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Title: Household Education
Author: Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876
Language: English
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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 "Household Education" ***

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                HOUSEHOLD EDUCATION.

                HOUSEHOLD EDUCATION.


                 HARRIET MARTINEAU.




A portion of this work appeared, some months ago, in papers in the
People's Journal. The appearance of these papers was suspended by the
change in the affairs of that Journal. From that time to the present,
applications have been made to me at intervals, to request me to finish
my subject. In deference to these requests, I have completed my original
design. For its suggestion, I am indebted to Mr. Saunders, the late
editor of the People's Journal. For the imperfections of the work, which
I know to be many and great, notwithstanding my earnest interest in what
I was writing, no one is responsible but myself.


    _November 16th, 1848_.


    CHAP.                                                         PAGE

        I. OLD AND YOUNG IN SCHOOL                                   1

       II. WHAT THE SCHOOLING IS FOR                                11

      III. THE NATURAL POSSESSIONS OF MAN                           21

       IV. HOW TO EXPECT                                            32

        V. THE GOLDEN MEAN                                          41

       VI. THE NEW COMER                                            50

      VII. CARE OF THE FRAME                                        60

     VIII. CARE OF THE POWERS.--WILL                                70

       IX. HOPE                                                     79

        X. FEAR                                                     89

       XI. PATIENCE                                                103

      XII. PATIENCE. INFIRMITY                                     114

     XIII. PATIENCE. INFIRMITY                                     127

      XIV. LOVE                                                    136

       XV. VENERATION                                              148

      XVI. TRUTHFULNESS                                            159

     XVII. CONSCIENTIOUSNESS                                       172



       XX. THE CONCEPTIVE FACULTIES                                213


     XXII. THE IMAGINATIVE FACULTIES                               246


     XXIV. PERSONAL HABITS                                         275

      XXV. FAMILY HABITS                                           298

     XXVI. CONCLUSION                                              320




Household education is a subject so important in its bearings on every
one's happiness, and so inexhaustible in itself, that I do not see how
any person whatever can undertake to lecture upon it authoritatively, as
if it was a matter completely known and entirely settled. It seems to me
that all that we can do is to reflect, and say what we think, and learn
of one another. This is, at least, all that I venture to offer. I
propose to say, in a series of chapters, what I have observed and
thought on the subject of LIFE AT HOME, during upwards of twenty years'
study of domestic life in great variety. It will be for my readers to
discover whether they agree in my views, and whether their minds are set
to work by what I say on a matter which concerns them as seriously as
any in the world. Once for all, let me declare here what I hope will be
remembered throughout, that I have no ambition to teach; but a strong
desire to set members of households consulting together about their
course of action towards each other.

It will be seen by these last words that I consider all the members of a
household to be going through a process of education together. I am not
thinking only of parents drawing their chairs together when the children
have gone to bed, to talk over the young people's qualities and ways.
That is all very well; but it is only a small part of the business. I am
not thinking of the old, experienced grandfather or grandmother talking
at the fireside, telling the parents of the sleeping children how they
ought to manage them, and what rules and methods were in force in their
day. This is all very well; and every sensible person will be thankful
to hear what the aged have to tell, out of their long knowledge of life:
but this again is a very small part of the matter. Every member of the
household--children, servants, apprentices--every inmate of the
dwelling, must have a share in the family plan; or those who make it are
despots, and those who are excluded are slaves.

Of course, this does not mean that children who have scarcely any
knowledge, little judgment, and no experience, are to have a choice
about the rules of their own training. The object of training is one
thing; and the rules and methods are another. With rules and methods
they have nothing to do but to obey them till they become able to
command themselves. But there is no rational being who is not capable of
understanding, from the time he can speak, what it is to wish to be
good. The stupidest servant-girl, and the most thoughtless
apprentice-boy, are always impressed by seeing those about them anxious
to improve; and especially the oldest of all endeavouring the more to
become wiser and wiser, better and better, as their few remaining days
dwindle away. If the family plan therefore be the grand comprehensive
plan which is alone worthy of people who care about education at all--a
plan to do the best that is possible by each other for the improvement
of all--every member of the family above the yearling infant must be a
member of the domestic school of mutual instruction, and must know that
he is so.

It is a common saying that every child thinks his father the wisest man
in the world. This is very natural; as parents are their children's
fountains of knowledge. To them their children come for anything they
want to know: and by them they are generally satisfied. But every wise
parent has occasion to say, now and then--"I do not know, my dear." The
surprise of the child on first hearing that there is anything that his
parents do not know fixes the fact in his mind. When he has once
discovered that his parents have something more to learn, he becomes
aware--and this also ought to be fixed in his mind--that their
education is not finished; and that it is their business, as it is his,
to learn something more every day, as long as they live. So much for
knowledge. The case ought to be as clear to him with regard to goodness.
It is not enough that in church he hears that all men and women are
sinners; and that in prayers at home he hears his parents pray that they
may become more worthy of the goodness of God, and more like the Christ
who is set before them. These things may set him thinking; but there
will be, or ought to be, more light every day to clear up his ideas. The
same parents who honestly own to their child that they are ignorant of
things about which he questions them will own to him that they are not
nearly so good as they wish to be. Thus is the truth opened to the
feeblest and smallest mind that education has still to go on, even when
people are so inconceivably old as children are apt to think their

To us, grown up to this mighty age, there can be no doubt on such a
point. We know very well that we are all, through the whole range of
society, like a set of ignorant and wayward children, compared with what
we are made capable of being. Our best knowledge is but a glimmering--a
dawn of light which we may hope will "increase more and more unto the
perfect day." Our best goodness is so weak, so mixed, so inferior to
what we can conceive of, that we should blush to say that during any
day of our lives we had been as good as we ought to be. It is as clear
to us as to children, that there is room for improvement in both ways as
long as we live. To us there is another question which children cannot
enter into, and have no present business with;--whether human beings
remain capable of improvement as long as they live.

About this, there are different opinions. I rather think the prevailing
belief is that they are not; and that this prevailing belief arises from
the commonness of the spectacle, not only of the faults of old age, but
of the inability of even amiable and lively old people to receive new
ideas, or correct bad habits. This is certainly the commonest aspect of
old age; and serious is the warning it affords to correct our faulty
tempers and ways before we grow stiff in mind, as well as in body. But I
do not think that this spectacle settles the question. We might as well
say that the human intellect can achieve no great work after
five-and-twenty, because the ill-educated mind never does. As long as we
see one single instance of a mind still expanding in a man of
eighty-five, of a temper improving in one of ninety, of a troublesome
daily habit conscientiously cured, after the indulgence of a life-time,
by an old lady of seventy-five, we perceive that education may go on to
the extreme limit of life, and should suppose that it might be
generally so, but for the imperfect training of preceding years.

I have known of one old man whose mind was certainly still growing when
he died, at the age of eighty-six. I have known of another, whose study
through life had been the laws of the mind, and who, when his faculties
were failing him, applied himself to _that_ study, marking the gradual
decline of certain of his powers, adding the new facts to his stores of
knowledge, and thus, nourishing to the last a part of his mind with the
decay of the rest. This instance of persevering self-improvement under
conditions which any one would admit to be those of release from labour,
appears to me even more affecting than that of the great physician who
watched his own approaching death with his finger on his pulse,
notifying its last beat as his heart came to a stop, hoping to
contribute one more fact to useful science. With cases like these before
us, how shall we dare to suppose our education completed while we have
one faculty remaining, or our hearts have yet one more beat to give?

As for the continuance of moral education to the last, I have seen two
contrasted cases, in close neighbourhood, which make the matter pretty
plain, in a practical sense, to me. I knew two old ladies, living only
the length of a street apart, who were fair specimens of educated and
uneducated old age. The one belonged to a family who were remarkable
for attaining a great age; and she always confidently reckoned on her
lot being the same as that of her predecessors. It is true, her mother,
being above a hundred, called her and her sister "the girls" when they
were above seventy; but still one would have thought that grey hairs and
wrinkles would have gone some way as a warning to her. Instead, however,
of reckoning on her future years (if she must reckon on them) as so much
time to grow wiser in, she was merely surprised at her friends when they
advised her (she being then eighty) to make some other terms for her
house than taking another lease of fourteen years. She could not
conceive, as the last lease had answered so well, why the next should
not. I remember seeing her face, all puckered with wrinkles, surmounted
by rows of bright brown false curls, and her arms, bare above the
elbows, adorned with armlets, such as young ladies wore half a century
before. I remember a clever pert youth setting himself to quiz and amuse
her by humouring her in her notions about the state of the world,
drawing her out to praise the last century and express her ignorant
contempt of this, till she nodded emphatically over her hand of cards,
and declared that the depravity of the age was owing to gas-lamps and
macadamisation. She died very old, but no wiser than this. Her case
proves only that her education did stop; and not that it need have
stopped. The other was a woman of no great cultivation, but of a
humble, earnest, benevolent nature, full of a sense of duty towards God
and man; and, in them, towards herself. Having survived her nearest
connections, she had no strong desire to live; and her affairs were
always arranged for departure, down to the labelling of every paper, and
the neatness of every drawer. Yet no one was more alive to the
improvements of the modern world. I shall never forget the earnest look
with which she would listen to any tidings of new knowledge, or new
social conveniences. A more dignified woman I never knew; yet she
listened to the young who brought information--listened as a
learner--with a deference which was most touching to witness. But there
was more than this. She was conscious of having been, in her earlier
days, somewhat hard, somewhat given to lecture and lay down the law, and
criticise people all round by family notions; a tendency which, if it
really existed, arose from family and not personal pride; for, though
she might overrate the wisdom of parents and brothers, there never was
any sign of her overvaluing her own. However this might be, she believed
that she had been hard and critical in former times; and she went on
softening and growing liberal to the day of her death. I never observed
any weakness--much less any laxity--in her gentleness towards the feeble
and the frail. It was the holy tenderness which the pure and upright can
afford to indulge and impart. The crowning proof that her improvement
was the result of self-discipline and not of circumstances was that
when, at above seventy years of age, she became the inmate of a family
whose habits were somewhat rigid, and in many respects unlike her own,
she changed her own to suit theirs, even forcing herself to an
observance of punctuality, in which she had been deficient all her life,
and about which she had scarcely ever needed to think while for many
years living alone. Of course, this moral discipline implies some
considerable use of the intellect. She read a good deal; and carried an
earnest mind into all her pursuits. And when her memory began to fail,
and she could not retain beyond the day what she had read, her mind did
not become weak. It was always at work, and always on good subjects,
though she could no longer add much to her store of mere knowledge. Her
case proves surely that education need never stop.

Now, if we picture to ourselves a household, with an honoured being like
this as the occupant of the fireside chair, we can at once see how it
may be completely understood and agreed upon among them all that the
education of every one of them is always going on, and to go on for ever
while they live. No child could ever stand at the knee of my old friend
without feeling that she was incessantly bent on self-improvement--as
earnest to learn from the humblest and youngest as ready to yield the
benefits of her experience and reflections to any whom she could inform
and guide. When taken severely ill, she said with a smile, to one by her
bedside, "Why do you look so anxious? If I do die to-day, there is
nothing to be unhappy about. I have long passed the time when I expected
to go. What does it matter whether I die now or a twelve-month hence?"
And when that illness was over, she regarded it as a process in her
training, and persevered, as before, in trying to grow wiser and more
worthy. Here was a case in which Household Education visibly included
the oldest as naturally as the youngest. And in all dwellings, all the
members _are_ included in the influences which work upon the whole,
whether they have the wisdom to see it or not. Henceforward, therefore,
I shall write on the supposition that we are all children together--from
the greatest to the least--the wisest and the best needing all the good
they can get from the peculiar influences of Home.



Every home being a school for old and young together, it is necessary,
if the training is to be a good one, to be clear as to what the
schooling is for.

For the improvement of the pupils, is the most obvious answer.

Yes; but what do you mean by improvement? We must settle what we want to
make of the pupils, or everything will go on at random. In every country
of the world there is some sort of general notion of what the men and
women in it ought to be: and the men and women turn out accordingly: and
the more certainly, the more clear the notion is.

The patriarchs, some thousands of years ago, had very clear notions of
their own of what people ought to be. One of these sitting in the
evening of a hot day under a terebinth tree ten times his own age, would
be able to give a distinct account of what he would have the training of
his great-grandchildren tend to. He would lay it down as the first point
of all that the highest honour and the greatest privilege in the world
was to be extremely old. The next most desirable thing was to have the
largest possible number of descendants; because the earth was very wide,
with not half enough people in it; and the more people a patriarch had
about him, the richer and more beautiful would the valleys and pastures
be, and the more power and authority he would have--every patriarch
being an absolute ruler over his own family, and the more like a king
the larger his tribe. Of course, the old man would say decidedly that to
make the best possible man you must train a child to obey his parents,
and yet more the head of the tribe, with the most absolute submission;
to do in the cleverest way what was necessary for defence against an
enemy, and to obtain food, and the skins of beasts for clothing. The
more wives and the more children the better. These were the principal
points. After these, he would speak of its being right for such as would
probably become the head of a tribe to cultivate such wisdom and temper
as would make them good rulers, and enable them to maintain peace among
their followers. Such was the patriarchal notion of improving a man to
the utmost--omitting certain considerations which we think
important,--truthfulness, temperance, amiability, respect for other men,
and reverence for something a good deal more solemn than mere old age.

Some wise men in Greece would have given a different account of the aim
of Education. A Spartan, for instance, living in a little country which
was always in danger from enemies without and slaves within, looked upon
every boy as a future soldier, and as born to help to preserve the
state. Every sickly or deformed child might be killed off at the desire
of his father's kin. The healthy and promising were looked after by the
state from their earliest years; and at the age of seven were put under
public training entirely. They were taught to bear hunger, and be
content with coarse food; to endure flogging without a groan, sometimes
to the point of death; and all for practice in bearing pain. They were
trained to all warlike exercises; their amusements were wrestling and
sham battles; their accomplishments singing martial songs. They were
taught to reverence rank and age; to hate their enemies; to use fraud in
war; to be unable to bear shame, whether deserved or not; and to treat
women with respect, not at all for their own sakes, but because despised
women could not be the mothers of heroes. Thus, to make a perfect
soldier was what a good Spartan considered the great object of

The Jew in his own Palestine would have given a different answer, in
some respects, though he also reared his children to hate their enemies,
and to covet both martial and patriarchal glory. His leading belief was
that a greater God than any other nation had ever worshipped was the
special ruler and protector of his own. Jehovah was the king as well as
the God of the Jews; and the first virtue of a Jew was to obey every
tittle of the Law, which ordered all things whatsoever in the lives of
those who lived under it. Obedience to the Law, in affairs of food,
dress, seasons of work, sleep, worship, journeying, &c., as well as in
some higher matters, was the main thing taught by a good parent, while
he knew and thought nothing of the higher and holier aims opened by the
Gospel; of which, indeed, many a well-meaning Jewish parent could not
bear to hear from the lips of Christ, when he came to declare what every
man should be. When he declared that men should rise above the Law, and
be perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect, some strict Jewish
educators crucified him. In a Jew's mind, the best man was he who most
servilely obeyed the letter of the Law.

When I was in America, I saw three kinds of people who had their own
notions of what it was to be a perfect man--each their own idea of the
chief aim in Education; notions as wide of each other as those of the
Patriarch, the Spartan, and the Jew. There were the dwellers in the
cities; men speaking our language, and looking very like ourselves.
These men were, as was natural, proud of their young and prosperous
republic; and they thought more about politics than appears to us
necessary or wise in a life which contains so many other great
interests. Their children were brought up to talk politics before they
could be qualified to have an opinion; and taught at school to despise
other nations, and glorify their own, as a preparation for exercising
the suffrage at twenty-one, and thereby becoming, in a republic so
constituted, a member of the government. The privilege--the trust--is a
most important one; and we cannot wonder that the subject is an
engrossing one to parents and children. The object of education among a
very large proportion of American parents is to make politicians: and it
certainly is attained.

On the same continent, I saw something of a very different race--the red
men. Their idea of perfection is a man's being a perfect warrior; and
yet in a way quite unlike the Spartans. The red Indian is not trained as
a servant of the State, but as an individual: and the Indian women are
degraded and oppressed, while the Spartan women were considered and
respected--whatever the ground of consideration might be. The Indian boy
is trained to use his five senses till they reach an unequalled degree
of nicety. And, when old enough to bear the pain without dying, he is
subjected first to hunger and want of sleep, and then to such horrible
tortures as it turns one sick to think of. He who comes out of this
trial the most bravely, and who afterwards shows himself the most alert
sentinel, the strongest and most enduring soldier, the most revengeful
enemy, the most cruel conqueror, and the sternest husband and father,
is, in the eyes of his people, the most perfect man. The red Indians,
therefore, generally make an approach to this kind of character.

In the island of Mackinaw lives the other sort of people I have referred
to. This island rises out of the wide waters of the great northern
lakes, a perfect paradise in the midst of the boundless blue expanse.
The people who inhabit it are, for the most part, half-breeds--the
offspring of the red race and the French colonists who first settled on
the island. The great object here seems to be to become amphibious; and
truly, it appeared to me pretty well attained. The dark-skinned boys who
surrounded our ship, and all others that I saw, were poppling about in
the water, as easily as so many fowl: and they scud about in their tiny
birch-bark canoes as readily as we walk on our feet, thinking no more of
being capsized than we do of falling.

The aim here has about the same level as that of the Arabs, to whom
water is the greatest rarity, and to whom the sandy desert serves much
the same purpose as the inland seas to the dwellers in Mackinaw. The
horse of the Arab is to him as the bark-canoe to the half-breed of
Mackinaw: and children are launched into the desert, to live in it as
they best may, as the half-breed boys are into the watery waste. And
they succeed as well, conquering the desert, turning its dangers into
sport, and making a living out of it. And so it is with the native
dwellers in the icy deserts of Siberia. A perfectly educated person
there is one who can surprise the greatest number of water-fowl in
summer, foretell soonest the snow storm in winter, best learn the hour
from the stars, bank up the most sheltered sleeping-place in the snow,
and light a fire within it the most quickly; dive among the beavers for
the longest time; see in the dark like an owl, track game like a
pointer, fetch it like a spaniel, hearken like a deer, and run like an
ostrich. Such being the Mongolian notion of perfection, it is more
nearly approached by them than by others.

None of these aims are ours, or such as we approve. What then is ours?
It is easy to answer, "to grow wiser and better every day:" but then
comes the question, what is the wisdom, what is the goodness, that we
aspire to? All the people I have mentioned aim at improvement in wisdom
and goodness every day. Our difference with them is precisely about what
wisdom and goodness are.

We are not likely to agree by setting up each our own notion of wisdom
and goodness. Hear children at school talking of the heroes they admire
most, and see how seldom they agree. One admires the brave man; another
the patient man; another the philanthropist; another the man of power;
another the man of holiness; another the patriot. Hear men talking by
the fireside of the sages of the race; how they vary in their
preferences, and select for themselves from among the group of mighty
minds--the fathers of philosophy, of science, of art, of law and
government, of morals. We shall never arrive at a practical point by
setting up our separate preferences as aims for all.

Nor will it answer to fix our aim by any single example: no, not
even--with reverence be it spoken--by the great Exemplar, Christ
himself. The fault and weakness of this inability are in ourselves. It
is not any cloud in him, but partial blindness in us, which renders this
method insufficient by itself. All-perfect as is the example, we cannot
all, and constantly, use its full perfection, from our tendency to
contemplate it from the favourite point of view which every one of us
has. One of us dwells most on the tenderness of his character; another
on its righteous sternness; one on his power; another on his meek
patience; and so on. And thus, while it is, and ever will be, of the
utmost importance that we should preserve the aim of becoming like
Christ, it yet remains to be settled among us, in fact though not
perhaps in words, what Christ was, the images of him in different minds
varying so endlessly as they certainly do.

The only method that appears to me absolutely safe and wise, is one
which perfectly well agrees with our taking this great Exemplar as our
model. Each of us has a frame, "fearfully and wonderfully made;" with
such a variety of powers, that no one yet knows them all, or can be sure
that he understands the extent of any one of them. It is impossible that
we can be wrong in desiring and endeavouring to bring out and strengthen
and exercise all the powers given to every human being. In my opinion,
this should be the aim of education.

I have said "to bring out, and strengthen, and exercise all the powers."
Some would add, "and balance them." But if all were faithfully
exercised, I am of opinion that a better balance would ensue than we
could secure, so partial as are our views, and so imperfect as has been
the training of the best of us.

I shall gladly proceed, in my next chapter, to declare what I think we
have learned as to what the powers of the human being are. At present, I
can only just point out that the aim proposed is superior to every other
mentioned, and I believe to any other that can be mentioned for this
reason; that it applies universally--meets every case that can be
conceived of. In the patriarch's scheme of education, the women--half
the race--were slighted. In the Spartan system, the slaves and all
work-people were left out. Among the modern republicans, citizens have
the preference over women and slaves: and under the savage training--the
Indian, Arab, and Mongolian--no individual whatever is done justice to.
And there is not a country in Christendom where equal justice is done
to all those whom we see entering the world so endowed as that we ought
to look on every one of them with religious awe as a being too noble for
our estimate. The aim proposed--of doing justice to all the powers of
every human being under training--includes all alike, and must therefore
be just. It includes women, the poor, the infirm--all who were rejected
or slighted under former systems--while it does more for the privileged
than any lower principle ever proposed to do. It appears that under it
none will be the worse, but all the better, in comparison of this with
any lower aim.

To obtain a clearer and firmer notion of what this object really
comprehends, we must next make out, as well as our present knowledge
allows, what the powers of the human being are. I mean as to their kind;
for I do not think any one will venture to say what is the extent of
endowments so vast; and in their vastness so obscure.



What are the powers of the human being?

I speak of those powers only which are the object of education. There
are some which work of themselves for the preservation of life, and with
which we have nothing to do but to let them work freely. The heart
beats, the stomach digests, the lungs play, the skin transpires, without
any care of ours, and we have only to avoid hindering any of these

Next, man has four limbs. Of these, two have to be trained to move him
from place to place in a great variety of ways. There are many degrees
of agility between the bow-legged cripple, set too early upon his feet,
and the chamois hunter of the Alps, who leaps the icy chasms of the
glacier, and springs from point to point of the rock. The two seem
hardly to be of the same race; yet education has made each of them what
he is.

The two other limbs depend upon training for much of their strength and
use. Look at the pale student, who lives shut up in his study, never
having been trained to use his arms and hands but for dressing and
feeding himself, turning over books, and guiding the pen. Look at his
spindles of arms and his thin fingers, and compare them with the brawny
limbs of the blacksmith, or the hands of the quay porter, whose grasp is
like that of a piece of strong machinery. Compare the feeble and awkward
touch of the book-worm who can hardly button his waistcoat, or carry his
cup of tea to his mouth, with the power that the modeller, the ivory
carver, and the watchmaker have over their fingers. It is education
which has made the difference between these.

Man has five senses. Though much is done by the incidents of daily life
to exercise all the five, still a vast difference ensues upon varieties
of training. A fireman in London, and an Indian in the prairie, can
smell smoke when nobody else is aware of it. An epicure can taste a cork
in wine, or a spice in a stew, to the dismay of the butler, and the
delight of the cook, when every one else is insensible. One person can
feel by the skin whether the wind is east or west before he gets out of
bed in the morning; while another has to hold up a handkerchief in the
open air, or look at the weathercock, before he can answer the
question--"How's the wind?"

As for the two noblest senses, there are great constitutional
differences among men. Some are naturally short-sighted, and some dull
of hearing; but the differences caused by training are more frequent and
striking. If, of two boys born with equally good eyes and ears, one is
very early put, all alone, to keep sheep on a hill side, where he never
speaks or is spoken to, and comes home only to sleep, and the other
works with his father at joiner's work, or in sea-fishing, or at a
water-mill, they will, at manhood, hardly appear to belong to the same
race. While the one can tell veneer from mahogany in passing a
shop-window, the other cannot see any difference between one stranger's
face and another's. While the sleepy clown cannot distinguish sea from
land half a mile off, the fisherman can see the greyest sail of the
smallest sloop among the billows on the horizon. While the shepherd does
not hear himself called till the shout is in his ear, the miller tells
by the fireside, by the run of the water, whether the stream is
deepening or threatening to go dry. Of course, the quickness or slowness
of the mind has much to do with these differences of eye and ear; but
besides that, the eye and ear differ according to training. The miller,
with his mind and ear all awake, would hear, with all his efforts, only
four or five birds' notes in a wood, where a naturalist would hear
twenty; and the fisherman might declare the wide air to be vacant, when
a mountain sportsman would see an eagle, like a minute speck, indicating
by its mode of flight where the game lay below.

Man has a capacity for pleasure and pain.

This is an all-important part of his nature of which we can give no
account, because it is incomprehensible. How he feels pleasure and pain,
and why one sensation or thought delights him and another makes him
miserable, nobody ever knew yet, or perhaps ever will know. It is enough
for us that the fact is so. Of all the solemn considerations involved in
the great work of education, none is so awful as this--the right
exercise and training of the sense of pleasure and pain. The man who
feels most pleasure in putting brandy into his stomach, or in any other
way gratifying his nerves of sensation, is a mere beast. One whose chief
pleasure is in the exercise of the limbs, and who plays without any
exercise of the mind, is a more harmless sort of animal, like the lamb
in the field, or the swallow skimming over meadow or pool. He whose
delight is to represent nature by painting, or to build edifices by some
beautiful idea, or to echo feelings in music, is of an immeasurably
higher order. Higher still is he who is charmed by thought, above
everything--whose understanding gives him more satisfaction than any
other power he has. Higher still is he who is never so happy as when he
is making other people happy--when he is relieving pain, and giving
pleasure to two, or three, or more people about him. Higher yet is he
whose chief joy it is to labour at great and eternal thoughts, in which
lies bound up the happiness of a whole nation and perhaps a whole world,
at a future time when he will be mouldering in his grave. Any man who
is capable of this joy, and at the same time of spreading comfort and
pleasure among the few who live round about him, is the noblest human
being we can conceive of. He is also the happiest. It is true that his
capacity for pain is exercised and enlarged, as well as his power of
feeling pleasure. But what pains such a man is the vice, and folly, and
misery of his fellow-men; and he knows that these must melt away
hereafter in the light of the great ideas which he perceives to be in
store for them: while his pleasure being in the faith of a better future
is as vivid and as sure as great thoughts are clear and eternal. For an
illustration of this noblest means of happiness, we had better look to
the highest instance of all. I have always thought that we are apt to
dwell too much on the suffering and sorrow of the lot and mind of
Christ. Our reverence and sympathy should be more with his abounding
joy. I think those who read with clear eyes and an open mind will see
evidences of an unutterable joy in his words--may almost think they hear
it in his tones, when he promised heaven to the disinterested and earth
to the meek, and satisfaction to the earnest; when he welcomed the faith
of the centurion, and the hope of the penitent, and the charity of the
widow; when he foresaw the incoming of the Gentiles, and knew that
heaven and earth should pass away sooner than his words of life and
truth. The sufferings of the holy can never surely transcend their
peace: and whose fulness of joy can compare with theirs?

Before man can feel pleasure or pain from outward objects or from
thoughts, he must perceive them. To a new-born infant, or a blind person
enabled to see for the first time, objects before the eyes can hardly be
said to exist. The blue sky and a green tree beside a white house are
not seen but as a blotch of colours which touches the eye. This is the
account given by persons couched for cataract, who have never before
seen a ray of light. They see as if they saw not. But the power is in
them. By degrees they receive the images, and perceive the objects. A
child learns to receive sounds separately; then to perceive one voice
among others; then to distinguish one tone from another--the voice of
soothing from that of playfulness--the tone of warning from that of
approbation; then it receives thoughts through the sounds; and so on,
till the power is exercised to the fullest extent that we know of--when
distinct ideas are admitted from the minutest appearances or
leadings--strange bodies detected in the heavens, and fresh truths in
the loftiest regions of human speculation. It depends much on training
whether objects and thoughts remain for life indistinct and confused
before the perceptive power, as before infant vision, or whether all is
clear and vivid as before a keen and practised eye.

We know not how Memory acts, any more than we understand how we feel
pleasure and pain. But we all know how the power of recalling images,
words, thoughts, and feelings, depends on exercise. A person whose power
of memory has been neglected has little use of his past life. The time,
and people, and events that have passed by have left him little better
than they found him: while every day, every person, and every incident
deposits some wealth of knowledge with him whose memory can receive and
retain his experience.

Then there are other powers which it will be enough merely to mention
here, as we shall have to consider them more fully hereafter. Man has
the power, after perceiving objects and thoughts, to compare them, and
see when they differ and agree; to penetrate their nature, and
understand their purpose and action. It is thus that he obtains a
knowledge of creation, and the curious powers, whether hidden or open to
view, which are for ever at work in it.

He can reason from what he knows to what he has reason to suppose, and
put his idea to the proof. He can imitate what he sees; and also the
idea in his mind; and hence comes invention; and that wise kind of guess
into what is possible which leads to great discovery; discovery
sometimes of a vast continent, sometimes of a vast agency in nature for
men's uses, sometimes of a vast truth which may prove a greater
acquisition to men's souls than a new hemisphere for their habitation.

Man has also a wonderful power of conceiving of things about which he
cannot reason. We do not know how it is, but the more we dwell on what
is beautiful and striking, what is true before our eyes and impressive
to our minds, the more able we become to conceive of things more
beautiful, striking, and noble, which have never existed, but might well
be true. None of our powers require more earnest and careful exercise
than this grand one of the Imagination. Those in whom it is suppressed
can never be capable of heroic acts, of lofty wisdom, of the purest
happiness. Those in whom it is neglected may exercise the little power
they have in a fruitless direction, probably aggravating their own
faults, and certainly wasting the power on ideas too low for it, as the
voluptuary who dreams of selfish pleasure, or the despot, grand or
petty, who makes visions of unchecked tyranny. Those in whom it is
healthily exercised will become as elevated and expanded as their nature
admits, and one here and there proves a Mahommed, lifting up half the
human race into a higher condition; or a Raffaelle, bringing down
seraphs and cherubs from heaven, and so clothing them as that men may
look upon them and grow like them; or a Shakspere who became a creator
in that way which is truly no impiety, but, on the contrary, the highest
worship. Men are apt, in all times and everywhere, to blaspheme, by
attributing to God their own evil passions and narrow ideas. It is
through this power of the Imagination that they rise to that highest
ideal which is the truest piety. They rise to share godlike attributes;
the prophet seeing "the things that are not as though they were," and
the poet creating beings that live and move and have their being,
immortal in the mind of man. Such a power resides more or less in every
infant that lies in the bosom of every family. Alas for its guardians if
they quench this power, or turn it into a curse and disease by foul

Then, the Emotions of men are so many powers, to be recognised and
trained. Of the power of Hope there is no need to speak, for all see
what it is as a stimulus, both in particular acts, and through the whole
course of a life. Fear is hardly less important, though it is intended
to die out, or rather to pass into other and higher kinds of feeling. A
child who has never known a sensation of fear (if there be such an one)
can never be a man of a high order. He must either be coarsely made in
body, or unable to conceive of anything but what is familiar to him. A
child whose heart beats at shadows and the fitful sounds of the
invisible wind, and who hides his face on his mother's bosom when the
stars seem to be looking at him as they roll, is no philosopher at
present; but he is likely to grow into one if this fear is duly trained
into awe, humility, thoughtfulness, till, united with knowledge, it
becomes contemplation, and grows into that glorious courage which
searches all through creation for ultimate truth. Out of Fear, too,
grows our power of Pity. Without fear of pain, we could not enter into
the pain of others. Fear must be lost in reverence and love: but
reverence and love could never be so powerful as they ought to be, if
they were not first vivified by the power of Fear.

What the power of Love is, in all its forms, there is no need to declare
to any one who has an eye and a heart. In the form of Pity, how it led
Howard to spend his life in loathsome prisons, crowded with yet more
loathsome guilt! In other forms, how it sustains the unwearied mother
watching through long nights over her wailing infant! How it makes of a
father, rough perhaps to all others, a holy and tender guardian of his
pure daughters! and how it makes ministering angels of them to him in
turn! How we see it, everywhere in the world, making the feeble and
otherwise scantily-endowed strong in self-denial, cheerful to endure,
fearless to die! A mighty power surely is that which, breathing from the
soul of an individual man, can "conquer Death, and triumph over Time."

Then there is in man a force by which he can win and conquer his way
through all opposition of circumstance, and the same force in others.
This power of Will is the greatest force on earth--the most important
to the individual, and the most influential over the whole race. A
strong Will turned to evil lets hell loose upon the world. A strong Will
wholly occupied with good might do more than we can tell to bring down
Heaven into the midst of us. If among all the homes of our land, there
be one infant in whom this force is discerned working strongly, and if
that infant be under such guardianship as to have its will brought to
bear on things that are pure, holy, and lovely, to that being we may
look as to a regenerator of his race. He may be anywhere where there are
children. Are there any parents who will not look reverently into the
awful nature of their children, search into their endowments, and try of
every one of them whether it may not be he? If not he, it is certain
that every one of them is a being too mysterious, too richly gifted, and
too noble in faculties not to be welcomed and cherished as a heaven-sent
stranger. How can we too carefully set in order the home in which it is
to dwell?



Whatever method parents may choose for educating a child, they must have
some idea in their minds of what they would have him turn out. Even if
they set before them the highest aim of all--exercising and training all
his powers--still they must have some thoughts and wishes, some hopes
and fears, as to what the issue will prove to be.

In all states of society, the generality of parents have wished that
their children should turn out such as the opinion of their own time and
country should approve. There is a law of opinion in every society as to
what people should be. We have seen something of what this opinion was
among the Patriarchs of old, the Spartans, the Jews, and others. In our
own day, we find wide differences among neighbouring nations, civilised,
and so-called, christianised. The French have a greater value for
kindness and cheerfulness of temper and manners than the English, and a
less value for truth. The Russians have a greater value for social order
and obedience, and less for honesty. The Americans have a greater value
for activity of mind and pursuits, and less for peace and comfort. In
these and all other countries, parents in general will naturally desire
that their children should turn out that which is taken for granted to
be most valuable.

An ordinary English parent of our time, who had not given much thought
to the subject, would wish that his son should turn out as follows. He
would wish that the child should be docile and obedient, clever enough
to make teaching him an easy matter, and to afford promise of his being
a distinguished man; truthful, affectionate, and spirited; that as a man
he should be upright and amiable, sufficiently religious to preserve his
tranquillity of mind and integrity of conduct: steady in his business
and prudent in his marriage, so far as to be prosperous in his affairs.

Now, this looks all very well to a careless eye: but it will not satisfy
a thoughtful mind. In all the ages and societies we have spoken of,
there have been a few men wiser than the average, who have seen that the
human being might and ought to be something better than the law of
Opinion required that he should be. There are certainly Hindoos now
living and meditating who do not consider that men are so good as they
might be, while they think no harm of lying and stealing, and who are
sorry for the superstition which makes it an unpardonable crime to hurt
a cow. There are men among the Americans who see virtue in repose of
mind, and moderation of desires to which the majority of their
countrymen are insensible. And so it is in our country. We are all
agreed, from end to end of society, that Truthfulness, Integrity,
Courage, Purity, Industry, Benevolence, and a spirit of Reverence for
sacred things are inexpressibly desirable and excellent. But when it
comes to the question of the degree of these good things which it is
desirable to attain, we find the difference between the opinion of the
many and that of the higher few. A being who had these qualities in the
highest degree could not get on in our existing society without coming
into conflict with our law of Opinion at almost every step. If he were
perfectly truthful, he must say and do things in the course of his
business which would make him wondered at and disliked; he might be
unable to take an oath, or enter into any sort of vow, or sell his goods
prosperously, or keep on good terms with bad neighbours. If he were
perfectly honourable and generous, he might find it impossible to trade
or labour on the competitive principle, and might thus find himself
helpless and despised among a busy and wealth-gathering society. If he
were perfectly courageous, he might find himself spurned for cowardice
in declining to go to war or fight a duel. If he were perfectly pure, he
might find himself rebuked and pitied for avoiding a mercenary marriage,
and entering upon one which brings with it no advantage of connexion or
money. If the same purity should lead him to see that though the virtue
of chastity cannot be overrated, it has, for low purposes, been made so
prominent as to interfere with others quite as important: if he should
see how thus a large proportion of the girlhood of England is plunged
into sin and shame, and then excluded from all justice and mercy; if,
seeing this, he is just and merciful to the fallen, it is probable that
his own respectability will be impeached, and that some stain of
impurity will be upon his name. If he is perfectly industrious,
strenuously employing his various faculties upon important objects, he
will be called an idler in comparison with those who work in only one
narrow track; as an eminent author of our time was accused by the
housemaid, who was for ever dusting the house, of "wasting his time
a-writing and reading so much." Just so the majority of men who have one
sort of work to do accuse him of idleness who has more directions for
his industry than they can comprehend. If he is perfectly benevolent, he
cannot hope to be considered a prudent, orderly, quiet member of
society. He will be either incessantly spreading himself abroad, and
spending himself in the service of all about him, or maturing in
retirement some plan of rectification which will be troublesome to
existing interests. If he be perfectly reverent in soul, looking up to
the loftiest subjects of human contemplation with an awe too deep and
true to admit any mixture of either levity or superstition, he will
probably be called an infidel; or at least, a dangerous person, for not
passively accepting the sayings of men instead of searching out the
truth by the faithful use of his own powers.

Thus we see how in our own, as in every other society, the law of
Opinion as to what men should be agrees in the large, general points of
character with the ideas of the wisest, while there are great
differences in the practical management of men's lives. The perplexity
to many thoughtful parents is what to wish and aim at.

Now, it must never be forgotten that it is a good thing that there must
everywhere be such a law of Opinion on this subject, though it
necessarily falls below the estimate of the wisest. Some rule and method
in the rearing of human beings there must be; and if some are dwarfed
under it, many more have a better chance than they would have if it were
not a settled matter that truth, courage, benevolence, &c., are good
things. Till the constitution and training of the human being are better
and more extensively understood than they are, the general rule is
something to go by, as the product of a general instinct; and it will
work upon nearly all those who are born under it, so as to bring them
into something like order. In our country, there is, I suppose, scarcely
a den so dark as that its inhabitants really think no harm whatever of
lying and stealing, or consider them merits, as is the case in some
parts of the world. While we have among us far too many who thieve and
cheat, and quarrel, and drink, we can scarcely meet with any who do not
think these things wrong, or have not thought so before they were too
far gone in them. On the whole, the law of Opinion, though far below
what the wise see it might be, is a great benefit, and a thing worthy of
serious regard in fixing our educational aims.

This prevalent opinion being a good thing as far as it goes, having its
origin in nature, there can be no doubt that a good education, having
also its origin in nature, would issue in a sufficient accordance with
it for purposes of social happiness. As human beings are born with limbs
and senses whose thorough exercise brings them out in a high state of
bodily perfection, they are born with powers of the brain which,
thoroughly exercised, would, in like manner, bring them out as great,
mentally and morally, as their constitution enables them to be. There
must ever be innumerable varieties, as no two infants could ever be said
to be born perfectly alike; and perhaps no two adults could be found who
had precisely the same powers of limb and sense: but out of this
infinite variety must come such an amount of evidence as to what is best
in human character as would constitute a law of Opinion, higher than the
present, but agreeing with it in its main points. Let us conceive of a
county of England where every inhabitant should be not only saved from
ignorance, but having every power of body and mind made the very most
of. The variety would appear much greater than anything we now see.
There would be more people decidedly musical, or decidedly mechanical,
or decidedly scientific: more who would occupy their lives with works of
benevolence, or of art, or of ingenuity: more who would speculate
boldly, speak eloquently, and show openly their high opinion of
themselves, or their anxiety for the good opinion of others. The more
variety and the greater strength of powers, the clearer would be the
evidence before all eyes of what is really the most to be desired for
men. It would come out more plainly than now that it is a bad and
unhappy thing for men to have immoderate desires for money, or luxury,
or fame, or to have quarrelsome tendencies, or to be subject to distrust
and jealousy of others, or to be afraid of pain of body or mind. It
would be more plain than ever that there is a soulfelt charm and
nobleness and happiness in a spirit of reverence, of justice, of
charity, of domestic attachment, and of devotion to truth. Thus, in such
a society, there would be an agreement, more clear and strong than now,
in all the best points of our present law of Opinion, while there would
be fuller scope for carrying up the highest qualities of the human being
to their perfection.

Moreover, as men are made every where with a general likeness of the
powers of the mind, as with the same number of limbs and senses, there
must come out of a thorough exercise of their faculties a sufficient
agreement as to what is best to generate a universal idea of duty or
moral good. No varieties of endowment can interfere essentially with
this result. The Hindoo has slender arms, with soft muscles, and cannot
do the hard work which suits the German peasant: yet both agree as to
what arms are for, and how they are to be used. The Red Indian can see,
hear, smell, and taste twice as well as factory children or plough-boys;
yet all will agree that it is a good thing to have perfect sight and
hearing. And, in the same way, the African may have less power of
thought than the Englishman; and the Englishman may have less genius for
music than the African: but not only is the African able to think, more
or less, and the Englishman to enjoy music, but they will agree that it
is a good thing to have the highest power of thought, and the greatest
genius for music. In the same manner, again, one race, as well as one
individual, may have more power of reverence, another of love, another
of self-reliance; but all will agree that all these are inestimably

It follows from this, that parents must be safe in aiming at thoroughly
exercising and training all the powers of a child. If it would be safest
for all to do so, in the certainty that the result would be in
accordance with the best points of the law of Opinion, it must be a
safe practice for individuals; and they may proceed in the faith that
their work (if they do it well) will turn out a noble one in the eyes of
the men of their own day, while they are doing their best to help on a
clearer and brighter day, when the law of Opinion will itself be greatly

Here I must end my chapter. But I must just say a word to guard against
any hasty supposition that when I speak of exercising (as well as
training) all the human powers thoroughly, I contemplate any indulgence
of strong passions or of evil inclinations. It cannot be too carefully
remembered that what I am speaking of is human POWERS or Faculties; and
that every power which a human being possesses may be exercised to good,
and is actually necessary to make him perfect.

