to quantity or shape;
besides, the terms which are borrowed from some of these shapes, as
squares, cubes, &c. will become familiar. As these children advance in
arithmetic to square or cube, a number will be more intelligible to
them than to a person who has been taught these words merely as the
formula of certain rules. In arithmetic, the first lessons should be
short and simple; two cubes placed _above_ each other, will soon be
called two; if placed in any other situations near each other, they
will still be called two; but it is advantageous to accustom our
little pupils to place the cubes with which they are taught in
succession, either by placing them upon one another, or laying in
columns upon a table, beginning to count from the cube next to them,
as we cast up in addition. For this purpose, a board about six inches
long, and five broad, divided into columns perpendicularly by slips of
wood three eighths of an inch wide, and one eighth of an inch thick,
will be found useful; and if a few cubes of colours _different from
those already mentioned_, with numbers on their six sides, are
procured, they may be of great service. Our cubes should be placed,
from time to time, in a different order, or promiscuously; but when
any arithmetical operations are to be performed with them, it is best
to preserve the established arrangement.

One cube and one other, are called two.

Two what?

Two cubes.

One glass, and one glass, are called two glasses. One raisin, and one
raisin, are called two raisins, &c. One cube, and one glass, are
called what? _Two things_ or two.

By a process of this sort, the meaning of the abstract term _two_ may
be taught. A child will perceive the word _two_, means the same as the
words _one and one_; and when we say one and one are called two,
unless he is prejudiced by something else that is said to him, he will
understand nothing more than that there are two names for the same

"One, and one, and one, are called three," is the same as saying "that
three is the name for one, and one, and one." "Two and one are three,"
is also the same as saying "that three is the name of _two and one_."
Three is also the name of one and two; the word three has, therefore,
three meanings; it means one, and one, and one; _also_, two and one;
also, one and two. He will see that any two of the cubes may be put
together, as it were, in one parcel, and that this parcel may be
called _two_; and he will also see that this parcel, when joined to
another single cube, will _make_ three, and that the sum will be the
same, whether the single cube, or the two cubes, be named first.

In a similar manner, the combinations which form _four_, may be
considered. One, and one, and one, and one, are four.

One and three are four.

Two and two are four.

Three and one are four.

All these assertions mean the same thing, and the term _four_ is
equally applicable to each of them; when, therefore, we say that two
and two are four, the child may be easily led to perceive, and indeed
to _see_, that it means the same thing as saying one _two_, and one
_two_, which is the same thing as saying two _two's_, or saying the
word _two_ two times. Our pupil should be suffered to rest here, and
we should not, at present, attempt to lead him further towards that
compendious method of addition which we call multiplication; but the
foundation is laid by giving him this view of the relation between two
and two in forming four.

There is an enumeration in the note[16] of the different combinations
which compose the rest of the Arabic notation, which consists only of
nine characters.

Before we proceed to the number ten, or to the new series of
numeration which succeeds to it, we should make our pupils perfectly
masters of the combinations which we have mentioned, both in the
direct order in which they are arranged, and in various modes of
succession; by these means, not only the addition, but the
subtraction, of numbers as far as nine, will be perfectly familiar to

It has been observed before, that counting by realities, and by
signs, should be taught at the same time, so that the ear, the eye,
and the mind, should keep pace with one another; and that technical
habits should be acquired without injury to the understanding. If a
child begins between four and five years of age, he may be allowed
half a year for this essential, preliminary step in arithmetic; four
or five minutes application every day, will be sufficient to teach him
not only the relations of the first decade in numeration, but also how
to write figures with accuracy and expedition.

The next step, is, by far the most difficult in the science of
arithmetic; in treatises upon the subject, it is concisely passed over
under the title of Numeration; but it requires no small degree of care
to make it intelligible to children, and we therefore recommend, that,
besides direct instruction upon the subject, the child should be led,
by degrees, to understand the nature of classification in general.
Botany and natural history, though they are not pursued as sciences,
are, notwithstanding, the daily occupation and amusement of children,
and they supply constant examples of classification. In conversation,
these may be familiarly pointed out; a grove, a flock, &c. are
constantly before the eyes of our pupil, and he comprehends as well as
we do what is meant by two groves, two flocks, &c. The trees that form
the grove are each of them individuals; but let their numbers be what
they may when they are considered as a grove, the grove is but one,
and may be thought of and spoken of distinctly, without any relation
to the number of single trees which it contains. From these, and
similar observations, a child may be led to consider _ten_ as the name
for a _whole_, an _integer_; a _one_, which may be represented by the
figure (1): this same figure may also stand for a hundred, or a
thousand, as he will readily perceive hereafter. Indeed, the term one
hundred will become familiar to him in conversation long before he
comprehends that the word _ten_ is used as an aggregate term, like a
dozen, or a thousand. We do not use the word ten as the French do _une
dizaine_; ten does not, therefore, present the idea of an integer till
we learn arithmetic. This is a defect in our language, which has
arisen from the use of duodecimal numeration; the analogies existing
between the names of other numbers in progression, is broken by the
terms eleven and twelve. _Thirteen_, _fourteen_, &c. are so obviously
compounded of three and ten, and four and ten, as to strike the ears
of children immediately, and when they advance as far as twenty, they
readily perceive that a new series of units begins, and proceeds to
thirty, and that thirty, forty, &c. mean three tens, four tens, &c. In
pointing out these analogies to children, they become interested and
attentive, they show that species of pleasure which arises from the
perception of _aptitude_, or of truth. It can scarcely be denied that
such a pleasure exists independently of every view of utility and
fame; and when we can once excite this feeling in the minds of our
young pupils at any period of their education, we may be certain of

As soon as distinct notions have been acquired of the manner in which
a collection of ten units becomes a new unit of a higher order, our
pupil may be led to observe the utility of this invention by various
examples, before he applies it to the rules of arithmetic. Let him
count as far as ten with black pebbles,[17] for instance; let him lay
aside a white pebble to represent the collection of ten; he may count
another series of ten black pebbles, and lay aside another white one;
and so on, till he has collected ten white pebbles: as _each_ of the
ten white pebbles represents ten black pebbles, he will have counted
one hundred; and the ten white pebbles may now be represented by a
single red one, which will stand for one hundred. This large number,
which it takes up so much time to count, and which could not be
comprehended at one view, is represented by a single sign. Here the
difference of colour forms the distinction: difference in shape, or
size, would answer the same purpose, as in the Roman notation X for
ten, L for fifty, C for one hundred, &c. All this is fully within the
comprehension of a child of six years old, and will lead him to the
value of written figures by the _place_ which they hold when compared
with one another. Indeed he may be led to invent this arrangement, a
circumstance which would encourage him in every part of his education.
When once he clearly comprehends that the third place, counting from
the right, contains only figures which represent hundreds, &c. he will
have conquered one of the greatest difficulties of arithmetic. If a
paper ruled with several perpendicular lines, a quarter of an inch
asunder, be shown to him, he will see that the spaces or columns
between these lines would distinguish the value of figures written in
them, without the use of the sign (0) and he will see that (0) or
zero, serves only to mark the place or situation of the neighbouring

An idea of decimal arithmetic, but without detail, may now be given to
him, as it will not appear extraordinary to _him_ that a unit should
represent ten by having its place, or column changed; and nothing more
is necessary in decimal arithmetic, than to consider that figure which
represented, at one time, an integer, or whole, as representing at
another time the number of _tenth parts_ into which that whole may
have been broken.

Our pupil may next be taught what is called numeration, which he
cannot fail to understand, and in which he should be frequently
exercised. Common addition will be easily understood by a child who
distinctly perceives that the perpendicular columns, or places in
which figures are written, may distinguish their value under various
different denominations, as gallons, furlongs, shillings, &c. We
should not tease children with long sums in avoirdupois weight, or
load their frail memories with tables of long-measure, and
dry-measure, and ale-measure in the country, and ale-measure in
London; only let them cast up a few sums in different denominations,
with the tables before them, and let the practice of addition be
preserved in their minds by short sums every day, and when they are
between six and seven years old, they will be sufficiently masters of
the first and most useful rule of arithmetic.

To children who have been trained in this manner, subtraction will be
quite easy; care, however, should be taken to give them a clear notion
of the mystery of _borrowing_ and _paying_, which is inculcated in
teaching subtraction.

    From     94
    Subtract 46

"Six from four I can't, but six from ten, and four remains; four and
four _is_ eight."

And then, "One that I borrowed and four are five, five from nine, and
four remains."

This is the formula; but is it ever explained--or can it be? Certainly
not without some alteration. A child sees that six cannot be
subtracted (taken) from four: more especially a child who is
familiarly acquainted with the component parts of the names six and
four: he sees that the sum 46 is less than the sum 94, and he knows
that the lesser sum may be subtracted from the greater; but he does
not perceive the means of separating them figure by figure. Tell him,
that though six cannot be deducted from four, yet it can from
fourteen, and that if one of the tens which are contained in the (9)
ninety in the uppermost row of the second column, be supposed to be
taken away, or borrowed, from the ninety, and added to the four, the
nine will be reduced to 8 (eighty), and the four will become fourteen.
_Our_ pupil will comprehend this most readily; he will see that 6,
which could not be subtracted from 4, may be subtracted from fourteen,
and he will remember that the 9 in the next column is to be considered
as only (8). To avoid confusion, he may draw a stroke across the (9)
and write 8 over[18] it [8 over (9)] and proceed to the remainder of
the operation. This method for beginners is certainly very distinct,
and may for some time, be employed with advantage; and after its
rationale has become familiar, we may explain the common method which
depends upon this consideration.

"If one number is to be deducted from another, the remainder will be
the same, whether we add any given number to the smaller number, or
take away the same given number from the larger." For instance:

    Let the larger number be                            9
    And the smaller                                     4
    If you deduct 3 from the larger it will be          6
    From this subtract the smaller                      4
    The remainder will be                               2

    Or if you add 3 to the smaller number, it
    will be                                             7
    Subtract this from the larger number                9
    The remainder will be                               2

Now in the common method of subtraction, the _one_ which is borrowed
is taken from the uppermost figure in the adjoining column, and
instead of altering that figure to _one_ less, we add one to the
lowest figure, which, as we have just shown, will have the same
effect. The terms, however, that are commonly used in performing this
operation, are improper. To say "one that I borrowed, and four"
(meaning the lowest figure in the adjoining column) implies the idea
that what was borrowed is now to be repaid to that lowest figure,
which is not the fact. As to multiplication, we have little to say.
Our pupil should be furnished, in the first instance, with a table
containing the addition of the different units, which form the
different products of the multiplication table: these he should, from
time to time, add up as an exercise in addition; and it should be
frequently pointed out to him, that adding these figures so many times
over, is the same as multiplying them by the number of times that they
are added; as three times 3 means 3 added three times. Here one of the
figures represents a quantity, the other does not represent a
quantity, it denotes nothing but the times, or frequency of
repetition. Young people, as they advance, are apt to confound these
signs, and to imagine, for instance, in the rule of three, &c. that
the sums which they multiply together, mean quantities; that 40 yards
of linen may be multiplied by three and six-pence, &c.--an idea from
which the misstatements in sums that are intricate, frequently arise.

We have heard that the multiplication table has been set, like the
Chapter of Kings, to a cheerful tune. This is a species of technical
memory which we have long practised, and which can do no harm to the
understanding; it prevents the mind from no beneficial exertion, and
may save much irksome labour. It is certainly to be wished, that our
pupil should be expert in the multiplication table; if the cubes which
we have formerly mentioned, be employed for this purpose, the notion
of _squaring_ figures will be introduced at the same time that the
multiplication table is committed to memory.

In division, what is called the Italian method of arranging the
divisor and quotient, appears to be preferable to the common one, as
it places them in such a manner as to be easily multiplied by each
other, and as it agrees with algebraic notation.

    The usual method is this:

              Italian method:

               83467|   71
                    | ----
                    | 1175

The rule of three is commonly taught in a manner merely technical:
that it may be learned in this manner, so as to answer the common
purposes of life, there can be no doubt; and nothing is further from
our design, than to depreciate any mode of instruction which has been
sanctioned by experience: but our purpose is to point out methods of
conveying instruction that shall improve the reasoning faculty, and
habituate our pupil to think upon every subject. We wish, therefore,
to point out the course which the mind would follow to solve problems
relative to proportion without the rule, and to turn our pupil's
attention to the circumstances in which the rule assists us.

The calculation of the price of any commodity, or the measure of any
quantity, where the first term is one, may be always stated as a sum
in the rule of three; but as this statement retards, instead of
expediting the operation, it is never practised.

If one yard costs a shilling, how much will three yards cost?

The mind immediately perceives, that the price added three times
together, or multiplied by three, gives the answer. If a certain
number of apples are to be equally distributed amongst a certain
number of boys, if the share of one is one apple, the share of ten or
twenty is plainly equal to ten or twenty. But if we state that the
share of three boys is twelve apples, and ask what number will be
sufficient for nine boys, the answer is not obvious; it requires
consideration. Ask our pupil what made it so easy to answer the last
question, he will readily say, "Because I knew what was the share of

Then you could answer this new question if you knew the share of one


Cannot you find out what the share of one boy is when the share of
three boys is twelve?


What number of apples then will be enough, at the same rate, for nine

Nine times four, that is thirty-six.

In this process he does nothing more than divide the second number by
the first, and multiply the quotient by the third; 12 divided by 3 is
4, which multiplied by 9 is 36. And this is, in truth, the foundation
of the rule; for though the golden rule facilitates calculation, and
contributes admirably to our convenience, it is not absolutely
necessary to the solution of questions relating to proportion.

Again, "If the share of three boys is five apples, how many will be
sufficient for nine?"

Our pupil will attempt to proceed as in the former question, and will
begin by endeavouring to find out the share of one of the three boys;
but this is not quite so easy; he will see that each is to have one
apple, and part of another; but it will cost him some pains to
determine exactly how much. When at length he finds that one and
two-thirds is the share of one boy, before he can answer the question,
he must multiply one and two-thirds by nine, which is an operation _in
fractions_, a rule of which he at present knows nothing. But if he
begins by multiplying the second, instead of dividing it previously by
the first number, he will avoid the embarrassment occasioned by
fractional parts, and will easily solve the question.

           3 : 5 : 9 : 15
    Multiply      5
         by       9
        it makes 45

which product 45, divided by 3, gives 15.

Here our pupil perceives, that if a given number, 12, for instance, is
to be divided by one number, and multiplied by another, _it will come
to the same thing_, whether he begins by dividing the given number, or
by multiplying it.

    12 divided by 4 is 3, which
    multiplied by 6 is 18;
    12 multiplied by 6 is 72, which
    divided by       4 is 18.

We recommend it to preceptors not to fatigue the memories of their
young pupils with sums which are difficult only from the number of
figures which they require, but rather to give examples _in practice_,
where aliquot parts are to be considered, and where their ingenuity
may be employed without exhausting their patience. A variety of
arithmetical questions occur in common conversation, and from common
incidents; these should be made a subject of inquiry, and our pupils,
amongst others, should try their skill: in short, whatever can be
taught in conversation, is clear gain in instruction.

We should observe, that every explanation upon these subjects should
be recurred to from time to time, perhaps every two or three months;
as there are no circumstances in the business of every day, which
recall abstract speculations to the minds of children; and the pupil
who understands them to-day, may, without any deficiency of memory,
forget them entirely in a few weeks. Indeed, the perception of the
chain of reasoning, which connects demonstration, is what makes it
truly advantageous in education. Whoever has occasion, in the business
of life, to make use of the rule of three, may learn it effectually in
a month as well as in ten years; but the habit of reasoning cannot be
acquired late in life without _unusual_ labour, and uncommon


[15] V. A strange instance quoted by Mr. Stewart, "On the Human Mind,"
page 152.



1 Two is 1 the - name for 2 =

1 1 1 1 2 - - 3 3 = =

1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 2 - - - - 4 4 4 4 = = = =

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 2 2 - - - - - - 5 5 5 5 5 5 = = = =
= =

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 2 3 1 2 3 4 5 2 2 2 2
3 3 - - - - - - - - - - - 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 = = = = = = = = = = =

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4
5 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7 7 7
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 1
2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = =

1 1 2 1 1 5 2 2 3 4 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 6 - - - - - - - 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 = =
= = = = =

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1
1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
9 9 9 9 9 9 9 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 3 3 4 4 5 6 2 2 4 5 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3
3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 6 7 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
9 9 9 = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

[17] The word calculate is derived from the Latin calculus, a pebble.

[18] This method is recommended in the Cours de Math, par Camus, p.



There is certainly no royal road to geometry, but the way may be
rendered easy and pleasant by timely preparations for the journey.

Without any previous knowledge of the country, or of its peculiar
language, how can we expect that our young traveller should advance
with facility or pleasure? We are anxious that our pupil should
acquire a taste for accurate reasoning, and we resort to Geometry, as
the most perfect, and the purest series of ratiocination which has
been invented. Let us, then, sedulously avoid whatever may disgust
him; let his first steps be easy, and successful; let them be
frequently repeated until he can trace them without a guide.

We have recommended in the chapter upon Toys, that children should,
from their earliest years, be accustomed to the shape of what are
commonly called regular solids; they should also be accustomed to the
figures in mathematical diagrams. To these should be added their
respective names, and the whole language of the science should be
rendered as familiar as possible.

Mr. Donne, an ingenious mathematician of Bristol, has published a
prospectus of an Essay on Mechanical Geometry: he has executed, and
employed with success, models in wood and metal for demonstrating
propositions in geometry in a _palpable_ manner. We have endeavoured,
in vain, to procure a set of these models for our own pupils, but we
have no doubt of their entire utility.

What has been acquired in childhood, should not be suffered to escape
the memory. Dionysius[19] had mathematical diagrams described upon
the floors of his apartments, and thus recalled their demonstrations
to his memory. The slightest addition that can be conceived, if it be
continued daily, will imperceptibly, not only preserve what has been
already acquired, but will, in a few years, amount to as large a stock
of mathematical knowledge as we could wish. It is not our object to
make mathematicians, but to make it easy to our pupil to become a
mathematician, if his interest, or his ambition, make it desirable;
and, above all, to habituate him to clear reasoning, and close
attention. And we may here remark, that an early acquaintance with the
accuracy of mathematical demonstration, does not, within our
experience, contract the powers of the imagination. On the contrary,
we think that a young lady of twelve years old, who is now no more,
and who had an uncommon propensity to mathematical reasoning, had an
imagination remarkably vivid and inventive.[20]

We have accustomed our pupils to form in their minds the conception of
figures generated from points and lines, and surfaces supposed to move
in different directions, and with different velocities. It may be
thought, that this would be a difficult occupation for young minds;
but, upon trial, it will be found not only easy to them, but
entertaining. In their subsequent studies, it will be of material
advantage; it will facilitate their progress not only in pure
mathematics, but in mechanics and astronomy, and in every operation of
the mind which requires exact reflection.

To demand steady thought from a person who has not been trained to it,
is one of the most unprofitable and dangerous requisitions that can be
made in education.

    "Full in the midst of Euclid dip at once,
    And petrify a genius to a dunce."

In the usual commencement of mathematical studies, the learner is
required to admit that a point, of which he sees the prototype, a dot
before him, has neither length, breadth, nor thickness. This, surely,
is a degree of faith not absolutely necessary for the neophyte in
science. It is an absurdity which has, with much success, been
attacked in "Observations on the Nature of Demonstrative Evidence," by
Doctor Beddoes.

We agree with the doctor as to the impropriety of calling a visible
dot, a point without dimensions. But, notwithstanding the high respect
which the author commands by a steady pursuit of truth on all subjects
of human knowledge, we cannot avoid protesting against part of the
doctrine which he has endeavoured to inculcate. That the names point,
radius, &c. are derived from sensible objects, need not be disputed;
but surely the word centre can be understood by the human mind without
the presence of any visible or tangible substance.

Where two lines meet, their junction cannot have dimensions;
where two radii of a circle meet, they constitute the centre,
and the name centre may be used for ever without any relation
to a tangible or visible point. The word boundary, in like manner,
means the extreme limit we call a line; but to assert that it has
thickness, would, from the very terms which are used to describe it,
be a direct contradiction. Bishop Berkely, Mr. Walton, Philathetes
Cantabrigiensis, and Mr. Benjamin Robins, published several pamphlets
upon this subject about half a century ago. No man had a more
penetrating mind than Berkely; but we apprehend that Mr. Robins closed
the dispute against him. This is not meant as an appeal to authority,
but to apprize such of our readers as wish to consider the argument,
where they may meet an accurate investigation of the subject. It is
sufficient for our purpose, to warn preceptors not to insist upon
their pupils' acquiescence in the dogma, that a point, represented by
a dot, is without dimensions; and at the same time to profess, that we
understand distinctly what is meant by mathematicians when they speak
of length without breadth, and of a superfices without depth;
expressions which, to our minds, convey a meaning as distinct as the
name of any visible or tangible substance in nature, whose varieties
from shade, distance, colour, smoothness, heat, &c. are infinite, and
not to be comprehended in any definition.

In fact, this is a dispute merely about words, and as the extension of
the art of printing puts it in the power of every man to propose and
to defend his opinions at length, and at leisure, the best friends may
support different sides of a question with mutual regard, and the most
violent enemies with civility and decorum. Can we believe that Tycho
Brahe lost half his nose in a dispute with a Danish nobleman about a
mathematical demonstration?


[19] Plutarch.--Life of Dion.

[20] V. Rivuletta, a little story written _entirely_ by her in 1786.



Parents are anxious that children should be conversant with Mechanics,
and with what are called the Mechanic Powers. Certainly no species of
knowledge is better suited to the taste and capacity of youth, and yet
it seldom forms a part of early instruction. Every body talks of the
lever, the wedge, and the pulley, but most people perceive, that the
notions which they have of their respective uses, are unsatisfactory,
and indistinct; and many endeavour, at a late period of life, to
acquire a scientific and exact knowledge of the effects that are
produced by implements which are in every body's hands, or that are
absolutely necessary in the daily occupations of mankind.

An itinerant lecturer seldom fails of having a numerous and attentive
auditory; and if he does not communicate much of that knowledge which
he endeavours to explain, it is not to be attributed either to his
want of skill, or to the insufficiency of his apparatus, but to the
novelty of the terms which he is obliged to use. Ignorance of the
language in which any science is taught, is an insuperable bar to its
being suddenly acquired; besides a precise knowledge of the meaning of
terms, we must have an instantaneous idea excited in our minds
whenever they are repeated; and, as this can be acquired only by
practice, it is impossible that philosophical lectures can be of much
service to those who are not familiarly acquainted with the technical
language in which they are delivered; and yet there is scarcely any
subject of human inquiry more obvious to the understanding, than the
laws of mechanics. Only a small portion of geometry is necessary to
the learner, if he even wishes to become master of the more difficult
problems which are usually contained in a course of lectures, and most
of what is practically useful, may be acquired by any person who is
expert in common arithmetic.

But we cannot proceed a single step without deviating from common
language; if the theory of the balance, or the lever, is to be
explained, we immediately speak of _space_ and _time_. To persons not
versed in literature, it is probable that these terms appear more
simple and unintelligible than they do to a man who has read Locke,
and other metaphysical writers. The term _space_ to the bulk of
mankind, conveys the idea of an interval; they consider the word
_time_ as representing a definite number of years, days, or minutes;
but the metaphysician, when he hears the words _space_ and _time_,
immediately takes the alarm, and recurs to the abstract notions which
are associated with these terms; he perceives difficulties unknown to
the unlearned, and feels a confusion of ideas which distracts his
attention. The lecturer proceeds with confidence, never supposing
that his audience can be puzzled by such common terms. He means by
_space_, the distance from the place whence a body begins to fall, to
the place where its motion ceases; and by time, he means the number of
seconds, or of any determinate divisions of _civil_ time which elapse
from the commencement of any motion to its end; or, in other words,
the duration of any given motion. After this has been frequently
repeated, any intelligent person perceives the sense in which they are
used by the tenour of the discourse; but in the interim, the greatest
part of what he has heard, cannot have been understood, and the
premises upon which every subsequent demonstration is founded, are
unknown to him. If this be true, when it is affirmed of two terms
only, what must be the situation of those to whom eight or ten unknown
technical terms occur at the commencement of a lecture? A complete
knowledge, such a knowledge as is not only full, but familiar, of all
the common terms made use of in theoretic and practical mechanics, is,
therefore, absolutely necessary before any person can attend public
lectures in natural philosophy with advantage.

What has been said of public lectures, may, with equal propriety, be
applied to private instruction; and it is probable, that inattention
to this circumstance is the reason why so few people have distinct
notions of natural philosophy. Learning by rote, or even reading
repeatedly, definitions of the technical terms of any science, must
undoubtedly facilitate its acquirement; but conversation, with the
habit of explaining the meaning of words, and the structure of common
domestic implements, to children, is the sure and effectual method of
preparing the mind for the acquirement of science.

The ancients, in learning this species of knowledge, had an advantage
of which we are deprived: many of their terms of science were the
common names of familiar objects. How few do we meet who have a
distinct notion of the words radius, angle, or valve. A Roman peasant
knew what a radius or a valve meant, in their original signification,
as well as a modern professor; he knew that a valve was a door, and a
radius a spoke of a wheel; but an English child finds it as difficult
to remember the meaning of the word angle, as the word parabola. An
angle is usually confounded, by those who are ignorant of geometry and
mechanics, with the word triangle, and the long reasoning of many a
laborious instructer has been confounded by this popular mistake. When
a glass pump is shown to an admiring spectator, he is desired to watch
the motion of the valves: he looks "above, about, and underneath;"
but, ignorant of the word _valve_, he looks in vain. Had he been
desired to look at the motion of the little doors that opened and
shut, as the handle of the pump was moved up and down, he would have
followed the lecturer with ease, and would have understood all his
subsequent reasoning. If a child attempts to push any thing heavier
than himself, his feet slide away from it, and the object can be moved
only at intervals, and by sudden starts; but if he be desired to prop
his feet against the wall, he finds it easy to push what before eluded
his little strength. Here the use of a fulcrum, or fixed point, by
means of which bodies may be moved, is distinctly understood. If two
boys lay a board across a narrow block of wood, or stone, and balance
each other at the opposite ends of it, they acquire another idea of a
centre of motion. If a poker is rested against a bar of a grate, and
employed to lift up the coals, the same notion of a centre is recalled
to their minds. If a boy, sitting upon a plank, a sofa, or form, be
lifted up by another boy's applying his strength at one end of the
seat, whilst the other end of the seat rests on the ground, it will be
readily perceived by them, that the point of rest, or centre of
motion, or fulcrum, is the ground, and that the fulcrum is not, as in
the first instance, between the force that lifts, and the thing that
is lifted; the fulcrum is at one end, the force which is exerted acts
at the other end, and the weight is in the middle. In trying, these
simple experiments, the terms _fulcrum_, _centre of motion_, &c.
should be constantly employed, and in a very short time they would be
as familiar to a boy of eight years old as to any philosopher. If for
some years the same words frequently recur to him in the same sense,
is it to be supposed that a lecture upon the balance and the lever
would be as unintelligible to him as to persons of good abilities, who
at a more advanced age hear these terms from the mouth of a lecturer?
A boy in such circumstances would appear as if he had a genius for
mechanics, when, perhaps, he might have less taste for the science,
and less capacity, than the generality of the audience. Trifling as it
may at first appear, it will not be found a trifling advantage, in the
progress of education, to attend to this circumstance. A distinct
knowledge of a few terms, assists a learner in his first attempts;
finding these successful, he advances with confidence, and acquires
new ideas without difficulty or disgust. Rousseau, with his usual
eloquence, has inculcated the necessity of annexing ideas to words; he
declaims against the splendid ignorance of men who speak by rote, and
who are rich in words amidst the most deplorable poverty of ideas. To
store the memory of his pupil with images of things, he is willing to
neglect, and leave to hazard, his acquirement of language. It requires
no elaborate argument to prove that a boy, whose mind was stored with
accurate images of external objects, of experimental knowledge, and
who had acquired habitual dexterity, but who was unacquainted with the
usual signs by which ideas are expressed, would be incapable of
accurate reasoning, or would, at best, reason only upon particulars.
Without general terms, he could not abstract; he could not, until his
vocabulary was enlarged, and familiar to him, reason upon general
topics, or draw conclusions from general principles: in short, he
would be in the situation of those who, in the solution of difficult
and complicated questions relative to quantity, are obliged to employ
tedious and perplexed calculations, instead of the clear and
comprehensive methods that unfold themselves by the use of signs in

It is not necessary, in teaching children the technical language of
any art or science, that we should pursue the same order that is
requisite in teaching the science itself. Order is required in
reasoning, because all reasoning is employed in deducing propositions
from one another in a regular series; but where terms are employed
merely as names, this order may be dispensed with. It is, however, of
great consequence to seize the proper time for introducing a new term;
a moment when attention is awake, and when accident has produced some
particular interest in the object. In every family, opportunities of
this sort occur without any preparation, and such opportunities are
far preferable to a formal lecture and a splendid apparatus for the
first lessons in natural philosophy and chemistry. If the pump
belonging to the house is out of order, and the pump-maker is set to
work, an excellent opportunity presents itself for variety of
instruction. The centre pin of the handle is taken out, and a long rod
is drawn up by degrees, at the end of which a round piece of wood is
seen partly covered with leather. Your pupil immediately asks the name
of it, and the pump-maker prevents your answer, by informing little
master that it is called a sucker. You show it to the child, he
handles it, feels whether the leather is hard or soft, and at length
discovers that there is a hole through it which is covered with a
little flap or door. This, he learns from the workmen, is called a
clack. The child should now be permitted to plunge _the piston_ (by
which name it should _now_ be called) into a tub of water; in drawing
it backwards and forwards, he will perceive that the clack, which
should now be called the valve, opens and shuts as the piston is drawn
backwards and forwards. It will be better not to inform the child how
this mechanism is employed in the pump. If the names sucker and
piston, clack and valve, are fixed in his memory, it will be
sufficient for his first lesson. At another opportunity, he should be
present when the fixed or lower valve of the pump is drawn up; he will
examine it, and find that it is similar to the valve of the piston; if
he sees it put down into the pump, and sees the piston put into its
place, and set to work, the names that he has learned will be fixed
more deeply in his mind, and he will have some general notion of the
whole apparatus. From time to time these names should be recalled to
his memory on suitable occasions, but he should not be asked to repeat
them by rote. What has been said, is not intended as a lesson for a
child in mechanics, but as a sketch of a method of teaching which has
been employed with success.

Whatever repairs are carried on in a house, children should be
permitted to see: whilst every body about them seems interested, they
become attentive from sympathy; and whenever action accompanies
instruction, it is sure to make an impression. If a lock is out of
order, when it is taken off, show it to your pupil; point out some of
its principal parts, and name them; then put it into the hands of a
child, and let him manage it as he pleases. Locks are full of oil, and
black with dust and iron; but if children have been taught habits of
neatness, they may be clock-makers and white-smiths, without spoiling
their clothes, or the furniture of a house. Upon every occasion of
this sort, technical terms should be made familiar; they are of great
use in the every-day business of life, and are peculiarly serviceable
in giving orders to workmen, who, when they are spoken to in a
language that they are used to, comprehend what is said to them, and
work with alacrity.

An early use of a rule and pencil, and easy access to prints of
machines, of architecture, and of the implements of trades, are of
obvious use in this part of education. The machines published by the
Society of Arts in London; the prints in Desaguliers, Emerson, le
Spectacle de la Nature, Machines approuvées par l'Académie, Chambers's
Dictionary, Berthoud sur l'Horlogerie, Dictionaire des Arts et des
Métiers, may, in succession, be put into the hands of children. The
most simple should be first selected, and the pupils should be
accustomed to attend minutely to one print before another is given to
them. A proper person should carefully point out and explain to them
the first prints that they examine; they may afterwards be left to

To understand prints of machines, a previous knowledge of what is
meant by an elevation, a profile, a section, a perspective view, and a
(vue d'oiseau) bird's eye view, is necessary. To obtain distinct ideas
of sections, a few models of common furniture, as chests of drawers,
bellows, grates, &c. may be provided, and may be cut asunder in
different directions. Children easily comprehend this part of drawing,
and its uses, which may be pointed out in books of architecture; its
application to the common business of life, is so various and
immediate, as to fix it for ever in the memory; besides, the habit of
abstraction, which is acquired by drawing the sections of complicated
architecture or machinery, is highly advantageous to the mind. The
parts which we wish to express, are concealed, and are suggested
partly by the elevation or profile of the figure, and partly by the
connection between the end proposed in the construction of the
building, machine, &c. and the means which are adapted to effect it.

A knowledge of perspective, is to be acquired by an operation of the
mind directly opposite to what is necessary in delineating the
sections of bodies; the mind must here be intent only upon the objects
that are delineated upon the retina, exactly what we see; it must
forget or suspend the knowledge which it has acquired from experience,
and must see with the eye of childhood, no further than the surface.
Every person, who is accustomed to drawing in perspective, sees
external nature, when he pleases, merely as a picture: this habit
contributes much to form a taste for the fine arts; it may, however,
be carried to excess. There are improvers who prefer the most dreary
ruin to an elegant and convenient mansion, and who prefer a blasted
stump to the glorious foliage of the oak.

Perspective is not, however, recommended merely as a means of
improving the taste, but as it is useful in facilitating the knowledge
of mechanics. When once children are familiarly acquainted with
perspective, and with the representations of machines by elevations,
sections, &c. prints will supply them with an extensive variety of
information; and when they see real machines, their structure and uses
will be easily comprehended. The noise, the seeming confusion, and the
size of several machines, make it difficult to comprehend and combine
their various parts, without much time, and repeated examination; the
reduced size of prints lays the whole at once before the eye, and
tends to facilitate not only comprehension, but contrivance. Whoever
can delineate progressively as he invents, saves much labour, much
time, and the hazard of confusion. Various contrivances have been
employed to facilitate drawing in perspective, as may be seen in
"Cabinet de Servier, Memoires of the French Academy, Philosophical
Transactions, and lately in the Repertory of Arts." The following is
simple, cheap, and _portable_.

PLATE 1. FIG. 1.

A B C, three mahogany boards, two, four, and six inches long, and of
the same breadth respectively, so as to double in the manner

PLATE 1. FIG. 2.

The part A is screwed, or _clamped_ to a table of a convenient height,
and a sheet of paper, one edge of which is put under the piece A, will
be held fast to the table.

The index P is to be set (at pleasure) with it sharp point to any
part of an object which the eye sees through E, the eye-piece.

The machine is now to be doubled as in Fig. 2, taking care that the
index be not disturbed; the point, which was before perpendicular,
will then approach the paper horizontally, and the place to which it
points on the paper, must be marked with a pencil. The machine must be
again unfolded, and another point of the object is to be ascertained
in the same manner as before; the space between these points may be
then connected with a line; fresh points should then be taken, marked
with a pencil, and connected with a line; and so on successively,
until the whole object is delineated.

Besides the common terms of art, the technical terms of science
should, by degrees, be rendered familiar to our pupils. Amongst these
the words Space and Time occur, as we have observed, the soonest, and
are of the greatest importance. Without exact definitions, or abstract
reasonings, a general notion of the use of these terms may be
inculcated by employing them frequently in conversation, and by
applying them to things and circumstances which occur without
preparation, and about which children are interested, or occupied.
"There is a great space left between the words in that printing." The
child understands, that _space_ in this sentence means white paper
between black letters. "You should leave a greater space between the
flowers which you are planting"--he knows that you mean more _ground_.
"There is a great space between that boat and the ship"--space of
water. "I hope the hawk will not be able to catch that pigeon, there
is a great space between them"--space of air. "The men who are pulling
that sack of corn into the granary, have raised it through half the
space between the door and the ground." A child cannot be at any loss
for the meaning of the word space in these or any other practical
examples which may occur; but he should also be used to the word space
as a technical expression, and then he will not be confused or stopped
by a new term when employed in mechanics.

The word _time_ may be used in the same manner upon numberless
occasions to express the duration of any movement which is performed
by the force of men, or horses, wind, water, or any mechanical power.

"Did the horses in the mill we saw yesterday, go as fast as the horses
which are drawing the chaise?" "No, not as fast as the horses go at
present on level ground; but they went as fast as the chaise-horses do
when they go up hill, or as fast as horses draw a waggon."

"How many times do the sails of that wind-mill go round in a minute?
Let us count; I will look at my watch; do you count how often the
sails go round; wait until that broken arm is uppermost, and when you
say _now_, I will begin to count the _time_; when a minute has past, I
will tell you."

After a few trials, this experiment will become easy to a child of
eight or nine years old; he may sometimes attend to the watch, and at
other times count the turns of the sails; he may easily be made to
apply this to a horse-mill, or to a water-mill, a corn-fan, or any
machine that has a rotatory motion; he will be entertained with his
new employment; he will compare the _velocities_ of different
machines; the meaning of this word will be easily added to his

"Does that part of the arms of the wind-mill which is near the
_axle-tree_, or _centre_, I mean that part which has no cloth or sail
upon it, go as fast as the ends of the arms that are the farthest from
the centre?"

"No, not near so fast."

"But that part goes as often round in a minute as the rest of the

"Yes, but it does not go as fast."

"How so?"

"It does not go so _far_ round."

"No, it does not. The _extremities_ of the _sails go through more
space in the same time_ than the part near the centre."

By conversations like these, the technical meaning of the word
_velocity_ may be made quite familiar to a child much younger than
what has been mentioned; he may not only comprehend that velocity
means time and space considered together, but if he is sufficiently
advanced in arithmetic, he may be readily taught how to express and
compare in numbers _velocities_ composed of certain portions of time
and space. He will not inquire about the abstract meaning of the word
_space_; he has seen space measured on paper, on timber, on the water,
in the air, and he perceives distinctly that it is a term equally
applicable to all distances that can exist between objects of any
sort, or that he can see, feel, or imagine.

Momentum, a less common word, the meaning of which is not quite so
easy to convey to a child, may, by degrees, be explained to him: at
every instant he feels the effect of momentum in his own motions, and
in the motions of every thing that strikes against him; his feelings
and experience require only proper terms to become the subject of his
conversation. When he begins to inquire, it is the proper time to
instruct him. For instance, a boy of ten years old, who had acquired
the meaning of some other terms in science, this morning asked the
meaning of the word momentum; he was desired to explain what he
thought it meant.

He answered, "Force."

"What do you mean by force?"


"Of what?"

"Of gravity."

"Do you mean that force by which a body is drawn down to the earth?"


"Would a feather, if it were moving with the greatest conceivable
swiftness or velocity, throw down a castle?"


"Would a mountain torn up by the roots, as fabled in Milton, if it
moved with the least conceivable velocity, throw down a castle?"

"Yes, I think it would."

The difference between an uniform, and an uniformly accelerated
motion, the measure of the velocity of falling bodies, the composition
of motions communicated to the same body in different directions at
the same time, and the cause of the curvilinear track of projectiles,
seem, at first, intricate subjects, and above the capacity of boys of
ten or twelve years old; but by short and well-timed lessons, they may
be explained without confounding or fatiguing their attention. We
tried another experiment whilst this chapter was writing, to determine
whether we had asserted too much upon this subject. After a
conversation between two boys upon the descent of bodies towards the
earth, and upon the measure of the increasing velocity with which they
fall, they were desired, with a view to ascertain whether they
understood what was said, to invent a machine which should show the
difference between an uniform and an accelerated velocity, and in
particular to show, by occular demonstration, "that if one body moves
in a given time through a given space, with an uniform motion, and if
another body moves through the same space in the same time with an
uniformly accelerated motion, the uniform motion of the one will be
equal to half the accelerated motion of the other." The eldest boy,
H----, thirteen years old, invented and executed the following machine
for this purpose:

Plate I, Fig. 3. _b_ is a bracket 9 inches by 5, consisting of a back
and two sides of hard wood: two inches from the back two slits are
made in the sides of the bracket half an inch deep, and an eighth of
an inch wide, to receive the two wire pivots of a roller; which roller
is composed of a cylinder, three inches long and half an inch
diameter; and a cone three inches long and one inch diameter in its
largest part or base. The cylinder and cone are not separate, but are
turned out of one piece; a string is fastened to the cone at its base
_a_, with a bullet or any other small weight at the other end of it;
and another string and weight are fastened to the cylinder at _c_; the
pivot _p_ of wire is bent into the form of a handle; if the handle is
turned either way, the strings will be respectively wound up upon the
cone and cylinder; their lengths should now be adjusted, so that when
the string on the cone is wound up as far as the cone will permit, the
two weights may be at an equal distance from the bottom of the
bracket, which bottom we suppose to be parallel with the pivots; the
bracket should now be fastened against a wall, at such a height as to
let the weights lightly touch the floor when the strings are unwound:
silk or _bobbin_ is a proper kind of string for this purpose, as it is
woven or plaited, and therefore is not liable to twist. When the
strings are wound up to their greatest heights, if the handle be
suddenly let go, both the weights will begin to fall at the same
moment; but the weight 1, will descend at first but slowly, and will
pass through but small space compared with the weight 2. As they
descend further, No. 2 still continues to get before No. 1; but after
some time, No. 1 begins to overtake No. 2, and at last they come to
the ground together. If this machine is required to show exactly the
space that a falling body would describe in given times, the cone and
cylinder must have grooves cut spirally upon their circumference, to
direct the string with precision. To describe these spiral lines,
became a new subject of inquiry. The young mechanics were again eager
to exert their powers of invention; the eldest invented a machine upon
the same principle as that which is used by the best workmen for
cutting clock fusees; and it is described in Berthoud. The youngest
invented the engine delineated, Plate 1, Fig. 4.

The roller or cone (or both together) which it is required to cut
spirally, must be furnished with a handle, and a toothed wheel _w_,
which turns a smaller wheel or pinion _w_. This pinion carries with it
a screw _s_, which draws forward the puppet _p_, in which the
graver of chisel _g_ slides _without shake_. This graver has a point
or edge shaped properly to form the spiral groove, with a shoulder to
regulate the depth of the groove. The iron rod _r_, which is firmly
fastened in the puppet, slides through mortices at _mm_, and guides
the puppet in a straight line.

[Illustration: Plate 1.]

The rest of the machine is intelligible from the drawing.

A simple method of showing the nature of compound forces was thought
of at the same time. An ivory ball was placed at the corner of a board
sixteen inches broad, and two feet long; two other similar balls were
let fall down inclined troughs against the first ball in different
directions, but at the same time. One fell in a direction parallel to
the length of the board; the other ball fell back in a direction
parallel to its breadth. By raising the troughs, such a force was
communicated to each of the falling balls, as was sufficient to drive
the ball that was at rest to that side or end of the board which was
opposite, or at right angles, to the line of its motion.

When both balls were let fall together, they drove the ball that was
at rest diagonally, so as to reach the opposite corner. If the same
board were placed as an inclined plane, at an angle of five or six
degrees, a ball placed at one of its uppermost corners, would fall
with an accelerated motion in a direct line; but if another ball were
made (by descending through an inclined trough) to strike the first
ball at right angles to the line of its former descent, at the moment
when it began to descend, it would not, as in the former experiment,
move diagonally, but would describe a curve.

The reason why it describes a curve, and why that curve is not
circular, was easily understood. Children who are thus induced to
invent machines or apparatus for explaining and demonstrating the laws
of mechanism, not only fix indelibly those laws in their own minds,
but enlarge their powers of invention, and preserve a certain
originality of thought, which leads to new discoveries.

We therefore strongly recommend it to teachers, to use as few precepts
as possible in the rudiments of science, and to encourage their pupils
to use their own understandings as they advance. In mechanism, a
general view of the powers and uses of engines is all that need be
taught; where more is necessary, such a foundation, with the
assistance of good books, and the examination of good machinery, will
perfect the knowledge of theory and facilitate practice.

At first we should not encumber our pupils with accurate
demonstration. The application of mathematics to mechanics is
undoubtedly of the highest use, and has opened a source of ingenious
and important inquiry. Archimedes, the greatest name amongst mechanic
philosophers, scorned the mere practical application of his sublime
discoveries, and at the moment when the most stupendous effects were
producing by his engines, he was so deeply absorbed in abstract
speculation as to be insensible to the fear of death. We do not mean,
therefore, to undervalue either the application of strict
demonstration to problems in mechanics, or the exhibition of the most
accurate machinery in philosophical lectures; but we wish to point out
a method of giving a general notion of the mechanical organs to our
pupils, which shall be immediately obvious to their comprehension, and
which may serve as a sure foundation for future improvement. We are
told by a vulgar proverb, that though we believe what we see, we have
yet a higher belief in what we _feel_. This adage is particularly
applicable to mechanics. When a person perceives the effect of his own
bodily exertions with different engines, and when he can compare in a
rough manner their relative advantages, he is not disposed to reject
their assistance, or expect more than is reasonable from their
application. The young theorist in mechanics thinks he can produce a
perpetual motion! When he has been accustomed to refer to the plain
dictates of common sense and experience, on this, as well as on every
other subject, he will not easily be led astray by visionary theories.

[Illustration: Plate 2.]

To bring the sense of feeling to our assistance in teaching the uses
of the mechanic powers, the following apparatus was constructed, to
which we have given the name Panorganon.

It is composed of two principal parts: a frame to contain the moving
machinery; and a _capstan_ or _windlass_, which is erected on a _sill_
or plank, that is sunk a few inches into the ground: the frame is by
this means, and by six braces or props, rendered steady. The cross
rail, or _transom_, is strengthened by braces and a king-post to make
it lighter and cheaper. The _capstan_ consists of an upright shaft,
upon which are fixed two _drums_; about which a rope may be wound up,
and two levers or arms by which it may be turned round. There is also
a screw of iron coiled round the lower part of the shaft, to show the
properties of the screw as a mechanic power. The rope which goes round
the _drum_ passes over one of the pulleys near to the top of the
frame, and under another pulley near the bottom of the frame. As two
_drums_ of different sizes are employed, it is necessary to have an
upright roller to conduct the rope in a proper direction to the
pulleys, when either of the _drums_ is used. Near the frame, and in
the direction in which the rope runs, is laid a platform or road of
deal boards, one board in breadth, and twenty or thirty feet long,
upon which a small sledge loaded with different weights may be drawn.
Plate 2. Fig. 1.

F. F. The frame.

b. b. Braces to keep the frame steady.

a. a. a. Angular braces to strengthen the transom; and also a

S. A round, taper shaft, strengthened above and below the mortises
with iron hoops.

L L. Two arms, or levers, by which the shaft, &c. are to be moved

D D. The drum, which has two rims of different circumferences.

R. The roller to conduct the rope.

P. The pulley, round which the rope passes to the larger drum.

P 2. Another pulley to answer to the smaller drum.

P 3. A pulley through which the rope passes when experiments are tried
with levers, &c.

P 4. Another pulley through which the rope passes when the sledge is

Ro. The road of deal boards for the sledge to move on.

Sl. The sledge, with pieces of hard wood attached to it, to guide it
on the road.

_Uses of the Panorganon._

As this machine is to be moved by the force of men or children, and as
their force varies not only with the strength and weight of each
individual, but also according to the different manner in which that
strength or weight is applied; it is, in the first place, requisite to
establish one determinate mode of applying human force to the machine;
and also a method of determining the relative force of each individual
whose strength is applied to it.

_To estimate the force with which a person can draw horizontally by a
rope over his shoulder._


Hang a common long scale-beam (without scales or chains) from the top
or _transom_ of the frame, so as that one end of it may come within an
inch of one side or post of the machine. Tie a rope to the hook of the
scale-beam, where the chains of the scale are usually hung, and pass
it through the pulley P 3, which is about four feet from the ground;
let the person pull this rope from 1 towards 2, turning his back to
the machine, and pulling the rope over his shoulder--Pl. 2. Fig. 6. As
the pulley may be either too high or too low to permit the rope to be
horizontal, the person who pulls it should be placed ten or fifteen
feet from the machine, which will lessen the angular direction of the
cord, and the inaccuracy of the experiment. Hang weights to the other
end of the scale-beam, until the person who pulls can but just walk
forward, pulling fairly without propping his feet against any thing.
This weight will estimate the force with which he can draw
horizontally by a rope over his shoulder.[22] Let a child who tries
this, walk on the board with dry shoes; let him afterwards chalk his
shoes, and afterwards try it with his shoes soaped: he will find that
he can pull with different degrees of force in these different
circumstances; but when he tries the following experiments, let his
shoes be always dry, that his force may be always the same.

_To show the power of the three different sorts of levers._


Instead of putting the cord that comes from the scale-beam, as in the
last experiment, over the shoulder of the boy, hook it to the end 1 of
the lever L, Fig. 2. Plate 2. This lever is passed through a
socket--Plate 2. Fig. 3.--in which it can be shifted from one of its
ends towards the other, and can be fastened at any place by the screw
of the socket. This socket has two gudgeons, upon which it, and the
lever which it contains, can turn. This socket and its gudgeons can be
lifted out of the holes in which it plays, between the rail R R, Plate
2. Fig. 2. and may be put into other holes at R R, Fig. 5. Loop
another rope to the other end of this lever, and let the boy pull as
before. Perhaps it should be pointed out, that the boy must walk in a
direction contrary to that in which he walked before, viz. from 1
towards 3. The height to which the weight ascends, and the distance to
which the boy advances, should be carefully marked and measured; and
it will be found, that he can raise the weight to the same height,
advancing through the same space as in the former experiment. In this
case, as both ends of the lever moved through equal spaces, the lever
only changed the direction of the motion, and added no mechanical
power to the direct strength of the boy.


Shift the lever to its extremity in the _socket_; the middle of the
lever will be now opposite to the pulley, Pl. 2. Fig. 4.--hook to it
the rope that goes through the pulley P 3, and fasten to the other end
of the lever the rope by which the boy is to pull. This will be _a
lever of the second kind_, as it is called in books of mechanics; in
using which, _the resistance is placed between the centre of motion or
fulcrum, and the moving power_. He will now raise double the weight
that he did in Experiment II, and he will advance through double the


Shift the lever, and the socket which forms the axis (without shifting
the lever from the place in which it was in the socket in the last
experiment) to the holes that are prepared for it at R R, Plate 2.
Fig. 5. The free end of the lever E will now be opposite to the rope,
and to the pulley (over which the rope comes from the scale-beam.)
Hook this rope to it, and hook the rope by which the boy pulls, to the
middle of the lever. The effect will now be different from what it was
in the two last experiments; the boy will advance only half as far,
and will raise only half as much weight as before. This is called _a
lever of the third sort_. The first and second kinds of levers are
used in quarrying; and the operations of many tools may be referred to
them. The third kind of lever is employed but seldom, but its
properties may be observed with advantage whilst a long ladder is
raised, as the man who raises it, is obliged to exert an increasing
force until the ladder is nearly perpendicular. When this lever is
used, it is obvious, from what has been said, that the power must
always pass through less space than the thing which is to be moved; it
can never, therefore, be of service in gaining power. But the object
of some machines, is to increase velocity, instead of obtaining power,
as in a sledge-hammer moved by mill-work. (V. the plates in Emerson's
Mechanics, No. 236.)

