Imágenes de página

how much more difficult is it to refuse? and how much previous labour and patience on the part of the parent, and some suffering on the part of the child, are thrown away, and how much more future trouble is to be endured in consequence of this single oversight.

It would seem superfluous to insist on the necessity of firmness, yet it is the quality which is mostly wanting in the government of the nursery. Few people are aware at how early an age discipline may be enforced, and of what paramount importance it is. A child should be taught by experience the utter hopelessness of contending for its own way; as soon as it has made this discovery,

it ceases to contend. But let not this firmness ever approach to violence, or the slightest display of impatience. The tenderness which but too often manifests itself as a weakness may be converted into a powerful auxiliary. All the happiness of a child springs, or ought to spring, from its parents and its nurse. If then she to whom it looks for its comforts, its necessities, and its pleasures, firmly but gently resist violence, clothes her refusals in kind and affectionate accents, and manifests grief more than anger in administering correction-will not such methods be more likely to produce moral results, than senseless indulgence, capricious refusals, followed by permissions just as capricious, and angry punishments administered without reflection, without reason, and without temper? And do we not find that the weak indulgence which knows not how to refuse, is generally accompanied by the contrary extreme of violent and injudicious correction?

No mother, however exemplary in the fulfilment of her duties, can take upon herself the entire charge of her children.

How necessary is it then to have a nurse who

is sufficiently informed, honest, good-tempered, and conscientious, to comprehend and act upon the plan pursued and inculcated by her mistress. This is a difficulty which most mothers have to contend with, and it is one which will not be overcome until a plan of general education be adopted for all classes, which has reference to their future station in life, and which can only be accomplished by the union of all parties for national instruction on an enlarged and practical basis. Females of the lower classes must be practically taught the duties which they will be called upon to perform ; and the means employed must be adapted to the end, before our domestics can be worthy of trust. The vicious and the ignorant are daily and hourly placed in most responsible situations; and though much of the happiness and misery of parents is thus placed in the keeping of their servants, there is a very general indifference, not to the having good servants, a thing which all desire, but to the adoption of a general means of providing a supply of good domestics. The influence of servants upon children has been considered so injurious, that, in more than one plan of education, it has been recommended to prevent all communication between them. Such plans are not practicable. It is impossible for parents, whatever be their station, to be the sole companions of their children ; and it is even less possible in the early than in the later periods of childhood. The middle classes are brought nearer to their children than the rich, both by circumstances and inclination; but they also must necessarily intrust them more or less to servants. The very rich, whose pursuits are often frivolous pleasure, may leave their children altogether to servants, and yet all their riches cannot purchase the services of honest

and judicious servants : money alone will not induce well-educated women of sense to become nursery-maids, in the present state of society in this country.* Until a system of universal education is adopted, there is but one course to pursue-to use the same judgment in the choice of the persons to whom you commit your children as you employ in the management of those children themselves—to treat your domestic, when chosen with due care, as one on whom you rely; to raise her own self-respect, to endeavour to make her comprehend your objects, and to give her a just sense of their value; to set her an example in your own person of the conduct which you desire to be adopted towards her charge. To superintend every arrangement relating to the comfort and necessities of your children, to manifest your deep interest in their welfare, to encourage candour and openness on the part of your servants, and to show by your manner that you are grateful for their care of your children-such a system, where the materials on which you have to work are not really bad, will rarely fail; and those who adopt such a course will be amply repaid in the possession of a trusty and able servant.

When the child has attained the power to speak and to comprehend language, the parent's task is become both lighter and heavier: lighter, because the facilities of reasoning and explanation are afforded; heavier, because the temptations of the child are increased.

* A friend has remarked to us, that a good nursery governess can be obtained almost on the same terms as a head nursery-maid, and that he has himself found very great advantage in placing a sensible, well-educated young woman in this situation. The advantage of such a superintendent for young children we of course fully admit; but we think that at present it is not possible always, or even generally, to obtain the services of young women who are well qualified.

And as to the use of language, the child must be ad. dressed in its own words. The mother must herself return to the simplicity of childhood. She must not altogether put away childish things. Her sympathy in grief and in pleasure, in hope and in joy, in amusement and in learning, is quite as necessary, and perhaps more influential than her authority; and even this must be expressed without the inaccuracies of infantine language, but with all its simplicity. We cannot relish what we do not understand; it would be hard if we were expected to act upon advice or instruction given in an incomprehensible tongue: many an unfortunate child is addressed in terms which are to it wholly unintelligible. It seldom happens that the reason of children cannot be addressed; the difficulty lies not in them, but in ourselves; not in the thing, but in the mode of expressing it. We forget the many links in the long chain which connects our early perceptions with our subsequent acquirements; but in order effectually to employ our experience in the education of others, we must retrace our steps, and become young again in word, not in deed-in feeling, not in action.

Another important duty is to provide such means of amusement, that no temptation to what is called mischief

may ensue. All healthy children will be occupied, and if occupation is not found for them, they will find it for themselves. The love of construction and destruction abounds in most children. Their toys then should be of a kind to facilitate the one and prevent the other. Such things as a box of bricks, or of houses, even a slate and pencil, are inexhaustible sources of amusement to those who have no garden: or for the winter season, books of prints, of birds, or animals in general,

may be employed with great advantage, because they excite questions, afford the parent opportunities of giving much valuable oral instruction, and induce that love of inquiry which is the parent of knowledge. Those who possess a garden have fewer difficulties to encounter in providing amusement for their children. The spade, the wheelbarrow, or waggon, the hoop, kite, and ball, are too excellent and too well known to need recommendation here; neither need we name the doll for girls, which affords constant and varied amusement and occupation, and may be made the means of inculcating much that will be subsequently useful and admirable in a female.

These toys may also be made useful in teaching order, carefulness, and steadfastness. The seeds of perseverance may be sown, by insisting on a child's remaining satisfied with one plaything for a reasonable space of time; and a power of abstraction may be conferred by accustoming it to fix its attention on the object before it, even when surrounded by other attractions. Such a habit would also prevent envy or discontent. A child who is early accustomed to be satisfied with its own allotment will scarcely be discontented at a later period. A love of order may be encouraged by the habit of putting the various toys in their respective places after use; and such a habit eventually leads to systematic carefulness and economy.

We now come to a most important part of education : the teaching of the practice of virtue—the instilling a permanent love of goodness, a hatred of evil.

Children who look upon their parents as the sources of their happiness (and all parents have the power of inculcating this feeling) will reverence their words and

« AnteriorContinuar »