It will be my business hereafter to show what this exercise and training
should be.



It is a large subject that we have to treat;--that of household
education; for the main part of every process of education is carried on
at home, except in the instance of boarding-schools, where a few years
are spent by a small number of the youth of our country. The queen was
brought up under a method of household education; and so was, no doubt,
the last pauper who went to his grave in a workhouse coffin. Elizabeth
Fry was brought up at home; so was the most ignorant and brutish convict
that was blessed by the saving light of her pitying eye. Sir Isaac
Newton, to whom the starry heavens were as a home-field for intellectual
exercises, was reared at home; and so were the poor children in the
Durham coal-pits in our own time, who never heard of God, and indeed
could not tell the names of their own fathers and mothers. If thus, the
loftiest and the lowliest, the purest and the most criminal, the wisest
and the most ignorant, are comprehended under the process of household
education, what a wide and serious subject it is that we have to

The royal child must, of course, be trained wholly at home; that is,
little princes and princesses cannot be sent to school. But, while
reared in the house with their parents, the influences they are under
scarcely agree with our ideas of home. The royal infant does not receive
its food from the bosom first, or afterwards from the hands of its
mother. She does not wash and dress it; and those sweet seasons are lost
which in humbler homes are so rich in caresses and play, so fruitful in
endearing influences both to mother and child. It is a thing to be
remarked and praised by a whole court, if not a whole kingdom, if a
royal mother is seen with her child in her arms; while the cottager's
child is blessed with countless embraces between morning and night, and
sleeps on its mother's arm or within reach of her eye and voice. The
best trained royal child is disciplined to command of temper and
manners; made to do little services for people about him, and sedulously
taught that a child should be humble and docile. But the young creature
is all the while taught stronger lessons by circumstances than can ever
come through human lips. He sees that a number of grown persons about
him are almost wholly occupied with him, and that it is their business
in life to induce him to command his temper and manners. He feels that
when he is bid to fetch and carry, or to do any other little service, it
is not because such service is wanted, but for the sake of the training
to himself. He is aware that all that concerns him every day is a matter
of arrangement, and not of necessity; and a want of earnestness and of
steady purpose is an inevitable consequence. This want of natural
stimulus goes into his studies. I believe no solitary child gets on well
with book-learning as a part of the business of every day. The best
tutors, the best books, the quietest school-room, will not avail, if the
child's mind be not stirred and interested by something more congenial
than the grammar and sums and maps he has to study. And every royal
child is solitary, however many brothers and sisters he may have older
and younger than himself. He has his own servants, his own tutor, his
own separate place and people, so that he can never be jostled among
other children, or lead the true life of childhood. And so proceeds the
education of life for him. He can never live amidst a large class of
equals, with whom he can measure his powers, and from among whom he may
select congenial friends. He passes his life in the presence of
servants, has no occupations and no objects actually appointed to him,
unless his state be that of sovereignty, in which case his position is
more unfavourable still. He dies at last in the midst of that habitual
solitude which disables him from conceiving, even at such a moment, of
the state in which "rich and poor lie down together." Such a being may,
if the utmost has been done for him, be decent in his habits, amiable in
temper and manners, innocent in his pursuits, and religious in his
feelings; but it is inconceivable that he can ever approach to our idea
of a perfect man, with an intellect fully exercised, affections
thoroughly disciplined, and every faculty educated by those influences
which arise only from equal intercourse with men at large.

The home education of the pauper child is no better, though there are
few who would venture to say how much worse it is. A pauper child must
(I think we may say) be unfortunate in its parentage, in one way or
another. If it knows its parents, they must probably be either sickly,
or foolish, or idle, or dissolute; or they would not be in a state of
_permanent_ pauperism. The infant is reared (if not in the workhouse) in
some unwholesome room or cellar, amidst damp and dirt, and the noises
and sights of vice or folly. He is badly nursed and fed, and grows up
feeble, or in a state of bodily uneasiness which worries his temper, and
makes his passions excitable. He is not soothed by the constant
tenderness of a decent mother, who feels it a great duty to make him as
good and happy as she can, and contrives to find time and thought for
that object. He tumbles in the dust of the road or the mud of the
gutter, snatches food wherever he can get it, quarrels with anybody who
thwarts him if he be a bold boy, and sneaks and lies if he be naturally
a coward. He indulges every appetite, as a matter of course, as it
arises; for he has no idea that he should not. He hates everybody who
interferes with this license, and has the best liking for those who use
the same license with himself. He knows nothing of any place or people
but those he sees, and never dreams of any world beyond that of his own
eyes. He does not know what society is, or law, or duty: and therefore,
when he injures society, and comes under the inflictions of the law for
gross violations of duty, he understands no more of what is done to him
than if he was carried through certain ceremonies conducted in an
unknown tongue. He has some dim notion of glory in dying boldly before
the eyes of the crowd; so he goes to the gallows in a mocking mood, as
ignorant of the true import of life and human faculties as the day he
was born. Or, if not laid hold of by the law, he goes on towards his
grave brawling and drinking, or half asleep in mind, and inert or
diseased in body, till at last he dies as the beast dies.

Here are the two extremes. The condition about half way between them
appears to me to be the most favourable, on the whole, for making the
most of a human being, and best fulfilling the purposes of his life.
There are stations above and below highly favourable to the attainment
of excellence; but, taking in all considerations, I think the position
of the well-conditioned artisan the most favourable that society
affords, at least, in our own day.

There is much good in enlarged book-learning; in what is commonly called
a liberal education. If united with hard and imperative labour--labour
at once of head and hands--it will help to make a nobler man than can be
made without it: but a liberal education, enlarged book-learning,
ordinarily leads to only head work, without that labour of the hands
which is the way to much wisdom. The benefits too are much confined to
the individual, so that the children of the wisest statesman, or
physician, or lawyer are only accidentally, if at all, the better for
his advantages; while the best circumstances in the lot of the
well-conditioned artisan are the inheritance and the privilege of his

And again, the labourer may be so placed, in regard to employment,
marriage, and abode, as that he may, possessing an awakened mind, be for
ever learning great and interesting things from the book of Nature and
of Scripture, while he has comfort in his home, and some leisure for
training his children to his own work, and whatever else may turn up, so
that they may grow up intelligent, dutiful, affectionate, and able
continually to improve. The surgeon, the manufacturer, and the
shop-keeper on the one hand, and the street porter, the operative, and
the labourer on the other, may well work out the true purposes of life;
but the condition which appears to me to be the meeting point of the
greatest number of good influences is that of the best order of

That condition affords the meeting point of book-knowledge, and that
which is derived from personal experience. Every day's labour of hand
and eye is a page opened in the best of books--the universe. When duly
done, this lesson leaves time for the other method of instruction, by
books. During the day hours, the earnest pupil learns of Nature by the
lessons she gives in the melting fire, the rushing water, the unseen
wind, the plastic metal or clay, the variegated wood or marble, the
delicate cotton, silk, or wool; and at evening he learns of men--of the
wise and genial men who have delivered the best parts of their minds in
books, and made of them a sort of ethereal vehicle, in which they can
come at a call to visit any secret mind which desires communion with
them. And this privilege of double instruction is one which extends to
the whole household of the chief pupil. The children of the artisan are
happily appointed, without room for doubt, to toil like their father;
and there is every probability that they will share his opportunity and
his respect for book-knowledge. At the outset of life, they are tended
by their mother, owing directly to her their food and clothes, their
lullaby and their incitement to play. During the day, they are under
her eye; and in the evening, they sit on their father's knee, and get
knowledge or fun from him. In their busy home, all the help is needed
that every one can give; so the real business of life begins early, and
with it the most natural and best discipline. The children learn that it
is an honour to be useful, and a comfort and blessing to be neat and
industrious. So much more energy is naturally put into what must be done
than into what it is merely expedient should be done, that the children
are likely to exert their once-roused faculties to much better purpose
than if their business was appointed to them for their own educational
benefit. The little girl who tends the baby, or helps granny, or makes
father's shirt, or learns to cook the dinner, is likely to put more mind
into her work than if she were set to mark a sampler or make a doll's
frock for the sake of learning to sew. And so with the boy who carries
the coals for his mother, or helps his father in the workshop: he will
become manly earlier and more naturally than the highborn child who sees
no higher sanction for his occupations than the authority of his
parents. And how dearly prized are the opportunities for book-study
which can be secured! The children see what a privilege and recreation
reading is to their father; and they grow up with a reverence and love
for that great resource. The hope and expectation carry them through
the tedious work of the alphabet and pothooks. And as they grow up, they
are admitted to the magnificent privilege of fireside intercourse with
the holy Milton, and the glorious Shakspeare, and many a sage whose best
thoughts may become their ideas of every day. They thus obtain that
activity and enlargement of mind which render all employments and all
events educational. The powers, once roused and set to work, find
occupation and material in every event of life. Everything serves--the
daily handicraft, intercourse with the neighbours, rumours from the
world without, homely duty, books, worship, the face of the country, or
the action of the town. All these incitements, all this material, are
offered to the thoughtful artisan more fully and impartially than to
such below and above him as are hedged in by ignorance or by
aristocratic seclusion: and therein is his condition better than theirs.
After having come to this conclusion, it is no small satisfaction to
remember that the most favoured classes are the most numerous. So great
a multitude is included in the middle classes, compared with the
highborn and the degraded, that if they who have the best chance for
wisdom will but use their privilege, the highest hopes for society are
the most reasonable.



We may be perverse in our notions, and mistaken in our ways; but there
are some great natural blessings which we cannot refuse. I reckon it a
great natural blessing that the main events of human life are common to
all, and that it is out of the power of man to spoil the privilege and
pleasure of them. Birth, love, and death, are beyond the reach of man's
perverseness. They come differently to the wise and the foolish, the
wicked and the pure: but they come alike to the rich and the poor. The
infant finds as warm a bosom in which to nestle in the cottage as in the
mansion. The bride and bridegroom know the bliss of being all the world
to each other as well in their Sunday walk in the fields as in the park
of a royal castle. And when the mourners stand within the enclosure
where "rich and poor lie down together," death is the same sad and sweet
mystery to all the children of mortality, whether they be elsewhere the
lowly or the proud.

It may be said that the coming of the infant is not the same event to
all, because some very poor people are heard to speak of it as a
misfortune, and if the child dies, to rejoice that the Lord has taken
it to himself. It is true that some parents are heard to speak in this
way; but I believe that the difference here is not between rich and
poor, but between the wise and the foolish,--the trusting and the
faithless. I have a right to believe this as long as I see that the
hardest-working mother can be as tender and as cheerful as any other,
and that the poorest man can be as conscientious a father as the
richest. If the parents have been guilty of no fault towards their
unborn child; if the child be the offspring of healthful and virtuous
parents; and if they are calmly resolved to do all in their power for
its good,--to earn its bread, to cherish its health, to open its mind,
to nourish its soul, they have as good a right to rejoice in the
prospect of its birth as anybody in the world. If they steadily purpose
to do their full duty by their child, they may rely upon it that all the
powers of nature will help them;--that in a world wrapped round with
sweet air, and blessed by sunshine, and abounding with knowledge, the
human being can hardly fail of the best ends of life, if set fairly
forth on his way by those who are all to him in his helpless years. A
doubt of this may be pardoned in parents too hard driven by adversity,
who have lost heart, and think that to be poor is to be miserable: but
the doubt is not reasonable or religious; and it is likely to be fatal
to the child. I need not consider it further: for I write for those who
have a high purpose and a high hope in rearing children. Those who
despond are unfit for the charge, and are not likely to enter into any
consultation about it.

To all who have this high purpose and hope, how interesting and how holy
is this expectation of the birth of a human being! The mother is happy,
and can wait. The father thinks the time long till he can take his
infant in his arms, and lavish his love upon it. If there are already
children, they are or should be made, happy by some promise of the new
blessing to come. A serious hope it should be made to them, however
joyful: a hope to be spoken of only in private seasons of confidence,
when parents and children speak to each other of what they feel most
deeply,--by the bedsides of the little ones at night, or in the quietest
time of the Sunday holiday. A serious hope it should be to all parties;
for they should bring into the consideration the duties of labour and
self-denial which lie before them, and the seasons of anxiety which they
must undergo. Before the parents lie sleepless nights, after days of
hard work,--hours and hours of that weary suffering which arises from
the wailing of a sick infant: and before the entire household the duty
of those self-restraints which are ever due from the stronger to the
weaker. Amidst the anticipated joys of an infant's presence, these
things are not to be forgotten.

When the child is born, what an event is it in the education of the
whole household! According to the use made of it is it a pure blessing,
or a cause of pain and sin to some concerned. If it be the first child,
there is danger lest it be too engrossing to the young mother. I believe
it happens oftener than anybody knows, that the first conjugal
discontents follow on the birth of the first child. The young mother
trusts too much to her husband's interest in her new treasure being
equal to her own;--a thing which the constitution of man's nature, and
the arrangements of his business, render impossible. He will love his
infant dearly, and sacrifice much for it if he remains, as he ought, his
wife's first object. But if she neglects his comfort to indulge in
fondling her infant, she is doing wrong to both. If her husband no
longer finds, on his return from his business, a clean and quiet
fireside, and a wife eager to welcome him, but a litter of baby-things,
and a wife too busy up-stairs to come down, or too much engaged with her
infant to talk with him and make him comfortable, there is a mischief
done which can never be repaired.

And if this infant be not the first, there is another person to be no
less carefully considered,--the next youngest. I was early struck by
hearing the mother of a large family say, that her pet was always the
youngest but one; it was so hard to cease to be the baby! Little
children are as jealous of affection as the most enraptured lover; and
they are too young to have learned to control their passions, and to be
reasonable. A more miserable being can hardly exist than a little
creature who, having been accustomed to the tenderness always lavished
on the baby,--having spent almost its whole life in its mother's arms,
and been the first to be greeted on its father's entrance, finds itself
bid to sit on its little stool, or turned over to the maid, or to rough
brothers and sisters to be taken care of, while everybody gathers round
the baby, to admire and love it. Angry and jealous feelings may grow
into dreadful passions in that little breast, if great care be not taken
to smooth over the rough passage from babyhood to childhood. If the
mother would have this child love and not hate the baby, if she would
have peace and not tempest reign in the little heart, she will be very
watchful. She will have her eye on the little creature, and call it to
help her to take care of the baby. She will keep it at her knee, and
show it, with many a tender kiss between, how to make baby smile, how to
warm baby's feet; will let it taste whether baby's food be nice, and
then peep into the cradle, to see whether baby be asleep. And when baby
is asleep, the mother will open her arms to the little helper, and
fondle it as of old, and let it be all in all to her, as it used to be.
This is a great piece of education to them both, and a lesson in justice
to all who stand by.

The addition of a child to the family circle is an event too solemn to
be deformed by any falsehood. But few parents have the courage to be
truthful with their children as to how the infant comes; a question
which their natural curiosity always prompts. The deceptions usually
practised are altogether to be reprobated. It is an abominable practice
to tell children that the doctor brought the baby, and the like. It is
abominable as a lie: and it is worse than useless. Any intelligent child
will go on to ask,--or if not to ask, to ponder with excited
imagination,--where the doctor found it, and so on; and its attention
will be piqued, and its mind injuriously set to work, where a few
serious words of simple but carefully expressed truth, would have
satisfied it entirely. The child must, sooner or later, awaken to an
understanding of the subject; and it is no more difficult to impress him
with a sense of decency about this, than about other things, that a well
trained child never speaks of, but to its mother in private. The natural
question once truthfully answered, the little mind is at rest, and free
for the much stronger interests which are passing before its eyes.

The first month of an infant's life is usually a season of great moral
enjoyment to the household. Everybody is disposed to bear and to do
everything cheerfully for the sake of the new blessing. The father does
not mind the discomforts of the time of his wife's absence from the
table and the fireside, and makes himself by turns the nurse and the
playfellow, to carry the children well through it. If Granny be there,
and not able to do much in the house, she gathers the little ones about
her chair, and tells them longer stories than ever before, to keep them
quiet. The children try with all their might to be quiet; and even the
little two-year-old one struggles not to cry for company when baby
cries, and learns a lesson in self-restraint. They look with respect on
the maid or the nurse when they find that she has been up in the night,
tending mother and baby, and that she looks as cheerful in the morning
as if she had had good rest. And when they are permitted to study the
baby, and to see how it jerks its little limbs about, and does not see
anything they want it to see, and takes no notice of anything they say
to it; and when they hear that their great strong father, so wise and so
clever about his business, was once just such a helpless little creature
as this, they learn to reverence this feeble infant, and one another,
and themselves, and their hearts are very full of feelings which they
cannot speak. I well remember that the strongest feelings I ever
entertained towards any human being were towards a sister born when I
was nine years old. I doubt whether any event in my life ever exerted so
strong an educational influence over me as her birth. The emotions
excited in me were overwhelming for above two years; and I recal them as
vividly as ever now when I see her with a child of her own in her arms.
I threw myself on my knees many times in a day, to thank God that he
permitted me to see the growth of a human being from the beginning. I
leaped from my bed gaily every morning as this thought beamed upon me
with the morning light. I learnt all my lessons without missing a word
for many months, that I might be worthy to watch her in the nursery
during my play-hours. I used to sit on a stool opposite to her as she
was asleep, with a Bible on my knees, trying to make out how a creature
like this might rise "from strength to strength," till it became like
Christ. My great pain was, (and it was truly at times a despair,) to
think what a work lay before this thoughtless little being. I could not
see how she was to learn to walk with such soft and pretty limbs: but
the talking was the despair. I fancied that she would have to learn
every word separately, as I learned my French vocabulary; and I looked
at the big Johnson's Dictionary till I could not bear to think about it.
If I, at nine years old, found it so hard to learn through a small book
like that Vocabulary, what would it be to her to begin at two years old
such a big one as that! Many a time I feared that she never could
possibly learn to speak. And when I thought of all the trees and
plants, and all the stars, and all the human faces she must learn, to
say nothing of lessons,--I was dreadfully oppressed, and almost wished
she had never been born. Then followed the relief of finding that
walking came of itself--step by step; and then, that talking came of
itself--word by word at first, and then many new words in a day. Never
did I feel a relief like this, when the dread of this mighty task was
changed into amusement at her funny use of words, and droll mistakes
about them. This taught me the lesson, never since forgotten, that a way
always lies open before us, for all that it is necessary for us to do,
however impossible and terrible it may appear beforehand. I felt that if
an infant could learn to speak, nothing is to be despaired of from human
powers, exerted according to Nature's laws. Then followed the anguish of
her childish illnesses--the misery of her wailing after vaccination,
when I could neither bear to stay in the nursery nor to keep away from
her; and the terror of the back-stairs, and of her falls, when she found
her feet; and the joy of her glee when she first knew the sunshine, and
the flowers, and the opening spring; and the shame if she did anything
rude, and the glory when she did anything right and sweet. The early
life of that child was to me a long course of intense emotions which, I
am certain, have constituted the most important part of my education. I
speak openly of them here, because I am bound to tell the best I know
about Household Education; and on that, as on most subjects, the best we
have to tell is our own experience. And I tell it the more readily
because I am certain that my parents had scarcely any idea of the
passions and emotions that were working within me, through my own
unconsciousness of them at the time, and the natural modesty which makes
children conceal the strongest and deepest of their feelings: and it may
be well to give parents a hint that more is passing in the hearts of
their children, on occasion of the gift of a new soul to the family
circle, than the ingenuous mind can recognise for itself, or knows how
to confide.



We have seen something of the influence of the infant upon others: now
let us see what others can do for it.

Here is a little creature containing within itself the germs of all
those powers which have before been described; but with all these powers
in so feeble a state that months and years of nourishing and cherishing
under the influences of Nature are necessary to give it the use of its
own powers. What its parents can do for it, and all that they can do for
it, is to take care that it has the full advantage of the influences of
Nature. This is their task. They cannot get beyond it, and they ought
not to fall short of it.

Nature requires and provides that the tender frame should be nourished
with food, air, warmth and light, sleep and exercise. All these being
given to it, the soft bones will grow hard, the weak muscles will grow
firm; the eye will become strong to see, and the ear to hear, and the
different portions of the brain to feel, and apprehend, and think; and
to form purposes, and to cause action, till the helpless infant becomes
a self-acting child, and is on the way to become a rational man. What
the parents have to do is to take care that the babe has the best of
food, air, warmth, and light, sleep and exercise.

First, of food. About this there is no possible doubt. The mother's milk
is the best of food. What the mother has to look to is that her milk is
of the best. She must preserve her own health by wholesome diet, air,
and exercise, and by keeping a gentle and cheerful temper. Many a babe
has had convulsions after being suckled by a nurse who had had a great
fright, or had been in a great passion: and a mother who has an
irritable or anxious temper, who flushes or trembles with anger, or has
her heart in her throat from fear of this or that, will not find her
child thrive upon her milk, but will have much to suffer from its
illness or its fretfulness. She must try, however busy she may be, to
give it its food pretty regularly, that its stomach may not be
overloaded nor long empty or craving. An infant does not refuse food
when it has had enough, as grown people can do. It will stop crying and
suck, when its crying is from some other cause than hunger: and it will
afterwards cry all the more if an overloaded stomach is added to the
other evil, whatever it may be. Of the contrary mischief--leaving a babe
too long hungry--there is no need to say anything. And when the weaning
time comes, it is plain that the food should be at first as like as
possible to that which is given up; thin, smooth, moderately warm,
fresh, and sweet, and given as leisurely as the mother's milk is drawn.
It is well known that milk contains, more curiously than any other
article of food, whatever is necessary for nourishing all the parts of
the human body. It contains that which goes to form and strengthen the
bones, and that which goes to make and enrich the blood--thereby causing
the soft bones of the babe to grow stiff and strong, and its heart to
beat healthily, and its lungs to play vigorously, and its muscles to
thicken and become firm. While all this is going on well, and the child
shows no need of other food, there is nothing but mischief to be looked
for from giving it a variety for which it is not prepared. Milk, flour
and water are its natural food while it has no teeth to eat meat with,
and vegetables turn sour on its stomach. As for giving it a bit or sip
of what grown persons are eating and drinking--that is a practice too
ignorant to need to be mentioned here.

Next comes air. Here, as usual, we have to consult Nature. There is an
ingredient in the air which is as necessary to support human breathing
as to feed the flame of a candle. Where there is too little of it, the
flame of a candle burns dim; and where it is not freely supplied to a
human frame, it languishes, and pines and sickens. A constant supply of
pure air there must therefore be. If the house is close, if the room is
too long shut up, with people in it who are using up that ingredient of
the air, they will all, and especially the babe, languish and pine and
sicken. Every morning, therefore, and during the day, there must be
plenty of fresh air let in to replace that which has been spoiled by
breathing; and in fine weather, the babe should be carried into the open
air every day. But Nature also points out that we must avoid extremes in
giving the child air, as well as food. We see sometimes how a babe grows
black in the face if carried with its face to the wind, or whisked down
stairs in a draught. Its lungs are small and tender, like the rest of
it, and can bear even fresh air only when moderately given. By a little
care in turning its face away from the wind, or lightly covering its
head, a child may be saved from being half strangled by a breeze out of
doors; while care will, of course, be taken within doors to keep it out
of the direct draught from door or window.

As for light--we do not yet know so much as we ought about the relation
between light and the human frame. I believe some curious secrets remain
to be discovered about that. But we do know this much--that people who
live in dark places, prisoners in dungeons, and very poor people in
cellars, and savages in caves who do not go abroad much, are not only
less healthy than others, but have peculiar diseases which are
distinctly traceable to deficiency of light. My own conviction is that
we grown people can hardly have too much light in our houses; and that
we are, somehow or other, alive almost in proportion to the sunshine we
live in. But we must observe, at the same time, the difference which
Nature makes between the infant and adults. The infant's eyes are weak,
and its brain tender; so that, while there is plenty of light about its
body, we must take care that there is not too much directly before its
eyes. If held opposite a strong sunshine, it will squint if it does not
cry, or by some means show that the light is too much for its tender

As to warmth--everybody knows that a babe cannot have that constant
warmth which is kept up in older persons by constant activity. Its
little feet require frequent warm handling; and its lips often look blue
when everybody else in the room is warm enough. By gentle chafing and
warming it must be kept comfortable during the day, without being shut
up in a hot room, or scorched before the fire. As for the night--its
warmth should be secured by sufficient clothing, in a little bed of its
own, as early as possible, rather than by lying with its mother, which
is far too common a practice. It may be necessary, in extremely cold
weather, to take the child into bed for warmth; but even then, the
mother should not sleep till she has put it back, warm and well covered,
into its own bed. I need say nothing of the horror we feel when, every
now and then, we hear of a miserable mother whose child has been
overlaid. That accident happens oftener than many people know of. But,
besides that danger, the practice is a bad one. The child breathes air
already breathed; it soaks in the perspiration of its mother. If its
state is healthful, its natural sleep will keep it warm, supposing its
bedding to be sufficient; while it is likely to be too hot, and not to
breathe healthfully, if laid close by another person. In all seasons,
its clothing should be loose enough to allow of a free play of its
limbs, and of all the movements within its body--the beating of the
heart, the heaving of the lungs, and the rolling of the bowels, to go on
quite naturally. By careful management, an infant may be kept in a state
of natural warmth, night and day, through winter and summer; as every
sensible mother knows.

The little frame must be exercised. Every human function depends on
exercise for its growth and perfection. A person who lives almost in the
dark has little use of his eyes when he comes into the light; an arm
hung in a sling becomes weak, and at last useless; a talent for
arithmetic or music becomes feebler continually from disuse. To make the
most therefore of the frame of a human being, it must be exercised--some
of its powers from the beginning, and all in their natural order. We
must take care, however, to observe what this natural order is, or,
judging by our present selves, we may attempt too much. We must
remember that the infant has to begin from the beginning, and that its
primary organs--the heart, lungs, and brain--have to become accustomed
to moderate exercise before anything further should be attempted. At
first, it is quite enough for the infant to be taken up and laid down,
washed and dressed, and carried about a little on the arm. When the
proper time comes, it will kick and crow, and reach and handle, and look
and listen. Its very crying, if only what is natural to express its
wants, is a good exercise of those parts intended to be used afterwards
in speaking and making childish noises. Poor Laura Bridgman, the
American girl, who early lost both eyes and the inner parts of the ears,
and cannot hear, see, smell, or taste, and whose mind is yet developed
by means of the sense of touch, said a thing (said it by finger
language) which appears to me very touching and very instructive. Not
being able to speak, she was formerly apt to use the organs of speech in
making odd noises, disagreeable to people about her. When told of this,
and encouraged to try to be silent, she asked--"Why, then, has God given
me so much voice?" Her guardians took the hint, and gave her a place to
play in for some time every day, where she can make as much noise as she
likes--hearing none of it herself, but enjoying the exercise to her
organs of sound. What Laura does now, an infant does by squalling, and
children do by shouting and vociferating at their play. Their parents,
it must be remembered, are talking for many hours while they are asleep.

Other exercises follow in their natural course--the rolling and tumbling
about on a thickly wadded quilt on the floor (saving the busy mother's
time, while teaching the child the use of its limbs)--feeling its feet
on the lap, and learning to step, scrambling up and down by the leg of
the table, pulling and throwing things about, imitating sounds, till
speech is attained--these are the exercises which nature directs, and
under which the powers grow till the mother can see in her plaything the
sailor who may one day rock at the mast-head, or the stout labourer who
may trench the soil, or the gardener who will name a thousand plants at
a glance, or the teacher who will bring out and train a hundred human
intellects. What she has to look to is that the powers of her child are
all remembered and considered, and exercised only in due degree and
natural order.

After exercise comes sleep. If all else go well, this will too. If the
child digest well, be warm, sufficiently fatigued and not too much--in
short, if it be comfortable in body, it will sleep at proper times. One
of the earliest pieces of education--of training--is to induce a babe to
sleep regularly, and without the coaxing which consumes so much of the
mother's time, and encourages so much waywardness on the part of the
child. If a healthy child be early accustomed to a bed of its own, and
if it is laid down at a sleepy moment, while the room is quiet, it will
soon get into a habit of sleeping when laid down regularly, in warmth
and stillness, after being well washed and satisfied with food. The
process is natural; and it would happen easily enough if our ways did
not interfere with Nature. By a little care, a child may be attended to
in the night without fully awakening it. By watching for its stirring,
veiling the light, being silent and quick, the little creature may be on
its pillow again without having quite waked up--to its own and its
mother's great advantage.

Cleanliness is the removal of all that is unwholesome. Nature has made
health dependent upon this, in the case of human beings of every age:
and the more eminently, the younger they are. One great condition of an
infant's welfare is the removal of all discharges whatever, by careful
cleansing of the delicate skin in every crease and corner, every day;
and of all clothing as soon as soiled. The perpetual washing of an
infant's bibs, &c., is a great trouble to a busy mother; but less than
to have the child ill from the smell of a sour pinafore, or from wet
underclothes, or from a cap that holds the perspiration of a week's
nights and days. It is a thing which must be done--the keeping all pure
and sweet about the body of the little creature that cannot help itself;
and its look of welfare amply repays the trouble all the while.

Such are the offices to be rendered to the new-born infant. They consist
in allowing Nature scope for her higher offices. By their faithful
discharge, the human being is prepared to become in due season all that
he is made capable of being--which may prove to be something higher than
we are at present aware of.



While the bodily powers of the infant are nourished and preserved by
observing Nature, as pointed out in the last chapter, the powers of the
mind are growing from day to day. When an infant has once been pleased
with the glitter of the sun upon the brass warming-pan, or with the
sound of a rattle, it will kick and shake its little arms, and look
eager, the next time it sees the rattle and the warming-pan. And having
once remembered, it will remember more every day. Every day it will give
signs of Hope and Desire. Will shows itself very early. Fear has to be
guarded against, and Love to be cherished, from the first days that mind
appears. It is the highest possible privilege to the child if the
parents know how to exercise its power of Conscience soon enough, so as
to make it sweet and natural to the young creature to do right from its
earliest days. Let us see how these things may be.

How strong is the Will of even a very young infant! How the little
creature, if let alone, will labour and strive after anything it has set
its mind upon! How it cries and struggles to get the moon; and tumbles
about the floor, as soon as it can sprawl, to accomplish any wish! And,
if ill-trained, how pertinaciously it will refuse to do anything it
ought! How completely may the wills of a whole party of grown people be
set at nought by the self-will of a baby whose powers are allowed to run
riot! It is exceedingly easy to mismanage such cases, as we all see
every day: but it is also very easy to render this early power of Will a
great blessing.

The commonest mistake is to indulge the child's self-will, as the
easiest course at the moment. Immediate peace and quiet are sought by
giving the child whatever it clamours for, and letting it do whatever it
likes in its own way. We need not waste words on this tremendous
mistake. Everybody knows what a spoiled child is; and nobody pretends to
stand up for the method of its education. I think quite as ill of the
opposite mistake--of the method which goes by the name of breaking the
child's will; a method adopted by some really conscientious parents
because they think religion requires it. When I was in America, I knew a
gentleman who thought it his first duty to break the wills of his
children; and he set about it zealously and early. He was a clergyman,
and the President of an University: the study of his life had been the
nature and training of the human mind: and the following is the way he
chose--misled by a false and cruel religion of Fear--to subdue and
destroy the great faculty of Will. An infant of (I think) about eleven
months old was to be weaned. A piece of bread was offered to the babe;
and the babe turned away from it. Its father said that it was necessary
to break down the rebellious will of every child for once; that if done
early enough, once would suffice; and that it would be right and kind to
take this early occasion in the instance of this child. The child was
therefore to be compelled to eat the bread. A dressmaker in the house
saw the process go on through the whole day; and became so dreadfully
interested that she could not go away at night till the matter was
finished. Of course, the bit of bread became more and more the subject
of disgust, and then of terror to the infant, the more it was forced
upon its attention. Hours of crying, shrieking and moaning were followed
by its being shut up in a closet. It was brought out by
candlelight--stretched helpless across the nurse's arms, its voice lost,
its eyes sunk and staring, its muscles shrunk, its appearance that of a
dying child. It was now near midnight. The bit of bread was thrust into
the powerless hand; no resistance was offered by the unconscious
sufferer; and the victory over the evil powers of the flesh and the
devil was declared to be gained. The dressmaker went home, bursting with
grief and indignation, and told the story: and when the President went
abroad the next morning, he found the red brick walls of the university
covered with chalk portraits of himself holding up a bit of bread before
his babe. The affair made so much noise that he was, after some time,
compelled to publish a justification of himself. This justification
amounted to what was well understood throughout; that he conscientiously
believed it his duty to take an early opportunity to break the child's
will, for its own sake. There remained for his readers the old wonder
where he could find in the book of Glad Tidings so cruel a contradiction
of that law of love which stands written on every parent's heart.

How much easier is the true and natural method for controlling the young
Will! Nature points out that the true method is to control the Will, not
by another person's Will, but by the other faculties of the child
itself. When the child wills what is right and innocent, let the faculty
work freely. When it wills what is wrong and hurtful, appeal to other
faculties, and let this one sleep; excite the child's attention; engage
its memory, or its hope, or its affection. If the infant is bent on
having something that it ought not, put the forbidden object out of
sight, and amuse the child with something else. Avoid both indulgence
and opposition, and a habit of docility will be formed by the time the
child becomes capable of deliberate self-control. This natural method
being followed, it is curious to see how early the power of
self-control may be attained. I watched one case of a child endowed with
a strong Will who, well trained, had great power of self-government
before she could speak plain. She was tenderly reared, and indulged in
her wishes whenever they were reasonable, and cheerfully amused and
helped whenever her desires were disappointed. One day I had just begun
to show her a bright new red pocket-book full of pictures when she was
called to her dinner. She did not want her dinner, and begged to see the
pocket-book; begged it once--twice--and was about to beg it a third
time, when I ventured to put to the proof her power of self-denial. I
put the case before her as it appeared to me, fairly saying that I could
not show her the pocket-book till five in the afternoon. Showing her
what I thought the right of the matter, I asked her whether she would
now go to her dinner. She stood, with the pocket-book in her hand, for
some seconds in deep thought; then looked up at me with a bright face,
said graciously "I will;" put the gay plaything into my lap, and ran off
to her dinner. The looking forward till five o'clock and the pleasure of
that hour fixed the effort in her mind, and made the next easier. It is
clear that a child early subject to oppression and opposition in matters
of the Will could not arrive thus betimes and naturally at
self-government like this, but must have many perverse and painful
feelings to struggle with, in addition to the necessary conflict with

A parent who duly appreciates the great work that every human being has
to do in attaining self-government, will assist the process from the
very first, by the two great means in his power--by the aid of Habit,
and of a government of love instead of fear. It is really due to the
feebleness of a child to give it the aid and support of habit in what it
has to do and avoid. By regularity in the acts of its little life, in
its sleeping and feeding, and walking and times of play, a world of
conflict and wilfulness is avoided, and the will is quietly trained, day
by day, to submission to circumstances; life goes on with the least
possible wear and tear; and a continually strengthening power is
obtained over all the faculties. Among the children entering upon school
life, and men and women upon any sphere of duty whatever, a great
difference as to efficiency will be found between those who always have
to bring their Will to bear expressly on the business of the time,
unaided by habit, and those whose lives and powers have been, as one may
say, economised by their having lived under that discipline of time and
circumstance which is the gentle and natural education of the human
Will. It is true, this mechanical kind of discipline can never be more
than auxiliary. It can never stand in the place of the deep internal
principle by which alone the mightiest movements of the human will are
actuated. It can only husband a man's powers for his ordinary duties,
and not of itself prepare him for the great crises of life. It can only
aid him in his everyday course, and not strengthen him, when the
agonising hour comes, to surrender love, and hope, and peace, at the
call of duty, or to encounter outrage and death for truth's sake. But we
are now considering the education of the infant man; man at that stage
when our chief concern is with whatever is auxiliary to that great aim
of perfection which lies far in the future.

Above all things it is important that the parental administration should
be one of love and not of fear. There can be no healthful growth of the
Will under the restraints of fear. The fact is, the Will is not trained
at all in any frightened person.

The actions may be conformed to the Will of the tyrant; but the Will is
running riot in secret all the time--unless, indeed, it be entirely
crushed. But how vigorously it grows under a government of love! Look at
the difference between a slave-owner, whose people are driven by the
lash, and an employer whose people are ready to live and die for him:
how languidly and shabbily is the work done in the first case, and how
heartily and efficiently in the last! And it is with the young child as
with the grown man. A child who lives in the fear of punishment has half
its faculties absorbed by that fear, and becomes a feeble little
creature, incapable of governing itself; while a mere babe who is
cheered and led on in its good efforts by smiles of love and tones of
tenderness becomes strong to govern its passions, and to brush away its
tears; and patient to bear pain; and brave to overcome difficulty;
becomes blessed, in short, with a healthful and virtuous Will. I know
nothing more touching than the efforts of self-government of which
little children are capable, when the best parts of their nature are
growing vigorously under the light and warmth of parental love. Mrs.
Wesley might pride herself on so breaking the wills of her children by
fear as that the youngest in arms learned immediately "to cry softly;"
but there was every danger that the early cowed Will would sooner or
later start up in desperate rebellion, and claim a freedom which it
would be wholly unable to manage. How much safer, and how infinitely
more beautiful is the self-control of the little creature who stifles
his sobs of pain because his mother's pitying eye is upon him in tender
sorrow! or that of the babe who abstains from play, and sits quietly on
the floor because somebody is ill; or that of a little hero who will ask
for physic if he feels himself ill, or for punishment if he knows
himself wrong, out of confidence in the tender justice of the rule under
which he lives! I have known a very young child slip over to the cold
side of the bed on a winter's night, that a grown-up sister might find
a warm one. I have known a boy in petticoats offer his precious new
humming-top to a beggar child. I have known a little girl submit
spontaneously to hours of irksome restraint and disagreeable employment
merely because it was right. Such Wills as these--so strong and yet so
humble, so patient and so dignified--were never impaired by fear, but
flourished thus under the influence of love, with its sweet incitements
and holy supports.



We have seen what power of Will a child has. But the Will itself is put
in action by Hope and Fear.

What is stronger in an infant than its capacity for Hope and Fear? In
its earliest and most unconscious stages of emotion, how its little
limbs quiver, and its countenance lights up at the prospect of its food!
and how it turns away its face, or wrinkles it up into a cry, at the
sight of a strange countenance, or unusual appearance of dress or place!
And what stronger hint can a parent have than this to look forward to
what this hope and fear may grow to?

This great power of Hope must determine the leading features of the
character of the man or woman; determine them for good or evil according
to the training of the power from this day forward. Shall the man
continue a child, or sink into the brute by his objects of hope
continuing to be what they are now--food or drink? Shall his frame be
always put into commotion by the prospect of pleasant bodily sensations
from eating and drinking, and other animal gratifications? Or, when the
child arrives at hoping for his mother's smile and his father's praise,
shall he stop there, and live for admiration; admiration of his person
and dress, his activity, or his cleverness? Shall the gratification of
his vanity be the chief interest of his life? Or shall it be ambition?
Shall his perpetual hope be of a higher sort of praise--praise from so
large a number as shall give him power over other men, and cause his
name to be known beyond his connexions, and his native place, and his
country and his age? All this is very low and very small; too little for
the requirements of his nature, too little for the peace of his mind and
the happiness of his heart. Shall not rather this faculty of hope be
nourished up into Faith?--faith which includes at once the fulness of
virtuous power and the peace which the world can neither give nor take
away. A being in whom the early faculty of Hope has been matured into a
steady power of Faith is of the highest and happiest order of men,
because the objects of his hope are unchanging and ever-lasting, and
they keep all his best powers in strenuous action and in full health and
strength. When the mother sees her infant in an ecstacy of hope, first
at the food making ready for him, and next at the gay flower within his
reach, and afterwards at the flattery of visitors, she should remember
that here is the faculty which may hereafter lead and sustain him
through days of hunger and nights of watching, or years of toilsome
obscurity, or scenes of the unthinking world's scorn, calm and peaceful
in the furtherance of the truth of God and the welfare of Man. And if
her tender heart shrinks from the anticipation of privation and contempt
such as have too often hitherto attended a life of faith, let her
remember that in the midst of the most prosperous life there can be no
peace but in proportion to the power of faith; and that therefore in
training up this faculty of Hope to its highest exercise she is
providing most substantially for his happiness, be his lot otherwise
what it may.

How is this faculty to be trained?--

First, it must be cherished. Some well-meaning parents repress and even
extinguish it, from the notion that this is the way to teach humility
and self-denial. The consequence is that they break the mainspring of
action in the child's mind, and everything comes to a stand. It is
difficult to weaken the power of hope in a human being, and harder still
to break it down; but when the thing is done, what sadder spectacle can
be seen? Of all moving sights of woe, the most mournful is that of a
hopeless child. A single glance at its listless limbs, its dull eye, its
languid movements, shows the mischief that has been done. The child is
utterly unreliable; a mere burden upon the world. He has no truth, no
love, no industry, no intellectual power in him; and if he has any
conscience, it is the mere remains,--enough to trouble him, without
doing him any good. This is an extreme case, and I trust a rare one. But
cases of repressed hope are much more common than they should be. There
are too many children who are baulked of their mother's sympathy because
she is busy or fretful, or of their father's, because he is stern. Too
many little hearts are made to swell in silence because they cannot get
justice, or to burn under the suspicion that their aspirations are
despised. After this, what can they do? At best, they carry their
confidence elsewhere, and make their chief interests away from home: and
it is too probable that they will give up their plans and aspirations,
and sink down to lower hopes. A boy who aspires to discover the North
Pole, or to write a book which will teach the world something greater
than it ever knew before, will presently sink down to be greedy after
lollypops: and a girl who means to try whether a woman cannot be as good
as Jesus Christ, may presently be discouraged down to the point of
reckoning on Sunday because she is to have a new ribbon on her bonnet.
In the case of every human being, Hope is to be cherished from first to
last; not the hope of the particular thing that the child has set its
mind on, unless the thing itself be good; but the hopeful mood of mind.
The busiest mother can have nothing to do so important as satisfying her
child's heart by a word or look of sympathy: and the most anxious
father can have nothing so grave to occupy him as the peril he puts his
child into by plunging him into undeserved fear and disappointment.