The experiments upon levers may be varied at pleasure, increasing or
diminishing the mechanical advantage, so as to balance the power and
the resistance, to accustom the learners to calculate the relation
between the power and the effect in different circumstances; always
pointing out, that whatever excess there is in the power,[23] or in
the resistance, is always compensated by the difference of space
through which the inferiour passes.

The experiments which we have mentioned, are sufficiently satisfactory
to a pupil, as to the immediate relation between the power and the
resistance; but the different spaces through which the power and the
resistance move when one exceeds the other, cannot be obvious, without
they pass through much larger spaces than levers will permit.


Place the sledge on the farthest end of the wooden road--Plate 2. Fig.
1.--fasten a rope to the sledge, and conduct it through the lowest
pulley P 4, and through the pulley P 3, so as that the boy may be
enabled to draw it by the rope passed over his shoulder. The sledge
must now be loaded, until the boy can but just advance with short
steps steadily upon the wooden road; this must be done with care, as
there will be but just room for him beside the rope. He will meet the
sledge exactly on the middle of the road, from which he must step
aside to pass the sledge. Let the time of this experiment be noted. It
is obvious that the boy and the sledge move with equal velocity; there
is, therefore, no mechanical advantage obtained by the pulleys. The
weight that he can draw will be about half a hundred, if he weigh
about nine stone; but the exact force with which the boy draws, is to
be known by Experiment I.

_The wheel and axle._

This organ is usually called in mechanics, _The axis in peritrochio_.
A _hard_ name, which might well be spared, as the word windlass or
capstan would convey a more distinct idea to our pupils.


To the largest drum, Plate 2. Fig. 1. fasten a cord, and pass it
through the pulley P downwards, and through the pulley P 4 to the
sledge placed at the end of the wooden road, which is farthest from
the machine. Let the boy, by a rope fastened to the extremity of one
of the arms of the capstan, and passed over his shoulder, draw the
capstan round; he will wind the rope round the drum, and draw the
sledge upon its road. To make the sledge advance twenty-four feet upon
its road, the boy must have walked circularly 144 feet, which is six
times as far, and he will be able to draw about three hundred weight,
which is six times as much as in the last experiment.

It may now be pointed out, that the difference of space, passed
through by the power in this experiment, is exactly equal to the
difference of weight, which the boy could draw without the capstan.


Let the rope be now attached to the smaller drum; the boy will draw
nearly twice as much weight upon the sledge as before, and will go
through double the space.


Where there are a number of boys, let five or six of them, whose power
of drawing (estimated as in Experiment I) amounts to six times as much
as the force of the boy at the capstan, pull at the end of the rope
which _was_ fastened to the sledge; they will balance the force of the
boy at the capstan: either they, or he, by a sudden pull, may advance,
but if they pull fairly, there will be no advantage on either part. In
this experiment, the rope should pass through the pulley P 3, and
should be coiled round the larger drum. And it must be also observed,
that in all experiments upon the motion of bodies, in which there is
much friction, as where a sledge is employed, the results are never so
uniform as in other circumstances.

_The Pulley._

Upon the pulley we shall say little, as it is in every body's hands,
and experiments may be tried upon it without any particular apparatus.
It should, however, be distinctly inculcated, that the power is not
increased by a fixed pulley. For this purpose, a wheel without a rim,
or, to speak with more propriety, a number of spokes fixed in a nave,
should be employed. (Plate 2. Fig. 9.) Pieces like the heads of
crutches should be fixed at the ends of these spokes, to receive a
piece of girth-web, which is used instead of a cord, because a cord
would be unsteady; and a strap of iron with a hook to it should play
upon the centre, by which it may at times be suspended, and from which
at other times a weight may be hung.


Let the skeleton of a pulley be hung by the iron strap from the
transom of the frame; fasten a piece of web to one of the radii, and
another to the end of the opposite radius. If two boys of equal weight
pull these pieces of girth-web, they will balance each other; or two
equal weights hung to these webs, will be in equilibrio. If a piece
of girth-web be put round the uppermost radius, two equal weights hung
at the ends of it will remain immoveable; but if either of them be
pulled, or if a small additional weight be added to either of them, it
will descend, and the web will apply itself successively to the
ascending radii, and will detach itself from those that are
descending. If this movement be carefully considered, it will be
perceived, that the web, in unfolding itself, acts in the same manner
upon the radii as two ropes would if they were hung to the extremities
of the opposite radii in succession. The two radii which are opposite,
may be considered as a lever of the first sort, where the centre is in
the middle of the lever; as each end moves through an equal space,
there is no mechanical advantage. But if this skeleton-pulley be
employed as a common _block_ or _tackle_, its motions and properties
will be entirely different.


Nail a piece of girth-web to a post, at the distance of three or four
feet from the ground; fasten the other end of it to one of the radii.
Fasten another piece of web to the opposite radius, and let a boy hold
the skeleton-pulley suspended by the web; hook weights to the strap
that hangs from the centre. The end of the radius to which the fixed
girth-web is fastened, will remain immoveable; but, if the boy pulls
the web which he holds in his hand upwards, he will be able to lift
nearly double the weight, which he can raise from the ground by a
simple rope, without the machine, and he will perceive that his hand
moves through twice as great a space as the weight ascends: he has,
therefore, the mechanical advantage which he would have by a lever of
the second sort, as in Experiment III. Let a piece of web be put round
the under radii, let one end of it be nailed to the post, and the
other be held by the boy, and it will represent the application of a
rope to a moveable pulley; if its motion be carefully considered, it
will appear that the radii, as they successively apply themselves to
the web, represent a series of levers of the second kind. A pulley is
nothing more than an infinite number of such levers; the cord at one
end of the diameter serving as a fulcrum for the _organ_ during its
progress. If this _skeleton-pulley_ be used horizontally, instead of
perpendicularly, the circumstances which have been mentioned, will
appear more obvious.

Upon the wooden road lay down a piece of girth-web; nail one end of it
to the road; place the pulley upon the web at the other end of the
board, and, bringing the web over the radii, let the boy, taking hold
of it, draw the loaded sledge fastened to the hook at the centre of
the pulley: he will draw nearly twice as much in this manner as he
could without the pulley.[24]

Here the web lying on the road, shows more distinctly, that it is
quiescent where the lowest radius touches it; and if the radii, as
they tread upon it, are observed, their points will appear at rest,
whilst the centre of the pulley will go as fast as the sledge, and the
top of each radius successively (and the boy's hand which unfolds the
web) will move twice as fast as the centre of the pulley and the

If a person, holding a stick in his hand, observes the relative
motions of the top, and the middle, and the bottom of the stick,
whilst he inclines it, he will see that the bottom of the stick has no
motion on the ground, and that the middle has only half the motion of
the top. This property of the pulley has been dwelt upon, because it
elucidates the motion of a wheel rolling upon the ground; and it
explains a common paradox, which appears at first inexplicable. "The
bottom of a rolling wheel never moves _upon_ the road." This is
asserted only of a wheel moving over hard ground, which, in fact, may
be considered rather as laying down its circumference upon the road,
than as moving upon it.

_The inclined Plane and the Wedge._

The _inclined plane_ is to be next considered. When a heavy body is to
be raised, it is often convenient to lay a sloping artificial road of
planks, up which it may be pushed or drawn. This mechanical power,
however, is but of little service without the assistance of wheels or
rollers; we shall, therefore, speak of it as it is applied in another
manner, under the name of _the wedge_, which is, in fact, a moving
inclined plane; but if it is required to explain the properties of the
inclined plane by the panorganon, the wooden road may be raised and
set to any inclination that is required, and the sledge may be drawn
upon it as in the former experiments.

Let one end of a lever, N. Plate 2. Fig. 7. with a wheel at one end of
it, be hinged to the post of the frame, by means of a gudgeon driven
or screwed into the post. To prevent this lever from deviating
sideways, let a slip of wood be connected with it by a nail, which
shall be fast in the lever, but which moves freely in a hole in the
rail. The other end of this slip must be fastened to a stake driven
into the ground at three or four feet from the lever, at one side of
it, and towards the end in which the wheel is fixed (Plate 2. Fig 10.
which is a _vue d'oiseau_) in the same manner as the treadle of a
common lathe is managed, and as the treadle of a loom is sometimes


Under the wheel of this lever place an inclined plane or half-wedge
(Plate 2. Fig. 7.) on the wooden road, with rollers under it, to
prevent friction;[26] fasten a rope to the foremost end of the wedge,
and pass it through the pulleys (P 4. and P 3.) as in the fifth
experiment. Let a boy draw the sledge by this rope over his shoulder,
and he will find, that as it advances it will raise the weight
upwards; the wedge is five feet long, and elevated one foot. Now, if
the perpendicular ascent of the weight, and the space through which he
advances, be compared, he will find, that the space through which he
has passed will be five times as great as that through which the
weight has ascended; and that _this_ wedge has enabled him to raise
five times as much as he could raise without it, if his strength were
applied, as in Experiment I, without any mechanical advantage. By
making this wedge in two parts hinged together, with a graduated piece
to keep them asunder, the wedge may be adjusted to any given
obliquity; and it will be always found, that the mechanical advantage
of the wedge may be ascertained by comparing its perpendicular
elevation with its base. If the base of the wedge is 2, 3, 4, 5, or
any other number of times greater than its height, it will enable the
boy to raise respectively 2, 3, 4, or 5 times more weight than he
could do in Experiment I, by which his power is estimated.

_The Screw._

_The screw_ is an inclined plane wound round a cylinder; the height of
all its revolutions round the cylinder taken together, compared with
the space through which the power that turns it passes, is the measure
of its _mechanical advantage_.[27] Let the lever, used in the last
experiment, be turned in such a manner as to reach from its gudgeon to
the shaft of the Panorganon, guided by an attendant lever as before.
(Plate 2. Fig. 8.) Let the wheel rest upon the lowest _helix_ or
thread of the screw: as the arms of the shaft are turned round, the
wheel will ascend, and carry up the weight which is fastened to the
lever.[28] As the situation of the screw prevents the weight from
being suspended exactly from the centre of the screw, proper allowance
must be made for this in estimating the force of the screw, or
determining the mechanical advantage gained by the lever: this can be
done by measuring the perpendicular ascent of the weight, which in all
cases is better, and more expeditious, than measuring the parts of a
machine, and estimating its force by calculation; because the
different diameters of ropes, and other small circumstances, are
frequently mistaken in estimates.

The space passed through by the moving power, and by that which it
moves, are infallible data for estimating the powers of engines. Two
material subjects of experiments, yet remain for the Panorganon;
friction, and wheels of carriages: but we have already extended this
article far beyond its just proportion to similar chapters in this
work. We repeat, that it is not intended in this, or in any other part
of our design, to write treatises upon science; but merely to point
out methods for initiating young people in the rudiments of knowledge,
and of giving them a clear and distinct view of those principles upon
which they are founded. No preceptor, who has had experience, will
cavil at the superficial knowledge of a boy of twelve or thirteen upon
these subjects; he will perceive, that the general view, which we wish
to give our pupils of the useful arts and sciences, must certainly
tend to form a taste for literature and investigation. The _sciolist_
has learned only to _talk_--we wish to teach our pupils to _think_,
upon the various objects of human speculation.

The Panorganon may be employed in trying the resistance of air and
water; the force of different muscles; and in a great variety of
amusing and useful experiments. In academies, and private families, it
may be erected in the place allotted for amusement, where it will
furnish entertainment for many a vacant hour. When it has lost its
novelty, the shaft may from time to time be taken down, and a swing
may be suspended in its place. It may be constructed at the expense of
five or six pounds: that which stands before our window, was made for
less than three guineas, as we had many of the materials beside us for
other purposes.


[21] When this question was sometime afterwards repeated to S----, he
observed, that the feather would throw down the castle, if its
swiftness were so great as to make up for its want of weight.

[22] Were it thought necessary to make these experiments perfectly
accurate, a segment of a pulley, the radius of which is half the
length of the scale-beam, should be attached to the end of the beam;
upon which the cord may apply itself, and the pulley (P 3) should be
raised or lowered, to bring the rope horizontally from the man's
shoulder when in the attitude of drawing.

[23] The word _power_ is here used in a popular sense, to denote the
strength or efficacy that is employed to produce an effect by means of
any engine.

[24] In all these experiments with the skeleton-pulley, somebody must
keep it in its proper direction; as from its structure, which is
contrived for illustration, not for practical use, it cannot retain
its proper situation without assistance.

[25] In a loom this secondary lever is called _a lamb_, by mistake,
for _lam_; from _lamina_, a slip of wood.

[26] There should be three rollers used; one of them must be placed
before the sledge, under which it will easily find its place, if the
bottom of the sledge near the foremost end is a little sloped upwards.
To retain this foremost roller in its place until the sledge meets it,
it should be stuck lightly on the road with two small bits of wax or

[27] _Mechanical advantage_ is not a proper term, but our language is
deficient in proper technical terms. The word _power_ is used so
indiscriminately, that it is scarcely possible to convey our meaning,
without employing it more strictly.

[28] In this experiment, the boy should pull as near as possible to
the shaft, within a foot of it, for instance, else he will have such
mechanical advantage as cannot be counterbalanced by any weight which
the machine would be strong enough to bear.



In the first attempts to teach chemistry to children, objects should
be selected, the principal properties of which may be easily
discriminated by the senses of touch, taste or smell; and such terms
should be employed as do not require accurate definition.

When a child has been caught in a shower of snow, he goes to the fire
to warm and dry himself. After he has been before the fire for some
time, instead of becoming dry, he finds that he is wetter than he was
before: water drops from his hat and clothes, and the snow with which
he was covered disappears. If you ask him what has become of the snow,
and why he has become wetter, he cannot tell you. Give him a tea-cup
of snow, desire him to place it before the fire, he perceives that the
snow melts, that it becomes water. If he puts his finger into the
water, he finds that it is warmer than snow; he then perceives that
the fire which warmed him, warmed likewise the snow, which then
became water; or, in other words, he discovers, that the heat which
came from the fire goes into the snow and melts it: he thus acquires
the idea of the dissolution of snow by heat.

If the cup containing the water, or melted snow, be taken from the
fire, and put out of the window on a frosty day, he perceives, that in
time the water grows colder; that a thin, brittle skin spreads over
it; which grows thicker by degrees, till at length all the water
becomes ice; and if the cup be again put before the fire, the ice
returns to water. Thus he discovers, that by diminishing the heat of
water, it becomes ice; by adding heat to ice, it becomes water.

A child watches the drops of melted sealing-wax as they fall upon
paper. When he sees you stir the wax about, and perceives, that what
was formerly hard, now becomes soft and very hot, he will apply his
former knowledge of the effects of heat upon ice and snow, and he will
tell you that the heat of the candle melts the wax. By these means,
the principle of the solution of bodies by heat, will be imprinted
upon his memory; and you may now enlarge his ideas of solution.

When a lump of sugar is put into a dish of hot tea, a child sees that
it becomes less and less, till at last it disappears. What has become
of the sugar? Your pupil will say that it is melted by the heat of the
tea: but if it be put into cold tea, or cold water, he will find that
it dissolves, though more slowly. You should then show him some fine
sand, some clay, and chalk, thrown into water; and he will perceive
the difference between mechanical mixture and diffusion, or chemical
mixture. Chemical mixture, as that of sugar in water, depends upon the
attraction that subsists between the parts of the solid and fluid
which are combined. Mechanical mixture is only the suspension of the
parts of a solid in a fluid. When fine sand, chalk, or clay, are put
into water, the water continues for some time turbid or muddy; but by
degrees the sand, &c. falls to the bottom, and the water becomes
clear. In the chemical mixture of sugar and water, there is no
muddiness, the fluid is clear and transparent, even whilst it is
stirred, and when it is at rest, there is no sediment, the sugar is
joined with the water; a new, fluid substance, is formed out of the
two simple bodies sugar and water, and though the parts which compose
the mixture are not discernible to the eye, yet they are perceptible
by the taste.

After he has observed the mixture, the child should be asked, whether
he knows any method by which he can separate the sugar from the water.
In the boiling of a kettle of water, he has seen the steam which
issues from the mouth of the vessel; he knows that the steam is formed
by the heat from the fire, which joining with the water drives its
parts further asunder, and makes it take another form, that of vapour
or steam. He may apply this knowledge to the separation of the sugar
and water; he may turn the water into steam, and the sugar will be
left in the vessel in a solid form. If, instead of evaporating the
water, the boy had added a greater quantity of sugar to the mixture,
he would have seen, that after a certain time, the water would have
dissolved no more of the sugar; the superfluous sugar would fall to
the bottom of the vessel as the sand had done: the pupil should then
be told that the liquid is _saturated_ with the solid.

By these simple experiments, a child may acquire a general knowledge
of solution, evaporation, and saturation, without the formality of a
lecture, or the apparatus of a chemist. In all your attempts to
instruct him in chemistry, the greatest care should be taken that he
should completely understand one experiment, before you proceed to
another. The common metaphorical expression, that the mind should have
time to digest the food which it receives, is founded upon fact and

Our pupil should see the solution of a variety of substances in
fluids, as salt in water; marble, chalk, or alkalies, in acids; and
camphire in spirits of wine: this last experiment he may try by
himself, as it is not dangerous. Certainly many experiments are
dangerous, and therefore unfit for children; but others may be
selected, which they may safely try without any assistance; and the
dangerous experiments may, when they are necessary, be shown to them
by some careful person. Their first experiments should be such as they
can readily execute, and of which the result may probably be
successful: this success will please and interest the pupils, and will
encourage them to perseverance.

A child may have some spirit of wine and some camphire given to him;
the camphire will dissolve in the spirit of wine, till the spirit is
saturated; but then he will be at a loss how to separate them again.
To separate them, he must pour into the mixture a considerable
quantity of water; he will immediately see the liquor, which was
transparent, become muddy and white: this is owing to the separation
of the camphire from the spirit; the camphire falls to the bottom of
the vessel in the form of a curd. If the child had weighed the
camphire, both before and after its solution, he would have found the
result nearly the same. He should be informed, that this _chemical
operation_ (for technical terms should now be used) is called
_precipitation_: the substance that is separated from the mixture by
the introduction of another body, is cast down, or precipitated from
the mixture. In this instance, the spirit of wine attracted the
camphire, and therefore dissolved it. When the water was poured in,
the spirit of wine attracted the water more strongly than it did the
camphire; the camphire being let loose, fell to the bottom of the

The pupil has now been shown two methods, by which a solid may be
separated from a fluid in which it has been dissolved.

A still should now be produced, and the pupil should be instructed in
the nature of distillation. By experiments he will learn the
difference between the _volatility_ of different bodies; or, in other
words, he will learn that some are made fluid, or are turned into
vapour, by a greater or less degree of heat than others. The degrees
of heat should be shown to him by the thermometer, and the use of the
thermometer, and its nature, should be explained. As the pupil already
knows that most bodies expand by heat, he will readily understand,
that an increase of heat extends the mercury in the bulb of the
thermometer, which, having no other space for its expansion, rises in
the small glass tube; and that the degree of heat to which it is
exposed, is marked by the figures on the scale of the instrument.

The business of distillation, is to separate the more volatile from
the less volatile of two bodies. The whole mixture is put into a
vessel, under which there is fire: the most volatile liquor begins
first to turn into vapour, and rises into a higher vessel, which,
being kept cold by water or snow, condenses the evaporated fluid;
after it has been condensed, it drops into another vessel. In the
experiment that the child has just tried, after having separated the
camphire from the spirit of wine by precipitation, he may separate the
spirit from the water by distillation. When the substance that rises,
or that is separated from other bodies by heat, is a solid, or when
what is collected after the operation, is solid, the process is not
called distillation, but sublimation.

Our pupil may next be made acquainted with the general qualities of
acids and alkalies. For instructing him in this part of chemistry,
definition should as much as possible be avoided; example, and occular
demonstration, should be pursued. Who would begin to explain by words
the difference between an acid and an alkali, when these can be shown
by experiments upon the substances themselves? The first great
difference which is perceptible between an acid and an alkali, is
their taste. Let a child have a distinct perception of the difference
of their tastes; let him be able to distinguish them when his eyes
are shut; let him taste the strongest of each so as not to hurt him,
and when he has once acquired distinct notions of the pungent taste of
an alkali, and of the sour taste of an acid, he will never forget the
difference. He must afterwards see the effects of an acid and alkali
on the blue colour of vegetables at _separate times_, and not on the
same day; by these means he will more easily remember the experiments,
and he will not confound their different results. The blue colour of
vegetables is turned red by acids, and green by alkalies. Let your
pupil take a radish, and scrape off the blue part into water; it
should be left for some time, until the water becomes of a blue
colour: let him pour some of this liquor into two glasses; add vinegar
or lemon juice to one of them, and the liquor will become red;
dissolve some alkali in water, and pour this into the other glass, and
the dissolved radish will become green. If into the red mixture alkali
be poured, the colour will change into green; and if into the liquor
which was made green, acid be poured, the colour will change to red:
thus alternately you may pour acid or alkali, and produce a red or
green colour successively. Paper stained with the blue colour of
vegetables, is called _test_ paper; this is changed by the least
powerful of the acids or alkalies, and will, therefore, be peculiarly
useful in the first experiments of our young pupils. A child should
for safety use the weakest acids in his first trials, but he should be
shown that the effects are similar, whatever acids we employ; only the
colour will be darker when we make use of the strong, than when we use
the weak acids. By degrees the pupil should be accustomed to employ
the strong acids; such as the vitriolic, the nitric, and the muriatic,
which three are called fossil acids, to distinguish them from the
vegetable, or weaker acids. We may be permitted to advise the young
chemist to acquire the habit of wiping the neck of the vessel out of
which he pours any strong acid, as the drops of the liquor will not
then burn his hand when he takes hold of the bottle; nor will they
injure the table upon which he is at work. This custom, trivial as it
may seem, is of advantage, as it gives an appearance of order, and of
ease, and steadiness, which are all necessary in trying chemical
experiments. The little pupil may be told, that the custom which we
have just mentioned, is the constant practice of the great chemist,
Dr. Black.

We should take care how we first use the term _salt_ in speaking to
children, lest they should acquire indistinct ideas: he should be
told, that the kind of salt which he eats is not the only salt in the
world; he may be put in mind of the kind of salts which he has,
perhaps, smelt in smelling-bottles; and he should be further told,
that there are a number of earthy, alkaline, and metallic salts, with
which he will in time become acquainted.

When an acid is put upon an alkali, or upon limestone, chalk, or
marle, a bubbling may be observed, and a noise is heard; a child
should be told, that this is called _effervescence_. After some time
the effervescence ceases, and the limestone, &c. is dissolved in the
acid. This effervescence, the child should be informed, arises from
the escape of a considerable quantity of a particular sort of air,
called fixed air, or carbonic acid gas. In the solution of the lime in
the acid, the lime and acid have an attraction for one another; but as
the present mixture has no attraction for the gas, it escapes, and in
rising, forms the bubbling or effervescence. This may be proved to a
child, by showing him, that if an acid is poured upon caustic lime
(lime which has had this gas taken from it by fire) there will be no

There are various other chemical experiments with which children may
amuse themselves; they may be employed in analyzing marle, or clays;
they may be provided with materials for making ink or soap. It should
be pointed out to them, that the common domestic and culinary
operations of making butter and cheese, baking, brewing, &c. are all
chemical processes. We hope the reader will not imagine, that we have
in this slight sketch pretended to point out the _best_ experiments
which can be devised for children; we have only offered a few of the
simplest which occurred to us, that parents may not, at the conclusion
of this chapter, exclaim, "What is to be done? How are we to _begin_?
What experiments are suited to children? If we knew, our children
should try them."

It is of little consequence what particular experiment is selected for
the first; we only wish to show, that the minds of children may be
turned to this subject; and that, by accustoming them to observation,
we give them not only the power of learning what has been already
discovered, but of adding, as they grow older, something to the
general stock of human knowledge.



The anxious parent, after what has been said concerning tasks and
classical literature, will inquire whether the whole plan of education
recommended in the following pages, is intended to relate to public or
to private education. It is intended to relate to both. It is not
usual to send children to school before they are eight or nine years
old: our first object is to show how education may be conducted to
that age in such a manner, that children may be well prepared for the
acquisition of all the knowledge usually taught at schools, and may be
perfectly free from many of the faults that pupils sometimes have
acquired before they are sent to any public seminary. It is obvious,
that public preceptors would be saved much useless labour and anxiety,
were parents to take some pains in the previous instruction of their
children; and more especially, if they were to prevent them from
learning a taste for total idleness, or habits of obstinacy and of
falsehood, which can scarcely be conquered by the utmost care and
vigilance. We can assure parents, from experience, that if they pursue
steadily a proper plan with regard to the understanding and the moral
habits, they will not have much trouble with the education of their
children after the age we have mentioned, as long as they continue to
instruct them at home; and if they send them to public schools, their
superiority in intellect and in conduct will quickly appear. Though we
have been principally attentive to all the circumstances which can be
essential to the management of young people during the first nine or
ten years of their lives, we have by no means confined our
observations to this period alone; but we have endeavoured to lay
before parents a general view of the human mind (as far as it relates
to our subject) of proper methods of teaching, and of the objects of
rational instruction--so that they may extend the principles which we
have laid down, through all the succeeding periods of education, and
may apply them as it may best suit their peculiar situations, or their
peculiar wishes. We are fully conscious, that we have executed but
very imperfectly even our own design; that experimental education is
yet but in its infancy, and that boundless space for improvement
remains; but we flatter ourselves, that attentive parents and
preceptors will consider with candour the practical assistance which
is offered to them, especially as we have endeavoured to express our
opinions without dogmatical presumption, and without the illiberal
exclusion of any existing institutions or prevailing systems. People
who, even with the best intentions, attack with violence any of these,
and who do not consider what is practicable, as well as what ought to
be done, are not likely to persuade, or to convince mankind to
increase the general sum of happiness, or their own portion of
felicity. Those who really desire to be of service to society, should
point out decidedly, but with temperate indulgence for the feelings
and opinions of others, whatever appears to them absurd or
reprehensible in any prevailing customs: having done this, they will
rest in the persuasion that what is most reasonable, will ultimately

Mankind, at least the prudent and rational part of mankind, have an
aversion to pull down, till they have a moral certainty that they can
build up a better edifice than that which has been destroyed. Would
you, says an eminent writer, convince me, that the house I live in is
a bad one, and would you persuade me to quit it; build a better in my
neighbourhood; I shall be very ready to go into it, and shall return
you my very sincere thanks. Till another house be ready, a wise man
will stay in his old one, however inconvenient its arrangement,
however seducing the plans of the enthusiastic projector. We do not
set up for projectors, or reformers: we wish to keep steadily in view
the actual state of things, as well as our own hopes of progressive
improvement; and to seize and combine all that can be immediately
serviceable: all that can assist, without precipitating improvements.
Every well informed parent, and every liberal school-master, must be
sensible, that there are many circumstances in the management of
public education which might be condemned with reason; that too much
time is sacrificed to the study of the learned languages; that too
little attention is paid to the general improvement of the
understanding and formation of the moral character; that a
school-master cannot pay attention to the temper or habits of each of
his numerous scholars; and that parents, during that portion of the
year which their children spend with them, are not sufficiently
solicitous to co-operate with the views of the school-master; so that
the public is counteracted by the private education. These, and many
other things, we have heard objected to schools; but what are we to
put in the place of schools? How are vast numbers who are occupied
themselves in public or professional pursuits, how are men in business
or in trade, artists or manufacturers, to educate their families, when
they have not time to attend to them; when they may not think
themselves perfectly prepared to undertake the classical instruction
and entire education of several boys; and when, perhaps, they may not
be in circumstances to engage the assistance of such a preceptor as
they could approve? It is obvious, that if in such situations parents
were to attempt to educate their children at home, they would harass
themselves, and probably spoil their pupils irrecoverably. It would,
therefore, be in every respect impolitic and cruel to disgust those
with public schools, who have no other resource for the education of
their families. There is another reason which has perhaps operated
upon many in the middle ranks of life unperceived, and which
determines them in favour of public education. Persons of narrow
fortune, or persons who have acquired wealth in business, are often
desirous of breeding up their sons to the liberal professions: and
they are conscious that the company, the language, and the style of
life, which their children would be accustomed to at home, are beneath
what would be suited to their future professions. Public schools
efface this rusticity, and correct the faults of provincial dialect:
in this point of view they are highly advantageous. We strongly
recommend it to such parents to send their children to large public
schools, to Rugby, Eton, or Westminster; not to any small school; much
less to one in their own neighbourhood. Small schools are apt to be
filled with persons of nearly the same stations, and out of the same
neighbourhood: from this circumstance, they contribute to perpetuate
uncouth antiquated idioms, and many of those obscure prejudices which
cloud the intellect in the future business of life.

Whilst we admit the necessity which compels the largest portion of
society to prefer public seminaries of education, it is incumbent upon
us to caution parents from expecting that the moral character, the
understandings, or the tempers of their children, should be improved
at large schools; there the learned languages, we acknowledge, are
successfully taught. Many satisfy themselves with the assertion, that
public education is the least troublesome, that a boy once sent to
school is settled for several years of life, and will require only
short returns of parental care twice a year at the holydays. It is
hardly to be supposed, that those who think in this manner, should
have paid any anxious, or at least any judicious attention to the
education of their children, previously to sending them to school. It
is not likely that they should be very solicitous about the
commencement of an education which they never meant to finish: they
would think, that what could be done during the first few years of
life, is of little consequence; that children from four to seven years
old are too young to be taught; and that a school would speedily
supply all deficiencies, and correct all those faults which begin at
that age to be troublesome at home. Thus to a public school, as to a
general infirmary for mental disease, all desperate subjects are sent,
as the last resource. They take with them the contagion of their
vices, which quickly runs through the whole tribe of their companions,
especially amongst those who happen to be nearly of their own age,
whose sympathy peculiarly exposes them to the danger of infection. We
are often told, that as young people have the strongest sympathy with
each other, they will learn most effectually from each other's
example. They do learn quickly from example, and this is one of the
dangers of a public school: a danger which is not necessary, but
incidental; a danger against which no school-master can possibly
guard, but which parents can, by the previous education of the pupils,
prevent. Boys are led, driven, or carried to school; and in a
school-room they first meet with those who are to be their fellow
prisoners. They do not come with fresh unprejudiced minds to commence
their course of social education; they bring with them all the ideas
and habits which they have already learned at their respective homes.
It is highly unreasonable to expect, that all these habits should be
reformed by a public preceptor. If he had patience, how could he have
time for such an undertaking? Those who have never attempted to break
a pupil of any one bad habit, have no idea of the degree of patience
requisite to success. We once heard an officer of dragoons assert,
that he would rather break twenty horses of their bad habits, than one
man of his. The proportionate difficulty of teaching boys, may be
easily calculated.

It is sometimes asserted, that the novelty of a school life, the
change of situation, alters the habits, and forms in boys a new
character. Habits of eight or nine years standing, cannot be
instantaneously, perhaps can never be radically, destroyed; they will
mix themselves imperceptibly with the new ideas which are planted in
their minds, and though these may strike the eye by the rapidity of
their growth, the others, which have taken a strong root, will not
easily be dispossessed of the soil. In this new character, as it is
called, there will, to a discerning eye, appear a strong mixture of
the old disposition. The boy, who at home lived with his father's
servants, and was never taught to have any species of literature, will
not acquire a taste for it at school, merely by being compelled to
learn his lessons; the boy, who at home was suffered to be the little
tyrant of a family, will, it is true, be forced to submit to superior
strength or superior numbers at school;[29] but does it improve the
temper to practise alternately the habits of a tyrant and a slave? The
lesson which experience usually teaches to the temper of a school-boy,
is, that strength, and power, and cunning, will inevitably govern in
society: as to reason, it is out of the question, it would be hissed
or laughed out of the company. With respect to social virtues, they
are commonly amongst school-boys so much mixed with party spirit, that
they mislead even the best dispositions. A boy at home, whose
pleasures are all immediately connected with the idea of self, will
not feel a sudden enlargement of mind from entering a public school.
He will, probably, preserve his selfish character in his new society;
or, even suppose he catches that of his companions, the progress is
not great in moral education from selfishness to spirit of party: the
one is a despicable, the other a dangerous, principle of action. It
has been observed, that what we are when we are twenty, depends on
what we were when we were ten years old. What a young man is at
college, depends upon what he was at school; and what he is at school,
depends upon what he was before he went to school. In his father's
house, the first important lessons, those which decide his future
abilities and character, must be learned. We have repeated this idea,
and placed it in different points of view, in hopes that it will catch
and fix the attention. Suppose that parents educated their children
well for the first eight or nine years of their lives, and then sent
them all to public seminaries, what a difference this must immediately
make in public education: the boys would be disposed to improve
themselves with all the ardour which the most sanguine preceptor would
desire; their tutors would find that there was nothing to be
_unlearned_; no habits of idleness to conquer; no perverse stupidity
would provoke them; no capricious contempt of application would appear
in pupils of the quickest abilities. The moral education could then be
made a part of the preceptor's care, with some hopes of success; the
pupils would all have learned the first necessary moral principles and
habits; they would, consequently, be all fit companions for each
other; in each other's society they would continue to be governed by
the same ideas of right and wrong by which they had been governed all
their lives; they would not have any new character to learn; they
would improve, by mixing with numbers, in the social virtues, without
learning party spirit; and though they would love their companions,
they would not, therefore, combine together to treat their instructers
as pedagogues and tyrants. This may be thought an Utopian idea of a
school; indeed it is very improbable, that out of the numbers of
parents who send their children to large schools, many should suddenly
be much moved, by any thing that we can say, to persuade them to take
serious trouble in their previous instruction. But much may be
effected by gradual attempts. Ten well educated boys, sent to a public
seminary at nine or ten years old, would, probably, far surpass their
competitors in every respect; they would inspire others with so much
emulation, would do their parents and preceptors so much credit, that
numbers would eagerly inquire into the causes of their superiority;
and these boys would, perhaps, do more good by their example, than by
their actual acquirements. We do not mean to promise, that a boy
judiciously educated, shall appear at ten years old a prodigy of
learning; far from it: we should not even estimate his capacity, or
the chain of his future progress, by the quantity of knowledge stored
in his memory, by the number of Latin lines he had got by rote, by his
expertness in repeating the rules of his grammar, by his pointing out
a number of places readily in a map, or even by his knowing the
latitude and longitude of all the capital cities in Europe; these are
all useful articles of knowledge: but they are not the test of a good
education. We should rather, if we were to examine a boy of ten years
old, for the credit of his parents, produce proofs of his being able
to reason accurately, of his quickness in invention, of his habits of
industry and application, of his having learned to generalize his
ideas, and to apply his observations and his principles: if we found
that he had learned all, or any of these things, we should be in
little pain about grammar, or geography, or even Latin; we should be
tolerably certain that he would not long remain deficient in any of
these; we should know that he would overtake and surpass a competitor
who had only been technically taught, as certainly as that the giant
would overtake the panting dwarf, who might have many miles the start
of him in the race. We do not mean to say, that a boy should not be
taught the principles of grammar, and some knowledge of geography, at
the same time that his understanding is cultivated in the most
enlarged manner: these objects are not incompatible, and we
particularly recommend it to _parents who intend to send their
children to school_, early to give them confidence in themselves, by
securing the rudiments of literary education; otherwise their pupils,
with a real superiority of understanding, may feel depressed, and may,
perhaps, be despised, when they mix at a public school with numbers
who will estimate their abilities merely by their proficiency in
particular studies.

Mr. Frend,[30] in recommending the study of arithmetic for young
people, has very sensibly remarked, that boys bred up in public
schools, are apt to compare themselves with each other merely as
classical scholars; and, when they afterwards go into the world
excellent Greek and Latin scholars, are much astonished to perceive,
that many of the companions whom they had under-valued at school, get
before them when they come to actual business, and to active life.
Many, in the pursuit of their classical studies, have neglected all
other knowledge, especially that of arithmetic, that useful, essential
branch of knowledge, without which neither the abstract sciences nor
practical arts can be taught. The precision which the habit of
applying the common rules of arithmetic, gives to the understanding,
is highly advantageous, particularly to young people of vivacity, or,
as others would say, of genius. The influence which the habit of
estimating has upon that part of the moral character called prudence,
is of material consequence. We shall further explain upon this subject
when we speak of the means of teaching arithmetic and reasoning to
children; we only mention the general ideas here, to induce
intelligent parents to attend early to these particulars. If they mean
to send their children to public classical schools, it must be
peculiarly advantageous to teach them early the rudiments of
arithmetic, and to give them the habit of applying their knowledge in
the common business of life. We forbear to enumerate other useful
things, which might easily be taught to young people before they leave
home, because we do not wish to terrify with the apprehension, that a
perplexing variety of things are to be taught. One thing well taught,
is better than a hundred taught imperfectly.

The effect of the pains which are taken in the first nine or ten years
of a child's life, may not be apparent immediately to the view, but it
will gradually become visible. To careless observers, two boys of nine
years old, who have been very differently educated, may appear nearly
alike in abilities, in temper, and in the promise of future character.
Send them both to a large public school, let them be placed in the
same new situation, and exposed to the same trials, the difference
will then appear: the difference in a few years will be such as to
strike every eye, and people will wonder what can have produced in so
short a time such an amazing change. In the Hindoo art of dyeing, the
same liquors communicate different colours to particular spots,
according to the several bases previously applied: to the ignorant
eye, no difference is discernible in the ground, nor can the design be
distinctly traced till the air, and light, and open exposure, bring
out the bright and permanent colours to the wondering eye of the

Besides bestowing some attention upon early education, parents, who
send their children to school, may much assist the public preceptor
by judicious conduct towards children during that portion of the year
which is usually spent at home.[31] Mistaken parental fondness,
delights to make the period of time which children spend at home, as
striking a contrast as possible with that which they pass at school.
The holydays are made a jubilee, or rather resemble the Saturnalia.
Even if parents do not wish to represent a school-master as a tyrant,
they are by no means displeased to observe, that he is not the friend
or favourite of their children. They put themselves in mean
competition with him for their affection, instead of co-operating with
him in all his views for their advantage. How is it possible, that any
master can long retain the wish or the hope of succeeding in any plan
of education, if he perceives that his pupils are but partially under
his government; if his influence over their minds be counteracted from
time to time by the superior influence of their parents? An influence
which he must not wish to destroy. To him is left the power to punish,
it is true; but parents reserve to themselves the privilege to reward.
The ancients did not suppose, that even Jupiter could govern the world
without the command of pain and pleasure. Upon the vases near his
throne, depended his influence over mankind.

And what are these holyday delights? And in what consists parental
rewards? In dissipation and idleness. With these are consequently
associated the idea of happiness and the name of pleasure; the name is
often sufficient, without the reality. During the vacation, children
have a glimpse of what is called _the world_; and then are sent back
to their prison with heads full of visions of liberty, and with a
second-sight of the blessed lives which they are to lead when they
have left school for ever. What man of sense, who has studied the
human mind, who knows that the success of any plan of education must
depend upon the concurrence of every person, and every circumstance,
for years together, to the same point, would undertake any thing more
than the partial instruction of pupils, whose leading associations and
habits must be perpetually broken? When the work of school is undone
during the holydays, what hand could have the patience perpetually to
repair the web?

During the vacations spent at home, children may be made extremely
happy in the society and in the affections of their friends, but they
need not be taught, that idleness is pleasure: on the contrary,
occupation should, by all possible methods, be rendered agreeable to
them; their school acquisitions, their knowledge and taste, should be
drawn out in conversation, and they should be made to feel the value
of what they have been taught; by these means, there would be some
connection, some unity of design, preserved in their education. Their
school-masters and tutors should never become the theme of insipid
ridicule; nor should parents ever put their influence in competition
with that of a preceptor: on the contrary, his pupils should uniformly
perceive, that from his authority there is no appeal, except to the
superior power of reason, which should be the avowed arbiter to which
all should be submitted.

Some of the dangerous effects of that mixed society at schools, of
which we have complained, may be counteracted by the judicious conduct
of parents during the time which children spend at home. A better view
of society, more enlarged ideas of friendship and of justice, may be
given to young people, and the vile principle of party spirit may be
treated with just contempt and ridicule. Some standard, some rules may
be taught to them, by which they may judge of character independently
of prejudice, or childish prepossession.

    "I do not like you, Doctor Fell;
    The reason why, I cannot tell:
    But this I know full well,
    I do not like you, Doctor Fell"--

is an exact specimen of the usual mode of reasoning, of the usual
method in which an ill educated school-boy expresses his opinion and
feelings about all persons, and all things. "The reason why," should
always be inquired whenever children express preference or aversion.

To connect the idea of childhood with that of inferiority and
contempt, is unjust and impolitic; it should not be made a reproach to
young people to be young, nor should it be pointed out to them, that
when they are some years older, they will be more respected; the
degree of respect which they really command, whether in youth or age,
will depend upon their own conduct, their knowledge, and their powers
of being useful and agreeable to others. If they are convinced of
this, children will not at eight years old long to be fifteen, or at
fifteen to be one and twenty; proper subordination would be preserved,
and the scale of happiness would not have a forced and false
connection with that of age. If parents did not first excite foolish
wishes in the minds of their children, and then imprudently promise
that these wishes shall be gratified at certain periods of their
existence, children would not be impatient to pass over the years of
childhood; those years which idle boys wish to pass over as quickly as
possible, men without occupation regret as the happiest of their
existence. To a child, who has been promised that he shall put on
manly apparel on his next birthday, the pace of time is slow and heavy
until that happy era arrive. Fix the day when a boy shall leave
school, and he wishes instantly to mount the chariot, and lash the
horses of the sun. Nor when he enters the world, will his restless
spirit be satisfied; the first step gained, he looks anxiously forward
to the height of manly elevation,

    "And the brisk minor pants for twenty-one"

These juvenile anticipations diminish the real happiness of life;
those who are in continual expectation, never enjoy the present; the
habit of expectation is dangerous to the mind, it suspends all
industry, all voluntary exertion. Young men, who early acquire this
habit, find existence insipid to them without the immediate stimuli of
hope and fear: no matter what the object is, they must have something
to sigh for; a curricle, a cockade, or an opera-dancer.

Much may be done by education to prevent this boyish restlessness.
Parents should refrain from those imprudent promises, and slight
inuendoes, which the youthful imagination always misunderstands and
exaggerates.--Never let the moment in which a young man quits a
seminary of education, be represented as a moment in which all
instruction, labour, and restraints, cease. The idea, that he must
restrain and instruct himself, that he must complete his own
education, should be excited in a young man's mind; nor should he be
suffered to imagine that his education is finished, because he has
attained to some given age.

When a common school-boy bids adieu to that school which he has been
taught to consider as a prison, he exults in his escape from books and
masters, and from all the moral and intellectual discipline, to which
he imagines that it is the peculiar disgrace and misery of childhood
to be condemned. He is impatient to be thought a man, but his ideas of
the manly character are erroneous, consequently his ambition will only
mislead him. From his companions whilst at school, from his father's
acquaintance, and his father's servants, with whom he has been
suffered to consort during the vacations, he has collected imperfect
notions of life, fashion, and society. These do not mix well in his
mind with the examples and precepts of Greek and Roman virtue: a
temporary enthusiasm may have been kindled in his soul by the
eloquence of antiquity; but, for want of sympathy, this enthusiasm
necessarily dies away. His heroes are not the heroes of the present
times; the maxims of his sages are not easily introduced into the
conversation of the day. At the tea-table he now seldom hears even
the name of Plato; and he often blushes for not knowing a line from a
popular English poet, whilst he could repeat a cento from Horace,
Virgil, and Homer; or an antistrophe from Æschylus or Euripides. He
feels ashamed to produce the knowledge he has acquired, because he has
not learned sufficient address to produce it without pedantry. On his
entrance into the world, there remains in his mind no grateful, no
affectionate, no respectful remembrance of those under whose care he
has passed so many years of his life. He has escaped from the
restraints imposed by his school-master, and the connection is
dissolved for ever.

But when a son separates from his father, if he has been well
educated, he wishes to continue his own education: the course of his
ideas is not suddenly broken; what he has been, joins immediately with
what he is to be; his knowledge applies to real life, it is such as he
can use in all companies; there is no sudden metamorphosis in any of
the objects of his ambition; the boy and man are the same individual.
Pleasure will not influence him merely by her name, or by the contrast
of her appearance with the rigid discipline of scholastic learning; he
will feel the difference between pleasure and happiness, and his early
taste for domestic life will remain or return upon his mind. His old
precepts and new motives are not at war with each other; his
experience will confirm his education, and external circumstances will
call forth his latent virtues. When he looks back, he can trace the
gradual growth of his knowledge; when he looks forward, it is with the
delightful hope of progressive improvement. A desire in some degree to
repay the care, to deserve the esteem, to fulfil the animating
prophecies, or to justify the fond hopes of the parent who has watched
over his education, is one of the strongest motives to an ingenuous
young man; it is an incentive to exertion in every honourable pursuit.
A son who has been judiciously and kindly educated, will feel the
value of his father's friendship. The perception, that no man can be
more entirely interested in every thing that concerns him, the idea,
that no one more than his father can share in his glory or in his
disgrace, will press upon his heart, will rest upon his understanding.
Upon these ideas, upon this common family interest, the real strength
of the connection between a father and his son depends. No public
preceptor can have the same advantages; his connection with his pupil
is not necessarily formed to last.

After having spoken with freedom, but we hope with moderation, of
public schools, we may, perhaps, be asked our opinion of universities.
Are universities the most splendid repositories of learning? We are
not afraid to declare an opinion in the negative. Smith, in his Wealth
of Nations, has stated some objections to them, we think, with
unanswerable force of reasoning. We do not, however, wish to destroy
what we do not entirely approve. Far be that insanity from our minds
which would, like Orlando, tear up the academic groves; the madness of
innovation is as destructive as the bigotry of ancient establishments.
The learning and the views of the rising century must have different
objects from those of the wisdom and benevolence of Alfred, Balsham,
or Wolsey; and, without depreciating or destroying the magnificence or
establishments of universities, may not their institutions be
improved? May not their splendid halls echo with other sounds than the
exploded metaphysics of the schools? And may not other learning be as
much rewarded and esteemed as pure _latinity_?

We must here distinctly point out, that young men designed for the
army or the navy, should not be educated in private families. The
domestic habits, the learned leisure of private education, are
unsuited to them; it would be absurd to waste many years in teaching
them the elegancies of classic literature, which can probably be of no
essential use to them; it would be cruel to give them a nice and
refined choice of right and wrong, when it will be their professional
duty to act under the command of others; when implicit, prompt,
unquestioning obedience must be their first military virtue. Military
academies, where the sciences practically essential to the professions
are taught, must be the best situations for all young sailors and
soldiers; strict institution is the best education for them. We do not
here inquire how far these professions are necessary in society; it is
obvious, that in the present state of European cultivation, soldiers
and sailors are indispensable to every nation. We hope, however, that
a taste for peace may, at some future period in the history of the
world, succeed to the passion for military glory; and in the mean
time, we may safely recommend it to parents, never to trust a young
man designed for a soldier, to the care of a philosopher, even if it
were possible to find one who would undertake the charge.

We hope that we have shown ourselves the friends of the public
preceptor, that we have pointed out the practicable means of improving
public institutions by parental care and parental co-operation. But,
until such a meliorating plan shall actually have been carried into
effect, we cannot hesitate to assert, that even when the abilities of
the parent are inferiour to those of the public preceptor, the means
of ensuring success preponderate in favour of private education. A
father, who has time, talents, and temper, to educate his family, is
certainly the best possible preceptor; and his reward will be the
highest degree of domestic felicity. If, from his situation, he is
obliged to forego this reward, he may select some man of literature,
sense, and integrity, to whom he can confide his children. Opulent
families should not think any reward too munificent for such a private
preceptor. Even in an economic point of view, it is prudent to
calculate how many thousands lavished on the turf, or lost at the
gaming table, might have been saved to the heirs of noble and wealthy
families by a judicious education.


[29] V. Barne's Essay on public and private education. Manchester

[30] V. Mr. Frend's Principles of Algebra.

[31] V. Williams's Lectures on Education.



Some years ago, an opera dancer at Lyon's, whose charms were upon the
wane, applied to an English gentleman for a recommendation to some of
his friends in England, as a governess for young ladies. "Do you
doubt," said the lady (observing that the gentleman was somewhat
confounded by the easy assurance of her request) "do you doubt my
capability? Do I not speak good Parisian French? Have I any provincial
accent? I will undertake to teach the language grammatically. And for
music and dancing, without vanity, may I not pretend to teach them to
any young person?" The lady's excellence in all these particulars was
unquestionable. She was beyond dispute a highly accomplished woman.
Pressed by her forcible interrogatories, the gentleman was compelled
to hint, that an English mother of a family might be inconveniently
inquisitive about the private history of a person who was to educate
her daughters. "Oh," said the lady, "I can change my name; and, at my
age, nobody will make further inquiries."

Before we can determine how far this lady's pretensions were ill
founded, and before we can exactly decide what qualifications are most
desirable in a governess, we must form some estimate of the positive
and relative value of what are called accomplishments.

We are not going to attack any of them with cynical asperity, or with
the ambition to establish any new dogmatical tenets in the place of
old received opinions. It can, however, do no harm to discuss this
important subject with proper reverence and humility. Without alarming
those mothers, who declare themselves above all things anxious for
the rapid progress of their daughters in every fashionable
accomplishment, it may be innocently asked, what price such mothers
are willing to pay for these _advantages_. Any price within the limits
of our fortune! they will probably exclaim.

There are other standards by which we can measure the value of
objects, as well as by money. "Fond mother, would you, if it were in
your power, accept of an opera dancer for your daughter's governess,
upon condition that you should live to see that daughter dance the
best minuet at a birth-night ball?"

"Not for the world," replies the mother. "Do you think I would hazard
my daughter's innocence and reputation, for the sake of seeing her
dance a good minuet? Shocking! Absurd! What can you mean by such an
outrageous question?"

"To fix your attention. Where the mind has not precisely ascertained
its wishes, it is sometimes useful to consider extremes; by
determining what price you will _not_ pay, we shall at length
ascertain the value which you set upon the object. Reputation and
innocence, you say, you will not, upon any account, hazard. But would
you consent that your daughter should, by universal acclamation, be
proclaimed the most accomplished woman in Europe, upon the simple
condition, that she should pass her days in a nunnery?"

"I should have no right to make such a condition; domestic happiness I
ought certainly to prefer to public admiration for my daughter. Her
accomplishments would be of little use to her, if she were to be shut
up from the world: who is to be the judge of them in a nunnery?"

"I will say no more about the nunnery. But would not you, as a good
mother, consent to have your daughter turned into an automaton for
eight hours in every day for fifteen years, for the promise of hearing
her, at the end of that time, pronounced the first private performer
at the most fashionable and most crowded concert in London?"

