« AnteriorContinuar »
large experience and make wise observation, they will by that time be such as shall deserve the regard and honour of all men where they pass, and the society and friendship of those in all places who are best and most eminent. And perhaps then other nations will be glad to visit us for their breeding, or else to imitate us in their own country.
Now, lastly, for their diet there cannot be much to say, save only that it would be best in the same house; for much time else would be lost abroad, and many ill habits got; and that it should be plain, healthful, and moderate, I suppose is out of controversy.
Thus, Mr. Hartlib, you have a general view in writing, as your desire was, of that which at several times I had discoursed with you concerning the best and noblest way of education ; not beginning, as some have done, from the cradle, which yet might be worth many considerations, if brevity had not been my scope. Many other circumstances also I could have mentioned, but this, to such as have the worth in them to make trial, for light and direction may be enough. Only I believe that this is not a bow for every man to shoot in that counts himself a teacher, but will require sinews almost equal to those which Homer gave Ulysses; yet I am withal persuaded that it may prove much more easy in the assay than it now seems at distance, and much more illustrious : howbeit not more difficult than I imagine, and that imagination presents me with nothing but very happy, and very possible according to best wishes, if God have so decreed, and this age have spirit and capacity enough to apprehend.
SOME THOUGHTS CONCERNING
BY JOHN LOCKE.
This work, of which the following is an analysis, was published in 1690, and was written, as is stated in the Epistle Dedicatory to Edward Clarke, of Chipley, Esq., some years earlier. The Thoughts on Education are extremely discursive and irregular, the same topics being treated of in different places. The author of the following analysis has endeavoured to connect these disjointed parts, and to arrange the materials só as to give more method and unity to the whole ; but the opinions given are strictly those of Locke, and though excellent on the whole, they are not set forth as to be altogether implicitly adopted; the progress made in medical science, for instance, has shown that his recommendation of extreme hardship in the early education of the body is altogether erroneous. The original is divided into sections; but from the cause alluded to, it has been found impossible to indicate those divisions in the Analysis. Wherever the words of Locke have been used, they are placed between marks of quotation.
By education Locke understands the training, not of the mind only, a limitation too apt to be given to the sense of the word, but of the body also; and ac
cordingly the first, and perhaps not the least valuable, portion of his treatise is devoted to a consideration of the important question of physical health, as it relates to children. And in the first place, he strongly reprehends that over-tenderness in mothers which, in their anxiety to shield their offspring from every risk, induces them to clothe them too warmly, and otherwise to confine them at an early age, so that a certain degree of present security is obtained at the expense of a double danger from every subsequent exposure; whereas experience teaches us that the body may be inured by habit to any sufferance of cold or heat. He recommends that a child should be early accustomed to slight clothing, that as soon as his hair grows the use of caps should be discontinued, that he should have his feet washed every day in cold water, and even that his shoes “be made so as to leak water;" which, with some other practises of a similar kind, calculated to strengthen the frame and render it independent, he enforces with much earnestness, deprecating the opposition of the mistress and the maid. With respect to diet, it should be ex. ceedingly plain, and flesh meat should make no part of it during the first three or four years of life. No kindness towards children should induce us to mix up with their food any seasoning that may occasion au early delicacy in the palate, but good dry bread should be made the test of their appetite, which will insure that they do not eat oftener than nature really demands. Amongst the Romans it was a reproach to a man if he indulged in more than one regular meal a day; and a great part of the diseases among Englishmen may be imputed to gross feeding, especially in the article of flesh-meat. So far is Locke from counselling regularity
in meals, that he advises the time of eating to be continually varied, -on this principle, that regularity begets expectation in the stomach, and the disappointment of that expectation must needs produce petulance and ill temper in the child, as often as it occurs; whilst on the contrary a varied system may be as easily established by habit, and will be accompanied with more independence. To prevent children from drinking more than enough, he advises that no draught be permitted them between meals that is not prefaced by a piece of dry bread; and we are to remember that hunger and thirst are as much the creatures, and therefore the subjects, of habit, as any other of our propensities. There is no matter in which servants are more narrowly to be watched than this of diet, for they are but too prone to relieve themselves of trouble and inconvenience by indulging the desires of children. Fruit is generally condemned as unwholesome, and children are led to regard it, like our first parents, with the greater longing, from the rigorous law which restrains them from it. But there is not sufficient discrimination used on this head, for many fruits are not only innocuous, but highly conducive to health, when eaten in their season, and with that moderation without which no food is wholesome. Such fruits are straw. berries, cherries, gooseberries, currants, apples, and pears, which should however not be eaten alone, but with bread, and are best at breakfast-time. Sweetmeats of every kind are to be, without exception, banished from the nursery-table. One only desire is to be indulged without restraint,—this is the inclination to sleep; sleep being as necessary to a child as food jtself: and with respect to early hours, the importance of which is universally admitted, this may be observed, that although it may be impossible, in after life, always to maintain the rule in this respect, yet by keeping it inviolate in the child, you may so far provide against future excess that sitting up shall always remain to him a species more or less of discomfort and uneasiness. The younger the child, the more needful the sleep; but there is an age when the desire for sleep is apt to slide into a fault, and any evidences of a lazy disposition must be followed by prompt correction. He must be reduced by degrees to eight hours, which may be considered the proper term of rest for adults. Children ought not to be awakened in a rude manner, but gradually, and with kind words; they experience a certain pain in waking, which should not be added to by noise, especially of a kind to frighten them. The time of sleep is carefully to be observed, but not the manner; and a child should be accustomed to various conditions in his rest : his bed-so that it be always hard-should be inade sometimes in one fashion, and sometimes in another, that he may not be unprepared for the vicissitudes of travelling and the many changes that he is certain to encounter in life. Locke is of opinion that physic should never be administered by way of prevention, but only by way of cure, and that costiveness, against which it is usually applied, may be overcome simply by the determined will of the person suffering, and by a habit of regularity in “soliciting nature.” He sums up his recommendations on the subject of health in these words :** Plenty of open air, exercise, and sleep, plain diet, no wine or strong drink, and very little or no physic, not