Hope is to be cherished without ceasing. But the objects of hope must
first be varied and then exalted, that the faculty may be led on from
strength to strength, till it is able to fix its aims for itself. To the
hope of good eating and drinking must succeed that of clutching gay
colours, of hearing mother sing, of having play with father when he
comes home; then of having a kitten or a doll to take care of; then of
parents' praise for lessons or other work well done; then of
self-satisfaction for bad habits cured: then there may be a great spring
forward to thoughts of glory;--the glory of being a great sailor, or
magistrate, or author, or martyr: and at length, the hope of doing great
things for the good of mankind, and of becoming a perfect man. As for
times and opportunities of cherishing and exalting hope--every hour is
the right time, and every day affords the opportunity. What is needed,
is that the parents should have the aim fixed in their hearts; and then
their minds, and that of the child, will work towards it as by an
instinct. By natural impulse the mother's hand will bring the gay
flower, and the kitten or the doll before the child's notice, if it
becomes greedy about its food. By natural impulse she will sing its
favourite song, or beg play for it of its father after some little
virtuous effort of the child's; in natural course, all things in human
life, great and small, will present themselves in their heroic aspect to
the minds of the parents, and be thus represented to the mind of the
child, if once the idea of the future man be firmly associated with that
of moral nobleness. If they have in them faith enough steadily to desire
for him this moral nobleness above all things, there can be no fear but
that their aspiration will communicate itself to him; and his faculty of
Hope will ripen into a power of Faith.

I have said nothing of a hope of reward as among the objects of
childhood. This is because I think rewards and punishments seldom or
never necessary in household education, while they certainly bring great
mischief after them. In some cases of bad habit, and in a very early
stage of education, they may be desirable, here and there; but as a
system, I think rewards and punishments bad. In the case of a very young
child who has fallen into a habit of crying at bedtime, or at any
particular time of day, or in that of a thoughtless, untidy child, where
the object is to impress its memory, or to establish a strong
association with time or place, it may be useful to connect some
expectation of pain or pleasure with particular seasons or acts, so as
to make the infant remember the occasion for self-government, and rouse
its will to do right; but this should be only where the association of
selfish pleasure or pain is likely to die out with the bad habit, and
never where such selfish pleasure or pain can be associated with great
permanent ideas and moral feelings. A careless child may be allowed to
earn a reward for punctuality at meals, and for putting playthings and
dress in their proper place when done with, and for personal neatness,
during a specified time; and perhaps for the diligent learning of
irksome tasks: and there may be some punishment, declared and agreed
upon before hand, and steadily inflicted, for any disagreeable personal
habit, or any other external instance of habitual thoughtlessness. But
the greater moral aims of the parent are too sacred to be mixed up with
the direct personal interests of the child. A child will hardly be nobly
truthful who dreads being whipped for a lie; and benevolence will be
spoiled in its young beginnings, if any pleasure beyond itself is looked
for in its early exercise. A child who has broken a plate, or gone
astray for pleasure when sent on an errand, must want confidence in his
parents, and be more or less cowardly if he denies the offence; and he
will not have more truth or courage on the next occasion for being
whipped now. What he needs is to be made wiser about the blessedness of
truth and the horrors of falsehood, and more brave about the pain of
rebuke: and the whipping will not make him either the one or the other.
I remember being fond of a book in my childhood which yet revolted me
in one part. It told of the children of a great family in France, who
heard of the poverty of a woman about to lie in, and who bought and made
clothes for herself and her infant. Their mother and grandmother made a
sort of festival of the giving of these clothes. The children rode in
procession on asses, carrying their gifts. One tied her bundle with blue
ribbon, and another with pink; and the whole village came out to see,
when they alighted at the poor woman's door. I used to blush with
indignation over this story; indignation on the poor woman's account,
that her pauperism was so exposed; and on that of the children, that
they were not allowed the pure pleasure of helping a neighbour, without
being applauded at home and by a whole village for what it gave them
nothing but satisfaction to do. I am strongly of opinion that when we
duly understand and estimate man, there will be no reward or punishment
at all; that human beings will be so trained as to find their pleasure
and pain in the gratification or the abuse of their own highest
faculties; and that in those days (however far off they may be) there
will be no treadwheels, no hulks, no gibbets; and no prize-giving,
except for feats of skill or activity. And meantime, I feel perfectly
sure that children under home-training may be led to find such
gratification in the exercise of their higher intellectual and moral
faculties, as to feel the abuse of them more painful than any
punishment, and their action more pleasurable than any reward. When we
read of a Christian in the early ages who was brought into the
amphitheatre, and given the choice whether he would declare Jupiter to
be the supreme God, and enjoy life and comfort, or avow himself a
Christian, and be torn to pieces by wild beasts the next minute, we feel
that he _could not_ say he believed Jupiter to be God. Well: convince
any child as fully as this of the truth, and of his absolute need of
fidelity to it, and he can no more endure lapse from it than the
Christian could endure to declare Jupiter to be God. As the inveterate
drunkard must gratify his propensity to drink, at the cost of any amount
of personal and domestic misery; and as the miser must go on adding to
his stores of gold, even though he starves himself into disease and
death, so the upright man must satisfy his conscience through every
extremity; and no penalty can deter the benevolent man from devoting all
he has to give--his money, his time, and his life--to the relief of
suffering. On such as these--the upright and the devoted--every appeal
to their lower faculties is lost; and as for their hope and fear--they
have passed into something higher. With them "perfect love has cast out
fear;" and hope has grown up into Faith; and this faith being to them
"the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,"
it must be more to them than any of the passing pains and pleasures of
life. Exalted as these beings are, they are of the same make as the
infant on its mother's lap: and each is destined to derive his highest
gratification from the exercise of the noblest faculties of his nature.
If parents did but understand and constantly remember this, they would
consider well before they dared to mix up a meaner pleasure and pain
with the greater, while appealing to any of the higher moral faculties
of their children--if indeed they ventured upon reward and punishment at



There is nothing in which children differ more than in their capacity
for Fear. But every child has it more or less,--or ought to have it: for
nothing can be made of a human being who has never experienced it. A
child who has never known any kind of fear can have no power of
Imagination;--can feel no wonder, no impulse of life, no awe or
veneration. Such a case probably does not exist, except in a condition
of idiotcy. A child who is called fearless, and who is congratulated
upon this,--who shows no shyness of strangers, who does not mind cold
water, or falls, or being in the dark, who runs after animals, and plays
with ugly insects, may yet cower under a starry sky, or tremble at
thunder, or be impressed for life by a mysterious dream. It is for the
parents to watch the degree and direction of an infant's fear, firmly
assured that whatever be this degree and direction, all may end well
under prudent care.

The least favourable case is that of the apathetic child. When it
appears indifferent to whatever may happen to it, and shrinks from
nothing, it must be as incapable of hope and enjoyment as of fear, and
there must be something amiss in its health,--in its nervous system; and
its health is what must be looked to first. It must be well nourished
and amused; its perceptive faculties must be exercised, and every sort
of activity must be encouraged. If this succeeds, and its feelings begin
to show themselves, fear will come with the rest; and then its education
in that respect must begin. But it must ever be carefully remembered
that fear often puts on the appearance of apathy,--especially in a proud
child. No creature is so intensely reserved as a proud and timid child:
and the cases are few in which the parents know anything of the agonies
of its little heart, the spasms of its nerves, the soul-sickness of its
days, the horrors of its nights. It hides its miseries under an
appearance of indifference or obstinacy, till its habitual terror
impairs its health, or drives it into a temper of defiance or
recklessness. I can speak with some certainty of this, from my own
experience. I was as timid a child as ever was born; yet nobody knew or
could know, the extent of this timidity; for though abundantly open
about everything else, I was as secret as the grave about this. I had a
dream at four years old which terrified me to such an excess that I
cannot now recal it without a beating of the heart. I could not look up
at the sky on a clear night; for I felt as if it was only just above the
tree tops, and must crush me. I could not cross the yard except at a
run, from a sort of feeling, with no real belief,--that a bear was
after me. The horrors of my nights were inexpressible. The main terror
however was a magic-lantern which we were treated with once a year, and
sometimes twice. We used to talk of this exhibition as a prodigious
pleasure; and I contrived to reckon on it as such: but I never saw the
white cloth, with its circle of yellow light, without being in a cold
perspiration from head to foot. One of the pictures on the slides was
always suppressed by my father, lest it should frighten the little
ones;--a dragon's head, vomiting flames. He little thought that a girl
of thirteen could be terrified by this: but when I was thirteen,--old
enough to be put in charge of some children who were to see the magic
lantern,--this slide was exhibited by one of my brothers among the rest.
I had found it hard enough to look and laugh before; and now I turned so
faint that I could not stand, but by grasping a chair. But for the
intensity of my shame, I should have dropped. Much of the benefit of
instruction was lost to me during all the years that I had masters: my
memory failed me when they knocked at the door, and I could never ask a
question, or get voice to make a remark. I could never play to my music
master, or sing with a clear voice but when I was sure nobody could hear
me. Under all this, my health was bad; my behaviour was dogged and
provoking, and my temper became for a time insufferable. Its
improvement began from the year when I first obtained some release from
habitual fear. During these critical years I misled everybody about me
by a habit of concealment on this one subject which I am sure I should
not now have strength for under any inducement whatever. Because I
climbed our apple tree, and ran along the top of a high wall, and took
great leaps, and was easily won by benevolent strangers, and because I
was never known to hint or own myself afraid, no one suspected that fear
was at the bottom of the immoveable indifference and apparently
unfeeling obstinacy by which I perplexed and annoyed everybody about me.
I make these confessions willingly, in the hope that some inexperienced
or busy parent may be awakened by them to observe whether the seeming
apathy of a child be really from indifference, or the outward working of
some hidden passion of fear.

Bold children are good and promising subjects; and it is a delightful
thing to a parent's heart to see an infant fairly trying its powers
against difficulties and obstacles--confronting nature in all seasons of
light and darkness, of sunshine and tempest, in the face of strangers
and friends alike, free and fearless. It is delightful to think how much
misery and embarrassment he is spared, by his happy constitution of
nerves and brain. But, while the proud parent sees in him the future
discoverer or sailor, or leader among men, it must be remembered that in
order to become great, in order to become truly a man at all, he must
learn and endure much that can be learned and endured only through fear,
and the conquest of it. That there is some fear in him is certain; and
the parent must silently search it out, and train it up into that awe
and modesty which are necessary to the high courage of a whole life. No
man or woman can be a faithful servant of Duty, qualified to live,
suffer, and die for it, who has not grown up in awe of something higher
than himself--in veneration of some powers greater than he can
understand; and this awe and veneration have in them a large element of
fear at the beginning. What this element is, in each case, the parents
must set themselves to understand. Too many think it their duty to make
a child afraid, if fear does not seem to come of itself: and too many do
this without thinking it their duty, from the spirit of opposition being
excited in themselves, from the experience of inconvenient fearlessness
in the child. I have known a tutor avow his practice of beating a bold
boy till he broke two canes over him, because the boy ought to learn
that he is under a power (a power of arm) greater than his own, and
must, through fear of it, apply himself to his appointed business. Such
inflictions make a boy reckless, or obstinate, or deceitful. And I have
seen far too many instances of irritable parents who have tried to
manage a high-spirited child by threats; and, the threats failing, by
blows, or shutting up in the dark, or hobgoblin prophecies, which have
created no real awe or obedience, but only defiance, or forced and
sullen submission. This will never do. A tender parent will never have
the heart to breed fear in a child, knowing that "fear hath torment." A
truly loving parent will know that it would be less unkind to bruise his
child's limbs, or burn its flesh, than to plant torturing feelings in
his mind. The most effectual way, for all purposes, is to discover the
fear that is already there, in order to relieve him from it, by changing
this weakness into a source of strength and comfort. What is it--this
fear that lies hidden in him? A boy who is not afraid of the dark, or of
a bull, or of a ghost, may tremble at the sight of a drunken man, or at
the hearing of an oath. A girl who is not afraid of a spider or a toad,
nor of thieves, nor of climbing ladders, may tremble at the moaning of
the wind in the chimney, or at a frown from her mother, or at entering a
sick chamber. Whatever be the fear, let the parents watch, carefully but
silently, till they have found it out: and, having found it out, let
them lead on the child to conquest, both by reason and by bringing such
courage as he has to bear on the weak point. In any case, whether of a
bold or a timid child, the only completely effectual training comes from
the parents' example. If the every day life of the parents shows that
they dread nothing but doing wrong, for either themselves or their
children, the fears of the most timid and of the boldest will alike take
this direction, sooner or later: and the courage of both will, with more
or less delay, become adequate to bear and do anything for conscience'
sake. If it be the clear rule and habit of an entire household to dread
and detest only one thing, the fear and dislike of every mind in the
household will become concentred upon that one thing, and every heart
will become stout to avoid and repel it. And if the one dreaded thing be
sin, it is well; for the courage of each and all will be perpetually
reinforced by the whole strength of the best faculties of every mind.

As for the case of the timid child,--let not the parent be disheartened,
for the noblest courage of man or woman has often grown out of the
excessive fears of the child. It is true, the little creature is
destined to undergo many a moment of agony, many an hour of misery, many
a day of discouragement; but all this pain may be more than compensated
for by the attainment of such a freedom and strength at last as may make
it feel as if it had passed from hell to heaven. Think what it must be
for a being who once scarcely dared to look round from fear of lights on
the ceiling or shadows on the wall, who started at the patter of the
rain, or the rustle of the birds leaving the spray, who felt suffocated
by the breeze and maddened by the summer lightning, to pass free,
fearless and glad through all seasons and their change,--all climes and
their mysteries and dangers;--to pass exhilarated through raging seas,
over glaring deserts, and among wild forests! Think what it must be for
a creature who once trembled before a new voice or a grave countenance,
and writhed under a laugh of ridicule, and lied, at the cost of deep
mental agony, to avoid a rebuke,--think what it must be to such a
creature to find itself at last free and fearless,--enjoying such calm
satisfaction within as to suffer nothing from the ridicule or the blame
of those who do not know his mind, and so thoroughly acquainted with the
true values of things as to have no dread of sickness or poverty, or the
world's opinion, because no evil that can befal him can touch his peace!
Think what a noble work it will be to raise your trembling little one to
such a condition as this, and you will be eager to begin the task at
once, and patient and watchful to continue it from day to day.

First, how to begin. The most essential thing for a timid infant is to
have an absolutely unfailing refuge in its mother. It may seem
unnecessary to say this. It may appear impossible that a mother's
tenderness should ever fail towards a helpless little creature who has
nothing but that tenderness to look to: but alas! it is not so. I know a
lady who is considered very sweet-tempered, and who usually is so--kind
and hospitable, and fond of her children. Her infant under six months
old was lying on her arm one day when the dessert was on the table; and
the child was eager after the bright glasses and spoons, and more
restless than was convenient. After several attempts to make it lie
quiet, the mother slapped it--slapped it hard. This was from an emotion
of disappointed vanity, from vexation that the child was not "good"
before visitors. If such a thing could happen, may we not fear that
other mothers may fail in tenderness,--in the middle of the night, for
instance, after a toilsome day, when kept awake by the child's
restlessness, or amidst the hurry of the day, when business presses, and
the little creature will not take its sleep? Little do such mothers know
the fatal mischief they do by impairing their child's security with
them. If they did, they would undergo anything before they would let a
harsh word or a sharp tone escape them, or indulge in a severe look or a
hasty movement. A child's heart responds to the tones of its mother's
voice like a harp to the wind; and its only hope for peace and courage
is in hearing nothing but gentleness from her, and experiencing nothing
but unremitting love, whatever may be its troubles elsewhere. Supposing
this to be all right, the mother will feel herself from the first the
depositary of its confidence;--a confidence as sacred as any other,
though tacit, and about matters which may appear to all but itself and
her infinitely small. Entering by sympathy into its fears, she will
incessantly charm them away, till the child becomes open to reason,--and
even afterwards; for the most terrible fears are precisely those which
have nothing to do with reason. She will bring it acquainted with every
object in the room or house, letting it handle in merry play everything
which could look mysterious to its fearful eyes, and rendering it
familiar with every household sound. Some of my worst fears in infancy
were from lights and shadows. The lamp-lighter's torch on a winter's
afternoon, as he ran along the street, used to cast a gleam, and the
shadows of the window frames on the ceiling; and my blood ran cold at
the sight, every day, even though I was on my father's knee, or on the
rug in the middle of the circle round the fire. Nothing but compulsion
could make me enter our drawing-room before breakfast on a summer
morning; and if carried there by the maid, I hid my face in a chair that
I might not see what was dancing on the wall. If the sun shone (as it
did at that time of day,) on the glass lustres on the mantel-piece,
fragments of gay colour were cast on the wall; and as they danced when
the glass drops were shaken, I thought they were alive,--a sort of imps.
But, as I never told any body what I felt, these fears could not be met,
or charmed away; and I grew up to an age which I will not mention before
I could look steadily at prismatic colours dancing on the wall. Suffice
it that it was long after I had read enough of Optics to have taught
any child how such colours came there. Many an infant is terrified at
the shadow of a perforated night-lamp, with its round spaces of light.
Many a child lives in perpetual terror of the eyes of portraits on the
walls,--or of some grotesque shape in the pattern of the paper-hangings.
Sometimes the terror is of the clack of the distant loom, or of the
clink from the tinman's, or of the rumble of carts under a gateway, or
of the creak of a water-wheel, or the gush of a mill-race. Everything is
or may be terrifying to a timid infant; and it is therefore a mother's
charge to familiarise it gently and playfully with everything that it
can possibly notice, making sport with all sights, and inciting it to
imitation of all sounds--from the drone of the pretty bee to the awful
cry of the old clothes-man;--from the twitter of the sparrows on the
roof to the toll of the distant church bell.

It is a matter of course that no mother will allow any ignorant person
to have access to her child who will frighten it with goblin stories, or
threats of the old black man. She might as well throw up her charge at
once, and leave off thinking of household education altogether, as
permit her child to be exposed to such maddening inhumanity as this. The
instances are not few of idiotcy or death from terror so caused.

While thus preventing or scattering fears which arise from the
imagination, both parents should be constantly using the little
occasions which are always arising, for exercising their child's
courage. The most timid children have always courage in one direction or
another. While I was trembling and fainting under magic-lanterns and
street cries, I could have suffered any pain and died any death without
fear, the circumstances being fairly laid before me. Let the timid child
be made hardy in its play by example and encouragement. Let it be
cheered on to meet necessary pain without flinching,--the taking out a
thorn, or pulling out a tooth. Let it early hear of real heroic
deeds,--hear them spoken of with all the affectionate admiration with
which we naturally speak of such acts. If a life is saved from fire or
drowning, let the children hear of it as a joyful fact. Let them hear
how steadily William Tell's little son stood, for his father to shoot
through the apple. Let them hear how the good man who was on his way to
be burnt for his religion took off his shoes, and gave them to a
barefooted man who came to stare at him, saying that the poor man wanted
the shoes, but he could do without them now. Let them hear of the other
good man who was burnt for his religion, and who promised some friends,
in danger of the same fate, that he would clasp his hands above his head
in the midst of the fire, if he found the pain so bearable that he did
not repent, and who did lift up his arms and join them after his hands
were consumed,--so giving his friends on the hill-side comfort and
strength. If any child of your acquaintance does a brave thing, or bears
pain cheerfully, let your children hear of it as a good and happy thing.
Above all, let them see, as I said before, all their lives long, that
_you_ fear nothing but wrong-doing,--neither tempests nor comets, nor
reports of famine or fever, nor the tongues of the quarrelsome, nor any
other of the accidents of life,--no pain, in short, but pain of
conscience,--and the same spirit will strengthen in them. Their fear
will follow the direction of yours; their courage will come in sympathy
with yours; and their minds will fill more and more with thoughts of
hope and heroism which must in time drive out such remaining terrors as
cannot be met by fact or reason.

In this fearlessness of yours is included fearlessness for your
children, as well as for yourselves. While their limbs are soft and
feeble, of course you must be strength and safety to them: but when they
arrive at a free use of their limbs and senses, let them fully enjoy
that free use. We English are behind almost every nation in the strength
and hardihood of the race of children. In America, I have seen little
boys and girls perched in trees overhanging fearful precipices, and
crawling about great holes in bridges, while the torrent was rushing
below; and I could not learn that accidents from such practices were
ever heard of. In Switzerland I have seen mere infants scrambling among
the rocks after the goats,--themselves as safe as kids, from the early
habit of relying on their own powers. In Egypt and Nubia I have seen
five-year old boys poppling about like ducks in the rapids of the Nile,
while some, not much older, were not satisfied with hauling and pushing,
as our boat ascended the cataract, but swam and dived, to heave off her
keel from sunken rocks. Such children are saved from danger, as much as
from fear, by an early use of all the powers they have: and it would be
a happy thing for many an English child if its parents were brave enough
to encourage it to try how much it can do with its wonderful little
body. Of this, however, we shall have to say more under another head.



Some may be surprised to find Patience spoken of among the Powers of
Man. They have been accustomed to consider it a passive quality, and not
as involving action of the mind. They do not find it in any catalogue of
the organs of the brain, and have always supposed it a mere negation of
the action of those organs.

But patience is no negation. It is the vigorous and sustained action,
amidst outward stillness, of some of the most powerful faculties with
which the human being is endowed; and primarily of its powers of
Firmness and Resistance. The man who holds up his head, quiet and
serene, through a season of unavoidable poverty or undeserved disgrace,
is exercising his power of Firmness as vigorously as the general who
pursues his warfare without change of purpose through a long campaign;
and a lame child, strong and spirited, who sits by cheerfully to see his
companions leaping ditches, is or has been engaged in as keen a combat
with opposing forces as a couple of pugilists. In the case of the
patient, the resolution and resistance are brought to bear against
invisible enemies, which are the more, and not the less, hard to
conquer from their assaults being made in silence, and having to be met
in the solitude of the inner being. The man patient under poverty or
disgrace has to carry on an active interior conflict with his baffled
hope, his grieved domestic affections, his natural love of ease and
enjoyment, his mortified ambition, his shaken self-esteem, and his
yearning after sympathy. And the lame child among the leapers has to
contend alone with most of these mortifications, and with his
stimulating animal spirits besides. Nothing can be further from
passiveness than his state in his hour of trial, though he may sit
without moving a muscle. He is putting down the swellings of his little
heart, and taming his instincts, and rousing his will, and searching out
noble supports among his highest ideas and best feelings--putting on his
invisible armour as eagerly as any hero whom the trumpet calls from his

Patience is no more like passiveness in its smallest exercises than in
these great ones. Look at the ill-nursed passive infant,--how it hangs
over its mother's shoulder, or slouches on her arm,--its eye dull, its
face still, its movements slow: see how, when old enough to amuse
itself, it sits on the floor by the hour together, jangling a bunch of
keys, lulling itself with that noise, instead of making any of its own!
Contrast with this the lively infant beginning to be trained to
patience. It does not cry for its food or toy, as it used to do, but
its limbs are all active, it fidgets, and it searches its mother's face
for hope and encouragement not to cry. And when more advanced, how busy
is its little soul while it makes no noise, and postpones its play for
the sake of the baby. If it sits at watch beside the cradle, how it
glances about to warn away the kitten, or puts its finger on its lips if
the door opens, or watches so intently for baby's eye-lids to open as to
start when it jerks its hand. If waiting for play till baby has had its
meal, how it stands at its mother's knee, making folds in her
gown,--see-sawing its body perhaps, and fetching deep sighs, to throw
off its impatience, but speaking no word--making no complaint till baby
has had its dues. And when its turn is come, baby being laid down, what
a spring into the lap, what a clasp of the neck is there! while the
child with the keys has to be lifted from the floor like a bag of sand.

As patience includes strong action of the mind, the vivacious child has
a much better chance of becoming patient than the passive one;--so far
are passiveness and patience from being alike. Patience is indeed the
natural first step in that self-government which is essential to the
whole purpose of human life. It is impossible to overrate the importance
of this self-government; and therefore it is impossible to overrate the
importance of this first step,--the training to patience. And the
vivacious child is happy above the apathetic one in being fitted to
enter at once upon the training from the earliest moment that the will
is naturally capable of action.

And now about this training.

It must begin before the little creature is capable of voluntary effort.
The mother must take its little troubles upon herself, and help it all
she can, till the habit of patience is completely formed;--which will be
long. She must not only comfort it in its restlessness and inability to
wait, but beguile it of its impatience. She must amuse it, and turn away
its attention from its grievance, or its object of desire,--never
yielding what it ought not to have, and always indulging it where there
is no reason for denial. In time, the infant will learn that it can
wait, and in what cases it must wait; and from that time, its work of
self-control begins. I have before my mind's eye a little child of
sensitive nerves and strong will who early showed by her loud impatient
cry how she might suffer in after life, if the habit of patience were
not timely formed. It was timely formed. She died of scarlet fever
before she was four years old; and the self-command that little creature
showed amidst the restlessness of her fever and the grievous pain of her
sore-throat, was a comfort which will remain for ever to those who mourn
her. It of course lessened her own suffering, and it cheered the heart
of her wise mother with a joy which lights up her memory. Here the great
condition was fulfilled which is essential to the work;--the parents
are themselves patient and consistent. Self-control can never be taught
without example. From the beginning an infant can perceive whether the
moral atmosphere around it is calm or stormy, and will naturally become
calm or stormy accordingly. If its mother scolds the servant, if its
father gets into a passion with the elder children, if there is
disturbance of mind because a meal is delayed,--if voices grow loud and
angry in argument, or there is gloom in the face or manner of any grown
person who has a headache, how is the infant to learn to wait and be
cheerful under its little troubles?--these little troubles being to it
misfortunes as great as it is at all able to bear.

I would not cite the old quaker discipline of families as a pattern of
what is to be wished in all things. There was too often a want of
tenderness, and of freedom and of mirth--such as children, need, and as
are quite compatible with the formation of a habit of patience: but in
that one respect,--of patience,--how admirable are the examples that
many of us have seen! The cultivation of serenity being a primary
religious duty with the parents, how the spirit and the habit spread
through the children! Before they could understand that the grown people
about them were waiting for the guidance of "the Inward Witness," they
saw and felt that the temper was that of humble waiting; and they too
learned to wait. When set up on a high stool from which they could not
get down, and bid to sit still without toys for a prescribed time, how
many a restless child learned to subdue his inward chafing, and to sit
still till the hand of the clock showed that he might ask to come down!
This exercise was a preparation for the silent meeting, where there
would be less to amuse his eyes, and no one could tell how long he might
have to sit; and how well the majority of quaker children went through
this severer test! Few of us will approve of this kind of discipline. We
think it bad, because unnatural. We think that the trials of a child's
patience which come of themselves every day are quite enough for its
powers, and, if rightly used, for its training; but the instance shows
how powerful is the example of the parents and the habit of the
household in training little children to self-control.

Yes,--the little occasions of every day are quite enough: and if they
were not, little could be gained, and much would be lost, by inventing
more. There is tyranny in making a lively child sit on a high stool with
nothing to do, even though the thing is ordained for its own good; and
every child has a keen sense of tyranny. The patience taught by such
means cannot be thorough. It cannot be an amiable and cheerful patience,
pervading the whole temper. It is much better to use those natural
occasions which it is clear that the parent does not create. There is
seldom or never a day when something does not happen to irritate a
child;--it is hungry, or thirsty, or tired; it gets a tumble, or
dislikes cold water, or wants to be petted when its mother is busy; or
breaks a toy, or the rain comes when it wants to go out, or pussy runs
away from play, or it has an ache or a pain somewhere. All these are
great misfortunes for the time to a little child: and if it can learn by
degrees to bear them, first by being beguiled of them, and then by being
helped through them, and at last by sustaining them alone, there is
every hope that the severe trials of after life will be sustained with
less effort than is required by these trifles now. A four-year-old child
that can turn away and find amusement for itself when its mother cannot
attend to it,--and swallow its tears when the rain will not let it sow
its garden seeds, and stifle its sobs when it has knocked its elbow, and
forgive any one who has broken its toy, and lie still without
complaining when it is ill, gives the fairest promise of being able to
bear serenely the severest calamities of after life. For my own part, I
feel that no spectacle of fortitude in man or woman is more animating
and touching than what may be seen in little children, who have
seriously entered upon the great work of self-government,--sustained by
wise and tender parental help. Some time ago, I was in the house with a
little girl of three years old, whose throat was one day very sore. She
tried in vain to get down some dinner,--cried, was amused, and went to
sleep. On waking, some of the soft rice-pudding from our table was
tried; but the throat was now worse, and she cried again. To amuse her,
she was set up at our table in her little chair, between her mama and
me. I saw the desperate efforts she was making to keep down her sobs:
and when she looked over to her father, and said softly "I mean to be
dood," it was too much for others besides me. Her tender father helped
her well through it. He told her a long long story about something he
had seen that morning; and as her large eyes were fixed on his face, the
sobs subsided, and she became absorbed in what he was telling her. That
child was as truly an object of reverence to us as any patient sufferer
of mature age.

The finest opportunity for the cultivation of patience in a household is
where there are many children,--boys and girls,--with no great
difference of years between them. Here, in the first place, the parents
have need of all the faith and patience they have, to bear hopefully
with the impatience of some of their children. There are moments, hours,
and days, in the best households, when the conscientious and tender
mother feels her heart rent by the spectacle of the quarrels of her
children. It is a truth which had better be at once fully admitted, that
where there are many children nearly approaching each other in age,
their wills must clash, their passions become excited, and their
affections be for the time over-borne. When a mother sees her children
scratch and strike, when her ear catches the bitter words of passion
between brothers, her heart stands still with grief and dread. But she
must be comforted. All may be well if she overrules this terrible
necessity as she may. She must remember that the strength of will thus
shown is a great power for use in the acquisition of patience. She must
remember that the odiousness of passion is not yet evident to her
children, as it is to her. She must remember how small is the moral
comprehension of a child, and therefore how intense are its desires, and
how strong is the provocation when those desires are thwarted. She must
remember that time and enlargement of views are what children want to
make them men: and that time and enlargement are sure to come to these
young creatures, and make men of them, if the parents do their part. Her
part to-day is to separate the children who cannot agree; to give time
and opportunity for their passions to subside, the desire of the moment
to pass away, and the affections and the reason to be aroused. She must
obtain their confidence apart, and bring them together again when they
can forgive and agree. If she finds that such troubles enable her to
understand her children better, and reveal their own minds to
themselves, and if such failures help them to a more careful self-rule,
the event may be well worth the pain.

I have said that there are few or no large families of children in which
quarrelling does not sometimes occur. But if the quarrelling does not
early cease--if the liability does not pass away like the diseases of
childhood, it is sadly plain that the fair opportunity of cultivating a
habit of patience has been lost or misused. It must be early and
watchfully used. Every member of the household must be habituated,
constantly and as a privilege, to wait and forbear for the sake of
others. The father takes the lead--as he ought to do in all good things.
His children see in him, from year to year, an example of patient
toil--patient and cheerful toil--whether he be statesman, merchant,
farmer, shop-keeper, artizan or labourer. The mother comes next,--seen
to wait patiently on her sick or helpless infant, and to be forbearing
with servants and children, enduring in illness and fatigue, and
cheerful through everything. Then come the elder children, who must have
been long and steadily trained, through early self-control, to wait, not
only in tenderness on the helpless infant, but in forbearance on the
weakness of those younger and frailer than themselves. Then come those
of the middle age, who have to wait in such patience as they are capable
of under their own personal trials, and the will and pleasure of their
parents and elders. And lastly come the little ones, who are likely to
have plenty of opportunity for self-command amidst the business and
chances of a large family, and the variety of influences ever at work
therein. So various a household is a complete little world to
children--the discipline of which is no small privilege as being
preparatory to that of the larger world upon which they must enter after
their habits of mind are formed. To the parents the advantage is
inestimable of having this little world, not only under their eye, so
that they may timely see how their children are likely to fare morally
in the great world of adult life, but under their hand, so that they
can, according to their discretion, adapt its influences to the needs of
their charge.

Some households,--and not a few--are made a harsh school, or a sweet
home of Patience, by the presence of some infirmity of body or mind in
some one member. This is a case so frequent, and the circumstance is so
important, that I must devote my next pages to it.



Though the great majority of children born into the world have five
senses and four limbs, a full-formed brain, and a well-formed frame,
there are many thousands in every civilised country that have not: and
so many more thousands are interested in their lot, that it is, or ought
to be, a subject of wide and deep concern how their case should be
treated, for their own sake, and that of all connected with them. It is
a matter of great and increasing surprise, when elections of objects for
Blind and Deaf and Dumb Institutions, or a special census for the
purpose occurs, how very numerous are the Blind and Deaf and Dumb: and
much greater still is the proportion of persons who, through ill health
or accident, lose a limb, or grow up deformed. And I believe the cases
of total or partial idiotcy are more numerous even than these. The
number of persons thus interested in the subject of bodily infirmity is
very large indeed; and it would be a great omission in treating of
Household Education, not to speak of what concerns so many homes.

The first impulse of a parental heart, on becoming aware of the
infirmity of a child, is to lavish on the sufferer all its tenderness,
and thus to strive to compensate to it for what it must forego and
suffer from its peculiarity. The impulse, being natural and unselfish,
is right; but it is not enough. It is very far indeed from being all
that is due to a creature whose helplessness gives it a sacred claim
upon its whole race for whatever aid can be afforded it. If it were good
that a mother should nurse an infirm child through the day, and guard it
all the night:--that she should devote all her time and all her love,
and sacrifice all her pleasures to it, and minister to its wishes every
hour of its life;--if it were good that she should do all this, it would
not be enough. It is not good, and it is not enough.

The true claim of an infirm child, as of every other child, is to be
made the most of. And no human being was ever yet made the most of by
lavish and unchastened indulgence. Every human being,--not excepting
even the idiot,--has a world of its own, wherein to act and enjoy: and
the parent's charge is to enable it to act and enjoy in its own world in
the fullest and freest manner possible.

Let us take the worst case first:--that of the idiot.

It is never the case that a human being has no faculties at all. A child
whose brain did not act at all, could not live. It could not move, nor
swallow or digest food, nor see, nor hear, nor breathe. And it seldom or
never happens that it has not many faculties, though the want, in an
idiot, of what we call Sense makes us too careless in observing what
powers he has, and in making what we can of them. From the deficiency of
some faculties, and the consequent want of co-operation and balance
among his powers, the idiot lacks sense, and must therefore be taken
care of all his days, like an infant: but it does not follow that he can
never do and enjoy more than an infant. On the contrary, we see, oftener
than not, that an idiot has some strong faculties. One may be shockingly
gluttonous and sensual: another is desperately orderly: another is
always singing: another is wonderful in arithmetic, though nobody can
conceive how he learned: another draws every thing he sees: another
imitates everything he hears: another is always building clay houses, or
cutting wood or paper into shapes: another can always tell the time--day
or night--even where there is no clock in the house or within hearing.
One will share everything he has to eat with the dog, or the cat, or the
bird: another caresses his mother, or brothers and sisters, and follows
them about wherever they go; while another gives no heed to anybody, but
stands out of doors for hours listening to the wind or the birds, and
sits a whole winter evening watching the blazing fire. One will not be
ruled, and fights everybody who tries to control him, while another is
in a transport or an agony, according as his mother looks pleased or
displeased with him. All these tendencies show that some part or other
of the brain is alive and active: and it is the parent's business, with
this child as with the rest, to make the most that can be made of his

As reason cannot be used in his case, there must be all the more
diligence in the use of Habit: and as he has no reason of his own, that
of his family must be made available to him to the utmost. He must be
made the family charge; and every member of the household must be
admitted into the council held in his behalf. There is hardly a child so
young but that it can understand the main points of the special training
required, and the reasons for them. There is hardly a child so young but
that it can understand that John does not know, as other people do, when
to leave off eating; and that this is why the proper quantity is set
before him, and no more is given: and there are not a few little ones
who will refrain from asking for more of a good thing at table because
John is to be trained not to ask for more. If the object is to make John
clean and tidy, the youngest will bear cold water, and the trouble of
dressing cheerfully, that John may see what other people do, and perhaps
learn to imitate them. If John ever sings, some little one will begin to
sing when John looks dull; and the family will learn as many tunes as
they can to give him a variety. If he is fond of arranging things, they
will lead him to the cupboard or the play-room, when it wants putting in
order. When he mopes, they will bring him the scissors and paper, or the
slate and pencil, or they will empty the box of bricks on the floor,
that the pleasant rattle may tempt him to come and build. If, happily,
the time should arrive when John may learn to do something useful, every
one takes pride in it. At worst, he may perhaps be trained to work the
mangle, or to turn the wheel at the rope-walk. His faculty of order may
be turned to account by letting him set the dinner and tea-table, and
clear away. By a faculty of constructiveness, he may become a fair
basket-maker. By his power of imitation, he may learn to dig in the
field, or to saw wood, or blow glass, or do other such mechanical work.
If the whole family not only love their poor brother, but take his
interests fairly to heart, his case may be made something of in one way
or another. At worst he will probably be saved from being offensive or
annoying to those about him;--a thing almost always practicable in cases
of idiotcy from birth: and it is very likely that he will be enabled to
pass through life, not only harmless, but busy, and, to some extent,
useful, and as happy as his deficient nature permits.

This is not a case in which patience can be spoken of as a solace to the
individual. He may be saved from the misery of impatience by wise
training,--by the formation of habits of quietness, under the rule of
steady, gentle authority. This may often be done: but the noble and
sweet solace of patience under his restrictions is not for him: for he
is unconscious, and does not need it. It remains for those who do need
it--for those who suffer for him and by him--for the father who sighs
that his son can never enjoy the honour and privilege of toil, or the
blessing of a home;--for the mother whose pillow is wet with the tears
she sheds over her child's privations;--for the children whose
occupations and play are disturbed by the poor brother who wants their
playthings, and hides or spoils their books or work. They all have need
of much patience; and, under good training, they obtain patience
according to their need. From what I have seen, I know that the training
of such a being may become a cheerful and hopeful object to his parents,
and one which strengthens them to repress his whims and deny his animal
appetites, and inflict the pain of their displeasure upon him, in the
patient hope of giving him some degree of the privilege of
self-government. From what I have seen, I know that the most self-willed
and irritable child of such a family may learn never to be angry with
John, however passionate at times with others. Toys broken by John are
not to be cried for;--work spoiled by John is to be cheerfully done over
again: and everybody is to help to train John not to do such mischief

Poor John knows nothing of life and its uses. He goes through his share
of it, like one walking in a dream, and then passes away without
leave-taking. He passes away early; for people in his state rarely live
very long. Brain is the great condition of life; and an imperfect brain
usually brings early death. It is when he has passed away that the
importance of poor John's life becomes felt and understood. Neighbours
may and do reasonably call his departure a blessing; and the parents and
brethren may and do reasonably feel it an unspeakable relief from
anxiety and restraint. But they mourn him with a degree of sorrow
surprising to themselves. When the parents mark the habits of
self-government, and the temper of cheerful patience, generated in their
remaining children, they feel as if under deep obligations to their dead
son, as the instrument of this. And the youngest of the tribe looks
round wistfully for John, and daily wishes that he was here, to do what
he was fond of doing, and enjoy the little pleasures which were looked
upon as particularly his own.

If the worst case of infirmity may issue thus, we may turn cheerfully to
some which are light in comparison, however sad when looked at by
themselves--the cases of blind and deaf children. What is to be made of

The case of the deaf is unquestionably the worst of the two, when the
deficiency is from birth. The subsequent loss of either sense is quite a
different matter. Then, blindness is the severest privation of the two,
from its compulsory idleness, and total exclusion from the objects of
the lost sense, while the deaf can always be busy in mind and hands, and
retain the most important part of the world of sound in written and
printed speech. It is the privation of language which makes the case of
those born deaf worse than that of the born blind. Those born deaf are
dumb; and they are rendered incapable of any high degree of intellectual
and moral cultivation, by being cut off from all adequate knowledge of
the meaning of language, and from the full reception of most abstract
ideas. This is not the place for discussion on this subject. It is
enough to say here, that every one who has tried knows that though it is
easy to teach a deaf and dumb child what is meant by the words "dog,"
"sheep," "spoon," "tree," "table," &c., it is found beyond measure
difficult to teach it the meaning of "Monday," "Tuesday," "Wednesday,"
&c., and of "love," "truth," "hatred," "wisdom," and the names of unseen
things in general. There is every reason to believe that the most highly
educated deaf and dumb persons, who use language readily and prettily,
have yet very narrow and superficial minds--from language not being to
them natural speech, incessantly bringing them into communication with
other minds, but a lesson taught as we teach blind children about
colours, which they may speak about without making mistakes, but can
never understand.

It is necessary for the parents of the deaf and dumb to be aware of
these things, if they are to look their child's lot steadily in the
face, and learn what is the best that can be made of it. They must apply
themselves chiefly to give it what it is least likely to obtain from
others--not so much ideas of sight, touch, smell, and taste, as of
unseen things. They must ever bear in mind that the great purpose of the
human ear and of speech is not so much to convey ideas of sound--sweet
and profitable as is all the natural music of the universe--as of unseen
things--of the whole world of the spirit, from which their child is
naturally shut out by its infirmity. After all that they can do, there
will be a sad deficiency; but they must lessen it as much as they can.
There is no fear but that the child will, much as others, enjoy the
sights which are laid open to it, and be quick and ready in action,
according to its ideas. They must arouse in it the pleasure of using its
mental faculties; and more carefully still, the satisfaction of moral
energy. They must be even more careful with it than with the rest to
lead it on to the exercise of self-denial, and a habit of thoughtful
conscientiousness, that it may learn from its own moral experience much
that it is debarred from learning as others do of the rich kingdom which
lies within us all. In this case, above all others, is the moral example
of the parents important to the child. Other children hear everyday the
spoken testimony of their parents in favour of what is good in morals
and manners. They hear it in church, and in every house they enter. The
deaf child judges by what it sees, and guides itself accordingly. If it
sees bad temper and manners, how is it to know of anything better? If it
sees at home only love and kindness, just and gentle, has it not an
infinitely better chance of becoming loving and gentle itself?

