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is in them, as a critic of sound judgment and correct taste has well remarked, “not a single character that could possibly be meant for any living individual which the original might not be proud to acknowledge. The author has shewn that there is no natural or necessary connexion between laughter and scorn; that all the pleasure to be derived from a perception of the ludicrous may be combined with perfect love and veneration for the being at whom we smile.” This may be fairly given as a safe rule for the restriction of humour within the bounds of Christian benevolence and good taste.


The faculty of Observation, which may without hyperbole be called the eye of the mind, instead of being an object of early attention and solicitude to those who educate children, is in general very imperfectly exercised: and yet, were proper means taken, nothing is easier, simpler, or more straightforward than the process of developing it.

Every-day experience shews us the truth of this in the instances before our eyes, of observation, restricted certainly to one or a few objects, but, as far as regards those objects, astonishingly acute and rapid. Thus, among females remarkable for a love of finery, how quick, as I had occasion elsewhere to remark, is their perception of any change in the fashion of female attire; how lynx-eyed are they in discovering the minutest

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beauties or defects in the material or making up of any articles of dress worn by persons of their

Not a plait or puffing escapes their notice. Introduce them into a gallery of the finest pictures in the world, and it is an hundred to one if their attention be attracted to any other thing than the costume in which the portraits are arrayed; unless the spirit of vanity should induce them to criticise features or complexion.

In like manner, throughout the various branches of the trades, where education has been neglected, and the attention exclusively devoted to the specific article by which money is made, the faculty of observation will be found keen and discriminating in regard to that one engrossing pursuit, accompanied by a proportionate obtuseness to all else. Even amongst men of science, the sphere of observation is sometimes too circumscribed, owing, doubtless, to causes somewhat similar; namely, the habit of confining the attention to one distinct class of objects, instead of extending it, as early and judicious culture would have taught them to do, to the numberless other objects which lie within the range of their vision, but which are all but unseen by them. We have no reason to suppose that this enlargement of the faculty from exercise would prove detrimental to the one peculiar object in pursuit; but, on the contrary, that it would be productive of a corresponding increase of knowledge, as well as of enjoyment; for in such an astonishing degree does habit facilitate the operation of attention, that especially with regard to the objects of perception it becomes involuntary, and is carried on without effort.

The importance of cultivating the power of observation is so vast, both as regards its utility to ourselves and others, and its power of adding to the sum of our innocent enjoyments, that it ought unquestionably to form a primary part of education. Instead of this, however, it is too common a practice to check every indication of it in young children. The nurse-maid does her utmost to put an extinguisher upon it in the nursery, because it is a faculty liable to give her some trouble. Parents and preceptors, I fear, for no better reason than that which actuates the nurse-maid, follow her example. “Don't ask questions-don't touch this or that thing-let it alone – it is nothing which concerns you,” are the rebukes which the naturally enquiring mind of childhood encounters when it seeks information.

Thus checked and reproved, the propensity to observe becomes a source of regret, as connected with disgrace or punishment, and, as might be expected, gradually subsides into inactivity. The eyes of the mind becoming closed to the objects visible to the eyes of the body.

After such cruel mismanagement, how unreasonable it is to expect that the child will derive that benefit from the lessons afterwards taught him by his masters, or from the books he reads, which he would have done, had his natural cu

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riosity been indulged, and duly informed, and through that the faculty of observation been exercised.

The children of the poor do not in general exhibit nearly so much curiosity as the children of the opulent; for this difference between the two classes it is not difficult to account. In the first place, the life of drudgery to which most of the former are condemned from a very early age, has the effect of blunting their faculties, or, at least, of confining them to the one monotonous pursuit at which they labour. Then the objects of art and luxury which fall under their notice are exceedingly limited; for, it is worthy of remark, that man, in an uncultivated state, is rarely found to wonder at or admire the works of nature; it is the works of art alone that call forth his approbation or excite his surprise.

Savages—I do not allude to those nobler tribes, such, for example, as the North American Indians, who, having cultivated poetry, cannot be entirely insensible to the magnificence of naturebut savages, in the literal acceptation of the term; these may live amidst scenes of the highest natural beauty and grandeur, daily witnessing the various phenomena of nature, and yet experience neither pleasure nor curiosity. But shew them a few tawdry ornaments, or any, to them, unfamiliar article manufactured by man, and their astonishment and rapture are unbounded.

Little different from the savage is the utterly


uneducated portion of civilized communities. They wonder not, admire not any thing which nature exhibits to their view. They look up to the star-lit sky without emotion, and down upon the earth, enamelled with a thousand flowers, and teeming with myriads of living creatures, and still see nothing to wonder at or to admire. They are precisely in the predicament of Peter Bell, of whom the Poet hath recorded, that

“A primrose by a river's brim,
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more."

These oft-parodied lines, simple though they be, contain within them profound philosophy. I recommend those who are too dull to discover it, to turn for explanation to another passage in the works of the same great poet, where two lines, as much distinguished for elevation of tone as those above quoted are for simplicity, will throw additional light upon the subject.

“The meanest flower that blows, can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”

To the mind whose observant faculty has been quickened and directed by education, what unspeakable delight does a walk in the dew-dropped meadows or high over-arching woods afford! And this joy is greatly enhanced if a lively imagination and some share of artistic taste and practical knowledge of drawing be superadded. Not a weatherstained rock or tenement, not a moss-covered

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