"Eight hours a day for fifteen years, are too much. No one need
practise so much to become the first performer in England."

"That is another question. You have not told me whether you would
sacrifice so much of your daughter's existence for such an object,
supposing that you could obtain it at no other price."

"For _one_ concert?" says the hesitating mother; "I think it would be
too high a price. Yet I would give any thing to have my daughter play
better than any one in England. What a distinction! She would be
immediately taken notice of in all companies! She might get into the
first circles in London! She would want neither beauty nor fortune to
recommend her! She would be a match for any man, who has any taste for
music! And music is universally admired, even by those who have the
misfortune to have no taste for it. Besides, it is such an elegant
accomplishment in itself! Such a constant source of innocent
amusement! Putting every thing else out of the question, I should wish
my daughter to have every possible accomplishment, because
accomplishments are such charming _resources_ for young women; they
keep them out of harm's way; they make a vast deal of their idle time
pass so pleasantly to themselves and others! This is my _chief_ reason
for liking them."

Here are so many reasons brought together at once, along with the
chief reason, that they are altogether unanswerable; we must separate,
class, and consider them one at a time. Accomplishments, it seems, are
valuable, as being the objects of universal admiration. Some
accomplishments have another species of value, as they are tickets of
admission to fashionable company. Accomplishments have another, and a
higher species of value, as they are supposed to increase a young
lady's chance of a prize in the matrimonial lottery. Accomplishments
have also a value as resources against ennui, as they afford continual
amusement and innocent occupation. This is ostensibly their chief
praise; it deserves to be considered with respect. False and odious
must be that philosophy which would destroy any one of the innocent
pleasures of our existence. No reward was thought too high for the
invention of a new pleasure; no punishment would be thought too severe
for those who would destroy an old one. Women are peculiarly
restrained in their situation, and in their employments, by the
customs of society: to diminish the number of these employments,
therefore, would be cruel; they should rather be encouraged, by all
means, to cultivate those tastes which can attach them to their home,
and which can preserve them from the miseries of dissipation. Every
sedentary occupation must be valuable to those who are to lead
sedentary lives; and every art, however trifling in itself, which
tends to enliven and embellish domestic life, must be advantageous,
not only to the female sex, but to society in general. As far as
accomplishments can contribute to all or any of these excellent
purposes, they must be just objects of attention in early education.

A number of experiments have already been tried; let us examine the
result. Out of the prodigious number of young women who learn music
and drawing, for instance, how many are there, who, after they become
mistresses of their own time, and after they have the choice of their
own amusements, continue to practise these accomplishments for the
pure pleasure of occupation? As soon as a young lady is married, does
she not frequently discover, that "she really has not _leisure_ to
cultivate talents which take up so much time?" Does she not complain
of the labour of practising four or five hours a day to keep up her
musical character? What motive has she for perseverance? She is,
perhaps, already tired of playing to all her acquaintance. She may
really take pleasure in hearing good music; but her own performance
will not then please her ear so much as that of many others. She will
prefer the more indolent pleasure of hearing the best music that can
be heard for money at public concerts. She will then of course leave
off playing, but continue very fond of music. How often is the labour
of years thus lost for ever!

Those who have excelled in drawing, do not appear to abandon the
occupation so suddenly; it does not demand such an inordinate quantity
of time to keep up the talent; the exertion of the imitative powers
with apparent success, is agreeable; the employment is progressive,
and, therefore, the mind is carried on to complete what has been
begun. Independently of all applause, which may be expected for the
performance, there is a pleasure in going on with the work. But
setting aside enthusiasm and habit, the probability that any sensible
person will continue to pursue a given employment, must depend, in a
great measure, upon their own conviction of its utility, or of its
being agreeable to those whom they wish to please. The pleasure which
a lady's friends receive from her drawings, arises chiefly from the
perception of their comparative excellence. Comparative excellence is
all to which gentlewomen artists usually pretend, all to which they
expect to attain; positive excellence is scarcely attained by one in a
hundred. Compared with the performances of other young ladies of their
acquaintance, the drawings of Miss X or Y may be justly considered as
charming! admirable! and astonishing! But there are few drawings by
young ladies which can be compared with those of a professed artist.
The wishes of obliging friends are satisfied with a few drawings in
handsome frames, to be hung up for the young lady's credit; and when
it is allowed amongst their acquaintance, that she draws in a
_superior_ style, the purpose of this part of her education is
satisfactorily answered. We do not here speak of those few individuals
who really _excel_ in drawing, who have learnt something more than the
common routine which is usually learnt from a drawing master, who have
acquired an agreeable, talent, not for the mere purpose of exhibiting
themselves, but for the sake of the occupation it affords, and the
pleasure it may give to their _friends_. We have the pleasure of
knowing some who exactly answer to this description, and who must feel
themselves distinct and honourable exceptions to these general

From whatever cause it arises, we may observe, that after young women
are settled in life, their taste for drawing and music gradually
declines. For this fact, we can appeal only to the recollection of
individuals. We may hence form some estimate of the real value which
ought to be put upon what are called accomplishments, _considered as
occupations_. Hence we may also conclude, that parents do not form
their judgments from the facts which they see every day in real life;
or else may we not infer, that they deceive themselves as to their own
motives; and that, amongst the reasons which make them so anxious
about the accomplishments of their daughters, there are some secret
motives more powerful than those which are usually openly

It is admitted in the cabinet council of mothers, that some share of
the value of accomplishments depends upon the demand for them in the
fashionable world. "A young lady," they say, "is nobody, and nothing,
without accomplishments; they are as necessary to her as a fortune:
they are indeed considered as part of her fortune, and sometimes are
even found to supply the place of it. Next to beauty, they are the
best tickets of admission into society which she can produce; and
every body knows, that on the company she keeps, depends the chance of
a young woman's settling advantageously in the world."

To judge of what will please and attach men of superior sense and
characters--we are not quite certain that these are the men who are to
be considered first, when we speak of a young lady's settling
_advantageously_ in the world; but we will take this for granted--to
judge of what will please and attach men of superior sense and
characters, we must observe their actual conduct in life, and listen
to their speculative opinions. Superficial accomplishments do not
appear to be the objects of their preference. In enumerating the
perfections of his wife, or in retracing the progress of his love,
does a man of sense dwell upon his mistress's skill in drawing, or
dancing, or music? No. These, he tells you, are extremely agreeable
talents, but they could have never attached him; they are subordinate
parts in her character; he is angry that you can rank them amongst her
perfections; he knows that a thousand women possess these
accomplishments, who have never touched his heart. He does not,
perhaps, deny, that in Chloe, altogether, they have power to please,
but he does not think them essential to her power.

The opinion of women, who have seen a good deal of the world, is worth
attending to upon this subject; especially if we can obtain it when
their passions are wholly uninterested in their decision. Whatever may
be the judgment of individuals concerning the character and politics
of the celebrated Madame Roland, her opinion as a woman of abilities,
and a woman who had seen a variety of life, will be thought deserving
of attention. Her book was written at a time when she was in daily
expectation of death, when she could have no motive to conceal her
real sentiments upon any subject. She gives an account of her
employments in prison, and, amongst others, mentions music and

"I then employed myself in drawing till dinner time. I had so long
been out of the habit of using a pencil, that I could not expect to be
very dexterous; but we commonly retain the power of repeating with
pleasure, or at least of attempting with ease, whatever we have
successfully practised in our youth. Therefore the study of the fine
arts, considered as a part of female education, should be attended to,
much less with a view to the acquisition of superior talents, than
with a desire to give women a taste for industry, the habit of
application, and a greater variety of employments; for these assist us
to escape from _ennui_, the most cruel disease of civilized society;
by these we are preserved from the dangers of vice, and even from
those seductions which are far more likely to lead us astray.

"I would not make my daughter a _performer_.[32] I remember, that my
mother was afraid that I should become a great musician, or that I
should have devoted myself entirely to painting: she wished that I
should, above all other things, love the duties of my sex: that I
should be a good economist, a good mistress, as well as a good mother
of a family. I wish my Eudora to be able to accompany her voice
agreeably on the harp. I wish that she may play agreeably on the
piano-forte; that she may know enough of drawing, to feel pleasure
from the sight and from the examination of the finest pictures of the
great painters; that she may be able to draw a flower that happens to
please her; and that she may unite in her dress elegance and
simplicity. I should wish that her talents might be such, that they
should neither excite the admiration of others, nor inspire her with
vanity; I should wish that she should please by the general effect of
her whole character, without ever striking any body with astonishment
at first sight; and that she should attach by her good qualities,
rather than shine by her accomplishments."

Women cannot foresee what may be the tastes of the individuals with
whom they are to pass their lives. Their own tastes should not,
therefore, be early decided; they should, if possible, be so educated
that they may attain any talent in perfection which they may desire,
or which their circumstances may render necessary. If, for instance, a
woman were to marry a man who was fond of music, or who admired
painting, she should be able to cultivate these talents for his
amusement and her own. If he be a man of sense and feeling, he will
be more pleased with the motive than with the thing that is actually
done. But if it be urged, that all women cannot expect to marry men of
sense and feeling; and if we are told, that nevertheless they must
look to "an advantageous establishment," we must conclude, that men of
rank and fortune are meant by that comprehensive phrase. Another set
of arguments must be used to those who speculate on their daughters
accomplishments in this line. They have, perhaps, seen some instances
of what they call success; they have seen some young women of their
acquaintance, whose accomplishments have attracted men of fortune
superior to their own; consequently, maternal tenderness is awakened,
and many mothers are sanguine in their expectations of the effect of
their daughters education. But they forget that every body now makes
the same reflections, that parents are, and have been for some years,
speculating in the same line; consequently, the market is likely to be
overstocked, and, of course, the value of the commodities must fall.
Every young lady (and every young woman is now a young lady) has some
pretensions to accomplishments. She draws a little; or she plays a
little, or she speaks French a little. Even the blue-board boarding
schools, ridiculed by Miss Allscript in the Heiress, profess to
perfect young ladies in some or all of these necessary parts of
education. Stop at any good inn on the London roads, and you will
probably find that the landlady's daughter can show you some of her
own framed drawings, can play a tune upon her spinnet, or support a
dialogue in French of a reasonable length, in the customary questions
and answers. Now it is the practice in high life to undervalue, and
avoid as much as possible, every thing which descends to the inferiour
classes of society. The dress of to-day is unfashionable to-morrow,
because every body wears it. The dress is not preferred because it is
pretty or useful, but because it is the distinction of well bred
people. In the same manner accomplishments have lost much of that
value which they acquired from opinion, since they have become common.
They are now so common, that they cannot be considered as the
distinguishing characteristics of even a gentlewoman's education. The
higher classes in life, and those individuals who aim at distinction,
now establish another species of monopoly, and secure to themselves a
certain set of expensive masters in music, drawing, dancing, &c. and
they endeavour to believe, and to make others believe, that no one can
be well educated without having served an apprenticeship of so many
lessons under some of these privileged masters. But it is in vain that
they intrench themselves, they are pursued by the intrusive vulgar. In
a wealthy, mercantile nation, there is nothing which can be bought for
money, which will long continue to be an envied distinction. The hope
of attaining to that degree of eminence in the fine arts which really
deserves celebrity, becomes every day more difficult to private
practitioners, because the number of competitors daily increases; and
it is the interest of masters to forward their pupils by every
possible means. Both genius and perseverance must now be united to
obtain the prize of distinction; and how seldom are they found, or
kept together, in the common course of education!

Considering all these circumstances, is not there some reason to
apprehend, that in a few years the taste for several fashionable
appendages of female education, may change, and that those will
consequently be treated with neglect, who have no other claim to
public regard, than their proficiency in what may, perhaps, then be
thought vulgar or obsolete accomplishments? Our great grandmothers
distinguished themselves by truly substantial tent-work chairs and
carpets, by needle-work pictures of Solomon and the queen of Sheba.
These were admirable in their day, but their day is over; and these
useful, ingenious, and laborious specimens of female talents, are
consigned to the garret, or they are produced but as curiosities, to
excite wonder at the strange patience and miserable destiny of former
generations: the taste for tapestry and embroidery is thus past; the
long labours of the loom have ceased. Cloth-work, crape-work,
chenille-work, ribbon-work, wafer-work, with a long train of
etceteras, have all passed away in our own memory; yet these conferred
much evanescent fame, and a proportional quantity of vain emulation. A
taste for drawing, or music, cannot be classed with any of these
trifling performances; but there are many faded drawings of the
present generations, which cannot stand in competition with the
glowing and faithful colours of the silk and worsted of former times;
and many of the hours spent at a _stammering_ harpsichord, might,
surely, with full as much domestic advantage, have been devoted to the
embellishment of chairs and carpets. We hope that no one will so
perversely misunderstand us, as to infer from these remarks, that we
desire to see the revival of old tapestry work; or that we condemn the
elegant accomplishments of music and drawing. We condemn only the
abuse of these accomplishments; we only wish that they should be
considered as domestic occupations, not as matters of competition, or
of exhibition, nor yet as the means of attracting temporary
admiration. We are not afraid that any, who are really conscious of
having acquired accomplishments with these prudent and honourable
views, should misapprehend what has been said. Mediocrity may,
perhaps, attempt to misrepresent our remarks, and may endeavour to
make it appear that we have attacked, and that we would discourage,
every effort of female taste and ingenuity in the fine arts; we
cannot, therefore, be too explicit in disclaiming such illiberal

We have not yet spoken of dancing, though it is one of the most
admired of female accomplishments. This evidently is an amusement, not
an occupation; it is an agreeable exercise, useful to the health, and
advantageous, as it confers a certain degree of habitual ease and
grace. Mr. Locke seems to think, that it gives young people confidence
in themselves when they come into company, and that it is, therefore,
expedient to teach children early to dance: but there are so many
other methods of inspiring young people with this confidence in
themselves, that it appears unnecessary to lay much stress upon this
argument. If children live in good company, and see constantly people
with agreeable manners, they will acquire manners which the dancing
master does not always teach; and they will easily vary their forms of
politeness with the fashion of the day. Nobody comes into a room
regularly as their dancing master taught them to make their entrance;
we should think a strict adherence to his lessons ridiculous and
awkward in well bred company; therefore much must be left to the
discretion and taste of the pupil, after the dancing master has made
his last bow. Ease of manners is not always attained by those who have
been strictly disciplined by a Vestris, because the lessons are not
always practised in precisely the same circumstances in which they
were learnt: this confuses and confounds the pupils, and they rather
lose than gain confidence in themselves, from perceiving that they
cannot immediately apply what they have been taught. But we need not
expatiate upon this subject, because there are few parents of good
sense, in any rank of life, who will not perceive that their
daughter's manners cannot be formed or polished by a dancing-master.
We are not to consider dancing in a grave and moral light; it is an
amusement much more agreeable to young people, and much better suited
to them in every respect, than cards, or silent assemblies of formal
visiters. It promotes cheerfulness, and prevents, in some measure, the
habits of gossiping conversation, and the love of scandal. So far we
most willingly agree with its most vivacious advocates, in its common
eulogium. But this is not, we fear, saying enough. We see, or fancy
that we see, the sober matron lay down her carefully assorted cards
upon the card-table, and with dictatorial solemnity she pronounces,
"That dancing is something more than an amusement; that girls must
learn to dance, because they must appear well in public; because the
young ladies who dance the best, are usually most _taken notice_ of in
public; most admired by the other sex; most likely, in short, not only
to-have their choice of the best partner in a ball room, but sometimes
of the best partner for life."

With submission to maternal authority, these arguments do not seem to
be justified of late years. Girls, who dance remarkably well, are, it
is true, admired in a ball room, and followed, perhaps, by those idle,
thoughtless young men, who frequent public places merely for want of
something else to do. This race of beings are not particularly
calculated to make good husbands in any sense of the word; nor are
they usually disposed to think of marriage in any other light than as
the last desperate expedient to repair their injured fortunes. They
set their wits against the sex in general, and consider themselves as
in danger of being jockeyed into the matrimonial state. Some few,
perhaps, who have not brought their imagination sufficiently under the
command of the calculating faculty, are _caught_ by beauty and
accomplishments, and marry against the common rules of interest. These
men are considered with pity, or with ridicule, by their companions,
as dupes who have suffered themselves to be taken in: others are
warned by their fate; and the future probability of similar _errours_,
of course, must be diminished. The fashionable apathy, whether real or
affected, with which young men lounge in public places, with scarcely
the appearance of attention to the fair exhibitors before them,
sufficiently marks the temper of the times; and if the female sex have
lost any thing of the respect and esteem which ought to be paid to
them in society, they can scarcely expect to regain their proper
influence by concessions to the false and vitiated taste of those who
combine to treat them with neglect bordering upon insolence. If the
system of female education, if the system of female manners, conspire
to show in the fair sex a degrading anxiety to attract worthless
admiration, wealthy or titled homage, is it surprising that every
young man, who has any pretensions to birth, fortune, or fashion,
should consider himself as the arbiter of their fate, and the despotic
judge of their merit? Women, who understand their real interests,
perceive the causes of the contempt with which the sex is treated by
fashionable coxcombs, and they feel some indignation at the meanness
with which this contempt, tacitly or openly expressed, is endured.
Women, who feel none of this indignation, and who, either from their
education, or their circumstances, are only solicitous to obtain
present amusement, or what they think the permanent advantages of a
fortunate alliance, will yet find themselves mistaken by persisting in
their thoughtless career; they will not gain even the objects to which
they aspire. How many accomplished belles run the usual round of
dissipation in all public places of exhibition, tire the public eye,
and, after a season or two, fade and are forgotten! How many
accomplished belles are there, who, having gained the object of their
own, or of their mother's ambition, find themselves doomed to misery
for life! Those unequal marriages, which are sometimes called
_excellent matches_, seldom produce much happiness. And where
happiness is not, what _is_ all the rest?

If all, or any of these reflections, should strike the heart, and
convince the understanding, of an anxious, but reasonable mother, she
will, probably, immediately determine upon her own conduct in the
education of her daughters: she will resolve to avoid the common
errours of the frivolous or the interested; she will not be influenced
by the importunity of every idle acquaintance, who may talk to her of
the necessity of her daughter's being taken notice of in public, of
the chances of an _advantageous_ establishment, of the good fortune
of Miss Y----, or lady Angelina X----, in meeting with a coxcomb or a
spendthrift for a husband; nor will she be moved with maternal
emulation when she is further told, that these young ladies owed their
_success_ entirely to the superiority of their accomplishments: she
will consider, for one moment, what is meant by the word success; she
will, perhaps, not be of opinion that "'tis best repenting in a coach
and six;" she will, perhaps, reflect, that even the "soft sounds" of
titled grandeur lose their power to please, and "salute the ear"
almost unobserved. The happiness, the permanent happiness of her
child, will be the first, the last object of the good and the
enlightened mother: to this all her views and all her efforts will
tend; and to this she will make every fashionable, every elegant
accomplishment subservient.

As to the means of acquiring these accomplishments, it would be
absurd, and presumptuous, to present here any vague precepts, or
tedious details, upon the mode of learning drawing, dancing, and
music. These can be best learned from the masters who profess to teach
them, as far as the technical part is necessary. But success will not
ultimately depend upon any technical instructions that a master can
give: he may direct the efforts of industry so as to save much useless
labour; he may prevent his pupils from acquiring bad practical habits;
he may assist, but he cannot inspire, the spirit of perseverance. A
master, who is not expected, or indeed allowed, to interfere in the
general education of his pupils, can only diligently attend to them
whilst he is giving his lessons; he has not any power, except that
pernicious motive, competition, to excite them to excel; his
instructions cannot be peculiarly adapted to their tempers or their
understandings, because with these he is unacquainted. Now a sensible
mother has it in her power to supply all these deficiencies; even if
she does not herself excel in any of the accomplishments which her
daughters are learning, her knowledge of their minds, her taste, her
judgment, her affection, her superintending intelligence, will be of
inestimable value to her children. If she has any skill in any
accomplishment, she will, for the first years of her daughters' lives,
be undoubtedly the best person to instruct them. By skill, we do not
mean superior talents, or proficiency in music or drawing; without
these, she may be able to teach all that is necessary in the early
part of education. One of the best motives which a woman can have to
cultivate her talents after she marries, is the hope and belief, that
she may be essentially serviceable in the instruction of her family.
And that she may be essentially serviceable, let no false humility
lead her to doubt. She need not be anxious for the rapid progress of
her little pupils; she need not be terrified if she see their equals
in age surpass them under what she thinks more able tuition; she may
securely satisfy herself, that if she but inspires her children with a
desire to excel, with the habits of attention and industry, they will
certainly succeed, sooner or later, in whatever it is desirable that
they should learn. The exact age at which the music, dancing, or
drawing master, should begin their instructions, need not be fixed. If
a mother should not be so situated as to be able to procure the best
masters for her daughters whilst they are yet children, she need not
be in despair; a rapid progress is made in a short time by well
educated young people; those who have not acquired any bad habits, are
easily taught: it should, therefore, seem prudent, if the best masters
cannot be procured at any given period of education, to wait
patiently, than to hazard their first impressions, and the first
habits which might be given by any inferiour technical instruction. It
is said, that the celebrated musician Timotheus, whose excellence in
his art Alexander the conqueror of the world was forced to
acknowledge, when pupils flocked to him from all parts of the world,
had the prudence to demand double _entrance money_ from every scholar
who had had any other music master.

Besides the advantage of being entirely free from other bad habits,
children who are not taught by inferiour masters, will not contract
habits of listless application. Under the eye of an indolent person,
children seldom give their entire attention to what they are about.
They become mere machines, and, without using their own understanding
in the least, have recourse to the convenient master upon every
occasion. The utmost that children in such circumstances can learn, is
all the technical part of the art which the master can teach. When the
master is at last dismissed, and her education completed, the pupil is
left both fatigued and helpless. "Few have been taught to any purpose,
who have not been their own teachers," says Sir Joshua Reynolds. This
reflection upon the art of teaching, may, perhaps, be too general; but
those persons who look back upon their education, will, in many
respects, allow it to be just. They will perceive that they have been
too much taught, that they have learned every thing which they know as
an art, and nothing as a science. Few people have sufficient courage
to re-commence their own education, and for this reason few people get
beyond a certain point of mediocrity. It is easy to them to practise
the lessons which they have learned, if they practise them in
intellectual darkness; but if you let in upon them one ray of
philosophic light, you dazzle and confound them, so that they cannot
even perform their customary feats. A young man,[33] who had been
blind from his birth, had learned to draw a cross, a circle, and a
square, with great accuracy; when he was twenty, his eyes were
couched, and when he could see perfectly well, he was desired to draw
his circle and square. His new sense of seeing, so far from assisting
him in this operation, was extremely troublesome to him; though he
took more pains than usual, he performed very ill: confounded by the
new difficulty, he concluded that sight was useless in all operations
to be performed by the hand, and he thought his eyes would be of no
use to him in future. How many people find their reason as useless and
troublesome to them as this young man found his eye-sight!

Whilst we are learning any mechanical operation, or whilst we are
acquiring any technical art, the mind is commonly passive. In the
first attempts, perhaps, we reason or invent ways of abridging our own
labour, and the awkwardness of the unpractised hand is assisted by
ingenuity and reflection; but as we improve in manual dexterity,
attention and ingenuity are no longer exerted; we go on habitually
without thought.--Thought would probably interrupt the operation, and
break the chain of associated actions.[34] An artificer stops his hand
the moment you ask him to explain what he is about: he can work and
talk of indifferent objects; but if he reflects upon the manner in
which he performs certain slight of hand parts of his business, it is
ten to one but he cannot go on with them. A man, who writes a free
running hand, goes on without thinking of the manner in which he
writes; fix his attention upon the manner in which he holds his pen,
or forms his letters, and he probably will not write quite so fast, or
so well, as usual. When a girl first attempts to dress herself at a
glass, the glass perplexes, instead of assisting her, because she
thinks and reasons about every motion; but when by habit she has
learned how to move her hands in obedience to the _flugel_-image,[35]
which performs its exercise in the mirror, no further thought is
employed. Make the child observe that she moves her left hand forward
when the image in the glass moves in a contrary manner, turn the
child's attention to any of her own motions, and she will make
mistakes as she did before her habits were formed.

Many occupations, which are generally supposed to depend upon the
understanding, and which do probably depend in the first instance upon
the _understanding_, become by practice purely mechanical. This is the
case in many of the imitative arts. A person unused to drawing, exerts
a great deal of attention in copying any new object; but custom soon
supplies the place of thought. By custom,[36] as a great artist
assures us, he will become able to draw the human figure tolerably
correctly, with as little effort of the mind, as to trace with a pen
the letters of the alphabet.

We must further observe, that the habit of pursuing any occupation,
which requires no mental exertion, induces an indolence or incapacity
of intellect. Mere artists are commonly as stupid as mere artificers,
and these are little more than machines.

The length of time which is required to obtain practical skill and
dexterity in certain accomplishments, is one reason why there are so
few people who obtain any thing more than mechanical excellence. They
become the slaves of custom, and they become proud of their slavery.
At first they might have considered custom as a tyrant; but when they
have obeyed her for a certain time, they do her voluntary homage ever
after, as to a sovereign by divine right. To prevent this species of
intellectual degradation, we must in education be careful to rank mere
mechanical talents below the exercise of the mental powers. Thus the
ambition of young people will be directed to high objects, and all
inferiour qualifications may be attained without contracting the
understanding. Praise children for patience, for perseverance, for
industry; encourage them to reason and to invent upon all subjects,
and you may direct their attention afterwards as you think proper. But
if you applaud children merely for drawing a flower neatly, or copying
a landscape, without exciting their ambition to any thing higher, you
will never create superior talents, or a superior character. The
proficiency that is made in any particular accomplishment, at any
given age, should not be considered so much, even by those who highly
value accomplishments, as the power, the energy, that is excited in
the pupil's mind, from which future progress is ensured. The writing
and drawing automaton performs its advertised wonders to the
satisfaction of the spectators; but the machine is not "_instinct with
spirit_;" you cannot expect from its pencil the sketch of a Raphael,
or from its pen the thoughts of a Shakespeare. It is easy to guide the
hand, but who can transfuse a soul into the image?

It is not an uncommon thing to hear young people, who have been long
under the tuition of masters, complain of their own want of genius.
They are sensible that they have not made any great progress in any of
the accomplishments which they have endeavoured to learn; they see
others, who have not, perhaps, had what they call such _opportunities_
and _advantages_ in their education, suddenly surpass them; this they
attribute to natural genius, and they say to themselves in despair,
"Certainly I have no taste for drawing; I have no genius for music; I
have learned so many years, I have had so many lessons from the best
masters, and yet here is such and such a one, who has had no master,
who has taught herself, and, perhaps, did not begin till late in life,
has got before me, because she has a natural genius for these things.
She must have a natural taste for them, because she can sit whole
hours at these things for her own pleasure. Now I never would take a
pencil in my hand from my own choice; and I am glad, at all events,
that the time for lessons and masters is over. My education is
finished, for I am of age."

The disgust and despair, which are thus induced by an injudicious
education, absolutely defeat its own trivial purposes. So that,
whatever may be the views of parents, whether they consider ornamental
accomplishments as essential to their daughter's _success_ in the
world, or whether they value them rather as secondary objects,
subordinate to her happiness; whether they wish their daughter
actually to excel in any particular accomplishment, or to have the
power of excelling in any to which circumstances may direct her, it is
in all cases advisable to cultivate the general power of the pupil's
understanding, instead of confining her to technical practices and
precepts, under the eye of any master who does not possess that which
is the _soul_ of every art.

We do not mean any illiberal attack upon masters; but in writing upon
education, it is necessary to examine the utility of different modes
of instruction, without fear of offending _any class_ of men. We
acknowledge, that it is seldom found, that those who can communicate
their knowledge the best, _possess the most_, especially if this
knowledge be that of an artist or a linguist. Before any person is
properly qualified _to teach_, he must have the power of recollecting
exactly how _he learned_; he must go back step by step to the point at
which he began, and he must be able to conduct his pupil through the
same path without impatience or precipitation. He must not only have
acquired a knowledge of the process by which his own ideas and habits
were formed, but he must have extensive experience of the varieties of
the human mind. He must not suppose, that the operations of intellect
are carried on precisely in the same manner in all minds; he must not
imagine, that there is but one method of teaching, which will suit all
persons alike. The analogies which strike his own mind, the
arrangement of ideas, which to him appears the most perspicuous, to
his pupil may appear remote and confused. He must not attribute this
to his pupil's inattention, stupidity, or obstinacy; but he must
attribute it to the true causes; the different association of ideas in
different minds, the different habits of thinking, which arise from
their various tempers and previous education. He must be acquainted
with the habits of all tempers: the slow, the quick, the inventive,
the investigating; and he must adapt his instructions accordingly.
There is something more requisite: a master must not only know what he
professes to teach of his own peculiar art or science, but he ought to
know all its bearings and dependencies. He must be acquainted not only
with the local topography of his own district, but he must have the
whole map of human knowledge before him; and whilst he dwells most
upon his own province, he must yet be free from local prejudices, and
must consider himself as a citizen of the world. Children who study
geography in small separate maps, understand, perhaps, the view of
each country tolerably well; but we see them quite puzzled when they
are to connect these maps in their idea of the world. They do not know
the relative size or situation of England or France; they cannot find
London or Paris when they look for the first time upon the globe, and
every country seems to be turned upside down in their imagination.
Young people who learn particular arts and sciences from masters who
have confined their view to the boundaries of each, without having
given an enlarged idea of the whole, are much in the same situation
with these unfortunate geographers.

The persisting to teach things separately, which ought to be taught as
a whole, must prevent the progress of mental cultivation.[37] The
division and subdivision of different parts of education, which are
monopolised as trades by the masters who profess to teach them, must
tend to increase and perpetuate errour. These intellectual _casts_ are

It is said, that the Persians had masters to teach their children each
separate virtue: one master to teach justice, another fortitude,
another temperance, and so on. How these masters could preserve the
boundaries of their several moral territories, it is not easy to
imagine, especially if they all insisted upon independent sovereignty.
There must have been some danger, surely, of their disputing with one
another concerning the importance of their respective professions,
like the poor bourgeois gentilhomme's dancing-master, music-master,
master of morality, and master of philosophy, who all fell to blows to
settle their pretensions, forgetful of the presence of their pupil.
Masters, who are only expected to teach one thing, may be sincerely
anxious for the improvement of their pupils in that particular,
without being in the least interested for their general character or
happiness. Thus the drawing-master has done his part, and is satisfied
if he teaches his pupil to draw well: it is no concern of his what her
temper may be, any more than what sort of hand she writes, or how she
dances. The dancing-master, in his turn, is wholly indifferent about
the young lady's progress in drawing; all he undertakes, is to teach
her to dance.

We mention these circumstances to show parents, that masters, even
when they do the utmost that they engage to do, cannot educate their
children; they can only partially instruct them in particular arts.
Parents must themselves preside over the education of their children,
or must entirely give them into the care of some person of an enlarged
and philosophic mind, who can supply all the deficiencies of common
masters, and who can take advantage of all the positive good that can
be obtained from existing institutions. Such a preceptor or governess
must possess extensive knowledge, and that superiority of mind which
sees the just proportion and value of every acquisition, which is not
to be overawed by authority, or dazzled by fashion. Under the eye of
such persons, masters will keep precisely their proper places; they
will teach all they can teach, without instilling absurd prejudices,
or inspiring a spirit of vain rivalship; nor will masters be suffered
to continue their lessons when they have nothing more to teach.

Parents who do not think that they have leisure, or feel that they
have capacity, to take the entire direction of their children's
education upon themselves, will trust this important office to a
governess. The inquiry concerning the value of female accomplishments,
has been purposely entered into before we could speak of the choice of
a governess, because the estimation in which these are held, will very
much determine parents in their choice.

If what has been said of the probability of a decline in the public
taste for what are usually called accomplishments; of their little
utility to the happiness of families and individuals; of the waste of
time, and waste of the higher powers of the mind in acquiring them: if
what has been observed on any of these points is allowed to be just,
we shall have little difficulty in pursuing the same principles
further. In the choice of a governess we should not, then, consider
her fashionable accomplishments as her best recommendations; these
will be only secondary objects. We shall examine with more anxiety,
whether she possess a sound, discriminating, and enlarged
understanding: whether her mind be free from prejudice; whether she
has steadiness of temper to pursue her own plans; and, above all,
whether she has that species of integrity which will justify a parent
in trusting a child to her care. We shall attend to her conversation,
and observe her manners, with scrupulous minuteness. Children are
_imitative animals_, and they are peculiarly disposed to imitate the
language, manners, and gestures, of those with whom they live, and to
whom they look up with admiration. In female education, too much care
cannot be taken to form all those habits in morals and in manners,
which are distinguishing characteristics of amiable women. These
habits must be acquired early, or they will never appear easy or
graceful; they will necessarily be formed by those who see none but
good models.

We have already pointed out the absolute necessity of union amongst
all those who are concerned in a child's education. A governess must
either rule, or obey, decidedly. If she do not agree with the child's
parents in opinion, she must either know how to convince them by
argument, or she must with strict integrity conform her practice to
their theories. There are few parents, who will choose to give up the
entire care of their children to any governess; therefore, there will
probably be some points in which a difference of opinion will arise. A
sensible woman will never submit to be treated, as governesses are in
some families, like the servant who was asked by his master what
business he had to think: nor will a woman of sense or temper insist
upon her opinions without producing her reasons. She will thus ensure
the respect and the confidence of enlightened parents.

It is surely the interest of parents to treat the person who educates
their children, with that perfect equality and kindness, which will
conciliate her affection, and which will at the same time preserve her
influence and authority over her pupils. And it is with pleasure we
observe, that the style of behaviour to governesses, in well bred
families, is much changed within these few years. A governess is no
longer treated as an upper servant, or as an intermediate being
between a servant and a gentlewoman: she is now treated as the friend
and companion of the family, and she must, consequently, have warm and
permanent interest in its prosperity: she becomes attached to her
pupils from gratitude to their parents, from sympathy, from
generosity, as well as from the strict sense of duty.

In fashionable life there is, however, some danger that parents should
go into extremes in their behaviour towards their governesses. Those
who disdain the idea of assuming superiority of rank and fortune, and
who desire to treat the person who educates their children as their
equal, act with perfect propriety; but if they make her their
companion in all their amusements, they go a step too far, and they
defeat their own purposes. If a governess attends the card-table, and
the assembly-room; if she is to visit, and be visited, what is to
become of her pupils in her absence? They must be left to the care of
servants. There are some ladies who will not accept of any invitation,
in which the governess of their children is not included. This may be
done from a good motive, but, surely, it is unreasonable; for the very
use of a governess is to supply the mother's place in her absence.
Cannot this be managed better? Cannot the mother and governess both
amuse themselves at different times? There would then be perfect
equality; the governess would be in the same society, and would be
treated with the same respect, without neglecting her duty. The reward
which is given to women of abilities, and of unblemished reputation,
who devote themselves to the superintendence of the education of young
ladies in the higher ranks of life, the daughters of our affluent
nobility, ought to be considerably greater than what it is at present:
it ought to be such as to excite women to cultivate their talents, and
their understandings, with a view to this profession. A profession we
call it, for it should be considered as such, as an honourable
profession, which a gentlewoman might follow without losing any degree
of the estimation in which she is held by what is called _the world_.
There is no employment, at present, by which a gentlewoman can
maintain herself, without losing something of that respect, something
of that rank in society, which neither female fortitude nor male
philosophy willingly foregoes. The liberal professions are open to men
of small fortunes; by presenting one similar resource to women, we
should give a strong motive for their moral and intellectual

Nor does it seem probable, that they should make a disgraceful or
imprudent use of their increasing influence and liberty in this case,
because their previous education must previously prepare them
properly. The misfortune of women has usually been, to have power
trusted to them before they were educated to use it prudently. To say
that preceptresses in the higher ranks of life should be liberally
rewarded, is but a vague expression; something specific should be
mentioned, wherever general utility is the object. Let us observe,
that many of the first dignities of the church are bestowed, and
properly bestowed, upon men who have educated the highest ranks of our
nobility. Those who look with an evil eye upon these promotions, do
not fairly estimate the _national_ importance of education for the
rich and powerful. No provision can be made for women who direct the
education of the daughters of our nobility, any ways equivalent to the
provision made for preceptors by those who have influence in the
state. A pecuniary compensation is in the power of opulent families.
Three hundred a year, for twelve or fourteen years, the space of time
which a preceptress must probably employ in the education of a young
lady, would be a suitable compensation for her care. With this
provision she would be enabled, after her pupil's education was
completed, either to settle in her own family, or she would, in the
decline of life, be happily independent, secure from the temptation of
marrying for money. If a few munificent and enlightened individuals
set the example of liberally rewarding merit in this situation, many
young women will probably appear with talents and good qualities
suited to the views of the most sanguine parents. With good sense, and
literary tastes, a young woman might instruct herself during the first
years of her pupils childhood, and might gradually prepare herself
with all the necessary knowledge: according to the principles that
have been suggested, there would be no necessity for her being a
_mistress of arts_, a performer in music, a paintress, a linguist, or
a poetess. A general knowledge of literature is indispensable; and yet
further, she must have sufficient taste and judgment to direct the
literary talents of her pupils.

With respect to the literary education of the female sex, the
arguments on both sides of the question have already been stated, with
all the impartiality in our power, in another place.[38] Without
obtruding a detail of the same arguments again upon the public, it
will be sufficient to profess the distinct opinion, which a longer
consideration of the subject has yet more fully confirmed, that it
will tend to the happiness of society in general, that women should
have their understandings cultivated and enlarged as much as possible;
that the happiness of domestic life, the virtues and the powers of
pleasing in the female sex, the yet more desirable power of attaching
those worthy of their love and esteem, will be increased by the
judicious cultivation of the female understanding, more than by all
that modern gallantry or ancient chivalry could devise in favour of
the sex. Much prudence and ability are requisite to conduct properly a
young woman's literary education. Her imagination must not be raised
above the taste for necessary occupations, or the numerous small, but
not trifling, pleasures of domestic life: her mind must be enlarged,
yet the delicacy of her manners must be preserved: her knowledge must
be various, and her powers of reasoning unawed by authority; yet she
must _habitually_ feel that nice sense of propriety, which is at once
the guard and the charm of every feminine virtue. By early caution,
unremitting, scrupulous caution in the choice of the books which are
put into the hands of girls, a mother, or a preceptress, may fully
occupy and entertain their pupils, and excite in their minds a _taste_
for propriety, as well as a taste for literature. It cannot be
necessary to add more than this general idea, that a mother ought to
be answerable to her daughter's husband for the books her daughter had
read, as well as for the company she had kept.

Those observations, which apply equally to the cultivation of the
understanding both of men and of women, we do not here mean to point
out; we would speak only of what may be peculiar to female education.
From the study of the learned languages, women, by custom,
fortunately for them, are exempted: of ancient literature they may, in
translations which are acknowledged to be excellent, obtain a
sufficient knowledge, without paying too much time and labour for this
classic pleasure. Confused notions from fashionable publications, from
periodical papers, and comedies, have made their way into common
conversation, and thence have assumed an appearance of authority, and
have been extremely disadvantageous to female education. Sentiment and
ridicule have conspired to represent reason, knowledge, and science,
as unsuitable or dangerous to women; yet at the same time wit, and
superficial acquirements in literature, have been the object of
admiration in society; so that this dangerous inference has been
drawn, almost without our perceiving its fallacy, that superficial
knowledge is more desirable in women than accurate knowledge. This
principle must lead to innumerable errours; it must produce continual
contradictions in the course of education: instead of making women
more reasonable, and less presuming, it will render them at once
arrogant and ignorant; full of pretensions, incapable of application,
and unfit to hear themselves convinced. Whatever young women learn,
let them be taught accurately; let them know ever so little
apparently, they will know much if they have learnt that little
_well_. A girl who runs through a course of natural history, hears
something about chemistry, has been taught something of botany, and
who knows but just enough of these to make her fancy that she is well
informed, is in a miserable situation, in danger of becoming
ridiculous, and insupportably tiresome to men of sense and science.
But let a woman know any one thing completely, and she will have
sufficient understanding to learn more, and to apply what she has been
taught so as to interest men of generosity and genius in her favour.
The knowledge of the general principles of any science, is very
different from superficial knowledge of the science; perhaps, from not
attending to this distinction, or from not understanding it, many
have failed in female education. Some attempt will be made to mark
this distinction practically, when we come to speak of the cultivation
of the memory, invention, and judgment. No intelligent preceptress
will, it is hoped, find any difficulty in the application of the
observations they may meet with in the chapters on imagination,
sympathy and sensibility, vanity and temper. The masculine pronoun
_he_, has been used for grammatical convenience, not at all because we
agree with the prejudiced, and uncourteous grammarian, who asserts,
"that the masculine is the more worthy gender."


[32] Une virtuose.

[33] V. Storia di quattro fratelli nati ciechi e guariti coll'
estrazione delle cateratte.--Di Francesco Buzzi.

[34] V. Zoonomia.

[35] This word is sometimes by mistake spelt _fugal_-man.

[36] Sir Joshua Reynolds.

[37] Condillac.

[38] V. Letters for Literary Ladies.



Before we bestow many years of time and pains upon any object, it may
be prudent to afford a few minutes previously to ascertain its precise
value. Many persons have a vague idea of the great value of memory,
and, without analyzing their opinion, they resolve to cultivate the
memories of their children as much, and as soon, as possible. So far
from having determined the value of this talent, we shall find that it
will be difficult to give a popular definition of a good memory. Some
people call that a good memory which retains the greatest number of
ideas for the longest time. Others prefer a recollective to a
retentive memory, and value not so much the number; as the selection,
of facts; not so much the mass, or even the antiquity, of accumulated
treasure, as the power of producing current specie for immediate use.
Memory is sometimes spoken of as if it were a faculty admirable in
itself, without any union with the other powers of the mind. Amongst
those who allow that memory has no independent claim to regard, there
are yet many who believe, that a superior degree of memory is
essential to the successful exercise of the higher faculties, such as
judgment and invention. The degree in which it is useful to those
powers, has not, however, been determined. Those who are governed in
their opinions by precedent and authority, can produce many learned
names, to prove that memory was held in the highest estimation amongst
the great men of antiquity; it was cultivated with much anxiety in
their public institutions, and in their private education. But there
were many circumstances, which formerly contributed to make a great
memory essential to a great man. In civil and military employments,
amongst the ancients, it was in a high degree requisite. Generals were
expected to know by heart the names of the soldiers in their armies;
demagogues, who hoped to please the people, were expected to know the
names of all their fellow-citizens.[39] Orators, who did not speak
extempore, were obliged to get their long orations by rote. Those who
studied science or philosophy, were obliged to cultivate their memory
with incessant care, because, if they frequented the schools for
instruction, they treasured up the sayings of the masters of different
sects, and learned their doctrines only by oral instruction.
Manuscripts were frequently got by heart by those who were eager to
secure the knowledge they contained, and who had not opportunities of
recurring to the originals. It is not surprising, therefore, that
memory, to which so much was trusted, should have been held in such
high esteem.

At the revival of literature in Europe, before the discovery of the
art of printing, it was scarcely possible to make any progress in the
literature of the age, without possessing a retentive memory. A man
who had read a few manuscripts, and could repeat them, was a wonder,
and a treasure: he could travel from place to place, and live by his
learning; he was a circulating library to a nation, and the more books
he could carry in his head, the better: he was certain of an admiring
audience if he could repeat what Aristotle or Saint Jerome had
written; and he had far more encouragement to engrave the words of
others on his memory, than to invent or judge for himself.

In the twelfth century, above six hundred scholars assembled in the
forests of Champagne, to hear the lectures of the learned Abeillard;
they made themselves huts of the boughs of trees, and in this new
academic grove were satisfied to go almost without the necessaries of
life. In the specimens of Abeillard's composition, which are handed
down to us, we may discover proofs of his having been vain of a
surprising memory; it seems to have been the superior faculty of his
mind: his six hundred pupils could carry away with them only so much
of his learning as they could get by heart during his course of
lectures; and he who had the best memory, must have been best paid for
his journey.[40]

The art of printing, by multiplying copies so as to put them within
the easy reference of all classes of people, has lowered the value of
this species of retentive memory. It is better to refer to the book
itself, than to the man who has read the book. Knowledge is now ready
classed for use, and it is safely stored up in the great common-place
books of public libraries. A man of literature need not incumber his
memory with whole passages from the authors he wants to quote; he need
only mark down the page, and the words are safe.

Mere erudition does not in these days ensure permanent fame. The names
of the Abbé de Longuerue, and of the Florentine librarian Magliabechi,
excite no vivid emotions in the minds of those who have heard of them
before; and there are many, perhaps not illiterate persons, who would
not be ashamed to own that they had never heard of them at all. Yet
these men were both of them, but a few years ago, remarkable for
extraordinary memory and erudition. When M. de Longuerue was a child,
he was such a prodigy of memory and knowledge, that Lewis the
fourteenth, passing through the abbé's province, stopped to see and
hear him. When he grew up, Paris consulted him as the oracle of
learning. His erudition, says d'Alembert,[41] was not only prodigious,
but actually terrible. Greek and Hebrew were more familiar to him than
his native tongue. His memory was so well furnished with historic
facts, with chronological and topographical knowledge, that upon
hearing a person assert in conversation, that it would be a difficult
task to write a good historical description of France,[42] he
asserted, that he could do it from memory, without consulting any
books. All he asked, was, to have some maps of France laid before him:
these recalled to his mind the history of each province, of all the
fiefs of the crown of each city, and even of each distinguished
nobleman's seat in the kingdom. He wrote his folio history in a year.
It was admired as a great curiosity in manuscript; but when it came to
be printed, sundry gross errours appeared: he was obliged to take out
several leaves in correcting the press. The edition was very
expensive, and the work, at last, would have been rather more
acceptable to the public, if the author had not written it from
memory. Love of the wonderful must yield to esteem for the useful.

The effect which all this erudition had upon the Abbé de Longuerue's
taste, judgment, and imagination, is worth our attention. Some of his
opinions speak sufficiently for our purpose. He was of opinion that
the English have never done any good,[43] since they renounced the
study of Greek and Arabic, for Geometry and Physics. He was of
opinion, that two antiquarian books upon Homer, viz. _Antiquitates
Homericæ_ and _Homeri Gnomologia_, are preferable to Homer himself. He
would rather have them, he declared, because with these he had all
that was useful in the poet, without being obliged to go through long
stories, which put him to sleep. "As for that madman Ariosto," said
he, "I sometimes divert myself with him." One odd volume of Racine was
the only French book to be found in his library. His erudition died
with him, and the world has not profited much by his surprising

The librarian Magliabechi was no less famous than M. de Longuerue for
his memory, and he was yet more strongly affected by the mania for
books. His appetite for them was so voracious, that he acquired the
name of the glutton of literature.[44] Before he died, he had
_swallowed_ six large rooms full of books. Whether he had time to
digest any of them we do not know, but we are sure that he wished it;
for the only line of his own composition which he has left for the
instruction of posterity, is round a medal. The medal represents him
sitting with a book in his hand, and with a great number of books
scattered on the floor round him. The candid inscription signifies,
that to become learned it is not sufficient to read much, if we read
without reflection. The names of Franklin and of Shakespeare are known
wherever literature is cultivated, to all who have any pretensions to
science or to genius; yet they were neither of them men of
extraordinary erudition, nor from their works should we judge that
memory was their predominant faculty. It may be said, that a superior
degree of memory was essential to the exercise of their judgment and
invention; that without having treasured up in his memory a variety of
minute observations upon human nature, Shakespeare could never have
painted the passions with so bold and just a hand; that if Franklin
had not accurately remembered his own philosophical observations, and
those of others, he never would have made those discoveries which have
immortalized his name. Admitting the justice of these assertions, we
see that memory to great men is but a subordinate servant, a treasurer
who receives, and is expected to keep faithfully whatever is committed
to his care; and not only to preserve faithfully all deposits, but to
produce them at the moment they are wanted. There are substances which
are said to imbibe and retain the rays of light, and to emit them only
in certain situations. As long as they retain the rays, no eye regards

It has often been observed, that a recollective and retentive memory
are seldom found united. If this were true, and that we had our choice
of either, which should we prefer? For the purposes of ostentation,
perhaps the one; for utility, the other. A person who could repeat
from beginning to end the whole Economy of Human Life, which he had
learned in his childhood, might, if we had time to sit still and
listen to him, obtain our admiration for his extraordinary retentive
memory; but the person who, in daily occurrences, or interesting
affairs, recollects at the proper time what is useful to us, obtains
from our gratitude something more than vain admiration. To speak
accurately, we must remark, that retentive and recollective memories
are but relative terms: the recollective memory must be retentive of
all that it recollects; the retentive memory cannot show itself till
the moment it becomes recollective. But we value either precisely in
proportion as they are useful and agreeable.

Just at the time when philosophers were intent upon trying experiments
in electricity, Dr. Heberden recollected to have seen, many years
before, a small electrical stone, called tourmalin,[45] in the
possession of Dr. Sharpe at Cambridge. It was the only one known in
England at that time. Dr. Heberden procured it; and several curious
experiments were made and verified with it. In this instance, it is
obvious that we admire the retentive, local memory of Dr. Heberden,
merely because it became recollective and useful. Had the tourmalin
never been wanted, it would have been a matter of indifference,
whether the direction for it at Dr. Sharpe's at Cambridge, had been
remembered or forgotten. There was a man[46] who undertook, in going
from Temple Bar to the furthest part of Cheapside and back again, to
enumerate at his return every sign on each side of the way in its
order, and to repeat them, if it should be required, either backwards
or forwards. This he exactly accomplished. As a playful trial of
memory, this affords us a moments entertainment; but if we were to be
serious upon the subject, we should say it was a pity that the man did
not use his extraordinary memory for some better purpose. The late
king of Prussia, when he intended to advance Trenck in the army, upon
his first introduction, gave him a list of the strangest names which
could be picked out, to learn by rote. Trenck learned them quickly,
and the king was much pleased with this instance of his memory; but
Frederick would certainly never have made such a trial of the
abilities of Voltaire.

We cannot always foresee what facts may be useful, and what may be
useless to us, otherwise the cultivation of the memory might be
conducted by unerring rules. In the common business of life, people
regulate their memories by the circumstances in which they happen to
be placed. A clerk in a counting-house, by practice, learns to
remember the circumstances, affairs, and names of numerous merchants,
of his master's customers, the places of their abode, and, perhaps,
something of their peculiar humours and manners. A fine lady remembers
her visiting list, and, perhaps, the dresses and partners of every
couple at a crowded ball; she finds all these particulars a useful
supply for daily conversation, she therefore remembers them with
care. An amateur, who is ambitious to shine in the society of literary
men, collects literary anecdotes, and retails them whenever occasion
permits. Men of sense, who cultivate their memories for useful
purposes, are not obliged to treasure up heterogeneous facts: by
reducing particulars to general principles, and by connecting them
with proper associations, they enjoy all the real advantages, whilst
they are exempt from the labour of accumulation.