The parents must keep a careful guard on their own pity for their
defective child. A deaf child has scarcely any notion, as a blind one
has, of what it loses; and nothing is more certain than that deaf
children are apt to be proud and vain, and to take advantage of the pity
which everybody feels for them. Knowing little of their own loss, they
misunderstand this pity, and are apt to take to themselves the credit of
all the notice it brings them, and to grasp at all they can get. A
watchful parent knows from her heart that there is no blame in this; but
she sees that there is great danger. The child cannot help the
liability; but it may be rescued from it. She must not be lavish of
indulgence which may be misunderstood. She should let it be as happy as
it can in its own way--and the deaf and dumb are usually very brisk and
cheerful. What she has to do for it is not to attempt to console it for
a privation which it does not feel, but to open to it a higher and
better happiness in a humble, occupied, and serene state of mind. She
should set before it its own state of privation, notwithstanding any
mortification that the disclosure may cause: and when that mortification
is painful, she should soothe it by giving, gently and cheerfully, the
sweet remedies of humility and patience.

In the case of the blind child, the training must be very different.
Every day, and almost every hour, reminds the blind child of its
privation; and its discipline is so severe, that almost any degree of
indulgence in the parent would be excusable, if it were not clearly the
first duty to consider the ultimate welfare of the child. It is natural
to the sighing mother to watch over its safety with a nervous anxiety,
to go before it to clear its way, to have it always at her knee, and to
make everybody and everything give way to it. But she must remember that
her child is not destitute, and for ever helpless, because it has one
sense less than other people. It has the wide world of the other four
senses to live in, and a vaster mental and moral world than it will ever
learn fully to use: and she must let it try what it can make of its
possessions. She will find that it learns like others that fire burns
and that bruises are disagreeable, and that it can save itself from
burns and bruises by using its senses of touch and hearing. She will
encourage it in the cheerful work of shifting for itself, and doing, as
far as possible, what other people do. The wise and benevolent Dr. Howe
tells us of the children who come to the Blind School at Boston, that
for the first two or three days they are timid and forlorn--having been
accustomed to too much care from their mothers, who will not let them
cross the floor without being sure that there is nothing in the way. But
they presently enter into the free and cheerful spirit of the house, use
their faculties, feel their way boldly, and run, climb, swing, and play
as merrily as any other children. That school is a little world of
people with four senses--not so happy a one as if they had five, but a
very good one, nevertheless; sufficiently busy, safe, and cheerful for
those who use heartily such powers as they have.

This is the way in which the lot of the blind should be viewed by their
parents. And even then the deprivation is quite sad enough to require
great efforts of patience on every hand. The parents have need of a deep
and settled patience when they see that their child has powers which, if
he had but eyes, would make him able and happy in some function from
which he is now for ever cut off: and the whole family have need of
patience for their infirm member when they are gaining knowledge, or
drinking in enjoyment through the eye, while he sits dark, and
unconscious or mortified. As for him, in his darkness and mortification,
there can be no question of his need of patience. How to aid him and
supply this need, I shall consider in my next chapter, when treating of
the other infirmities which some children have to learn to bear.



The smaller misfortunes which we now turn to, under the head of
Infirmity--the loss of a limb, the partial loss of a sense, deformity
and sickness--are scarcely less afflictive to the parent than those we
have considered, because they are even more trying to the child. The
sufferer is fully conscious of these: and the parents' heart is sore at
the spectacle of its mortifications. What can be done to help it to a
magnanimous patience?

First, there must be the fullest confidence between the parents and the
child. It can open its swelling heart to no one else; for the depth of
its feeling renders it quite unable to speak of its sufferings to any
one, unless allured to do so; and no one can or ought to allure it to
this confidence, except its parents, or in case of failure from them. It
may be thought strange that this apparently natural act should be set
before the parents as a duty: but I speak from knowledge; and from the
knowledge of so many cases that I am compelled to believe that the very
last subject on which parents and child speak together is that on which
it is most necessary to the sufferer to have spoken sympathy. Some
parents have not courage to face the case themselves, and evade the
painful thought from day to day. Some feel for their child that sort of
deference which it is natural to feel for the afflicted, and wait for
the sufferer to speak. Some persuade themselves that it is better for
the child not to recognise the trial expressly, and repel by forced
cheerfulness the sufferer's advances towards confidence. All this is
wrong. I have known a little crippled girl grow up to womanhood in daily
pain of heart from the keen sense of her peculiarity, almost without
uttering a syllable to any human being of that grief which cursed her
existence; and suffering in mind and character irreparably from the
restraint. She got over it at last, to a considerable degree, and became
comparatively free and happy; but nothing could ever compensate to her
for her long bondage to false shame, or repair the mischief done to the
action of her mind by its being made to bear unrelieved weight which it
had naturally power to throw off. I know another sufferer from the same
misfortune whose heart was early opened by genial confidence, and who
throve accordingly. She had to bear all the pain which a lively and
sensitive child must feel in being unable to play and dance as others
do, and being so marked an object as to be subject to staring in the
street, and to the insulting remarks of rude children as she passed. But
the sympathy of her protectors bore her through till her mind was
strong enough to protect itself; and she has come out of the struggle
free and gay, active and helpful to a marvellous degree--even graceful,
making a sort of plaything of her crutch, and giving constant joy to her
friends, and relief to strangers, by her total freedom from false shame.
I have known deafness grow upon a sensitive child, so gradually as never
to bring the moment when her parents felt impelled to seek her
confidence; and the moment therefore never arrived. She became gradually
borne down in health and spirits by the pressure of her trouble, her
springs of pleasure all poisoned, her temper irritated and rendered
morose, her intellectual pride puffed up to an insufferable haughtiness,
and her conscience brought by perpetual pain of heart into a state of
trembling soreness--all this, without one word ever being offered to her
by any person whatever of sympathy or sorrow about her misfortune. Now
and then, some one made light of it; now and then, some one told her
that she mismanaged it, and gave advice which, being inapplicable,
grated upon her morbid feelings; but no one inquired what she felt, or
appeared to suppose that she did feel. Many were anxious to show
kindness, and tried to supply some of her privations; but it was too
late. She was shut up, and her manner appeared hard and ungracious while
her heart was dissolving in emotions. No one knew when she stole out of
the room, exasperated by the earnest talk and merry laugh that she
could not share, that she went to bolt herself into her own room, and
sob on the bed, or throw herself on her knees, to pray for help or
death. No one knew of her passionate longing to be alone while she was,
for her good, driven into society; nor how, when by chance alone for an
hour or two, she wasted the luxury by watching the lapse of the precious
minutes. And when she grew hard, strict, and even fanatical in her
religion, no one suspected that this was because religion was her
all--her soul's strength under agonies of false shame, her wealth under
her privations, her refuge in her loneliness: while her mind was so
narrow as to require that what religion was to her--her one pursuit and
object--it should be everybody else. In course of years, she, in a great
measure, retrieved herself, though still conscious of irreparable
mischief done to her nature. All this while, many hearts were aching for
her, and the minds of her family were painfully occupied in thinking
what could be done for her temper and her happiness. The mistake of
reserve was the only thing they are answerable for: a mistake which,
however mischievous, was naturally caused by the very pain of their own
sympathy first, and the reserve of the sufferer afterwards.

From the moment that a child becomes subject to any infirmity, a special
relation between him and his mother begins to exist: and their
confidence must become special. She must watch for, or make occasions
for speaking to him about his particular trial; not often, nor much at a
time, but so as to leave an opening for the pouring out of his little
heart. If he is not yet conscious of his peculiarity, this is the
gentlest and easiest way in which he can be made so. If he is conscious,
he must have some pain at his heart which he will be the better for
confiding. Hump-backed people are generally said to be vain, haughty,
fond of dress, forward and talkative, irritable and passionate. If not
so, they are usually shy and timid. I cannot see anything in their
peculiarity to cause the first-mentioned tendencies: and I believe they
arise from the mismanagement of their case. The fond mother and pitying
friends may naturally forget that the child does not see himself as they
see him, and fancy that they soothe his mortifications by saying
whatever they can say in favour of his appearance--letting him know that
he has pretty hair, or good eyes. They may even dress him fine, to make
up to him in one way for his faults of appearance in another. Under the
idea of encouraging him under his supposed mortifications, they may lead
him on to be forward and talkative. And then again, his mortifications,
when they come upon him unprepared, may well make him irascible. How
much of this might be obviated, as well as the shyness and timidity of
those who are left to themselves, by timely confidence between the
mother and child! When they are alone together, calm and quiet, let her
tell him that he does not look like other children, and that he will
look less like other people as he grows older. Never let her tell him
that this is of no great consequence--never let her utter the cant that
is talked to young ladies at schools, that the charms of the mind are
everything, and those of the form and face nothing. This is not true;
and she ought to know that it is not: and nothing but truth will be
strong enough to support him in what he must undergo. Let her not be
afraid to tell him the worst. He had better hear it from her; and it
will not be too much for him, if told in a spirit of cheerful patience.
The child, like the man, never has a happier hour than that which
succeeds the reception of bad news, if the nobler faculties are allowed
their free play. If such a child hears from his mother that he will
always be ugly-shaped and odd-looking,--that he will not be able to play
as other boys do, or will be laughed at when he tries; that he will be
mocked at and called "My lord" in the streets, and so on, and yet that
all these things will not make him unhappy if he can bear them; and if
they go on to consult how he may bear them, and she opens out to him
something of the sweet pleasures of endurance, he will come out of the
consultation exhilarated, and perhaps proudly longing to meet his
mortifications, and try his strength. Such pride must have a fall,--like
all the pride of childhood,--and many an hour of depression must he
know for every one of exhilaration: but his case is put into his own
hands, and there is every hope that he will conquer, through patience,
at last. And what a refuge he has in his mother! How well she will now
know his feelings and his needs! and how easy and natural it will be to
him henceforth to confide in her! And her knowledge of his secret mind
will enable her to oversee and regulate the conduct of the rest of the
household towards him, so as to guard against his being treated with an
indulgence which he can dispense with, or his receiving in silence
wounds to his feelings which might rankle. The object is, with sufferers
under every kind of conscious infirmity, to make them hardy in
mind,--saving them from being hardened. They must know in good time that
they have a difficult and humbling lot, and what its difficulties and
humiliations are,--their noblest faculties being at the same time roused
to meet them. It is the rousing of these noble faculties which makes the
hour of confidence one of exhilaration: and when the actual occasion of
trial arises, when the cripple is left out of the cricket-match, and the
deaf child misses the joke or entertaining story, and the hump-back
hears the jibe behind him,--there is hope that the nobler faculties will
be obedient to the promised call, and spread the calm of patience over
the tumult of the sufferer's soul.

But, while the infirm child is encouraged to take up the endurance of
his infirmity as an object and an enterprise, he must not be allowed to
dwell too much on it, nor on the peculiar features of his condition; or
his heroism will pass over into pride, and his patience into
self-complacency. Life and the world are before him, as before others;
and one circumstance of lot and duty, however important, must not occupy
the place of more than one,--either in his confidences with his mother,
or in his own mind. The more he is separated from others by his
infirmity, the more carefully must his interests and duties be mixed up
with those of others, in the household and out of it. Companionship in
every way must be promoted all the more, and not the less, because of
the eternal echo within him, "The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and
the stranger intermeddleth not with its joy."

What has been said thus far about patience will serve for cases of
sickness, as well as for other trials among children. I may add that I
think it a pity to lavish indulgence--privileges--upon a sick child, for
two reasons;--that such indulgence is no real comfort or compensation to
the suffering child, who is too ill to enjoy it: and that it is
witnessed by others, and remembered by the patient himself when he has
forgotten his pain, so as to cause sickness to be regarded as a state of
privilege; a persuasion likely to lead to fancies about health, and an
exaggeration of ailments. All possible tenderness, of course, there
should be, and watchfulness to amuse the mind into forgetfulness of the
body: but the less fuss and unusual indulgence the better for the
child's health of body and mind, and the purer the lesson of patience
which he may bring out of his sickness. Illness is a great evil, little
to be mitigated by any means of diversion that can be used: and a child
usually trained to patience, may be trusted to bear the evil well, if
not misled by false promises: and it is much kinder to him to let him
rest on a quiet and steady tenderness, than to promise and offer him
indulgences which will be longed for hereafter, but which wholly
disappoint him now, and add another trial to the many which put his
patience to the proof.



It appears to me, that much disappointment in the results of education,
as in other departments of life, arises from the confusion we fall into
about human affections,--mixing up things which do not belong to each
other, and then being disappointed at a mixed result. For instance, we
speak of love as if it were one affection; or at most of two kinds--one
a passion and the other an affection: whereas, there are many kinds of
love, as distinct from one another as hope and patience. Besides what is
commonly called the passion of love, there are other kinds which differ
as essentially from one another, as from this. It is commonly, but as I
think, hastily, supposed that a child's love of her doll is the same
affection which will be fixed hereafter on a schoolfellow, on her
parents, and on suffering fellow-creatures. It is supposed to be the
same affection, employed on different objects: and the parent is
perplexed and shocked when the little creature who cannot be parted from
her doll, shows indifference towards her family, and has no sympathy
with a beggar, or a sick neighbour. If the parents will put away their
perplexity and dismay, and set themselves to learn from what is before
their eyes, they may discover what will comfort and direct them.

With the passion of love, as it is called, we have nothing to do here,
but to give an anecdote by the way. A little girl was telling a story to
her father, when they fell in with the kind of perplexity, I have spoken
of. She told of a knight who once loved a lady, and of all the hard and
troublesome things the knight did to gratify the wishes of the lady: and
how, at last, when the lady did not choose to marry him, he carried her
off, and shut her up in a castle, and gave her everything he could think
of to make her happy: but she could not enjoy all these fine things,
because she pined to get home. "Oh!" said the father, "she did wish to
get out, then." "Yes! she begged and prayed of the knight to let her go
home: but he loved her so much that he would not." "Well: but you said
he did everything he could to gratify her: why was that?" "Because he
loved her so much." "What! he did everything to please her because he
loved her so much: and then he would not let her go home as she wished,
because he loved her so much! How can that be?" The child thought for
awhile, and then said "I suppose he had two loves for her: and one made
him do almost everything that she liked; and the other made him want
that she should do what _he_ liked."

If parents could see thus plainly the difference between the several
kinds of love which their children should experience, it would be well
for all parties. A mother who intensely loves her little prattler, is
mortified that the child appears to have but a very moderate love for
her in return: and she comforts herself with the hope that the child's
affection will strengthen as it grows, till it becomes a fair return for
her own. She does not perceive that the child already entertains an
affection much like her own,--only, not for her, but for something else.
A little girl who had to lose her leg, promised to try to lie still if
she might have her doll in her arms: and wonderfully still she lay,
clasping her doll. When it was over, the surgeon thoughtlessly said,
"Now shall I cut off your doll's leg?" "Oh! no, no!" cried the child, in
an agony of mind far greater than she had shown before: "not my doll's
leg;--don't hurt my doll!" And she could hardly be comforted. Here was
an affection the same as the mother's,--and as strong and true: but of a
different kind from that which children can ever feel for parents; for
it is purely instinctive, while the love of children for parents is made
up of many elements, and must slowly grow out of not only a natural
power of attachment, but a long experience of hope, reliance, veneration
and gratitude.

This instinctive love is a pretty thing to witness: as in the case of a
very little child who had a passionate love of flowers. She would
silently carry out her little chair in the summer morning, and sit down
in the middle of the flower-bed, and be overheard softly saying, "Come
you little flower--open, you little flower! When will you open your
pretty blue eye?" This is charming; and so it is to see an infant
fondling a kitten, or feeding the brood of chickens, and a girl singing
lullaby to her doll. But it must ever be remembered, that this is the
lowest form of human affection till it is trained into close connection
with the higher sentiments. What it is when left to itself--and it will
too probably be left to itself by parents who are satisfied with any
manifestation of affection in children;--what it is when left to itself
may be seen in some disgusting spectacles which occasionally meet our
eyes among the mature and the old. We see it in the young mother who
spoils her child--who loves her child with so low a love, that she
indulges it to its hurt. We see it in the aged mother, who loves her
manly son as a bear loves its cub;--only with more selfishness, for she
cannot consider his good, but lavishes ill-humour and fondness on him by
turns. We see it in the man who gives his mind to the comfort of his
horse; and never a look or a word to a hungry neighbour. We see it in a
woman, who opens her arms to every dog or cat that comes near her, whose
eye brightens, and whose cheek mantles while she feeds her canaries,
though she never had a friendship, nor cares for any human being but
such as are under five years old.

Thus low is this instinctive affection when left to itself. But it is
inestimable when linked on to other and higher kinds of love, and
especially to that which is the highest of all, and worthy to gather
into itself all the rest,--benevolence. It is easy to form this link
when its formation is desired: and it is terribly easy to neglect it
when its importance is not perceived. The child must be led to desire
the good of the cat, or bird, or doll, to the sacrifice of its own
inclinations. It must not hurt pussy, or throw dolly into a corner,
(every child believing that dolly can feel) nor frighten the bird: and
moreover, it must be made to discharge punctually, even to its own
inconvenience, the duty of feeding the live favourite, and cherishing
the doll. This leads on naturally to a cherishing and forbearing love of
the baby-brother or sister: and next, perhaps, the parents may be
surprised by an offer of affection in sickness which never showed itself
while they were in health. A child who receives caresses carelessly, or
runs away from them to caress the kitten, (which, perhaps, runs away in
its turn,) will come on tiptoe to his mother's knee when she is ill, and
stroke her face, or nurse her foot in his lap, or creep up into her easy
chair, and nestle there quietly for an hour at a time: and yet perhaps
this same child will appear as indifferent as before when his mother is
well again, and does not seem to want his good offices.

From home, the affection may next be led a little further abroad. This
must be done very cautiously, and the expansion of benevolence by no
means hurried or made a task of. I knew a little girl who, at four years
old, was full of domestic benevolence--capable of denying herself noise
and amusement on fitting occasions, and never happier than when waiting
on and cherishing a sick person. One day she seemed so much interested
about a poor woman who had come to beg, that her mother took her into
consultation about what could be done for the woman and her children.
When told how nearly naked the poor children were, and how they had no
more clothes to put on, though the weather was growing colder and
colder, she was asked whether she would not like to give her blue frock
to one of them. In a low earnest voice, she said "No." The case was
again represented to her; and when, with some little shrinking, she
again said "No," her mother saw that she had gone rather too far, and
had tried the young faculty of benevolence beyond its strength. She
watched and waited, and is repaid. In her daughter, warm domestic
affections co-exist with a more than ordinary benevolence.

This benevolence is the third form in which we have already seen what is
called love. Can anything be more clearly marked than the difference
between these three;--the love that leads to marriage; fondness for
objects which can be idolised; and benevolence which has no fondness in
it, but desires the diffusion of happiness, and acts independently of
personal regards? None of these yield the sort of affection which the
heart of the parent desires, and which is essential to family happiness.
A child may kill its pet bird, or cat, with kindness, and go out into
the street in the early morning, with its halfpenny in its hand (as I
have known a child do) to do good with it to somebody;--a child may have
these two kinds of love strong in him, and yet show but a weak
attachment to the people about him. This attachment is another kind of
love from those we have been considering. It is all-important to the
character of the individual, and to the happiness of the family circle:
and it is therefore of consequence that its nature should be understood,
and its exercise wisely cared for.

It is some time before the infant shows attachment to any one. There are
many signs of hope and fear in an infant before it gives any token of
affection; its arms are held out first to its nurse; and she usually
continues the one to whom the child clings, and from whom it will not be
separated. Beyond the nurse, the child's attachments sometimes appear
unaccountable. It will be happy with some one person in the house, and
make a difficulty of going to any one else: and the reason of this may
not be plain to anybody. Happy is the mother if she be the one; and a
severe trial it is to a loving mother when she is not the one. Of
course, if the misfortune be owing to any fault in herself,--if she be
irritable, stern, or in any way teasing to the child,--she cannot wonder
that he does not love her. If she be tender, gentle, playful, and wise,
and still her child loves some one else in the house better, it is a
sore trial, certainly; but it must be made the best of. Of course, the
mother will strive to discover what it is in another person that
attaches the child; and if she can attain the quality, she will. But it
is probably that which cannot be attained by express efforts,--a power
of entering into the little mind, and meeting its thoughts and feelings.
Some persons have this power naturally much more than others; and
practice may have given them great facility in using it; while the sense
of inexperience, and the strong anxiety that a young mother has, may
easily be a restraint on her faculties in dealing with her child. I have
heard the mothers of large families declare (in the most private
conversation) in so many instances, that their younger children are of a
higher quality than the older, and this from an age so early as to
prevent the difference being attributed to experience in teaching, that
I have been led to watch and think on the subject: and I think that one
powerful cause is that the mother has naturally more freedom and
playfulness and tact in her intercourse with her younger children than
with the elder, and thereby fixes their attachment more strongly: and
there are no bounds to the good which arises from strong affections in a
child. Happy the mother who is the object of her child's strongest love
from the beginning!--happy, that is, if she makes a good use of her
privilege. She must never desire more love than the child has to give.
The most that it can give will be less than she would like, and far less
than her own for it: but she will not obtain more, but only endanger
what she has, by making the child conscious of his affections, and by
requiring tokens which do not manifest themselves spontaneously. It
should be enough for a mother that her child comes to her with his
little troubles and pleasures, and shows by his whole behaviour that she
is of more importance to him than any one else in the world. If it be
so, there will be times when he will spring into her lap, and throw his
arms round her neck, and give her the thrilling kiss that she longs to
have every day and every hour. But the sweetness of these caresses will
be lost when they cease to be spontaneous; and the child will leave off
springing into the lap, if it is to be teased for kisses when there.
There are few products of the human mind which are to be had good upon
compulsion; and affection least of all. I knew a little boy who was
brought home from being at nurse in the country, and shown to his
conscientious, anxious, but most formal mother. The child clung to his
nurse's neck, hid his face on her shoulder, and screamed violently. But
his mother's voice was heard above his noise, saying solemnly, "Look at
me, my dear. Nurse is going away, and you will not see her any more. You
must love _me_ now." Whether she thus gained her child's love, my
readers may conjecture.

The mother who is first in her child's affection is under the serious
responsibility of imparting the treasure to others. She takes her whole
household into her own heart; and she must open her little one's heart
to take in all likewise. She must associate all in turn in his pursuits
and pleasures, till his love has spread through the house, and he can be
happy and cherished in every corner of it.

The mother who sees some one else more beloved than herself,--the
servant, perhaps, or an elder child of her own,--must not lose heart,
much less temper, or all is lost. It is possible that her turn may never
come: but it is far more probable that it will, if she knows how to wait
for it. She must go on doing her part as perseveringly and, if it may
be, as cheerfully as if her heart was satisfied; and sooner or later the
child will discover, never to forget, what a friend she is. Moreover, if
her mind and manner are not such as to win a child in his early infancy,
they may suit his needs at a later stage of his mind. I have observed
that the mothers who are most admirable at some seasons of their
children's lives fall off at others. I have seen a mother who had
extraordinary skill in bringing out and training her children's
faculties before they reached their teens, and who was all-sufficient
for them then, fail them sadly as a friend and companion in the
important years which follow seventeen. And I have seen a mother who
could make no way with her children in their early years, and who keenly
felt how nearly indifferent they were to her, while her whole soul and
mind were devoted to them,--I have seen such a mother idolised by her
daughters when they became wise and worthy enough to have her for a
friend. I mention these things for comfort and encouragement: and who is
more in need of comfort and encouragement than the mother who, loving
her child as mothers should, meets with not only a less than adequate,
but a less than natural return?

There is one case more sad and more solemn than this; the case of the
unloving and unloved child. There are some few human beings in whom the
power of attachment is so weak that they stand isolated in the world,
and seem doomed to a hermit existence amidst the very throng of human
life. If such are neglected, they are lost. They must sink into a slough
of selfishness, and perish. And none are so likely to be neglected as
those who neither love nor win love. If such an one is not neglected, he
may become an able and useful being, after all; and it is for the
parents to try this, in a spirit of reverence for his mysterious nature,
and of pity for the privations of his heart. They will search out and
cherish, by patient love, such little power of attachment as he has: and
they will perhaps find him capable of general kindliness, and the wide
interests of benevolence, though the happiness of warm friendships and
family endearment is denied him. Such an one can never take his place
among the highest rank of human beings, nor can know the sweetest
happiness that life can yield. But by the generous love of his parents,
and of all whom they can influence to do his nature justice, his life
may be made of great value to himself and others, and he may become
respected for his qualities, as well as for his misfortune.



Among the great blessings which are shared by the whole human race, one
of the chief is its universal power of veneration.

I call this a universal power, because there is no human being, (except
the idiot) in whom it is not inherent from his birth: and I think I may
say, that there is none in whom it does not exist, more or less, till
his death. Unhappy influences may check or pervert it: but there is no
reason to believe that it can be utterly destroyed. The grinning
scoffer, who laughs at everything serious, who despises every man but
himself, and who is insensible to the wonders and charms of nature, yet
stands in awe of something,--if it be nothing better than rank and show,
or brute force, or the very power of contempt in others which he values
so much in himself. Send for such an one into the presence of the Queen,
or bring him to the bar of the House of Commons, or ask him to dinner in
a sumptuous palace, and, however far gone he may be in contempt, he will
be awe-struck. Set him down face to face with a man who makes game of
everything he does not understand, (and that will be almost everything
that exists) and he will have a respect for that man. If you can bring
his mind into contact with any objects low enough to excite his degraded
faculty of veneration, you will find that the faculty is still there. It
appears to be indeed inextinguishable.

We have, as usual, two things to take heed to in regard to this great
and indispensable power of the mind. First, to take care that the power
neither runs riot, nor is neglected. And next, to direct it to its
proper objects.

I. The faculty, like all others, is of unequal strength in different
people;--in children, as well as in grown persons. We see one man who
seems to have no self-reliance or freedom of action in anything; whose
life is one long ague fit of superstition, from that cowardly dread of
God which he means for religion: who takes anybody's word for
everything, from a fear of using his own faculties, and who is
overwhelmed in the presence of rank, wealth, or ability superior to his
own. We see another man careless, and contemptuous, and self-willed,
from a want of feeling of what there is in the universe, and in his
fellow-men superior to his faculties, and mysterious to his
understanding. And in the merest infants, we may discern, by careful
watching, a difference no less marked. One little creature will reach
boldly after everything it sees, and buffet its playthings and the
people about it, and make itself heard and attended to whenever it so
pleases, and has to be taught and trained to lie quiet and submissive.
And another of the same age will watch with a shrinking wonder whatever
is new or mysterious, and be shy before strangers, and has to be taught
and trained to examine things for itself, and to make free with the
people about it. Such being the varieties in the strength of the natural
faculty, the training of it must vary accordingly.

As I have said before, no human faculty needs to be repressed; because
no human faculty is in itself bad. Where any one power appears to be
excessive, we are not to set to work to vex and mortify it: but rather,
to bring up to it those antagonist faculties which ought to balance it,
and which, in such a case, clearly want strengthening. If, for instance,
a child appears to have too much of this faculty of Veneration--if it
fancies a mystery in everything that happens, and yields too easily to
its companions, and loves ghost stories which yet make it ill, and is
always awe-struck and dreaming about something or other--that child is
not to be laughed at, nor to be led to despise or make light of what it
cannot understand. That child has not too much Veneration: for no one
can ever have too much of the faculty. The mischief lies in his having
too little of something else;--too little self-respect; too little hope;
too little courage.

Let him continue to exercise and enjoy freely his faculty of Wonder.
His mother should tell him of things that are really wonderful and past
finding out: and as he grows old enough, let her point out to him that
all things in nature are wonderful, and past our finding out, from the
punctuality of the great sun and blessed moon, to the springing of the
blade of grass. Let her sympathise in his feeling that there is
something awful in the thunderstorm, and in the incessant roll of the
sea. Let her express for him, as far as may be, his unutterable sense of
the weakness and ignorance of child or man in the presence of the
mighty, ever-moving universe, and of the awful unknown Power which is
above and around us, wherever we turn. Let her show respect to every
sort of superiority, according to its kind--to old age, to scholarship,
to skill of every sort, to social rank and office; and above all, to the
superiority that goodness gives. Let her thus cherish and indulge her
child's natural faculty, and permit no one else to thwart it. But she
must give her utmost pains to exercise at the same time his inquiring
and knowing faculties, and his courage and self-respect. Among the many
wonders which she cannot explain, there are many which she can. He
should be encouraged to understand as much as anybody understands, and
especially of those things which he is most likely to be afraid of. He
should be made to feel what power is given to him by such knowledge: and
led to respect this power in himself as he would in any one else. I
knew a little child whose reverence for Nature was so strong as almost
to overpower some other faculties. She was town-bred: and whenever it
chanced that she was out in the country for more than a common walk, she
was injuriously excited, all day long. She was not only in a state of
devout adoration to the Maker of all she saw: but she felt towards the
trees, and brooks, and corn-fields as if they were alive, and she did
not dare to interfere with them. One day, some companions carried home
some wild strawberry roots for their gardens, and persuaded her to do
the same. She did so, in a great tremor. Before she had planted her
roots, she had grown fond of them, as being dependent on her; and she
put them into the ground very tenderly and affectionately. As it was now
near noon, of course she found her strawberries withered enough when she
next went to look at them, as they lay drooping in the hot sun. She
bethought herself, in her consternation, of a plan for them: ran in for
a little chair: put it over the roots, stuffing up with grass every
space which could let the sunshine in; watered the roots, and left them,
with the sense of having done a very daring thing. It was sunset before
she could go to her garden again. When she removed the chair, there were
the strawberries, fresh and strong, with leaves of the brightest green!
It was a rapturous moment to this superstitious child--this, in which
she felt that she had meddled with the natural growth of something, and
with success. And it was a profitable lesson. She took to gardening, and
to trying her power over Nature in other ways, losing some superstition
at every step into the world of knowledge, and gaining self-respect (a
highly necessary direction of the spirit of reverence) with every proof
of the power which knowledge confers.

What the parent has to do for the child in whom the sentiment of
Reverence appears disproportionate, is to give him Power in himself, in
every possible way, that he may cease to be overwhelmed with the sense
of power out of himself on every hand. If he can become possessed of
power of Conscience, his religious fear will become moderated to
wholesome awe. If he can become possessed of power of understanding, the
mysteries of Nature will stimulate instead of depressing his mind. If he
can attain to power of sympathy, he will see men as they are, and have a
fellow-feeling with them, through all the circumstances of rank and
wealth which once wore a false glory in his eyes. If he can attain a due
power of self-reliance, he will learn that his own wonderful faculties
and unbounded moral capacities should come in for some share of his
reverence, and be brought bravely into action in the universe, instead
of being left idle by the wayside, making obeisance incessantly to
everything that passes by, while they ought to be up and doing.

What should be done with the pushing, fearless child, who seems to stand
in awe of nobody, is plain enough. As I have said, he reverences
_something_: for no human being is without the faculty. His parents must
find out what it is that does excite his awe: and, however strange may
be the object, they must sympathise in the feeling. I have known a
fearless child of three reverence his brother of four and a half. We may
laugh; but it was no laughing matter, but a very interesting one, to see
the little fellow watch every movement of his brother, give him credit
for profound reasons in everything he did, and humbly imitate as much as
he could. Supposing such a child to be deficient generally in reverence,
it would be a tremendous mistake in the parents to check this one
exercise of it. They should, in such a case, carefully observe the
rights of seniority among the children; avoid laughing at the follies of
the elder, or needlessly pointing out his faults, in the presence of the
younger, while they daily strive to raise the standard of both. They
must also lead the imagination of the little one to contemplate things
which he must feel to be at once real and beyond his comprehension. They
must, at serious moments, lead his mind higher than he was aware it
would go, even till it sinks under his sense of ignorance. They must
carry his thoughts down into depths which he never dreamed of, and where
the spirit of awe will surely lay hold upon him. I do not believe there
is any child who cannot be impressed with a serious, plain account of
some of the wonders of nature; with a report, ever so meagre, of the
immensity of the heavens, whose countless stars, the least of which we
cannot understand, are for ever moving, in silent mystery, before our
eyes. I do not believe there are many children that may not be deeply
impressed by the great mystery of brute life, if their attention be duly
fixed upon it. Let the careless and confident child be familiarised, not
only with the ant and the bee for their wonderful instinct, but with all
living creatures as inhabitants of the same world as himself, and at the
same time, of a world of their own, as we have; a world of ideas, and
emotions, and pleasures, which we know nothing whatever about,--any more
than they know the world of our minds. I do not believe there is any
child who would not look up with awe to a man or woman who had done a
noble act,--saved another from fire or drowning, or told the truth to
his own loss or peril, or visited the sick in plague-time, or the guilty
in jail. I do not believe there is any child who would not look up with
awe to a man who was known to be wise beyond others; to have seen far
countries; to have read books in many languages; or to have made
discoveries among the stars, or about how earth, air, and water are
made. If it be so, who is there that may not be impressed at last by the
evident truth that all that men have yet known and done is as nothing
compared with what remains to be known and done: that the world-wide
traveller is but the half-fledged bird flitting round the nest: that the
philosopher is but as the ant which spends its little life in bringing
home half a dozen grains of wheat: and that the most benevolent man is
grieved that he can do so little for the solace of human misery, feeling
himself like the child who tries to wipe away his brother's tears, but
cannot heal his grief! Who is there that cannot be impressed by the
grave pointing out of the mystery of life, and the vastness of knowledge
which lie around and before him; and by the example of him who did none
but noble and generous deeds, and bore the fiercest sufferings, and felt
contempt for nothing under heaven! How can it but excite reverence to
show that he, even he, was himself full of reverence, and incapable of

II. Having said thus much about nourishing and balancing the faculty of
reverence, I need only point out the directions in which it should be

The point on which a child's veneration will first naturally fix will be
Power. It must be the parents' first business to fix that veneration on
Authority, instead of mere power. Instead of the power to shut up in a
closet, or to whip, the child must reverence the authority which reveals
itself in calm control and gentle command. The parents must be the
first objects of the child's disciplined reverence. Even here, in this
first clear case, the faculty cannot work well without sympathy: and the
child must have sympathy from the parents themselves. He must see that
his parents respect each other; that they consider one another's
authority unquestionable in the household; and that they reverence
_their_ parent--if Granny be still among them.

Beyond this, there is no reason why the sympathy between parents and
children should not be simple, constant, and true, as to their objects
of reverence.

The child may revere as very wise, some person whom the parents know not
to be so: but they may join their child in revering the wisdom which
they know to be his ideal. The child may go into an enthusiasm about
some questionable hero,--the exemplar of some virtue which the parents
feel to be of a rather low order: but they will sympathise in the homage
to virtue--which is the main point. They may be secretly amused at their
child's reverence for the constable: but they feel the same in regard to
that of which the constable is the representative to the child--the Law.
They will lead him on with them in their advancing reverence for
knowledge; for that moral and intellectual knowledge united which
constitute wisdom; and will thus turn away his regards from dwelling
too much on outward distinctions, which might otherwise inspire undue

Yet nearer will their hearts draw to his in veneration for goodness; for
intrepid truthfulness, for humble fidelity, for cheerful humility, for
gentle charity. And at the ultimate point, their hearts must become one
with his; in the presence of the Unknown; for there we are all,--the
oldest and the youngest--the wisest and the weakest,--but little
children, waiting to learn, and desiring to obey.



We come now to consider a moral quality whose importance cannot be
overrated, yet about which there is more unsettledness of view and
perplexity of heart among parents than about, perhaps, any other. Every
parent is anxious about the truthfulness of his child: but whether this
virtue is to come by nature, or by gift, or by training, many an one is
sorely perplexed to know. So few children are truthful in all respects
and without variation, that we may well doubt whether the quality can be
inborn. And the cases are so many of children otherwise good--even
conscientious in other respects--who talk at random, and say things
utterly untrue, that I do not wonder that those who hold low views of
human nature consider this a constitutional vice, and a hereditary
curse. I am very far from believing this: and I will plainly say what I
do believe.

I believe that the requisites of a habit of truthfulness lie in the
brain of every child that is born; but that the truthfulness itself has
to be taught, as the speech which is to convey it has to be taught; by
helping the child to the use of his natural powers. The child has by
nature the ear, the lungs, the tongue, the palate, and the various and
busy mind,--the requisites for speech: but he does not speak unless
incited by hearing it from others, and by being himself led on to attain
the power. In a somewhat resembling manner, every child has more or less
natural sense of what is just in feeling and action, and what is real in
nature, and how to present his ideas to another mind. Here are the
requisites to truthfulness of speech: but there is much to be learned,
and much to overcome, before the practice of truthfulness can be
completely formed, and firmly established. If the case is once
understood, we shall know how to set about our work, and may await the
event without dismay in the worst cases, though in all with the most
careful vigilance.

Is it not true that different nations, even Christian nations, vary more
in regard to truthfulness than perhaps any other moral quality? Is it
not true that one or two continental nations fall below us in regard to
this quality, while they far excel us in kindliness and cheerfulness of
temper, and pleasantness of manners? And does not this difference arise
from their thinking kindliness and cheerfulness more important than
sincerity and accuracy of speech? And is not our national superiority in
regard to the practice of truth chiefly owing to its being our national
point of honour, and our fixed supposition as a social habit? Do not
these facts tend to show that the practice of truthfulness is the result
of training? and that we may look for it with confidence as the result
of good training?

Now, what are the requisites, and what the difficulties that we have to
deal with?

Has not every child a keen sense of right and justice, which he shows
from the earliest time that he can manifest any moral judgment at all?
He may be injurious and unjust to another, from selfishness and passion:
but can he not feel injustice done to himself with the infallibility of
an instinct, and claim his rights with the acuteness of a lawyer? Is
there anything more surprising to us in the work of education than every
child's sense of his rights, and need of unerring justice, till he is
far enough advanced generously to dispense with it? Here we have the
perception of moral truth for one requisite.

Another requisite is such good perceptive power as informs a child truly
of outward facts. There is no natural power which varies more in
different subjects than this. One child sees everything as it is, within
its range. Another child sees but little, being taken up with what it
thinks or imagines. A third sees wrongly, being easily deceived about
colours and forms, and the order in which things happen, from its senses
being dull, or its faculties of observation being indolent. I have known
a child declare an object to be green when it was grey; or a man in a
field to be a giant; or a thing to have happened in the morning which
took place in the afternoon: and one need but observe how witnesses in a
court of justice vary in their testimony about small matters regarding
which they are quite disinterested, to see that the same imperfection in
the perceptive faculties goes on into mature age. It is plain that these
faculties must be exercised and trained very carefully, if the child is
to be made accurate in its statements.

Another and most important requisite is that the child should, from the
beginning, believe that truthfulness is a duty. This belief must be
given on authority: for the obligation to truth is not, as I have said,
instinctive, but a matter of reasoning, such as a child is not capable
of entering into. He will receive it, easily and permanently, from the
assurance and example of his parents; but he does not, in his earliest
years, see it for himself. An affectionate child, thinking of a beloved
person, will tell his parent that he has just seen and talked with that
person, who is known to be a hundred miles off. The parent is shocked:
and truly there is cause for distress; for it is plain that the child
has as yet no notion of the duty of truthfulness; but the parent must
not, in his fear, aggravate the case, and run into the conclusion that
the child loves lying. The case probably is that he says what is
pleasant to his affections, without being aware that there is a more
serious matter to be attended to first: a thing which he may hereafter
be shocked not to have known. I happen to remember at this moment, three
persons, now conscientiously truthful, who in early childhood were in
the habit of telling, not only wonderful dreams, but most wonderful
things that they had seen in their walks, on the high-road or the heath;
giants, castles, beautiful ladies riding in forests, and so on. In all
these cases, the parents were deeply distressed, and applied themselves
accordingly, first to check the practice of narration, and next to
exercise the perceptive and reflective powers of the children, so as to
enable them to distinguish clearly the facts they saw from the visions
they called up before their mind's eye. The appeal to conscience they
left for cases where their child had clearer notions of right and wrong.
Any one of these children would, I believe, at that very time, have
suffered much rather than say what he knew to be false, from any motive
of personal fear or hope. As I said, all these three are now eminently
honourable and trustworthy persons.

The chief final requisite is, of course, conscientiousness. When the
child becomes capable of self-knowledge and self-government, this alone
can be relied on for such a confirmation of the habit of truth telling,
or such a correction of any tendency to inaccuracy, as may carry the
young probationer through all temptations from within and from without,
steady in the practice of strict truth. When all these requisites are
combined,--when the child feels truly, sees truly, and is aware of the
duty of speaking truly, the practice of truthfulness becomes as natural
and unfailing as if it originated in an instinct.

I remember an instance of the strange, unbalanced, unprincipled state of
mind of a child, who was capable of telling a lie, and persisting in it,
at the very time that she was conscientious to excess about some of her
duties, and her sense of justice (in regard to her own rights) ran riot
in her. It is an odd and a sad story; but instructive from its very
strangeness. She was asked by her mother one day whether she had not
played battledore and shuttlecock before breakfast. From some levity or
inattention at the moment, she said "No," and was immediately about to
correct herself when her mother's severe countenance roused her pride
and obstinacy, and she wickedly repeated her denial. Here it was temper
that was the snare. There was nothing to be afraid of in saying the
truth, no reason why she should not. But she had a temper of such pride
and obstinacy that she was aware of even enjoying being punished, as
giving her an opportunity of standing out; while the least word of
appeal to her affections or her conscience, if uttered before her temper
was roused, would melt her in a moment. The question was repeated in
many forms; and still she, with a terrified and miserable conscience,
persisted that she had not played battledore that morning; whereas her
mother had heard it, and knew from her companion who it was that had
played. The lying child was sent to her own room, where she was in
consternation enough till a mistake of management was made which spoiled
everything, and destroyed the lesson to her. She was sent for to read
aloud, before the family, the story of Ananias and Sapphira. She was
sobbing so that the reading was scarcely possible, till her thoughts
took a turn which speedily dried her tears, and filled her with an
insolent indignation which excluded all chance of repentance. She well
knew the story of Ananias and Sapphira; and she happened to have a great
admiration of the plan of the early Christians, of throwing all their
goods into a common stock. She knew that the sin of Ananias and his wife
lay chiefly in the selfish fraud which was the occasion of their lie,
and that their case was therefore no parallel for hers: and in the
indignation of having it supposed that she had sinned in their way,--she
who longed above everything to have been an early Christian (a pretty
subject truly!)--that she could be thought silly enough to suppose that
they were struck dead for their fib, and not for their fraud,--in this
insolent indignation she put her one sin out of sight, and felt herself
an injured person. This adventure certainly did not strengthen her
regard to truth. She dared not state her objection to the story in her
own case: and perhaps she also disdained to do it: she remained sullen;
and her mother had at last to let the matter drop.

