Sidor som bilder

The first demand of infancy is food and ease. Next comes that for amusement; and with the dawn of reason springs the first wish for employment. If he occupies himself in a work, in the which he can contemplate advantage or use to himself, or to any other being, he then practises industry, a virtue which is absolutely necessary to the finest genius, or the best natural disposition ; a virtue which is, in short, requisite as a stimulus to bring all virtues to perfection.

A child, then, who looks sharply round him for employment, and seizes without hesitation whatever he can carry, may have any of the (to us) trifling objects given him. We begin by the sheet of paper for example; he is delighted with the gift, looks at it, turns it round, smells, tastes it, and listens to the rustling noise which it makes. For a time this is very well; he is then tired. The nurse or mother, now called upon for exertion, takes the


and to diversify his amusement, tears it before the child. This operation astonishes, gratifies, and rouses him by the sudden crash; he perceives with much wonder and admiration that, by one magical stroke, his toy or possession is multiplied into several. He observes with attention, and never fails to attempt imitation. He soon succeeds, and can tear paper as well as his instructor. For a short time this is allowable ; but surely a work of destruction should not be the only one given to his infant imitation and zeal ? Waste and destruction are not the lawful ends of industry ; usefulness is her motto, and public or private benefit her object. That labour of the hand or the mind cannot justly be called industry, which is not con

ducted with any such view. It may be occupation, though it be worse in its tendency than idleness : but industry, unless its tendency be such as the virtue might avow, it cannot be. As soon, therefore, as the child is able to give his attention during five minutes at a time, we should endeavour to fix it to any performance which may appear something like working with a laudable hope. The very paper he has torn and thrown on the ground, with which in that state he is soon tired, a mother might pick up and twist into some pretty form; into that of a fan perhaps, whose use is immediately seen, for she begins to fan herself and the child. This is more wonderful, and withal more pleasing; for the use to which the object may be put gives it value and interest, that a child beginning to reason instantly feels. A pencil, too, is pretty enough. During a few minutes the child is satisfied to bite and handle it; but when he throws it away as fit for nothing further, if the mo. ther will quietly take it, cut a point to the lead, and draw a line or write a word on the discarded paper, how then will she observe the eyes of her infant brighten with extacy! He spreads out his hand, overjoyed to recover the treasure, which he hastily threw from him only because he knew not its worth. Perhaps, too, he desires the bright weapon which has shaped the lead ; this, however, he ought not to have, whether shut or open. A penknife is an improper thing for a child : for if he knows it will open, he will naturally wish to see it in that state, and will offer it to every one he is near to give him the opportunity. He understands not that it is a

dangerous instrument, and it seems to him strange, and even unkind, that a thing which is allowed him to possess,

he may not enjoy after his own idea. It is infinitely better to refuse altogether; and occasional refusals a well ordered child must be accustomed to, and will learn not to repine at; especially if a sensible mother is careful to put few things in his way which he can long after, this description being, generally, but such which he has seen handled by others. What child ever cried to have the pier-glass dragged from the wall and laid in his lap? Or lisped out, that he wanted the carpet to hold in his hand ? And

yet a gaudy carpet and a looking-glass are two very fine things in the child's estimation. But he has, even whilst an infant, the sense to understand that both are fixed, and cannot easily be moved. If he wishes to touch the glass, he raises up his arms to be lifted to it. If he wishes to touch the carpet, he struggles to be put down upon it, for he well comprehends he must go to both ; neither can be brought to him. But any one article which he has seen commonly used, and moved by any person, he immediately lays claim to, and motions with his hand, and urges with his voice that it should be given him. The keenest blade or the sharpest pointed scissars he will as readily put up to his mouth, or draw through bis closed fingers, as he would a bit of paper or linen; but as such weapons are highly dangerous, they must be prohibited altogether. If the child is to be taught Forbearance, he must have his first lessons whilst every lesson makes for habit. Improper things need not be purposely thrown in his way; he must

see many which he cannot and ought not to have, and they will leave full scope for the exercise of this virtue; but where it is unavoidably called on, we should, if possible, contrive a palliative ; a something which may qualify the refusal. When the mother has cut the pencil, she may offer it. The knife will be perhaps solicited. A firm refusal should instantly follow. “ No, my love, that is not proper for you, this pencil you may have ;" and having thus resolved and spoken, the knife should be quietly shut and put into the pocket; the steady manner of doing which, as much as the import of the words, would persuade the child there was nothing to hope for. If he choose to cry for it, let him cry. If he will not be satisfied with the goods he has, it is fit he should be taught. It is better he should cry in vain for a penknife, and, thence learn to be satisfied with his lot and possessions as a child, than as a man to fret in the midst of plenty and affluence for things beyond his reach ; like him who wept for another nation to conquer, when he was sovereign of a world; the sovereign of a world, but the slave, alas ! of his own caprice and will.




As children advance a little in age and strength, employment of many kinds should be found out for them. When they begłn to talk, they are continually inquiring of what use one or other thing is ; and this very word, use, should direct and influence the mother in the choice of means to promote true industry in her offspring. Regular studies, indeed book studies, are not necessary for a child under six years of six ; there is sufficient in the book of nature, and simple arts, and in the school of the virtues, to exercise mind, disposition and hand upon, till the long list of superficials which make up a modern fine education is chalked out. The beauties and wonders of nature, and the excellence of the virtues, present lessons peculiarly suited to the tenderest years; and they have this advantage, that, thus gained by heart, at the right moment, they are never forgotten.

Out of door employments for little children are various, and may be generally turned to their profit by being made of use. Those within doors require more consideration of the mother to fit them to weak hands and tender capacities. It is true that the toys

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