Mr. Stewart has, with so much ability, pointed out the effects of
systematic arrangement of writing, reading, and the use of technical
contrivances in the cultivation of the memory, that it would be a
presumptuous and unnecessary attempt to expatiate in other words upon
the same subject. It may not be useless, however, to repeat a few of
his observations, because, in considering what further improvement may
be made, it is always essential to have fully in our view what is
already known.

"Philosophic arrangement assists the memory, by classing under a few
principles, a number of apparently dissimilar and unconnected
particulars. The habit, for instance, of attending to the connection
of cause and effect, presents a multitude of interesting analogies to
the minds of men of science, which escape other persons; the vulgar
feel no pleasure in contemplating objects that appear remote from
common life; and they find it extremely difficult to remember
observations and reasonings which are foreign to their customary
course of associated ideas. Even literary and ingenious people, when
they begin to learn any art or science, usually complain that their
memory is not able to retain all the terms and ideas which pour in
upon them with perplexing rapidity. In time, this difficulty is
conquered, not so much by the strength of the memory, as by the
exercise of judgment: they learn to distinguish, and select the
material terms, facts and arguments, from those that are subordinate,
and they class them under general heads, to relieve the memory from
all superfluous labour.

"In all studies, there is some prevalent associating principle, which
gradually becomes familiar to our minds, but which we do not
immediately discover in our first attempts. In poetry, resemblance; in
philosophy, cause and effect; in mathematics, demonstrations
continually recur; and, therefore, each is expected by persons who
have been used to these respective studies.

"The habit of committing our knowledge to writing, assists the memory,
because, in writing, we detain certain ideas long enough in our view
to perceive all their relations; we use fixed and abbreviated signs
for all our thoughts; with the assistance of these, we can prevent
confusion in our reasonings. We can, without fatigue, by the help of
words, letters, figures, or algebraic signs, go through a variety of
mental processes, and solve many difficult problems, which, without
such assistance, must have been too extensive for our capacities.

"If our books be well chosen, and if we read with discrimination and
attention, reading will improve the memory, because, as it increases
our knowledge, it increases our interest in every new discovery, and
in every new combination of ideas."

We agree entirely with Mr. Stewart in his observations upon technical
helps to the memory; they are hurtful to the understanding, because
they break the general habits of philosophic order in the mind. There
is no connection of ideas between the memorial lines, for instance, in
Grey's Memoria Technica, the history of the Kings or Emperors, and the
dates that we wish to remember. However, it may be advantageous in
education to use such contrivances, to assist our pupils in
remembering those technical parts of knowledge, which are sometimes
valued above their worth in society.

The facts upon which the principles of any science are founded,
should never be learnt by rote in a technical manner. But the names
and the dates of the reigns of a number of kings and emperors, if they
must be remembered by children, should be learnt in the manner which
may give them the least trouble.[47]

It is commonly asserted, that our memory is to be improved by
exercise: exercise may be of different kinds, and we must determine
what sort is best. Repetition is found to fix words, and sometimes
ideas, strongly in the mind; the words of the burden of a song, which
we have frequently heard, are easily and long remembered. When we want
to get any thing by rote, we repeat it over and over again, till the
sounds seem to follow one another habitually, and then we say we have
them perfectly by rote.[48] The regular recurrence of sounds, at
stated intervals, much assists us. In poetry, the rhymes, the cadence,
the alliteration, the peculiar structure of the poet's lines, aids us.
All these are mechanical helps to the memory. Repetition seems much
more agreeable to some people than to others; but it may be doubted
whether a facility and propensity to repetition be favourable to
rational memory. Whilst we repeat, we exclude all thought from the
mind; we form a habit of saying certain sounds in a certain order; but
if this habit be afterwards broken by any trifling external
circumstances, we lose all our labour. We have no means of
recollecting what we have learned in this manner. Once gone, it is
gone for ever. It depends but upon one principle of association. Those
who exert ingenuity as well as memory in learning by heart, may not,
perhaps, associate sounds with so much expedition, but they will have
the power of recollection in a greater degree. They will have more
chances in their favour, besides the great power of voluntary
exertion: a power which few passive repeaters ever possess. The
following lines are easily learned:

    "Haste, then, ye spirits; to your charge repair,
    The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care;
    The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign,
    And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;
    Do thou, Crispissa, tend her favourite lock,
    Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock."

To a person who merely learned the sounds in these lines by rote,
without knowing the sense of the words, all the advantage of the
appropriated names and offices of the sylphs would be lost. No one,
who has any sense of propriety, can call these sylphs by wrong names,
or put them out of their places. Momentilla and the watch, Zephyretta
and the fan, Crispissa and the lock of hair, Brillante and the diamond
drops, are so intimately associated, that they necessarily recur
together in the memory. The following celebrated lines on envy, some
people will find easy, and others difficult, to learn by heart:

    "Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue;
    But, like a shadow, proves the substance true:
    For envy'd wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known
    Th' opposing body's grossness, not its own.
    When first that sun too pow'rful beams displays,
    It draws up vapour, which obscures its rays;
    But ev'n those clouds at last adorn its way,
    Reflect new glories, and augment the day."

The flow of these lines is not particularly easy; those who trust
merely to the power of reiteration in getting them by rote, will find
the task difficult; those who seize the ideas, will necessarily
recollect their order, and the sense will conduct them to their proper
places with certainty: they cannot, for instance, make the clouds
adorn the sun's rays before the sun's powerful beams have drawn up the
vapours. This fixes the place of the four last lines. The simile of
merit and the sun, and envy and the clouds, keeps each idea in its
order; if any one escapes, it is easily missed, and easily recalled.

We seldom meet with those who can give us an accurate account of their
own thoughts; it is, therefore, difficult to tell the different ways
in which different people manage their memory. We judge by the effects
frequently, that causes are the same, which sometimes are entirely
different. Thus we, in common conversation, should say, that two
people had an equally good memory, who could repeat with equal
exactness any thing which they had heard or read. But in their methods
of remembering, these persons might differ essentially; the one might
have exerted much more judgment and ingenuity in the conduct of his
memory than the other, and might thus have not only fatigued himself
less, but might have improved his understanding, whilst the other
learned merely by rote. When Dr. Johnson reported the parliamentary
debates for the gentleman's Magazine, his judgment, his habit of
attending to the order in which ideas follow one another in reasoning,
his previous knowledge of the characters and style of the different
speakers, must considerably have assisted his memory. His taste for
literary composition must have shown him instantly where any argument
or allusion was misplaced. A connecting phrase, or a link in a chain
of reasoning, is missed as readily by a person used to writing and
argument, as a word in a line of poetry is missed by a poetic ear. If
any thing has escaped the memory of persons who remember by general
classification, they are not only by their art able to discover that
something is missing, but they have a general direction where to find
it; they know to what class of ideas it must belong; they can hunt
from generals to particulars, till they are sure at last of tracing
and detecting the deserter; they have certain signs by which they know
the object of which they are in search, and they trust with more
certainty to these characteristics, than to the mere vague
recollection of having seen it before. We feel disposed to trust the
memory of those who can give us some reason for what they remember. If
they can prove to us that their assertion could not, consistently with
other facts, be false, we admit the assertion into the rank of facts,
and their judgment thus goes surety for their memory.

The following advertisement (taken from the star of the 21st
September, 1796) may show that experience justifies these theoretic


     "A gentleman capable of reporting the debates in parliament, is
     wanted for a London newspaper. A business of no such great
     difficulty as is generally imagined by those unacquainted with it.
     A _tolerable_ good style and facility of composition, as well as a
     facility of writing, together with a good memory (_not an
     extraordinary one_) are all the necessary requisites. If a
     gentleman writes short hand, it is an advantage; but memory and
     composition are more important.

     "The advertiser, conceiving that many gentlemen either in London or
     at the Universities, or in other parts of the kingdom, may think
     such a situation desirable, takes this public method of enabling
     them to obtain it. The salary, which will vary according to the
     talents of the reporter, will at least afford a genteel
     subsistence, and the business need not interrupt the pursuit of
     studies necessary for a more important profession. _A gentleman who
     has never tried parliamentary reporting, will be preferred by the
     advertiser, because he has observed, that those who have last
     attempted it, are now the best reporters._"

In the common mode of education, great exactness of repetition is
required from pupils. This seems to be made a matter of too much
importance. There are circumstances in life, in which this talent is
useful, but its utility, perhaps, we shall find, upon examination, is

In giving evidence of words, dates, and facts, in a court of justice,
the utmost precision is requisite. The property, lives, and characters
of individuals depend upon this precision.

But we must observe, that after long detailed evidence has been given
by a number of witnesses, an advocate separates the material from the
immaterial circumstances, and the judge in his charge again compresses
the arguments of the counsel, so that much of what has been said
during the trial, might as well have been omitted. All these
superfluous ideas were _remembered_ to no purpose. An evidence
sometimes, if he be permitted, would tell not only all that he
remembers of the circumstances about which he is examined, but also a
number of other circumstances, which are casually associated with
these in his memory. An able advocate rejects, by a quickness of
judgment which appears like intuition, all that is irrelevant to his
argument and his cause; and it is by this selection that _his_ memory,
in the evidence, perhaps, of twenty different people, is able to
retain all that is useful. When this heterogeneous mass of evidence is
classed by his perspicuous arrangement, his audience feel no
difficulty either in understanding or recollecting all which had
before appeared confused. Thus the exercise of the judgment saves much
of the labour of memory; labour which is not merely unnecessary, but
hurtful, to our understanding.

In making observations upon subjects which are new to us, we must be
content to use our memory unassisted at first by our reason; we must
treasure up the ore and rubbish together, because we cannot
immediately distinguish them from each other. But the sooner we can
separate them, the better. In the beginning of all experimental
sciences, a number of useless particulars are recorded, because they
are not known to be useless; when, from comparing these, a few general
principles are discovered, the memory is immediately relieved, the
judgment and inventive faculty have power and liberty to work, and
then a rapid progress and great discoveries are made. It is the
misfortune of those who first cultivate new sciences, that their
memory is overloaded; but if those who succeed to them, submit to the
same senseless drudgery, it is not their misfortune, but their fault.
Let us look over the history of those who have made discoveries and
inventions, we shall perceive, that it has been by rejecting useless
ideas that they have first cleared their way to truth. Dr. Priestley's
Histories of Vision and of Electricity, are as useful when we consider
them as histories of the human mind, as when we read them as histories
of science. Dr. Priestley has published a catalogue of books,[49] from
which he gathered his materials. The pains, he tells us, that it cost
him to compress and abridge the accounts which ingenious men have
given of their own experiments, teach us how much our progress in real
knowledge depends upon rejecting all that is superfluous. When
Simonides offered to teach Themistocles the art of memory,
Themistocles answered, "Rather teach me the art of forgetting; for I
find that I remember much that I had better forget, and forget"
(_consequently_) "some things which I wish to remember."

When any discovery or invention is completed, we are frequently
astonished at its obvious simplicity. The ideas necessary to the
discovery, are seldom so numerous as to fatigue our memory. Memory
seems to have been useful to inventors only as it presented a few
ideas in a certain happy connection, as it presented them faithfully
and distinctly to view in the proper moment. If we wish for examples
of _the conduct of_ the understanding, we need only look into Dr.
Franklin's works. He is so free from all affectation, he lays his mind
so fairly before us, that he is, perhaps, the best example we can
select. Those who are used to look at objects in a microscope, say,
that full as much depends upon the object's being well prepared for
inspection, as upon the attention of the observer, or the excellence
of the glass.

The first thing that strikes us, in looking over Doctor Franklin's
works, is the variety of his observations upon different subjects. We
might imagine, that a very tenacious and powerful memory was
necessary to register all these; but Dr. Franklin informs us, that it
was his constant practice to note down every hint as it occurred to
him: he urges his friends to do the same; he observes, that there is
scarcely a day passes without our hearing or seeing something which,
if properly attended to, might lead to useful discoveries. By thus
committing his ideas to writing, his mind was left at liberty _to
think_. No extraordinary effort of memory was, even upon the greatest
occasions, requisite. A friend wrote to him to inquire how he was led
to his great discovery of the identity of lightning and electricity;
and how he first came to think of drawing down lightning from the
clouds. Dr. Franklin replies, that he could not answer better than by
giving an extract from the minutes he used to keep of the experiments
he made, with memorandums of such as he purposed to make, the reasons
for making them, and the observations that rose upon them. By this
extract, says Dr. Franklin, you will see that the thought was not so
much _an out of the way one_, but that it might have occurred to any

When the ideas are arranged in clear order, as we see them in this
note, the analogy or induction to which Dr. Franklin was led, appears
easy. Why, then, had it never been made by any other person? Numbers
of ingenious men were at this time intent upon electricity. The ideas
which were necessary to this discovery, were not numerous or
complicated. We may remark, that one analogy connecting these
observations together, they are more easily recollected; and their
being written down for a particular purpose, on which Dr. Franklin's
mind was intent, must have made it still easier to him to retain them.

The degree of memory he was forced to employ, is thus reduced to a
portion in which few people are defective. Now, let us suppose, that
Dr. Franklin, at the time he wrote his memorandum, had fully in his
recollection every previous experiment that had ever been tried on
electricity; and not only these, but the theories, names, ages, and
private history, of all the men who had tried these experiments; of
what advantage would this have been to him? He must have excluded all
these impertinent ideas successively as they rose before him, and he
must have selected the fifteen useful observations, which we have
mentioned, from this troublesome multitude. The chance in such a
selection would have been against him; the time employed in the
examination and rejection of all the unnecessary recollections, would
have been absolutely wasted.

We must wish that it were in our power, when we make observations upon
nature, or when we read the reflections of others, to arrange our
thoughts so as to be ready when we want to reason or invent. When
cards are dealt to us, we can sort our hand according to the known
probabilities of the game, and a new arrangement is easily made when
we hear what is trumps.

In collecting and sorting observations, Dr. Franklin particularly
excelled; therefore we may safely continue to take him for our
example. Wherever he happened to be, in a boat, in a mine, in a
printer's shop, in a crowded city, or in the country, in Europe or
America, he displays the same activity of observation. When any thing,
however trifling, struck him which he could not account for, he never
rested till he had traced the effect to its cause. Thus, after having
made one remark, he had fresh motive to collect facts, either to
confirm or refute an hypothesis; his observations tending consequently
to some determinate purpose, they were arranged in the moment they
were made, in the most commodious manner, both for his memory and
invention; they were arranged either according to their obvious
analogies, or their relation to each other as cause and effect. He had
two useful methods of judging of the value of his own ideas; he either
considered how they could be immediately applied to practical
improvements in the arts, or how they could lead to the solution of
any of the great problems in science. Here we must again observe, that
judgment saved the labour of memory. A person, who sets about to
collect facts at random, is little better than a magpie, who picks up
and lays by any odd bits of money he can light upon, without knowing
their use.

Miscellaneous observations, which are made by those who have no
philosophy, may accidentally lead to something useful; but here we
admire the good fortune, and not the genius, of the individuals who
make such discoveries: these are prizes drawn from the lottery of
science, which ought not to seduce us from the paths of sober
industry. How long may an observation, fortunately made, continue to
be useless to mankind, merely because it has not been reasoned upon!
The trifling observation, that a straight stick appears bent in water,
was made many hundred years before the reason of that appearance was
discovered! The invention of the telescope might have been made by any
person who could have pursued this slight observation through all its

Having now defined, or rather described, what we mean by _a good
memory_, we may consider how the memory should be cultivated. In
children, as well as in men, the strength of that habit, or perhaps of
that power of the mind which associates ideas together, varies
considerably. It is probable, that this difference may depend
sometimes upon organization. A child who is born with any defect in
his eyes, cannot possibly have the same pleasure in objects of sight,
which those enjoy who have strong eyes: ideas associated with these
external objects, are, therefore, not associated with pleasure, and,
consequently, they are not recollected with any sensations of
pleasure. An ingenious writer[51] supposes, that all the difference of
capacity amongst men ultimately depends on their original power of
feeling pleasure or pain, and their consequent different habits of

When there is any defect in a child's organization, we must have
recourse to physics, and not to metaphysics; but even among children,
who are apparently in the full possession of all their senses, we see
very different degrees of vivacity: those who have most vivacity,
seldom take delight in repeating their ideas; they are more pleased
with novelty than prone to habit. Those children who are deficient in
vivacity, are much disposed to the easy indolent pleasure of
repetition; it costs them less exertion to say or do the same thing
over again, than to attempt any thing new; they are uniformly good
subjects to habit, because novelty has no charms to seduce their

The education of the memory in these two classes of children, ought
not to be the same. Those who are disposed to repetition, should not
be indulged in it, because it will increase their indolence; they
should be excited by praise, by example, by sympathy, and by all the
strongest motives that we can employ. Their interest in every thing
around them must by all means be increased: when they show eagerness
about any thing, no matter what it is, we may then exercise their
memory upon that subject with some hopes of success. It is of
importance that they should succeed in their first trials, otherwise
they will be discouraged from repeating their attempts, and they will
distrust their own memory in future. The fear of not remembering,
will occupy, and agitate, and weaken their minds; they should,
therefore, be animated by hope. If they fail, at all events let them
not be reproached; the mortification they naturally feel, is
sufficient: nor should they be left to dwell upon their
disappointment; they should have a fresh and easier trial given to
them, that they may recover their own self-complacency as
expeditiously as possible. It may be said, that there are children of
such a sluggish temperament, that they feel no pleasure in success,
and no mortification in perceiving their own mental deficiencies.
There are few children of this description; scarcely any, perhaps,
whose defects have not been increased by education. Exertion has been
made so painful to them, that at length they have sunk into apathy, or
submitted in despair to the eternal punishment of shame.

The mistaken notion, that the memory must be exercised only in books,
has been often fatal to the pupils of literary people. We remember
best those things which interest us most; which are useful to us in
conversation; in our daily business or amusement. So do children. On
these things we should exercise their memory. Tell a boy who has lost
his top, to remember at such a particular time to put you in mind of
it, and if he does, that you will give him another, he will probably
remember your requests after this, better than you will yourself.
Affectionate children will easily extend their recollective memories
in the service of their friends and companions. "Put me in mind to
give your friend what he asked for, and I will give it to him if you
remember it at the right time." It will be best to manage these
affairs so that convenience, and not caprice, shall appear to be your
motive for the requests. The time and place should be precisely fixed,
and something should be chosen which is likely to recall your request
at the appointed time. If you say, put me in mind of such a thing the
moment the cloth is taken away after dinner; or as soon as candles are
brought into the room; or when I go by such a shop in our walk this
evening; here are things mentioned which will much assist the young
remembrancer: the moment the cloth is taken away, or the candles come,
he will recollect, from association, that something is to be done,
that _he_ has something to do; and presently he will make out what
that something is.

A good memory for business depends upon local, well arranged
associations. The man of business makes an artificial memory for
himself out of the trivial occurrences of the day, and the hours as
they pass recall their respective occupations. Children can acquire
these habits very early in their education; they are eager to give
their companions an account of any thing they have seen or heard;
their tutors should become their companions, and encourage them by
sympathy to address these narrations to them. Children who forget
their lessons in chronology, and their pence tables, can relate with
perfect accuracy any circumstances which have interested themselves.
This shows that there is no deficiency in their capacity. Every one,
who has had any experience of the pleasure of talking, knows how
intimately it is connected with the pleasure of being listened to. The
auditors, consequently, possess supreme power over narrative
childhood, without using any artifice, by simply showing attention to
well arranged, and well recollected narratives, and ceasing to attend
when the young orator's memory and story become confused, he will
naturally be excited to arrange his ideas. The order of _time_ is the
first and easiest principle of association to help the memory. This,
till young people acquire the ideas of cause and effect, will be their
favourite mode of arrangement. Things that happen at the same time;
things that are said, thoughts that have occurred, at the same time,
will recur to the mind together. We may observe, that ill educated
people continue through life to remember things by this single
association; and, consequently, there is a heterogeneous collection of
ideas in their mind, which have no rational connection with each
other; crowds which have accidentally met, and are forced to live for
ever together.

A vulgar evidence, when he is examined about his memory of a
particular fact, gives as a reason for his remembering it, a relation
of a number of other circumstances, which he tells you happened at the
same time; or he calls to witness any animate or inanimate objects,
which he happened to see at the same time. All these things are so
joined with the principal fact in his mind, that his remembering them
distinctly, seems to him, and he expects will seem to others,
demonstration of the truth and accuracy of his principal assertion.
When a lawyer tells him he has nothing to do with these ideas, he is
immediately at a stand in his narrative; he can recollect nothing, he
is sure of nothing; he has no reason to give for his belief, unless he
may say that it was Michaelmas-day when such a thing happened, that he
had a goose for dinner that day, or that he had a new wig. Those who
have more enlarged minds, seldom produce these strange reasons for
remembering facts. Indeed, no one can reason clearly, whose memory has
these foolish habits; the ill matched ideas are inseparably joined,
and hence they imagine there is some natural connection between them.
Hence arise those obstinate prejudices which no arguments can

To prevent children from arguing ill, we must, therefore, take care,
in exercising their memory, to discourage them in this method of
proving that they remember one thing by telling us a number of others
which happened at the same time; rather let them be excited to bring
their reasoning faculty into play in support of their memory. Suppose,
for instance, that a child had mislaid his hat, and was trying to
recollect where he had put it. He first may recollect, from the
association of time, that he had the hat the last time he went out;
but when he wants to recollect when that time was, he had better go
back, if he can, to his motive for going out; this one idea will bring
a number of others in right order into his mind. He went out,
suppose, to fetch his kite, which he was afraid would be wet by a
shower of rain; then the boy recollects that his hat must have been
wet by the same rain, and that when he came in, instead of hanging it
up in its usual place, it was put before the fire to be dried. What
fire, is the next question, &c.

Such an instance as this may appear very trivial; but children whose
minds are well managed about trifles, will retain good habits when
they are to think about matters of consequence. By exercising the
memory in this manner about things, instead of about books and
lessons, we shall not disgust and tire our pupils, nor shall we give
the false notion, that all knowledge is acquired by reading.

Long before children read fluently for their own amusement, they like
to hear others read aloud to them, because they have then the
entertainment without the labour. We may exercise their memory by
asking for an account of what they have heard. But let them never be
required to repeat in the words of the book, or even to preserve the
same arrangement; let them speak in words of their own, and arrange
their ideas to their own plan; this will exercise at once their
judgment, invention, and memory.

"Try if you can explain to me what I have just been explaining to
you," a sensible tutor will frequently say to his pupils; and he will
suffer them to explain in a different manner from himself; he will
only require them to remember what is essential to the explanation. In
such repetitions as these, the mind is active, therefore it will
strengthen and improve.

Children are all, more or less, pleased with the perception of
resemblances and of analogy. This propensity assists us much in the
cultivation of the memory; but it must be managed with discretion, or
it will injure the other powers of the understanding. There is, in
some minds, a futile love of tracing analogies, which leads to
superstition, to false reasoning, and false taste. The quick
perception of resemblances is, in other minds, productive of wit,
poetic genius, and scientific invention. The difference between these
two classes, depends upon this--the one has more judgment, and more
the habit of using it, than the other. Children who are pleased by
trifling coincidences, by allusions, and similitudes, should be taught
with great care to reason: when once they perceive the pleasure of
demonstration, they will not be contented with the inaccuracy of
common analogies. A tutor is often tempted to teach pupils, who are
fond of allusions, by means of them, because he finds that they
remember well whatever suits their taste for resemblances. By
following the real analogies between different arts and sciences, and
making use of the knowledge children have on one subject to illustrate
another, we may at once amuse their fancy, and cultivate their memory
with advantage. Ideas laid up in this manner, will recur in the same
order, and will be ready for further use. When two ideas are
remembered by their mutual connection, surely it is best that they
should both of them be substantially useful; and not that one should
attend merely to answer for the appearance of the other.

As men readily remember those things which are every day useful to
them in business, what relates to their amusements, or to their
favourite tastes in arts, sciences, or in literature; so children find
no difficulty in remembering every thing which mixes daily with their
little pleasures. They value knowledge, which is _useful_ and
_agreeable_ to them, as highly as we do; but they consider only the
present, and we take the future into our estimate. Children feel no
interest in half the things that are committed, with the most solemn
recommendations, to the care of their memory. It is in vain to tell
them, "You must remember _such a thing_, because it will be useful to
you when you grow up to be a man." The child feels like a child, and
has no idea of what he may feel when he grows up to be a man. He
tries to remember what he is desired, perhaps, because he wishes to
please his wiser friends; but if the ideas are remote from his every
day business, if nothing recall them but voluntary exertion, and if he
be obliged to abstract his little soul from every thing it holds dear,
before he can recollect his lessons, they will have no hold upon his
memory; he will feel that recollection is too operose, and he will
enjoy none of the "pleasures of memory."

To induce children to exercise their memory, we must put them in
situations where they may be immediately rewarded for their exertion.
We must create an interest in their minds--nothing uninteresting is
long remembered. In a large and literary family, it will not be
difficult to invent occupations for children which may exercise all
their faculties. Even the conversation of such a family, will create
in their minds a desire for knowledge; what they hear, will recall to
their memory what they read; and if they are encouraged to take a
reasonable share in conversation, they will acquire the habit of
listening to every thing that others say. By permitting children to
talk freely of what they read, we are more likely to improve their
memory for books, than by exacting from them formal repetitions of

Dr. Johnson, who is said to have had an uncommonly good memory, tells
us, that when he was a boy, he used, after he had acquired any fresh
knowledge from his books, to run and tell it to an old woman, of whom
he was very fond. This exercise was so agreeable to him, that it
imprinted what he read upon his memory.

La Gaucherie, one of the preceptors of Henry IV. having found that he
had to do with a young prince of an impatient mind, and active genius,
little suited to sedentary studies, instead of compelling his pupil to
read, taught him by means of conversation: anecdotes of heroes, and
the wise sayings of ancient philosophers, were thus imprinted upon the
mind of this prince. It is said, that Henry IV. applied, in his
subsequent life, all the knowledge he had acquired in this manner so
happily, that learned men were surprised at his memory.[52]

By these observations, we by no means would insinuate, that
application to books is unnecessary. We are sensible that accurate
knowledge upon any subject, cannot be acquired by superficial
conversation; that it can be obtained only by patient application. But
we mean to point out, that an early taste for literature may be
excited in children by conversation; and that their memory should be
first cultivated in the manner which will give them the least pain.
When there is motive for application, and when habits of industry have
been gradually acquired, we may securely trust, that our pupils will
complete their own education. Nor should we have reason to fear, that
those who have a good memory for all other things, should not be able
to retain all that is worth remembering in books. Children should
never be praised for merely remembering exactly what they read, they
should be praised for selecting with good sense what is best worth
their attention, and for applying what they remember to useful

We have observed how much the habit of inventing increases the wish
for knowledge, and increases the interest men take in a number of
ideas, which are indifferent to uncultivated and indolent people. It
is the same with children. Children who invent, exercise their memory
with pleasure, from the immediate sense of utility and success. A
piece of knowledge, which they lay by in their minds, with the hopes
of making use of it in some future invention, they have more motives
for remembering, than what they merely learn by rote, because they are
commanded to do so by the voice of authority.

(June 19th, 1796.) S----, a boy of nine years old, of good abilities,
was translating Ovid's description of envy. When he came to the Latin
word _suffusa_, he pronounced it as if it had been spelled with a
single _f_ and a double _s_, _sufussa_; he made the same mistake
several times: at last his father, to _try_ whether it would make him
remember the right pronunciation, desired him to repeat _suffusa_
forty times. The boy did so. About three hours afterwards, the boy was
asked whether he recollected the word which he had repeated forty
times. No, he said, he did not; but he remembered that it meant
diffused. His father recalled the word to his mind, by asking him what
letter it was that he had sounded as if it had been a double letter;
he said _s_. And what double letter did you sound as if it had been
single? _f_, said the boy. Then, said his father, you have found out
that it was a word in which there was a double _ff_ and a single _s_,
and that it is the Latin for _diffused_. Oh, suffusa, said the boy.

This boy, who had such difficulty in learning a single Latin word, by
repeating it forty times, showed in other instances, that he was by no
means deficient in recollective memory. On the contrary, though he
read very little, and seldom learned any thing by rote, he applied
happily any thing that he read or heard in conversation.

(March 31st, 1796.) His father told him, that he had this morning seen
a large horn at a gentleman's in the neighbourhood. It was found
thirty spades depth below the surface of the earth, in a bog. With the
horn was found a carpet, and wrapped up in the carpet a lump of
tallow. "Now," said his father, "how could that lump of tallow come
there? Or was it tallow, do you think? Or what could it be?"

H---- (a boy of 14, brother to S----) said, he thought it might have
been buried by some robbers, after they had committed some robbery; he
thought the lump was tallow.

S---- said, "Perhaps some dead body might have been wrapped up in the
carpet and buried; and the dead body might have turned into

"How came you," said his father, "to think of a dead body's turning
into tallow?"

"You told me," said the boy, "You read to me, I mean, an account of
some dead bodies that had been buried a great many years, which had
turned into tallow."

"Spermaceti," you mean? "Yes."

S---- had heard the account he alluded to above two months before this
time. No one in company recollected it except himself, though several
had heard it.

Amongst the few things which S---- had learnt by heart, was the Hymn
to Adversity. A very slight circumstance may show, that he did not get
this poem merely as a tiresome lesson, as children sometimes learn by
rote what they do not understand, and which they never recollect
except in the arduous moments of formal repetition.

A few days after S---- had learned the Hymn to Adversity, he happened
to hear his sister say to a lady, "I observed you pitied me for having
had a whitlow on my finger, more than any body else did, because you
have had one yourself." S----'s father asked him why he smiled.
"Because," said S----, "I was thinking of the _song_,[54] the _hymn_
to adversity;

    "And from her own she learned to melt at other's wo."

A recollective memory of books appears early in children who are not
overwhelmed with them; if the impressions made upon their minds be
distinct, they will recur with pleasure to the memory when similar
ideas are presented.

July 1796. S---- heard his father read Sir Brook Boothby's excellent
epitaph upon Algernon Sidney; the following lines pleased the boy

    "Approach, contemplate this immortal name,
    Swear on this shrine to emulate his fame;
    To dare, like him, e'en to thy latest breath,
    Contemning chains, and poverty, and death."

S----'s father asked him why he liked these lines, and whether they
put him in mind of any thing that he had heard before. S---- said, "It
puts me in mind of Hamilcar's making his son Hannibal swear to hate
the Romans, and love his countrymen eternally. But I like _this_ much
better. I think it was exceedingly foolish and wrong of Hamilcar to
make his son swear always to hate the Romans."

Latin lessons are usually so very disagreeable to boys, that they
seldom are pleased with any allusions to them; but by a good
management in a tutor, even these lessons may be associated with
agreeable ideas. Boys should be encouraged to talk and think about
what they learn in Latin, as well as what they read in English; they
should be allowed to judge of the characters described in ancient
authors, to compare them with our present ideas of excellence, and
thus to make some use of their learning. It will then be not merely
engraved upon their memory in the form of lessons, it will be mingled
with their notions of life and manners; it will occur to them when
they converse, and when they act; they will possess the admired talent
for classical allusion, as well as all the solid advantages of an
unprejudiced judgment. It is not enough that gentlemen should be
masters of the learned languages, they must know how to produce their
knowledge without pedantry or affectation. The memory may in vain be
stored with classical precedents, unless these can be brought into use
in speaking or writing without the parade of dull citation, or formal
introduction. "Sir," said Dr. Johnson, to some prosing tormentor, "I
would rather a man would knock me down, than to begin to talk to me of
the Punic wars." A public speaker, who rises in the House of Commons,
with pedantry prepense to quote Latin or Greek, is coughed or laughed
down; but the beautiful unpremeditated classical allusions of Burke or
Sheridan, sometimes conveyed in a single word, seize the imagination

Since we perceive, that memory is chiefly useful as it furnishes
materials for invention, and that invention can greatly abridge the
mere labour of accumulation, we must examine how the inventive faculty
can be properly exercised. The vague precept of, cultivate the memory
and invention of young people at the same time, will not inform
parents how this is to be accomplished; we trust, therefore, that we
may be permitted, contrary to the custom of didactic writers, to
illustrate a general precept by a few examples; and we take these
examples from real life, because we apprehend, that fictions, however
ingenious, will never advance the science of education so much as
simple experiments.

No elaborate theory of invention shall here alarm parents. It is a
mistake, to suppose that the inventive faculty can be employed only on
important subjects; it can be exercised in the most trifling
circumstances of domestic life. Scarcely any family can be so
unfortunately situated, that they may not employ the ingenuity of
their children without violent exertion, or any grand apparatus. Let
us only make use of the circumstances which happen every hour.
Children are interested in every thing that is going forward.
Building, or planting, or conversation, or reading; they attend to
every thing, and from every thing might they with a little assistance
obtain instruction. Let their useful curiosity be encouraged; let them
make a part of the general society of the family, instead of being
treated as if they had neither senses nor understanding. When any
thing is to be done, let them be asked to invent the best way of doing
it. When they see that their invention becomes immediately useful,
they will take pleasure in exerting themselves.

June 4th, 1796. A lady, who had been ruling pencil lines for a
considerable time, complained of its being a tiresome operation; and
she wished that a quick and easy way of doing it could be invented.
Somebody present said they had seen pens for ruling music books, which
ruled four lines at a time; and it was asked, whether a leaden rake
could not be made to rule a sheet of paper at once.

Mr. ---- said, that he thought such a pencil would not rule well; and
he called to S----, (the same boy we mentioned before) and asked him
if he could invent any method of doing the business better. S---- took
about a quarter of an hour to consider; and he then described a little
machine for ruling a sheet of paper at a single stroke, which his
father had executed for him. It succeeded well, and this success was
the best reward he could have.

Another day Mr. ---- observed, that the maid, whose business it was to
empty a bucket of ashes into an ash-hole, never could be persuaded to
do it, because the ashes were blown against her face by the wind; and
he determined to invent a method which should make it convenient to
her to do as she was desired. The maid usually threw the ashes into a
heap on the sheltered side of a wall; the thing to be done was, to
make her put the bucket through a hole in this wall, and empty the
ashes on the other side. This problem was given to all the children
and grown up persons in the family. One of the children invented the
shelf, which, they said, should be like part of the vane of a
winnowing machine which they had lately seen; the manner of placing
this vane, another of the children suggested: both these ideas joined
together, produced the contrivance which was wanted.

A little model was made in wood of this bucket, which was a pretty
toy. The thing itself was executed, and was found useful.

June 8th, 1796. Mr. ---- was balancing a pair of scales very exactly,
in which he was going to weigh some opium; this led to a conversation
upon scales and weighing. Some one said that the dealers in diamonds
must have very exact scales, as the difference of a grain makes such a
great difference in their value. S---- was very attentive to this
conversation. M----told him, that jewellers always, if they can, buy
diamonds when the air is light, and sell them when it is heavy. S----
did not understand the reason of this, till his father explained to
him the general principles of hydrostatics, and showed him a few
experiments with bodies of different specific gravity: these
experiments were distinctly understood by every body present. The boy
then observed, that it was not fair of the jewellers to buy and sell
in this manner; they should not, said he, use _these_ weights.
Diamonds should be the weights. Diamonds should be weighed against

November, 1795. One day after dinner, the candles had been left for
some time without being snuffed; and Mr. ---- said he wished candles
could be made which would not require snuffing.

Mrs. ******** thought of cutting the wick into several pieces before
it was put into the candle, that so, when it burned down to the
divisions, the wick might fall off. M---- thought that the wick might
be tied tight round at intervals, before it was put into the candle;
that when it burned down to the places where it was tied, it would
snap off: but Mr. ---- objected, that the candle would most likely go
out when it had burned down to her knots. It was then proposed to send
a stream of oxygene through the candle, instead of a wick. M---- asked
if some substance might not be used for wicks which should burn into
powder, and fly off or sublime. Mr. ---- smiled at this, and said,
"_Some substance_; some _kind of air_; some _chemical mixture_! A
person ignorant of chemistry always talks of, as an ignorant person in
mechanics always says, "Oh, you can do it somehow with _a spring_."

As the company could not immediately discover any way of making
candles which should not require to be snuffed, they proceeded to
invent ways of putting out a candle at a certain time without hands.
The younger part of the company had hopes of solving this problem, and
every eye was attentively fixed upon the candle.

"How would you put it out, S----?" said Mr. ----. S---- said, that if
a weight, a very little lighter than the extinguisher, were tied to a
string, and if the string were put over a pulley, and if _the_
extinguisher were tied to the other end of the string, and the candle
put exactly under the extinguisher; the extinguisher would move very,
very gently down, and at last put out the candle.

Mr. ---- observed, that whilst it was putting out the candle, there
would be a disagreeable smell, because the extinguisher would be a
considerable time moving _very, very gently down_, over the candle
after the candle had begun to go out.

C---- (a girl of twelve years old) spoke next. "I would tie an
extinguisher to one end of a thread. I would put this string through a
pulley fastened to the ceiling; the other end of this string should be
fastened to the middle of another thread, which should be strained
between two posts set upright on each side of the candle, so as that
the latter string might lean against the candle at any distance you
want below the flame. When the candle burns down to this string, it
will burn it in two, and the extinguisher will drop upon the candle."

This is the exact description of _the weaver's alarm_, mentioned in
the Philosophical Transactions which C---- had never seen or heard of.

Mr. ---- now showed us the patent extinguisher, which was much
approved of by all the rival inventors.

It is very useful to give children problems which have already been
solved, because they can immediately compare their own imperfect ideas
with successful inventions, which have actually been brought into real
use. We know beforehand what ideas are necessary to complete the
invention, and whether the pupil has all the necessary knowledge.
Though by the courtesy of poetry, a creative power is ascribed to
inventive genius, yet we must be convinced that no genius can invent
without materials. Nothing can come of nothing. Invention is nothing
more than the new combination of materials. We must judge in general
of the ease or difficulty of any invention, either by the number of
ideas necessary to be combined, or by the dissimilarity or analogy of
those ideas. In giving any problem to children, we should not only
consider whether they know all that is necessary upon the subject, but
also, whether that knowledge is sufficiently _familiar_ to their
minds, whether circumstances are likely to recall it, and whether they
have a perfectly Clear idea of the thing to be done. By considering
all these particulars, we may pretty nearly proportion our questions
to the capacity of the pupil; and we may lead his mind on step by step
from obvious to intricate inventions.

July 30th, 1796. L----, who had just returned from Edinburgh, and had
taken down in two large volumes, Dr. Black's Lectures, used to read to
us part of them, for about a quarter of an hour, every morning after
breakfast. He was frequently interrupted (which interruptions he bore
with heroic patience) by Mr. ----'s explanations and comments. When he
came to the expansive power of steam, and to the description of the
different steam engines which have been invented, Mr. ---- stopped to
ask B----, C----, and S----, to describe the steam engine in their own
words. They all described it in such a manner as to show that they
clearly understood the principle of the machine. Only the general
principle had been explained to them. L----, after having read the
description of Savary's and Newcomen's steam engines, was beginning to
read the description of that invented by Mr. Watt; but Mr. ----
stopped him, that he might try whether any person present could invent
it. Mr. E---- thus stated the difficulty: "In the old steam engine,
cold water, you know, is thrown into the cylinder to condense the
steam; but in condensing the steam, the cold water at the same time
cools the cylinder. Now the cylinder must be heated again, before it
can be filled with steam; for till it is heated, it will condense the
steam. There is, consequently, a great waste of heat and fuel in the
great cylinder. How can you condense the steam without cooling the

S----. "Let down a cold tin tube into the cylinder when you want to
condense the steam, and draw it up again as soon as the steam is
condensed; or, if you could put a _cylinder_ of ice up the great

Some of the company next asked, if an horizontal plate of cold metal,
made to slide up the inside of the cylinder, would condense the steam.
The edges of the plate only would touch the cylinder; the surface of
the plate might condense the steam.

"But," said Mr. ----"how can you introduce and withdraw it?"

C---- (a girl of 12) then said, "I would put a cold vessel to condense
the steam at the top of the cylinder."

Mr. ----. "So as to touch the cylinder, do you mean?"

C----. "No, not so as to touch the cylinder, but at some distance from

Mr. ----. "Then the cold air would rush into the cylinder whilst the
steam was passing from the cylinder to your condenser."

C----. "But I would cover in the cold vessel, and I would cover in the
passage to it."

Mr. ----. "I have the pleasure of informing you, that you have
invented part of the great Mr. Watt's improvement on the steam engine.
You see how it facilitates invention, to begin by stating the
difficulty clearly to the mind. This is what every practical inventor
does when he invents in mechanics."

L---- (smiling.) "And what _I_ always do in inventing a mathematical

To the good natured reader we need offer no apology; to the ill
natured we dare attempt none, for introducing these detailed views of
the first attempts of young invention. They are not exhibited as
models, either to do honour to the tutor or his pupils; but simply to
show, how the mind may be led from the easiest steps, to what are
supposed to be difficult in education. By imagining ourselves to be in
the same situation with children, we may guess what things are
difficult to them; and if we can recollect the course of our own minds
in acquiring knowledge, or in inventing, we may by retracing the same
steps instruct others. The order that is frequently followed by
authors, in the division and subdivision of their elementary
treatises, is not always the best for those who are to learn. Such
authors are usually more intent upon proving to the learned that they
understand their subject, than upon communicating their knowledge to
the ignorant. Parents and tutors must, therefore, supply familiar oral
instruction, and those simple, but essential explanations, which books
disdain, or neglect to give. And there is this advantage in all
instruction given in conversation, that it can be made interesting by
a thousand little circumstances, which are below the dignity of
didactic writers. Gradually we may proceed from simple to more
complicated contrivances. The invention of experiments to determine a
theory, or to ascertain the truth of an assertion, must be
particularly useful to the understanding. Any person, who has attended
to experiments in chemistry and natural philosophy, must know, that
invention can be as fully and elegantly displayed upon these subjects
as upon any in the fine arts or literature. There is one great
advantage in scientific invention; it is not dependent upon capricious
taste for its reward. The beauty and elegance of a poem may be
disputed by a thousand amateurs; there can be but one opinion about
the truth of a discovery in science.

Independent of all ambition, there is considerable pleasure in the
pursuit of experimental knowledge. Children especially, before they
are yet fools to fame, enjoy this substantial pleasure. Nor are we to
suppose that children have not capacities for such pursuits; they are
peculiarly suited to their capacity. They love to see experiments
tried, and to try them. They show this disposition not only wherever
they are encouraged, but wherever they are permitted to show it; and
if we compare their method of reasoning with the reasonings of the
learned, we shall sometimes be surprised. They have no prejudices,
therefore they have the complete use of all their senses; they have
few ideas, but those few are distinct; they can be analyzed and
compared with ease; children, therefore, judge and invent better, _in
proportion to their knowledge_, than most grown up people.

Dr. Hooke observes, that a sensible man, in solving any philosophical
problem, should always lean to that side which is opposite to his
favourite taste. A chemist is disposed to account for every thing by
chemical means; a geometrician is inclined to solve every problem
geometrically; and a mechanic accounts for all the phenomena of nature
by the laws of mechanism. This undue bias upon the minds of ingenious
people, has frequently rendered their talents less useful to mankind.
It is the duty of those who educate ingenious children, to guard
against this species of scientific insanity.

There are prejudices of another description, which are fatal to
inventive genius; some of these are usually found to attend ignorance,
and others sometimes adhere to the learned. Ignorant people, if they
possess any degree of invention, are so confident in their own
abilities, that they will not take the pains to inquire what others
have thought or done; they disdain all general principles, and will
rather scramble through some by-path of their own striking out, than
condescend to be shown the best road by the most enlightened guide.
For this reason, self-taught geniuses, as they are called, seldom go
beyond a certain point in their own education, and the praise we
bestow upon their ingenuity is always accompanied with expressions of
regret: "It is a pity that such a genius had not the advantages of a
good education."

The learned, on the contrary, who have been bred up in reverence for
established opinions, and who have felt in many instances the
advantage of general principles, are apt to adhere too pertinaciously
to their theories, and hence they neglect or despise new observations.
How long did the maxim, that nature abhors a vacuum, content the
learned! And how many discoveries were retarded by this single false
principle! For a great number of years it was affirmed and believed,
that all objects were seen by the intervention of visual rays,
proceeding from the eye much in the same manner as we feel any object
at a distance from us by the help of a stick.[55] Whilst this absurd
analogy satisfied the mind, no discoveries were made in vision, none
were attempted. A prepossession often misleads the industry of active
genius. Dr. Hooke, in spite of the ridicule which he met with, was
firm in his belief, that mankind would discover some method of sailing
in the air. Balloons have justified his prediction; but all his own
industry in trying experiments upon flying was wasted, because he
persisted in following a false analogy to the wings of birds. He made
wings of various sorts; till he took it for granted that he _must_
learn to fly by mechanical means: had he applied to chemistry, he
might have succeeded. It is curious to observe, how nearly he once
touched upon the discovery, and yet, misled by his prepossessions,
quitted his hold. He observed, that the air cells[56] of fishes are
filled with air, which buoys them up in the water; and he supposes
that this air is lighter than _common_ air. Had he pursued this idea,
he might have invented balloons; but he returned with fatal
perseverance to his old theory of wings. From such facts, we may learn
the power and danger of prejudice in the most ingenious minds; and we
shall be careful to preserve our pupils early from its blind dominion.

The best preservation against the presumption to which ignorance is
liable, and the best preservative against the self sufficiency to
which the learned are subject, is the habit of varying our studies and
occupations. Those who have a general view of the whole map of human
knowledge, perceive how many unexplored regions are yet to be
cultivated by future industry; nor will they implicitly submit to the
reports of ignorant voyagers. No imaginary pillars of Hercules, will
bound their enterprises. There is no presumption in believing, that
much more is possible to science than ever human ingenuity has
executed; therefore, young people should not be ridiculed for that
sanguine temper which excites to great inventions. They should be
ridiculed only when they imagine that they possess the means of doing
things to which they are unequal. The fear of this deserved ridicule,
will stimulate them to acquire knowledge, and will induce them to
estimate cautiously their own powers before they hazard their
reputation. We need not fear that this caution should repress their
activity of mind; ambition will secure their perseverance, if they are
taught that every acquisition is within the reach of unremitting
industry. This is not an opinion to be artfully inculcated to serve a
_particular_ purpose, but it is an opinion drawn from experience; an
opinion which men of the highest abilities and integrity, of talents
and habits the most dissimilar, have confirmed by their united
testimony. Helvetius maintained, that no great man ever formed a great
design which he was not also capable of executing.

Even where great perseverance is exercised, the choice of the subjects
on which the inventive powers are employed determines, in a great
measure, their value: therefore, in the education of ingenious
children, we should gradually turn their attention from curious
trifles to important objects. Boverick,[57] who made chains "to yoke a
flea," must have possessed exquisite patience; besides his chain of
two hundred links, with its padlock and key, all weighing together
less than the third part of a grain, this indefatigable _minute
artificer_ was the maker of a landau, which opened and shut by
springs: this equipage, with six horses harnessed to it, a coachman
sitting on the box, with a dog between his legs, four inside and two
outside passengers, besides a postilion riding one of the fore horses,
was drawn with all the ease and safety imaginable by a well trained
flea! The inventor and executor of this puerile machine, bestowed on
it, probably, as much time as would have sufficed to produce Watt's
fire engine, or Montgolfier's balloon. It did not, perhaps, cost the
Marquis of Worcester more exertion to draw out his celebrated century
of inventions; it did not, perhaps, cost Newton more to write those
queries which Maclaurin said he could never read without feeling his
hair stand on end with admiration.

Brebeuf, a French wit, wrote a hundred and fifty epigrams upon a
painted lady; a brother wit, fired with emulation, wrote upon the same
subject three hundred more, making in all four hundred and fifty
epigrams, each with appropriate turns of their own. Probably, Pope and
Parnell did not rack their invention so much, or exercise more
industry in completing "The Rape of the Lock," or "The Rise of Woman."
These will live for ever; who will read the four hundred and fifty

The most effectual methods to discourage in young people the taste for
frivolous ingenuity, will be, never to admire these "laborious
nothings," to compare them with useful and elegant inventions, and to
show that vain curiosities can be but the wonder and amusement of a
moment. Children who begin with trifling inventions, may be led from
these to general principles; and with their knowledge, their ambition
will necessarily increase. It cannot be expected that the most
enlarged plan of education could early give an intimate acquaintance
with all the sciences; but with their leading principles, their
general history, their present state, and their immediate
desiderata,[58] young people may, and ought to be, made acquainted.
Their own industry will afterwards collect more precise information,
and they will never waste their time in vain studies and fruitless
inventions. Even if the cultivation of the memory were our grand
object, this plan of education will succeed. When the Abbé de
Longuerue, whose prodigious memory we have formerly mentioned, was
asked by the Marquis d'Argenson, how he managed to arrange and retain
in his head every thing that entered it, and to recollect every thing
when wanted? The Abbé answered:

"Sir, the elements of every science must be learned whilst we are very
young; the first principles of every language; the a b c, as I may
say, of every kind of knowledge: this is not difficult in youth,
especially as it is not necessary to penetrate far; simple notions are
sufficient; when once these are acquired, every thing we read
afterwards, finds its proper place."


[39] V. Plutarch. Quintilian.

[40] Berington's History of the Lives of Abeillard and Heloisa, page

[41] Eloge de M. L'Abbé d'Alary.

[42] Marquis d'Argenson's Essays, page 385.

[43] D'Alembert's Eloge de M. d'Alary.

[44] Curiosities of Literature, vol. ii. page 145.

[45] Priestley on Electricity, page 317.

[46] Fuller, author of the Worthies of England. See Curiosities of
Literature, vol. i.

[47] V. Chapter on Books, and on Geography.

[48] Dr. Darwin. Zoonomia.

[49] At the end of the History of Vision.

[50] "Nov. 7, 1749. Electrical fluid agrees with lightning in these
particulars. 1. Giving light. 2. Colour of the light. 3. Crooked
direction. 4. Swift motion. 5. Being conducted by metals. 6. Crack or
noise in exploding. 7. Subsisting in water or ice. 8. Rending bodies
it passes through. 9. Destroying animals. 10. Melting metals. 11.
Firing inflammable substances. 12. Sulphureous smell. The electric
fluid is attracted by points. We do not know whether this property is
in lightning. But since they agree in all the particulars wherein we
can already compare them, is it not probable they agree likewise in
this? Let the experiment be made."

_Dr. Franklin's Letters, page 322._

[51] Helvetius, "Sur l'Esprit."

[52] See preface to L'Esprit des Romains considéré.

[53] See the account in the Monthly Review.

[54] He had tried to sing it to the tune of "Hope, thou nurse of young

[55] Priestley on Vision, vol. i. page 23.

[56] V. Hooke's Posthumous Works.