This was a case to make any parent's heart sink: but the worse the case,
the more instructive to us now. Here was sufficient moral sense and
insight, in one direction, to hear an appeal, if any had been made.
Disgrace was the worst possible resort, and especially when untenable
ground was taken for it. The best resort would have been a tender and
solemn private conversation, in which the entanglement of passionate
feelings might have been unravelled, and the seat of moral disease have
been explored. When a moral disease so fearful as this appears, parents
should never rest till they have found the seat of it, and convinced the
perilled child of the deadly nature of its malady. In this case, the
child was certainly not half-convinced, and morally worse after the
treatment, while the material for conviction, repentance and
reformation, was in her.

The method of training must depend much on the organisation of the child
in one respect; whether he is ingenuous and frank, or reserved and (I
must say it)--sly. Some children are certainly prone to slyness by
nature; but there is no reason why, under a wise training, they should
not be as honourable as the most ingenuous soul that ever was born. And
they may even, when thoroughly principled, be more reliable than some
open-minded persons, from being more circumspect.

There is something very discouraging in seeing little creatures who
ought to be all fearlessness and confidence hiding things under their
pinafores, or slipping out at the back-door for a walk which they might
have honestly by asking for it; or putting round-about questions when
plain ones would do; or keeping all their little concerns to themselves
while spending their whole lives among brothers and sisters. If one
looks forward to their maturity, one recoils from the image of what they
will be. But they must not grow up with these tendencies. Their fault
may turn to virtue, under wise and gentle treatment. Their confidence
must be tenderly won, and their innocent desires gratified, while every
slyness is quietly shown to be as unavailing as it is disagreeable, and
every movement towards ingenuousness cheerfully and lovingly encouraged.
The child's imagination must be engaged on behalf of everything that is
noble, heroic, and openly glorious before the eyes of men. His
conscience and affections must be appealed to, not in words, but by a
long course of love and trust, to return the trust he receives. Of
course, the parental example must be that of perfect openness and
simplicity; for the sight of mystery and concealment in the house is
enough to make even the ingenuous child sly, through its faculty of
imitation, and its ambition to be old and wise; and much more will it
hinder the expansion of a reserved and cunning child. If these things be
all attended to--if he sees only what is open, free, and simple, and
receives treatment which is open, free, and encouraging, while it
convinces him of a sagacity greater than his own, there is every hope
that he will yield himself to the kindly influences dispensed to him,
and find for himself the comfort and security of ingenuousness, and turn
his secretive ingenuity to purposes of intellectual exercise, where it
may do much good and no harm. That ingenuity and sagacity may be well
employed among the secrets of history, the complexities of the law, or
the mysteries of mechanical construction or chemical analysis, which may
make a man vicious and untrustworthy, if allowed to work in his moral
nature, and to shroud his daily conduct.

As for the training of the candid and ingenuous child, it is of course
far easier and pleasanter; but it must not be supposed that no care is
required to make him truthful. He must be trained to accuracy, or all
his ingenuousness will not save him from saying many a thing which is
not true. Dr. Johnson advised that if a child said he saw a thing out of
one window, when in fact he saw it out of another, he should be set
right. I think the Dr. was right; and that a child should consider no
kind of misstatement a trifle, seeing always that the parents do not. An
open-hearted and ingenuous child is likely to be a great talker; and is
in that way more liable to inaccuracy of statement than a reserved
child. Oh! let his parents guard him well, by making him early the
guardian of the "unruly little member" which may, by neglect, deprive
him of the security and peace which should naturally spread from his
innocent heart through his open and honest life! Let them help him to
add perfect truth of speech to his native truth of heart, and their
promising child cannot but be a happy man.

It may seem wearisome to say so often over that the example of the
parents is the chief influence in the training of the child; but how can
I help saying it when the fact is so? Is it not true that when the
father of a family comes home and talks before his children, every word
sinks into their minds? If he talks banter--banter so broad that his
elder children laugh and understand, how should the little one on its
mother's lap fail to be perplexed and misled? It knows nothing about
banter, and it looks up seriously in its father's face, and believes all
he says, and carries away all manner of absurd ideas. Or, if told not to
believe what he hears, how is he to know henceforth what to believe; and
how can he put trust in his father's words? The turn for exaggeration
which many people have is morally bad for the whole family. It is only
the youngest perhaps who will believe that "it rains cats and dogs"
because somebody says so; but a whole family may be misled by habitual
exaggeration of statement. The consequence is clear. Either they will
take up the habit, from imitation of father or mother, or they will
learn to distrust their fluent parent. But how safe is everything made
by that established habit of truth in a household which acts like an
instinct! If the parents are, as by a natural necessity, always accurate
in what they say, or, if mistaken, thankful to be set right, and eager
to rectify their mistake, the children thrive in an atmosphere of such
sincerity and truth: and any one of them to whom truthfulness may be
constitutionally difficult, has the best chance for the strengthening of
his weakness. Such an one must have sunk under the least aggravation of
his infirmity by the sin of his parents: and the probability is, that
the whole household would have gone down into moral ruin together; for
it cannot be expected that any natural aptitude for truth in children
should improve, or even continue, if discouraged by the example of the
parents who ought to hail it as a blessing upon their house.

Of all happy households, that is the happiest, where falsehood is never
thought of. All peace is broken up when once it appears that there is a
liar in the house. All comfort is gone, when suspicion has once entered;
when there must be reserve in talk, and reservation in belief. Anxious
parents, who are aware of the pains of suspicion, will place generous
confidence in their children, and receive what they say freely, unless
there is strong reason to distrust the truth of any one. If such an
occasion should unhappily arise, they must keep the suspicion from
spreading as long as possible; and avoid disgracing their poor child,
while there is any chance of his cure by their confidential assistance.
He should have their pity and assiduous help, as if he were suffering
under some disgusting bodily disorder. If he can be cured, he will
become duly grateful for the treatment. If the endeavour fails, means
must of course be taken to prevent his example doing harm: and then, as
I said, the family peace is broken up, because the family confidence is

I fear that, from some cause or another, there are but few large
families where every member is altogether truthful. Some who are not
morally guilty, are intellectually incapable of accuracy. But where all
are so organised and so trained as to be wholly reliable, in act and
word, they are a light to all eyes, and a joy to all hearts. They are a
public benefit; for they are a point of general reliance: and they are
privately blessed, within and without. Without, their life is made easy
by universal trust: and within their home and their hearts, they have
the security of rectitude, and the gladness of innocence. If we do but
invoke wisdom, she will come, and multiply such homes in our land.



We come now to the greatest and noblest of the Moral Powers of Man; to
that power which makes him quite a different order of being from any
other that we know of, and which is the glory and crown of his
existence:--his Conscientiousness. The universal endowment of men with
this power is the true bond of brotherhood of the human race. Any race
of beings who possess in common the highest quality of which any of them
are capable, are brothers, however much they may differ in all other
respects, and however little some of them may care about this
brotherhood. For those who do care about it, how clear it is, and how
very interesting to trace! How plain it is that while men in different
parts and ages of the world differ widely as to what is right, they all
have something in them which prompts them to do what they believe to be
right! Here is a little boy, permitted to try what he can get by selling
five shillings' worth of oranges:--he points out to the lady who is
buying his last half dozen, that two of them are spotted.--There was
Regulus, the Roman general, who was taken prisoner by the enemy, the
Carthaginians. He was trusted to go to Rome, to treat for an exchange of
prisoners, on his promise that he would return to Carthage,--which he
knew was returning to death,--if the Roman senate would not grant an
exchange of prisoners. He persuaded the Roman senate _not_ to agree to
the exchange, which he believed would not be for the advantage of Rome:
and then he went back to Carthage and to death. There is, at this day,
the South Sea Islander,--the young wife who has been told that it is
pious and right to give her first child to the gods. She has in her all
a mother's feelings, all the love which women long to lavish on their
first babe: but she desires that the infant should be strangled as soon
as born, because she thinks it her duty. Now, this poor creature is
truly the sister of the other two, though her superstition is horrible,
and the infanticide it leads to is a great crime. She is shockingly
ignorant, and her mind is not of that high order which would perceive
that there must be something wrong in going against nature in this way:
but, for all that, she is conscientious; and by her conscientiousness
she is truly a sister in heart to the honourable Roman general, and the
honest orange-seller. What she needs is knowledge: and what the whole
human race wants is knowledge, to bring the workings of this great power
into harmony all over the world. At present, we see men in one place
feeding, and in another place burning one another,--because they think
they ought. In one place, we see a man with seventy wives,--in another,
a man with one wife,--and in another, a man remaining a bachelor all his
life; and each one equally supposing that he is doing what is right. The
evil everywhere is in the want of clear views of what is right. This is
an evil which may and will be remedied, we may hope, in course of ages.
There is nothing that we may not hope while the power to desire and do
what is right is common to all mankind,--is given to them as an
essential part of the human frame.

It does not follow, of course, that this power is equal in all. All but
idiots have it, more or less; but it varies, in different individuals,
quite as much as any other power. No power is more dependant on care and
cultivation for its vigour: but none varies more from the very
beginning. Some of the worst cases of want of rectitude that I have
known have been in persons so placed as that everybody naturally
supposed they _must_ be good, and trusted them accordingly. I have known
a girl, brought up by highly principled relatives, in a house where
nothing but good was seen or heard of, turn out so faulty as to compel
one to see that her power of conscientiousness was the weakest she had.
She had some of it. She was uneasy,--truly and not hypocritically,--if
she did not read a portion of the bible every day at a certain hour. She
was plain, even to prudery, in her dress: she truly honoured old age,
and could humble herself before it: and she studiously, and from a sense
of duty, administered to the wishes of the elder members of the family,
in all matters of arrangement and manners. But that was all. She was
tricky to a degree I could never estimate or comprehend. Her little
plots and deceptions were without number and without end. Her temper was
bad, and she took no pains whatever to mend it, but spent all her
exertions in making people as miserable as possible by her
vindictiveness. In love matters, she reached a point of malice beyond
belief, torturing people's feelings, and getting them into scrapes, with
a gratification to her own bad mind which could not be concealed under
her demure solemnity of manner. Enough of her! I will only observe that,
though she was brought up by good people, it does not follow that she
was judiciously managed. The result shows that she was not. A perfectly
wise guardian would have seen that her faculty of conscientiousness
wanted strengthening, and would have found safe and innocent employment
for those powers of secretiveness and defiance, and that inordinate love
of approbation, which, as it was, issued in mischief-making.--The
opposite case to hers is that which touches one with a deeper pity than
almost any spectacle which can be seen on this earth: that of the child
whose strong power of conscientiousness is directed to wickedness,
before it has ability to help itself. Think of the little child born in
a cellar, among thieves! It is born full of human powers; and among
these, it has a conscience, and perhaps a particularly strong one.
Suppose it is brought up to believe that its duty is to provide money
for its parents by stealing. Suppose that, by five years old, it
entirely believes that the most wrong thing it can do is to come home at
dark without having stolen at least three pocket-handkerchiefs! Such
cases have been known; and not a few of them.--And it is only an
exaggerated instance of what we very commonly see in history and the
world. The Chief Inquisitor in Spain or Italy really believed that he
was doing his duty in burning the bodies of heretics for the good of
their souls. Our ancestors thought they were acting benevolently in
putting badge dresses on charity children. The Pharisees of old were
sincere in their belief that it was wrong to heal a sick man on the
Sabbath. And I have no doubt that in a future age it will appear that we
ourselves are ignorant and mistaken about some points of our conduct in
which we now sincerely believe that we are doing what we ought.

In every household, then, the first consideration is to cherish the
faculty of conscientiousness; and the next is, to direct it wisely.

When I speak of cherishing the faculty, I do not mean that it is always
to be stimulated, whether it be naturally strong or weak. There are
cases, and they are not few, where the power is stronger than perhaps
any other. In such cases, no stimulating is required, but only guidance
and enlightenment. There are few sadder spectacles than that of a
suffering being whose conscience has become so tender as to be
superstitious; who lives a life of fear--of incessant fear of doing
wrong. It is a healthy conscience that we want to produce; a conscience
which shall act naturally, vigorously, and incessantly, like an
instinct; so as to leave all the other faculties to act freely, without
continual conflict and question whether their action be right or wrong.
A child who is perpetually driven to examine all he thinks and does will
become full of himself, prone to discontent with himself, and to servile
dependence on the opinion of those whom he thinks wiser than himself.
What is such a child to do when he comes out into the world, and must
guide himself? At best, he will go trembling through life, without
courage or self-respect: and something worse is to be apprehended. It is
to be apprehended that if he makes any slip--and such an one will be
sure to think that he does make slips--he will be unable to bear the
pain and uncertainty, and will grow reckless. A clergyman, of wide and
deep experience, who was the depository of much confidence, told me once
(and I have never forgotten it), that some of the worst cases of
desperate vice he had ever known were those of young men tenderly and
piously reared, who came out from home anxious about the moral dangers
of the world and the fears of their parents, and who, having fallen into
the slightest fault, and being utterly wretched in consequence, lost all
courage and hope, and drowned their misery in indulgence of the worst
part of themselves. He felt this so strongly that he solemnly conjured
me to use any influence I might ever have over parents in encouraging
them to trust their children with their innocence, and to have faith in
the best faculties of human nature. This entreaty still rings in my
ears, and leads me so to use any influence I may now have over parents.

Is it not true that the strongest delight the human being ever has is in
well-doing? Is it not true that this pleasure, like the pleasures of the
eye and ear, the pleasures of benevolence, the pleasures of the
understanding and the imagination, will seek its own continuance and
gratification, if it have fair play? Is it not true that pain of
conscience is the worst of human sufferings? and that this pain will be
naturally avoided, like every other pain, if only the faculty have fair

The worst of it is, the faculty seldom has fair play. The fatal notion
that human beings are more prone to evil than inclined to good, and the
fatal practice of creating factitious sins, are dreadfully in the way of
natural health of conscience. Teach a child that his nature is evil, and
you will make it evil. Teach him to fear and despise himself, and you
will make him timid and suspicious. Impose upon him a number of
factitious considerations of duty, and you will perplex his moral sense,
and make him tired of a self-government which has no certainty and no
satisfaction in it. It is a far safer and higher way to trust to his
natural moral sense, and cultivate his moral taste: to let him grow
morally strong by leaving him morally free, and to make him, by sympathy
and example, in love with whatever things are pure, honest, and lovely.
What the parent has to do with is the moral habits of the child, and not
to meddle with his faculties. Give them fair scope to grow, and they
will flourish: and, let it be remembered, man has no faculties which
are, in themselves and altogether, evil. His faculties are all good, if
they are well harmonised. Instead of talking to him, or leading him to
talk in his infancy of his own feelings as something that he has to take
charge of, fix his mind on the things from which his feelings will of
themselves arise. By all means, lead him to be considerate: but not
about his own state, but rather about the objects which cause that
state. If he sees at home integrity entering into every act and thought,
and trust and love naturally ensuing, he will enjoy integrity and live
in it, as the native of a southern climate enjoys sunshine and lives in
it. If, as must happen, failure of integrity comes under his notice in
one direction or another, he will see the genuine disgust and pain which
those about him feel at the spectacle, and dishonesty will be disgusting
and painful to him. And so on, through all good and bad qualities of
men. And this will keep him upright and pure far more certainly than any
warnings from you that he will be dishonest and impure, unless he is
constantly watching his feelings, and striving against the danger.

In the beginning of his course, he must be aided,--in the early days
when the action of all his faculties is weak and uncertain: and this aid
cannot be given too early; for we are not aware of any age at which a
child has not some sense of moral right and wrong. Mrs. Wesley taught
her infants in arms to "cry softly." Without admiring the discipline, we
may profit by the hint as to the moral capability of the child. When no
older than this, he may have satisfaction, without knowing why, from
submitting quietly to be washed, and to go to bed. When he becomes
capable of employing himself purposely, he may have satisfaction in
doing his business before he goes to his play, and a sense of uneasiness
in omitting the duty. I knew a little boy in petticoats who had no
particular taste for the alphabet, but began to learn it as a matter of
course, without any pretence of relish. One day his lesson was, for some
reason, rather short. His conscience was not satisfied. When his elder
brother was dismissed, Willie brought his letters again, but found he
was not wanted, and might play. The little fellow sighed; and then a
bright thought struck him. (I think I see him now, in his white frock,
with his large thoughtful eyes lighting up!) He said joyfully--"Willie
say his lesson to hisself." He carried his little stool into a corner,
put his book on his knees, and finished by honestly covering up the
large letters with both hands, and saying aloud two or three new ones.
Then he went to his play, all the merrier for the discharge of his

There is no reason why it should not be thus with all the duties of a
child. The great point is that he should see that the peace and joy of
the household depend on ease of conscience. His father takes no pleasure
till his work is done, and tells the truth to his hurt. His mother seeks
to be just to a slandered neighbour, or leaves her rest by the fireside
to aid a sick one. Granny's eyes sparkle, or a flush comes over her
withered cheek, when she tells the children what good men have endured
rather than pretend what they did not believe, or betray a trust. The
maid has taken twopence too much in change, and is uneasy till she has
returned it, or she refuses to promise something, lest she should be
unable to keep her word. His elder sister refuses something good at a
neighbour's, because her mother would think it unwholesome while she is
not quite well. His elder brother asks him to throw just a little cold
water upon him in the mornings, because he is so terribly sleepy that he
cannot get up without. And he sees what a welcome is given to a very
poor acquaintance, and he feels his own heart beat with reverence for
this very poor neighbour, because his father happens to know that the
man refused five pounds for his vote at the last election. If the child
is surrounded by a moral atmosphere like this, he will derive a strong
moral life from it, and a satisfaction to his highest moral faculties
which it is scarcely possible that he should forego for the pleasures of
sin. The indolent child will, in such a home, lose all idea of pleasure
in being idle, and soon find no pleasure till his work is done. The
slovenly child will become uneasy under a dirty skin, and the
thoughtless one in being behind his time. Common integrity we may
suppose to be a matter of course in a household like this; and, as every
virtuous faculty naturally advances "from strength to strength," we may
hope that the abode will be blessed, as the children grow up, with a
very uncommon integrity.

Though the parent will avoid making the child unnecessarily conscious of
its own conscience, she (for this is chiefly the mother's business) will
remember that her child has his difficulties and perplexities about the
working of this, as of all his other imperfectly trained powers; and she
will lay herself open to his confidence. Sometimes he is not clear what
he ought to do: sometimes he feels himself too weak to do it: sometimes
he is miserable because he has done wrong: and then again, he and some
one else may differ as to whether he has done wrong or right. And again,
he may have seen something in other people's conduct which shocks, or
puzzles, or delights him. Oh! let the mother throw open her heart to
confidences like these! Let her be sure that the moments of such
confidence are golden moments, for which a mother may be more thankful
than for anything else she can ever receive from her child. Let it be
her care that every child has opportunity to speak freely and privately
to her of such things. Some mothers make it a practice to go themselves
to fetch the candle when the children are in bed; and then, if wanted,
they stay a few minutes, and hear any confessions, or difficulties, and
receive any disclosures, of which the little mind may wish to disburden
itself before the hour of sleep. Whether then or at another time, it is
well worth pondering what a few minutes of serious consultation may do
in enlightening and rousing or calming the conscience,--in rectifying
and cherishing the moral life. It may be owing to such moments as these
that humiliation is raised into humility, apathy into moral enterprise,
pride into awe, and scornful blame into Christian pity. Happy is the
mother who can use such moments as she ought!

There remains, after all, the dread and wonder what such children are to
think and do when they must come to know what is the average
conscientiousness of the world. This is a subject of fear and pain to
most good parents. But they must consider that their children will not
see the world as they do all at once:--not till they have learned, like
their parents, to allow for, and account for, what happens in the world.
The innocent and the upright put a good construction on as much as
possible of what they see; and are often more right in this than their
clearer-sighted elders who know more of the tendencies of things. The
shock will not come all at once. They hear now of broken contracts,
dishonest bargains, venal elections, mercenary marriages, and, perhaps,
profligate seductions. They know that there are drunkards, and cheats,
and hypocrites, and cruel brutes, in society: and these things hardly
affect them, are hardly received by them, because they are surrounded by
honest people, and cannot feel what is beyond. And when they must become
more truly aware of these things, they will still trust in and admire
some whom they look up to, with more or less reason. The knowledge of
iniquity will come to them gradually, and all the more safely the less
sympathy they have with it.

If it be the pain, and not the danger, of this knowledge that the
parents dread, they must make up their minds to it for their children.
Surely they do not expect them to go through life without pain: and a
bitter suffering it will be to them to see what wretchedness is in the
world through the vices and ignorance of men; through their want of
conscientiousness, or their errors of conscience. Such pain must be met
and endured; and who is likely to meet it so bravely, and endure it so
hopefully, as those who are fully aware that every man's heaven or hell
is within him--giving a hope that heaven will expand as wisdom
grows--and who carry within themselves that peace which the world "can
neither give nor take away?"



We are all accustomed to speak of the Intellect and moral powers of man
as if they were so distinct from one another that we can deal with each
set of powers without touching the other.

It is true that there is a division between the intellectual and moral
powers of man, as there is between one moral power and another. It is
true that we can think of them separately, and treat them separately:
but it does not follow that they will work separately. No part of the
brain will act alone, no part begins its own action. It is always put in
action by another part previously at work, and it excites in its turn
some other portion. While we sleep, that part of the brain is at work on
which depend those animal functions which are always going on: and, as
we know by our dreams, other portions work with this, giving us ideas
and feelings during sleep--perhaps as many as by day, if we could only
recollect them. The animal portions of the brain set the intellectual
and moral organs to work, and these act upon each other, so that there
is no separating their action,--no possibility of employing one faculty
at a time without help from any other. As memory cannot act till
attention has been awakened,--in other words, as people cannot remember
what they have never observed and received, so the timid cannot
understand, unless it is in a docile and calm state; nor meditate well
without the exercise of candour and truthfulness; nor imagine nobly
without the help of veneration and hope. If we take any great
intellectual work and examine it, we shall see what a variety of
faculties, moral as well as intellectual, have gone to the making of it.
Take "Paradise Lost," a work so glorious for the loftiness of its
imagination, and the extent of its learning, and the beauty of its
illustrations, and the harmony of its versification! These are its
intellectual beauties: but look what moral beauties are inseparable from
these. Look at the veneration,--not only towards God, but towards all
holiness, and power, and beauty! Look at the purity, the love, the
hopefulness, the strain of high honour throughout! And this intellectual
and moral beauty are so blended, that we see how impossible it would be
for the one to exist without the other. It is just so in the human
character--the intellect of a human being cannot be of a high order,
(though some particular faculties may be very strong) if the moral
nature is low and feeble: and the moral state cannot be a lofty one
where the intellect is torpid.

It does not follow from this that to be very good a child must be
exceedingly clever and "highly educated," as we call it. There are
plenty of highly-educated people who are not morally good; and there are
many honest and amiable and industrious people who cannot read and
write. The thing is, we misuse the word "Education." Book-learning is
compatible with great poverty of intellect; and there may be a very fine
understanding, great power of attention and observation, and possibly,
though rarely, of reflection, in a person who has never learned to
read,--if the moral goodness of that person has put his mind into a calm
and teachable and happy state, and his powers of thought have been
stimulated by active affections; if, as we say, his heart has quickened
his head. These are truths very important to know; and they ought to be
consolatory to parents who are grieved and alarmed because they cannot
send their children to school,--supposing that their intellectual part
must suffer and go to waste for want of school training and instruction
from books. I will say simply and openly what I think about this.

I think that no children, in any rank of life, can acquire so much
book-knowledge at home as at a good school, or have their intellectual
faculties so well roused and trained. I have never seen an instance of
such high attainment in languages, mathematics, history, or philosophy
in young people taught at home,--even by the best masters,--as in those
who have been in a good school. Without going into the reasons of this,
which would lend us out of our way here, I would fully admit the fact.

There are two ways of taking it. First, it cannot be helped. A much
larger number of people are unable to send their children to school than
can do so. The queen cannot send her children to school: and the
children of the peerage are under great disadvantage. The girls cannot,
or do not, go from home; and the boys go only to one or another of a
very small choice of public schools, where they must run tremendous
risks to both morals and intellect. Then there are multitudes of
families, in town and country, among rich and poor, where the children
must be taught at home. The number is much larger of the children who do
not go to school than of those who do. If we consider, again, how large
a proportion of schools, taking them from the highest to the lowest, are
so bad that children learn little in them, it is clear that the
home-trained intellects are out of all proportion more numerous than the

The other way of looking at the matter is in order to inquire what
school advantages may be brought home--what there is in the school that
children may have the benefit of at home.

The fundamental difference between school and home is clear enough. At
school, everything is done by rule; by a law which was made without a
view to any particular child, and which governs all alike: whereas, at
home, the government is not one of law, working on from year to year
without change, but of love, or, at least, of the mind of the parents,
varying with circumstances, and with the ages and dispositions of the
children. There is no occasion to point out here how great are the moral
advantages of a good home in comparison with the best of schools. Our
business now is with the intellectual training. Can the advantages of
school law be brought into the home?

I think they may, to a certain extent: and I think it of great
importance that they should. Law will not do all at home that it does at
school. It is known to be new made, for the sake of the parties under
it; and it cannot possibly work so undeviatingly in a family as in a
school; and the children of a family, no two of whom are of the same
age, cannot have their faculties so stimulated to achieve irksome labour
as in a large class of comrades of the same age and standing. But still,
rule and regularity will do much: and when we consider the amount of
drudgery that children have to get through in acquiring the elements of
knowledge, we shall feel it to be only humane and fair to give them any
aid that can be afforded through the plans of the household.

Those kinds and parts of knowledge which interest the reasoning
faculties and the imagination are not in question just now. They come by
and by, and can better take care of themselves, or are more sure to be
taken care of by others, than the drudgery which is the first stage in
all learning. The drudgery comes first; and it is wise and kind to let
it come soon enough. The quickness of eye, and tenacity and readiness of
memory, which belong to infancy should be made use of while at their
brightest, for gaining such knowledge as is to be had by the mere eye,
ear, and memory. How easily can the most ordinary child learn a hymn or
other piece of poetry by heart;--sometimes before it can speak plain,
and very often indeed before it can understand the meaning! What a pity
that this readiness should not be used,--that the child, for instance,
should not learn to count, and to read, and to say the multiplication
table, while it can learn these things with the least trouble! We must
remember that while we see the child to be about a great and heavy work,
the child himself does not know this, and cannot be oppressed by the
thought. All he knows about is the little bit he learns every day. And
that little bit is easy to him, if the support of law be given him. It
is here that law must come in to help him. He should, if possible, be
saved all uncertainty, all conflict in his little mind, as to his daily
business. If there is a want of certainty and punctuality about his
lessons, there will be room for the thought of something which, for the
moment, he would like better; and again, his young faculties will become
confused and irregular in their working from uncertainty of seasons and
of plans. If there can be a particular place, and a particular time for
him, every day but Sundays, and he is never put off, his faculties will
come to their work with a freshness and steadiness which nothing but
habit will secure. A law of work which leaves him no choice, but sets
all his faculties free for his business, saves him half the labour of
it; as it does in after life to those who are so blessed as to be
destined to necessary, and not voluntary labour. In houses where there
cannot be a room set apart for the lessons, perhaps there may be a
corner. If there cannot be any place, perhaps there may be a time: and
the time should be that which can best be secured from interruption.
Where the father is so fond of his children, and so capable of
self-denial for their sakes as to devote an hour or two of his evenings
to the instruction of his children, he may rely upon it that he is
heaping up blessings for himself with every minute of those hours. His
presence, the presence of the worker of the household, is equal to
school and home influence together. The scantiness of his leisure makes
the law; and his devotedness in using it thus makes the inestimable home
influence. Under his teaching, if it be regular and intelligent, head
and heart will come on together, to his encouragement now, and his
great future satisfaction.

When I come to speak of habits, by and by, it will be seen that this
introduction of law at home is to relate only to affairs of habit, and
intellectual attainment. The misfortune of school is that the affections
and feelings must come under the control of law, instead of the guidance
of domestic love. It would be a wanton mischief indeed to spoil the
freedom of home by stretching rule and law there beyond their proper

There are houses, many houses, and not always very poor ones, where the
parents think they cannot provide for the intellectual improvement of
their children, and mourn daily over the thought. I wish such parents
could be induced to consider well what intellectual improvement is, and
then they would see how much they may do for their children's minds
without book, pen, or paper. It goes against me to suppose children
brought up without knowledge of reading and writing; and I trust this is
not likely to be the fate of any children of the parents who read this.
But it is as well to suppose the extreme case, in order to see whether
even people who cannot read and write must remain ignorant and debarred
from the privileges of mind.

In America I saw many families of settlers, where the children were
strangely circumstanced. There was always plenty to eat and drink; the
barns were full of produce, and there were horses in the meadow; and
every child would have hereafter a goodly portion of land: but there
were no servants, and there could be no "education," because the mother
and children had to do all the work of the house. In one of these homes
the day was spent thus.--The father (a man of great property) went out
upon his land, before daylight, taking with him his little sons of six
and seven years old, who earned their breakfasts by leading the horses
down to water, and turning out the cows, and sweeping the stable: and,
when the milking was done (by a man on the farm, I think), they brought
up the milk. Meantime, their mother, an educated English lady, took up
the younger children, and swept the kitchen, lighted the fire, and
cooked the beef-steak for her husband's breakfast, and boiled the eggs
which the little ones brought in from the paddock. Soon after seven, the
farmer and boys were gone again: and then the mother set down in the
middle of the kitchen floor a large bowl of hot water and the breakfast
things: and the little girl of _four_, and her sister of _two_, set to
work. The elder washed the cups and dishes, and the younger wiped them,
as carefully and delicately as if she had been ten years older. She
never broke anything, or failed to make all bright and dry. Then they
went to make their own little beds: they could just manage that, but not
the larger ones. Meantime, their mother was baking, or washing, or
brewing, or making soap,--boiling it in a cauldron over a fire in the
wood. There were no grocers' shops within scores of miles. In the
season, the family had to make sugar in the forest from their maple
trees; and wine from the fruit they grew: and there were the apples, in
immense quantities, to be split and cored, and hung up in strings for
winter use. Every morning in the week was occupied with one or another
of these employments; and in the midst of them, dinner had to be cooked,
and ready by noon: another beef-steak, with apple-sauce or onions, and
hot "corn" bread (made of Indian meal), and a squash pie, or something
of the sort. There was enough to do, all the afternoon, in finishing off
the morning's work: and there must be another steak for tea or
supper.--The children had been helping all day: and now their parents
wished to devote this time,--after six p.m.--to their benefit. It is
true, the mother had now to sew; this being her only time for making and
mending: but she got out the slates and lesson-books, and put one little
girl and boy before her, while their father took the other two, and set
them a sum and a copy on the slate. But alas! by this time, no one of
the party could keep awake. They did try. The parents were so extremely
anxious for their children that they did strive: but nature was
overpowered. After a few struggles, the children were sent to bed; and
in the very midst of a sentence, the mother's head would sink over her
work, and the father's down upon the table, in irresistible sleep. Both
had been very fond of chess, in former days: and the husband bade his
wife put away her work, and try a game of chess. But down went the
board, and off slid the men, in the middle of a game! Now,--what could
be done for the children's education here? In time, there was hope that
roads and markets would be opened where the produce of the farm might be
sold, and money obtained to send the children to schools, some hundreds
of miles off: or, at least, that neighbours enough might settle round
about to enable the township to invite a school-master. But what could
be done meantime?

So much might be, and was, done as would astonish people who think that
intellectual education means school learning. I do not at all wish to
extenuate the misfortune of these children in being doomed to write a
bad hand, if any; to be slow at accounts; to have probably no taste for
reading; and no knowledge, except by hearsay, of the treasures of
literature. But I do say that they were not likely to grow up ignorant
and stupid. They knew every tree in the forest, and every bird, and
every weed. They knew the habits of all domestic animals. They could
tell at a glance how many scores of pigeons there were in a flock, when
clouds of these birds came sailing towards the wood. They did not want
to measure distances, for they knew them by the eye. They could give
their minds earnestly to what they were about; and ponder, and plan, and
imagine, and contrive. Their faculties were all awake. And they obtained
snatches of stories from father and mother, about the heroes of old
times, and the history of England and America. They worshipped God, and
loved Christ, and were familiar with the Bible. Now, there are some
things here that very highly educated people among us might be glad to
be equal to: and the very busiest father, the hardest-driven mother in
England may be able, in the course of daily business, to rouse and
employ the faculties of their children,--their attention, understanding,
reflection, memory and imagination,--so as to make their intellects
worth more than those of many children who are successful at school.
Their chance is doubled if books are opened to them: but if not, there
is nothing to despair about.

I was much struck by a day's intellectual education of a little boy of
seven who was thrown out of his usual course of study and play. The
family were in the country,--in a house which they had to themselves for
a month, in beautiful scenery, where they expected to be so continually
out of doors that the children's toys were left at home. Some days of
unintermitting, drenching rain came; and on one of these days, the
little fellow looked round him, after breakfast, and said, "Papa, I
don't exactly see what I can do." He would have been thankful to say his
lessons: but papa was absolutely obliged to write the whole day; and
mama was up-stairs nursing his little sister, who had met with an
accident. His papa knew well how to make him happy. He set him to find
out the area of the house, and of every room in it. He lent him a
three-foot rule, showed him how he might find the thickness of the
walls, and gave him a slate and pencil. This was enough. All day, he
troubled nobody, but went quietly about, measuring and calculating, and
writing down;--from morning till dinner,--from dinner till supper: and
by that time he had done. When they could go out to measure the outside,
they found him right to an inch: and the same with every room in the
house.--This boy was no genius. He was an earnest, well-trained boy: and
who does not see that if he and his parents had lived in an American
forest, or in the severest poverty at home, he would have been, in the
best sense, an educated boy! He would not have understood several
languages, as he does now: but his faculties would have been busy and
cultivated, if he had never in his life seen any book but the
Bible.--Anxious parents may take comfort from the thought that nothing
ever exists or occurs which may not be made matter of instruction to the
mind of man. The mind and the material being furnished to the parents'
hands, it is their business to bring them together, whether books be
among the material or not.



In beginning a child's intellectual education, the parent must
constantly remember to carry on his care of the frame, spoken of in a
former chapter. The most irritable and tender part of a child's frame is
its brain; and on the welfare of its brain every thing else depends. It
should not be forgotten that the little creature was born with a soft
head; and that it takes years for the contents of that skull to become
completely guarded by the external bones, and sufficiently grown and
strengthened to bear much stress. Nature points out what the infant's
brain requires, and what it can bear; and if the parents are able to
discern and follow the leadings of nature, all will be well. The most
certain thing is that there is no safety in any other course.

In their anxiety to bring up any lagging faculty,--to cherish any weak
power,--parents are apt to suppose those faculties weak, for whose
development they are looking too soon. It grieves me to see
conscientious parents, who govern their own lives by reasoning,
stimulating a young child to reason long before the proper time. The
reflective and reasoning faculties are among the last that should
naturally come into use; and the only safe way is to watch for their
first activity, and then let it have scope. One of the finest children I
ever saw,--a stout handsome boy, with a full set of vigorous faculties,
was, at five years old, in danger of being spoiled in a strange sort of
way. The process was stopped in time to save his intellect and his
morals; but not before it had strewn his youthful life with difficulties
from which he need never have suffered. This boy heard a great deal of
reasoning always going on; and he seldom or never saw any children,
except in parties, or in the street. His natural imitation of the talk
of grown up people was encouraged; and from the time he could speak, he
saw in the whole world,--in all the objects that met his senses,--only
things to reason about. He gathered flowers, not so much because he
liked them as because they might be discoursed about. He could not shut
the door, or put on his pinafore when bid, till the matter was argued,
and the desired act proved to be reasonable. The check was, as I have
said, given in time: but he had much to do to bring up his perceptive
faculties and his mechanical habits to the point required in even a
decent education. He had infinite trouble in learning to spell, and in
mastering all the elements of knowledge which are acquired by the
memory: and his writing a good hand, and being ready at figures, or apt
at learning a modern language by the ear, was hopeless. He would
doubtless have done all these well, if his faculties had been exercised
in their proper order;--that is, in the order which nature
indicates,--and vindicates.

And now,--what is that order?

The Perceptive faculties come first, into activity. Do we not all
remember that colours gave us more intense pleasure in our early
childhood than they have ever done since? Most of us can remember back
to the time when we were four years old,--or three; and some even two.
What is it that we remember? With one, it is a piece of gay silk, or
printed cotton or china; or a bed of crocuses;--or we remember the feel
of a piece of velvet or fur, or something rough;--or the particular
shape of some leaf;--or the amazing weight of a globule of
quicksilver;--or the immense distance from one end of the room to the
other. I, for one, remember several things that happened when I was
between two and three years old: and most of these were sensations,
exciting passions. I doubt whether I ever felt keener delight than in
passing my fingers round a flat button, covered with black velvet, on
the top of a sister's bonnet. I remember lighting upon the sensation, if
one may say so; and the intense desire afterwards to be feeling the
button. And just at that time I was sent into the country for my health;
and I can now tell things about the first day in the cottage which no
one can ever have told to me. I tried to walk round a tree (an elm, I
believe), clasping the tree with both arms: and nothing that has
happened to-day is more vivid to me than the feel of the rough bark to
the palms of my hands, and the entanglement of the grass to my feet. And
then at night there was the fearful wonder at the feel of the coarse
calico sheets, and at the creaking of the turn-up bedstead when I
moved.--After I came home, when I was two years and nine months old, I
saw, one day, the door of the spare bed-room ajar, and I pushed it open
and went in. I was walking about the house because I had a pair of new
shoes on, and I liked to hear their pit-pat, and to make sure that I
could walk in them, though they were slippery. The floor of the
spareroom was smooth and somewhat polished; and it was--(at least to my
eyes--) a large room. I was half-frightened when I saw that the blinds
were down. But there was a fire; and standing by the fire, at the
further end, was an old woman--(or to me she looked old)--with a muslin
handkerchief crossed over her gown: and in her arms she held a bundle of
flannel. The curtains of the bed were drawn;--the fawn-coloured moreen
curtains with a black velvet edge, which I sometimes stroked for a
treat. The old woman beckoned to me; and I wished to go; but I thought I
could never walk all that way on the polished floor without a tumble. I
remember how wide I stretched out my arms, and how far apart I set my
feet, and how I got to the old woman at last. With her foot she pushed
forwards a tiny chair, used as a footstool, embroidered over with
sprawling green leaves; and there I sat down: and the old woman laid the
bundle of flannel across my lap. With one hand she held it there safe,
and with the other she uncovered the little red face of a baby. Though
the sight set every pulse in my body beating, I do not remember feeling
any fear,--though I was always afraid of everything. It was a passionate
feeling of wonder, and a sort of tender delight;--delight at being
noticed and having it on my lap, perhaps, as much as at the thing
itself. How it ended, I do not know. I only remember further seeing with
amazement, that somebody was in the bed,--that there was a nightcap on
the pillow,--though it was day-time. These details may seem trifling:
but, if we want to know what faculties are vigorous in infancy, it is as
well to learn, in any way we can, what children feel and think at the
earliest age we can arrive at. One other instance of vivid perception
stands out among many in my childhood so remarkably as to be perhaps
instructive: and the more so because I was not endowed with quick
senses, or strong perceptive powers, but, on the contrary, discouraged
my teachers by dullness and inattention, and a constant tendency to
reverie. I was always considered a remarkably unobservant child.

I slept with the nursemaid in a room at the top of the house which
looked eastwards: and the baby brother mentioned above, now just able to
walk, slept in a crib by the bedside. One summer morning I happened to
wake before sunrise, and thought it very strange to see the maid asleep;
the next thing I remember was walking over the boards with bare feet,
and seeing some little pink toes peeping out through the rails of the
crib. I gently pinched them, and somehow managed to keep the child quiet
when he reared himself up from his pillow; he must have caught some of
the spirit of the prank, for he made no noise. I helped him to scramble
down from the crib, and led him to the window, and helped him to
scramble upon a chair: and then I got up beside him; and, by using all
my strength, I opened the window. How chill the air was! and how hard
and sharp the window-sill felt to my arms! We were so high above the
street that I dared not look down; but oh! what a sight we saw by
looking abroad over the tops of the houses to the rising ground beyond!
The sun must have been coming up, for the night-clouds were of the
richest purple, turning to crimson; and in one part there seemed to be a
solid edge of gold. I have seen the morning and evening skies of all the
four quarters of the world, but this is, in my memory, the most gorgeous
of all, though it could not in fact have been so. I whispered all I
knew about God making the sun come up every morning; and I certainly
supposed the child to sympathise with me in the thrilling awe of the
moment: but it could not have been so. I have some remembrance of the
horrible difficulty of getting the window down again, and of hoisting up
my companion into his crib: and I can distinctly recal the feelings of
mingled contempt and fear with which I looked upon the maid, who had
slept through all this; and how cold my feet were when I crept into bed

Now, if this is what children are, it seems plain that the faculties by
which they perceive objects so vividly should be simply trained to a
good use. The parent has little more to do than to see that Nature is
not hindered in her working: to see that the faculties are awake, and
that a sufficient variety is offered for them to employ themselves upon.
Nothing like what is commonly called teaching is required here, or can
do anything but harm at present. If the mother is at work, and the
children are running in and out of the garden, it is only saying to the
little toddler, "Now bring me a blue flower;--now bring me a yellow
flower;--now bring me a green leaf." At another time, she will ask for a
round stone; or a thick stick; or a thin stick. And sometimes she will
blow a feather, and let it fall again: or she will blow a dandelion-head
all to pieces, and quite away. If she is wise, she will let the child
alone, to try its own little experiments, and learn for itself what is
hard and what is soft; what is heavy and light; hot and cold; and what
it can do with its little limbs and quick senses. Taking care, of
course, that it does not injure itself, and that it has objects within
reach in sufficient variety, she cannot do better, at this season of its
life, than let it be busy in its own way. I saw a little fellow, one
day, intently occupied for a whole breakfast-time, and some time
afterwards, in trying to put the key of the house-door into the key-hole
of the tea-caddy. When he gave the matter up, and not before, his mother
helped him to see why he could not do it. If she had taken the door-key
from him at first, he would have missed a valuable lesson. At this
period of existence, the children of rich and poor have, or may have,
about equal advantages, under the care of sensible parents. They can be
busy about anything. There is nothing that cannot be made a plaything
of, and a certain means of knowledge, if the faculties be awake. If the
child be dull, it must, of course, be tempted to play. If the faculties
be in their natural state of liveliness, the mother has only to be aware
that the little creature must be busy while it is awake, and to see that
it has variety enough of things (the simpler the better) to handle, and
look at, and listen to, and experiment upon.

