Imágenes de página

root out. But when a child has learned that such things are wrong, he will fear and dislike the evil-doer, and avoid him as he would fly from any vicious animal.

The child having learned to distinguish between good and evil, and acquired habits of obedience, self-control, a love of truth, an affectionate confidence in its preceptor, with some idea of the utility of knowledge, and of its power to confer amusement (and in childhood amusement is happiness), the imaginary difficulty of learning to read will be half overcome, before the task appears to have commenced. And let it be observed that, as learning ought to be made pleasurable, so let it never be held forth as the awful affair it has been so long considered. It is only the ignorance or pedantry of the teacher which invests it with an austerity both false and hateful.

From the above remarks the following conclusions may be fairly drawn :

First, that the formation of good habits is practicable at a very early age.

Second, that a system of regular control may be established and acted upon before the reasoning faculties and powers of speech are much developed.

Third, that with the development of reason and language increased means are afforded.

Fourth, that success in life and character depend more upon the parent than


the child. Fifth, that the tools (so to speak) which must be employed, are firmness, gentleness, consistency, patience, and maternal tenderness.

Sixth, that the materials to be acted upon are health, temperament, affection, and reason. From these deductions, it is clear that the mother is, to a great extent, responsible for the moral well-being of her child ; that she has a duty to fulfil, demauding the practice of all the virtues which she wishes to inculcate, and requiring an informed and unprejudiced mind, with a clear and unwarped judgment. The personal attention required of her will not, if her time be well regulated, interfere with other duties.

We have advanced nothing that is not practicalnothing that is not in the power of every mother. Wc cannot even allow that there is much difficulty in what we propose: the greatest lies in the self-knowledge and self-command required by the parent. We have heard many mothers assert that they send their


children to a preparatory school because they have not time to attend to them at home. Have they found time to inquire into the system of that school, and the character of the companions whom their children will meet there? Do they find time to examine either the moral or intellectual attaininents of their children? — to ascertain whether they have acquired virtuous habits ?-or are they merely satisfied with knowing that Miss or Master is learning spelling, reading, geography, grammar, writing, and arithmetic. If mothers cannot find time personally to superintend the elementary education of their children, neither will they find time to ascertain how that education proceeds.

But they may eventually find time to lament over the influence of bad example, the ignorance of virtue, and the acquaintance with evil, in which their children have grown up ;-they will have to mourn the loss of affection, confidence, friendship, and parental influence ; and in addition to this, they may some time discover that their children have grown up entirely deficient in all useful or solid acquirements.



By J. C:


Delivered before the American Institute of Instruction, August, 1830.

When I had the honour of being invited to make some remarks at this meeting on the subject of physical education, I felt much hesitation in undertaking the task. This hesitation arose from the apprehension that professional occupations would render it impracticable for me to present the subject in such a form as to excite the interest it demands. Aware, however, that the course of my pursuits had put me in possession of facts having an important bearing on the present modes of education, and feeling anxious that these facts should be made known to instructors and parents, and others concerned in the management of the rising generation,-I felt myself called on to waive the consideration of the objections to this labour, and to trust the results of my experience, in such a dress as I could afford to give them, to the candour of those to whom they were to be submitted.

Nature has destined that the physical and intellectual education of man should be conducted in very different modes. The culture of the mind requires the carly, constant, and well-directed efforts of an artificial system. That of the physical faculties is fully effected by the powers of unassisted nature. All that she asks is, that we would leave her free and unconstrained. Unhappily, our state of civilization, while it has copiously supplied the means of intellectual improvement, has, nearly in the same ratio, raised obstacles to the development of the physical powers; and if we wished to restore to those their original spring, we should either revert to our primitive condition, or find substitutes in art for the modes employed by nature.

Considerations of this description have presented themselves occasionally, as I have been called to observe the evils arising from the prevalent systems of education, and also from too steady an application to literary pursuits in those whose education was completed. At one period, my attention was excited to the unfavourable influence of studious and sedentary habits on health, by the occurrence of alarming indisposition among the members of the sacred profession, a number of whom became its premature and much-lamented victims. At another, I witnessed the effects of a mistaken system, on the constitution of multitudes of the fairest work of creative power. I have had the misfortune to behold, when it was too late to apply a remedy, numerous instances of decay in the most vigorous constitutions, and of distortion in the best proportioned forms.

The importance of health to the regular exercise of the faculties of mind, as well as those of body, is very well understood in theory, and very generally neglected in practice. We are daily seen to accumulate the treasures of science on intellects where the physical machinery is disordered and made useless by the burden. What is the value of a brilliant genius, or a highly cultivated mind, to a weak and labouring frame? Let us suppose the existence of such a case in either of thę learned professions. If it occur in the minister of religion, the organs of utterance are enfeebled, and the power of instructing his hearers is diminished or destroyed. The thoughts that should speak remain unembodied in language, and the words that should burn are extinguished on his lips. His usefulness is impaired in the moment of his full career; and even if his days are not cut off at an early period, he finds his mental abilities prematurely chained down by bodily weakness.

If it happen in the interpreter of the law,- the powerful workings of the mind in the investigation of obscure points, and the elaboration of profound arguments, break down a sickly and yielding organization, and bring on a train of nervous affections and perverted imaginations, as permanent perhaps as life, and less supportable than death.

Again, a bad constitution in a professor of the heal. ing art keeps him at variance with all his duties. How can he heal others, in whom the springs of health act feebly and imperfectly? A laborious and active course of duty demands a bodily vigour that can endure all kinds of unseasonable labour; a steadiness of fibre that can bear without agitation the sufferings of others, while attempting to relieve them; and a firmness of health able to resist the attacks of those malignant epidemics that prostrate a whole community.

When we regard the influence of a debilitated body on the more delicate sex, we find it not less distressing. А

yoning female, at the age of twelve or fourteen, presents a beautiful figure, rosy cheeks, an airy step, and the fulness of life and happiness in every movement,

« AnteriorContinuar »