[57] Hooke's Mycrographia, p. 62.



Figurative language seems to have confounded the ideas of most writers
upon metaphysics. Imagination, Memory, and Reason, have been long
introduced to our acquaintance as allegorical personages, and we have
insensibly learned to consider them as real beings. The "viewless
regions" of the soul, have been portioned out amongst these ideal
sovereigns; but disputes have, nevertheless, sometimes arisen
concerning the boundaries of intellectual provinces. Amongst the
disputed territories, those of Imagination have been most frequently
the seat of war; her empire has been subject to continual revolution;
her dominions have been, by potent invaders, divided and subdivided.
Fancy,[59] Memory,[60] Ideal presence,[61] and Conception,[62] have
shared her spoils.

By poets, imagination has been addressed as the great parent of
genius, as the arbiter, if not the creator, of our pleasures; by
philosophers, her name has been sometimes pronounced with horror; to
her fatal delusions, they have ascribed all the crimes and miseries of
mankind. Yet, even philosophers have not always agreed in their
opinions: whilst some have treated Imagination with contempt, as the
irreconcileable enemy of Reason, by others[63] she has been considered
with more respect, as Reason's inseparable friend; as the friend who
collects and prepares all the arguments upon which Reason decides; as
the injured, misrepresented power who is often forced to supply her
adversaries with eloquence, who is often called upon to preside at her
own trial, and to pronounce her own condemnation.

Imagination is "_the power_," we are told, of "_forming images_:" the
word image, however, does not, strictly speaking, express any thing
more than a representation of an object of sight; but the power of
imagination extends to objects of all the senses.

    "I hear a voice you cannot hear,
    Which says I must not stay.
    I see a hand you cannot see,
    Which beckons me away."

Imagination hears the voice, as well as sees the hand; by an easy
license of metaphor, what was originally used to express the operation
of our senses, is extended to them all. We do not precisely say, that
Imagination, forms _images_ of past sounds, or tastes, or smells; but
we say that she forms ideas of them; and ideas, we are told, are
mental images. It has been suggested by Dr. Darwin, that all these
analogies between images and thoughts have, probably, originated in
our observing the little pictures painted on the retina of the eye.

It is difficult certainly, if not impossible, to speak of the
invisible operations of the mind or body, without expressing ourselves
in metaphor of some kind or other; and we are easily misled by
allusions to sensible objects, because when we comprehend the
allusion, we flatter ourselves that we understand the theory which it
is designed to illustrate. Whether we call ideas images in popular
language, or vibrations, according to Dr. Hartley's system, or modes
of sensation with Condillac, or motions of the sensorium, in the
language of Dr. Darwin, may seem a matter of indifference. But even
the choices of names is not a matter of indifference to those who wish
to argue accurately; when they are obliged to describe their feelings
or thoughts by metaphoric expressions, they will prefer the simplest;
those with which the fewest extraneous associations are connected.
Words which call up a variety of heterogeneous ideas to our minds, are
unfit for the purposes of sober reasoning; our attention is distracted
by them, and we cannot restrain it to the accurate comparison of
simple proportions. We yield to pleasing reverie, instead of exerting
painful voluntary attention. Hence it is probably useful in our
attempts to reason, especially upon metaphysical subjects, to change
from time to time our nomenclature,[64] and to substitute terms which
have no relation to our old associations, and which do not affect the
prejudices of our education. We are obliged to define with some degree
of accuracy the sense of new terms, and we are thus led to compare our
old notions with more severity. Our superstitious reverence for mere
symbols is also dissipated; symbols are apt to impose even upon those
who acknowledge their vanity, and who profess to consider them merely
as objects of vulgar worship.

When we call a class of our ideas _images_ and pictures, a tribe of
associations with painting comes into our mind, and we argue about
Imagination as if she were actually a paintress, who has colours at
her command, and who, upon some invisible canvass in the soul,
portrays the likeness of all earthly and celestial objects. When we
continue to pursue the same metaphor in speaking of the moral
influence of Imagination, we say that her _colouring_ deceives us,
that her _pictures_ are flattering and false, that she draws objects
out of proportion, &c. To what do all these metaphors lead? We make no
new discoveries by talking in this manner; we do not learn the cause
or the cure of any of the diseases of the mind; we only persuade
ourselves that we know something, when we are really ignorant.

We have sedulously avoided entering into any metaphysical
disquisitions; but we have examined with care the systems of theoretic
writers, that we may be able to avail ourselves of such of their
observations as can be reduced to practice in education. With respect
to the arts, imagination may be considered practically in two points
of view, as it relates to our taste, and as it relates to our talents
for the arts. Without being a poet, or an orator, a man may have a
sufficient degree of imagination to receive pleasure from the talents
of others; he may be a critical judge of the respective merits of
orators, poets, and artists. This sensibility to the pleasures of the
imagination, when judiciously managed, adds much to the happiness of
life, and it must be peculiarly advantageous to those who are
precluded by their station in society from the necessity of manual
labour. Mental exercise, and mental amusements, are essential to
persons in the higher ranks of life, who would escape from the fever
of dissipation, or from the lethargy of ennui. The mere physical
advantages which wealth can procure, are reducible to the short sum of
"_meat, fire, and clothes_." A nobleman of the highest birth, and with
the longest line of ancestry, inherits no intuitive taste, nor can he
purchase it from the artist, the painter, or the poet; the possession
of the whole Pinelli library could not infuse the slightest portion of
literature. Education can alone give the full power to enjoy the real
advantages of fortune. To educate the taste and the imagination, it is
not necessary to surround the heir of an opulent family with masters
and connoisseurs. Let him never hear the jargon of amateurs, let him
learn the art "not to admire." But in his earliest childhood cultivate
his senses with care, that he may be able to see and hear, to feel and
understand, for himself. Visible images he will rapidly collect in his
memory; but these must be selected, and his first associations must
not be trusted to accident. Encourage him to observe with attention
all the works of nature, but show him only the best imitations of art;
the first objects that he contemplates with delight, will remain long
associated with pleasure in his imagination; you must, therefore, be
careful, that these early associations accord with the decisions of
those who have determined the national standard of taste. In many
instances taste is governed by arbitrary and variable laws; the
fashions of dress, of decoration, of manner, change from day to day;
therefore no exclusive prejudices should confine your pupil's
understanding. Let him know, as far as we know them, the general
principles which govern mankind in their admiration of the sublime and
beautiful; but at the same time give him that enlarged toleration of
mind, which comprehends the possibility of a taste different from our
own. Show him, and you need not go further than the Indian skreen, or
the Chinese paper in your drawing room, for the illustration, that
the sublime and beautiful vary at Pekin, at London, on Westminster
bridge, and on the banks of the Ganges. Let your young pupil look over
a collection of gems or of ancient medals; it is necessary that his
eye should be early accustomed to Grecian beauty, and to all the
classic forms of grace. But do not suffer him to become a bigot,
though he may be an enthusiast in his admiration of the antique. Short
lessons upon this subject may be conveyed in a few words. If a child
sees you look at the bottom of a print for the name of the artist,
before you will venture to pronounce upon its merits, he will follow
your example, and he will judge by the authority of others, and not by
his own taste. If he hears you ask, who wrote this poem? Who built
this palace? Is this a genuine antique? he will ask the same questions
before he ventures to be pleased. If he hears you pronounce with
emphasis, that such a thing comes from Italy, and therefore must be in
good taste, he will take the same compendious method of decision upon
the first convenient occasion.

He will not trouble himself to examine why utility pleases, nor will
he analyze his taste, or discover why one proportion or one design
pleases him better than another; he will, if by example you teach him
prejudice, content himself with repeating the words, proportion,
antique, picturesque, &c. without annexing any precise ideas to these

Parents, who have not turned their attention to metaphysics, may,
perhaps, apprehend, that they have something very abstruse or
intricate to learn, before they can instruct their pupils in the
principles of taste: but these principles are simple, and two or three
entertaining books, of no very alarming size, comprise all that has
yet been ascertained upon this subject. Vernet's Théorie des
Sentiments Agréables; Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty; an Essay of Hume's
on the standard of taste; Burke's Sublime and Beautiful; Lord Kames's
Elements of Criticism; Sir Joshua Reynold's Discourses; and Alison on
Taste; contain so much instruction, mixed with so much amusement, that
we cannot think that it will be a _terrible task_ to any parent to
peruse them.

These books are above the comprehension of children; but the
principles which they contain, can be very early illustrated in
conversation. It will be easy, in familiar instances, to show children
that the fitness, propriety, or utility of certain forms, recommends
them to our approbation: that uniformity, an appearance of order and
regularity, are, in some cases, agreeable to us; contrast, in others:
that one class of objects pleases us from habit, another from novelty,
&c. The general principle that governs taste, in the greatest variety
of instances, is the association of ideas, and this, fortunately, can
be most easily illustrated.

"I like such a person, because her voice puts me in mind of my
mother's. I like this walk, because I was very happy the last time I
was here with my sister. I think green is the prettiest of all
colours; my father's room is painted green, and it is very cheerful,
and I have been very happy in that room; and, besides, the grass is
green in spring." Such simple observations as these, come naturally
from children; they take notice of the influence of association upon
their taste, though, perhaps, they may not extend their observations
so as to deduce the general principle according to philosophical
forms. We should not lay down for them this or any other principle of
taste, as a rule which they are to take for granted; but we should
lead them to class their own desultory remarks, and we should excite
them to attend to their own feelings, and to ascertain the truth, by
experiments upon themselves. We have often observed, that children
have been much entertained with comparing the accidental circumstances
they have met with, and the unpremeditated expressions used in
conversation, with any general maxim. In this point of view, we may
render even general maxims serviceable to children, because they will
excite to experiment: our pupils will detect their falsehood, or,
after sufficient reflection, acknowledge their truth.

Perhaps it may be thought, that this mode of instruction will tend
rather to improve the judgment than the taste; but every person of
good taste, must have also a good judgment in matters of taste:
sometimes the judgment may have been partially exercised upon a
particular class of objects, and its accuracy of discrimination may be
confined to this one subject; therefore we hastily decide, that,
because men of taste may not always be men of universally good
judgment, these two powers of the mind are unnecessary to one another.
By teaching the philosophy, at the same time that we cultivate the
pleasures, of taste, we shall open to our pupils a new world; we shall
give them a new sense. The pleasure of every effect will be increased
by the perception of its cause; the magic of the scenery will not lose
its power to charm, though we are aware of the secret of the

We have hitherto spoken of the taste for what is beautiful; a taste
for the sublime we should be cautious in cultivating. Obscurity and
terror are two of the grand sources of the sublime; analyze the
feeling, examine accurately the object which creates the emotion, and
you dissipate the illusion, you annihilate the pleasure.

    "What seemed its head, the likeness of a kingly crown had on."

The indistinctness of the head and of the kingly crown, makes this a
sublime image. Upon the same principle,

    "Danger, whose limbs, of giant mould,
    No mortal eye can fix'd behold,"

always must appear sublime as long as the passion of fear operates.
Would it not, however, be imprudent in education to permit that early
propensity to superstitious terrors, and that temporary suspension of
the reasoning faculties, which are often essential to our taste for
the sublime? When we hear of "Margaret's grimly ghost," or of the
"dead still hour of night," a sort of awful tremor seizes us, partly
from the effect of early associations, and partly from the solemn tone
of the reader. The early associations which we perhaps have formed of
terror, with the ideas of apparitions, and winding sheets, and sable
shrouds, should be unknown to children. The silent solemn hour of
midnight, should not to them be an hour of terror. In the following
poetic description of the beldam telling dreadful stories to her
infant audience, we hear only of the pleasures of the imagination; we
do not recollect how dearly these pleasures must be purchased by their

      "* * * * * * finally by night
    The village matron, round the blazing hearth,
    Suspends the infant audience with her tales,
    Breathing astonishment! of witching rhymes,
    And evil spirits; of the death-bed call
    Of him who robbed the widow, and devour'd
    The orphan's portion; of the unquiet souls
    Ris'n from the grave to ease the heavy guilt
    Of deeds in life concealed; of shapes that walk
    At dead of night, and clank their chains, and wave
    The torch of hell around the murd'rer's bed.
    At every solemn pause the crowd recoil,
    Gazing each other speechless, and congeal'd
    With shiv'ring sighs; till, eager for th' event,
    Around the beldam all erect they hang,
    Each trembling heart with grateful terrors quell'd."[65]

No prudent mother will ever imitate this eloquent village matron, nor
will she permit any beldam in the nursery to conjure up these sublime
shapes, and to quell the hearts of her children with these grateful
terrors. We were once present when a group of speechless children sat
listening to the story of Blue-beard, "breathing astonishment." A
gentleman who saw the charm beginning to operate, resolved to
counteract its dangerous influence. Just at the critical moment, when
the fatal key drops from the trembling hands of the imprudent wife,
the gentleman interrupted the awful pause of silence that ensued, and
requested permission to relate the remainder of the story.
Tragi-comedy does not offend the taste of young, so much as of old
critics; the transition from grave to gay was happily managed.
Blue-beard's wife afforded much diversion, and lost all sympathy the
moment she was represented as a curious, tattling, timid, ridiculous
woman. The terrors of Blue-beard himself subsided when he was properly
introduced to the company; and the denouement of the piece was managed
much to the entertainment of the audience; the catastrophe, instead of
freezing their young blood, produced general laughter. Ludicrous
images, thus presented to the mind which has been prepared for horror,
have an instantaneous effect upon the risible muscles: it seems better
to use these means of counteracting the terrors of the imagination,
than to reason upon the subject whilst the fit is on; reason should be
used between the fits.[66] Those who study the minds of children know
the nice touches which affect their imagination, and they can, by a
few words, change their feelings by the power of association.

Ferdinand Duke of Tuscany was once struck with the picture of a child
crying: the painter,[67] who was at work upon the head, wished to give
the duke a proof of his skill: by a few judicious strokes, he
converted the crying into a laughing face. The duke, when he looked at
the child again, was in astonishment: the painter, to show himself
master of the human countenance, restored his first touches; and the
duke, in a few moments, saw the child weeping again. A preceptor may
acquire similar power over the countenance of his pupil if he has
studied the oratorical art. By the art of oratory, we do not mean the
art of misrepresentation, the art of deception; we mean the art of
showing the truth in the strongest light; of exciting virtuous
enthusiasm and generous indignation. Warm, glowing eloquence, is not
inconsistent with accuracy of reasoning and judgment. When we have
expressed our admiration or abhorrence of any action or character, we
should afterwards be ready coolly to explain to our pupils the justice
of our sentiments: by this due mixture and alternation of eloquence
and reasoning, we may cultivate a taste for the moral and sublime, and
yet preserve the character from any tincture of extravagant
enthusiasm. We cannot expect, that the torrent of passion should never
sweep away the land-marks of exact morality; but after its overflowing
impetuosity abates, we should take a calm survey of its effects, and
we should be able to ascertain the boundaries of right and wrong with
geometrical precision.

There is a style of bombast morality affected by some authors, which
must be hurtful to young readers. Generosity and honour, courage and
sentiment, are the striking qualities which seize and enchant the
imagination in romance: these qualities must be joined with justice,
prudence, economy, patience, and many humble virtues, to make a
character really estimable; but these would spoil the effect, perhaps,
of dramatic exhibitions.

Children may with much greater safety see hideous, than gigantic
representations of the passions. Richard the Third excites abhorrence;
but young Charles de Moor, in "The Robbers," commands our sympathy;
even the enormity of his guilt, exempts him from all ordinary modes of
trial; we forget the murderer, and see something like a hero. It is
curious to observe, that the legislature in Germany, and in England,
have found it necessary to interfere as to the representation of
Captain Mac Heath and the Robbers; two characters in which the tragic
and the comic muse have had powerful effects in exciting imitation.
George Barnwell is a hideous representation of the passions, and
therefore beneficial.

There are many sublime objects which do not depend upon terror, or at
least upon false associations of terror, for their effect; and there
are many sublime thoughts, which have no connection with violent
passions or false ideas of morality. These are what we should select,
if possible, to raise, without inflating, the imagination. The view of
the ocean, of the setting or the rising sun, the great and bold scenes
of nature, affects the mind with sublime pleasure. All the objects
which suggest ideas of vast space, or power, of the infinite duration
of time, of the decay of the monuments of ancient grandeur, or of the
master-pieces of human art and industry, have power to raise sublime
sensations: but we should consider, that they raise this pleasure only
by suggesting certain ideas; those who have not the previous ideas,
will not feel the pleasure. We should not, therefore, expect that
children should admire objects which do not excite any ideas in their
minds; we should wait till they have acquired the necessary knowledge,
and we should not injudiciously familiarize them with these objects.

Simplicity is a source of the sublime, peculiarly suited to children;
accuracy of observation and distinctness of perception, are essential
to this species of the sublime. In Percy's collection of ancient
ballads, and in the modern poems of the Ayreshire ploughman, we may
see many instances of the effect of simplicity. To preserve our
pupil's taste from a false love of ornament, he must avoid, either in
books or in conversation, all verbose and turgid descriptions, the use
of words and epithets which only fill up the measure of a line.

When a child sees any new object, or feels any new sensation, we
should assist him with appropriate words to express his thoughts and
feelings: when the impression is fresh in his mind, the association,
with the precise descriptive epithets, can be made with most
certainty. As soon as a child has acquired a sufficient stock of words
and ideas, he should be from time to time exercised in description;
we should encourage him to give an exact account of his own feelings
in his own words. Those parents who have been used to elegant, will
not, perhaps, be satisfied with the plain, descriptions of unpractised
pupils; but they should not be fastidious; they should rather be
content with an epithet too little, than with an epithet too much; and
they should compare the child's description with the objects actually
described, and not with the poems of Thomson or Gray, or Milton or
Shakespeare. If we excite our pupils to copy from the writings of
others, they never can have any originality of thought. To show
parents what sort of simple descriptions they may reasonably expect
from children, we venture to produce the following extempore
description of a summer's evening, given by three children of
different ages.

July 12th, 1796. Mr. ---- was walking out with his family, and he
asked his children to describe the evening just as it appeared to
them. "There were three bards in Ossian's poems," said he, "who were
sent out to see what sort of a night it was; they all gave different
descriptions upon their return; you have never any of you read Ossian,
but you can give us some description of this evening; try."

B---- (a girl of 14.) "The clouds in the west are bright with the
light of the sun which has just set; a thick mist is seen in the east,
and the smoke which had been _heaped up_ in the day-time, is now
spread, and mixes with the mist all round us; the noises are heard
more plainly (though there are but few) than in the day-time; and
those which are at a distance, sound almost as near as those which are
close to us; there is a red mist round the moon."

C---- (a girl of eleven years old.) "The western clouds are pink with
the light of the sun which has just set. The moon shines red through
the mist. The smoke and mist make it look dark at a distance; but the
few objects near us appear plainer. If it was not for the light of
the moon, they would not be seen; but the moon is exceedingly bright;
it shines upon the house and the windows. Every thing sounds busy at a
distance; but what is near us is still."

S---- (a boy between nine and ten years old). "The sun has set behind
the hill, and the western clouds are tinged with light. The mist mixes
with the smoke, which rises from the heaps of weeds which some poor
man is burning to earn bread for his family. The moon through the mist
peeps her head, and sometimes she _goes back_, retires into her bower
of clouds. The few noises that are heard, are heard very plain--very

We should observe, that the children who attempted these little
descriptions, had not been habituated to the _poetic trade_; these
were the only descriptions of an evening which they ever made. It
would be hurtful to exercise children frequently in descriptive
composition; it would give them the habit of exact observation, it is
true, but something more is necessary to the higher species of poetry.
Words must be selected which do not represent only, but which suggest,
ideas. Minute veracity is essential to some sorts of description; but
in a higher style of poetry, only the large features characteristic of
the scene must be produced, and all that is subordinate must be
suppressed. Sir Joshua Reynolds justly observes, that painters, who
aim merely at deception of the eye by exact imitation, are not likely,
even in their most successful imitations, to rouse the imagination.
The man who mistook the painted fly for a real fly, only brushed, or
attempted to brush it, away. The exact representation of such a common
object, could not raise any sublime ideas in his mind; and when he
perceived the deception, the wonder which he felt at the painter's
art, was a sensation no wise connected with poetic enthusiasm.

As soon as young people have collected a variety of ideas, we can
proceed a step in the education of their fancy. We should sometimes in
conversation, sometimes in writing or in drawing, show them how a few
strokes, or a few words, can suggest or combine various ideas. A
single expression from Cæsar, charmed a mutinous army to instant
submission. Unless the words "_Roman Citizens!_" had suggested more
than meets the ear, how could they have produced this wonderful
effect? The works of Voltaire and Sterne abound with examples of the
skilful use of the language of suggestion: on this the wit of
Voltaire, and the humour and pathos of Sterne, securely depend for
their success. Thus, corporal Trim's eloquence on the death of his
young master, owed its effect upon the whole kitchen, including "the
fat scullion, who was scouring a fish-kettle upon her knees," to the
well-timed use of the mixed language of action and suggestion.

"'Are we not here now?' continued the corporal (striking the end of
his stick perpendicularly upon the floor, so as to give an idea of
health and stability) 'and are we not' (dropping his hat upon the
ground) 'gone in a moment?'"

"Are we not here now, and gone in a moment?" continues Sterne, who, in
this instance, reveals the secret of his own art. "There was nothing
in the sentence; it was one of your self-evident truths we have the
advantage of hearing every day; and if Trim had not trusted more to
his hat than his head, he had made nothing at all of it."

When we point out to our pupils such examples in Sterne, we hope it
will not be understood, that we point them out to induce servile
imitation. We apprehend, that the imitators of Sterne have failed from
not having discovered that the interjections and ---- dashes of this
author, are not in themselves beauties, but that they affect us by
suggesting ideas. To prevent any young writers from the intemperate or
absurd use of interjections, we should show them Mr. Horne Tooke's
acute remarks upon this mode of embellishment. We do not, however,
entirely agree with this author in his abhorrence of interjections.
We do not believe that "where speech can be employed they are totally
useless; and are always insufficient for the purpose of communicating
our thoughts."[68] Even if we class them, as Mr. Tooke himself
does,[69] amongst "involuntary convulsions with oral sound," such as
groaning, shrieking, &c. yet they may suggest ideas, as well as
express animal feelings. Sighing, according to Mr. Tooke, is in the
class of interjections, yet the poet acknowledges the superior
eloquence of sighs:

    "Persuasive words, and _more persuasive_ sighs."

"'I wish,' said Uncle Toby, with a deep sigh (after hearing the story
of Le Fevre) 'I wish, Trim, I was asleep.'" The sigh here adds great
force to the wish, and it does not mark that Uncle Toby, from
vehemence of passion, had returned to the brutal state of a savage who
has not learnt the use of speech; but, on the contrary, it suggests to
the reader, that Uncle Toby was a man of civilized humanity; not one
whose compassion was to be excited merely as an animal feeling by the
actual _sight_ of a fellow-creature in pain, but rather by the
description of the sufferer's situation.

In painting, as well as in writing, the language of suggestion affects
the mind, and if any of our pupils should wish to excel in this art,
they must early attend to this principle. The picture of Agamemnon
hiding his face at the sacrifice of his daughter, expresses little to
the eye, but much to the imagination. The usual signs of grief and joy
make but slight impression; to laugh and to weep are such common
expressions of delight or anguish, that they cannot be mistaken, even
by the illiterate; but the imagination must be cultivated to enlarge
the sphere of sympathy, and to render a more refined language
intelligible. It is said that a Milanese artist painted two peasants,
and two country-girls, who laughed so heartily, that _no one_ could
look at them without laughing.[70] This is an instance of sympathy
unconnected with imagination. The following is an instance of sympathy
excited by imagination. When Porcia was to part from Brutus, just
before the breaking out of the civil war, "she endeavoured," says
Plutarch, "as well as possible, to conceal the sorrow that oppressed
her; but, notwithstanding her magnanimity, a picture betrayed her
distress. The subject was the parting of Hector and Andromache. He was
represented delivering his son Astyanax into her arms, and the eyes of
Andromache were fixed upon him. The resemblance that this picture bore
to her own distress, made _Porcia_ burst into tears the moment she
beheld it." If Porcia had never read Homer, Andromache would not have
had this power over her imagination and her sympathy.

The imagination not only heightens the power of sympathy with the
emotions of all the passions which a painter would excite, but it is
likewise essential to our taste for another class of pleasures.
Artists, who like Hogarth would please by humour, wit, and ridicule,
must depend upon the imagination of the spectators to supply all the
intermediate ideas which they would suggest. The cobweb over the poor
box, one of the happiest strokes of satire that Hogarth ever invented,
would probably say nothing to the inattentive eye, or the dull
imagination. A young person must acquire the language, before he can
understand the ideas, of superior minds.

The taste for poetry must be prepared by the culture of the
imagination. The united powers of music and poetry could not have
triumphed over Alexander, unless his imagination had assisted "the
mighty master."

    "With downcast looks the joyless victor sat,
    Revolving in his altered soul
    The various turns of chance below;
    And now and then a sigh he stole,
    And tears began to flow."

The sigh and the tears were the consequences of Alexander's own
thoughts, which were only recalled by kindred sounds. We are well
aware, that savage nations, or those that are imperfectly civilized,
are subject to enthusiasm; but we are inclined to think, that the
barbarous clamour with which they proclaim their delight in music and
poetry, may deceive us as to the degree in which it is felt: the
sensations of cultivated minds may be more exquisite, though they are
felt in silence. It has been supposed, that ignorance is extremely
susceptible of the pleasures of wonder: but wonder and admiration are
different feelings: the admiration which a cultivated mind feels for
excellence, of which it can fully judge, is surely a higher species of
pleasure, than the brute wonder expressed by "a foolish face of
praise." Madame Roland tells us, that once, at a sermon preached by a
celebrated Frenchman, she was struck with the earnest attention
painted in the countenance of a young woman who was looking up at the
preacher. At length the fair enthusiast exclaimed, "My God, how he
perspires!" A different sort of admiration was felt by Cæsar, when the
scroll dropped from his hand whilst he listened to an oration of

There are an infinite variety of associations, by which the orator has
power to rouse the imagination of a person of cultivated
understanding; there are comparatively few, by which he can amuse the
fancy of illiterate auditors. It is not that they have less
imagination than others; they have equally the power of raising vivid
images; but there are few images which can be recalled to them: the
combinations of their ideas are confined to a small number, and words
have no poetic or literary associations in their minds: even amongst
children, this difference between the power we have over the
cultivated and uncultivated mind, early appears. A laurel leaf is to
the eye of an illiterate boy nothing more than a shrub with a shining,
pale-green, pointed leaf: recall the idea of that shrub by the most
exact description, it will affect him with no peculiar pleasure: but
associate early in a boy's mind the ideas of glory, of poetry, of
olympic crowns, of Daphne and Apollo; by some of these latent
associations the orator may afterwards raise his enthusiasm. We shall
not here repeat what has been said[71] upon the choice of literature
for young people, but shall once more warn parents to let their pupils
read only the best authors, if they wish them to have a fine
imagination, or a delicate taste. When their minds are awake and warm,
show them excellence; let them hear oratory only when they can feel
it; if the impression be vivid, no matter how transient the touch.
Ideas which have once struck the imagination, can be recalled by the
magic of a word, with all their original, all their associated force.
Do not fatigue the eye and ear of your vivacious pupil with the
monotonous sounds and confused images of vulgar poetry. Do not make
him repeat the finest passages of Shakespeare and Milton; the effect
is lost by repetition; the words, the ideas are profaned. Let your
pupils hear eloquence from eloquent lips, and they will own its power.
But let a drawling, unimpassioned reader, read a play of
Shakespeare's, or an oration of Demosthenes, and if your pupil is not
out of patience, he will never taste the charms of eloquence. If he
feels a fine sentiment, or a sublime idea, pause, leave his mind full,
leave his imagination elevated. Five minutes afterwards, perhaps, your
pupil's attention is turned to something else, and the sublime idea
seems to be forgotten: but do not fear; the idea is not obliterated;
it is latent in his memory; it will appear at a proper time, perhaps a
month, perhaps twenty years afterwards. Ideas may remain long useless,
and almost forgotten in the mind, and may be called forth by some
corresponding association from their torpid state.

Young people, who wish to make themselves orators or eloquent writers,
should acquire the habit of attending first to the general impression
made upon their own minds by oratory, and afterwards to the cause
which produced the effect; hence they will obtain command over the
minds of others, by using the knowledge they have acquired of their
own. The habit of considering every new idea, or new fact, as a
subject for allusion, may also be useful to the young orator. A change
from time to time in the nature of his studies, will enlarge and
invigorate his imagination. Gibbon says, that, after the publication
of his first volume of the Roman history, he gave himself a short
holyday. "I indulged my curiosity in some studies of a very different
nature: a course of anatomy, which was demonstrated by Dr. Hunter, and
some lessons of chemistry, which were delivered by Dr. Higgins. The
principles of these sciences, and a taste for books of natural
history, contributed to multiply my ideas and images; and the
anatomist and chemist may sometimes track me in their own snow."

Different degrees of enthusiasm are requisite in different
professions; but we are inclined to think, that the imagination might
with advantage be cultivated to a much higher degree than is commonly
allowed in young men intended for public advocates. We have seen
several examples of the advantage of a general taste for the belles
lettres in eminent lawyers;[72] and we have lately seen an ingenious
treatise called Deinology, or instructions for a Young Barrister,
which confirms our opinion upon this subject. An orator, by the
judicious preparation of the minds of his audience, may increase the
effect of his best arguments. A Grecian painter,[73] before he would
produce a picture which he had finished, representing a martial
enterprise, ordered martial music to be played, to raise the
enthusiasm of the assembled spectators; when their imagination was
sufficiently elevated, he uncovered the picture, and it was beheld
with sympathetic transports of applause.

It is usually thought, that persons of extraordinary imagination are
deficient in judgment: by proper education, this evil might be
prevented. We may observe that persons, who have acquired particular
facility in certain exercises of the imagination, can, by voluntary
exertion, either excite or suppress certain trains of ideas on which
their enthusiasm depends. An actor, who storms and raves whilst he is
upon the stage, appears with a mild and peaceable demeanor a moment
afterwards behind the scenes. A poet, in his inspired moments, repeats
his own verses in his garret with all the emphasis and fervour of
enthusiasm; but when he comes down to dine with a mixed convivial
company, his poetic fury subsides, a new train of ideas takes place in
his imagination. As long as he has sufficient command over himself to
lay aside his enthusiasm in company, he is considered as a reasonable,
sensible man, and the more imagination he displays in his poems, the
better. The same exercise of fancy, which we admire in one case, we
ridicule in another. The enthusiasm which characterizes the man of
genius, borders upon insanity.

When Voltaire was teaching mademoiselle Clairon, the celebrated
actress, to perform an impassioned part in one of his tragedies, she
objected to the violence of his enthusiasm. "Mais, monsieur, on me
prendroit pour une possedée!"[74] "Eh, mademoiselle," replied the
philosophic bard, "il faut être un possedé pour réussir en aucun art."

The degree of enthusiasm, which makes the painter and poet set, what
to more idle, or more busy mortals, appears an imaginary value upon
their respective arts, supports the artist under the pressure of
disappointment and neglect, stimulates his exertions, and renders him
almost insensible to labour and fatigue. Military heroes, or those who
are "_insane with ambition_,"[75] endure all the real miseries of
life, and brave the terrors of death, under the invigorating influence
of an extravagant imagination. Cure them of their enthusiasm, and they
are no longer heroes. We must, therefore, decide in education, what
species of characters we would produce, before we can determine what
degree, or what habits of imagination, are desirable.

"Je suis le Dieu de la danse!"[76] exclaimed Vestris; and probably
Alexander the Great did not feel more pride in his Apotheosis. Had any
cynical philosopher undertaken to cure Vestris of his vanity, it would
not have been a charitable action. Vestris might, perhaps, by force of
reasoning, have been brought to acknowledge that a dancing-master was
not a divinity, but this conviction would not have increased his
felicity; on the contrary, he would have become wretched in proportion
as he became rational. The felicity of enthusiasts depends upon their
being absolutely incapable of reasoning, or of listening to reason
upon certain subjects; provided they are resolute in repeating their
own train of thoughts without comparing them with that of others, they
may defy the malice of wisdom, and in happy ignorance may enjoy
perpetual delirium.

Parents, who value the happiness of their children, will consider
exactly what chance there is of their enjoying unmolested any partial
enthusiasm; they will consider, that by early excitations, it is very
easy to raise any species of ambition in the minds of their pupils.
The various species of enthusiasm necessary to make a poet, a painter,
an orator, or a military hero, may be inspired, without doubt, by
education. How far these are connected with happiness, is another
question. Whatever be the object which he pursues, we must, as much as
possible, ensure our pupil's success. Those who have been excited to
exertion by enthusiasm, if they do not obtain the reward or admiration
which they had been taught to expect, sink into helpless despondency.
Whether their object has been great or small, if it has been their
favourite object, and they fail of its attainment, their mortification
and subsequent languor are unavoidable. The wisest of monarchs
exclaimed, that all was vanity and vexation of spirit; he did not,
perhaps, feel more weary of the world than the poor juggler felt, who,
after educating his hands to the astonishing dexterity of throwing up
into the air, and catching as they fell, six eggs successively,
without breaking them, received from the emperor, before whom he
performed, six eggs to reward the labour of his life!

This poor man's ambition appears obviously absurd; and we are under no
immediate apprehension, that parents should inspire their children
with the enthusiasm necessary to the profession of a juggler: but,
unless some precautions are taken, the objects which excite the
ambition of numbers, may be placed so as to deceive the eye and
imagination of children; and they may labour through life in pursuit
of phantoms. If children early hear their parents express violent
admiration for riches, rank, power, or fame, they catch a species of
enthusiasm for these things, before they can estimate justly their
value; from the countenance and manner, they draw very important
conclusions. "Felicity is painted on your countenance," is a polite
phrase of salutation in China. The taste for looking happy, is not
confined to the Chinese: the rich and great,[77] by every artifice of
luxury, endeavour to impress the spectator with the idea of their
superior felicity. From experience we know, that the external signs of
delight are not always sincere, and that the apparatus of luxury is
not necessary to happiness. Children who live with persons of good
sense, learn to separate the ideas of happiness and a coach and six;
but young people who see their fathers, mothers, and preceptors, all
smitten with sudden admiration at the sight of a fine phaeton, or a
fine gentleman, are immediately infected with the same absurd
enthusiasm. These parents do not suspect, that they are perverting
the imagination of their children, when they call them with foolish
eagerness to the windows to look at a fine equipage, a splendid
cavalcade, or a military procession; they perhaps summon a boy, who is
intended for a merchant, or a lawyer, to hear "the spirit stirring
drum;" and they are afterwards surprised, if he says, when he is
fifteen or sixteen, that, "_if his father pleases_, he had rather go
into the army, than go to the bar." The mother is alarmed, perhaps,
about the same time, by an unaccountable predilection in her
daughter's fancy for a red coat, and totally forgets having called the
child to the window to look at the smart cockades, and to hear the
tune of "See the conquering hero comes."

"Hear you me, Jessica," says Shylock to his daughter, "lock up my
doors; and when you hear the drum, and the vile squeaking of the
wry-necked fife, clamber not you up into the casements then."

Shylock's exhortations were vain; Jessica had arrived at years of
discretion, and it was too late to forbid her clambering into the
casements; the precautions should have been taken sooner; the epithets
vile squeaking and wry-necked fife, could not alter the lady's taste:
and Shylock should have known how peremptory prohibitions and
exaggerated expressions of aversion operate upon the female
imagination; he was imprudent in the extreme of his caution. We should
let children see things as they really are, and we should not
prejudice them either by our exclamations of rapture, or by our
affected disgust. If they are familiarized with show, they will not be
caught by it; if they see the whole of whatever is to be seen, their
imagination will not paint things more delightful than they really
are. For these reasons, we think that young people should not be
restrained, though they may be guided in their tastes; we should
supply them with all the information in which they are deficient, and
leave them to form their own judgments.

Without making it a matter of favour, or of extraordinary
consequence, parents can take their children to see public
exhibitions, or to partake of any amusements which are really
agreeable; they can, at the same time, avoid mixing factitious with
real pleasure. If, for instance, we have an opportunity of taking a
boy to a good play, or a girl to a ball, let them enjoy the full
pleasure of the amusement, but do not let us excite their imagination
by great preparations, or by anticipating remarks: "Oh, you'll be very
happy to-morrow, for you're to go to the play. You must look well
to-night, for you are going to the ball. Were you never at a ball? Did
you never see a play before? Oh, _then_ you'll be delighted, I'm
sure!" The children often look much more sensible, and sometimes more
composed, in the midst of these foolish exclamations, than their
parents. "Est ce que je m'amuse, maman?" said a little girl of six
years old, the first time she was taken to the playhouse.

Besides the influence of opinion, there are a number of other
circumstances to be considered in cultivating the imagination; there
are many other circumstances which must be attended to, and different
precautions are necessary, to regulate properly the imagination of
children of different dispositions, or temperaments. The disposition
to associate ideas, varies in strength and quickness in opposite
temperaments: the natural vivacity or dulness of the senses, the habit
of observing external objects, the power of voluntary exertion, and
the propensity to reverie, must all be considered before we can adapt
a plan of education exactly to the pupil's advantage. A wise preceptor
will counteract, as much as possible, all those defects to which a
child may appear most liable, and will cultivate his imagination so as
to prevent the errours to which he is most exposed by natural, or what
we call natural, disposition.

Some children appear to feel sensations of pleasure or pain with more
energy than others; they take more delight in feeling than in
reflection; they have neither much leisure nor much inclination for
the intellectual exertions of comparison or deliberation. Great care
should be taken to encourage children of this temper to describe and
to compare their sensations. By their descriptions we shall judge what
motives we ought to employ to govern them, and if we can teach them to
compare their feelings, we shall induce that voluntary exertion of
mind in which they are naturally defective. We cannot compare or judge
of our sensations without voluntary exertion. When we deliberate, we
repeat our ideas deliberately; and this is an exercise peculiarly
useful to those who feel quickly.

When any pleasure makes too great an impression upon these children of
vivid sensations, we should repeat the pleasure frequently, till it
begins to fatigue; or we should contrast it, and bring it into direct
comparison with some other species of pleasure. For instance, suppose
a boy had appeared highly delighted with seeing a game at cards, and
that we were apprehensive he might, from this early association,
acquire a taste for gaming, we might either repeat the amusement till
the playing at cards began to weary the boy, or we might take him
immediately after playing at cards to an interesting comedy; probably,
the amusement he would receive at the playhouse, would be greater than
that which he had enjoyed at the card-table; and as these two species
of pleasure would immediately succeed to each other, the child could
scarcely avoid comparing them. Is it necessary to repeat, that all
this should be done without any artifice? The child should know the
meaning of our conduct, and then he will never set himself in
opposition to our management.

If it is not convenient, or possible, to dull the charm of novelty by
repetition, or to contrast a new pleasure with some other superior
amusement, there is another expedient which may be useful; we may call
the power of association to our assistance: this power is sometimes a
full match for the most lively sensations. For instance, suppose a boy
of strong feelings had been offended by some trifle, and expressed
sensations of hatred against the offender obviously too violent for
the occasion; to bring the angry boy's imagination to a temperate
state, we might recall some circumstance of his former affection for
the offender; or the general idea, that it is amiable and noble to
command our passion, and to forgive those who have injured us. At the
sight of his mother, with whom he had many agreeable associations, the
imagination of Coriolanus raised up instantly a train of ideas
connected with the love of his family, and of his country, and
immediately the violence of his sensations of anger were subdued.

Brutus, after his friend Cassius has apologized to him for his "rash
humour," by saying, "that it was hereditary from his mother," promises
that the next time Cassius is over-earnest with "his Brutus, he will
think his mother chides, and leave him so;" that is to say, Brutus
promises to recollect an association of ideas, which shall enable him
to bear with his friend's ill humour.

Children, who associate ideas very strongly and with rapidity,[78]
must be educated with continual attention. With children of this
class, the slightest circumstances are of consequence; they may at
first appear to be easily managed, because they will remember
pertinaciously any reproof, any reward or punishment; and, from
association, they will scrupulously avoid or follow what has, in any
one instance, been joined with pain or pleasure in their imagination:
but unfortunately, accidental events will influence them, as well as
the rewards and punishments of their preceptors; and a variety of
associations will be formed, which may secretly govern them long
before their existence is suspected. We shall be surprised to find,
that even where there is apparently no hope, or fear, or passion, to
disturb their judgment, they cannot reason, or understand reasoning.
On studying them more closely, we shall discover the cause of this
seeming imbecility. A multitude of associated ideas occur to them
upon whatever subject we attempt to reason, which distract their
attention, and make them change the terms of every proposition with
incessant variety. Their pleasures are chiefly secondary reflected
pleasures, and they do not judge by their actual sensations so much as
by their associations. They like and dislike without being able to
assign any sufficient cause for their preference or aversion. They
make a choice frequently without appearing to deliberate; and if you,
by persuading them to a more detailed examination of the objects,
convince them, that according to the common standard of good and evil,
they have made a foolish choice, they will still seem puzzled and
uncertain; and, if you leave them at liberty, will persist in their
original determination. By this criterion we may decide, that they are
influenced by some secret false association of ideas; and, instead of
arguing with them upon the obvious folly of their present choice, we
should endeavour to make them trace back their ideas, and discover the
association by which they are governed. In some cases this may be out
of their power, because the original association may have been totally
forgotten, and yet those connected with it may continue to act: but
even when we cannot succeed in any particular instance in detecting
the cause of the errour, we shall do the pupils material service by
exciting them to observe their own minds. A tutor, who carefully
remarks the circumstances in which a child expresses uncommon grief or
joy, hope or fear, may obtain complete knowledge of his associations,
and may accurately distinguish the proximate and remote causes of all
his pupil's desires and aversions. He will then have absolute command
over the child's mind, and he should upon no account trust his pupil
to the direction of any other person. Another tutor, though perhaps of
equal ability, could not be equally secure of success; the child would
probably be suspected of cunning, caprice, or obstinacy, because the
causes of his tastes and judgments could not be discovered by his new

It often happens, that those who feel pleasure and pain most strongly,
are likewise most disposed to form strong associations of ideas.[79]
Children of this character are never stupid, but often prejudiced and
passionate: they can readily assign a reason for their preference or
aversion; they recollect distinctly the original sensations of
pleasure or pain, on which their associations depend; they do not,
like Mr. Transfer in Zelucco, like or dislike persons and things,
because they have _been used to them_, but because they have received
some injury or benefit from them. Such children are apt to make great
mistakes in reasoning, from their registering of coincidences hastily;
they do not wait to repeat their experiments, but if they have in one
instance observed two things to happen at the same time, they expect
that they will always recur together. If one event precedes or follows
another accidentally, they believe it to be the cause or effect
of its concomitant, and this belief is not to be shaken in their
minds by ridicule or argument. They are, consequently, inclined
both to superstition and enthusiasm, according as their hopes
and fears predominate. They are likewise subject to absurd
antipathies--antipathies which verge towards insanity.

Dr. Darwin relates a strong instance of antipathy in a child from
association. The child, on tasting the gristle of sturgeon, asked what
gristle was? and was answered, that gristle was like the division of a
man's nose. The child, disgusted at this idea, for twenty years
afterwards could never be persuaded to taste sturgeon.[80]

Zimmermann assures us, that he was an eye-witness of a singular
antipathy, which we may be permitted to describe in his own words:

"Happening to be in company with some English gentlemen, all of them
men of distinction, the conversation fell upon antipathies. Many of
the company denied their reality, and considered them as idle stories,
but I assured them that they were truly a disease. Mr. William
Matthews, son to the governor of Barbadoes, was of my opinion, because
he himself had an antipathy to spiders. The rest of the company
laughed at him. I undertook to prove to them that this antipathy _was
really an impression on his soul, resulting from the determination of
a mechanical effect_. (We do not pretend to know what Dr. Zimmermann
means by this.) Lord John Murray undertook to shape some black wax
into the appearance of a spider, with a view to observe whether the
antipathy would take place at the simple figure of the insect. He then
withdrew for a moment, and came in again with the wax in his hand,
which he kept shut. Mr. Matthews, who in other respects was a very
amiable and moderate man, immediately conceiving that his friend
really had a spider in his hand, clapped his hand to his sword with
extreme fury, and running back towards the partition, cried out most
horribly. All the muscles of his face were swelled, his eyes were
rolling in their sockets, and his body was immoveable. We were all
exceedingly alarmed, and immediately ran to his assistance, took his
sword from him, and assured him that what he conceived to be a spider,
was nothing more than a bit of wax, which he might see upon the table.

"He remained some time in this spasmodic state; but at length he began
to recover, and to deplore the horrible passion from which he still
suffered. His pulse was very strong and quick, and his whole body was
covered with a cold perspiration. After taking an anodyne draft, he
resumed his usual tranquillity.

"We are not to wonder at this antipathy," continues Zimmermann; "the
spiders at Barbadoes are very large, and of an hideous figure. Mr.
Matthews was born there, and his antipathy was therefore to be
accounted for. Some of the company undertook to make a little waxen
spider in his presence. He saw this done with great tranquillity, but
he could not be persuaded to touch it, though he was by no means a
timorous man in other respects. Nor would he follow my advice to
endeavour to conquer this antipathy by first drawing parts of spiders
of different sorts, and after a time whole spiders, till at length he
might be able to look at portions of real spiders, and thus gradually
accustom himself to whole ones, at first dead, and then living

Dr. Zimmermann's method of cure, appears rather more ingenious, than
his way of accounting for the disease. Are all the natives of
Barbadoes subject to convulsions at the sight of the large spiders in
that island? or why does Mr. William Matthews' having been born there
account so satisfactorily for his antipathy?

The cure of these unreasonable fears of harmless animals, like all
other antipathies, would, perhaps, be easily effected, if it were
judiciously attempted early in life. The epithets which we use in
speaking of animals, and our expressions of countenance, have great
influence on the minds of children. If we, as Dr. Darwin advises, call
the spider _the ingenious spider_, and the frog _the harmless frog_,
and if we look at them with complacency, instead of aversion,
children, from sympathy, will imitate our manner, and from curiosity
will attend to the animals, to discover whether the commendatory
epithets we bestow upon them, are just.

It is comparatively of little consequence to conquer antipathies which
have trifling objects. An individual can go through life very well
without eating sturgeon, or touching spiders; but when we consider the
influence of the same disposition to associate false ideas too
strongly in more important instances, we shall perceive the necessity
of correcting it by education.

Locke tells us of a young man, who, having been accustomed to see an
old trunk in the room with him when he learned to dance, associated
his dancing exertions so strongly with the sight of this trunk, that
he could not succeed by any voluntary efforts in its absence. We have,
in our remarks upon attention,[82] pointed out the great
inconveniences to which those are exposed who acquire associated
habits of intellectual exertion; who cannot speak, or write, or think,
without certain habitual aids to their memory or imagination. We must
further observe, that incessant vigilance is necessary in the moral
education of children disposed to form strong associations; they are
liable to sudden and absurd dislikes or predilections, with respect to
persons, as well as things; they are subject to caprice in their
affections and temper, and liable to a variety of mental infirmities,
which, in different degrees, we call passion or madness. Locke tells
us, that he knew a man who, after having been restored to health by a
painful operation, had so strongly associated the idea and figure of
the operator with the agony he had endured, that though he
acknowledged the obligation, and felt gratitude towards this friend
who had saved him, he never afterwards could bear to see his
benefactor. There are some people who associate so readily and
incorrigibly the idea of any pain or insult they have received from
another, with his person and character, that they can never afterwards
forget or forgive. They are hence disposed to all the intemperance of
hatred and revenge; to the chronic malice of a Jago, or the acute
pangs of an Achilles. Homer, in his speech of Achilles to Agamemnon's
mediating ambassadors, has drawn a strong and natural picture of the
progress of anger. It is worth studying as a lesson in metaphysics.
Whenever association suggests to the mind of Achilles the injury he
has received, he loses his reason, and the orator works himself up
from argument to declamation, and from declamation to desperate
resolution, through a close linked connection of ideas and

The insanities of ambition, avarice, and vanity, originate in early
mistaken associations. A feather, or a crown, or an alderman's chain,
or a cardinal's hat, or a purse of yellow counters, are unluckily
associated in the minds of some men with the idea of happiness, and,
without staying to deliberate, these unfortunate persons hunt through
life the phantasms of a disordered imagination. Whilst we pity, we are
amused by the blindness and blunders of those whose mistakes can
affect no one's felicity but their own; but any delusions which prompt
their victims to actions inimical to their fellow-creatures, are the
objects not unusually of pity, but of indignation, of private aversion
and public punishment. We smile at the avaricious insanity of the
miser, who dresses himself in the cast-off Wig of a beggar, and pulls
a crushed pancake from his pocket for his own and for his friend's
dinner.[83] We smile at the insane vanity of the pauper, who dressed
himself in a many-coloured paper star, assumed the title of Duke of
Baubleshire, and as such required homage from every passenger.[84] But
are we inclined to smile at the outrageous vanity of the man who
styled himself the son of Jupiter, and who murdered his best friend
for refusing him divine honours? Are we disposed to pity the
slave-merchant, who, urged by the maniacal desire for gold, hears
unmoved the groans of his fellow-creatures, the execrations of
mankind, and that "small still voice," which haunts those who are
stained with blood.

The moral insanities which strike us with horror, compassion, or
ridicule, however they may differ in their effects, have frequently
one common origin; an early false association of ideas. Persons who
mistake in measuring their own feelings, or who neglect to compare
their ideas, and to balance contending wishes, scarcely merit the
name of _rational_ creatures. The man, who does not deliberate, is

We have endeavoured, though well aware of the difficulty of the
subject, to point out some of the precautions that should be used in
governing the imagination of young people of different dispositions.
We should add, that in all cases the pupils attention to his own mind
will be of more consequence, than the utmost vigilance of the most
able preceptor; the sooner he is made acquainted with his own
character, and the sooner he can be excited to govern himself by
reason, or to attempt the cure of his own defects, the better.

There is one habit of the imagination, to which we have not yet
adverted, the habit of reverie. In reverie we are so intent upon a
particular train of ideas, that we are unconscious of all external
objects, and we exert but little voluntary power. It is true that some
persons in castle-building both reason and invent, and therefore must
exert some degree of volition; even in the wildest reverie, there may
be traced some species of consistency, some connection amongst the
ideas; but this is simply the result of the association of ideas.
Inventive castle-builders are rather nearer the state of insanity than
of reverie; they reason well upon false principles; their airy fabrics
are often both in good taste and in good proportion; nothing is
wanting to them but a foundation. On the contrary, nothing can be more
silly than the reveries of silly people; they are not only defective
in consistency, but they want all the unities; they are not
extravagant, but they are stupid; they consist usually of a listless
reiteration of uninteresting ideas; the whole pleasure enjoyed by
those addicted to them consists in the facility of repetition.