The perceptive faculties have a relation to other objects than those
which are presented to the five senses. It is very well for children to
be picking up from day to day knowledge about colours and forms, and the
hardness and weight of substances, and the habits of animals, and the
growth of plants;--the great story, in short, of what passes before
their eyes, and appeals to their ears, and impresses them through the
touch: but there is another range of knowledge appropriate to the
perceptive faculties. There are many facts that can be perceived through
another medium than the eye, the ear, or the hand. Facts of number and
quantity, for instance, are perceived (after a time, if not at first)
without illustration by objects of sight or sound: and it is right, and
kind to the child, to help him to a perception of these facts early,
while the perceiving faculties are in their first vigour. There is no
hardship in this, if the thing is done in moderation: and in many cases,
this exertion of the perceptive faculties is attended with a keen
satisfaction. I have known an idiot child, perfectly infantine in his
general ways, amuse himself half the day long with employing his
perceptions of number and quantity. He, poor child, was incapable of
being taught anything as a lesson: he did not understand speech,--beyond
a very few words: but the exercise of such faculties as he had--(and the
strongest he had were those of Order, and Perception of number, quantity
and symmetry) was the happiness of his short and imperfect life: and
the exercise of the same faculties,--moderate and natural
exercise,--may make part of the happiness of every child's life.

It is very well to use the faculty of eye and ear as an introduction to
the use of the inner perceptions,--so to speak. For instance, it is well
to teach a child the multiplication-table, by the ear as well as the
understanding:--to teach it by rote, (as one teaches a tune without
words), as an avenue to the mystery of numbers: but the pleasure to the
pupil is in perceiving the relations of numbers. In the same manner, the
eye may be used for the same purpose; as when the mother teaches by pins
on the table, or by peas, or peppercorns, that two and two make four;
and that three fours, or two sixes, or four threes, all make twelve: but
the pleasure to the pupil is in perceiving the relations of these
numbers without pins or peppercorns,--in the head; and in going on till
he has mastered all the numbers in the multiplication-table,--perceiving
them in the depths of his mind, without light or sound,--without images
or words. Children who are capable of mental arithmetic delight in it,
before their minds are tired:--and the moment the mind is tired, the
exercise should stop.

About quantity, the same methods may be used. At first, there must be
measurement, to prove to the child the relation of quantities: but to
what a point of precision the mind may arrive, after having once
perceived the truth of quantities and spaces, is seen in the fact that
astronomers can infallibly predict eclipses centuries before they
happen. Another department of what is called exact knowledge comprehends
the relations of time. This is another case in which idiots have proved
to us that there is an inner perception of time,--a faculty which works
pleasurably when once set to work. One idiot who had lived near a
striking clock, and was afterwards removed from all clocks, and did not
know a watch by sight, went on to the end of his life imitating the
striking of the hour regularly, with as much precision as the sun marks
it upon the dial. Another who never had sense enough to know of the
existence of clock or watch, could never be deceived about the precise
time of day. Under all changes of place and households with their
habits, he did and looked for the same things at exactly the same moment
of every day. And by this faculty it is that even little children learn
the clock;--a process which, from its very nature, could never be
learned by rote. In these matters, again, the children of the poor can
be as well trained as those of the rich. Every where, and under all
circumstances, people can measure and compute. The boy must do it if he
is to practise any art or trade whatever; and in every household, there
is, or ought to be, enough of economy,--of measuring, and cutting out,
and counting and calculating, for the girl to exercise her faculty of
perception of number and quantity. The understanding of money is no mean
exercise, in itself. In one rank, we see the able builder, carpenter,
and mechanician, practised in these departments of perception: and in
another we see the astronomer detecting and marking out the courses of
the stars, and understanding the mighty mechanism of the heavens, as if
he had himself trodden all the pathways of the sky. It is wise and kind
to use the early vigour of these faculties--the powers which perceive
facts,--up to the limit of satisfaction, stopping short always of

This is the season too, and these are the faculties, to be employed in
learning by rote. Learning by rote is nothing of a drudgery now compared
with what it is afterwards;--for the ear is quick, the eye is free and
at liberty; the memory is retentive, and the understanding is not yet
pressing for its gratification. At this season too, as has been before
observed, the child does not look forward, nor comprehend what it is
attempting. The present hour, with its little portion of occupation, is
all that it sees: and it accomplishes vast things, bit by bit, which it
would never attempt if it knew the sum of the matter. No one would learn
to speak if he knew all that speech comprehends: yet every child learns
to speak, easily and naturally. Thus it is with every art, every
science, every department of action and knowledge. The beginning,--the
drudgery--should be got over at the time when it costs least fatigue.
And this is why we teach children early to read;--so early that, but for
this consideration, it is of no consequence whether they can read or
not. We do it while the eye is quick to notice the form of the letters,
and while the ear is apt to catch their sound, and before the higher
faculties come in with any disturbing considerations. My own opinion is
that, on account of the feebleness and uncertainty of the hand, writing
had better be taught later than it usually is;--that is, when the child
shows an inclination to draw or scribble,--to describe any forms on
slate or paper, or on walls or sand. But whatever depends mainly on eye,
ear, and memory, should be taught early, when the learning causes the
most gratification and the least pain. The help that this arrangement
gives to, and receives from, the formation of habits of regularity and
industry will come under notice when I speak hereafter of the Care of
the Habits.

According to what has been said, a child's first intellectual education
lies in varied amusement, without express teaching. This is while its
brain is infantine and tender, and its nature restless and altogether
sensitive. When it shows itself quieter and more thoughtful, it may be
expressly taught, a little at a time, with cheerful steadiness and
tender encouragement. What it should learn, a healthy well-trained child
will, for the most part, indicate for itself, by its inquiries, and its
pleasure in learning. What the parent has to impose upon it is that
which, being artificial, it cannot indicate for itself,--the art of
reading, and the names and forms of numbers, and such arrangements of
language as are found in simple poetry, or other useful forms which may
be committed to memory. It is impossible to lay down any rule as to the
age to be comprehended in this period; and it might be dangerous to do
so;--so various are the capacities and temperaments of children; but,
speaking quite indeterminately, I may say that I have had in view the
period, for ordinary children, from the opening of the faculties to
about seven years old.



Up to this point, and for some way beyond it, children are better off at
home than at school; and no parent should be induced to think otherwise
by what is seen to be achieved at Infant Schools. At some Infant
Schools, little children who can scarcely speak, are found able to say
and do many wonderful things which might make inexperienced mothers fear
that their little ones at home had not been done justice to, and must be
sadly backward in their education: but if the anxious mother will
consider a little, and keep on the watch, she will perceive that her
children are better at home. These Infant Schools were set on foot with
the most benevolent of intentions; and they are really a vast benefit to
a large class in society: but it does not follow that they afford the
best training for infants. In their very nature they cannot do so. When
we stand in the midst of such an assemblage, we feel what a blessing it
is that little creatures who would be locked up in garrets all day while
the parents were at work, liable to falls or fire, or who would be
tumbling about in the streets or roads, dirty, quarrelsome, and exposed
to bad company, should be collected here under safe guardianship, and
taught, and kept clean, and amused with harmless play: but we cannot
help seeing, at the same time, that there is something unnatural in the
method; and whatever is unnatural is always radically bad. Nature makes
households, family groups where no two children are of the same age, and
where, with the utmost activity, there is a certain degree of quietness,
retirement, and repose; whereas, in the Infant School there is a crowd
of little creatures, dozens of whom are of the same age; and quietness
can be obtained only by drilling, while play occasions an uproar which
no nerves can easily bear. The brain and nerves of infants are tender
and irritable; and in the quietest home, a sensible mother takes care
that the little creature is protected from hurry, and loud noises, and
fear, and fatigue of its faculties. She sees when it begins to look
pale, or turns cross or sick, and instantly removes it from excitement.
But it is impossible thus to protect each child in a school: and the
consequence is that the amount of mortality in Infant Schools, as in
every large assemblage of infants, is very great. There is no saying
whether as many might not perish from accident and some kind of misery,
if they were left in their garrets and street haunts; but the facts show
that home is the proper place for little children whose parents make a
real home for them; and no apparent forwardness of school infants can
alter the case.

In truth, school is no place of education for any children whatever till
their minds are well put in action. This is the work which has to be
done at home, and which may be done in all homes where the mother is a
sensible woman. This done, a good school is a resource of inestimable
advantage for cultivating the intellect, and aiding the acquisition of
knowledge: but it is of little or no use without preparation at home. So
at the age of which we speak, parents may be satisfied that they have
the matter in their own hands.

We have seen that the Perceptive faculties are the first of the
intellectual powers which act: and that there is plenty of material for
their exercise everywhere, and all day long.

The next set of faculties comes pretty early into operation, and so much
of the future wealth of the mind depends on their cultivation that they
ought to have the serious attention of parents. I refer to the
Conceptive faculties. The time has come when the child is perhaps less
intensely impressed by actual objects, while it becomes capable of
conceiving of something that it does not see. At this period, the little
boy drags about the horse that has lost head and tail and a leg or two:
and the little girl hugs a rag bundle which she calls her doll. The boy
does not want a better horse, nor the girl a real doll. The idea is
everything to them, by virtue of their conceptive faculty. Staring,
meagre pictures please them now,--better than the finest; and stories,
with few incidents and no filling up. The faculty is so vigorous, while,
of course, very narrow in its range, from the scantiness of the child's
knowledge, that the merest sketch is enough to stimulate it to action;
the rudest toys, the most meagre drawing, the baldest story. The
mother's business is now clear and easy. Her business is to supply more
and more material for these faculties to work upon:--to give, as
occasion arises, more and more knowledge of actual things, and furnish
representations or suggestions in the course of her intercourse with the
child. Nothing is easier; for in fact she has only to make herself the
child's cheerful companion: and in a manner which can go on while she is
employed in her household occupations, or walking in the fields or the
streets. The child asks a myriad of questions; and she must make some
kind of cheerful answer to them all, if she lets him talk at all. She
will often have to tell him that she does not know this or that; for a
child's questions reach far beyond the bounds of our knowledge: but she
must not leave him without some sort of answer to appease his restless
faculties. And his questions will suggest to her a multitude of things
to tell him which he will be eager to hear, as long as they hang upon
any thing real which he knows already. Stories and pictures (including
toys, which to him are pictures) are what he likes best; and she will
make either stories or pictures,--short and vivid,--of what she tells
him. The stories and pictures of her conversation must be simple and
literal; and so must any sketches she may make for him with pencil and
paper, or a bit of chalk upon the pavement. She may make four straight
strokes, with two horizontal lines above, and a circle for a head, and
call it a horse; and a horse it will be to him, because it calls up the
image of a horse in his mind. But if she draws it ever so well, and puts
wings to it, he will not like it half so much, even if she tells him
that its name is Pegasus, and there are some pretty stories about such a
horse. Perhaps he will be afraid of it.

There can scarcely be a stronger instance of the power of such a child's
conceptive faculty than in his own attempts to draw. He draws the cat,
or a soldier, and is in raptures with it. Mark his surprise when his
mother points out to him that the cat's head is bigger than her body,
and that the soldier is all legs and arms and gun, and has no body at
all. He sees this, and admits it, and draws a better one: but he would
not have found out for himself that there was anything amiss the first
time. The idea was complete in his mind; and he thought he saw its
representation on the paper, till his mother roused his perceptive
powers by making him observe the real cat and soldier, and their
proportions. I remember once being amused at seeing how very short a
time was necessary to bring the perceptive faculties into their due
relation to the conceptive. A little boy who had taken a journey, was
exceedingly delighted with the river-side inn at Ferry-bridge in
Yorkshire; and he must draw it. When he was a hundred miles further
north, he must draw it again: and diligently enough he persevered,
kneeling on a chair,--drawing the river and the bridge, and a house, and
a heap of coals,--each coal being round, and almost as big as the house.
When his paper was nearly all scrawled over, he went unwillingly away to
his dinner, from which he hastened back to his drawing. But O! what
consternation there was in his face, and what large tears rolled down
his cheeks, till he hid his face with his pinafore. He wailed and
sobbed:--"somebody had spoiled his drawing." When asked what made him
think so, and assured that nobody had touched it, he sobbed out "I'm
sure I never made it such a muddle." Before dinner, he saw his work with
the conceptive,--after dinner with the perceptive faculties; and it is
no wonder that he thought two persons had been at it.

Without going over again any of the ground traversed in the chapter on
Fear, I may just observe that at this period children are particularly
liable to fear. Almost any appearance suffices to suggest images; and
the repetition of any image invariably, at any time or place, is in
itself terrifying to those of older nerves than the children we are
thinking of. Now is the time when portraits seem to stare at the gazer,
and to turn their eyes wherever he moves. Now is the time when a crack
in the plaster of a wall, or an outline in a chintz pattern or a
paper-hanging, suggests the image of some monster, and perhaps makes the
child afraid of his room or his bed, while his mother has no perception
of the fact. The mother should be on the watch, without any appearance
of being so.

I have spoken of only the early stage of the activity of the conceptive
faculties. We see how it goes on in the appetite for fiction which is
common to all children,--in the eagerness of boys for books of voyages
and travels, and for playing soldiers, and school-master, and making
processions, while the girls are playing school-mistress, and dressing
up, and pretending to be the queen. The whole period is, or ought to be,
very precious to the parents; for it is the time for storing their
children's minds with images and ideas, which are the materials for the
exercise of the higher faculties at a later time. The simple method of
management is to practise the old maxim "Live and let live." The
mother's mind must be awake, to meet the vivacious mind of the child:
and she must see that the child's is lively and natural, and be careful
neither to over-excite it by her anxiety to be always teaching, nor to
baulk and depress it by discouraging too much its sometimes inconvenient
loquacity and curiosity. It is well that there should be times when
children of six and upwards should amuse themselves and one another
without troubling their elders; but a vivacious child must talk and
inquire a great deal every day, or, if repressed, suffer from some undue
exercise of its mental activity.

It should never be forgotten that the happier a child is, the cleverer
he will be. This is not only because, in a state of happiness, the mind
is free, and at liberty for the exercise of its faculties, instead of
spending its thoughts and energy in brooding over troubles; but also
because the action of the brain is stronger when the frame is in a state
of hilarity: the ideas are more clear; impressions of outward objects
are more vivid; and the memory will not let them slip. This is reason
enough for the mother to take some care that she is the cheerful guide
and comforter that her child needs. If she is anxious or fatigued she
will exercise some control over herself, and speak cheerfully, and try
to enter freely into the subject of the moment;--to meet the child's
mind, in short, instead of making his sink for want of companionship. A
rather low instance of the effect of the stimulus of joy in quickening
the powers occurred within my knowledge;--a rather low one, but
illustrative enough. A little girl, the youngest of her class at
school, did her French lessons fairly; but, as a matter of course, was
always at or near the bottom, while a tall girl, five years older,
clever and industrious, was always, as a matter of course, at the top.
One day, there happened to be a long word in question in the vocabulary,
which nobody knew but the little girl; so she went to the top. There was
not much excitement of ambition in the case: she felt it to be an
accident merely, and the tall girl was very kind to her;--there could
hardly be less of the spirit of rivalry in such a case than there was
here. But the joy of the child was great; and her surprise,--both at the
fact of her position, and at the power she found in herself to keep
it;--and keep it she did for many weeks, though the tall girl never
missed a word in all that time. The dull French vocabulary suddenly
became to the child a book of living imagery. The very letters of the
words impressed themselves like pictures upon her memory; and each word,
becoming suddenly interesting of itself, called up some imagery, which
prevented its being forgotten. All this was pleasant; and then there was
the comfort and security about the lesson being perfect. The child not
only hoped every day that she should get well through, but felt it
impossible that she should ever forget a word of it. When at last she
failed, it was through depression of spirits. While she was learning her
lesson at home, her baby-sister was ill, and crying sadly. It was
impossible to get any impression out of the book:--the page turned into
common French vocabulary again; and the next morning, not only the tall
girl stepped into her proper place, but the little one rapidly passed
down to her old stand at the bottom.

Children who read from the love of reading are usually supremely happy
over their book. A wise parent will indulge the love of reading, not
only from kindness in permitting the child to do what it likes best, but
because what is read with enjoyment has intense effect upon the
intellect. The practice of reading for amusement must not begin too
soon: and it must be permitted by very slow degrees, till the child is
so practised in the art of reading as to have its whole mind at liberty
for the subject, without having to think about the lines or the words.
Till he is sufficiently practised for this, he should be read to: and it
will then soon appear whether he is likely to be moderate when he gets a
book into his own hands.--My own opinion is that it is better to leave
him to his natural tastes,--to his instincts,--when that important
period of his life arrives which makes him an independent reader. Of
course, his proper duty must be done;--his lessons, or work of other
kinds, and his daily exercise. But it seems to me better to abstain from
interfering with that kind of strong inclination than to risk the evils
of thwarting it. Perhaps scarcely any person of mature years can
conceive what the appetite for reading is to a child. It goes off, or
becomes changed in mature years, to such a degree as to make the facts
of a reading childhood scarcely credible in remembrance, or even when
before the eyes. But it is all right; and the process had better not be
disturbed. The apprehension of a child is so quick, his conceptive
faculty is so ravenous for facts and pictures, or the merest
suggestions, and he is so entirely free from those philosophical checks
which retard in adults the process of reception from books, that he can,
at ten years old, read the same book twice as fast as he can,--if he
duly improves meanwhile,--twenty years later. I have seen a young girl
read Moore's Lalla Rookh through, except a very few pages, before
breakfast,--and not a late breakfast; and not a passage of the poem was
ever forgotten. When she had done, the Arabian scenes appeared to be the
reality, and the breakfast table and brothers and sisters the dream: but
that was sure to come right; and all the ideas of the thick volume were
added to her store. I have seen a school-boy of ten lay himself down,
back uppermost, with the quarto edition of "Thalaba" before him, on the
first day of the Easter holidays, and turn over the leaves,
notwithstanding his inconvenient position, as fast as if he was looking
for something, till, in a very few hours it was done, and he was off
with it to the public library, bringing back the "Curse of Kehama."
Thus he went on with all Southey's poems, and some others, through his
short holidays,--scarcely moving voluntarily all those days except to
run to the library. He came out of the process so changed, that none of
his family could help being struck by it. The expression of his eye, the
cast of his countenance, his use of words, and his very gait were
changed. In ten days, he had advanced years in intelligence: and I have
always thought that this was the turning-point of his life. His parents
wisely and kindly let him alone,--aware that school would presently put
an end to all excess in the new indulgence. I can speak from experience
of what children feel towards parents who mercifully leave them to their
own propensities,--forbearing all reproach about the ill manners and the
selfishness of which the sinners are keenly conscious all the while.
Some children's greediness for books is like a drunkard's for wine. They
can no more keep their hands off a beloved book than the tippler from
the bottle before him. The great difference as to the safety of the case
is that the child's greediness is sure to subside into moderation in
time, from the development of new faculties, while the drunkard's is
sure to go on increasing till all is over with him. If parents would
regard the matter in this way, they would neither be annoyed at the
excess of the inconvenient propensity, nor proud of any child who has
it. It is no sign yet of a superiority of intellect; much less of that
wisdom which in adults is commonly supposed to arise from large
book-knowledge. It is simply a natural appetite for that provision of
ideas and images which should, at this season, be laid in for the
exercise of the higher faculties which have yet to come into use.--As I
have said, I know from experience the state of things which exists when
a child cannot help reading to an amount which the parents think
excessive, and yet are unwilling, for good reasons, to prohibit. One
Sunday afternoon, when I was seven years old, I was prevented by illness
from going to chapel;--a circumstance so rare that I felt very strange
and listless. I did not go to the maid who was left in the house, but
lounged about the drawing-room, where, among other books which the
family had been reading, was one turned down upon its face. It was a
dull-looking octavo volume, thick, and bound in calf, as untempting a
book to the eyes of a child as could well be seen: but, because it
happened to be open, I took it up. The paper was like skim milk,--thin
and blue, and the printing very ordinary. Moreover, I saw the word
Argument,--a very repulsive word to a child. But my eye caught the word
"Satan;" and I instantly wanted to know how anybody could argue about
Satan. I saw that he fell through chaos, found the place in the
poetry;--and lived heart, mind, and soul in Milton from that day till I
was fourteen. I remember nothing more of that Sunday, vivid as is my
recollection of the moment of plunging into chaos: but I remember that
from that time till a young friend gave me a pocket edition of Milton,
the calf-bound volume was never to be found because I had got it
somewhere; and that, for all those years, to me the universe moved to
Milton's music. I wonder how much of it I knew by heart--enough to be
always repeating some of it to myself, with every change of light and
darkness, and sound and silence,--the moods of the day, and the seasons
of the year. It was not my love of Milton which required the forbearance
of my parents,--except for my hiding the book, and being often in an
absent fit. It was because this luxury had made me ravenous for more. I
had a book in my pocket,--a book under my pillow; and in my lap as I sat
at meals: or rather, on this last occasion it was a newspaper. I used to
purloin the daily London paper before dinner, and keep possession of
it,--with a painful sense of the selfishness of the act; and with a
daily pang of shame and self-reproach, I slipped away from the table
when the dessert was set on, to read in another room. I devoured all
Shakspere, sitting on a footstool, and reading by firelight, while the
rest of the family were still at table. I was incessantly wondering that
this was permitted; and intensely, though silently grateful I was for
the impunity and the indulgence. It never extended to the omission of
any of my proper business. I learned my lessons; but it was with the
prospect of reading while I was brushing my hair at bedtime; and many a
time have I stood reading, with the brush suspended, till I was far too
cold to sleep. I made shirts with due diligence,--being fond of sewing;
but it was with Goldsmith, or Thomson, or Milton open on my lap, under
my work, or hidden by the table, that I might learn pages and cantos by
heart. The event justified my parents in their indulgence. I read more
and more slowly, fewer and fewer authors, and with ever-increasing
seriousness and reflexion, till I became one of the slowest of readers,
and a comparatively sparing one.--Of course, one example is not a rule
for all; but the number of ravenous readers among children is so large,
and among adults so small in comparison, that I am disposed to consider
it a general fact that when the faculties, naturally developed, reach a
certain point of forwardness, it is the time for laying in a store of
facts and impressions from books which are needed for ulterior purposes.

The parents' main business during this process is to look to the quality
of the books read:--I mean merely to see that the child has the freest
access to those of the best quality. Nor do I mean only to such as the
parent may think good for a child of such and such an age. The child's
own mind is a truer judge in this case than the parents' suppositions.
Let but noble books be on the shelf,--the classics of our language,--and
the child will get nothing but good.

The last thing that parents need fear is that the young reader will be
hurt by passages in really good authors which might raise a blush a few
years later. Whatever children do not understand slips through the mind,
and leaves no trace; and what they do understand of matters of passion
is to them divested of its mischief. Purified editions of noble books
are monuments of wasted labour: for it ought to be with adults as it is
with children;--their purity should be an all-sufficient purifier.

The second stage in the Intellectual Education of the Household
children, then seems to be that in which the young creatures, having
learned to use their own limbs and senses, and acquired the command of
speech, begin to use their powers for the acquisition of materials for
future thought. They listen, they look about them, they inquire, they
read; and, above all, they dream. Life is for them all pictures.
Everything comes to them in pictures. In preparation for the more
serious work to come, the parent has chiefly to watch and follow
Nature;--to meet the requirements of the child's mind, put the material
of knowledge in its way, and furnish it with the arts necessary for the
due use of its knowledge and its nobler powers:--the arts of reading,
ready writing, and the recording and working of numbers; and the
knowledge of the grammar of some one language, at least. Besides this,
these best days of his memory should be used for storing up
word-knowledge, and technical rules, and, as a luxury after these dry
efforts, as much poetry as the pupil is disposed to learn; which will be
a good deal, if the selection is, in any degree, left to his own choice:
and some portion of it may well be so.

Thus far, here is nothing that may not be supplied in the most homely
Household in the land, where there is any value for the human intellect,
and any intention to educate the children. It is difficult to say what
more could be done in the school-room of a palace. The intellect of the
high and low is of the same nature, and developes itself in the same
modes. While its training depends on the love and good sense of parents,
as in this stage, it depends simply on the quality of the parents
whether the children of the palace or of the cottage are the better

    "No mystery is here; no special boon
    For high and not for low; for proudly graced,
    And not for meek of heart."



The time comes at last,--sooner with one child, later with
another,--when the superior faculties begin to show their activity; when
the young pupil attempts to reason, and should be helped to reason well.
The preparation for this time ought to have gone on during all the
preceding years, in the establishment of a perfect understanding between
his parents' minds and his own. He ought to have received nothing but
truth from them, in their intellectual, as in all their other
intercourse. What I mean is this. From the time he could speak, the
child has no doubt asked the Why of everything that interested him. Now,
no one knows the ultimate Why of anything whatever; and it is right to
say this to the inquirer,--telling him as much as he can understand of
the How; and it is but little that the wisest of us know of the How. For
instance, the little thing cries out "O! there is a robin!" "A robin!
and what is it doing?" "It is hopping about. It has picked up something.
O! it is a worm. What does it get the worm for?" "To eat it. Robins eat
a great many worms." "Why do they eat worms? Why does this robin eat
that worm?" "Because it is hungry." No intelligent child will stop here.
He will want to know why the robin does not eat anything rather than
worms; why the robin is hungry; and certainly he will sooner or later
wonder why there are robins at all. About these latter mysteries, the
parent knows no more than the questioner: and he should say so. He may
tell something of the how;--how the robin and all other living creatures
are impelled to eat; how food gives nourishment; and so on. He may or
may not, according to his judgment, give information, as far as he has
it himself: but it ought not to be a matter of choice with him whether
to put off a child with an unsatisfactory answer, or to declare
truthfully his own ignorance. He must never weary of replying "I don't
know," if fairly brought to this point, after telling what he does know.
If he tells all that is understood of a tree and its growth, so that he
thinks his child cannot possibly have more to ask, he will find there
are other questions still to come. "Why are trees green?" If they are
not all green, "Why is the red beech red, and the pine black?" "Why does
a tree grow, instead of being always tall?" "Why is John Smith handsome
while Tom Brown is ugly?" "Why do people exist when they could not tell
beforehand whether they should like it or not?" Now, it will not do, if
the child's mind is to be fairly dealt with, to give a dogmatical
answer; to put off the inquirer with a form of words, or any assurance
of anything that is not absolutely known to be true. "I do not know," is
the answer which parental fidelity requires. "Does anybody know?" is the
next question. "Nobody." "Shall I ever know?" "I don't think you will:
but you can try when you grow up, if you like." Of course, the child
determines to try when he is a man: and meantime, he is satisfied for
the present. There is an understanding between his parent and himself,
which will be of infinite use to him when his time comes for finding out
truth for himself by a comparison of abstractions;--that is, by

With some abstractions every child becomes early familiar; as the days
of the week. Perhaps the first which he is able to use for purposes of
reasoning are numbers. They are at least eminently useful as a link
between tangible objects and those which are ideal. A child sees on the
table that two pins added to two make four pins: and then that a button
and a thimble put down beside a marble and a halfpenny make four things,
as well as if they were all of the same sort. He thus receives into his
mind the abstract notion of numbers. Whenever by his own thought, or by
inquiry of others, he clearly sees that, because two sixes make twelve,
four threes must make twelve, he has begun to reason. He has found out
a truth by comparing an abstraction with an abstraction: that is, he has
begun to reason. Having begun,--having once satisfaction in grasping an
invisible truth in this way,--he will be disposed to go on: and I, for
one, would allow him to do so, at his own pace. Nothing can be more
foolish than to stimulate the reasoning faculties too early: but I do
not see why their natural action should be repressed because of a theory
that the reasoning faculties should not come into activity till such or
such an age. I know how painful such repression is to a thoughtful
child, and how useless is the attempt to stop the process, which will
only be carried on with less advantage, instead of being put an end to.
I knew a girl of eleven, thoughtful and timid, seldom venturing to ask
questions, or to open her mind about what occupied it most,--who, on
some unusual incitement to confidence during a summer evening walk,
opened a theme of perplexity, to get a solution from a grown-up brother,
whom she regarded as able to solve anything. She told him that she could
not see how, if God foreknew everything, and could ordain everything,
men could ever be said to sin against him, or be justly punished for
anything they did: and then she went on to the other particular of that
problem;--how, if God was all powerful to create happiness, and all good
to desire it, there came to be any suffering in the world. Her brother
answered her with kindness in his tone, but injudiciously. He told her
that that was a very serious question which she was too young to
consider yet; and that some years hence would be time enough. She was
dissatisfied and hurt;--not from pride; but because she felt it hard to
be left in a perplexity from which she fully supposed her brother could
relieve her. She felt that if she could ask the question,--thus put in a
definite form,--she must be capable of understanding the answer. And so
she undoubtedly was. If the brother held the doctrine of free will, he
should have replied that he did not know;--that he could not understand
the perplexity any more than herself. If he held the necessarian
doctrine, he should have imparted it to her; for her question showed
that she was capable of receiving it. The end of the matter was that she
suffered for years under that reply, never again venturing to propose
her difficulty to any one. She worked her way through the soluble half
of the question alone at last,--thinking first, and then reading, and
then meditating again, till all was clear and settled; and in her mature
years she found herself fast anchored on the necessarian
doctrine,--rather wondering how she could have been so long in
satisfying herself about a matter so clear, but aware that she had found
an inestimable gain;--which she might have reposed upon some years
earlier, if the natural working of her faculties had been trusted as it
might have been.

Our enjoyment of our faculties appears to me to be more proportioned to
their quality than their strength:--that, whether any one of us has the
reasoning power, or the imagination stronger or weaker than the
perceptive and conceptive faculties, he enjoys most the exercise of the
higher. Certainly, children whose faculties are developed freely and
fairly have an intense relish for reasoning, while the mind remains
unwearied. The commonest topics voluntarily chosen are conduct and
character; because the most familiar and interesting abstractions are
those which are connected with morals. How boys and girls will debate by
the hour together about the stoicism of Junius Brutus, and the
patriotism of Brutus and Cassius; and about all the suicides of all
Romans, and all the questionable acts of all heroes! The mother is the
great resource here, because she is always at hand; and these matters
are of such pressing importance to the little people, that they cannot
wait till their father comes in, or can give them some of his evening
leisure. These topics are good as an exercise of both the moral and
intellectual powers: but they do not yield full satisfaction to the
reasoning faculty, because they can never be brought to any certain and
evident issue. The conclusions of morals are clear enough for practical
guidance; but they are not proveable. For the full satisfaction of the
reasoning faculties, therefore, children must set to work
elsewhere.--They may get something of it out of their lessons in
grammar, if they are trusted with the sense of the grammar they are
taught: lighting upon an accusative case and a verb in a Latin sentence,
they know there must be a nominative: and there it is presently,
accordingly. Finding an ablative absolute, they are confident of finding
some sort of proposition: and there it is, to their hand. The words on
the page before them are as real to the sense as the written numerals on
their slates: but behind both there is a working of unseen
laws,--independent of the signification of either words or
numerals,--whose operation and issue it is a deep-felt pleasure to
follow and apprehend. The rules of grammar, and the laws of
numbers,--(the rules of arithmetic, in short,)--are abstractions
proceeding from abstractions; and their workings bring out a conclusion
clear to the pupil's apprehension, and unquestionable. This is all
exercise of the reasoning powers; and it is this exercise of those
powers, or the use of ear and memory only which makes the difference
between a pupil who learns grammar and arithmetic with the understanding
or by rote.

I once witnessed a curious instance of the difference between the
reasoning pupils of a class at school and the learners by rote. The test
was, I think, designed by the master to be a test; and it answered his
purpose even better than our strenuous exercises in grammar and
arithmetic. Our master proposed to give some of us an idea of English
composition, and said he would next week explain to us how to set about
it. Some of us, however, were all on fire with the idea of writing essays,
and were by no means disposed to wait. The next time our master entered
the school-room, eight or ten pairs of beseeching eyes were fixed upon him;
and he, being a good-natured man, asked what we wished. What we wanted
was to be allowed immediately to write an essay on Music. He had no
objection; but he asked for some precision in the object of the
essay;--proposed that it should be the Uses of Psalmody, or some such
topic, which could be treated in the limits of a school theme;--but no;
he saw by the faces and manner of the class that it must be an essay on
Music. I was the youngest of the class, who ranged from eleven to
sixteen: and I wondered whether the elder ones felt as I did when I saw
the little smile at the corners of the mouth, amidst the careful respect
of our kind master. I felt that we were somehow doing something very
silly, though I could not clearly see what. It was plain enough when we
brought up our themes. Our master's respect and kindness never failed:
and he now was careful to say that there was much that was true in each
essay; but----. We saw the "but" for ourselves, and were ready to sink
with shame; for nobody had courage to begin to laugh at our folly. Such
a mass of rhapsody and rhodomontade as we presented to our master! Such
highflying, incoherent nonsense! Each was pretty well satisfied with her
own rhapsody till she heard the seven or nine others read. "Now, perhaps
you perceive," our master began: and indeed we saw it all;--the lack of
order and object;--the flimsiness,--and our own presumption. We were now
more ready to be taught. Some, however, could not yet learn; and others
liked this lesson better than any they had ever attempted. This is the
difference which induces me to tell the story here. We were taught the
parts of a theme, as our master and many others approved and practised
them, in sermons and essays: and the nature and connexion of these parts
were so clearly pointed out, that on the instant it appeared to me that
a sudden light was cast at once on the processes of thought and of
composition,--for both of which I had before an indistinct and somewhat
oppressive reverence. I saw how the Proposition, the Reason, the
Example, the Confirmation, and the Conclusion led out the subject into
order and clearness, and, in fact, regularly emptied our minds of what
we had to say upon it. From that day till our school was broken up (and
my heart nearly broken with it) a year and a half afterwards, the joy of
my life was writing themes;--or rather composing them; for the act of
writing was terribly irksome. But that which some of us eminently
enjoyed was altogether burdensome to others, from the procedure of the
task being utterly unintelligible. I suppose their reasoning faculties
were yet unawakened,--though they were not so very young. The
Proposition they usually wrote down in the words in which our subject
was given to us;--the mere title of the theme. The Reason was any sort
of reason about any affair whatever,--the authors protesting that a
reason was a reason any day. The Examples were begged, or copied out of
any history book. The Confirmation was omitted, or declared to consist
in "the universal experience of mankind,"--whatever the subject might
be: and as for the Conclusion, that was easy enough:--it was only to say
that for all the reasons given, the author concluded so and so,--in the
words of the title. This was a case in which it would have been better
to wait awhile, till the meaning of the task and its method should dawn
upon the minds yet unready. But, for those who were capable, it was a
task of great pleasure and privilege; and we loved our master for
testing and trusting our faculties in a direction so new to us.

Those studies which require reasoning as a means to a proveable issue
are of a high order, as regards both profit and pleasure: and boys and
girls will be the better through life for whatever mathematical training
their parents can procure for them. Be it little or be it much, they
will have reason to be grateful as long as they live for what they can
obtain. I mention girls, as well as boys, confident that every person
able to see the right, and courageous enough to utter it, will sanction
what I say. I must declare that on no subject is more nonsense talked,
(as it seems to me) than on that of female education, when restriction
is advocated. In works otherwise really good, we find it taken for
granted that girls are not to learn the dead languages and mathematics,
because they are not to exercise professions where these attainments are
wanted; and a little further on we find it said that the chief reason
for boys and young men studying these things is to improve the quality
of their minds. I suppose none of us will doubt that everything possible
should be done to improve the quality of the mind of every human
being.--If it is said that the female brain is incapable of studies of
an abstract nature,--that is not true: for there are many instances of
women who have been good mathematicians, and good classical scholars.
The plea is indeed nonsense on the face of it; for the brain which will
learn French will learn Greek; the brain which enjoys arithmetic is
capable of mathematics.--If it is said that women are light-minded and
superficial, the obvious answer is that their minds should be the more
carefully sobered by grave studies, and the acquisition of exact
knowledge.--If it is said that their vocation in life does not require
these kinds of knowledge,--that is giving up the main plea for the
pursuit of them by boys;--that it improves the quality of their
minds.--If it is said that such studies unfit women for their proper
occupations,--that again is untrue. Men do not attend the less to their
professional business, their counting-house or their shop, for having
their minds enlarged and enriched, and their faculties strengthened by
sound and various knowledge; nor do women on that account neglect the
work-basket, the market, the dairy and the kitchen. If it be true that
women are made for these domestic occupations, then of course they will
be fond of them. They will be so fond of what comes most naturally to
them that no book-study (if really not congenial to their minds) will
draw them off from their homely duties. For my part, I have no
hesitation whatever in saying that the most ignorant women I have known
have been the worst housekeepers; and that the most learned women I have
known have been among the best,--wherever they have been early taught
and trained to household business, as every woman ought to be. A woman
of superior mind knows better than an ignorant one what to require of
her servants, how to deal with trades-people, and how to economise time:
she is more clear-sighted about the best ways of doing things; has a
richer mind with which to animate all about her, and to solace her own
spirit in the midst of her labours. If nobody doubts the difference in
pleasantness of having to do with a silly and narrow-minded woman and
with one who is intelligent and enlightened, it must be clear that the
more intelligence and enlightenment there is, the better. One of the
best housekeepers I know,--a simple-minded, affectionate-hearted woman,
whose table is always fit for a prince to sit down to, whose house is
always neat and elegant, and whose small income yields the greatest
amount of comfort, is one of the most learned women ever heard of. When
she was a little girl, she was sitting sewing in the window-seat while
her brother was receiving his first lesson in mathematics from his
tutor. She listened, and was delighted with what she heard; and when
both left the room, she seized upon the Euclid that lay on the table,
ran up to her room, went over the lesson, and laid the volume where it
was before. Every day after this, she sat stitching away and listening,
in like manner, and going over the lesson afterwards, till one day she
let out the secret. Her brother could not answer a question which was
put to him two or three times; and, without thinking of anything else,
she popped out the answer. The tutor was surprised, and after she had
told the simple truth, she was permitted to make what she could of
Euclid. Some time after, she spoke confidentially to a friend of the
family,--a scientific professor,--asking him, with much hesitation and
many blushes, whether he thought it was wrong for a woman to learn
Latin. "Certainly not," he said; "provided she does not neglect any
duty for it.--But why do you want to learn Latin?" She wanted to study
Newton's Principia: and the professor thought this a very good reason.
Before she was grown into a woman, she had mastered the Principia of
Newton. And now, the great globe on which we live is to her a book in
which she reads the choice secrets of nature; and to her the last known
wonders of the sky are disclosed: and if there is a home more graced
with accomplishments, and more filled with comforts, I do not know such
an one. Will anybody say that this woman would have been in any way
better without her learning?--while we may confidently say that she
would have been much less happy.

As for women not wanting learning, or superior intellectual training,
that is more than any one should undertake to say in our day. In former
times, it was understood that every woman, (except domestic servants)
was maintained by her father, brother or husband; but it is not so now.
The footing of women is changed, and it will change more. Formerly,
every woman was destined to be married; and it was almost a matter of
course that she would be: so that the only occupation thought of for a
woman was keeping her husband's house, and being a wife and mother. It
is not so now. From a variety of causes, there is less and less marriage
among the middle classes of our country; and much of the marriage that
there is does not take place till middle life. A multitude of women have
to maintain themselves who would never have dreamed of such a thing a
hundred years ago. This is not the place for a discussion whether this
is a good thing for women or a bad one; or for a lamentation that the
occupations by which women might maintain themselves are so few; and of
those few, so many engrossed by men. This is not the place for a
speculation as to whether women are to grow into a condition of
self-maintenance, and their dependence for support upon father, brother
and husband to become only occasional. With these considerations,
interesting as they are, we have no business at this moment. What we
have to think of is the necessity,--in all justice, in all honour, in
all humanity, in all prudence,--that every girl's faculties should be
made the most of, as carefully as boys'. While so many women are no
longer sheltered, and protected, and supported, in safety from the world
(as people used to say) every woman ought to be fitted to take care of
herself. Every woman ought to have that justice done to her faculties
that she may possess herself in all the strength and clearness of an
exercised and enlightened mind, and may have at command, for her
subsistence, as much intellectual power and as many resources as
education can furnish her with. Let us hear nothing of her being shut
out, because she is a woman, from any study that she is capable of
pursuing: and if one kind of cultivation is more carefully attended to
than another, let it be the discipline and exercise of the reasoning
faculties. From the simplest rules of arithmetic let her go on, as her
brother does, as far into the depths of science, and up to the heights
of philosophy as her powers and opportunities permit; and it will
certainly be found that the more she becomes a reasoning creature, the
more reasonable, disciplined and docile she will be: the more she knows
of the value of knowledge and of all other things, the more diligent she
will be;--the more sensible of duty,--the more interested in
occupations,--the more womanly. This is only coming round to the points
we started from; that every human being is to be made as perfect as
possible: and that this must be done through the most complete
development of all the faculties.



