Imágenes de página

The foundation of fear is the sense of pain ; therefore the best provision that can be made against a timid habit of mind, is an early training to endurance and self-possession under suffering; and one of the best arguments against the use of the rod is, that bodily pain should not be-as by the rod it is recognised as the greatest punishment, but boys should be rather taught to despise such terrors, and to look upon shame as the only real thing terrible. A boy who should seem to have an undue concern for his personal safety might be sometimes designedly tried—but only when there was perfect good humour--and a blow given him such as he might bear without complaint ; he might in this manner get an ambition to be thought brave, and a new sort of reputation would open to him.

On the subject of cruelty to animals, which seems so extraordinary a vice for children, and yet is so often found in them, Locke delivers some sentiments deserving of the attention of all classes, which we give in his own words.

“ They (sect. 116.) who delight in the suffering and destruction of inferior creatures, will not be apt to be very compassionate or benign to those of their own kind. Our practice takes notice of this in the exclusion of butchers from juries of life and death.* Children should from the beginning be bred up in an abhorrence of killing or tormenting any living creatures. * * * * And truly, if the preservation of all mankind, as much as in him lies, were every one's persuasion, as indeed it is every one's duty, and the true principle to regulate our religion, politics, and morality by, the world would be much quieter, and better natured than it is.”--And

* This, however, is a mistake of Locke's. The law makes no such exclusion, and never did.-Edilor.

[ocr errors]

again—" This pleasure that they take to put anything in pain that is capable of it, I cainot persuade myself to be

any other than a foreign and introduced disposition, a habit borrowed from custom and conversation. People teach children to strike, and laugh, when they hurt, or see harm come to others; and they have the examples of most about them to confirm them in it. All the entertainment and talk of history is of nothing almost but fighting and killing; and the honour and renown that is bestowed on conquerors (who for the most part are but the great butchers of mankind) further mislead growing youth, who by this means come to think slaughter the laudable business of mankind, and the most heroic of virtues. By these steps unnatural cruelty is planted in us; and what humanity abhors, custom reconciles and recommends to us, by laying it in the way to honour.”

Besides cruelty to animals, there is another species of cruelty, or something like it, which must be put down as summarily as the other. Children must not be suffered to treat servants with insolence, as if they were inferior creatures, undeserving of the same kind of civility and consideration which is paid to others ; this vanity is to be rooted out, or it will lead in after life to the worst acts of injustice and oppression.

Amongst the various natural propensities which ought to be made use of to further the objects of educa tion, curiosity is one. The inquiries of children are to be hearkened to with patience and attention, and no satisfaction to be withheld from them. Consider well what they seek to know, and enlighten them on that particular point, not throwing in more information than they can pleasantly receive ; thus they will be pleased

- The

by such attention, and gratified with their success, and tempted to new questions. Never laugh at their mistakes. But, more than all, never put them off with evasive answers; they soon distinguish between truth and falsehood, and still soouer learn to act on the difference. We are to consider children in the same situation as we should be placed in, if we were thrown on a foreign shore, where everything was new to us, and every trifling object a matter of wonder and curiosity. This reflection should teach us to regard no inquiries of children as too trivial or unimportant. Nor need we be ashamed of the company and conversation of children, from whom a man of reflection may often derive advantages which he would not elsewhere receive. native and untaught suggestions of inquisitive children do often offer things that may set a considering man's thoughts on work; and I think that there is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child, than the discourses of men, who talk in a road."

One of the worst defects in the disposition is that listlessness sometimes observable, and which, in some cases, is perhaps constitutional. If a child seems to be addicted to this habit, we should carefully observe whether it be universal in him, or only connected with particular times and objects. If during play, or at other times, he evinces an interest in anything, be sure to cultivate that interest, and by awakening his mind more and more, you may get him at last to regard all objects with a greater degree of earnestness. A little timely ridicule may not be' amiss in such a case If he is incapable of applying his mind to a task, set him to some bodily labour in which you can, by overlooking, secure

that he works: this will teach him the power of application, which will thence become more easy of acquirement in the exercises of the mind. If a child has so uncontrollable a love of play as to be altogether unable to settle to study, let him have the tables turned upon him, -that is to say, let the play be enjoined as a task, the study be-at best-only permitted: the love of freedom and self-will will then convert the play into a species of burden, the study into a covetable relief; he will become so surfeited with the one as to fly to the other with desire. In short, so much depends on association and circumstance, that there is hardly any evil which may not be brought into disfavour and thus stopped, nor any good which may not be invested with attraction, and rendered an object of spontaneous pursuit. Children should not be restricted in the article of playthings, nor in the choice of them; but only a few of the principal kind should be purchased for their use, and for the rest they should be encouraged to exercise their own ingenuity. The confession of faults will be a matter of difficulty at first, and it will be necessary to give a premium for candour by withholding punishment where the error is acknowledged. There must be instilled a jealousy of reputation, and more disgrace must be attached to deception and prevarication than to any faultsthey can cover. If a child makes an excuse, however, in a case where you are unable to prove that it is false, it must be allowed to pass without any evidence of suspicion; it must seem to be implicitly relied on.

A true notion of the Divine Power ought to be implanted in his mind as early as possible ; but scrupulously avoid bewildering him with ideas on this subject which he cannot properly comprehend; a few simple genera

[merged small][ocr errors]

lities are amply sufficient to create the proper devotional feeling. Discourses concerning spirits should be forborne, as they tend to weaken the mind, and to produce timidity and nervousness. The fear of the dark is not natural, but acquired ; and to dispel it, we must point out the use of the dark, and show that it is made by God for our good as well as the light, that it affords us its kind inducement to sleep, and has nothing in it to harm us.


have educated your son aright, you will have rendered it unnecessary to inculcate goodnature by precept; it will form a fundamental part of his character, and mix in all his actions, sweetening them and making him beloved.

Breeding, or manners, was before noticed; but there are different species of ill-breeding which deserve to be particularised. These are either on the side of deficiency or of excess of confidence. For the first, variety of company is the only cure. For the latter, it comprises these several kinds, viz., roughness, contempt, censoriousness (including raillery and contradiction), and captiousness. Raillery has generally the excuse of wit, and yet it is no more to be commended than the rest ; for even where it carries no ill-nature with it, nay, where it is designed to convey some compliment, it is so liable to miscarriage, and so easily misunderstood, that it never can have so much propriety as plainer language. Contradiction and interruption embitter the pleasures of society. If we are in the right, it ought to be satisfaction enough to us; and to prove that another is in the wrong is sufficiently humiliating to him, without adding the injury of intolerance. Nor will the best intentions excuse heat and impatience; if we wish to serve a friend by advice, we best convince him

« AnteriorContinuar »