It is a mistaken notion, that only people of ardent imaginations are
disposed to reverie; the most indolent and stupid persons waste their
existence in this indulgence; they do not act always in consequence of
their dreams, therefore we do not detect their folly. Young people of
active minds, when they have not sufficient occupation, necessarily
indulge in reverie; and, by degrees, this wild exercise of their
invention and imagination becomes so delightful to them, that they
prefer it to all sober employments.

Mr. Williams, in his Lectures upon Education, gives an account of a
boy singularly addicted to reverie. The desire of invisibility had
seized his mind, and for several years he had indulged his fancy with
imagining all the pleasures that he should command, and all the feats
that he could perform, if he were in possession of Gyges's ring. The
reader should, however, be informed, that this castle-builder was not
a youth of strict veracity; his confession upon this occasion, as upon
others, might not have been sincere. We only state the story from Mr.

To prevent children from acquiring a taste for reverie, let them have
various occupations both of mind and body. Let us not direct their
imagination to extraordinary future pleasures, but let us suffer them
to enjoy the present. Anticipation is a species of reverie; and
children, who have promises of future pleasures frequently made to
them, live in a continual state of anticipation.

To cure the habit of reverie when it has once been formed, we must
take different methods with different tempers. With those who indulge
in the _stupid reverie_, we should employ strong excitations, and
present to the senses a rapid succession of objects, which will
completely engage without fatiguing them. This mode must not be
followed with children of different dispositions, else we should
increase, instead of curing, the disease. The most likely method to
break this habit in children of great quickness or sensibility, is to
set them to some employment which is wholly new to them, and which
will consequently exercise and exhaust all their faculties, so that
they shall have no life left for castle-building. Monotonous
occupations, such as copying, drawing, or writing, playing on the
harpsichord, &c. are not, _if habit has made them easy_ to the pupil,
fit for our purpose. We may all perceive, that in such occupations,
the powers of the mind are left unexercised. We can frequently read
aloud with tolerable emphasis for a considerable time together, and at
the same time think upon some subject foreign to the book we hold in
our hands.

The most difficult exercises of the mind, such as invention, or strict
reasoning, are those alone which are sufficient to subjugate and chain
down the imagination of some active spirits. To such laborious
exercises they should be excited by the encouraging voice of praise
and affection. Imaginative children will be more disposed to invent
than to reason, but they cannot perfect any invention without
reasoning; there will, therefore, be a mixture of what they like and
dislike in the exercise of invention, and the habit of reasoning will,
perhaps, gradually become agreeable to them, if it be thus dexterously
united with the pleasures of the imagination.

So much has already been written by various authors upon the pleasures
and the dangers of imagination, that we could scarcely hope to add any
thing new to what they have produced: but we have endeavoured to
arrange the observations which appeared most applicable to practical
education; we have pointed out how the principles of taste may be
early taught without injury to the general understanding, and how the
imagination should be prepared for the higher pleasures of eloquence
and poetry. We have attempted to define the boundaries between the
enthusiasm of genius, and its extravagance; and to show some of the
precautions which may be used, to prevent the moral defects to which
persons of ardent imagination are usually subject. The degree in which
the imagination should be cultivated must, we have observed, be
determined by the views which parents may have for their children, by
their situations in society, and by the professions for which they are
destined. Under the government of a sober judgment, the powers of the
imagination must be advantageous in every situation; but their value
to society, and to the individuals by whom they are possessed, depends
ultimately upon the manner in which they are managed. A magician,
under the control of a philosopher, would perform not only great, but
useful, wonders. The homely proverb, which has been applied to fire,
may with equal truth be applied to imagination: "It is a good servant,
but a bad master."


[58] Priestley has ably given the desiderata of electricity, vision,

[59] Wharton's Ode to Fancy.

[60] Gerard.

[61] Lord Kames.

[62] Professor Stewart.

[63] V. An excellent essay of Mr. Barnes's on Imagination. Manchester
Society, vol. i.

[64] It is to be hoped that the foreign philosophers, who, it is said,
are now employed in drawing up a new metaphysical nomenclature, will
avail themselves of the extensive knowledge, and original genius of
the author of Zoonomia.

[65] Akenside.


"Know there are words and spells which can control, Between the fits,
the fever of the soul."


[67] Peter of Cortona.

[68] V. Epea Pteroenta, p. 88.

[69] Chapter on Grammar.

[70] V. Camper's Works, p. 126.

[71] V. Chapter on Books.

[72] Lord Mansfield, Hussey Burgh, &c.

[73] Theon.

[74] "But, Sir, I shall be taken for one possessed!"

"Well, Ma'am, you must be _like one possessed_, if you would succeed
in any art."

[75] Dr. Darwin.

[76] "I am the god of dancing!"

[77] V. Smith's Moral Theory.

[78] Temperament of increased association. Zoonomia.

[79] V. Zoonomia. Temperament of increased sensibility and association

[80] Zoonomia, vol. ii.

[81] Monthly Review of Zimmermann on Experience in Physic. March 1783,
p. 211.

[82] V. Chapter on Attention.

[83] Elwes. See his Life.

[84] There is an account of this poor man's death in the Star, 1796.



It has been shown, that the powers of memory, invention and
imagination, ought to be rendered subservient to judgment: it has been
shown, that reasoning and judgment abridge the labours of memory, and
are necessary to regulate the highest flights of imagination. We shall
consider the power of reasoning in another point of view, as being
essential to our conduct in life. The object of reasoning is to adapt
means to an end, to attain the command of effects by the discovery of
the causes on which they depend.

Until children have acquired some knowledge of effects, they cannot
inquire into causes. Observation must precede reasoning; and as
judgment is nothing more than the perception of the result of
comparison, we should never urge our pupils to judge, until they have
acquired some portion of experience.

To teach children to compare objects exactly, we should place the
things to be examined distinctly before them. Every thing that is
superfluous, should be taken away, and a sufficient motive should be
given to excite the pupil's attention. We need not here repeat the
advice that has formerly been given[85] respecting the choice of
proper motives to excite and fix attention; or the precautions
necessary to prevent the pain of fatigue, and of unsuccessful
application. If comparison be early rendered a task to children, they
will dislike and avoid this exercise of the mind, and they will
consequently show an inaptitude to reason: if comparing objects be
made interesting and amusing to our pupils, they will soon become
expert in discovering resemblances and differences; and thus they will
be prepared for reasoning.

Rousseau has judiciously advised, that _the senses_ of children should
be cultivated with the utmost care. In proportion to the distinctness
of their perceptions, will be the accuracy of their memory, and,
probably, also the precision of their judgment. A child, who sees
imperfectly, cannot reason justly about the objects of sight, because
he has not sufficient data. A child, who does not hear distinctly,
cannot judge well of sounds; and, if we could suppose the sense of
touch to be twice as accurate in one child as in another, we might
conclude, that the judgment of these children must differ in a similar
proportion. The defects in organization are not within the power of
the preceptor; but we may observe, that inattention, and want of
exercise, are frequently the causes of what appear to be natural
defects; and, on the contrary, increased attention and cultivation
sometimes produce that quickness of eye and ear, and that consequent
readiness of judgment, which we are apt to attribute to natural
superiority of organization or capacity. Even amongst children, we may
early observe a considerable difference between the quickness of their
senses and of their reasoning upon subjects where they have had
experience, and upon those on which they have not been exercised.

The first exercises for the judgment of children should, as Rousseau
recommends, relate to visible and tangible substances. Let them
compare the size and shape of different objects; let them frequently
try what they can lift; what they can reach; at what distance they can
see objects; at what distance they can hear sounds: by these exercises
they will learn to judge of distances and weight; and they may learn
to judge of the solid contents of bodies of different shapes, by
comparing the observations of their sense of feeling and of sight. The
measure of hollow bodies can be easily taken by pouring liquids into
them, and then comparing the quantities of the liquids that fill
vessels of different shapes. This is a very simple method of
exercising the judgment of children; and, if they are allowed to try
these little experiments for themselves, the amusement will fix the
facts in their memory, and will associate pleasure with the habits of
comparison. Rousseau rewards Emilius with cakes when he judges
rightly; success, we think, is a better reward. Rousseau was himself
childishly fond of cakes and cream.

The step which immediately follows comparison, is deduction. The cat
is larger than the kitten; then a hole through which the cat can go,
must be larger than a hole through which the kitten can go. Long
before a child can put this reasoning into words, he is capable of
forming the conclusion, and we need not be in haste to make him
announce it in mode and figure. We may see by the various methods
which young children employ to reach what is above them, to drag, to
push, to lift different bodies, that they reason; that is to say, that
they adapt means to an end, before they can explain their own designs
in words. Look at a child building a house of cards; he dexterously
balances every card as he floors the edifice; he raises story over
story, and shows us that he has some design in view, though he would
be utterly incapable of describing his intentions previously in words.
We have formerly[86] endeavoured to show how the vocabulary of our
pupils may be gradually enlarged, exactly in proportion to their real
knowledge. A great deal depends upon our attention to this proportion;
if children have not a sufficient number of words to make their
thoughts intelligible, we cannot assist them to reason by our
conversation, we cannot communicate to them the result of our
experience; they will have a great deal of useless labour in comparing
objects, because they will not be able to understand the evidence of
others, as they do not understand their language; and at last, the
reasonings which they carry on in their own minds will be confused for
want of signs to keep them distinct. On the contrary, if their
vocabulary exceed their ideas, if they are taught a variety of words
to which they connect no accurate meaning, it is impossible that they
should express their thoughts with precision. As this is one of the
most common errours in education, we shall dwell upon it more

We have pointed out the mischief which is done to the understanding of
children by the nonsensical conversation of common acquaintance.[87]
"Should you like to be a king? What are you to be? Are you to be a
bishop, or a judge? Had you rather be a general, or an admiral, my
little dear?" are some of the questions which every one has probably
heard proposed to children of five or six years old. Children who have
not learned by rote the expected answers to such interrogatories,
stand in amazed silence upon these occasions; or else answer at
random, having no possible means of forming any judgment upon such
subjects. We have often thought, in listening to the conversations of
grown up people with children, that the children reasoned infinitely
better than their opponents. People, who are not interested in the
education of children, do not care what arguments they use, what
absurdities they utter in talking to them; they usually talk to them
of things which are totally above their comprehension; and they
instil errour and prejudice, without the smallest degree of
compunction; indeed, without in the least knowing what they are about.
We earnestly repeat our advice to parents, to keep their children as
much as possible from such conversation: children will never reason,
if they are allowed to hear or to talk nonsense.

When we say, that children should not be suffered to talk nonsense, we
should observe, that unless they have been in the habit of hearing
foolish conversation, they very seldom talk nonsense. They may express
themselves in a manner which we do not understand, or they may make
mistakes from not accurately comprehending the words of others; but in
these cases, we should not reprove or silence them; we should
patiently endeavour to find out their hidden meaning. If we rebuke or
ridicule them, we shall intimidate them, and either lessen their
confidence in themselves or in us. In the one case, we prevent them
from thinking; in the other, we deter them from communicating their
thoughts; and thus we preclude ourselves from the possibility of
assisting them in reasoning. To show parents the nature of the
mistakes which children make from their imperfect knowledge of words,
we shall give a few examples from real life.

S----, at five years old, when he heard some one speak of _bay_
horses, said, he supposed that the bay horses must be the best horses.
Upon cross-questioning him, it appeared that he was led to this
conclusion by the analogy between the sound of the words _bay_ and
_obey_. A few days previous to this, his father had told him that
spirited horses were always the most ready to obey.

These erroneous analogies between the sound of words and their sense,
frequently mislead children in reasoning; we should, therefore,
encourage children to explain themselves fully, that we may rectify
their errours.

When S---- was between four and five years old, a lady who had taken
him upon her lap playfully, put her hands before his eyes, and (we
believe) asked if he liked to be blinded. S---- said no; and he looked
very thoughtful. After a pause, he added, "Smellie says, that children
like better to be blinded than to have their legs tied." (S---- had
read this in Smellie two or three days before.)

_Father._ "Are you of Smellie's opinion?"

_S----_ hesitated.

_Father._ "Would you rather be blinded, or have your legs tied?"

_S----._ "I would rather have my legs tied not quite tight."

_Father._ "Do you know what is meant by _blinded_?"

_S----._ "Having their eyes put out."

_Father._ "How do you mean?"

_S----._ "To put something into the eye to make the blood burst out;
and then the blood would come all over it, and cover it, and stick to
it, and hinder them from seeing--I don't know how."

It is obvious, that whilst this boy's imagination pictured to him a
bloody orb when he heard the word _blinded_, he was perfectly right in
his reasoning in preferring to have his legs tied; but he did not
judge of the proposition meant to be laid before him; he judged of
another which he had formed for himself. His father explained to him,
that Smellie meant blindfolded, instead of blinded; a handkerchief was
then tied round the boy's head, so as to hinder him from seeing, and
he was made perfectly to understand the meaning of the word

In such trifles as these, it may appear of little consequence to
rectify the verbal errours of children; but exactly the same species
of mistake, will prevent them from reasoning accurately in matters of
consequence. It will not cost us much more trouble to detect these
mistakes when the causes of them are yet recent; but it will give us
infinite trouble to retrace thoughts which have passed in infancy.
When prejudices, or the habits of reasoning inaccurately, have been
formed, we cannot easily discover or remedy the remote trifling origin
of the evil.

When children begin to inquire about causes, they are not able to
distinguish between coincidence and causation: we formerly observed
the effect which this ignorance produces upon their temper; we must
now observe its effect upon their understanding. A little reflection
upon our own minds, will prevent us from feeling that stupid
amazement, or from expressing that insulting contempt which the
natural thoughts of children sometimes excite in persons who have
frequently less understanding than their pupils. What account can we
give of the connection between cause and effect? How is the idea, that
one thing is the cause of another, first produced in our minds? All
that we know is, that amongst human events, those which precede, are,
in some cases, supposed to produce what follow. When we have observed,
in several instances, that one event constantly precedes another, we
believe, and expect, that these events will in future recur together.
Before children have had experience, it is scarcely possible that they
should distinguish between fortuitous circumstances and causation;
accidental coincidences of time, and juxta-position, continually lead
them into errour. We should not accuse children of reasoning ill; we
should not imagine that they are defective in judgment, when they make
mistakes from deficient experience; we should only endeavour to make
them delay to decide until they have repeated their experiments; and,
at all events, we should encourage them to lay open their minds to us,
that we may assist them by our superior knowledge.

This spring, little W---- (three years old) was looking at a man who
was mowing the grass before the door. It had been raining, and when
the sun shone, the vapour began to rise from the grass. "Does the man
mowing _make_ the smoke rise from the grass?" said the little boy. He
was not laughed at for this simple question. The man's mowing
immediately preceded the rising of the vapour; the child had never
observed a man mowing before, and it was absolutely impossible that he
could tell what effects might be produced by it; he very naturally
imagined, that the event which immediately preceded the rising of the
vapour, was the cause of its rise; the sun was at a distance; the
scythe was near the grass. The little boy showed by the tone of his
inquiry, that he was in the philosophic state of doubt; had he been
ridiculed for his question; had he been told that he talked nonsense,
he would not, upon another occasion, have told us his thoughts, and he
certainly could not have improved in reasoning.

The way to improve children in their judgment with respect to
causation, is to increase their knowledge, and to lead them to try
experiments by which they may discover what circumstances are
essential to the production of any given effect; and what are merely
accessory, unimportant concomitants of the event.[88]

A child who, for the first time, sees blue and red paints mixed
together to produce purple, could not be certain that the pallet on
which these colours were mixed, the spatula with which they were
tempered, were not necessary circumstances. In many cases, the vessels
in which things are mixed are essential; therefore, a sensible child
would repeat the experiment exactly in the same manner in which he had
seen it succeed. This exactness should not be suffered to become
indolent imitation, or superstitious adherence to particular forms.
Children should be excited to add or deduct particulars in trying
experiments, and to observe the effects of these changes. In
"Chemistry," and "Mechanics," we have pointed out a variety of
occupations, in which the judgment of children may be exercised upon
the immediate objects of their senses.

It is natural, perhaps, that we should expect our pupils to show
surprise at those things which excite surprise in our minds; but we
should consider that almost every thing is new to children; and,
therefore, there is scarcely any gradation in their astonishment. A
child of three or four years old, would be as much amused, and,
probably, as much surprised, by seeing a paper kite fly, as he could
by beholding the ascent of a balloon. We should not attribute this to
stupidity, or want of judgment, but simply to ignorance.

A few days ago, W---- (three years old) who was learning his letters,
was let sow an _o_ in the garden with mustard seed. W---- was much
pleased with the operation. When the green plants appeared above
ground, it was expected that W---- would be much surprised at seeing
the exact shape of his _o_. He was taken to look at it; but he showed
no surprise, no sort of emotion.

We have advised that the judgment of children should be exercised upon
the objects of their senses. It is scarcely possible that they should
reason upon the subjects which are sometimes proposed to them: with
respect to manners and society, they have had no experience,
consequently they can form no judgments. By imprudently endeavouring
to turn the attention of children to conversation that is unsuited to
them, people may give the _appearance_ of early intelligence, and a
certain readiness of repartee and fluency of expression; but these are
transient advantages. Smart, witty children, amuse the circle for a
few hours, and are forgotten: and we may observe, that almost all
children who are praised and admired for sprightliness and wit, reason
absurdly, and continue ignorant. Wit and judgment depend upon
different opposite habits of the mind. Wit searches for remote
resemblances between objects or thoughts apparently dissimilar.
Judgment compares the objects placed before it, in order to find out
their differences, rather than their resemblances. The comparisons of
judgment may be slow: those of wit must be rapid. The same power of
attention in children, may produce either wit or judgment. Parents
must decide in which faculty, or rather, in which of these habits of
the mind, they wish their pupils to excel; and they must conduct their
education accordingly. Those who are desirous to make their pupils
witty, must sacrifice some portion of their judgment to the
acquisition of the talent for wit; they must allow their children to
talk frequently at random. Amongst a multitude of hazarded
observations, a happy hit is now and then made: for these happy hits,
children who are to be made wits should be praised; and they must
acquire sufficient courage to speak from a cursory view of things;
therefore the mistakes they make from superficial examination must not
be pointed out to them; their attention must be turned to the comic,
rather than to the serious side of objects; they must study the
different meanings and powers of words; they should hear witty
conversation, read epigrams, and comedies; and in all company they
should be exercised before numbers in smart dialogue and repartee.

When we mention the methods of educating a child to be witty, we at
the same time point out the dangers of this education; and it is but
just to warn parents against expecting inconsistent qualities from
their pupils. Those who steadily prefer the solid advantages of
judgment, to the transient brilliancy of wit, should not be mortified
when they see their children, perhaps, deficient at nine or ten years
old in the showy talents for general conversation; they must bear to
see their pupils appear slow; they must bear the contrast of flippant
gayety and sober simplicity; they must pursue exactly an opposite
course to that which has been recommended for the education of wits;
they must never praise their pupils for hazarding observations; they
must cautiously point out any mistakes that are made from a
precipitate survey of objects; they should not harden their pupils
against that feeling of shame, which arises in the mind from the
perception of having uttered an absurdity; they should never encourage
their pupils to play upon words; and their admiration of wit should
never be vehemently or enthusiastically expressed.

We shall give a few examples to convince parents, that children, whose
reasoning powers have been cultivated, are rather slow in
comprehending and in admiring wit. They require to have it explained,
they want to settle the exact justice and morality of the repartee,
before they will admire it.

(November 20th, 1796.) To day at dinner the conversation happened to
turn upon wit. Somebody mentioned the well known reply of the hackney
coachman to Pope. S----, a boy of nine years old, listened
attentively, but did not seem to understand it; his father endeavoured
to explain it to him. "Pope was a little ill made man; his favourite
exclamation was, 'God mend me!' Now, when he was in a passion with the
hackney coachman, he cried as usual, 'God mend me!' 'Mend _you_, sir?'
said the coachman; 'it would be easier to make a new one.' Do you
understand this now, S----?"

S---- looked dull upon it, and, after some minutes consideration,
said, "Yes, Pope was ill made; the man meant it would be better to
make a new one than to mend him." S---- did not yet seem to taste the
wit; he took the answer literally, and understood it soberly.

Immediately afterwards, the officer's famous reply to Pope was told to
S----. About ten days after this conversation, S---- said to his
sister, "I wonder, M----, that people don't oftener laugh at crooked
people; like the officer who called Pope a note of interrogation."

_M----._ "It would be ill natured to laugh at them."

_S----._ "But you all praised that man for saying _that_ about Pope.
You did not think him ill natured."

_Mr. ----._ "No, because Pope had been impertinent to him."

_S----._ "How?"

_M----._ "Don't you remember, that when the officer said that a note
of interrogation would make the passage clear, Pope turned round, and
looking at him with great contempt, asked if he knew what a note of
interrogation was?"

_S----._ "Yes, I remember that; but I do not think that was very
impertinent, because Pope might not know whether the man knew it or

_Mr. ----._ "Very true: but then you see, that Pope took it for
granted that the officer was extremely ignorant; a boy who is just
learning to read knows what a note of interrogation is."

_S----_ (thoughtfully.) "Yes, it _was_ rude of Pope; but then the man
was an officer, and therefore, it was very likely that he might be
ignorant; you know you said that officers were often very ignorant."

_Mr. ----._ "I said _often_; but not _always_. Young men, I told you,
who are tired of books, and ambitious of a red coat, often go into the
army to save themselves the trouble of acquiring the knowledge
necessary for other professions. A man cannot be a good lawyer, or a
good physician, without having acquired a great deal of knowledge; but
an officer need have little knowledge to know how to stand to be shot
at. But though it may be true in general, that officers are often
ignorant, it is not necessary that they should be so; a man in a red
coat may have as much knowledge as a man in a black, or a blue one;
therefore no sensible person should decide that a man is ignorant
merely because he is an officer, as Pope did."

_S----._ "No, to be sure. I understand now."

_M----._ "But I thought, S----, you understood this before."

_Mr. ----._ "He is very right not to let it pass without understanding
it thoroughly. You are very right, S----, not to swallow things whole;
chew them well."

_S----_ looked as if he was still chewing.

_M----._ "What are you thinking of S----?"

_S----._ "Of the man's laughing at Pope for being crooked."

_Mr. ----._ "If Pope had not said any thing rude to that man, the man
would have done very wrong to have laughed at him. If the officer had
walked into a coffee-house, and pointing at Pope, had said, 'there's a
little crooked thing like a note of interrogation,' people might have
been pleased with his wit in seeing that resemblance, but they would
have disliked his ill nature; and those who knew Mr. Pope, would
probably have answered, 'Yes Sir, but that crooked little man is one
of the most witty men in England; he is the great poet, Mr. Pope.' But
when Mr. Pope had insulted the officer, the case was altered. Now, if
the officer had simply answered, when he was asked what a note of
interrogation was, 'a little crooked thing;' and if he had looked at
Pope from head to foot as he spoke these words, every body's attention
would have been turned upon Pope's figure; but then the officer would
have reproached him only for his personal defects: by saying, 'a
little crooked thing _that asks questions_,' the officer reproved Pope
for his impertinence. Pope had just asked him a question, and every
body perceived the double application of the answer. It was an exact
description of a note of interrogation, and of Mr. Pope. It is this
sort of partial resemblance quickly pointed out between things, which
at first appear very unlike, that surprises and pleases people, and
they call it wit."

How difficult it is to explain wit to a child! and how much more
difficult to fix its value and morality! About a month after this
conversation had passed, S---- returned to the charge: his mind had
not been completely settled about _wit_.

(January 9th, 1796.) "So, S----, you don't yet understand wit, I see,"
said M---- to him, when he looked very grave at something that was
said to him in jest. S---- immediately asked, "What _is_ wit?"

_M----_ answered (laughing) "Wit is the folly of grown up people."

_Mr. ----._ "How can you give the boy such an answer? Come to me, my
dear, and I'll try if I can give you a better. There are two kinds of
wit, one which depends upon words, and another which depends upon
thoughts. I will give you an instance of wit depending upon words:

    "Hear yonder beggar, how he cries,
    I am so lame I cannot rise!
    If he tells truth, he lies."

"Do you understand that?"

_S----._ "No! If he tells truth, he lies! No, he can't both tell truth
and tell a lie at the same time; that's impossible."

_Mr. ----._ "Then there is something in the words which you don't
understand: in the _common_ sense of the words, they contradict each
other; but try if you can find out any uncommon sense--any word which
can be understood in two senses."

_S----_ muttered the words, "If he tells truth, he lies," and looked
indignant, but presently said, "Oh, now I understand; the beggar was
lying down; he lies, means he lies down, not he tells a lie."

The perception of the double meaning of the words, did not seem to
please this boy; on the contrary, it seemed to provoke him; and he
appeared to think that he had wasted his time upon the discovery.

_Mr. ----._ "Now I will give you an instance of wit that depends upon
the ideas, rather than on the words. A man of very bad character had
told falsehoods of another, who then made these two lines;

    "Lie on, whilst my revenge shall be,
    To tell the very truth of thee."

_S----_ approved of this immediately, and heartily, and recollected
the only epigram he knew by rote, one which he had heard in
conversation two or three months before this time. It was made upon a
tall, stupid man, who had challenged another to make an epigram
extempore upon him.

    Unlike to Robinson shall be my song;
    It shall be witty, and it shan't be long.

At the time S---- first heard this epigram, he had been as slow in
comprehending it as possible; but after it had been thoroughly
explained, it pleased him, and remained fixed in his memory.

Mr. ---- observed, that this epigram contained wit both in words and
in ideas: and he gave S----one other example. "There were two
contractors; I mean people who make a bargain with government, or with
those who govern the country, to supply them with certain things at a
certain price; there were two contractors, one of whom was employed to
supply government with corn; the other agreed to supply government
with rum. Now, you know, corn may be called grain, and rum may be
called spirit. Both these contractors cheated in their bargain; both
their names were the same; and the following epigram was made on them:

    "Both of a name, lo! two contractors come;
    One cheats in corn, and t'other cheats in rum.
    Which is the greater, if you can, explain,
    A rogue in spirit, or a rogue in grain?"

"_Spirit_," continued Mr. ----, "has another sense, you know--will,
intention, soul; he has the spirit of a rogue; she has the spirit of
contradiction. And grain has also another meaning; the grain of this
table, the grain of your coat. Dyed in grain, means dyed into the
substance of the material, so that the dye can't be washed out. A
rogue in grain, means a man whose habit of cheating is fixed in his
mind: and it is difficult to determine which is the worst, a man who
has the wish, or a man who has the habit, of doing wrong. At first it
seems as if you were only asked which was the worst, to cheat in
selling grain, or in selling spirit; but the concealed meaning, makes
the question both sense and wit."

These detailed examples, we fear, may appear tiresome; but we knew
not how, without them, to explain ourselves fully. We should add, for
the consolation of those who admire wit, and we are amongst the number
ourselves, that it is much more likely that wit should be engrafted
upon judgment, than that judgment should be engrafted upon wit. The
boy whom we have just mentioned, who was so slow in comprehending the
nature of wit, was asked whether he could think of any answer that
Pope might have made to the officer who called him a note of

_S----._ "Is there any note which means _answer_?"

_Mr. ----._ "I don't know what you mean."

_S----._ "Any note which means answer, as - - - - like the note of
interrogation, which shows that a question is asked?"

_Mr. ----._ "No; but if there were, what then?"

_S----._ "Pope might have called the man that note."

S---- could not exactly explain his idea; somebody who was present
said, that if he had been in Pope's place, he would have called the
officer a note of admiration. S---- would have made this answer, if he
had been familiarly acquainted with the _name_ of the note of
admiration. His judgment taught him how to set about looking for a
proper answer; but it could not lead him to the exact place for want
of experience.

We hope that we have, in the chapter on books, fully explained the
danger of accustoming children to read what they do not understand.
Poetry, they cannot early comprehend; and even if they do understand
it, they cannot improve their reasoning faculty by poetic studies. The
analogies of poetry, and of reasoning, are very different. "The muse,"
says an excellent judge upon this subject, "would make but an
indifferent school-mistress." We include under the head poetry, all
books in which declamation and eloquence are substituted for
reasoning. We should accustom our pupils to judge strictly of the
reasoning which they meet with in books; no names of high authority
should ever preclude an author's arguments from examination.

The following passage from St. Pierre's Etudes de la Nature, was read
to two boys: H----, 14 years old; S----, 10 years old.

"Hurtful insects, present (the same) oppositions and signs of
destruction; the gnat, thirsty of human blood, announces himself to
our sight by the white spots with which his brown body is speckled;
and by the shrill sound of his wings, which interrupts the calm of the
groves, he announces himself to our ear as well as to our eye. The
carnivorous wasp is streaked like the tiger, with bands of black over
a yellow ground."

H---- and S---- both at once exclaimed, that these spots in the gnat,
and streaks in the wasp, had nothing to do with their stinging us.
"The buzzing of the gnat," said S----, "would, I think, be a very
agreeable sound to us, if we did not know that the gnat would sting,
and that it was coming near us; and, as to the wasp, I remember
stopping one day upon the stairs to look at the beautiful black and
yellow body of a wasp. I did not think of danger, nor of its stinging
me then, and I did not know that it was like the tiger. After I had
been stung by a wasp, I did not think a wasp such a beautiful animal.
I think it is very often from our knowing that animals can hurt us,
that we think them ugly. We might as well say," continued S----,
pointing to a crocus which was near him, "we might as well say, that a
man who has a yellow face has the same disposition as that crocus, or
that the crocus is in every thing like the man, because it is yellow."

Cicero's "curious consolation for deafness" is properly noticed by Mr.
Hume. It was read to S---- a few days ago, to try whether he could
detect the sophistry: he was not previously told what was thought of
it by others.

"How many languages are there," says Cicero, "which you do not
understand! The Punic, Spanish, Gallic, Egyptian, &c. With regard to
all these, you are as if you were deaf, and yet you are indifferent
about the matter. Is it then so great a misfortune to be deaf to one
language more?"

"I don't think," said S----, "that was at all a good way to console
the man, because it was putting him in mind that he was more deaf than
he thought he was. He did not think of those languages, perhaps, till
he was put in mind that he could not hear them."

In stating any question to a child, we should avoid letting our own
opinion be known, lest we lead or intimidate his mind. We should also
avoid all appearance of anxiety, all impatience for the answer; our
pupil's mind should be in a calm state when he is to judge: if we turn
his sympathetic attention to our hopes and fears, we agitate him, and
he will judge by our countenances rather than by comparing the objects
or propositions which are laid before him. Some people, in arguing
with children, teach them to be disingenuous by the uncandid manner in
which they proceed; they show a desire for victory, rather than for
truth; they state the arguments only on their own side of the
question, and they will not allow the force of those which are brought
against them. Children are thus piqued, instead of being convinced,
and in their turn they become zealots in support of their own
opinions; they hunt only for arguments in their own favour, and they
are mortified when a good reason is brought on the opposite side of
the question to that on which they happen to have enlisted. To prevent
this, we should never argue, or suffer others to argue for victory
with our pupils; we should not praise them for their cleverness in
finding out arguments in support of their own opinion; but we should
praise their candour and good sense when they perceive and acknowledge
the force of their opponent's arguments. They should not be exercised
as advocates, but as judges; they should be encouraged to keep their
minds impartial, to sum up the reasons which they have heard, and to
form their opinion from these without regard to what they may have
originally asserted. We should never triumph over children for
changing their opinion. "I thought you were on _my_ side of the
question; or, I thought you were on the other side of the question
just now!" is sometimes tauntingly said to an ingenuous child, who
changes his opinion when he hears a new argument. You think it a proof
of his want of judgment, that he changes his opinion in this manner;
that he vibrates continually from side to side: let him vibrate,
presently he will be fixed. Do you think it a proof that your scales
are bad, because they vibrate with every additional weight that is
added to either side?

Idle people sometimes amuse themselves with trying the judgment of
children, by telling them improbable, extravagant stories, and then
ask the simple listeners whether they believe what has been told them.
The readiness of belief in children will always be proportioned to
their experience of the veracity of those with whom they converse;
consequently children, who live with those who speak truth to them,
will scarcely ever be inclined to doubt the veracity of strangers.
Such trials of the judgment of our pupils should never be permitted.
Why should the example of lying be set before the honest minds of
children, who are far from silly when they show simplicity? They guide
themselves by the best rules, by which even a philosopher in similar
circumstances could guide himself. The things asserted are
extraordinary, but the children believe them, because they have never
had any experience of the falsehood of human testimony.

The Socratic mode of reasoning is frequently practised upon children.
People arrange questions artfully, so as to bring them to whatever
conclusion they please. In this mode of reasoning, much depends upon
getting the first move; the child has very little chance of having it,
his preceptor usually begins first with a peremptory voice, "Now
answer me this question!" The pupil, who knows that the
interrogatories are put with a design to entrap him, is immediately
alarmed, and instead of giving a direct, candid answer to the
question, is always looking forward to the possible consequences of
his reply; or he is considering how he may evade the snare that is
laid for him. Under these circumstances he is in imminent danger of
learning the shuffling habits of cunning; he has little chance of
learning the nature of open, manly investigation.

Preceptors, who imagine that it is necessary to put on very grave
faces, and to use much learned apparatus in teaching the art of
reasoning, are not nearly so likely to succeed as those who have the
happy art of encouraging children to lay open their minds freely, and
who can make every pleasing trifle an exercise for the understanding.
If it be playfully pointed out to a child that he reasons ill, he
smiles and corrects himself; but you run the hazard of making him
positive in errour, if you reprove or ridicule him with severity. It
is better to seize the subjects that accidentally arise in
conversation, than formally to prepare subjects for discussion.

"The king's stag hounds," (says Mr. White of Selborne, in his
entertaining observations on quadrupeds,[89]) "the king's stag hounds
came down to Alton, attended by a huntsman and six yeoman prickers
with horns, to try for the stag that has haunted Hartley-wood
and its environs for so long a time. Many hundreds of people,
horse and foot, attended the dogs to see the deer unharboured;
but though the huntsman drew Hartley-wood, and Long-coppice, and
Shrub-wood, and Temple-hangers, and in their way back, Hartley, and
Wardleham-hangers, yet no stag could be found.

"The royal pack, _accustomed to have the deer turned out before them,
never drew the coverts with any address and spirit_," &c.

Children, who are accustomed to have the game started and turned out
before them by their preceptors, may, perhaps, like the royal pack,
lose their wonted address and spirit, and may be disgracefully _at a
fault_ in the public chase. Preceptors should not help their pupils
out in argument, they should excite them to explain and support their
own observations.

Many ladies show in general conversation the powers of easy raillery
joined to reasoning, unincumbered with pedantry. If they would employ
these talents in the education of their children, they would probably
be as well repaid for their exertions, as they can possibly be by the
polite, but transient applause of the visiters to whom they usually
devote their powers of entertaining. A little praise or blame, a smile
from a mother, or a frown, a moments attention, or a look of cold
neglect, have the happy, or the fatal power of repressing or of
exciting the energy of a child, of directing his understanding to
useful or pernicious purposes. Scarcely a day passes in which children
do not make some attempt to reason about the little events which
interest them, and, upon these occasions, a mother, who joins in
conversation with her children, may instruct them in the art of
reasoning without the parade of logical disquisitions.

Mr. Locke has done mankind an essential service, by the candid manner
in which he has spoken of some of the learned forms of argumentation.
A great proportion of society, he observes, are unacquainted with
these forms, and have not heard the name of Aristotle; yet, without
the aid of syllogisms, they can reason sufficiently well for all the
useful purposes of life, often much better than those who have been
disciplined in the schools. It would indeed "be putting one man sadly
over the head of another," to confine the reasoning faculty to the
disciples of Aristotle, to any sect or system, or to any forms of
disputation. Mr. Locke has very clearly shown, that syllogisms do not
assist the mind in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of
ideas; but, on the contrary, that they invert the natural order in
which the thoughts should be placed, and in which they must be placed,
before we can draw a just conclusion. To children who are not
familiarized with scholastic terms, the sound of harsh words, and
quaint language, unlike any thing that they hear in common
conversation, is alone sufficient to alarm their imagination with some
confused apprehension of difficulty. In this state of alarm they are
seldom sufficiently masters of themselves, either to deny or to
acknowledge an adept's major, minor, or conclusion. Even those who are
most expert in syllogistical reasoning, do not often apply it to the
common affairs of life, in which reasoning is just as much wanted as
it is in the abstract questions of philosophy; and many argue, and
conduct themselves with great prudence and precision, who might,
perhaps, be caught on the horns of a dilemma; or who would infallibly
fall victims to _the crocodile_.

Young people should not be ignorant, however, of these boasted forms
of argumentation; and it may, as they advance in the knowledge of
words, be a useful exercise to resist the attacks of sophistry. No
ingenious person would wish to teach a child to employ them. As
defensive weapons, it is necessary, that young people should have the
command of logical terms; as offensive weapons, these should never be
used. They should know the evolutions, and be able to perform the
exercise of a logician, according to the custom of the times,
according to the usage of different nations; but they should not
attach any undue importance to this technical art: they should not
trust to it in the day of battle.

We have seen syllogisms, crocodiles, enthymemas, sorites, &c.
explained and tried upon a boy of nine or ten years old in playful
conversation, so that he became accustomed to the terms without
learning to be pedantic in the abuse of them; and his quickness in
reasoning was increased by exercise in detecting puerile sophisms;
such as that of _the Cretans_--Gorgias and his bargain about the
winning of his first cause. In the following sorites[90] of
Themistocles--"My son commands his mother; his mother commands me; I
command the Athenians; the Athenians command Greece; Greece commands
Europe; Europe commands the whole earth; therefore my son commands the
whole earth"--the sophism depends upon the inaccurate use of the
_commands_, which is employed in different senses in the different
propositions. This errour was without difficulty detected by S---- at
ten years old; and we make no doubt that any unprejudiced boy of the
same age, would immediately point out the fallacy without hesitation;
but we do not feel quite sure that a boy exercised in logic, who had
been taught to admire and reverence the ancient figures of rhetoric,
would with equal readiness detect the sophism. Perhaps it may seem
surprising, that the same boy, who judged so well of this sorites of
Themistocles, should a few months before have been easily entrapped by
the following simple dilemma.

_M----._ "We should avoid what gives us pain."

_S----._ "Yes, to be sure."

_M----._ "Whatever burns us, gives us pain."

_S----._ "Yes, that it does!"

_M----._ "We should then avoid whatever burns us."

To this conclusion S---- heartily assented, for he had but just
recovered from the pain of a burn.

_M----._ "Fire burns us."

_S----._ "Yes, I know that."

_M----._ "We should then avoid fire."

_S----._ "Yes."

This hasty _yes_ was extorted from the boy by the mode of
interrogatory; but he soon perceived his mistake.

_M----._ "We should avoid fire. What when we are very cold?"

_S----._ "Oh, no: I meant to say, that we should avoid a certain
degree of fire. We should not go _too_ near the fire. We should not go
_so_ near as to burn ourselves."

Children who have but little experience, frequently admit assertions
to be true in general, which are only true in particular instances;
and this is often attributed to their want of judgment: it should be
attributed to their want of experience. Experience, and nothing else,
can rectify these mistakes: if we attempt to correct them by words, we
shall merely teach our pupils to argue about terms, not to reason.
Some of the questions and themes which are given to boys may afford us
instances of this injudicious education. "Is eloquence advantageous,
or hurtful to a state?" What a vast range of ideas, what variety of
experience in men and things should a person possess, who is to
discuss this question! Yet it is often discussed by unfortunate
scholars of eleven or twelve years old. "What is the greatest good?"
The answer expected by a preceptor to this question, obviously is,
virtue; and, if a boy can, in decent language, write a page or two
about _pleasure's_ being a transient, and virtue a permanent good, his
master flatters himself that he has early taught him to reason
philosophically. But what ideas does the youth annex to the words
pleasure and virtue? Or does he annex any? If he annex no idea to the
words, he is merely talking about sounds.

All reasoning ultimately refers to matters of fact: to judge whether
any piece of reasoning is within the comprehension of a child, we must
consider whether the facts to which it refers are within his
experience. The more we increase his knowledge of facts, the more we
should exercise him in reasoning upon them; but we should teach him to
examine carefully before he admits any thing to be a fact, or any
assertion to be true. Experiment, as to substances, is the test of
truth; and attention to his own feelings, as to matters of feeling.
Comparison of the evidence of others with the general laws of nature,
which he has learned from his own observation, is another mode of
obtaining an accurate knowledge of facts. M. Condillac, in his Art of
Reasoning, maintains, that the evidence of reason depends solely upon
our perception of the _identity_, or, to use a less formidable word,
_sameness_, of one proposition with another. "A demonstration," he
says, "is only a chain of propositions, in which the same ideas,
passing from one to the other, differ only because they are
differently expressed; the evidence of any reasoning consists solely
in its identity."

M. Condillac[91] exemplifies this doctrine by translating this
proposition, "The measure of every triangle is the product of its
height by half its base," into self-evident, or, as he calls them,
identical propositions. The whole ultimately referring to the ideas
which we have obtained by our senses of a triangle; of its base, of
measure, height, and number. If a child had not previously acquired
any one of these ideas, it would be in vain to explain one term by
another, or to translate one phrase or proposition into another; they
might be identical, but they would not be self-evident propositions to
the pupil; and no conclusion, except what relates merely to words,
could be formed from such reasoning. The moral which we should draw
from Condillac's observations for Practical Education must be, that
clear ideas should first be acquired by the exercise of the senses,
and that afterwards, when we reason about things in words, we should
use few and accurate terms, that we may have as little trouble as
possible in changing or translating one phrase or proposition into

Children, if they are not overawed by authority, if they are
encouraged in the habit of observing their own sensations, and if they
are taught precision in the use of the words by which they describe
them, will probably reason accurately where their own feelings are

In appreciating the testimony of others, and in judging of chances and
probability, we must not expect our pupils to proceed very rapidly.
There is more danger that they should overrate, than that they should
undervalue, the evidence of others; because, as we formerly stated, we
take it for granted, that they have had little experience of
falsehood. We should, to preserve them from credulity, excite them in
all cases where it can be obtained, never to rest satisfied without
the strongest species of evidence, that of their own senses. If a
child says, "I am sure of such a thing," we should immediately examine
into his reasons for believing it. "Mr. A. or Mr. B. told me so," is
not a sufficient cause of belief, unless the child has had long
experience of A. and B.'s truth and accuracy; and, at all events, the
indolent habit of relying upon the assertions of others, instead of
verifying them, should not be indulged.

It would be waste of time to repeat those experiments, of the truth of
which the uniform experience of our lives has convinced us: we run no
hazard, for instance, in believing any one who simply asserts, that
they have seen an apple fall from a tree; this assertion agrees with
the great natural _law of gravity_, or, in other words, with the
uniform experience of mankind: but if any body told us, that they had
seen an apple hanging self-poised in the air, we should reasonably
suspect the truth of their observation, or of their evidence. This is
the first rule which we can most readily teach our pupils in judging
of evidence. We are not speaking of children from four to six years
old, for every thing is almost equally extraordinary to them; but,
when children are about ten or eleven, they have acquired a sufficient
variety of facts to form comparisons, and to judge to a certain degree
of the probability of any new fact that is related. In reading and in
conversation we should now exercise them in forming judgments, where
we know that they have the means of comparison. "Do you believe such a
thing to be true? and why do you believe it? Can you account for such
a thing?" are questions we should often ask at this period of their
education. On hearing extraordinary facts, some children will not be
satisfied with vague assertions; others content themselves with
saying, "It is so, I read it in a book." We should have little hopes
of those who swallow every thing they read in a book; we are always
pleased to see a child hesitate and doubt, and require positive proof
before he believes. The taste for the marvellous, is strong in
ignorant minds; the wish to account for every new appearance,
characterizes the cultivated pupil.

A lady told a boy of nine years old (S----) the following story, which
she had just met with in "The Curiosities of Literature." An officer,
who was confined in the Bastille, used to amuse himself by playing on
the flute: one day he observed, that a number of spiders came down
from their webs, and hung round him as if listening to his music; a
number of mice also came from their holes, and retired as soon as he
stopped. The officer had a great dislike to mice; he procured a cat
from the keeper of the prison, and when the mice were entranced by his
music, he let the cat out amongst them.

S---- was much displeased by this man's treacherous conduct towards
the poor mice, and his indignation for some moments suspended his
reasoning faculty; but, when S---- had sufficiently expressed his
indignation against the officer in the affair of the mice, he began
to question the truth of the story; and he said, that he did not think
it was certain, that the mice and spiders came to listen to the music.
"I do not know about the mice," said he, "but I think, perhaps, when
the officer played upon the flute, he set the air in motion, and shook
the cobwebs, so as to disturb the spiders." We do not, nor did the
child think, that this was a satisfactory account of the matter; but
we mention it as an instance of the love of investigation, which we
wish to encourage.

The difficulty of judging concerning the truth of evidence increases,
when we take moral causes into the account. If we had any suspicion,
that a man who told us that he had seen an apple fall from a tree, had
himself pulled the apple down and stolen it, we should set the
probability of his telling a falsehood, and his motive for doing so,
against his evidence; and though according to the natural physical
course of things, there would be no improbability in his story, yet
there might arise improbability from his character for dishonesty; and
thus we should feel ourselves in doubt concerning the fact. But if two
people agreed in the same testimony, our doubt would vanish; the
dishonest man's doubtful evidence would be corroborated, and we should
believe, notwithstanding his general character, in the truth of his
assertion in this instance. We could make the matter infinitely more
complicated, but what has been said will be sufficient to suggest to
preceptors the difficulty which their young and inexperienced pupils
must feel, in forming judgments of facts where physical and moral
probabilities are in direct opposition to each other.

We wish that a writer equal to such a task would write trials for
children as exercises for their judgment; beginning with the simplest,
and proceeding gradually to the more complicated cases in which moral
reasonings can be used. We do not mean, that it would be advisable to
initiate young readers in the technical forms of law; but the general
principles of justice, upon which all law is founded, might, we
think, be advantageously exemplified. Such trials would entertain
children extremely. There is a slight attempt at this kind of
composition, we mean in a little trial in Evenings at Home; and we
have seen children read it with great avidity. Cyrus's judgment about
the two coats, and the ingenious story of the olive merchant's cause,
rejudged by the sensible child in the Arabian Tales, have been found
highly interesting to a young audience.

We should prefer truth to fiction: if we could select any instances
from real life, any trials suited to the capacity of young people,
they would be preferable to any which the most ingenious writer could
invent for our purpose. A gentleman who has taken his two sons, one of
them ten, and the other fifteen years old, to hear trials at his
county assizes, found by the account which the boys gave of what they
had heard, that they had been interested, and that they were capable
of understanding the business.

Allowance must be made at first for the bustle and noise of a public
place, and for the variety of objects which distract the attention.

Much of the readiness of forming judgments depends upon the power of
discarding and obliterating from our mind all the superfluous
circumstances; it may be useful to exercise our pupils, by telling
them now and then stories in the confused manner in which they are
sometimes related by puzzled witnesses; let them reduce the
heterogeneous circumstances to order, make a clear statement of the
case for themselves, and try if they can point out the facts on which
the decision principally rests. This is not merely education for a
lawyer; the powers of reasoning and judgment, when we have been
exercised in this manner, may be turned to any art or profession. We
should, if we were to try the judgment of children, observe, whether
in unusual circumstances they can apply their former principles, and
compare the new objects that are placed before them without
perplexity. We have sometimes found, that on subjects entirely new to
them, children, who have been used to reason, can lay aside the
circumstances that are not essential, and form a distinct judgment for
themselves, independently of the opinion of others.

Last winter the entertaining life of the celebrated miser Mr. Elwes
was read aloud in a family, in which there were a number of children.
Mr. Elwes, once, as he was _walking_ home on a dark night, in London,
ran against a chair pole and bruised both his shins. His friends sent
for a surgeon. Elwes was alarmed at the idea of expense, and he laid
the surgeon the amount of his bill, that the leg which he took under
his own protection would get well sooner than that which was put under
the surgeon's care; at the same time Mr. Elwes promised to put nothing
to the leg of which he took charge. Mr. Elwes favourite leg got well
sooner than that which the surgeon had undertaken to cure, and Mr.
Elwes won his wager. In a note upon this transaction his biographer
says, "This wager would have been a bubble bet if it had been brought
before the Jockey-club, because Mr. Elwes, though he promised to put
nothing to the leg under his own protection, took Velnos' vegetable
sirup during the time of its cure."

C---- (a girl of twelve years old) observed when this anecdote was
read, that "still the wager was a fair wager, because _the medicine_
which Mr. Elwes took, if it was of any use, must have been of use to
both legs; therefore the surgeon and Mr. Elwes had equal advantage
from it." C---- had never heard of the Jockey-club, or of bubble bets
before, and she used the word _medicine_, because she forgot the name
of Velnos' vegetable sirup.

We have observed,[92] that works of criticism are unfit for children,
and teach them rather to remember what others say of authors, than to
judge of the books themselves impartially: but, when we object to
works of criticism, we do not mean to object to criticism; we think it
an excellent exercise for the judgment, and we have ourselves been so
well corrected, and so kindly assisted by the observations of young
critics, that we cannot doubt their capacity. This book has been read
to a jury of young critics, who gave their utmost attention to it for
about half an hour at a sitting, and many amendments have been made
from their suggestions. In the chapter on obstinacy, for instance,
when we were asserting, that children sometimes forget their old bad
habits, and do not consider these as a part of themselves, there was
this allusion.

"As the snake, when he casts his skin, leaves the slough behind him,
and winds on his way in new and beautiful colours."

The moment this sentence was read, it was objected to by the audience.
Mr. ---- objected to the word slough, as an ill sounding, disagreeable
word, and which conveyed at first to the eye the idea of a wet boggy
place; such as the slough of Despond. At last S----, who had been
pondering over the affair in silence, exclaimed, "But I think there's
another fault in the allusion; do not snakes cast their skins every
year? Then these _new and beautiful colours_, which are the good
habits, must be thrown aside and forgotten the next time; but that
should not be."

This criticism appeared conclusive even to the author, and the
sentence was immediately expunged.

When young people have acquired a command of language, we must be
careful lest their fluency and their ready use of synonymous
expressions should lessen the accuracy of their reasoning, Mr. Horne
Tooke has ably shown the connection between the study of language and
the art of reasoning. It is not necessary to make our pupils profound
grammarians, or etymologists, but attention to the origin,
abbreviations, and various meanings of words, will assist them not
only to speak, but to think and argue with precision. This is not a
study of abstract speculation, but of practical, daily utility; half
the disputes, and much of the misery of the world, originate and
perpetuate themselves by the inaccurate use of words. One party uses a
word in _this_ sense, the opposite party uses the same word in another
sense; all their reasonings appear absurd to each other; and, instead
of explaining them, they quarrel. This is not the case merely in
_philosophical_ disputes between authors, but it happens continually
in the busy, active scenes of life. Even whilst we were writing this
passage, in the newspaper of to-day, we met with an instance that is
sufficiently striking.