The young mind is very well entertained for a time by the exercise of
its reasoning powers,--if, instead of being baffled, they are encouraged
and trained. But, there is a higher set of faculties still which begin
to work ere long; and usually in such proportion to the reasoning powers
as would seem to indicate some connexion between them. Or it may be that
the moral fervour which gives great advantage to the reasoning powers is
exactly that which is essential to the development of the highest of
human faculties,--the Imagination. Certain it is that the children who
most patiently and earnestly search out the reasons of things,--either
looking deep into causes, or following them high up to consequences, are
those who most strongly manifest the first stirrings of the heavenly
power which raises them highest in the ranks of being known to exist.
They may, or they may not, have shown a power of Fancy before this time.
They may, or they may not, have manifested a strong conceptive faculty;
a power of forming images of objects already well known or clearly
described; but, if they can so think of unseen things, so compare them
and connect them, as to bring truth out at last,--if, in short, they
reflect and reason well, the probability is that they will prove to have
a good portion of the higher faculty of Imagination. At least, we may be
sure that a child of high imaginative faculty has good reasoning powers.

During the first exercise of the reasoning powers a child may, and
probably will, become thoughtful. He will look grave at times, and be
buried in reflection for awhile: but this gravity does not make him less
cheerful; and when he has done thinking about the particular thing his
head was full of, he is as merry as ever. But a little later, and his
thoughtfulness becomes something quite different from this. If there is
some mingling of melancholy with it, the parents must not be uneasy. It
is all natural, and therefore right. He is beginning to see and to feel
his position in the universe; to see and to feel that by the powers
within him he is connected with all that exists, and can conceive of all
that may exist: and his new consciousness gives a light to his eye and a
meaning to his countenance that were never seen there before. While he
was an infant, he was much like any other young animal for his
thoughtless and unconscious enjoyment of all the good things that were
strewed in his daily path. Then, he began to see deeper,--into the
reasons of things, and their connexions; and now he had become higher
than other young animals,--for they cannot perceive the truths of
numbers, or discover by thought anything not before known in any
science. But now, he has become conscious of himself; he can contemplate
himself as he can contemplate any other object of thought; and he is
occupied in connecting his own thoughts,--his own mind--with every
object of thought. It is upon his consciousness and his thoughts united
that his imaginative power has to act. By it, he sees everything in a
new light, and feels everything with a new depth: and though he often
finds this a glorious pleasure, he is sometimes much oppressed by it:
and then comes the kind of gentle melancholy before referred to.

See the difference, to the child of dull imagination, or of an age too
young for it, and the child superior in years or in faculty,--when they
contemplate Nature, or Human Life, or anything whatever;--when they read
the History of England, or Conversations on Chemistry, or Shakspere's
Plays, or anything you please. Show them the sky as you are coming home
at night. The one will learn to know the constellations as easily
perhaps as the other, and will show somebody else the next night which
is the Great Bear, and which is Orion: but the duller or younger child
sees nothing more than what is before its eyes; or, if told that all
those stars are worlds, believes it without seeing or feeling anything
beyond the mere fact as conveyed in the words. But at the same moment
the faculty of Imagination in the other child is kindling up within
him,--and kindling all his other powers. He sees, by his mind, far far
beyond the bounds of human measurement and the human sight;--sees the
universe full of rolling suns; worlds for ever moving in their circles,
and never clashing; worlds of which there are myriads vaster than our
own globe. All this he sees, not by gazing at the sky; for he sees it
better when his head is on his pillow,--or when his hands are busy with
some mechanical employment, the next day. If he feels how, with all his
busy mind and swelling heart, and whole world of ideas, he is yet but an
atom in this great universe, almost too small for notice, is not this
enough to make him thoughtful? and if there is a tinge of melancholy in
his seriousness, may it not be allowed for? Again, in reading the
History of England,--the duller or younger child may remember the kings,
and the great men, and the great battles, and the great famine and
plague; and perhaps almost all the events told: and, if he has some
considerable conceptive faculty, he may have pictures in his mind of the
ancient Britons, and then of King Alfred and his people; and then of the
Normans coming over and landing, and establishing themselves in our
island. But the superior child sees all this, and very much more. The
minds of all the people he reads of are as manifest to him as the
events of their lives. He feels the wild valour of the old Britons while
he reads of them; and his soul melts in reverence, and grief, and pity
for King Alfred; and then it glows with courage; and then it grows calm
with faith as he sees the courage and faith that were in King Alfred.
And so on, through the whole history. And even more than this. He sees
more than the individuals of whom he reads could see of themselves. The
kingdom and the nation are ideas in his mind, as vivid as his idea of
the personages he reads of. He feels when the nation is rising or
falling; rejoices when a great and good man,--a sage, or a patriot, or a
martyr--arises to bless his race, and burns with indignation and grief
when the wicked have their own way. Is there not something here to make
him thoughtful? and if there is a tinge of melancholy in his
seriousness, may it not be allowed for? Suppose these two to read
"Conversations on Chemistry," or "Scientific Dialogues,"--they will see
and feel as differently as in the former cases. The inferior child will
find some entertainment, and particularly if allowed to try chemical
experiments: but these experiments will be to him a sort of cookery;--a
putting things together, in order to succeed in producing some
result,--amusing or pretty. His smattering of Chemistry is to him now a
plaything, whatever it may become when he is wiser. But how different is
it with the elder one, whose awakened imagination now silently enters
with him into every chamber of his own mind and every scene of
nature--opening his vision with a divine touch, and showing him
everything in its vastness and its inner truth! He does not want to try
chemical experiments. He would rather think quietly of the great agents
of Nature, and see them, with the eye of his mind, for ever at their
work;--Heat, spreading through all things, and even hiding in the polar
ice;--Electricity, darting and streaming through all substances, and
being the life of all that lives; and the flowing together and mixing of
three airs to make air that we can breathe,--this flowing together and
mixing having gone on ever since there were breathing creatures on the
globe;--these great images, and those of the forces of the waters, the
pressure of the atmosphere, the velocities of motion,--the mechanical
action, in short, of the great forces of Nature, occupy and move him
more than any outward methods of proof of what has been laid open to
him. Or, if he tries experiments, the thing that impresses him is
something far higher than amusement:--it is wonder and awe, and perhaps
delight that he can put his hand in among the forces of Nature, and take
his share, and set Nature to work for him. Is it any wonder that his
heart throbs, and his eyes swim or kindle, and that he had rather think
than speak? And may he not be left undisturbed at such a moment, till
his mind takes a lower tone?

It is this faculty which has produced the highest benefits to the human
race that it has ever enjoyed. The highest order of men who have lived
are those in whom the power of Imagination has been the strongest, the
most disciplined, and the most elevated. The noblest gifts that have
been given to men are the ideas which have proceeded from such minds. It
is this order of mind alone that creates. Others may discover, and
adapt, and improve, and establish: but it is the imaginative order of
mankind that creates,--whether it be the majestic steam-engine, or the
immortal picture, or the divine poem. It should be a joyful thing to
parents,--though it must be a very serious one,--to see clear tokens in
any child of the development of this faculty,--the faculty of seeing
things invisible,--of "seeing things that are not as though they were."
If it is only of average strength, it is a true blessing, inasmuch as it
ennobles the views and the life of the individual, if its benefit
extends no further in a direct manner. If it appears in any marked
degree, the parents' hearts cannot but be elated, though they may be
anxious. It is a sign of natural nobility,--of a privilege higher than
hereditary or acquired honour: and greater than a monarch can bestow.
Through it, if it be rightly trained, its possessor must enjoy the
blessings of largeness of heart and wealth of mind, and probably of
being a benefactor, more or less, to his race.

Now,--what are the tokens of this endowment? and how should it be

When a young person's views extend beyond the objects immediately
presented to him, it is naturally seen in his countenance, manner,
speech and habits. The questions he asks, the books he reads, his
remarks on what he reads or hears, all show whether his mind is deeply
employed. He is probably a great reader; and if he has been religiously
brought up, he probably becomes intensely religious about the time of
the development of his higher faculties.--He must be treated with great
consideration and tenderness. If he is of an open disposition, apt to
tell of his day dreams and aspirations, there must be no ridicule,--no
disrespect from any part of the household. There ought to be none; for
it is pretty certain that any day dreams and aspirations of his are more
worthy of respect than any ridicule with which they can be visited. The
way to strengthen and discipline his mind is not, as we have often said
already, to repress any of its faculties, but to employ them well. In no
case is this management more important than in the present.

Now, in this important period of youthful life, it is the greatest
possible blessing if the son or daughter be on terms of perfect
confidence with the mother. It is a kind of new life to a mother who
has kept her mind and heart active and warm amidst her trials and cares,
to enter into sympathy with the aspirations and imaginations of her
ripening children. She has a keen enjoyment in the revival of her own
young feelings and ideas;--some of the noblest she has known: and things
which might appear extravagant at another time or from other persons,
will be noble and animating as coming from those whose minds,--minds
which she has watched from their first movements,--are now rapidly
opening into comparative maturity. To her, then, the son or daughter
need not fear to speak freely and openly. To her they may pour out their
admiration of Nature, their wonder at the sublimities of science; their
speculations upon character; their soundings in the abysses of life and
death; their glorious dreams of what they will be and do. The more she
sympathises with them in their intellectual pleasures and tendencies,
the more will her example tell upon them as a conscientious doer of the
small duties of life: and thus she may silently and unconsciously
obviate one of the chief dangers of this period of her children's lives.
If they see that the mother who glows with the warmth of their emotions,
and goes abroad through the universe hand in hand, as we may say, with
them, to note and enjoy all that is mighty and beautiful, all that is
heroic and sweet,--is yet as punctual in her everyday duty as the
merest plodder and worldling, they will take shame to themselves for any
reluctance that they feel to commonplace ideas and what seems to them
drudgery. Full confidence and sympathy are the first requisites of the
treatment of this period.

But the wise parent will have laid up material for the employment of the
imaginative faculty, long before it can appear in any strength. The
child will have been familiarised with a high and noble order of ideas;
and especially of moral ideas: for the picturesque or scientific will be
pretty sure to make themselves duly appreciated by the awakened ideal
faculties. Whatever the parent can tell of heroic conduct, of lofty
character, of the grave crises and affecting changes of human life, will
be so much material laid in for the virtuous and salutary use of those
awakening faculties which might otherwise be occupied in selfishness and
other mischief. Let the mind be abundantly ministered to. This may be
done in the most homely households where there is any nobility of mind.
Every parent has known some person who is noble and worthy of
contemplation for character and conduct. Every parent can tell some
moving or striking tale of a human lot. To all, the heavens and the
earth, the sea, and all that in them is, are open for contemplation. In
every household, there is the Bible: and in the houses of all who read
this, there is, no doubt, Milton, on the shelf beside the Bible. With
these parents have means enough for the education of their children's
highest faculties. In these they hold a greater treasure than any other
that can be found in royal abodes: and the kingdom of Nature is a field
which their children have free license to rove with the highest. Let
them have and enjoy these treasures abundantly. Let them read all tales
of noble adventure that can be obtained for them;--of the heroes that
have struggled through Polar ice and burning African sands; that have
sailed on past the horizon of hope in the discovery of new continents,
and have succeeded through faith, courage and patience. Let the reading
of good fiction be permitted, where the desire is strong. Some of the
highest interests of English history have been opened to the present
generation by the novels of Scott, as to many a preceding one by the
Plays of Shakspere. My own opinion is that no harm is done, but much
good, by an early reading of fiction of a high order: and no one can
question its being better than leaving the craving mind to feed upon
itself,--its own dreams of vanity or other selfishness,--or to seek an
insufficient nourishment from books of a lower order. The imagination,
once awakened, must and will work, and ought to work. Let its working be
ennobled, and not debased, by the material afforded to it.

In the parents' sympathy must be included forbearance; forbearance with
the uncertainty of temper and spirits, the extravagance of ideas, the
absurd ambition, or fanaticism or, (as it is generally called) "romance"
which show themselves more or less, on the opening of a strong
imaginative faculty. It should be remembered that the young creature is
half-living in a new world; and that the difficulty of reconciling this
beloved new world with the familiar old one is naturally very trying to
one who is just entering upon the struggles of the mind and of life. He
cannot reconcile the world and its ways and its people with the ideals
which are presenting themselves to him; and he becomes, for a time,
irritable, or scornful, or depressed. One will be fanatical, for a time,
and sleep on the boards, and make and keep a vow never to smile. Another
will be discontented, and apparently ungrateful, for a time, in the idea
that he might be a hero if he had certain advantages which are not given
him. Another looks down already on all his neighbours on account of the
great deeds he is to do by and by: and all are convinced,--every youth
and maiden of them all,--that nobody can enter into their
feelings,--nobody understand their minds,--nobody conceive of emotions
and aspirations like theirs. At the moment, this is likely to be true;
for their ideas and emotions are vast and stirring, beyond their own
power to express; and it can scarcely happen that any one is at hand,
just at the right season, to receive their out-pourings, and give them
credit for more than they can tell.--With all the consequences of these
new movements of the mind, the parents must have forbearance,--even to
the point (if it must be) of witnessing an intimacy with some young
companion, not very wise, who is the depository of more confidence than
is offered to those who should be nearest and dearest. These
waywardnesses and follies may have their day, and prove after all to
have been, in their way, wholesome discipline. Every waywardness brings
its smart; and every folly leaves its sting of shame in the mind that is
high enough to manifest any considerable power of imagination. They will
punish and cure themselves; and probably in a short time. Nature may be
trusted here, as everywhere. If we have patience to let her work,
without hindrance and without degradation, she will justify our
confidence at last. Give her free scope,--remove out of her way
everything that is low and sordid, and needlessly irritating, and
minister to her everything that is pure and gentle, and noble and true,
and she will produce a glorious work. In the wildest flights of haughty
and undisciplined imagination, the young aspirant will take heed enough
to the beauty and dignity of a lowly, and dutiful and benignant walk in
life, to come down and worship it when cruder visions have passed away.
It is only to wait, in gentleness and cheerfulness, and the wild
rhapsodist, or insolent fanatic will work his way through his snares
into a new world of filial, as well as other duty, and, without being
less of a poet, but because he is more of one, will be a better son and
brother and neighbour,--making his life his highest poem.

It will be said that we have here, in treating of the training of the
Intellectual faculties, recurred to the department of morals. And this
is true. No part of human nature can work in isolation; and when we
treat of any function by itself, it is for the convenience of our
understandings, and not as a following of nature. No intellectual
faculty can act independently of the moral; and the higher the
faculties, the closer we find their interaction; till we arrive at the
fact that Veneration, Benevolence, Hope, Conscientiousness and Firmness
cannot act to perfection except in company with a vigorous faculty of
Imagination, and strong Reflective powers: and again, that the Reasoning
and Imaginative powers can never work to their fullest capacity unless
the highest of the moral powers are as active as themselves. In all true
poetry, there is a tacit appeal to the sanction of Conscience, and
Veneration and Benevolence are the heavenly lights which rise upon the
scene: while, on the other hand, no Reverence is so deep, Benevolence so
pure, as those which are enriched by the profoundest Thought, and
refined and exalted by the noblest Idealism.

These truths bring us to a practical consideration as serious as any
which our minds can receive and dwell upon. My own sense of it is so
strong, and so confirmed by the experience of a life, that I feel that
if I had the utmost power of thought and language that were ever
possessed by the human being, I could do no justice to it:--that the
only means of improving the _morale_ to the utmost is by elevating the
ideal of the individual. It is well to improve the conduct, and satisfy
the conscience of the child by calling upon its resolution to amend its
faults in detail,--to control its evil tempers, and overcome its
indolence and laxity: but this is a temporary method, insufficient for
its ultimate needs. The strength of resolution fails when the season of
youth is past, or is employed on other objects; and it is rare, as we
all know, to see faults amended, and bad habits overcome in mature
years: and then, if improvement proceeds, radically and continuously, it
is by the mind being placed under good influences, operating both
powerfully and continuously. Of good influences, the most powerful and
continuous is the presence in the mind of a lofty ideal. This is the
great central fire which is always fed by the material it draws to
itself, and which can hardly be extinguished. When the whole mind is
possessed with the image of the godlike, ever growing with the expansion
of the intelligence, and ever kindling with the glow of the affections,
every passion is consumed, every weakness grows into the opposite
strength; and the entire force of the moral life, set free from the
exclusive care of the details of conduct, and from the incessant anxiety
of self-regards, is at liberty to actuate the whole harmonious being in
its now necessary pursuit of the highest moral beauty it can conceive
of. To this godlike inspiration, strong and lofty powers of Thought and
Imagination are essential: and if parents desire that their children
should be what they are made to be,--"but a little lower than the
angels,"--they must cherish these powers as the highest sources of moral



The importance of HABIT is an old subject; as old as any in morals. For
thousands of years, moralists and philosophers have written and preached
about it; and everybody is convinced by what they say. But I much doubt
whether, even yet, many penetrate into the depth of the matter.
Everybody sees, and everybody has felt the difficulty of breaking bad
habits, and that there is no security to virtue so strong as long-formed
good habits: but my observation compels me to think that scarcely
anybody is aware of the whole truth;--that every human being (except
such as are born defective) might be made perfectly good if his parents
were wise enough to do all that might be done by the power of Habit.
This seems a bold thing to say, but I am convinced that it is true.

I am aware that we cannot expect to see any parents wise enough to know
how to make the fullest use of this power: and perhaps there are none,
even of the tenderest parents, who can keep themselves up to an
incessant vigilance over their infants, without any carelessness or
flagging. Sometimes they are busy; sometimes they are tired; sometimes
they are disheartened. They are not perfectly wise and good themselves;
and therefore they must sink below the mark, more or less. But I am sure
it would be a great help to their strength, and vigilance, and
heartiness, if they could clearly see how easily their children may be
made anything they please.

The great points, for conscientious parents, are to be fully convinced
of the supreme importance of the formation of Habits, and to begin early
enough. If they will begin early enough, they will be sure to be
convinced. But a pretty strong conviction may be had beforehand, by
observation of the history and character of mankind.

Habits of Belief are the most important of all: and everybody thinks so:
and of all Beliefs those which relate to Duty,--those which are called
religious--are the highest. Now look round the world, and see how many
individuals you can find who have inquired out for themselves what they
think they believe. As for nations,--a nation of independent thinkers is
a thing never dreamed of. Such a spectacle as that has never been seen
in the wildest visions of the most sanguine of poets and moralists. I
have travelled among heathens, Mohammedans, Jews, and many kinds of
Christians; and I have found them all believing what they were taught,
before they could reason, to hold as sacred truth; and this was exactly
what their teachers were themselves taught to suppose (for one cannot
call this Belief) in the same manner. The Red Indian, on the shores of
the American lakes, and on the wide prairie, is brought up, from the
time he can understand language at all, to believe that there is a Great
Spirit who lives far away over the waters or beyond the forests, who is
jealous and angry if the people do not offer to him whatever they like
best;--who forbids them to touch whatever he wants for himself;--who has
favourites among their warriors, and is most pleased with those who most
torture their bodies, to show their bravery. The Indian believes in a
good many inferior spirits, who do him good or harm, and mingle more in
his affairs than the Great Spirit does. This is the Indian way of
thinking; and every Indian child grows up to think in the same way, upon
the whole, though one may be more sure than another of one or another
part of the doctrine. No one of the whole tribe asks for any proof that
things are so. The early habit of taking these doctrines for granted, as
something solemn and sacred, which somebody must have known for true a
long time ago, prevents any one but a thoughtful person here and there
ever inquiring whether there is really any knowledge existing about the
matter at all, or only superstition. Then, there are the Jews. Not one
Jew in ten thousand ceases to be a Jew in religion; and nobody out of
the Jewish body ever gets to think as they do;--to hold their
doctrines, and their traditions, and their superstitions. Next, in order
of time, come the Christians. There are many bodies of Christians,
differing as much from one another as if they held faiths called by
different names. There are the Christians of the Greek Church,
worshipping many gods under the name of saints;--some thinking it
blasphemy not to adore the Emperor of Russia next to God, and some
paying their first homage to the Virgin with Three Hands. There are the
Christians of the Romish Church, who are shocked at the Emperor of
Russia for not being one of them; and shocked at the Protestants for not
worshipping the bones and toe-nails of _their_ saints. And there are the
Protestant Christians, who are shocked at the superstitions of the
Romish Church on the one hand, and at the doctrines of every Protestant
sect but their own, on the other. Then come the Mohammedans, who think
it exactly as impious in all Christians not to receive Mohammed, their
prophet, whom they think a greater than Christ, as the Christians think
it impious in the Jews not to receive Christ, whom they hold to be
greater than Moses. The children of all these multitudes, (except in an
extremely rare case, here and there) receive what they are early told,
as their parents received it before them; and no one supposes that any
one of those vast multitudes would think and feel as he does on matters
of religion if he were not early habituated to think and feel as he
does. Can we imagine any one of ourselves, concluding for ourselves, for
instance, that the most solemn and sacred of human duties was to go
through a set of prostrations and gestures, like those of the
Mohammedans, five times a day as long as we live, unless we were taught,
from early infancy, to consider such acts to be in the highest degree
virtuous? Can we imagine ourselves thinking, as the Mohammedans do, that
every man who does not go through this set of gestures five times every
day, is careless about goodness altogether,--is an Infidel (which is the
Mohammedan name for a Christian)--is wicked, and must be cast into hell?
More persons in the world believe this than believe in the gods of the
Red Indian, and the faith of the Jews, and the doctrines of all bodies
of Christians put together. Yet it is incredible that any man would so
believe,--so undoubtingly, so solemnly, if he had not been habituated to
such a belief from the very beginning. If the beliefs of the majority of
mankind are thus dependant upon habit,--if their faith and their views
of duty and happiness,--(the most important of all views) have this
origin, how is it possible to overrate the importance of Habit? If,
turning away from the Greek Christians and the Mohammedans, we
contemplate in our imagination a large sect or nation who should have
been habituated, from the first dawning of intelligence, to regard
perfect goodness as the most sacred and solemn and beautiful thing that
the human mind can conceive of,--as a thing the most interesting and
important to every human being,--and a thing within the reach of every
one of us, is it conceivable that such a people would not be the most
virtuous ever seen on earth? Let it not be said that children are so
taught,--that such is the habit of their minds in our Christian country:
for alas! it is very much otherwise. They are occasionally told, indeed,
that Christ desired his followers to be perfect as their Father in
heaven is perfect; but this is not the aim steadily and cheerfully set
before any child, as a hopeful enterprise,--as the best thing in the
world, and as a thing which must be done. No child sees that this object
is what his parents are living for, in comparative disregard of
everything else; and that this is what he ought to live for, and is
expected certainly to accomplish, according to his means. While he is
told, and pretty often, that the best thing in the world is to be good,
he is habituated, by what he sees and hears almost all day long, to
believe that it is a hopeless thing to become perfectly good, and that
everybody tries, in fact, for something else, with more zeal and
expectation;--to get knowledge, to get reputation, to get employment and
comfort,--to get all manner of pleasant things by their own desires and
exertions, while they trust that some power will make them good, without
that unremitting desire and exertion on their parts which alone can make
them so.

I have before me the Remarks of a conscientious and affectionate father
on the essential and unlimited power of Habit in the rearing of
Children;--a truth which he had heard of all his life, but never fairly
estimated till he had employed his energies on the education of his own
family. I do not know who he is; but I see by the pamphlet before me[A]
that he is earnest and intelligent, and qualified to speak from
experience. Earnest he must be, for it appears that it was his constant
habit, during the infancy of his children, to rise in the night, to see
that they were well, and sleeping peacefully: and he invariably went
with them to school, and met them at the school door, to bring them home
again,--more than a mile,--though he was a busy man,--obliged to work
for their bread and his own. This earnest observer says "I now repeat
the opinion that every child born, not insane or idiotic, might, to a
moral certainty, be trained to be a gentle, a benevolent, and a pious
adult. Of the correctness of this opinion I have long ceased to have any
doubt. Holding this opinion to be positively correct, I next held that
the universal belief of its correctness would soon lead to an amount of
improvement in the several conditions of human existence that would
exceed even my own sanguine expectations. The encouragement which this
belief would give to parents would bring into active and affectionate
exertion an amount of attention and devotion to the training of the
infant feelings and propensities of their offspring, such as heretofore
has never been exercised, or perhaps ever imagined. I would, therefore,
spread this belief among all mankind, by every means in my power to
employ, and with it my opinions of the kind of teaching, or rather
training, by which such blessed results might be produced. To describe
this kind of teaching, or training, is not at present in my power to do,
to a due extent. I will but give one brief rule, namely, 'What you wish
a child to be, be that to the child.' And I would impress upon the mind
of the mother, the nurse, or other teacher, the importance of so
training each desire or propensity as to bring it as early as possible
into habitual obedience to the dictates of the religious and moral
sentiments,--those sentiments being guided by the enlightened intellect
of such mother, nurse, or teacher. These teachers should be aware of the
fact that the mind of a child is continually acquiring habits of
thought, as its limbs are habits of action, whether by the spontaneous
and unguided efforts of its own mind and body, or by following the
training of those having the care of it. They should be continually
improving themselves in the art of so guiding the infant dispositions,
and the exercises and actions of their charge as to form the disposition
_as early as possible_; and this course of training would effectually
preserve the child _from every approach to the formation of any other
habits than those inculcated by the teacher_."--(Remarks, &c., pp. 11,

      [A] "Remarks on the Advantages of early Training and Management
      of Children." By a Colonist. Ollivier, 59, Pall-Mall.

Next to the Beliefs established by early habit, come the propensities.
Under this head, nothing more can be necessary than to relate an
anecdote which teaches much more eloquently than any thing I can say out
of my own convictions. In North America, a tribe of Indians attacked a
white settlement, and murdered the few inhabitants. A woman of the
tribe, however, carried away a very young infant, and reared it as her
own. The child grew up with the Indian children, different in
complexion, but like them in every thing else. To scalp the greatest
possible number of enemies was, in his view, the most glorious and happy
thing in the world. While he was still a youth, he was seen by some
white traders, and by them conducted back to civilised life. He showed
great relish of his new way of life, and, especially, a strong desire of
knowledge, and a sense of reverence which took the direction of
religion; so that he desired to become a clergyman. He went through his
college course with credit, and was ordained. He fulfilled his function
well, and appeared happy and satisfied. After a few years, he went to
serve a settlement somewhere near the seat of war, which was then going
on between Great Britain and the United States; and before long, there
was fighting not far off. I am not sure whether he was aware that there
were Indians in the field, (the British having some tribes of Indians
for allies,) but he went forth to see how matters were going;--went
forth in his usual dress,--black coat, and neat white shirt and
neckcloth. When he returned, he was met by a gentleman of his
acquaintance, who was immediately struck by an extraordinary change in
the expression of his face;--by the fire in his eye, and the flush on
his cheek;--and also by his unusually shy and hurried manner. After
asking news of the battle, the gentleman observed, "but you are
wounded.--Not wounded!--why, there is blood upon the bosom of your
shirt." The young man crossed his hands firmly, though hurriedly upon
his breast; and his friend, supposing that he wished to conceal a wound
which ought to be looked to, pulled open his shirt and saw--what made
the young man let his hands fall in despair. From between his shirt and
his breast, the gentleman took out--a bloody scalp. "I could not help
it," said this poor victim of early habit, in an agonised voice. He
turned, and ran too swiftly to be overtaken; betook himself to the
Indians, and never more appeared among the whites. No one supposes that
there was any hypocrisy in this man while he was a clergyman. No one
doubts that he would have lived a contented life of piety, benevolence
and study, if he had never come within sight or sound of war. When he
did so, up rose his early habitual combative and destructive
propensities, overthrowing in an instant all later formed convictions
and regenerated feelings. By the extent of victory here, we may form
some idea of the force of early Habit, or be duly warned by the question
whether we can form any idea of it.

The first habit to be formed is,--as is self-evident,--that of
obedience; for this is a necessary preliminary to the formation of all
other habits. If mothers would but believe it, there is nothing in the
world easier than to form a habit of implicit obedience in any child.
Every child,--dependant and imitative,--is obedient as a matter of
course if nature is not early interfered with, and put out of her way.
Every one must see that good sense on the part of the mother is
absolutely necessary,--to observe what the course of nature is, and to
adapt her management to it. For instance,--there is no way in which
infants are more frequently, or so early, taught disobedience as by
being teased for kisses. The mother does so love her infant's kiss,--to
see the little face put up when the loving desire is spoken,--that she
can never have enough of it. But her sense, and her sympathy with her
little one show her that it is not the same thing with the child. Well
as it loves caresses in due measure, it can easily be fretted by too
many of them; and if the mother persists in requiring too many while the
infant is eager after something else, she will first have to put up with
a hasty and reluctant kiss, and will next have to witness the struggles
of the child to avoid it altogether. If too young to slip from her arms,
he will hide his face:--if he can walk, he will run away, and not come
back when she calls. She has made him disobedient by asking of him more
than he is yet able to give. If the training begins by pleasantly
bidding him do what it is easy and pleasant to him to do, he will do it,
as a matter of course. When it is to him a matter of course to do as he
is bid, he will prove capable of doing some things that he does not
like,--if desired in the usual cheerful and affectionate tone. He will
go to his tub in the cold morning, and take physic, and be quiet when he
wants to romp;--all great efforts to him. And he will get on, and become
capable of greater and greater efforts, if his faculties of opposition
and pride be not roused by any imprudence, and if his understanding be
treated with due respect by the appeals to his obedience being such only
as are moderate and reasonable.

He must be left as free as reason and convenience allow, that his will
may not be too often crossed, and his temper needlessly fretted. What
he is not to have, but would certainly wish for, must be put out of his
sight, if possible. If there are any places where he must not go, he
should see it to be impossible to get into them:--for instance, it is
better that the fire should be well guarded than the child forbidden to
go upon the rug;--and in either case, his gay playthings should not
stand on the mantel-piece, tempting him to climb for them.--And so
on,--through the round of his day. Let his little duties and obligations
be made easy to him by sense and sympathy on the part of his parents;
and then let them see that the duty is done,--the obligation fulfilled.

All this is easy enough; and certainly, from all that I have ever been
able to observe, I am convinced that success,--perfect success in
forming a habit of obedience is always possible. Where a whole household
acts in the same good spirit towards the little creature who has to be
trained,--where no one spoils him and no one teases him,--he will obey
the bidding of the voice of gentle authority in all he does, as simply
as he obeys the bidding of Nature when he eats and sleeps.

So much for this preliminary habit, which is essential to the formation
of all others that the parents wish to guide and establish. I will now
speak briefly of the Personal and Family Habits which are the
manifestation of those conditions of mind of which I have treated in my
preceding chapters.



It requires some little consideration to feel sufficiently that it is as
necessary to be explicit and earnest about the personal habits of
children as about their principles, temper, and intellectual state. Our
personal habits have become so completely a second nature to us, that it
requires some effort to be aware how far otherwise it is with the
young,--how they have every thing to learn; and what a serious thing it
is to everybody at some time of his life to learn to wash his own face
and button his own jacket. The conviction comes across one very
powerfully in great houses, where little lords and ladies are seen to
need teaching in the commonest particulars of manners and habits, as
much as any young creatures about a cottage door. Every one knows this
as a matter of fact; but still, there is something odd in seeing
children in velvet tunics and lace frocks, and silk stockings and satin
shoes, holding up their little noses,--or _not_ holding them up--to the
maternal pocket-handkerchief; or dropping fruit-stones and raisin-stalks
into papa's coat-collar, by climbing up behind his chair. To see this
natural rudeness in those to whom consummate elegance is hereafter to
appear no less natural, makes one thoughtful for the sake of such as are
to remain comparatively rude through life; and also because it reminds
one that there is nothing in regard to all personal habits, that
children have not to learn.

It is so very serious a matter to them,--the attainment of good personal
habits,--that they ought to be aided to the utmost by parental
consideration. This consideration is shown first in the actual help
given to the child by its mother's hands; and afterwards by making all
the arrangements of the household as favourable as possible to good
habits in each individual.

The tender mother makes the times of washing and dressing gay and
pleasant to her little infant by the play and caresses which she loves
to lavish even more than the child delights to receive. She can hardly
overvalue the influence of these seasons on the child's future personal
habits. Hurry, rough handling, silence, or fretfulness may make the
child hate the idea of washing and dressing, for long years afterwards;
while the associations of a season of play and lovingness may help on
the little creature a long way in the great work of taking care of its
own person. When the time comes,--the proud time,--when it may stand by
itself to wash, the pride and novelty help it on; and it is rather
offended if help interferes, to prevent its being exposed too long to
the cold. All this is very well; but there comes a time afterwards when
the irksomeness of washing and dressing, and cleaning teeth, and
brushing hair, becomes a positive affliction to some children, such as
no parents that I have known seem to have any idea of. We grown people
can scarcely remember the time when these operations were not to us so
purely mechanical as that our minds are entertained by ideas all the
time, as much as if we were about any other business. But children are
not so dexterous, in the first place; in the next, all labour of which
they know the extent is very oppressive to them: and again, any
incessant repetition of what they in any degree dislike is really
afflictive to them. We must remember these things, or we shall not
understand the feebleness of will which makes a boy neglect some part of
his morning washing, and a girl the due hair-brushing in the evening,
though both are aware that they suffer more in conscience as it is, than
they could from the trouble, if they could rouse themselves to do the
business properly. I have known one child sick of life because she must,
in any circumstances, clean her teeth every day;--every day for perhaps
seventy years. I have known of a little boy in white frocks who sat
mournfully alone, one autumn day, laying the gay fallen vine-leaves in a
circle, and thinking how tired he was of life,--how dreadfully long it
was, and full of care. Its machinery overpowered him. I knew a girl, old
enough to be reproached for the badness of her handwriting,--(and she
was injudiciously reproached, without being helped to mend it)--who
suffered intensely from this, and even more from another grief;--she had
hair which required a good deal of care, and she was too indolent to
keep it properly. These were the two miseries of her life; and they did
make her life miserable. She did not think she could mend her
handwriting; but she knew that she might have beautiful hair by brushing
it for ten minutes longer every night: yet she could not do it. At last,
she prayed fervently for the removal of these two griefs,--though she
knew the fable of the Waggoner and Hercules. Now,--in cases like these,
help is wanted. Remonstrance, disgrace, will not do, in many cases where
a little sympathy and management will. Cannot these times be made
cheerful, and the habit of painful irresolution broken, by putting the
sinner into the company of some older member of the family, or by
employing the thoughts in some pleasant way while the mechanical process
is going on?--I mean only while the difficulty lasts. When habits of
personal cleanliness have become fixed and mechanical, it is most
desirable (where it can by any means be managed) for each child to be
alone,--not only for the sake of decency, but for the benefit of the
solitude and silence, morning and night, which are morally advantageous
for everybody old enough to meditate.

I fear it is still necessary to teach and preach that nobody has a right
to health who does not wash all over every day. This is done with
infants; and the practice should never be discontinued. Every child of a
family should look upon this daily complete washing in cold water as a
thing as completely of course as getting its breakfast. There was a
time, within my remembrance, when even respectable people thought it
enough to wash their feet once a week; and their whole bodies when they
went to the coast for sea-bathing in August. In regard to popular
knowledge of the Laws of Health, our world _has_ got on: and, after the
expositions, widely published, of those who enable us to understand the
Laws of Health, we may hope that washing from head to foot is so regular
an affair with all decent people as to leave no doubt or irresolution in
children's minds about how much they shall wash, any day of the
year.--As for the care of the teeth,--parents ought to know that, in the
opinion of dentists, all decay of the teeth proceeds from the bone of
which the teeth are composed not being kept purely clean and bright.
This happens oftenest when teeth overlap, or grow so that every part
cannot be reached. Much of this may be remedied, if not all of it, by
early application to a dentist. But parents to whom this precaution is
impossible can do much to save their children from future misery from
toothache, and indigestion through loss of teeth, by seeing that the
tooth-scrubbing is properly performed. This is more important than the
polishing of knives and brass knockers.--As for the brushing of a girl's
long hair, it really is a very irksome business till it becomes
mechanical; and a mother may consider a little effort at amusement well
bestowed till the habit of doing it properly is securely formed, and the
mind is rich enough to entertain itself the while.

Readers begin to yawn or skip when they meet, in any book, with praises
of early rising. Yet how can I pass over this particular of personal
habits, when I think it of eminent importance?--I believe it is rare to
see such early rising as I happen to think desirable. I believe it is
rare to see families fairly at their daily work by eight o'clock,--after
having had out-door exercise and breakfast; and this, every morning in
the year. The variety of objects presented for the observation and
enjoyment of children (and of everybody else) in the early morning
hours, far surpasses that which can be seen at any other time of day.
Even town-bred children can see more pure sky, and quieter streets, and
the country seems to have come nearer. And in the country, there are
more animals abroad,--more squirrels, more field mice, more birds, than
at noon or in the evening. The rooks fly higher in the dawn than at any
other time; the magpies are bolder and droller; the singing birds in
the thickets beyond measure more gleeful; and one need not tell that
this is the hour for the lark. All except very young children can keep
themselves warm in the mid-winter mornings, and will enjoy the delight
of being out under the stars, and watching the last fragment of the
moon, hanging over the eastern horizon, clear and bright in the breaking
dawn. When these children come in, warm, rosy, and hungry, at seven
o'clock, or half-past, and sit down to their breakfast, they seem hardly
of the same order of creatures with such as come sauntering down from
their chambers, when their parents have half done their
meal;--sauntering because they are tired with dressing, or have had bad
dreams, and have not recovered their spirits. And what a difference it
makes in the houses of rich and poor whether the breakfast things are
standing about till nearly ten o'clock, or whether the family have by
that time been at work for nearly two of the brightest, and freshest,
and quietest, hours of the day!

In every industrious household there should be a bell. This is an
admonition which tries no tempers, and gives no personal offence. If the
father himself rings the family up in the mornings, it is a fine thing
for everybody. If he cannot,--if he is too weary with his day's work for
early rising, or if the mother is disturbed with her baby in the
night,--if neither parent can be early in the morning, then let it not
be insisted on that the children shall be so. It is a less evil that
they should forego all the advantages of early rising than that any
contest on the subject should take place between them and their parents.
I have seen cases where the parents could not, or did not, appear till
nine o'clock or later, but yet made it a point of conscience with the
children to be early;--with the most disastrous effect. The children
were conscientious, and they did try. When they now and then succeeded,
they were satisfied and triumphant, and thought they should never fail
again. But the indolence of the growing season of life was upon them:
and there was the languor of waiting for breakfast. In the summer
mornings, they were chilly and languid over their books; and in the
winter, the fire made them sleepy. They grew later and later; they were
rebuked, remonstrated with,--even warned against following the example
of their parents: but they sank deeper into indolence. At last, the
suffering of conscience became so great that it was thrown off by a most
audacious effort. I happened to be a witness to the incident; and I have
never lost the impression of it. The two girls were only half-dressed at
half-past eight. They heard their mother's door open, and looked at each
other. She came (herself only half-dressed) to say that she had been
defied long enough, and she _would_ be obeyed. She slapped them
heartily. As she shut the door, the younger sister, all horror and
dismay, stole a look at the elder. The elder laughed; and the younger
was evidently delighted to join. I saw, on the instant, that it was all
over with the mother's authority. The spirit of defiance had risen, and
burst the bonds of conscience. Late rising,--the very latest,--curse as
it is,--is better than this. What a struggle is saved in such
cases--what a cost of energy, and health, and conscience, by a complete
establishment of good habits, through the example of the parents! If the
father be but happy enough to be able to take out his little troop into
the fields, or merely for a stretch along the high road, in the
freshness of the morning, what a gain there is on every hand! He has the
best of their affections, if he can make himself their companion at this
most cheery hour of the day; and they will owe to him a habit which not
only enhances the enjoyment of life, but positively lengthens its
duration. Then, after their walk of a mile or two, they find mother and
breakfast awaiting them at home,--the house in order and already aired;
and everything ready for business when the morning meal is done. They
are in the heart of their work, whatever it be, when their neighbours
are opening their chamber doors. In London, I am aware, one meets with
the plea, in every case, that early rising is impossible, on account of
the lateness of the hours of everybody else. I only know that when I
lived in lodgings in London, I used to boil my coffee on the table at
seven o'clock,--giving no trouble to servants,--and that I used to think
it pleasant to have my pen in hand at half-past seven,--the windows open
to the fresh watered streets, and shaded with summer blinds, and the
flower-girls stationing themselves below,--their gay baskets of roses
still wet with dew. I think London streets pleasanter in the dawn than
at any other time. In country towns, I know that families can and do
keep early hours, without any real difficulty: and in the country,
everybody can do as he pleases. I need not say that growing children
must have their breakfast before they feel any exhaustion for want of
it. I do not understand the old-fashioned method of early
rising;--working hard for three or four hours before eating anything at
all. If adults can bear this, it is certain that children cannot. I may
mention here that a prime means of health for persons of all ages is to
drink abundance of cold water on rising, and during the vigorous
exercise of the early morning. This morning regimen, if universally
adopted, would save the doctors of our island half their work.

There is no part of the personal habits of children more important than
that which relates to their eating. We must remember how vivid the
pleasures of the senses are to children,--how strong their desire of
every kind of gratification,--and how small their store, as yet, of
those intellectual and moral resources which make grown people careless
of the pleasures of sense. If we look back to our own childhood, and
remember our intense pleasure in looking at brilliant colours, and at
hearing sweet sounds, unconnected with words and ideas,--such as the
chords of an Eolian harp,--and the thrill of pleasure we had at the
sight of a favourite dish upon the table, we shall be aware that,
however ridiculous such emotions appear to us now, they are realities
which must be taken into account in dealing with children.--The object
is so to feed children as to give them the greatest amount of relish
which consists with their health of body and mind. If their appetites
are not considered enough, they will suffer in body; if too much, they
will suffer infinitely more in mind. I have seen both extremes; and I
must say, I think the consequences so important as to deserve more
consideration than the subject usually meets with.

