Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

of drunkards, the only soldiery left about them, or else to comply with all rapines and violences. No, certainly, if they knew aught of that knowledge which belongs to good men or good governors, they would not suffer these things. But to return to our own institute. Besides these constant exercises at home, there is another opportunity of gaining experience to be won from pleasure itself abroad : in those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. I should not, therefore, be a persuader to them of studying much then, after two or three years that they have well laid their grounds, but to ride out in companies with prudent and staid guides to all the quarters of the land, learning and observing all places of strength, all commodities of building and of soil for towns and tillage, harbours, and ports for trade. Sometimes taking sea as far as to our navy, to learn there also what they can in the practical knowledge of sailing and sea-fight. These ways would try all their peculiar gifts of nature, and if there were any secret excellence among them, would fetch it out and give it fair opportunities to advance itself by, which could not but mightily redound to the good of this nation, and bring into fashion again those old admired virtues and excellencies with far more advantage now in this purity of Christian knowledge. Nor shall we then need the monsieurs of Paris to take our hopeful youth into their slight and prodigal custodies, and send them over back again transformed into mimics, apes, and kekshose. But if they desire to see other countries at three or four and twenty years of age, not to learn principles but to enlarge 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.

[blocks in formation]

SOME THOUGHTS CONCERNING

EDUCATION.

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 so 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 reconi. mendation 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 trair not of the mind only, a limitation too apt to be given to the sense of the word, but of the body also ; and accordingly 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 then 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 exceedingly 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 an 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 itself: and with respect to early hours,

« AnteriorContinuar »