"The accusation against me," says Sir Sidney Smith, in his excellent
letter to Pichegru, expostulating upon his unmerited confinement,
"brought forward by _your_ justice of the peace, was, that I was the
enemy of the republic. You know, general, that with military men, the
word _enemy_ has merely a technical signification, without expressing
the least character of hatred. You will readily admit this principle,
the _result_ of which is, that I ought not to be persecuted for the
injury I have been enabled to do whilst I carried arms against you."

Here the argument between two generals, one of whom is pleading for
his liberty, if not for his life, turns upon the meaning and
construction of a single word. Accuracy of reasoning, and some
knowledge of language, may, it appears, be of essential service in all

It is not only necessary to attend to the exact meaning which is
avowedly affixed to any terms used in argument, but is also useful to
attend to the thoughts which are often suggested to the disputants by
certain words. Thus, the words happiness and beauty, suggest, in
conversation, very different ideas to different men; and in arguing,
concerning these, they could never come to a conclusion. Even persons
who agree in the same definition of a word, frequently do not
sufficiently attend to the ideas which the word suggests; to the
association of thoughts and emotions which it excites; and,
consequently, they cannot strictly abide by their own definition, nor
can they discover where the errour lies. We have observed,[93] that
the imagination is powerfully affected by words that suggest long
trains of ideas; our reasonings are influenced in the same manner, and
the elliptical figures of speech are used in reasoning as well as in

"I would do so and so, if I were Alexander."

"And so would I, if I were Parmenio;"

is a short reply, which suggests a number of ideas, and a train of
reasoning. To those who cannot supply the intermediate ideas, the
answer would not appear either sublime or rational. Young people, when
they appear to admire any compressed reasoning, should be encouraged
to show that they can supply the thoughts and reasons that are not
expressed. Vivacious children, will be disgusted, however, if they are
required to detail upon the subject;[94] all that is necessary, is to
be sure that they actually comprehend what they admire.

Sometimes a question that appears simple, involves the consideration
of others which are difficult. Whenever a preceptor cannot go to the
bottom of the business, he will do wisely to say so at once to his
pupil, instead of attempting a superficial or evasive reply. For
instance, if a child was to hear that the Dutch burn and destroy
quantities of spice, the produce of their India islands, he would
probably express some surprise, and perhaps some indignation. If a
preceptor were to say, "The Dutch have a right to do what they please
with what is their own, and the spice is their own," his pupil would
not yet be satisfied; he would probably say, "Yes, they have a right
to do what they please with what is their own; but why should they
destroy what is useful?" The preceptor might answer, if he chose to
make a foolish answer, "The Dutch follow their own interest in
burning the spice; they sell what remains at a higher price; the
market would be overstocked if they did not burn some of their spice."
Even supposing the child to understand the terms, this would not be a
satisfactory answer; nor could a satisfactory answer be given, without
discussing the nature of commerce, and the _justice_ of monopolies.
Where one question in this manner involves another, we should postpone
the discussion, if it cannot be completely made; the road may be just
pointed out, and the pupil's curiosity may be excited to future
inquiry. It is even better to be ignorant, than to have superficial

A philosopher, who himself excelled in accuracy of reasoning,
recommends the study of mathematics, to improve the acuteness and
precision of the reasoning faculty.[95] To study any thing accurately,
will have an excellent effect upon the mind; and we may afterwards
direct the judgment to whatever purposes we please. It has often been
remarked, as a reproach upon men of science and literature, that those
who judge extremely well of books, and of abstract philosophical
questions, do not show the same judgment in the active business of
life: a man, undoubtedly, may be a good mathematician, a good critic,
an excellent writer, and may yet not show, or rather not employ, much
judgment in his conduct: his powers of reasoning cannot be deficient;
the habit of employing those powers in conducting himself, he should
have been taught by early education. Moral reasoning, and the habit of
acting in consequence of the conviction of the judgment, we call
prudence; a virtue of so much consequence to all the other virtues; a
virtue of so much consequence to ourselves and to our friends, that it
surely merits a whole chapter to itself in Practical Education.


[85] V. Chapter on Attention.

[86] V. Tasks.

[87] Chapter on Acquaintance.

[88] V. Stewart.

[89] A Naturalist's Calendar, by the late Rev. Gilbert White, M. A.
published by Dr. Aikin, printed for B. and J. White, Fleet Street.

[90] V. Deinology; where there are many entertaining examples of the
figures of rhetoric.

[91] Une dèmonstration est donc une suite de propositions, ou les
mêmes idées passant de l'une à l'autre, ne différent que parce
qu'elles sont énonceès différement; et l'évidence d'un raisonnement
consiste uniquement dans l'identité. V. Art de Raisonner, p. 2.

[92] V. Chapter on Books.

[93] V. Chapter on Imagination.

[94] V. Attention.

[95] Locke. Essay on the Conduct of the Human Understanding.



Voltaire says, that the king of Prussia always wrote with one kind of
enthusiasm, and acted with another. It often happens, that men judge
with one degree of understanding, and conduct themselves with
another;[96] hence the common-place remarks on the difference between
theory and practice; hence the observation, that it is easy to be
prudent for other people, but extremely difficult to be prudent for
ourselves. Prudence is a virtue compounded of judgment and resolution:
we do not here speak of that narrow species of prudence, which is more
properly called worldly wisdom; but we mean that enlarged,
comprehensive wisdom, which, after taking a calm view of the objects
of happiness, steadily prefers the greatest portion of felicity. This
is not a selfish virtue; for, according to our definition,
benevolence, as one of the greatest sources of our pleasures, must be
included in the truly prudent man's estimate. Two things are necessary
to make any person prudent, the power to judge, and the habit of
acting in consequence of his conviction. We have, in the preceding
chapter, as far as we were able, suggested the best methods of
cultivating the powers of reasoning in our pupils; we must consider
now how these can be applied immediately to their conduct, and
associated with habits of action.

Instead of deciding always for our young pupils, we should early
accustom them to choose for themselves about every trifle which is
interesting to childhood: if they choose wisely, they should enjoy the
natural reward of their prudence; and if they decide rashly, they
should be suffered to feel the consequence of their own errour.
Experience, it is said, makes even fools wise; and the sooner we can
give experience, the sooner we shall teach wisdom. But we must not
substitute belief upon trust for belief upon conviction. When a little
boy says, "I did not eat any more custard, because mamma told me that
the custard would make me sick," he is only obedient, he is not
prudent; he submits to his mother's judgment, he does not use his own.
When obedience is out of the question, children sometimes follow the
opinions of others; of this we formerly gave an instance (v. Toys) in
the poor boy, who chose a gilt coach, because his mamma "_and every
body said it was the prettiest_," whilst he really preferred the
useful cart: we should never prejudice them either by our _wisdom_ or
our folly.

A sensible little boy of four years old had seen somebody _telling
fortunes_ in the grounds of coffee; but when he had a cup of coffee
given to him, he drank it all, saying, "Coffee is better than

When their attention is not turned to divine what the spectators think
and feel, children will have leisure to consult their own minds, and
to compare their own feelings. As this has been already spoken of,[97]
we shall not dwell upon it; we only mention it as a necessary
precaution in teaching prudence.

Some parents may perhaps fear, that, if they were to allow children to
choose upon every trifling occasion for themselves, they would become
wilful and troublesome: this certainly will be the effect, if we make
them think that there is a pleasure in the exercise of free-will,
independently of any good that may be obtained by judicious choice.
"Now, my dear, you shall have _your_ choice! You shall choose for
_yourself_! You shall have your _free_ choice!" are expressions that
may be pronounced in such a tone, and with such an emphasis to a
child, as immediately to excite a species of triumphant ecstasy from
the mere idea of having his _own_ free choice. By a different accent
and emphasis we may repress the ideas of triumph, and, without
intimidating the pupil, we may turn his mind to the difficulties,
rather than the glory of being in a situation to decide for himself.

We must not be surprised at the early imprudence of children; their
mistakes, when they first are allowed to make a choice, are
inevitable; all their sensations are new to them, consequently they
cannot judge of what they shall like or dislike. If some of Lord
Macartney's suite had, on his return from the late embassy to China,
brought home some plant whose smell was perfectly unknown to
Europeans, would it have been possible for the greatest philosopher in
England to have decided, if he had been asked, whether he should like
the unknown perfume? Children, for the first five or six years of
their lives, are in the situation of this philosopher, relatively to
external objects. We should never reproachfully say to a child, "You
asked to smell such a thing; you asked to see such a thing; and now
you have had your wish, you don't like them!" How can the child
possibly judge of what he shall like or dislike, before he has tried?
Let him try experiments upon his own feelings; the more accurate
knowledge he acquires, the sooner he will be enabled to choose
_prudently_. You may expedite his progress by exciting him to compare
each new sensation with those to which he is already familiarized;
this will counteract that love of novelty which is often found
dangerous to prudence; if the mind is employed in comparing, it cannot
be dazzled by new objects.

Children often imagine, that what they like for the present minute,
they shall continue to like for ever; they have not learnt from
experiment, that the most agreeable sensations fatigue, if they are
prolonged or frequently repeated; they have not learnt, that all
violent stimuli are followed by weariness or ennui. The sensible
preceptor will not insist upon his pupil's knowing these things by
inspiration, nor will he expect that his assertions or prophecies
should be implicitly believed; he will wait till the child _feels_,
and at that moment he will excite his pupil to observe his own
feelings. "You thought that you should never be tired of smelling that
rose, or of looking at that picture; now you perceive that you _are_
tired: remember this; it may be of use to you another time." If this
be said in a friendly manner, it will not pique the child to defend
his past choice, but it will direct his future judgment.

Young people are often reproached for their imprudence in preferring a
small present pleasure to a large distant advantage: this errour also
arises from inexperience, not from want of judgment, or deficiency in
strength of mind. When that which has been the future, has in its turn
become present, children begin to have some idea of the nature of
time, and they can then form some comparisons between the value of
present and future pleasures. This is a very slow process; old people
calculate and depend upon the distant future more than the young, not
always from their increased wisdom or prudence, but merely from their
increased experience, and consequent belief that the future will in
time arrive. It is imprudent in old people to depend upon the future;
if they were to reason upon the chance of their lives, they ought not
to be secure of its arrival; yet habit in this instance, as in many
others, is more powerful than reason: in all the plans of elderly
people, there is seldom any errour from impatience as to the future;
there often appear gross errours in their security as to its arrival.
If these opposite habits could be mixed in the minds of the old and of
the young, it would be for their mutual advantage.

It is not possible to _infuse_ experience into the mind; our pupils
must feel for themselves: but, by teaching them to observe their own
feelings, we may abridge their labour; a few lessons will teach a
great deal when they are properly applied. To teach children to
calculate and compare their present and future pleasures, we may begin
by fixing short intervals of time for our experiments; an hour, a day,
a week, perhaps, are periods of time to which their imagination will
easily extend; they can measure and compare their feelings within
these spaces of time, and we may lead them to observe their own
errours in not providing for the future. "Now Friday is come; last
Monday you thought Friday would never come. If you had not cut away
all your pencil last week, you would have had some left to draw with
to-day. Another time you will manage better."

We should also lead them to compare their ideas of any given pleasure,
before and after the period of its arrival. "You thought last summer
that you should like making snow balls in winter, better than making
hay in summer. Now you have made snow-balls to-day; and you remember
what you felt when you were making hay last summer; do you like the
snow-ball pleasure, or the hay-making pleasure the best?" V. Berquin's
Quatre saisons.

If our pupils, when they have any choice to make, prefer a small
present gratification to a great future pleasure, we should not, at
the moment of their decision, reproach their imprudence, but we should
_steadily make them abide by their choice_; and when the time arrives
at which the greater pleasure might have been enjoyed, we should
remark the circumstance, but not with a tone of reproach, for it is
their affair, not ours. "You preferred having a sheet of paper the
moment you wanted it last week, to the having a quire of paper this
week." "Oh, but," says the child, "I wanted a sheet of paper very much
then, but I did not consider how soon this week would come--I wish I
had chosen the quire." "Then remember what you feel now, and you will
be able to choose better upon another occasion." We should always
refer to the pupils' own feelings, and look forward to their future
advantage. The reason why so few young people attend to advice, is,
that their preceptors do not bring it actually home to their feelings:
it is useless to reproach for past imprudence; the child sees the
errour as plainly as we do; all that can be done, is to make it a
lesson for the future.

To a geometrician, the words _by proposition 1st._ stand for a whole
demonstration: if he recollects that he has once gone over the
demonstration, he is satisfied of its truth; and, without verifying it
again, he makes use of it in making out the demonstration of a new
proposition. In moral reasoning, we proceed in the same manner; we
recollect the result of our past experiments, and we refer to this
moral demonstration in solving a new problem. In time, by frequent
practice, this operation is performed so rapidly by the mind, that we
scarcely perceive it, and yet it guides our actions. A man, in walking
across the room, keeps out of the way of the tables and chairs,
without perceiving that he reasons about the matter; a sober man
avoids hard drinking, because he knows it to be hurtful to his health;
but he does not, every time he refuses to drink, go over the whole
train of reasoning which first decided his determination. A modern
philosopher,[98] calls this rapid species of reasoning "intuitive
analogy;" applied to the business of life, the French call it tact.
Sensible people have this tact in higher perfection than others; and
prudent people govern themselves by it more regularly than others. By
the methods which we have recommended, we hope it may be successfully
cultivated in early education.

Rousseau, in expressing his contempt for those who make _habit_ their
only guide of action, goes, as he is apt to do in the heat of
declamation, into the errour opposite to that which he ridicules. "The
only habit," cries he, "that I wish my Emilius to have, is the habit
of having no habits." Emilius would have been a strange being, had he
literally accomplished his preceptor's wish. To go up stairs, would
have been a most operose, and to go down stairs, a most tremendous,
affair to Emilius, for he was to have no habits: between every step of
the stairs, new deliberations must take place, and fresh decisions of
the judgment and will ensue. In his moral judgments, Emilius would
have had as much useless labour. Habit surely is necessary, even to
those who make reason the ultimate judge of their affairs. Reason is
not to be appealed to upon every trivial occasion, to rejudge the same
cause a million of times. Must a man, every time he draws a straight
line, repeat to himself, "a right line is that which lieth evenly
between its points?" Must he rehearse the propositions of Euclid,
instead of availing himself of their practical use?

"Christian, can'st thou raise a perpendicular upon a straight line?"
is the apostrophe with which the cross-legged emperor of Barbary,
seated on his throne of rough deal boards, accosts every _learned_
stranger who frequents his court. In the course of his reign,
probably, his Barbaric majesty may have reiterated the demonstration
of this favourite proposition, which he learned from a French surgeon
about five hundred times; but his majesty's understanding is not
materially improved by these recitals; his geometrical learning is
confined, we are told, to this single proposition.

It would have been scarcely worth while to have singled out for combat
this paradox of Rousseau's, concerning habit, if it had not presented
itself in the formidable form of an antithesis. A false maxim,
conveyed in an antithesis, is dangerous, because it is easily
remembered and repeated, and it quickly passes current in

But to return to our subject, of which we have _imprudently_ lost
sight. Imprudence does not always arise from our neglect of our past
experience, or from our forgetting to take the future into our
calculations, but from false associations, or from passion. Objects
often appear different to one man, from what they do to the rest of
the world: this man may reason well upon what the majority of
reasonable people agree to call false appearances; he may follow
strictly the conviction of his own understanding, and yet the world
will say that he acts very imprudently. To the taste or smell of those
who are in a fever, objects not only appear, but really are, to the
patients different from what they appear to persons in sound health:
in the same manner to the imagination, objects have really a different
value in moments of enthusiasm, from what they have in our cooler
hours, and we scarcely can believe that our view of objects will ever
vary. It is in vain to oppose reason to false associations; we must
endeavour to combat one set of associations by another, and to alter
the situation, and consequently, the views,[99] of the mistaken
person. Suppose, for instance, that a child had been in a coach and
six upon some _pleasant_ excursion (it is an improbable thing, but we
may suppose any thing:) suppose a child had enjoyed, from some
accidental circumstances, an extraordinary degree of pleasure in a
coach and six, he might afterwards long to be in a similar vehicle,
from a mistaken notion, that it could confer happiness. Here we should
not oppose the force of reasoning to a false association, but we
should counteract the former association. Give the child an equal
quantity of amusement when he is not in a coach and six, and then he
will form fresh pleasurable associations with other objects which may
balance his first prepossession. If you oppose reason ineffectually to
passion or taste, you bring the voice and power of reason into
discredit with your pupil. When you have changed his view of things,
you may then reason with him, and show him the cause of his former

In the excellent fable of the shield that was gold on one side and
silver on the other, the two disputants never could have agreed until
they changed places.--When you have, in several instances, proved by
experiment, that you judge more prudently than your pupil, he will be
strongly inclined to listen to your counsels, and then your experience
will be of real use to him; he will argue from it with safety and
satisfaction. When, after recovering from fits of passion or
enthusiasm, you have, upon several occasions, convinced him that your
admonitions would have prevented him from the pain of repentance, he
will recollect this when he again feels the first rise of passion in
his mind; and he may, in that lucid moment, avail himself of your calm
reason, and thus avoid the excesses of extravagant passions. That
unfortunate French monarch,[100] who was liable to temporary fits of
frenzy, learned to foresee his approaching malady, and often requested
his friends to disarm him, lest he should injure any of his

In a malady which precludes the use of reason, it was possible for
this humane patient to foresee the probable mischief he might do to
his fellow-creatures, and to take prudent measures against his own
violence; and may not we expect, that those who are early accustomed
to attend to their own feelings, may prepare against the extravagance
of their own passions, and avail themselves of the regulating advice
of their temperate friends?

In the education of girls, we must teach them much more caution than
is necessary to boys: their prudence must be more the result of
reasoning than of experiment; they _must_ trust to the experience of
others; they cannot always have recourse to what _ought to be_; they
must adapt themselves to what is. They cannot rectify the material
mistakes in their conduct,[101] Timidity, a certain tardiness of
decision, and reluctance to act in public situations, are not
considered as defects in a woman's character: her pausing prudence
does not, to a man of discernment, denote imbecility; but appears to
him the graceful, auspicious characteristic of female virtue. There is
always more probability that women should endanger their own happiness
by precipitation, than by forbearance.--Promptitude of choice, is
seldom expected from the female sex; they should avail themselves of
the leisure that is permitted to them for reflection. "Begin nothing
of which you have not well considered the end," was the piece of
advice for which the Eastern Sultan[102] paid a purse of gold, the
price set upon it by a sage. The monarch did not repent of his
purchase. This maxim should be engraved upon the memory of our female
pupils, by the repeated lessons of education. We should, even in
trifles, avoid every circumstance which can tend to make girls
venturesome; which can encourage them to trust their good fortune,
instead of relying on their own prudence. Marmontel's tale, entitled
"_Heureusement_," is a witty, but surely not a _moral_, tale. Girls
should be discouraged from hazarding opinions in general conversation;
but amongst their friends, they should be excited to reason with
accuracy and with temper.[103] It is really a part of a woman's
prudence to have command of temper; if she has it not, her wit and
sense will not have their just value in domestic life. Calphurnia, a
Roman lady, used to plead her own causes before the senate, and we are
informed, that she became "so troublesome and confident, that the
judges decreed that thenceforward no woman should be suffered to
plead." Did not this lady make an imprudent use of her talents?

In the choice of friends, and on all matters of taste, young women
should be excited to reason about their own feelings. "There is no
reasoning about taste," is a pernicious maxim: if there were more
reasoning, there would be less disputation upon this subject. If women
questioned their own minds, or allowed their friends to question
them, concerning the reasons of their "preferences and aversions,"
there would not, probably, be so many love matches, and so few love
marriages. It is in vain to expect, that young women should begin to
reason miraculously at the very moment that reason is wanted in the
guidance of their conduct. We should also observe, that women are
called upon for the exertion of their prudence at an age when young
men are scarcely supposed to possess that virtue; therefore, women
should be more early, and more carefully, educated for the purpose.
The important decisions of woman's life, are often made before she is
twenty: a man does not come upon the theatre of public life, where
most of his prudence is shown, till he is much older.

Economy is, in women, an essential domestic virtue. Some women have a
foolish love of expensive baubles; a taste which a very little care,
probably, in their early education, might have prevented. We are told,
that when a collection of three hundred and fifty pounds was made for
the celebrated Cuzzona, to save her from absolute want, she
immediately laid out two hundred pounds of the money in the purchase
of a _shell cap_, which was then in fashion.[104] Prudent mothers,
will avoid showing any admiration of pretty trinkets before their
young daughters; and they will oppose the ideas of utility and
durability to the mere caprice of fashion, which creates a taste for
beauty, as it were, by proclamation. "Such a thing is pretty, but it
is of no use. Such a thing is pretty, but it will soon wear out"--a
mother may say; and she should prove the truth of her assertions to
her pupils.

Economy is usually confined to the management of money, but it may be
shown on many other occasions: economy may be exercised in taking care
of whatever belongs to us; children should have the care of their own
clothes, and if they are negligent of what is in their charge, this
negligence should not be repaired by servants or friends, they should
feel the real natural consequences of their own neglect, but no other
punishment should be inflicted; and they should be left to make their
own reflections upon their errours and misfortunes, undisturbed by the
reproaches of their friends, or by the prosing moral of a governess or
preceptor. We recommend, for we must descend to these trifles, that
girls should be supplied with an independent stock of all the little
things which are in daily use; housewives, and pocket books well
stored with useful implements; and there should be no lending[105] and
borrowing amongst children. It will be but just to provide our pupils
with convenient places for the preservation and arrangement of their
little goods. Order is necessary to economy; and we cannot more
certainly create a taste for order, than by showing early its
advantages in practice as well as in theory. The aversion to _old_
things, should, if possible, be prevented in children: we should not
express contempt for _old_ things, but we should treat them with
increased reverence, and exult in their having arrived under our
protection to such a creditable age. "I have had such a hat so long,
therefore it does not signify what becomes of it!" is the speech of a
_promising_ little spendthrift. "I have taken care of my hat, it has
lasted so long; and I hope I shall make it last longer," is the
exultation of a young economist, in which his prudent friends should

"Waste not, want not," is an excellent motto in an English nobleman's
kitchen.[106] The most opulent parents ought not to be ashamed to
adopt it in the economic education of their children: early habits of
care, and an early aversion and contempt for the selfish spirit of
wasteful extravagance, may preserve the fortunes, and, what is of far
more importance, the integrity and peace of mind of noble families.

We have said, that economy cannot be exercised without children's
having the management of money. Whilst our pupils are young, if they
are educated at home, they cannot have much real occasion for money;
all the necessaries of life are provided for them; and if they have
money to spend, it must be probably laid out on superfluities. This is
a bad beginning. Money should be represented to our pupils as what it
really is, the conventional sign of the value of commodities: before
children are acquainted with the real and comparative value of any of
these commodities, it is surely imprudent to trust them with money. As
to the idea that children may be charitable and generous in the
disposal of money, we have expressed our sentiments fully upon this
subject already.[107] We are, however, sensible that when children are
sent to any school, it is advisable to supply them with pocket-money
enough to put them upon an equal footing with their companions;
otherwise, we might run the hazard of inducing worse faults than
extravagance--meanness, or envy.

Young people who are educated at home should, as much as possible, be
educated to take a family interest in all the domestic expenses.
Parental reserve in money matters is extremely impolitic; as Mr. Locke
judiciously observes, that a father, who wraps his affairs up in
mystery, and who "views his son with jealous eyes," as a person who is
to begin _to live_ when he dies, _must_ make him an enemy by treating
him as such. A frank simplicity and cordial dependence upon the
integrity and upon the sympathy of their children, will ensure to
parents their disinterested friendship. Ignorance is always more to be
dreaded than knowledge. Young people, who are absolutely ignorant of
affairs, who have no idea of the relative expense of different modes
of living, and of the various wants of a family, are apt to be
extremely unreasonable in the imaginary disposal of their parent's
fortune; they confine their view merely to their own expenses. "I
_only_ spend such a sum," they say, "and surely that is nothing to my
father's income." They consider only the absolute amount of what they
spend; they cannot compare it with the number of other expenses which
are necessary for the rest of the family: they do not know these,
therefore they cannot perceive the proportion which it is reasonable
that their expenditure should bear to the whole. Mrs. D'Arblay, in one
of her excellent novels, has given a striking picture of the ignorance
in which young women sometimes leave their father's house, and begin
to manage in life for themselves, without knowing any thing of the
_powers_ of money. Camilla's imprudence must chiefly be ascribed to
her ignorance. Young women should be accustomed to keep the family
accounts, and their arithmetic should not be merely a speculative
science; they should learn the price of all necessaries, and of all
luxuries; they should learn what luxuries are suited to their fortune
and rank, what degree of expense in dress is essential to a regularly
neat appearance, and what must be the increased expense and
temptations of fashion in different situations; they should not be
suffered to imagine that they can resist these temptations more than
others, if they get into company above their rank, nor should they
have any indistinct idea, that by some wonderful economical operations
they can make a given sum of money go further than others can do. The
steadiness of calculation will prevent all these vain notions; and
young women, when they see in stubborn figures what must be the
consequence of getting into situations where they must be tempted to
exceed their means, will probably begin by avoiding, instead of
braving, the danger.

Most parents think that their sons are more disposed to extravagance
than their daughters; the sons are usually exposed to greater
temptations. Young men excite one another to expense, and to a certain
carelessness of economy, which assumes the name of spirit, while it
often forfeits all pretensions to justice. A prudent father will
never, from any false notions of forming his son early to _good_
company, introduce him to associates whose only merit is their rank
or their fortune. Such companions will lead a weak young man into
every species of extravagance, and then desert and ridicule him in the
hour of distress. If a young man has a taste for literature, and for
rational society, his economy will be secured, simply because his
pleasures will not be expensive, nor will they be dependent upon the
caprice of fashionable associates. The intermediate state between that
of a school-boy and a man, is the dangerous period in which taste for
expense is often acquired, before the means of gratifying it are
obtained. Boys listen with anxiety to the conversation of those who
are a few years older than themselves. From this conversation they
gather _information_ respecting the ways of the world, which, though
often erroneous, they tenaciously believe to be accurate: it is in
vain that their older friends may assure them that such and such
frivolous expenses are not necessary to the well-being of a man in
society; they adhere to the opinion of the younger counsel; they
conclude that every thing has changed since their parents were young,
that they must not govern themselves by antiquated notions, but by the
scheme of economy which happens to be the fashion of the day. During
this boyish state, parents should be particularly attentive to the
company which their sons keep; and they should frequently in
conversation with sensible, but not with morose or old fashioned
people, lead to the subject of economy, and openly discuss and settle
the most essential points. At the same time a father should not
intimidate his son with the idea that nothing but rigid economy can
win his parental favour; his parental favour should not be a mercenary
object; he should rather show his son, that he is aware of the great
temptations to which a young man is exposed in going first into the
world: he should show him, both that he is disposed to place
confidence in him, and that he yet knows the fallibility of youthful
prudence. If he expect from his son unerring prudence, he expects too
much, and he will, perhaps, create an apprehension of his displeasure,
which may chill and repress all ingenuous confidence. In all his
childish, and in all his youthful distresses, a son should be
habitually inclined to turn to his father as to his most indulgent
friend. "Apply to me if ever you get into any difficulties, and you
will always find me your _most indulgent friend_," were the words of a
father to a child of twelve years old, pronounced with such
encouraging benevolence, that they were never forgotten by the person
to whom they were addressed.

Before a young man goes into the world, it will be a great advantage
to him to have some share in the management of his father's affairs;
by laying out money for another person, he will acquire habits of
care, which will be useful to him afterwards in his own affairs. A
father, who is building, or improving grounds, who is carrying on
works of any sort, can easily allot some portion of the business to
his son, as an exercise for his judgment and prudence. He should hear
and see the estimates of workmen, and he should, as soon as he has
collected the necessary facts, form estimates of his own, before he
hears the calculation of others: this power of estimating will be of
great advantage to gentlemen: it will circumscribe their wishes, and
it will protect them against the low frauds of designing workmen.

It may seem trivial, but we cannot forbear to advise young people to
read the news-papers of the day regularly: they will keep up by these
means with the current of affairs, and they will exercise their
judgment upon interesting business, and large objects. The sooner boys
acquire the sort of knowledge necessary for the conversation of
sensible men, the better; they will be the less exposed to feel false
shame. False shame, the constant attendant upon ignorance, often leads
young men into imprudent expenses; when, upon any occasion, they do
not know by any certain calculation to what any expense may amount,
they are ashamed to inquire minutely. From another sort of weakness,
they are ashamed to resist the example or importunity of numbers;
against this weakness, the strong desire of preserving the good
opinion of estimable friends, is the best preservative. The taste for
the esteem of superior characters, cures the mind of fondness for
vulgar applause.

We have, in the very first chapter of this book, spoken of the danger
of the passion for gaming, and the precautions that we have
recommended in early education will, it is hoped, prevent the disorder
from appearing in our pupils as they grow up. Occupations for the
understanding, and objects for the affections, will preclude all
desire for the violent stimulus of the gaming table. It may be said,
that many men of superior abilities, and of generous social tempers,
become gamesters. They do so, because they have exhausted other
pleasures, and they have been accustomed to strong excitements. Such
excitements do not become necessary to happiness, till they have been
made habitual.

There was an excellent Essay on Projects, published some years ago by
an anonymous writer, which we think would make a great impression upon
any young persons of good sense. We do not wish to repress the
generous enterprising ardour of youth, or to confine the ideas to the
narrow circle of which self must be the centre. Calculation will show
what can be done, and how it can be done; and thus the individual,
without injury to himself, may, if he wish it, speculate extensively
for the good of his fellow creatures.

It is scarcely possible, that the mean passion of avarice should exist
in the mind of any young person who has been tolerably well educated;
but too much pains cannot be taken to preserve that domestic felicity,
which arises from entire confidence and satisfaction amongst the
individuals of a family with regard to property. Exactness in accounts
and in business relative to property, far from being unnecessary
amongst friends and relations, are, we think, peculiarly agreeable,
and essential to the continuance of frank intimacy. We should, whilst
our pupils are young, teach them a love for exactness about property;
a respect for the rights of others, rather than a tenacious anxiety
about their own. When young people are of a proper age to manage money
and property of their own, let them know precisely what they can
annually spend; in whatever form they receive an income, let that
income be certain: if presents of pocket money or of dress are from
time to time made to them, this creates expectation and uncertainty in
their minds. All persons who have a fluctuating revenue, are disposed
to be imprudent and extravagant. It is remarkable, that the
West-Indian planters, whose property is a kind of lottery, are
extravagantly disposed to speculation; in the hopes of a favourable
season, they live from year to year in unbounded profusion. It is
curious to observe, that the propensity to extravagance exists in
those who enjoy the greatest affluence, and in those who have felt the
greatest distress. Those who have little to lose, are reckless about
that little; and any uncertainty as to the tenure of property, or as
to the rewards of industry, immediately operates, not only to depress
activity, but to destroy prudence. "Prudence," says Mr. Edwards, "is a
term that has no place in the negro vocabulary; instead of trusting to
what are called the _ground provisions_, which are safe from the
hurricanes, the negroes, in the cultivation of their _own_ lands,
trust more to plantain-groves, corn, and other vegetables that are
liable to be destroyed by storms. When they earn a little money, they
immediately gratify their palate with salted meats and other
provisions, which are to them delicacies. The idea of accumulating,
and of being economic in order to accumulate, is unknown to these poor
slaves, who hold their lands by the most uncertain of all
tenures,"[108] We are told, that the _provision ground_, the creation
of the negro's industry, and the hope of his life, is sold by public
auction to pay his master's debts. Is it wonderful that the term
prudence should be unknown in the negro vocabulary?

The very poorest class of people in London, who feel despair, and who
merely live to bear the evil of the day, are, it is said, very little
disposed to be prudent. In a late publication, Mr. Colquhoun's
"Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis," he tells us, that the
"chief consumption of oysters, crabs, lobsters, pickled salmon, &c.
when first in season, and when the prices are high, is by the _lowest_
classes of the people. The middle ranks, and those immediately under
them, abstain generally from such indulgences until the prices are

Perhaps it may be thought, that the consumption of oysters, crabs, and
pickled salmon, in London, or the management of the negro's _provision
ground_ in Jamaica, has little to do with a practical essay upon
economy and prudence; but we hope, that we may be permitted to use
these far fetched illustrations, to show that the same causes act upon
the mind independently of climate: they are mentioned here to show,
that the little _revenue_ of young people ought to be fixed and

When we recommend economy and prudence to our pupils, we must, at the
same time, keep their hearts open to the pleasures of generosity;
economy and prudence will put it in the power of the generous to give.

    "The worth of everything
    Is as much money as 'twill bring,"

will never be the venal maxim of those who understand the nature of
philosophic prudence. The worth of money is to be estimated by the
number of real pleasures which it can procure: there are many which
are not to be bought by gold;[110] these will never lose their
pre-eminent value with persons who have been educated both to reason
and to feel.



Here lies the mutton eating king; Whose promise none relied on; Who
never _said_ a foolish thing, And never did a wise one.

_Epitaph on Charles 2d._

[97] V. Taste and Imagination.

[98] Darwin's Zoonomia.

[99] Chapter on Imagination.

[100] Charles VI.


"No penance can absolve their guilty fame, Nor tears, that wash out
sin, can wash out shame."

[102] V. Persian Tales.

[103] V. Chapter on Temper.

[104] Mrs. Piozzi's English Synonymy, vol. i. p. 359.

[105] V. Toys.

[106] Lord Scarsdale's. Keddleston.

[107] V. Chapter on Sympathy and Sensibility.

[108] V. Edwards' History of the West Indies.

[109] V. a note in page 32 of the Treatise on the Police of the



"The general principle," that we should associate pleasure with
whatever we wish that our pupils should pursue, and pain with whatever
we wish that they should avoid, forms, our readers will perceive, the
basis of our plan of education. This maxim, applied to the cultivation
of the understanding, or of the affections, will, we apprehend, be
equally successful; virtues, as well as abilities, or what is
popularly called genius, we believe to be the result of education, not
the gift of nature. A fond mother will tremble at the idea, that so
much depends upon her own care in the early education of her children;
but, even though she may be inexperienced in the art, she may be
persuaded that patience and perseverance will ensure her success: even
from her timidity we may prophesy favourably; for, in education, to
know the danger, is often to avoid it. The first steps require rather
caution and gentle kindness, than any difficult or laborious
exertions: the female sex are, from their situation, their manners,
and talents, peculiarly suited to the superintendence of the early
years of childhood. We have, therefore, in the first chapters of the
preceding work, endeavoured to adapt our remarks principally to female
readers, and we shall think ourselves happy, if any anxious mother
feels their practical utility.

In the chapters on Toys, Tasks, and Attention, we have attempted to
show how the instruction and amusements of children may be so managed
as to coincide with each other. _Play_, we have observed, is only a
change of occupation; and toys, to be permanently agreeable to
children, must afford them continued employment. We have declared war
against _tasks_, or rather against the train of melancholy, which,
associated with this word, usually render it odious to the ears of the
disgusted scholar. By kind patience, and well timed, distinct, and
above all, by short lessons, a young child may be initiated in the
mysteries of learning, and in the first principles of knowledge,
without fatigue, or punishment, or tears. No matter how little be
learned in a given time, provided the pupil be not disgusted; provided
the wish to improve be excited, and the habits of attention be
acquired. Attention we consider as the faculty of the mind which is
essential to the cultivation of all its other powers.

It is essential to success in what are called accomplishments, or
talents, as well as to our progress in the laborious arts or abstract
sciences. Believing so much to depend upon this faculty or habit, we
have taken particular pains to explain the practical methods by which
it may be improved. The general maxims, that the attention of young
people should at first be exercised but for very short periods; that
they should never be urged to the point of fatigue; that pleasure,
especially the great pleasure of success, should be associated with
the exertions of the pupil; are applicable to children of all tempers.
The care which has been recommended, in the use of words, to convey
uniformly distinct ideas, will, it is hoped, be found advantageous. We
have, without entering into the speculative question concerning the
original differences of temper and genius, offered such observations
as we thought might be useful in cultivating the attention of
vivacious, and indolent children; whether their idleness or indolence
proceed from nature, or from mistaken modes of instruction, we have
been anxious to point out means of curing their defects; and, from our
successful experience with pupils apparently of opposite dispositions,
we have ventured to assert with some confidence, that no parent should
despair of correcting a child's defects; that no preceptor should
despair of producing in his pupil the species of abilities which his
education steadily tends to form. These are encouraging hopes, but not
flattering promises. Having just opened these bright views to parents,
we have paused to warn them, that all their expectations, all their
cares, will be in vain, unless they have sufficient prudence and
strength of mind to follow a certain mode of conduct with respect to
servants, and with respect to common acquaintance. More failures in
private education have been occasioned by the interference of servants
and acquaintance, than from any other cause. It is impossible, we
repeat it in the strongest terms, it is impossible that parents can be
successful in the education of their children at home, unless they
have steadiness enough to resist all interference from visiters and
acquaintance, who from thoughtless kindness, or a busy desire to
administer advice, are apt to counteract the views of a preceptor; and
who often, in a few minutes, undo the work of years. When our pupils
have formed their habits, and have reason and experience sufficient to
guide them, let them be left as free as air; let them choose their
friends and acquaintance; let them see the greatest variety of
characters, and hear the greatest variety of conversation and
opinions: but whilst they are children, whilst they are destitute of
the means to judge, their parents or preceptors must supply their
deficient reason; and authority, without violence, should direct them
to their happiness. They must see, that all who are concerned in
their education, agree in the means of governing them; in all their
commands and prohibitions, in the distribution of praise and blame, of
reward and punishment, there must be unanimity. Where there does not
exist this unanimity in families; where parents have not sufficient
firmness to prevent the interference of acquaintance, and sufficient
prudence to keep children _from all private communication with
servants_, we earnestly advise that the children be sent to some
public seminary of education. We have taken some pains to detail the
methods by which all hurtful communication between children and
servants, in a well regulated family, may be avoided, and we have
asserted, from the experience of above twenty years, that these
methods have been found not only practicable, but easy.

In the chapters on Obedience, Temper and Truth, the general principle,
that pleasure should excite to exertion and virtue, and that pain
should be connected with whatever we wish our pupils to avoid, is
applied to practice with a minuteness of detail which we knew not how
to avoid. Obedience we have considered as a relative, rather than as a
positive, virtue: before children are able to conduct themselves,
their obedience must be rendered habitual: obedience alters its nature
as the pupil becomes more and more rational; and the only method to
secure the obedience, the willing, enlightened obedience of rational
beings, is to convince them by experience, that it tends to their
happiness. Truth depends upon example more than precept; and we have
endeavoured to impress it on the minds of all who are concerned in
education, that the first thing necessary to teach their pupils to
love truth, is in their whole conduct to respect it themselves. We
have reprobated the artifices sometimes used by preceptors towards
their pupils; we have shown that all confidence is destroyed by these
deceptions. May they never more be attempted! May parents unite in
honest detestation of these practices! Children are not fools, and
they are not to be governed like fools. Parents who adhere to the firm
principle of truth, may be certain of the respect and confidence of
their children. Children who never see the example of falsehood, will
grow up with a simplicity of character, with an habitual love of
truth, that must surprise preceptors who have seen the propensity to
deceit which early appears in children who have had the misfortune to
live with servants, or with persons who have the habits of meanness
and cunning. We have advised, that children, before their habits are
formed, should never be exposed to temptations to deceive; that no
questions should be asked them which hazard their young integrity;
that as they grow older, they should gradually be trusted; and that
they should be placed in situations where they may feel the advantages
both of speaking truth, and of obtaining a character for integrity.
The perception of the utility of this virtue to the individual, and to
society, will confirm the habitual reverence in which our pupils have
been taught to hold it. As young people become reasonable, the nature
of their habits and of their education should be explained to them,
and their virtues, from being virtues of custom, should be rendered
virtues of choice and reason. It is easier to confirm good habits by
the conviction of the understanding, than to induce habits in
consequence of that conviction. This principle we have pursued in the
chapter on Rewards and Punishments; we have not considered punishment
as vengeance or retaliation, but as _pain inflicted with the
reasonable hope of procuring some future advantage to the delinquent,
or to society_. The smallest possible quantity of pain that can effect
this purpose, we suppose, must, with all just and humane persons, be
the measure of punishment. This notion of punishment, both for the
sake of the preceptor and the pupil, should be clearly explained as
early as it can be made intelligible. As to rewards, we do not wish
that they should be bribes; they should stimulate, without weakening
the mind. The consequences which naturally follow every species of
good conduct, are the proper and best rewards that we can devise;
children whose understandings are cultivated, and whose tempers are
not spoiled, will be easily made happy without the petty bribes which
are administered daily to ill educated, ignorant, over stimulated,
and, consequently, wretched and ill humoured children. Far from making
childhood a state of continual penance, restraint, and misery, we wish
that it should be made a state of uniform happiness; that parents and
preceptors should treat their pupils with as much equality and
kindness as the improving reason of children justifies. The views of
children should be extended to their future advantage,[111] and they
should consider childhood as a part of their existence, not as a
certain number of years which must be passed over before they can
enjoy any of the pleasures of life, before they can enjoy any of the
privileges of _grown up people_. Preceptors should not accustom their
pupils to what they call indulgence, but should give them the utmost
degree of present pleasure which is consistent with their future
advantage. Would it not be folly and cruelty to give present pleasure
at the expense of a much larger portion of future pain? When children
acquire experience and reason, they rejudge the conduct of those who
have educated them; and their confidence and their gratitude will be
in exact proportion to the wisdom and justice with which they have
been governed.

It was necessary to explain at large these ideas of rewards and
punishments, that we might clearly see our way in the progress of
education. After having determined, that our object is to obtain for
our pupils the greatest possible portion of felicity; after having
observed, that no happiness can be enjoyed in society without the
social virtues, without the _useful_ and the _agreeable_ qualities;
our view naturally turns to the means of forming these virtues, of
ensuring these essential qualities. On our sympathy with our fellow
creatures depend many of our social virtues; from our ambition to
excel our competitors, arise many of our most _useful_ and _agreeable_
actions. We have considered these principles of action as they depend
on each other, and as they are afterwards separated. Sympathy and
sensibility, uninformed by reason, cannot be proper guides to action.
We have endeavoured to show how sympathy may be improved into virtue.
Children should not see the deformed expression of the malevolent
passions in the countenance of those who live with them: before the
habits are formed, before sympathy has any rule to guide itself, it is
necessarily determined by example. Benevolence and affectionate
kindness from parents to children, first inspire the pleasing emotions
of love and gratitude. Sympathy is not able to contend with passion or
appetite: we should therefore avoid placing children in painful
competition with one another. We love those from whom we receive
pleasure. To make children fond of each other, we must make them the
cause of pleasure to each other; we must place them in situations
where no passion or appetite crosses their natural sympathy. We have
spoken of the difference between transient, convivial sympathy, and
that higher species of sympathy which, connected with esteem,
constitutes friendship. We have exhorted parents not to exhaust
imprudently the sensibility of their children; not to lavish caresses
upon their infancy, and cruelly to withdraw their kindness when their
children have learned to expect the daily stimulus of affection. The
idea of exercising sensibility we have endeavoured to explain, and to
show, that if we require premature gratitude and generosity from young
people, we shall only teach them affectation and hypocrisy. We have
slightly touched on the dangers of excessive female sensibility, and
have suggested, that useful, active employments, and the cultivation
of the reasoning faculty, render sympathy and sensibility more
respectable, and not less graceful.

In treating of vanity, pride, and ambition, we have been more
indulgent to vanity than our _proud_ readers will approve. We hope,
however, not to be misunderstood; we hope that we shall not appear to
be admirers of that mean and ridiculous foible, which is anxiously
concealed by all who have any desire to obtain esteem. We cannot,
however, avoid thinking it is a contradiction to inspire young people
with a wish to excel, and at the same time to insist upon their
repressing all expressions of satisfaction if they succeed. The desire
to obtain the good opinion of others, is a strong motive to exertion:
this desire cannot be discriminative in children before they have any
knowledge of the comparative value of different qualities, and before
they can estimate the consequent value of the applause of different
individuals. We have endeavoured to show how, from appealing at first
to the opinions of others, children may be led to form judgments of
their own actions, and to appeal to their own minds for approbation.
The sense of duty and independent self-complacency may gradually be
substituted in the place of weak, ignorant vanity. There is not much
danger that young people, whose understandings are improved, and who
mix gradually with society, should not be able to repress those
offensive expressions of vanity or pride, which are disagreeable to
the feelings of the "impartial spectators." We should rather let the
vanity of children find its own level, than attempt any artificial
adjustments; they will learn propriety of manners from observation and
experience; we should have patience with their early uncivilized
presumption, lest we, by premature restraints, check the energy of the
mind, and induce the cold, feeble vice of hypocrisy. In their own
family, among the friends whom they ought to love and esteem, let
children, with simple, unreserved vivacity, express the good opinion
they have of themselves. It is infinitely better that they should be
allowed this necessary expansion of self-complacency in the company of
their superiors, than that it should be repressed by the cold hand of
authority, and afterwards be displayed in the company of inferiors and
sycophants. We have endeavoured to distinguish between the proper and
improper use of praise as a motive in education: we have considered it
as a stimulus which, like all other excitements, is serviceable or
pernicious, according to the degree in which it is used, and the
circumstances in which it is applied.

Whilst we have thus been examining the general means of educating the
heart and the understanding, we have avoided entering minutely into
the technical methods of obtaining certain parts of knowledge. It was
essential, in the first place, to show, how the desire of knowledge
was to be excited; what acquirements are most desirable, and how they
are to be most easily obtained, are the next considerations. In the
chapter on Books--Classical Literature and Grammar--Arithmetic and
Geometry--Geography and Astronomy--Mechanics and Chemistry--we have
attempted to show, how a taste for literature may early be infused
into the minds of children, and how the rudiments of science, and some
general principles of knowledge, may be acquired, without disgusting
the pupil, or fatiguing him by unceasing application. We have, in
speaking of the choice of books for children, suggested the general
principles, by which a selection may be safely made; and by minute,
but we hope not invidious, criticism, we have illustrated our
principles so as to make them practically useful.

The examination of M. Condillac's Cours d'Etude was meant to
illustrate our own sentiments, more than to attack a particular
system. Far from intending to depreciate this author, we think most
highly of his abilities; but we thought it necessary to point out some
practical errours in his mode of instruction. Without examples from
real life, we should have wandered, as many others of far superior
abilities have already wandered, in the shadowy land of theory.

In our chapters on Grammar, Arithmetic, Mechanics, Chemistry, &c. all
that we have attempted has been to recall to preceptors the
difficulties which they once experienced, and to trace those early
footsteps which time insensibly obliterates. How few possess, like
Faruknaz in the Persian tale, the happy art of transfusing their own
souls into the bosoms of others!

We shall not pity the reader whom we have dragged through Garretson's
Exercises, if we can save one trembling little pilgrim from that
"slough of despond." We hope that the patient, quiet mode of teaching
classical literature, which we have found to succeed in a few
instances, may be found equally successful in others; we are not
conscious of having exaggerated, and we sincerely wish that some
intelligent, benevolent parents may verify our experiments upon their
own children.

The great difficulty which has been found in attempts to instruct
children in science, has, we apprehend, arisen from the theoretic
manner in which preceptors have proceeded. The knowledge that cannot
be immediately applied to use, has no interest for children, has no
hold upon their memories; they may learn the principles of mechanics,
or geometry, or chemistry; but if they have no means of applying their
knowledge, it is quickly forgotten, and nothing but the disgust
connected with the recollection of useless labour remains in the
pupil's mind. It has been our object, in treating of these subjects,
to show how they may be made interesting to young people; and for this
purpose we should point out to them, in the daily, active business of
life, the practical use of scientific knowledge. Their senses should
be exercised in experiments, and these experiments should be simple,
distinct, and applicable to some object in which our pupils are
immediately interested. We are not solicitous about the quantity of
knowledge that is obtained at any given age, but we are extremely
anxious that the desire to learn should continually increase, and
that whatever is taught should be taught with that perspicuity, which
improves the general understanding. If the first principles of science
are once clearly understood, there is no danger that the pupil should
not, at any subsequent period of his life, improve his practical
skill, and increase his knowledge to whatever degree he thinks proper.

We have hitherto proceeded without discussing the comparative
advantages of public or private education. Whether children are to be
educated at home, or to be sent to public seminaries, the same course
of education, during the first years of their lives, should be
pursued; and the preparatory care of parents is essential to the
success of the public preceptor. We have admitted the necessity of
public schools, and, in the present state of society, we acknowledge
that many parents have it not in their power properly to superintend
the private education of a family. We have earnestly advised parents
not to attempt private education without first calculating the
difficulties of the undertaking; we have pointed out that, by
co-operating with the public instructer, parents may assist in the
formation of their children's characters, without undertaking the sole
management of their classical instruction. A private education, upon a
calm survey of the advantages of both systems, we prefer, because more
is in the power of the private than of the public instructer. One
uniform course of experience may be preserved, and no examples, but
those which we wish to have followed, need be seen by those children
who are brought up at home. When we give our opinion in favour of
private education, we hope that all we have said on servants and on
acquaintance will be full in the reader's recollection. No private
education, we repeat it, can succeed without perfect unanimity,
consistency, and steadiness, amongst all the individuals in the

We have recommended to parents the highest liberality as the highest
prudence, in rewarding the care of enlightened preceptors. Ye great
and opulent parents, condescend to make your children happy: provide
for yourselves the cordial of domestic affection against "that
sickness of long life--old age."

In what we have said of governesses, masters, and the value of female
accomplishments, we have considered not only what is the fashion of
to-day, but rather what is likely to be the fashion of ten or twenty
years hence. Mothers will look back, and observe how much the system
of female education has altered within their own memory; and they will
see, with "the prophetic eye of taste," what may probably be the
fashion of another spring--another race.[112] We have endeavoured to
substitute the words _domestic happiness_ instead of the present
terms, "success in the world--fortunate establishments," &c. This will
lead, perhaps, at first, to some confusion in the minds of those who
have been long used to the old terms: but the new vocabulary has its
advantages; the young and unprejudiced will, perhaps, perceive them,
and maternal tenderness will calculate with more precision, but not
with less eagerness, the chances of happiness according to the new and
old tables of interest.

Sectary-metaphysicians, if any of this description should ever deign
to open a book that has a _practical_ title, will, we fear, be
disappointed in our chapters on Memory--Imagination and Judgment. They
will not find us the partisans of any system, and they will probably
close the volume with supercilious contempt. We endeavour to console
ourselves by the hope, that men of sense and candour will be more
indulgent, and will view with more complacency an attempt to collect
from all metaphysical writers, those observations, which can be
immediately of practical use in education. Without any pompous
pretensions, we have given a sketch of what we have been able to
understand and ascertain of the history of the mind. On some
subjects, the wisest of our readers will at least give us credit for
knowing that we are ignorant.