In one large family which I had for some time the opportunity of
observing, there was a pretty strict discipline kept up throughout, with
excellent effect on the whole; but in some respects it was carried too
far. Some of the children were delicate, particularly in stomach; and
the intention of the parents was that this should be got over, as better
for the children than yielding to it. Three or four of the children
throve well on the basin of bread and milk, which was the breakfast of
them all: but there was one little girl who never could digest milk
well; and the suffering of that child was evident enough. She did not
particularly dislike milk; and she never asked for any thing else. That
would have been, in her eyes, a piece of shocking audacity. She had a
great reverence for rules; and she seemed never to dream of any rule
being set aside for her sake, however hardly it might bear upon her. So
she went on for years having the feeling of a heavy lump in her throat
for the whole of every morning,--sometimes choking with it, and
sometimes stealing out into the yard to vomit; and, worse than the lump
in the throat, she had depression of spirits for the first half of every
day, which much injured the action of her mind at her lessons, and was
too much for her temper. She and her friends were astonished at the
difference in her when she went, at, I think, twelve years old, to stay
for a month in a house where she had tea-breakfasts. She did, to be
sure, cast very greedy looks at her cup of tea when it was coming; and
she did make rather a voracious breakfast; but this was wearing off
before the end of the month. She went home to her milk-breakfasts, her
lump in the throat, and her morning depression of spirits and
irritability. But at last the time came when she was tall enough to have
tea with the older ones; and in a little while, she showed no signs of
greediness, and thought no more about her breakfast than any body else.

I remember another case, where a similar mistake appeared more broadly
still in its bad effects. In a family where it was the custom to have a
great rice-pudding every Saturday, and sometimes also on the other
baking day,--Wednesday,--there was a little fellow who hated rice. This
was inconvenient. His mother neither liked to see him go without half
his dinner, nor to provide a dish for him; for the child was disposed to
be rather greedy, and troublesome with fancies about his eating. But in
the case of the rice, the disgust was real, and so strong that it would
have been better to let it alone. His mother, however, saw that it would
be a benefit to him if he could get over it: and she took advantage of a
strong desire he had for a book, to help him over his difficulty. The
little fellow saw at a shop-window a copy of the Seven Champions of
Christendom, with a gay picture of the dragon and St. George: and his
longing for this little book was of that raging sort which I suppose
only children ever feel. He was to have this book if he would eat
rice-pudding. He eagerly promised; feeling at the moment, I dare say,
when there was no rice within sight, as if he could live upon it all his
days, to get what he wanted. When Saturday came, I watched him. I saw
how his gorge rose at the sight of the pudding: but he fixed his eyes
upon the opposite wall, gulped down large spoonfuls, wiped his mouth
with disgust, and sighed when he had done, demanded his fee, ran for
the book, and alas! had finished it, and got almost tired of it, before
bedtime. The worst of it was,--he never again tasted rice. Here was the
moral injury. He was perfectly aware that his bargain was to eat
rice-pudding whenever it was upon table; and he meant to do it. But it
required more fortitude than he could command when the desire for the
book was gratified and gone: and his honour and conscience were hurt.
Another bad consequence of this mistake about two or three of his
dislikes was that he thought too much about eating and drinking; was
dainty in picking his meat, and selfish about asking for the last bit,
or the last but one, of any thing good. Of course, I do not speak in
censure, when I give such anecdotes. I blame nobody where nobody meant
any harm. On the one side there was a mistake; and it was followed by
its inevitable consequences on the other.

In such a case, where there is a large family, with a plain common
table, I should think the best way is for a child in ordinary health to
take his chance. If there is enough of meat, potatoes, and bread to make
a meal of, he may very well go without pudding, and should, on no
account, have one provided expressly for himself: but he should be
allowed to refuse it without remark. Where the mother can, without
expense and too much inconvenience, consider the likings and dislikes
of her children in a silent way, her kindness will induce her to do it:
but it must be in a quiet way, or she will lead them to think too much
about the thing; and to suppose that she thinks it an important matter.

This affair of the table is one worth a good deal of attention, as it
regards the temper and manners of the household, and the personal habits
of each. There is no reason why the father's likings as to food should
not be seen to be cared for. If he is a selfish eater, he will ensure
that the matter is duly attended to. If he is above such care for
himself,--if it is clear that his pleasure at his meals is in having his
family about him,--that is a case in which the mother need not conceal
her desire to provide what is liked best. The father, who never asks or
thinks about what is for dinner, is most likely to be the one to find
before him what he particularly relishes; a dish cooked, perhaps, by his
wife's or his little daughter's hands. And, again, if the little
daughters see that their mother never thinks about her own likings,
perhaps they will put in a word on market-day, or at such times, to
remind her that somebody cares for her tastes. Then, again, in
middle-class families, where the servants dine after the family, they
should always be openly considered. After the pudding has been helped
round once, and some quick eaters are ready for a second plateful, it
must be an understood thing that enough is to be left for the
servants.--On the ground of the danger of causing too much thought about
eating and drinking, it is desirable that, where the family take their
meals together, all should fare alike. If there is anything at table
which the younger children ought not to have, it is better that they
should, if possible, dine by themselves. This is the plan in great
houses, where the little ones dine at one o'clock, eating freely and
without controversy of what is on the table, because there is nothing
there that can hurt them. If the family dine together, and there are two
or more dishes of meat on the table at the same time, all must learn the
good manners of dividing their choice, so that the father may not have
to send a helping of goose to everybody, while none is left for himself,
but that the mother's boiled mutton may have left half the goose for the
choice of the parents. All this is clear enough: but, if a present
arrives of anything nice,--oysters, or salmon, or oranges, or such good
things as relations and friends often send to each other, it seems best
for all the household to enjoy the treat together, who are old enough to
relish it.

It can scarcely be necessary to mention that the earliest time is the
best for training children to proper behaviour at table, as every where
else. Every one of them has to be trained; for how are the little things
to know, unless they are taught, that they are not to put their fingers
in their plates, or to drain their mugs, or to make shapes with their
potato, or to crumble their bread, or to kick their chairs, or to run
away to the window before dinner is done? They will require but little
teaching, if they see everybody about them sitting and eating properly;
but it is hard upon children when they have been allowed to take
liberties and be rude at the nursery dinner, and then have everything to
learn, under painful constraint, as they are growing up.

I have been sometimes struck with the conviction that the bad manners I
have seen at the school-room table arise from a misconception as to what
dinner is. In one house, you see the busy father hurry from his work to
table, hardly stopping to wash his hands, turning over to his wife the
task of helping the children, or even pushing round the dish for them to
help themselves,--throwing his dinner down his throat, and after it his
solitary pint of porter; snatching his hat, and off again to business,
almost without saying "good bye" to any one. When he is gone, the others
think they have liberty to do as they please; and a pretty scene of
confusion there is,--one child scraping a dish, another kneeling on a
chair to reach over for something, a third at the window: and the mother
with baby on her arm, coming at last to carry off the dishes, saying
that she is sure dinner has been about quite long enough, while some of
the children are perhaps really wanting more.--Again: one sees in a
rich gentleman's family, ill-managed, a great mistake as to dinner. The
bell is rung at the nominal dinner-hour,--or probably a good deal after
it: for servants can hardly be punctual under such management. The soup
is on the table, and one or two of the family are in their seats,
waiting for the rest. One young lady has her fancy-work in her hand:
another has the newspaper. Papa comes in for luncheon. He will have a
plate of soup. The reader jumps up to help him; but the soup is cold. As
nobody seems to wish for any cold soup, it is sent away; but turned back
at the door by a hungry boy, who has only just learned that dinner is
ready, and is ravenous for the first thing he can get to eat. While the
joint is helped, one drops in from the stable,--another from the
music-lesson; a third from botanising in the wood; and the first comers
run away to look for something in the library, or to have a turn on the
gravel walk, saying that they do not care for pudding, and will come
back for cheese. Altogether, it is an hour and a half before the cloth
is removed, and the weary governess can get her charge in order for the
Italian master,--if indeed he be not come and gone in the interval. This
is an extreme, but not an impossible case: and in such a case, the plea
we shall hear is that it is a waste of time for a whole family to sit
doing nothing but eating their dinners in the middle of the day: and
that formality makes eating of too much importance. Such is the plea;
and here lies the mistake. The object of dinner is not only eating but
sociable rest. The dinner hour is a seasonable pause amidst the hurry of
the busy day; and the harder people have to work, the completer should
be the pause of the dinner hour. The arrangement is very important to
health; for the largest meal of the day is best digested when it is
eaten with regularity, at leisure, and in a cheerful mood of mind; and
when a space of cheerful leisure is left after it. And more important
still is the arrangement to the manners and tempers and dispositions of
the family. It is a great thing that every member of a household should
be habituated to meet the rest in the middle of the day, neatly dressed
and refreshed;--the boys' coats brushed, and the girls' frocks changed
or set straight; the hair smoothed, and face and hands just washed. It
is a great thing that they should take their chief nourishment of the
day in the midst of the most cheerful conversation, and at a time so set
apart as that nobody is hankering after doing anything else. When we
consider too that after dinner is the only time between Sunday and
Sunday that the working father has for play with his infants,--who are
in their beds, or too sleepy for fun, when he comes home in the
evening,--we shall own that there is no waste of time in the dinner
hour, even if nothing whatever is done but eating and talking. In fact,
it is this time which, from its importance, ought to be saved from all
encroachment. The washed faces, and the cloth on the table, and the hot
dinner should all be in readiness when the father appears. Not a minute
of his precious hour should be lost or spoiled by any one's
unpunctuality, or any body's ill-manners. All should go smoothly at his
table by every one's gentleness and cheerfulness and good-breeding. When
the meal is finished, all the clearing away should be quickly and
quietly done, that he may have yet a clear half-hour for rest, or for
play with the little ones. Where this hour is managed as it ought to
be,--(and nothing is easier under the care of a sensible mother) the
busy father goes forth to his work again with his mind even more
refreshed by his hour of cheerful rest than his body is strengthened by

On the remaining topic of Personal Habits,--Modesty,--Decency--it cannot
be necessary to say much. The points of mistake which strike me the most
are two:--I think that in almost every part of the world, people herd
too much and too continually together:--and I think that few people are
aware how early it is right to respect the modesty of an infant.

As to the first point;--it is one of the heaviest misfortunes of our
country,--I speak advisedly,--that among whole classes of our people,
poverty or want of space from other causes, compels them to herd
together in crowds, night and day. No words are needed to show how
little hope of health there can be when people live in this way; and
even less hope of good morals. Among classes more favoured than these,
it appears that there is little thought of making the provision that
might easily be made for more privacy than people are yet accustomed to.
I fear it is the wish that is wanting: for "where there's a will there's
a way;" and I have been in many houses, both at home and abroad, where
the requisite privacy might have been had, if any wish for it had
existed. In the factory villages in the United States, I was painfully
struck by this. I saw good and pretty houses built from the savings of
the factory girls,--with their shady green blinds, and their charming
piazzas without; and places within for book-shelves, piano and pictures
and work-tables; but not a corner of any house was there where any young
woman of the household could sit by herself for ten minutes in a day, or
say her prayers, or wash. The beds were ranged in dormitories; or four
or six in a room: and there were not even washing-closets. Here, there
was no excuse of inability; and at home I too often see the same thing,
where there is no sufficient excuse of inability.

Where each child cannot possibly have a room, or the use of a
dressing-closet to itself, arrangements may easily be made, by having
folding screens, to secure absolute privacy to every member of a
household, for purposes of the mind, as well as the body. When I see how
indispensable it is to the anxious and hard-worked governess to have a
room to herself, and how earnestly she (very properly) insists upon it,
I am always sorry when I remember how many have to go without this
comfort,--which should be considered a necessity of life. When I think
of the school-boy, with his burden of school cares upon him, and the
young girl, thoughtful, anxious and irritable, as most people are, at
times, in entering upon the realities of life; and of the wearied
servant maid, and of the child in the first fervours of his
self-kindling piety, I pity them if they have no place which they can
call their own, for ever so short a time in the day, where they can be
free from the consciousness of eyes being upon them. The thing _may_ be
done. Mrs. Taylor of Ongar, the wife of a dissenting minister, and
mother of a large family, who from an early age worked for their
bread,--did contrive, by giving her mind to it, to manage separate
sleeping places for a wonderful number of her children; and, where this
could not possibly be accomplished for all, she so arranged closets and
hours as that every one could have his or her season of retirement,
secure from disturbance.

As for the case of the infant, to which I alluded above,--I believe it
to be this. The natural modesty of every human being may be left to
take care of itself; if only we are careful that it is really left
entirely free. It is the simplest matter in the world for the mother to
give this modesty its earliest direction during the first weeks, months,
and year or two of life. After that, it will not fail, if only it be
duly respected. That this respect should begin very early is desirable,
not because the innocent little creature has then any consciousness
which can be injured by anything it sees or is allowed to do; but
because as it grows up, it should be unable ever to remember the time
when every thing was not arranged with the same modesty and decorum as
at a later period. Again, in order to the preservation of true modesty,
the smallest possible amount of thought should be bestowed upon it. All
transactions, personal and domestic, should go on with the smoothness of
perfect regularity, propriety, and consequent freedom of mind and ease
of manners. And it conduces much to this that there should never have
been a time when the child was conscious of any particular change in its
management. It should never have seen much of any body's personal cares;
and the more gradually it slides into the care of its own person, with
its accompanying privacy, the better is the chance that it will not
dwell on such matters at all, but have its mind free for other subjects,
wearing its modesty as unconsciously as it carries the expression of the
eye, or utters the tones of its voice.



It is difficult to keep a distinction between personal and family
habits. In our last chapter, on Personal Habits, we got to the family
dinner table; and here, in speaking of Family Habits, we shall doubtless
fall in with the characteristics of individuals.

First; as to occupations. Unless I knew for what class of readers I was
writing this, it is difficult to assume what their occupations may be.
In one class, the father may be busy in his office; and the mother in
ordering a large household, taking care of the poor in her
neighbourhood, and in study or keeping up her accomplishments; while the
boys are with their tutor, and the girls with their governess, and the
infants in the nursery.--In another, the mother may be instructing her
girls, while busy at her needle; and the boys may be at a day-school,
and the father in his warehouse or shop.--And again, this may be read by
parents who cannot spare their children from home, because they keep no
servants, and who charge themselves with teaching their young people, in
such hours as can be spared from the actual business of living. One
thing, however, is common to all these; and it is enough to proceed
upon. All these _are_ occupied. They have all business to do which ought
to engage their faculties, regularly and diligently: so that the great
principles and rules of family morals cannot fail to apply.

The first great point concerns them all equally:--Economy of Time.
Nobody yet ever had too much time; and the rich need all they can save
of it as much as the poorest. And the methods by which time is to be
made the most of are universally the same. This seems to be everywhere
felt, except among the ignorant. The most remarkable care, as to
punctuality, is actually found, in our country, among the highest
classes. It has bean said that "punctuality is the politeness of the
great:" and so it is. It shows their consideration for other people's
time and convenience: but there is more in it than that. The Queen, who
is extraordinarily punctual, and statesmen, and landed-proprietors, and
all who bear a burden of very important duty, are more sensible than
those who have less responsibility of the mischief of wasting minutes
which are all wanted for business; and yet more, of the waste of energy
and freedom of thought, and of composure and serenity which are caused
by failures in punctuality. For my own part, I acknowledge that not only
is any compulsory loss of time the trial, of all little trials, that I
most dislike, but that nothing whatever so chafes my temper as failure
in punctuality in those with whom I have transactions. And to me, one of
the charms of intercourse with enlightened and high-bred people is their
reliableness in regard to all engagements, and their exact economy of
time. To go from a disorderly household where no one seems to have any
time, and where one has to try hard all day long to keep one's temper,
to a great man's house, where half a hundred people move about their
business as if they were one; where all is quiet and freedom and
leisure, as if the business of life went on of itself, leaving minds at
liberty for other work, is one of the most striking contrasts I have met
with in society. And I have seen the same order and punctuality prevail,
with much the same effect, in very humble households, where, instead of
a score or two of servants, there were a few well-trained children to do
the work. It is a thing which does not depend on wealth, but on
intelligence. There is, (here and there, but not often) a great house to
be seen where you cannot get anything you want till you have rung
half-a-dozen times, and waited half an hour; where you are pretty sure
to leave some of your luggage behind you, or be too late for the train,
without any fault of your own; and where the meals, notwithstanding all
the good cookery, are comfortless, from the restlessness and uncertainty
of family and guests, and the natural discouragement of the servants.
And there are houses of four rooms, where all goes smoothly from the
politeness which arises from intelligence and affectionate
consideration. When a new Administration came into office, some years
ago, the Ministers agreed that not one of them should ever be waited
for, on any occasion of meeting. At the first Cabinet dinner, the party
went to table as the clock finished striking, though the Prime Minister
had not arrived. The Prime Minister was only half a minute late; but he
apologised, as for an offence against good manners. What would be
thought of this in homes where the young people come dropping down to
breakfast when their parents have half done, or where father or mother
keeps the children fretting and worrying because they are waiting for
breakfast when they ought to be about their morning business!

It may be said that the fretting and worrying are the greater offence of
the two: and this is very true. So much the worse for the unpunctuality
which causes a greater sin than itself. Why be subject to either? If a
young person, no longer manageable as a child, continues, after all
reasonable methods have been tried, to annoy his family by a habit of
wasting his own time and theirs, there is no use in losing temper about
it. Scolding and fretfulness will not bring him round, if other methods
have failed. He must be borne with (though by no means indulged) and
pitied as the slave of a bad habit. But how much better to avoid any
such necessity! And it might always be avoided.

The way in which people usually fall into unpunctual habits is, I think,
from interest in what they are about, whether it be dreaming in bed, or
enjoying a walk, or translating a difficult passage, or finishing a
button-hole in a shirt, or writing a postscript to a letter. In
households where punctuality is really a principle, it should be a truth
ever before all eyes that whatever each individual is about is of less
importance than respect to the whole family. In a school, when the bell
rings, one girl leaves off in the middle of a bar of music, another at
the middle line of a repetition, and a third when she is within two
figures of the end of her sum. The time and temper of mistress and
companions must be respected first, and these things finished
afterwards. And so it is in a well ordered household. The parents
sacrifice their immediate interest in what they are about; and so must
the children. And so they will, and with ease, when the thing is made an
invariable habit, from the earliest time they can remember.

It is this punctuality, this undeviating regularity which is the
greatest advantage that school has over home education, in regard to
study. In a large family, where there is much business of living and few
servants, it really is very difficult to secure quiet and regularity for
the children's lessons. It seems at any one moment, of less importance
that the sum should be done, and the verb conjugated, just for that
once, than that the boy should run an errand, or the girl hold the baby.
Now this will never do: and the small progress in learning usually made
by the home-taught shows that it does not answer. The consideration is
not of the particular sum, or practice in saying the verb, but of the
habit of the children's minds. It _is_ of consequence in itself that
sums should be done and verbs learned in their proper season, because
they cannot be so easily mastered afterwards; and there is plenty to be
done afterwards; but much more important is it that the children should
acquire that punctuality of faculties which grows out of punctuality of
habits: and this can never be when there is any uncertainty or
insecurity about the inviolability of their lesson-time. I know how
difficult it is to manage this point, and how very hard it is for the
mother to resist each day's temptation, if she has not fortified herself
by system and arrangement, and by keeping constantly before her mind
that nothing that her children can do by being called off from their
books can be so important as what they sacrifice at every interruption.
If it is possible for her to find any corner of the house where they may
be undisturbed, and any hour of the day when she will allow no person
whatever to call off her attention from them, she may do them something
like justice: but she never can, though the books and slates may be
about all the morning, if she admits any neighbour, or allows any
interruption whatever. If possible, she will fix upon an hour when she
may settle down with her plain-sewing, which requires no attention; and
when her neighbours all know that they will not be admitted. One single
hour, diligently employed, may effect a great deal. And it need not be
all that the children give to study, though it be all that she can
spare. They may learn at some other time in the day the lessons which
she is to hear during the hour: and in that case, she must see that they
are protected in their time of learning, as well as of repeating their
lessons. Whether they are in their own rooms, or in the common sitting
room, or she can spare any place for a school room, she must see that
they have their minds to themselves, to do their business properly. If
the father relieves her of the teaching, and hears the lessons at night,
she will see more reason than ever for doing all she can to facilitate
their being well learned.

If the time for lessons be necessarily but one hour in the day, let not
the parents be uneasy, however much they might wish that their children
should have their six hours of study, like those of richer people.
Perhaps they can give both boys and girls educational advantages which
those of the rich have not;--advantages which offer themselves in the
natural course of humble life. I have witnessed a process of education
for boys in a middle-class home which could not well be instituted in a
great house, and among a multitude of servants, but which was of
extraordinary benefit to the lads who were made happy by it. Their
father gave into their charge some of the departments of the comforts of
the house. One had charge of the gas-pipes and lamps. He was responsible
for their good condition; and he was paid the same sum per annum that
supervision by a workman would have cost. Another had charge of the
locks and keys, the door-handles, sash-lines and window-bolts, bells and
bell-wires: and he was paid in the same manner. Each had his workbench
and tools in a convenient place; and, if every part of his province was
always in order, so that there were no expensive repairs, he had some
money left over,--which was usually spent in buying materials for
mechanical handiworks. These lads were happier than poor Louis XVI. of
France, who was so fond of making locks that he had a complete
locksmith's workshop fitted up in a retired part of his palace: and
delighted to spend there every hour that he could command. _He_ was
obliged to conceal his pursuit, both from the absurdity and the
uselessness of it in his position; while these lads had at once the
gratification of their faculties, and the dignity of usefulness. There
are many offices about every house which may well be confided to boys,
if they are intelligent and trustworthy;--that is, well educated up to
the point required; and the filling of such offices faithfully is in
itself as good a process of education as need be wished.

There is no need to declare the same thing about girls; for I suppose
nobody questions it. I go further than most persons, I believe, however,
in desiring thorough practice in domestic occupations, from an early
age, for girls. I do not see why the natural desire and the natural
faculty for housewifery which I think I see in every girl I meet, should
be baffled because her parents are rich enough to have servants to do
and to superintend everything about the house. If there was a king who
could not help being a locksmith, I know of a countess who could not
help being a sempstress. She made piles of plain linen, just for the
pleasure of the work, and gave them away to her friends. Now, it is a
very serious thing to baffle natural desires and abilities so strong as
these, on account of mere external fortunes. If a girl of any rank has
the economic faculties strong, it is hard upon her that they may not
find their natural exercise in a direction,--that of household
care,--which is appropriate to every woman, be she who she may; and if
these faculties are less strong than they are usually found to be in
girls, there is the more reason that they should be well exercised, as
far as they will go.

I am sure that some,--perhaps most,--girls have a keener relish of
household drudgery than of almost any pleasure that could be offered
them. They positively like making beds, making fires, laying the cloth
and washing up crockery, baking bread, preserving fruit, clear-starching
and ironing. And why in the world should they not do it? Why should not
the little lady have her little ironing box, and undertake the ironing
of the pocket-handkerchiefs? I used to do this; and I am sure it gave me
a great deal of pleasure, and did me nothing but good.--On washing and
ironing days, in houses of the middle class, where all the servants are
wanted in the wash-house or laundry, why should not the children do the
service of the day? It will be a treat to them to lay the breakfast
cloth, and bring up the butter from the cellar, and toast the bread;
and, when breakfast is over, to put everything in its place again, and
wash the china, and rub and polish the trays. They may do the same again
at dinner; and while the servants are at meals, they may carry on the
ironing in the laundry. And afterwards, there comes that capital
exercise of sense and patience and skill,--the stocking-darning, which,
done properly, is a much higher exercise than many people suppose. And
when visitors come, why should not the girls have the chief pleasure
which "company" gives to them,--the making the custard and the tarts,
dishing up the fruit, and bringing out the best table linen? And what
little girl is there in a market town who does not like going to market
with her father or her mother, till she can be trusted to go by herself?
Does she not like seeing the butcher's cleverness in cutting off what is
wanted; and trying to guess the weight of joints by the look; and
admiring the fresh butter, and the array of fowls, and the heaps of
eggs, and the piles of vegetables and fruit? I believe it is no small
treat to a girl to jump up early on the market-day morning, and reckon
on the sight she is going to see. The anxiety may be great when she
begins to be the family purchaser: but it is a proud office too; and
when the first shyness is over, there is much variety and pleasantness
in it.

By all means, as I have said, let the girls' economic faculties take the
household direction, if they point that way, whatever be their fortunes
and expectations. It can never do any woman harm to know, in the only
perfect way, by experience, how domestic affairs should be managed. But,
when the thing is done at all, let it be well done. Let the girl be
really taught, and not suffered to blunder her way through, in a manner
which could not be allowed in regard to anything taught as a lesson. One
reason why girls know so much less than they should do, and so much less
than they wish to do about household affairs, is that justice is not
done them by proper teaching. The daughters of the opulent are at
school, and have no opportunity of learning till they are too old to
begin properly: but the case of middle and lower class girls is hardly
better. When the mother is hurried, it is easier to do a thing herself
than to teach, or wait for, an inexperienced hand: but a girl will never
learn, if her enterprise is taken out of her hand at the critical
moment. Nothing is more easily learned, or more sure to be remembered
than the household processes that come under the hands of women: but
then, they must be first clearly understood and carried through. Here
then, the mother must have a little patience. She must bear to see a
batch of bread or pastry spoiled, or muslins ironed wrong side out, or a
custard "broke," or a loin of mutton mistaken for the neck, a few times
over, and much awkwardness and slowness shown, before her little
daughters become trusty handmaids. But, if she be a true mother, she
will smile at this; and the father will not be put out if the pie is
burned on one side, or the bread baked too quick, if he is told that
this is a first trial by a new hand. He will say what he can that is
encouraging, and hope for a perfect pie or loaf next time.

I believe it is now generally agreed, among those who know best, that
the practice of sewing has been carried much too far for health, even in
houses where there is no poverty or pressure of any kind. No one can
well be more fond of sewing than I am; and few, except professional
sempstresses, have done more of it: and my testimony is that it is a
most hurtful occupation, except where great moderation is observed. I
think it is not so much the sitting and stooping posture as the
incessant monotonous action and position of the arms, that causes such
wear and tear. Whatever it may be, there is something in prolonged
sewing which is remarkably exhausting to the strength, and irritating
beyond endurance to the nerves. This is only where sewing is almost the
only employment, or is carried on for several hours together. When girls
are not so fond of sewing as I was in my youth, and use the needle only
as girls usually do, there is no cause for particular anxiety: but the
mother should carefully vary the occupations of a girl disposed to be
sedentary. If pleasant reading or conversation can go on the while, it
is well. The family meals too, and other interruptions, will break off
the employment, probably, before it has gone too far. But, if there is
the slightest sign of that nervous distress called "the fidgets" (which
truly deserves the name of "distress") or any paleness of countenance,
lowness of spirits, or irritability of temper, there is reason to
suppose that the needle has been plied too far; and, however unwilling
the girl may be to leave work which she is bent upon finishing, it is
clearly time that she was in the open air, or playing with the baby, or
about some stirring business in the house. I have always had a strong
persuasion that the greater part of the sewing done in the world will
ere long be done by machinery. It appears much more easy than many
things that are done by machinery now; and when it is considered how
many minute stitches go to the making of a garment, it seems strange
that some less laborious and slow method of making joins and edges has
not been invented before this. Surely it will be done in the course of a
few generations; and a great blessing the change will be to women, who
must, by that time, have gained admission to many occupations now kept
from them by men, through which they may earn a maintenance more
usefully and with less sacrifice of health than by the present toils of
the sempstress. The progress made in spinning, weaving, and especially
knitting by machinery, and in making water-proof cloaks and other
covering without the help of the needle, seems to point with certainty
to an approaching time when the needle will be almost superseded. With
this, and the consequent saving of time, must come a greater abundance
of clothing, and an accompanying cheapness, which will be a great
blessing to a large class by whom good and sufficient clothing cannot
now be obtained. Meantime, our ways are improved, by the turning over of
some of the work to machinery. The sewing-schools to which young ladies
were sent in the last century, to sit six hours a-day on hard benches,
too high for their feet to touch the ground, compelled to hold
themselves upright, and yet to pore over fine cambric and linen, to do
microscopic marking and stitching, are heard of no more. In their day,
they bent many spines, spoiled many eyes, and plagued many a young
creature with back-ache for life; so we may rejoice that they are gone,
and must take care that none of their mischief is done at home, while
all really useful good sewing can very easily be taught there.

One change which has taken place in our society since the peace has
struck me much. Since the continent was opened to us, almost all who can
afford to travel, more or less, have been abroad. Struck with the
advantages to themselves of having their minds opened and enlarged by
intercourse with foreign nations, and by access to foreign literature,
art, and methods of education in some respects superior to our own, they
have naturally desired to give such advantages to their children, while
they were yet young enough to benefit fully by them. Great numbers of
children, and young people yet growing, have been carried abroad by
their parents, and, of course, have obtained more or less of the
"advantages" for which they went. But at what cost? In my opinion, at a
fatal one. Much might be said of the danger to health and life of a
complete change of diet and habits at so early an age. A friend of mine
was telling me, and I was agreeing with her, that she and I hardly know
of a family of children who have travelled abroad for any length of time
that has not been fatally visited with the dreadful bilious fever which,
when it spares life, too often does some irreparable injury to the
frame,--to brain, or sense, or limbs. Bad as this is, it is not the
worst. The practice is against Nature; and those who adopt it must bear
the retribution for offences against Nature's laws. Nature ordains a
kind of vegetative existence for children till the frame is complete,
and strengthened in its completeness. The utmost regularity of habits
(which by no means implies dulness of life) produces, beyond all
question, the most healthy frames, and there cannot be a sadder mistake
than to suppose that any greater variety than the most ordinary life
affords is necessary to the quickening or entertainment of a child's
faculties. Life, with all its objects, is new to him. Its commonest
incidents are deeply interesting to him. Birth and death are exciting to
him, and solemn beyond expression. The opening and close of the seasons,
and their varying pleasures and pursuits, the changes in the lives of
the people about him; the evolution of his own little history,--the
expanding of his faculties, his achievements in study, his entrance upon
more and more advanced duties and intercourses;--these are enough to
keep his mind in full life and vigour: and he cannot receive his
experience of life into the depths of his being unless he is at rest. If
he is to commune with his own heart, he must be still. If he is to
gather into his mind ripe observations of nature and man, and to store
them up reflectively, he must be still. If his sentiments and emotions
are to be the natural result of the workings of life upon him, he must
be still, that life may work upon him undisturbed. I have devoted a
close attention to this subject; and I certainly conclude, from my own
observation, that the intellectual and moral value of families who have
lived quietly at home (with due educational assistance) very far
transcends that of young people whose anxious parents have dragged them
about the world,--catching at advantages here and advantages there,
unconscious of the sacrifice of the greatest advantage of all,--a
natural method of life, with the quietude which belongs to it. I think
that the untravelled have a deeper reflectiveness than the travelled,--a
deeper sensibility,--a better working power, on the whole,--a better
preparation for the life before them. They have more prejudice, and, of
course, less accomplishment than the travelled; but life and years are
pretty sure to abate the prejudice; and a better timed travel may give
the accomplishment. If not, however,--if there must be a choice of good
and evil at the outset of life, who would not rather see the fault of
narrowness than of shallowness? A mind which has depth must, in
ordinary course, widen; while a shallow mind, however wide, can never be
worth much. In the sensibility, the difference is as marked as in the
understanding: and no wonder; for to the quiet dweller at home life is
an awful scroll, slowly and steadily unrolling to disclose its
characters of fire, which burn themselves in upon the brain; while, to
the young rover, life is but too much like a show-box, whose scenes
shift too fast, and with too little interval, to make much impression. I
mention this here, chiefly for the sake of parents who may feel
occasional regrets that they cannot give to their children what they
suppose to be the "advantages" of travel. My conviction is that their
children are happier than they suppose. A moment's thought will show
them how few the rovers can be,--how overwhelming must be the majority
of those who must stay at home: and we may always be confident that the
lot of the great majority, _duly improved_, must be sufficient for all
the purposes of human life. Nothing that I have said is meant at all in
disapprobation of those occasional changes of scene and society which
all young people require more or less. On the contrary, I would
indicate, as one of the advantages of a regular home life, that it
prepares the novice to profit the more by such occasional changes. It is
a magnificent event in the life of a quiet, industrious family when a
house-painting, or other domestic necessity, authorises a visit to the
sea-side, or a plunge into the country for a couple of months. It serves
as a prodigious stimulus to the intellect; and the recollection never
loses its brilliancy, to the latest period of life. It is worth more to
novices than a whole year of continental travelling to practised rovers.
The sunsets have sunk deep. The light-house, the dip in the waves, the
shingle, the distant fleet--or the gorse on the common, the wood paths,
with their wild flowers, the breezy down, the cottage in the lane,--call
up a thrill in the heart of the town-bred child whenever the images are
called up. Such changes are good; but they are not roving in search of
"advantages." Again, when one child among several appears to pine in any
degree, becomes irritable or depressed, looks pale, or ceases to grow,
it is a sign that some change is needed. If such a boy or girl should be
invited by some relation or friend on a visit of any length, it is
probable that all will come right. The mind wants an airing, perhaps;
and in a fresh abode, among new objects, and kind friends, and different
companionship, and change of habits, without any further excitement,
brooding thoughts are dispersed, domestic affections revive and
strengthen, the mind overflows with new ideas, and after a time, home
becomes intensely longed for; and the young absentee returns home--to
father's greeting, and mother's side, and brothers and sisters'
companionship, with more rapture than the prospect of the journey ever
caused. Such a change as this is good; but it is not roving for
educational "advantages." It is an agreeable tonic medicine; not a
regimen of high diet.

The case of the only child seems to ask a word of kindness here. At the
best, the case of the only child is a somewhat mournful one,--somewhat
forlorn,--because it is unnatural. If it is unnatural for a multitude of
children of the same age to herd together in an Infant school, it is at
least as much so for a little creature to live alone among people with
full-grown brains, and all occupied with the pursuits and interests of
mature life. It is very well for the father to romp with his child at
spare times, and for the mother to love it with her whole heart, and
sympathise with it, with all the sympathy that such love can inspire.
This is all well: but it does not make them children,--nor, therefore,
natural companions for a child. In this case, above all others, it is
desirable that the child should be sent to school, when old enough: and
especially if the only one be a boy. A good day school, where play is
included, may do much to obviate the disadvantages of the position. If
this cannot be done, it is really hardly to be hoped that mischief will
not be done on the one side or the other,--of too much or too little
attention and sympathy. Some may wonder at the idea of the only child
being in danger of having too little sympathy from its parents: but such
cases are very conceivable and are occasionally witnessed. If everybody
sees how an only child,--the light and charm of the house, the idol of
the mother, and the pet of everybody, must unavoidably become of too
much importance in its own eyes, and suffer accordingly,--who should
feel this so anxiously and constantly as the conscientious parents of an
only child? and what is more probable than that, in their anxiety not to
spoil the mind they have under their charge, they should carry the
bracing system somewhat too far, and depress the child by giving it less
fostering and sympathy than it needs? They would not, for its own sake,
have it troublesome to their friends, or self-important, or selfish; and
they keep it back. But alas! if put back, the little thing is driven
into loneliness; and children are not made for loneliness, in any but a
desert life. Give a child the desert to rove in, with brown sheep to
tend, and a young camel to play with, and rocks and weeds, and springs
and stars and shrubby palms to live amongst, and he may make a very
pleasant life of it, all alone; but not if he lives in a street, and
must not go out alone, and passes his life among square rooms and
stair-cases, and the measured movements of grown-up people. An only
child must be troublesome, as long as he is a child. He craves play, and
sympathy, and constant companionship: and he cannot do without them--he
must not be required to do without them. If he is not sent to school,
grown people must be his companions and playfellows,--the victims to his
restlessness; and he must be troublesome.--The case is nearly the
same,--only somewhat less desperate,--with a girl. Her parents cannot,
if they have eyes, hearts, or consciences, see her pine. They must
either provide her with natural companionship, or they must let
themselves and their friends be appropriated by her as companions, till
she grows up into fitness to be a companion to them.--It is not included
in this necessity that there should be selfishness of temper and
manners. The more fully and naturally the needs of the social nature are
met and supplied, the less is the danger of this kind arising from
peculiarity of position.



Is there any other department of Household Education than those on which
I have touched? No one can be more aware than I am of the scantiness of
what I have said, when compared with the vastness of the range and of
the importance of the subject. I could only, as I declared at the
beginning, tell a little of what I have seen and thought of the training
of families in private life: but, admitting the meagre character of the
whole, is there any one department left untouched? I am not aware of any
that could be treated of in a volume for general reading.

Some may, perhaps, ask for a chapter on Social Habits: and an important
subject it truly is. But it appears to me to be included in that of
Family Habits and Manners. The same simplicity and ingenuousness, the
same respect and kindliness, the same earnestness and cheerfulness,
which should pervade the conduct and manners in the interior of the
household are the best elements of conduct and manners in the world. I
see no discretion and no grace which is needed in wider social
intercourses that is not required by those of home. To the parents
there may be some anxiety and uneasiness when their sons and daughters
make intimacies out of the house. The warm friendships of youth may not
perhaps be such as the parents would have chosen. They may be such as
surprise and disappoint the parents. But the very fact of the surprise
and disappointment should show them that there is something more in the
matter than they understand or should seek to control. They cannot
control the sympathies of any one; and no one being can fully understand
the affinities which exist between others. The points to be regarded are
clear enough: and when the best is done that can be done, the rest may
be left without anxiety.

The main point is to preserve the full confidence of the young people.
If perfect openness and the utmost practicable sympathy be maintained,
all must be safe. Young people must win their own experience. They must
find out character for themselves: they must try their own ground in
social life; they must be self-convicted of the prejudices and
partialities which belong to their immaturity; and, while their own
moral rectitude and their ingenuous confidence in their parents subsist,
they can take no permanent harm from casual associations which may be
far from wise. The parents should remember too how very important a part
of the training of each individual is of a kind which the parents have
nothing to do with but to witness, and to have patience with, as a
piece of discipline to themselves.

As has been observed before, there seems to be a fine provision in human
nature for rectifying home tendencies which would otherwise be too
strong, and for supplying the imperfections of home experience by the
process which takes place,--the revolution of moral tastes which
ensues,--upon the introduction of young people into a wider circle than
that of home. The parents have naturally,--unavoidably,--laid the most
stress in the training of their children on those qualities which are
strongest in themselves, and slight, more or less, such as they
disregard, or are conscious of not excelling in themselves. When the
young people go out into the world, they are struck by the novel beauty
of virtues in full exercise which they have seen and heard but little
of, and fall in love with them, and with those who possess them, and,
with a fresh enthusiasm, cherish them in themselves. Thus it is that we
so often see whole families of young people becoming characterised by
the virtues in which their parents are most deficient; and also, as a
consequence, by the faults which are the natural attendants of those
virtues. I have seen a case of parents, indulgent and faithful to their
children, virulently censorious to the rest of the world;--the children,
while wearing pinafores, disgusting from their gleeful gossip, picked up
from the elders, scorning and quizzing everybody's thoughts and
ways;--and those same children, when abroad in the world as men and
women, growing first grave,--then just and fair,--then philosophical,
and at last indulgent, as the truly philosophical must ever be. They
preserved the keen insight into character and the movements of mind in
which they had been trained at home, after first recognising, and then
opening their hearts to the beauty of charity. I have seen the children
of imprudent, lavish, and embarrassed parents turn out eminently correct
in their management of money matters:--the children of an untidy mother
turn out perfectly methodical;--the children of a too social father,
remarkably retired and domestic; and so on. Very often the new and late
virtue becomes too prominent, excluding the hereditary opposite
qualities; and in that case, when these young people become parents, the
same process takes place, and their children strongly resemble their
grandparents. It is a curious spectacle,--that of such a moral
oscillation;--and it is so common that every one may observe it. One of
the pieces of instruction that it yields is to parents;--that they must
now let Nature work, and take off their hands from meddling. They may
themselves learn something if they will, in silence and sympathy, from
the spectacle of the expansion of their children; and they may take the
lesson into a light and easy heart if they have hitherto done their
duty as well as they know how. There is nothing in what they see to hurt
any but an improper pride: and they may make sure of an increased
reverence and love from their children if they have the magnanimity to
go hand in hand with them into new fields of moral exercise and
enterprise, and to admit the beauty and desirableness of what they see.

Here we have arrived at the ultimate stage of Household Education,--that
where the entire household advances together, in equal companionship,
towards the great object of human existence, the perfecting of each
individual in it. We set out with the view that the education of a
household comprehended the training and discipline of all its members;
and here we find ourselves at the same point again, amidst a great
difference in the circumstances. They are no longer all under the same
roof. One may be in the distant town; another in a far country; a third
in the next street, but seen only on Sundays: but still they are one
Household company, living in full confidence and sympathy, though their
eyes may seldom meet, and a clasp of the hand may be a rare luxury. The
mother who once received discipline from her child when he was a wailing
infant, keeping her from her rest at midnight, receives another
discipline from him now when she sees him in earnest pursuit of some
high and holy aim whose nobleness had become somewhat clouded to her
through the cares of the world, and her very solicitude for him. The
father who had suffered perhaps too keenly from some gross faults of his
thoughtless boys in their season of turbulence, receives from them now a
new discipline--a rebuke full of sweetness,--in the proof they offer
that he had distrusted Nature,--had failed in faith that she would do
her work well, if only the way was duly kept open for her. There is a
new discipline for them in the gradual contraction of the family circle,
in the deepening quietness of the house, and in the loss of the little
hourly services which the elderly people now think they hardly valued
enough while they had them every hour. We can never say that any part of
the discipline of life is over for any one of us; and that of domestic
life is certainly not over for affectionate parents whose children are
called away from their side, however unquestionable the call may be.

As for the younger generation of the household,--their education by
their parents never ceases while the parents live: and the less
assertion the parents make of this, the deeper are the lessons they
impress. The deepest impressions received in life are supposed to be
those imparted to the sensitive and tenacious mind of childhood: but the
mature reverence and affection of a manly mind are excited more
efficaciously than the emotions of childhood can ever be when the
active men and women who were once the children of a household see
their grey-haired parents in the midst of them looking up to Nature, and
reaching after Truth and Right with the humble trust and earnest
docility which spread the sweetest charm of youth over the countenance
of age. However many and however rich are the lessons they have learned
from their parents, assuredly, in such a case, the richest is the last.



       *       *       *       *       *

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       *       *       *       *       *


Punctuation has been normalized.

Archaic spellings have been retained. Inconsistent spellings have been
changed without note.

Page 280: "that" changed to "than" (than at noon or in the evening).

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