We do not set that high value upon Memory, which some preceptors are
inclined to do. From all that we have observed, we believe that few
people are naturally deficient in this faculty; though in many it may
have been so injudiciously cultivated as to induce the spectators to
conclude, that there was some original defect in the retentive power.
The recollective power is less cultivated than it ought to be, by the
usual modes of education: and this is one reason why so few pupils
rise above mediocrity. They lay up treasures for moths to corrupt;
they acquire a quantity of knowledge, they learn a multitude of words
by rote, and they cannot produce a single fact, or a single idea, in
the moment when it is wanted: they collect, but they cannot combine.
We have suggested the means of cultivating the inventive faculty at
the same time that we store the memory; we have shown, that on the
order in which ideas are presented to the mind, depends the order in
which they will recur to the memory; and we have given examples from
the histories of great men and little children, of the reciprocal
assistance which the memory and the inventive powers afford each

In speaking of Taste, it has been our wish to avoid prejudice and
affectation. We have advised that children should early be informed,
that the principles of taste depend upon casual, arbitrary, variable
associations. This will prevent our pupils from falling into the
vulgar errour of being amazed and _scandalized_ at the tastes of other
times and other nations. The beauties of nature and the productions of
art, which are found to be most generally pleasing, we should
associate with pleasure in the mind: but we ought not to expect that
children should admire those works of imagination which suggest,
instead of expressing, ideas. Until children have acquired the
language, until they have all the necessary trains of ideas, many of
the finest strokes of genius in oratory, poetry, and painting, must
to them be absolutely unintelligible.

In a moral point of view, we have treated of the false associations
which have early influence upon the imagination, and produce the
furious passions and miserable vices. The false associations which
first inspire the young and innocent mind with the love of wealth, of
power, or what is falsely called pleasure, are pointed out; and some
practical hints are offered to parents, which it is hoped may tend to
preserve their children from these moral insanities.

We do not think that persons who are much used to children, will
quarrel with us for what we have said of early prodigies of wit.
People, who merely talk to children for the amusement of the moment,
may admire their "lively nonsense," and will probably think the
simplicity of mind that we prefer, is downright stupidity. The habit
of reasoning is seldom learned by children who are much taken notice
of for their sprightly repartees; but we have observed that children,
after they have learned to reason, as they grow up and become
acquainted with the manners and customs of the world, are by no means
deficient in talents for conversation, and in that species of wit
which depends upon the perception of analogy between ideas, rather
than a play upon words. At all events, we would rather that our pupils
should be without the brilliancy of wit, than the solid and essential
power of judgment.

To cultivate the judgment of children, we must begin by teaching them
accurately to examine and compare such external objects as are
immediately obvious to their senses; when they begin to argue, we must
be careful to make them explain their terms and abide by them. In
books and conversation, they must avoid all bad reasoning, nor should
they ever be encouraged in the quibbling habit of arguing for victory.

Prudence we consider as compounded of judgment and resolution. When we
teach children to reflect upon and compare their own feelings, when we
frequently give them their _choice_ in things that are interesting to
them, we educate them to be prudent. We cannot teach this virtue until
children have had some experience; as far as their experience goes,
their prudence may be exercised. Those who reflect upon their own
feelings, and find out exactly what it is that makes them happy, are
taught wisdom by a very few distinct lessons. Even fools, it is said,
grow wise by experience, but it is not until they grow old under her
rigid discipline.

Economy is usually understood to mean prudence in the management of
money; we have used this word in a more enlarged sense. Children, we
have observed, may be economic of any thing that is trusted to their
charge; until they have some use for money, they need not be troubled
or tempted with it: if all the necessaries and conveniences of life
are provided for them, they must spend whatever is given to them as
pocket money, in superfluities. This habituates them early to
extravagance. We do not apprehend that young people should be
entrusted with money, till they have been some time used to manage the
money business of others. They may be taught to keep the accounts of a
family, from which they will learn the price and value of different
commodities. All this, our readers will perceive, is nothing more than
the application of the different reasoning powers to different

We have thus slightly given a summary of the chapters in the preceding
work, to recall the whole in a connected view to the mind; a few
simple principles run through the different parts; all the purposes of
practical education tend to one distinct object; to render our pupils
good and wise, that they may enjoy the greatest possible share of
happiness at present and in future.

Parental care and anxiety, the hours devoted to the instruction of a
family, will not be thrown away; if parents have the patience to wait
for their reward, that reward will far surpass their most sanguine
expectations: they will find in their children agreeable companions,
sincere and affectionate friends. Whether they live in retirement, or
in the busy world, they will feel their interest in life increase,
their pleasures multiplied by sympathy with their beloved pupils; they
will have a happy home. How much is comprised in that single
expression! The gratitude of their pupils will continually recall to
their minds the delightful reflection, that the felicity of their
whole family is their work; that the virtues and talents of their
children are the necessary consequences of good education.



"Turn from the glittering bribe your scornful eye, Nor sell for gold
what gold can never buy."

_Johnson's London._

[111] Emilius.

[112] "Another spring, another race supplies." Pope's Homer.



Several years ago a mother,[113] who had a large family to educate,
and who had turned her attention with much solicitude to the subject
of education, resolved to write notes from day to day of all the
trifling things which mark the progress of the mind in childhood. She
was of opinion, that the art of education should be considered as an
experimental science, and that many authors of great abilities had
mistaken their road by following theory instead of practice. The title
of "_Practical Education_" was chosen by this lady, and prefixed to a
little book for children, which she began, but did not live to finish.
The few notes which remain of her writing, are preserved, not merely
out of respect to her memory, but because it is thought that they may
be useful. Her plan of keeping a register of the remarks of children,
has at intervals been pursued in her family; a number of these
anecdotes have been interspersed in this work; a few, which did not
seem immediately to suit the didactic nature of any of our chapters,
remain, and with much hesitation and diffidence are offered to the
public. We have selected such anecdotes as may in some measure
illustrate the principles that we have endeavoured to establish; and
we hope, that from these trifling, but genuine conversations of
children and parents, the reader will distinctly perceive the
difference, between practical and theoretic education. As some further
apology for offering them to the public, we recur to a passage in Dr.
Reid's[114] Essays, which encourages an attempt to study minutely the
minds of children.

"If we could obtain a distinct and full history of all that hath
passed in the mind of a child from the beginning of life and sensation
till it grows up to the use of reason, how its infant faculties began
to work, and how they brought forth and ripened all the various
notions, opinions, and sentiments, which we find in ourselves when we
come to be capable of reflection, this would be a treasure of natural
history which would probably give more light into the human faculties,
than all the systems of philosophers about them, from the beginning of
the world."

The reader, we hope, will not imagine that we think we can present him
with this treasure of natural history; we have only a few scattered
notices, as Bacon would call them, to offer; perhaps, even this slight
attempt may awaken the attention of persons equal to the undertaking:
if able preceptors and parents would pursue a similar plan, we might,
in time, hope to obtain a full history of the infant mind.

It may occur to parents, that writing notes of the remarks of children
would lessen their freedom and simplicity in conversation; this would
certainly be the case if care were not taken to prevent the pupils
from thinking of the _note-book_.[115] The following notes were never
seen by the children who are mentioned in them, and though it was in
general known in the family that such notes were taken, the particular
remarks that were written down, were never known to the pupils: nor
was any curiosity excited upon this subject. The attempt would have
been immediately abandoned, if we had perceived that it produced any
bad consequences. The simple language of childhood has been preserved
without alteration in the following notes; and as we could not devise
any better arrangement, we have followed the order of time, and we
have constantly inserted the ages of the children, for the
satisfaction of preceptors and parents, to whom alone these infantine
anecdotes can be interesting: We say nothing farther as to their
accuracy; if the reader does not see in the anecdotes themselves
internal marks of veracity, all we could say would be of no avail.

X---- (a girl of five years old) asked why a piece of paper fell
quickly to the ground when rumpled up, and why so slowly when opened.

Y---- (a girl of three years and a half old) seeing her sister taken
care of and nursed when she had chilblains, said, that she wished to
have chilblains.

Z---- (a girl between two and three) when her mother was putting on
her bonnet, and when she was going out to walk, looked at the cat, and
said with a plaintive voice, "Poor pussey! you have no bonnet,

X---- (5 years old) asked why she was as tall as the trees when she
was far from them.

Z---- (4 years old) went to church, and when she was there said, "Do
those men do every thing better than we, because they talk so loud,
and I think they read."

It was a country church, and people sang; but the child said, "She
thought they didn't sing, but roared, because they were shut up in
that place, and didn't like it."

L---- (a boy between 3 and 4 years) was standing before a grate with
coals in it, which were not lighted; his mother said to him, "What is
the use of coals?"

_L----._ "To put in your grate."

_Mother._ "Why are they put there?"

_L----._ "To make fire."

_Mother._ "How do they make fire?"

_L----._ "Fire is brought to them."

_Mother._ "How is fire brought to them?"

_L----._ "Fire is brought to them upon a candle and put to them."

L----, a little while afterwards, asked leave to light a candle, and
when a bit of paper was given to him for that purpose, said, "But,
mother, may I take some light out of your fire to put to it?"

This boy had more exact ideas of property than Prometheus had.

Z----, when she was between five and six, said, "Water keeps things
alive, and eating keeps alive children."

_Z----_ (same age) meddling with a fly, said, "she did not hurt it."
"Were you ever a fly?" said her mother. "Not _that I know of_,"
answered the child.

_Z----'s_ father sent her into a room where there were some knives and
forks. "If you meddle with them," said he, "you may cut yourself."

_Z----._ "I won't cut myself."

_Father._ "Can you be sure of that?"

_Z----._ "No, but I can take care."

_Father._ "But if you should cut yourself, would it do you any good?"

_Z----._ "No--Yes."

_Father._ "What good?"

_Z----._ "Not to do so another time."

---- (same age.) Z----'s mother said to her, "Will you give me some of
your fat cheeks?"

_Z----._ "No, I cannot, it would hurt me."

_Mother._ "But if it would not hurt you, would you give me some?"

_Z----._ "No, it would make two holes in my cheeks that would be

A sentimental mother would, perhaps, have been displeased with the
simple answers of this little girl. (Vide Sympathy and Sensibility.)

The following memorandums of Mrs. H----E----'s (dated 1779) have been
of great use to us in our chapter upon Toys.

"The playthings of children should be calculated to fix their
attention, that they may not get a habit of doing any thing in a
listless manner.

"There are periods as long as two or three months at a time, in the
lives of young children, when their bodies appear remarkably active
and vigorous, and their minds dull and inanimate; they are at these
times incapable of comprehending any new ideas, and forgetful of those
they have already received. When this disposition to exert the bodily
faculties, subsides, children show much restlessness and distaste for
their usual plays. The intervals between meals, appear long to them;
they ask a multitude of questions, and are continually looking forward
to some future good; if at this time any mental employment be
presented to them, they receive it with the utmost avidity, and pursue
it with assiduity; their minds appear to have acquired additional
powers from having remained inactive for a considerable time."

(January 1781.) Z----, (7 years old.) "What are bones made of? My
father says it has not been found out. If I should find it out, I
shall be wiser in that respect than my father."

(April 8th.) _Z----._ "What becomes of the blood when people die?"

_Father._ "It stays in the body."

_Z----._ "I thought it went out of the body; because you told me, that
what we eat was turned into blood, and that blood nourished the body
and kept it alive."

_Father._ "Yes, my dear; but blood must be in motion to keep the body
alive; the heart moves the blood through the arteries and veins, and
the blood comes back again to the heart. We don't know how this motion
is performed. What we eat, is not turned at once into blood; it is
dissolved by something in the stomach, and is turned into something
white like milk, which is called chyle; the chyle passes through
little pipes in the body, called lacteals, and into the veins and
arteries, and becomes blood. But I don't know how. I will show you the
inside of the body of a dead pig: a pig's inside is something like
that of a man."

_Z----_ (same age) when her father had given her an account of a large
stone that was thrown to a considerable distance from Mount Vesuvius
at the time of an eruption, she asked, how the air could keep a large
stone from falling, when it would not support her weight.

Z----, (same age) when she was reading the Roman history, was asked,
what she thought of the conduct of the wife of Asdrubal. Z---- said
she did not like her. She was asked why. The first reason Z---- gave
for not liking the lady, was, "that she spoke loud;" the next, "that
she was unkind to her husband, and killed her children."

We regret (though perhaps our readers may rejoice) that several years
elapsed in which these little notes of the remarks of children were
discontinued. In 1792 the following notes were begun by one of the
same family.

(March, '92.) Mr. ---- saw an Irish giant at Bristol, and when he came
home, Mr. ---- gave his children a description of the giant. His
height, he said, was about eight feet. _S----_ (a boy of five years
old) asked whether this giant had lived much longer than other men.

_Father._ "No; why did you think he had lived longer than other men?"

_S----._ "Because he was so much taller."

_Father._ "Well."

_S----._ "And he had so much more time to grow."

_Father._ "People, after a certain age, do not grow any more. Your
sister M----, and I, and your mother, have not grown any taller since
you can remember, have we?"

_S----._ "No; but I have, and B----, and C----."

_Father._ "Yes; you are children. Whilst people are growing, they are
children; after they have done growing they are called men and women."

(April, '92.) At tea-time, to-day, somebody said that hot chocolate
scalds worse than hot tea or hot water. Mr. ---- asked his children if
they could give any reason for this. They were silent.

Mr. ----. "If water be made as hot as it can be made, and if chocolate
be made as hot as it can be made, the chocolate will scald you the
most. Can you tell me why!"

_C----_ (a girl between eight and nine years old.) "Because there is
oil, I believe, in the chocolate; and because it is thicker, and the
parts closer together, than in tea or water."

_Father._ "What you say is true; but you have not explained the reason
yet. Well, _H----_."

_H----_ (a boy between nine and ten.) "Because there is water in the

_Father._ "Water in the bubbles? I don't understand. Water in what

_H----._ "I thought I had always seen, when water boils, that there
are a great many little bubbles upon the top."

_Father._ "Well; but what has that to do with the question I asked

_H----._ "Because the cold air that was in the bubbles, would cool the
water next them, and then"--(he was quite confused, and stopped.)

_B----_ (a girl of ten or eleven years old) spoke next. "I thought
that chocolate was much thicker than water, and there were more parts,
and those parts were closer together, and each could hold but a
certain quantity of heat; and therefore chocolate could be made hotter
than water."

_Father._ "That is a good chemical idea. You suppose that the
chocolate and tea can be _saturated_ with heat. But you have none of
you yet told the reason."

The children were all silent.

_Father._ "Can water ever be made hotter than boiling hot?"

_B----._ "No."

_Father._ "Why?"

_B----._ "I don't know."

_Father._ "What happens to water when it does what we call _boil_?"

_H----._ "It bubbles, and makes a sort of noise."

_B----._ "It turns into steam or vapour, I believe."

_Father._ "All at once?"

_B----._ "No: but what is at the top, first."

_Father._ "Now you see the reason why water can't be made hotter than
boiling hot: for if a certain degree of heat be applied to it, it
changes into the form of vapour, and flies off. When I was a little
boy, I was once near having a dreadful accident. I had not been taught
the nature of water, and steam, and heat, and evaporation; and I
wanted to fill a wet hollow stick with melted lead. The moment I
poured the lead into the stick, the water in the wood turned into
vapour suddenly, and the lead was thrown up with great violence to the
ceiling: my face narrowly escaped. So you see people should know what
they are about before they meddle with things.--But now as to the

No one seemed to have any thing to say about the chocolate.

_Father._ "Water, you know, boils with a certain degree of heat. Will
oil, do you think, boil with the same heat?"

_C----._ "I don't understand."

_Father._ "In the same _degree of heat_ (you must learn to accustom
yourself to those words, though they seem difficult to you)--In the
same heat, do you think water or oil would boil the soonest?"

None of the children knew.

_Father._ "Water would boil the soonest. More heat is necessary to
make oil boil, or turn into vapour, than to make water evaporate. Do
you know of any thing which is used to _determine_, to _show_, and
_mark_, to us the different degrees of heat?"

_B----._ "Yes; a thermometer."

_Father._ "Yes: thermometer comes from two Greek words, one of which
signifies heat, and the other measure. Meter, means measure.
Thermo_meter_ a measurer of heat; baro_meter_, a measurer of the
weight of the air; hygro_meter_, a measurer of moisture. Now, if you
remember, on the thermo_meter_ you have seen these words at a certain
mark, _the heat of boiling water_. The quicksilver, in a thermometer,
rises to that mark when it is exposed to that degree of heat which
will make the water turn into vapour. Now the degree of heat which is
necessary to make oil evaporate, is not marked on the thermometer; but
it requires several degrees more heat to evaporate oil, than is
necessary to evaporate water.--So now you know that chocolate,
containing more oil than is contained in tea, it can be made hotter
before it turns into vapour."

Children may be led to acquire a taste for chemistry by slight hints
in conversation.

(July 22d, 1794.) _Father._ "S----, can you tell me what is meant by a
body's falling?"

_S----_ (seven years old.) "A body's falling, means a body's dying, I

_Father._ "By _body_, I don't mean a person, but any thing. What is
meant by any thing's falling?"

_S----._ "Coming down from a high place."

_Father._ "What do you mean by a high place?"

_S----._ "A place higher than places usually are; higher than the

_Father._ "What do you mean by the ground?"

_S----._ "The earth."

_Father._ "What shape do you think the earth is?"

_S----._ "Round."

_Father._ "Why do you think it is round?"

_S----._ "Because I have heard a great many people say so."

_Father._ "The shadow.--It is so difficult to explain to you, my dear,
why we think that the earth is round, that I will not attempt it

It is better, as we have often observed, to avoid all _imperfect_
explanations, which give children confused ideas.

(August 18th, 1794.) Master ---- came to see us, and taught S---- to
fish for minnows. It was explained to S----, that fishing with worms
for baits, tortures the worms. No other argument was used, no
sentimental exclamations made upon the occasion; and S---- fished no
more, nor did he ever mention the subject again.

Children sometimes appear cruel, when in fact they do not know that
they give pain to animals.

(July 27th, 1794.) S---- saw a beautiful rainbow, and he said, "I wish
I could walk over that fine arch."

This is one of the pleasures of Ariel, and of the Sylphs in the Rape
of the Lock. S---- was not praised for a poetic wish, lest he should
have learnt affectation.

(September 3d, 1794.) Mr. ---- attempted to explain to B----, H----,
S----, and C----, the nature of insurance, and the day afterwards he
asked them to explain it to him. They none of them understood it,
except B----, who could not, however, explain it, though she did
understand it. The terms were all new to them, and they had no ships
to insure.

(September 19th.) At dinner to-day, S---- (seven years old) said to
his sister C----, "What is the name of that man that my father was
talking to, that sounded like Idem, Isdal, or Izard, I believe."
"Izard!" said somebody at table, "that name sounds like Lizard; yes,
there is a family of the Lizards in the Guardian."

_S----._ "A real family?"

_Mr. ----._ "No, my dear: a name given to supposed characters."

_M----._ "Wasn't it one of the young Lizards who would prove to his
mother, when she had just scalded her fingers with boiling water out
of the tea-kittle, that there's no more heat in fire that heats you,
than pain in the stick that beats you!"

_Mr. ----._ "Yes; I think that character has done harm; it has thrown
a ridicule upon metaphysical disquisitions."

_Mrs.----._ "Are not those lines about the pain in the stick in the
'Letter[116] to my Sisters at Crux Easton,' in Dodsley's poems?"

_Mr. ----._ "Yes; but they come originally from Hudibras, you know."

In slight conversations, such as these, which are not contrived for
the purpose, the curiosity of children is awakened to literature; they
see the use which people make of what they read, and they learn to
talk freely about what they meet with in books. What a variety of
thoughts came in a few instants from S----'s question about _Idem_!

(November 8th, 1795.) Mr. ---- read the first chapter of Hugh Trevor
to us; which contains the history of a passionate farmer, who was in a
rage with a goose because it would not eat some oats which he offered
it. He tore off the wings of the animal, and twisted off its neck; he
bit off the ear of a pig, because it squealed when he was ringing it;
he ran at his apprentice Hugh Trevor with a pitch-fork, because he
suspected that he had drank some milk; the pitch-fork stuck in a door.
Hugh Trevor then told the passionate farmer, that the dog Jowler had
drank the milk, but that he would not tell this before, because he
knew his master would have hanged the dog.

_S----_ admired Hugh Trevor for this extremely.

The farmer in his lucid intervals is extremely penitent, but his fit
of rage seizes him again one morning when he sees some milk boiling
over. He flies at Hugh Trevor, and stabs him with a clasp knife, with
which he had been cutting bread and cheese; the knife is stopped by
half a crown which Hugh Trevor had sewed in his waistcoat; _this half
crown he had found on the highway a few days before_.

It was doubted by Miss M. S----, whether this last was a proper
circumstance to be told to children, because it might lead them to be

The evening after Mr. ---- had read the story, he asked S---- to
repeat it to him. S---- remembered it, and told it distinctly till he
came to the half crown; at this circumstance he hesitated. He said he
did not know how Hugh Trevor "_came to keep it_," though he had found
it. He wondered that Hugh Trevor did not ask about it.

_Mr. ----_ explained to him, that when a person finds any thing upon
the highway, he should put it in the hand of the public crier, who
should _cry it_. Mr. ---- was not quite certain whether the property
found on the high road, after it has been _cried_ and no owner
appears, belongs to the king, or to the person who finds it.
Blackstone's Commentaries were consulted; the passage concerning
_Treasuretrove_ was read to S----; it is written in such distinct
language, that he understood it completely.

Young people may acquire much knowledge by consulting books, at the
moment that any interest is excited by conversation upon particular

Explanations about the _law_ were detailed to S----, because he was
intended for a lawyer. In conversation we may direct the attention of
children to what are to be their professional studies, and we may
associate entertainment and pleasure with the idea of their future

The story of the passionate farmer in Hugh Trevor was thought to be a
good lesson for children of vivacious tempers, as it shows to what
crimes excess of passion may transport. This man appears an object of
compassion; all the children felt a mixture of pity and abhorrence
when they heard the history of his disease.

(November 23d, 1795.) This morning at breakfast Miss ---- observed,
that the inside of the cream cover, which was made of black Wedgwood's
ware, looked brown and speckled, as if the glazing had been worn away;
she asked whether this was caused by the cream. One of the company
immediately exclaimed, "Oh! I've heard that Wedgwood's ware won't hold
oil." Mr. ---- observed, that it would be best to try the experiment,
instead of resting content with this hearsay evidence; he asked H----
and S---- what would be the best method of trying the experiment

_S----_ proposed to pour oil into a vessel of Wedgwood's ware, and to
measure the depth of the oil when first put in; to leave the oil in
the vessel for some time, and then to measure again the depth of the

_H----_ said, "I would weigh the Wedgwood's ware vessel; then pour oil
into it, and weigh _it_ (them) again; then I would leave the oil in
the vessel for some time, and afterwards I would pour out the oil, and
would weigh the vessel to see if it had gained any weight; and then
weigh the oil to find out whether it had lost any weight since it was
put into the vessel." H----'s scheme was approved.

A black Wedgwood's ware salt-cellar was weighed in accurate scales; it
weighed 1196 grains; 110 grains of oil were poured into it; total
weight of the salt-cellar and oil, 1306 grs. Six months afterwards,
the salt-cellar was produced to the children, who were astonished to
see that the oil had disappeared. The lady, who had first asserted
that Wedgwood's ware would not hold oil, was inclined to believe that
the oil had oozed through the pores of the salt-cellar; but the little
spectators thought it was more probable that the oil might have been
accidentally spilled; the salt-cellar weighed as before 1196 grains.

The experiment was repeated, and this time it was resolved to lock up
the salt-cellar, that it might not again be thrown down.

(April 14th, 1796.) Into the same salt-cellar 100 grains weight of
oil was poured (total weight 1296 grains.) The salt-cellar was put on
a saucer, and covered with a glass tumbler. (June 3d, 1796.) Mr. ----
weighed the salt-cellar, and found that with the oil it weighed
precisely the same as before, 1296 grains; without the oil, 1196
grains, its original weight: therefore it was clear that the
Wedgwood's ware had neither imbibed the oil, nor let it pass through
its pores.

This little experiment has not been thus minutely told for
philosophers, but for children; however trivial the subject, it is
useful to teach children early to try experiments. Even the weighing
and calculating in this experiment, amused them, and gave some ideas
of the exactness necessary to prove any fact.

(Dec. 1st, 1795.) _S----_ (8 years old) in reading Gay's fable of "the
painter who pleased every body and nobody," was delighted to hear that
the painter put his pallet upon his thumb, because _S----_ had seen a
little pallet of his sister _A----'s_, which she used to put on her
thumb. _S----_ had been much amused by this, and he was very fond of
this sister, who had been absent for some time. Association makes
slight circumstances agreeable to children; if we do not know these
associations, we are surprised at their expressions of delight. It is
useful to trace them. (Vide Chap. on Imagination.)

_S----_ seemed puzzled when he read that the painter "dipped his
pencil, talked of _Greece_." "Why did he talk of Greece?" said _S----_
with a look of astonishment. Upon inquiry, it was found that _S----_
mistook the word _Greece_ for _Grease_!

It was explained to him, that Grecian statues and Grecian figures are
generally thought to be particularly graceful and well executed; that,
therefore, painters attend to them.

(Dec. 1st, 1795.) After dinner to-day, _S----_ was looking at a little
black toothpick-case of his father's; his father asked him if he knew
what it was made of.

The children guessed different things; wood, horn, bone, paper,
pasteboard, glue.

Mr. ----. "Instead of examining the toothpick-case, _S----_, you hold
it in your hand, and turn your eyes away from it, that you may think
the better. Now, when I want to find out any thing about a particular
object, I keep my eye fixed upon it. Observe the texture of that
toothpick-case, if you want to know the materials of which it is made;
look at the edges, feel it."

_S----._ "May I smell it?"

_Mr. ----._ "Oh yes. You may use all your senses."

_S----_ (feeling the toothpick-case, smelling it, and looking closely
at it.) "It is black, and smooth, and strong and light. What is, let
me see, both strong and light, and it will bend--parchment."

_Mr. ----._ "That is a good guess; but you are not quite right yet.
What is parchment? I think by your look that you don't know."

_S----._ "Is it not paper pasted together?"

_Mr. ----._ "No; I thought you mistook pasteboard for parchment."

_S----._ "Is parchment skin?"

_Mr. ----._ "Of what?"

_S----._ "Animals."

_Mr. ----._ "What animal?"

_S----._ "I don't know."

_Mr. ----._ "Parchment is the skin of sheep."

"But _S----_, don't keep the toothpick-case in your hand, push it
round the table to your neighbours, that every body may look again
before they guess. I think, for certain reasons of my own, that
_H----_ will guess right."

_H----._ "Oh I know what it is now!"

_H----_ had lately made a pump, the piston of which was made of
leather; the leather had been wetted, and then forced through a mould
of the proper size. _H----_ recollected this, as _Mr. ----_ thought he
would, and guessed that the case might have been made of leather, and
by a similar process.

_S----._ "Is it made of the skin of some animal?"

_Mr. ----._ "Yes; but what do you mean by the skin of some animal?
What do you call it?"

_S----_ (laughing.) "Oh, leather! leather!"

_H----._ "Yes, it's made the same way that the piston of my pump is
made, I suppose."

_M----._ "Could not shoes be made in the same manner in a mould?"

_Mr. ----._ "Yes; but there would be one disadvantage; the shoes would
lose their shape as soon as they were wet; and the sole and upper
leather must be nearly of the same thickness."

_S----._ "Is the tookpick-case made out of any particular kind of
leather? I wish I could make one!"

_M----._ "You have a bit of green leather, will you give it to me?
I'll punch it out like _H_'s piston; but I don't exactly know how the
toothpick-case was made into the right shape."

_Mr. ----._ "It was made in the same manner in which silver
pencil-cases and thimbles are made. If you take a thin piece of
silver, or of any ductile material, and lay it over a concave mould,
you can readily imagine that you can make the thin, ductile material
take the shape of any mould into which you put it; and you may go on
forcing it into moulds of different depths, till at last the plate of
silver will have been shaped into a cylindrical form; a thimble, a
pencil-case, a toothpick-case, or any similar figure."

We have observed (V. Mechanics) that children should have some general
idea of mechanics before they go into the large manufactories; this
can be given to them from time to time in conversation, when little
circumstances occur, which _naturally_ lead to the subject.

(November 30th, 1795.) _S----_ said he liked the beginning of Gay's
fable of "The man and the flea," very much, but he could not tell what
was meant by the crab's crawling beside the _coral grove_, and hearing
the ocean roll _above_. "The ocean cannot roll _above_, can it

_Mother._ "Yes, when the animal is crawling below he hears the water
rolling above him."

_M----._ "Coral groves mean the branches of coral which look like
trees; you saw some at Bristol in Mr. B----'s collection."

The difficulty _S----_ found in understanding "coral groves," confirms
what has been observed, that children should never read poetry without
its being thoroughly explained to them. (Vide Chapter on Books.)

(January 10th, 1795.) _S----_ (8 years old) said that he had been
thinking about the wind; and he believed that it was the earth's
turning round that made the wind.

_M----._ "Then how comes it that the wind does not blow always the
same way?"

_S----._ "Aye, that's the thing I can't make out; besides, perhaps the
air would stick to the earth as it turns round, as threads stick to my
spinning top, and go round with it."

(January 4th, 1795.) As we were talking of the king of Poland's little
dwarf, S---- recollected by contrast the Irish giant whom he had seen
at Bristol. "I liked the Irish giant very much, because," said S----,
"though he was so large, he was not surly; and when my father asked
him to take out his shoe-buckle to try whether it would cover my foot,
he did not seem in a hurry to do it. I suppose he did not wish to show
how little I was."

Children are nice observers of that kind of politeness which arises
from good nature; they may hence learn what really pleases in manners,
without being taught grimace.

Dwarfs and giants led us to Gulliver's Travels. S---- had never read
them, but one of the company now gave him some general account of
Lilliput and Brobdignag. He thought the account of the little people
more entertaining than that of the large ones; the carriage of
Gulliver's hat by a team of Lilliputian horses, diverted him; but,
when he was told that the queen of Brobdignag's dwarf stuck Gulliver
one day at dinner into a marrow bone, S---- looked grave, and seemed
rather shocked than amused; he said, "It must have almost suffocated
poor Gulliver, and must have spoiled his clothes." S---- wondered of
what cloth they could make him new clothes, because the cloth in
Brobdignag must have been too thick, and as thick as a board. He also
wished to know what sort of glass was used to glaze the windows in
Gulliver's wooden house; "because," said he, "their common glass must
have been so thick that it would not have been transparent to
Gulliver." He thought that Gulliver must have been extremely afraid of
setting his small wooden house on fire.

_M----._ "Why more afraid than we are? His house was as large for
Gulliver as our house is for us."

_S----._ "Yes, but what makes the fire must have been _so much_
larger! One cinder, one spark of theirs would have filled his little
grate. And how did he do to read their books?"

_S----_ was told that Gulliver stood at the topmost line of the page,
and ran along as fast as he read, till he got to the bottom of the
page. It was suggested, that Gulliver might have used a diminishing
glass. S----immediately exclaimed, "How entertaining it must have been
to him to look through their telescopes." An instance of invention
arising from _contrast_.

If the conversation had not here been interrupted, S---- would
probably have invented a greater variety of pleasures and difficulties
for Gulliver; his eagerness to read Gulliver's Travels, was increased
by this conversation. We should let children exercise their invention
upon all subjects, and not tell them the whole of every thing, and all
the ingenious parts of a story. Sometimes they invent these, and are
then interested to see how the _real_ author has managed them. Thus
children's love for literature may be increased, and the activity of
their minds may be exercised. "Le secret d'ennuyer," says an
author[117] who never tires us, "Le secret d'ennuyer est celui de
tout dire." This may be applied to the art of education. (V.
Attention, Memory, and Invention.)

(January 17th, 1796.) S----. "I don't understand about the tides."

_H----_ (13 years old.) "The moon, when it comes near the earth, draws
up the sea by the middle; attracts it, and as the middle rises, the
water runs down from that again into the channels of rivers."

_S----._ "But--Hum!--the moon attracts the sea; but why does not the
sun attract it by the middle as well as the moon? How can you be sure
that it is the moon that does it?"

_Mr. ----._ "We are not sure that the moon is the cause of tides."

We should never force any system upon the belief of children; but wait
till they can understand all the arguments on each side of the

(January 18th, 1796.) S---- (9 years old.) "Father, I have thought of
a reason for the wind's blowing.

When there has been a hot sunshiny day, and when the ground has been
wet, the sun attracts a great deal of vapour: then _that_ vapour must
have room, so it must push away some air to make room for itself;
besides, vapour swells with heat, so it must have a _great_, _great_
deal of room as it grows hotter, and hotter; and the moving the air to
make way for it, must make wind."

It is probable, that if children are not early taught by rote words
which they cannot understand, they will _think_ for themselves; and,
however strange their incipient theories may appear, there is hope for
the improvement of children as long as their minds are active.

(February 13th, 1796.) S----. "How do physicians try new medicines? If
they are not sure they will succeed, they may be hanged for murder,
mayn't they? It is cruel to try _them_ (_them_ meant medicines) on
animals; besides, all animals are not the same as men. A pig's inside
is the most like that of a man. I remember my father showed us the
inside of a pig once."

Some time afterwards, S---- inquired what was meant by the circulation
of the blood. "How are we sure that it does move? You told me that it
doesn't move after we die, then nobody can have seen it really moving
in the veins; that beating that I feel in my pulse does not feel like
any thing running backwards and forwards; it beats up and down."

The lady to whom S---- addressed these questions and observations,
unfortunately could not give him any information upon this subject,
but she had at least the prudence, or honesty, to tell the boy that
"she did not know any thing about the matter."

S---- should have been shown the circulation of the blood in fishes:
which he might have seen by a microscope.

Children's minds turn to such inquiries; surely, if they are intended
for physicians, these are the moments to give them a taste for their
future profession, by associating pleasure with instruction, and
connecting with the eagerness of curiosity the hope of making
discoveries; a hope which all vivacious young people strongly feel.

(February 16th.) S---- objected to that fable of Phædrus in which it
is said, that a boy threw a stone at Æsop, and that Æsop told the boy
to throw a stone at another passenger, pointing to a rich man. The boy
did as Æsop desired, and the rich man had the boy hanged.

S---- said, that he thought that Æsop should have been hanged, because
Æsop was the cause of the boy's fault.

How little suited _political_ fables are to children. This fable,
which was meant to show, we suppose, that the _rich_ could not, like
the poor, be insulted with impunity, was quite unintelligible to a boy
(nine years old) of _simple_ understanding.

(July 19th, 1796.) Amongst "_Vulgar errours_," Sir Thomas Browne
might have mentioned the common notion, that if you take a hen and
hold her head down to the ground, and draw a circle of chalk round
her, she will be enchanted by this magical operation so that she
cannot stir. We determined to try the experiment, for which Dr.
Johnson would have laughed at us, as he laughed at Browne[118] for
trying "_the hopeless experiment_" about the magnetic dials.

A hen's head was held down upon a stone flag, and a chalk line was
drawn before her; she did not move. The same hen was put into a circle
of chalk that had been previously drawn for her reception; her head
was held down according to the letter of the charm, and she did not
move; line or circle apparently operated alike. It was suggested (by
A----) that perhaps the hen was frightened by her head's being held
down to the ground, and that the chalk line and circle had nothing to
do with the business. The hen was carried out of sight of the magic
line and circle, her head was held down to the ground as before; and
when the person who had held her, gently withdrew his hand, she did
not move. She did not for some instants recover from her terror; or,
perhaps, the feeling of pressure seemed to her to remain upon her head
after the hand was withdrawn.

Children who are accustomed to _doubt_, and to try experiments, will
not be dupes to "Vulgar errours."

(July 20th, 1796.) S---- (between 9 and 10) when he heard a lady
propose to make use of a small glass tumbler to hold pomatum, made a
face expressive of great disgust; he was begged to give a reason for
his dislike. S---- said it appeared to him dirty and disagreeable to
put pomatum into a tumbler out of which we are used to drink wine or

We have observed, (V. Chapter on Taste and Imagination) that children
may early be led to reflect upon the cause of their tastes.

(July 24th, 1796.) S---- observed, that "the lachrymal sack is like
Aboulcasem's cup, (in the Persian tales.) It is emptied and fills
again of itself; though it is emptied ever so often, it continues

The power of reasoning had been more cultivated in S---- than the
taste for wit or allusion; yet it seems his mind was not defective in
that quickness of seizing resemblances which _may_ lead to wit. He was
not praised for the lachrymal sack, and Aboulcasem's cup. (V. Chapter
on Wit and Judgment.)

(August 3d, 1796.) C---- (11 years old) after she had heard a
description of a fire engine, said, "I want to read the description of
the fire engine over again, for whilst my father was describing one
particular part, I recollected something that I had heard before, and
_that_ took my attention quite away from what he was saying. Very
often when I am listening, something that is said puts me in mind of
something, and then I go on thinking of _that_, and I cannot hear what
is said any longer."

Preceptors should listen to the observations that their pupils make
upon their minds; this remark of C----suggested to us some ideas that
have been detailed in the "Chapter on Attention."

(August 1st, 1796.) S----, who had been translating some of Ovid's
Metamorphoses to his father, exclaimed, "I hate those ancient gods and
goddesses, they are so wicked! I wish I was Perseus, and had his
shield, I would fly up to heaven and turn Jupiter, and Apollo, and
Venus into stone; then they would be too heavy to stay in heaven, and
they would tumble down to earth; and then they would be stone statues,
and we should have much finer statues of Apollo and Venus than any
they have now at Rome."

(September 10th, 1796.) S---- (within a month of ten years old) read
to his sister M---- part of Dr. Darwin's chapter upon instinct; that
part in which there is an account of young birds who learn to sing
from the birds who take care of them, not from their parents. S----
immediately recollected a story which he had read last winter in the
Annual Register. Extract from Barrington's Remarks upon singing
Birds. "There was a silly boy once (you know, sister, boys are silly
sometimes) who used to play in a room where his mother had a
nightingale in a cage, and the boy took out of the cage the
nightingale's eggs, and put in some other bird's eggs (a swallow's, I
think) and the nightingale hatched them, and when the swallows grew up
they sang like nightingales." When S---- had done reading, he looked
at the title of the book. He had often heard his father speak of
Zoonomia, and he knew that Dr. Darwin was the author of it.

_S----._ "Oh, ho! Zoonomia! Dr. Darwin wrote it; it is very
entertaining: my father told me that when I read Zoonomia, I should
know the reason why I stretch myself when I am tired. But, sister,
there is one thing I read about the cuckoo that I did not quite
understand. May I look at it again?" He read the following passage.

"For a hen teaches this language with ease to the ducklings she has
hatched from supposititious eggs, and educates as her own offspring;
and the wag-tails or hedge-sparrows learn it from the young cuckoo,
their foster nursling, and supply him with food long after he can fly
about, whenever they hear his cuckooing, which Linnæus tells us is his
call of hunger."

_S----_ asked what Dr. Darwin meant by "learns _it_."

_M----._ "Learns a language."

_S----._ "What does foster nursling mean?"

_M----._ "It here means a bird that is nursed along with another, but
that has not the same parents."

_S----._ "Then, does it not mean that the sparrows learn from their
foster sister, the cuckoo, to say Cuckoo!"

_M----._ "No; the sparrow don't learn to say cuckoo, but they learn to
understand what he means by that cry; that he is hungry."

_S----._ "Well, but then I think this is a proof against what Dr.
Darwin means about instinct."

_M----._ "Why? How?"

_S----._ "Because the young cuckoo does say cuckoo! without being
taught, it does not learn from the sparrows. How comes it to say
cuckoo at all, if it is not by instinct? It does not see its own
father and mother."

We give this conversation as a proof that our young pupils were
accustomed to _think_ about every thing that they read.

(Nov. 8th, 1796.) The following are the "_Curiosities of Literature_,"
which were promised to the reader in the chapter upon Grammar and
Classical Literature.

Translation from Ovid. The Cave of Sleep, _first_ edition.

    "No watchful cock Aurora's beams invite;
    No dog nor goose, the guardians of the night."

_Dog_ and _goose_ were objected to, and the young author changed them
into dogs and geese.

    "No herds nor flocks, nor human voice is heard;
    But nigh the cave a _rustling_ spring appear'd."

When this line was read to S----, he changed the epithet _rustling_
into _gliding_.

    "And with soft murmurs faithless sleep invites,
    And there the flying past again delights;
    And near the door the noxious poppy grows,
    And spreads his sleepy milk at daylight's close."

S---- was now requested to translate the beginning of the sentence,
and he produced these lines:

    "Far from the sun there lies a cave forlorn,
    Which Sol's bright beams _can't_ enter eve nor morn."

_Can't_ was objected to. Mr. ---- asked S---- what was the literal
English. S---- first said _not_, and then _nor_; and he corrected his
line, and made it

    "Which Sol's bright beams _nor_ visit eve nor morn."


    "Far in a vale there lies a cave forlorn,
    Which Phoebus never enters eve nor morn."

After an interval of a few days, the lines were all read to the boy,
to try whether he could farther correct them; he desired to have the
two following lines left out:

    "No herds, nor flocks, nor human voice is heard,
    But nigh the cave a gliding spring appeared."

And in the place of them he wrote,

    "No flocks nor herds disturb the silent plains:
    Within the sacred walls mute quiet reigns."

Instead of the two following:

    "And with soft murmurs faithless sleep invites,
    And there the flying past again delights."

S---- desired his _secretary_ to write,

    "But murmuring Lethe soothing sleep invites,
    In dreams again the flying past delights."

Instead of

    "And near the doors the noxious poppy grows,
    And spreads his sleepy milk at daylight's close,"

the following lines were written. S---- did not say _doors_, because
he thought the cave had no doors; yet his Latin, he said, spoke of
squeaking hinges.

    "From milky flowers that near the cavern grow,
    Night scatters the collected sleep below."

We shall not make any further apology for inserting all these
corrections, because we have already sufficiently explained our
motives. (V. Chapter on Grammar and Classical Literature.)

(February, 1797.) A little theatre was put up for the children, and
they acted "Justice Poz."[119] When the scenes were pulled down
afterwards, S---- was extremely sorry to see the whole theatre vanish;
he had succeeded as an actor, and he wished to have another play
acted. His father did not wish that he should become ambitious of
excelling in this way at ten years old, because it might have turned
his attention away from things of more consequence; and, if he had
been much applauded for this talent, he would, perhaps, have been
over-stimulated. (V. Chapter on Vanity and Ambition.)

The way to turn this boy's mind away from its present pursuit, was to
give him another object, not to blame or check him for the natural
expression of his wishes. It is difficult to find objects for children
who have not cultivated a taste for literature; but infinite variety
can be found for those who have acquired this happy taste.

Soon after S---- had expressed his ardent wish to have another play
performed, the trial of some poor man in the neighbourhood happened to
be mentioned; and it was said, that the criminal had the choice of
either going to Botany Bay, or being hanged.

S---- asked how that could be. "I did'nt think," said he, "that a man
could have two punishments. Can the judge change the punishment? I
thought it was fixed by the law."

Mr. ---- told S---- that these were sensible questions; and, as he saw
that the boy's attention was fixed, he seized the opportunity to give
him some general idea upon the subject. He began with telling S----the
manner in which a suspected person is brought before a justice of the
peace. A warrant and committal were described; then the manner of
trying criminals; what is called the court, the jury, &c. the crier of
the court, and the forms of a trial; the reason why the prisoner, when
he is asked how he will be tried, answers, "By God and my country:"
this led to an account of the old absurd fire and water ordeals, and
thence the advantages of a trial by jury became more apparent by
comparison. Mr. ---- told S---- why it is called _empannelling_ a
jury, and why the jury are called a _pannel_; the manner in which the
jury give their verdict; the duty of the judge, to sum up the
evidence, to explain the law to the jury. "The judge is, by the
humane laws of England, always supposed to be the protector of the
accused; and now, S----, we are come round to your question; the judge
cannot make the punishment more severe; but when the punishment is
fine or imprisonment, the quantity or duration of the punishment is
left to his judgment. The king may remit the punishment entirely; he
may pardon the criminal; he may, if a man be sentenced to be hanged,
give him his choice, whether he will be hanged or _transported_"--(the
word was explained.)

"But," said S----, "since the judge cannot _change_ the punishment,
why may the king? I think it is very unjust that the king should have
such a power, because, if he changes the punishment for one thing, why
mayn't he for another and another, and so on?"

Mr. ----. "I am inclined to believe, my dear S----, that it is for the
good of a state, that a king should have such a power; but I am not
sure. If any individual should have this power, I think it is most
safely trusted to a king; because, as he has no connection with the
individuals who are tried, as he does not live amongst them, he is not
so liable as judges and jurymen might be to be prejudiced, to be
influenced by personal revenge, friendship, or pity. When he pardons,
he is supposed to pardon without any personal motives. But of all
this, S----, you will judge for yourself, when you study the law. I
intend to take you with me to ---- next assizes to hear a trial."

S---- looked full as eager to hear a trial, as he had done, half an
hour before, to act a play. We should mention, that in the little play
in which he had acted, he had played the part of a justice of the
peace, and a sort of trial formed the business of the play; the ideas
of trials and law, therefore, joined readily with his former train of
thought. Much of the success of education, depends upon the
preceptor's seizing these slight connections. It is scarcely possible
to explain this fully in writing.

(February 25th, 1797.) S---- was reading in "Evenings at Home," the
story of "A friend in need, is a friend indeed."

"Mr. G. Cornish, having raised a moderate fortune, and being now
beyond the meridian of life, he felt a _strong desire_ of returning to
his native country."

S----. "How much better that is, than to say he felt an _irresistible
desire_, or an _insupportable desire_, as people sometimes say in

Our pupils were always permitted to stop when they were reading loud,
to make whatever remarks they pleased upon whatever books they read.
They did not, by this method, get through so many books as other
children of their age usually do; but their taste for reading seemed
to increase rapidly. (V. Books.)

(March 8th, 1797.) H---- (14) told us that he remembered seeing, when
he was five years old, some puppets packed up by a showman in a
triangular box; "and for sometime afterwards," said H----, "when I saw
my father's triangular hat-box, I expected puppets to come out of it.
A few days ago, I met a man with a triangular box upon his head, and I
thought that there were puppets in the box."

We have taken notice of this propensity in children, to believe that
particular, are general causes; and we have endeavoured to show how it
affects the temper, and the habits of reasoning. (V. Temper, and Wit
and Judgment.)

(March 27th, 1797.) Mr. ---- showed little W----(3 years old) a watch,
and asked him if he thought that it was alive.

_W----._ "Yes."

_Mr. ----._ "Do you think that the fire is alive?"

_W----._ "Yes."

_Mr. ----._ (The child was standing at the tea table.) "Do you think
the urn is alive?"

_W----._ "No."

_Mr. ----._ "Do you think that book is alive?"

_W----._ "No."

_Mr. ----._ "The horses?"

_W----._ "Yes."

_Mr. ----._ "Do you think that the chaise is alive?"

_W----._ "Yes." Then, after looking in Mr. ----'s face, he changed his
opinion, and said _no_.

_W----_ did not seem to know what was meant by the word _alive_.

Mr. ---- called H. (5 years old) and asked her whether she thought
that the watch was alive. She at first said Yes; but, as soon as she
had time to recollect herself, she said that the watch was not alive.

This question was asked, to try whether Reid was right in his
conjecture as to the answers a child would give to such a question.
(V. Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man.)

We frequently say, that flowers, &c. are dead: we should explain to
children that there are two kinds of life; or rather, that the word
_life_ is used to express two ideas; vegetable life, and animal life.

(July, 1797.) Miss Louisa ---- told us, that when a rose bud begins to
wither, if you burn the end of the stalk, and plunge it red hot into
water, the rose will be found revived the next day; and by a
repetition of this burning, the lives of flowers may be fortunately
prolonged many days. Miss Louisa ---- had seen many surprising
recoveries performed by this operation, and several of her friends had
adopted the practice with uniform success.

We determined to repeat the experiment. Children should never take any
thing upon trust which they can verify. Two roses, gathered at the
same time, from the same tree, were put into separate glasses of
water. The stalk of one of these roses was burnt, according to
prescription; they were left a night in water, and the next day the
rose that had been burnt, appeared in much better health than that
which had not been burnt. The experiment was afterwards several times
repeated; and should be tried by others until the fact be fully

(July, 1797.) Little W---- (three years old) was shown Miss B----'s
beautiful copy of the Aurora surgens of Guido. The car of Apollo is
encircled by the dancing hours, so that its shape is not seen; part of
one wheel only is visible between the robes of the dancing figures. We
asked little W---- why that man (pointing to the figure of Apollo in
his invisible car) looked so much higher up in the air than the other

_W----._ "Because he is in a carriage; he is sitting in a carriage."

We pointed to the imperfect wheel, and asked if he knew what that was?
He immediately answered, "Yes, the wheel of the carriage." We wanted
to see whether the imagination of a child of three years old, would
supply the invisible parts of the _car_: and whether the wheel and
horses, and man holding the reins, would suggest the idea of a phæton.
(V. Chapter on Taste and Imagination.)

We shall not trespass upon the reader's patience with any more
anecdotes from the nursery. We hope, that candid and intelligent
parents will pardon, if they have discovered any desire in us to
_exhibit_ our pupils. We may mistake our own motives, and we do not
pretend to be perfectly impartial judges upon this occasion; but we
have hoped, that only such conversations or anecdotes have been
produced, as may be of some use in Practical Education. From
conversation, if properly managed, children may learn with ease,
expedition, and delight, a variety of knowledge; and a skilful
preceptor can apply in conversation all the principles that we have
laboriously endeavoured to make intelligible.


[113] Mrs. Honora Edgeworth, daughter of Edward Sneyd, Esq. of
Litchfield. As this lady's name has been mentioned in a monody on the
death of Major André, we take this opportunity of correcting a mistake
that occurs in a note to that performance.

"Till busy rumour chas'd each pleasing dream, And quench'd the
radiance of the silver beam."

_Monody on Major André._

The note on these lines is as follows:

"The tidings of Honora's marriage. Upon that event Mr. André quitted
his profession as a merchant, and joined our army in America."

Miss Honora Sneyd was married to Mr. Edgeworth in July, 1773, and the
date of Major André's first commission in the Welch Fusileers is March
4th, 1771.

[114] This has been formerly quoted in the preface to the Parent's

[115] The anecdotes mentioned in the _preceding_ pages, were read to
the children with the rest of the work.

[116] Soame Jennings's.

[117] Voltaire.

[118] V. Johnson's Life of Browne.

[119] Parent's Assistant.


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