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under no such doubts. “ True story” is sometimes, too, put under a title, improperly enough; for truth cannot be a story, but a history, or narrative, or fact. * Narrations, therefore, selected from the Bible, from history, geography, or made from the life, are the most eligible of all kinds of books; and when, in reply to the question just now alluded to, we say, “ What I, or you, my love, have been reading is quite true, and really did happen,” the child looks up with fixed respect and admiration, and after a great many more questions of this kind, “How old was the girl or boy, man or woman?” “ Was the little girl like me?" “ Had she a papa and mamma?” she as tall as I am ?" “ Could she do this or that?”+ after these, and other such questions, the child will say, “Read, or tell it me all again, if you please,
* These very relations, too, which are professed to be founded in well attested truths, are called “ Stories.” “ Stories from the History of England, for Children.” “ Scripture Stories.” It is highly improper to attach the word story, which at best is pleasant fiction, to grave bistory, much less the book of God. Truth should be distinguished from fiction in its title: the words “Little Histories," “ Histories for Children,” or easy, or pleasant, or simple histories ; or even historiettes would be better as applied to a relation of truths than the term story. The admirable little work which is entitled “ Scripture Stories,” is a model for compilers of pleasant infant histories from large standard works. Let no person, however, take a little book called “ Outlines of English History,” professed to be abridged from another work, as their guide, lest they trace, for infant edification, the intrigues of Rosamond, Jane Sbore, Henry VIII., &c.
+ The pretty work called the New Robinson Crusoe, founded upon the most delightful original one, is a forcible example of what I am now stating.
mamma." The truth of the relation seems to give him new zeal, ardour, and spirit, to strain every power of his tender mind. He looks upon the book as though he could worship it; and much of this eagerness is excited, because of the power which this word Truth has to captivate, and to inspire with respect. On, sacred Truth! which art born with us; which we cannot violate but with shame and sorrow; which we cannot part from, but in a fit of mad desperation; which cannot be seen without veneration, or known without love; oh, teach us so to instruct the tender and innocent child, that he may preserve the pure admiration of his nature for thee; so to form the youth, that the admiration of the child may be cherished and expanded with the study and practice of the man. For all things great, good, pure, excellent, lovely, sublime, all begin as they end, in Thee.
READING AND CONVERSATION.
" IN MY MOTHER'S HOUSE WHO WILL INSTRUCT ME?" I WILL
INSTRUCT THEE AND TEACH THEE." " DOTH NOT EVEN NATURE ITSELF TEACH YOU?" THE SWEETNESS OF THE LIPS INCREASETH LEARNING."
But when child is of himself inclined to exert his powers for the understanding and recollection of what he hears, it is not prudent to let him exhaust
himself. Even rational enjoyments should be moderate, or from pleasures they will fall off to disgustful satieties. When a mother has reason to suppose that her child must be nearly tired, she should break off her reading, or his; and do so in a very interesting place rather than any other, for two reasons : the first, that he may be anxious to return to the occupation; the second, that he may know how, in smaller matters. of amusement, to be gentle, and to wait the convenience and pleasure of others for his own gratification. This is not teazing him, but giving him a very useful lesson, which at four or five
age he is quite old enough to understand. A mother, in putting a stop to the reading, may find one of many reasons as an excuse : she may be going out to walk, or to her room to dress ; she may have a letter to write, or orders to give to a servant. If she do think proper to make one of these her excuse, she should take care to shew her child that she actually will do whatever she has told him. If a child is not deceived by others, he will seldom attempt to deceive them.
When there are pictures in the book, the mother, as a prelude to putting it aside, may stay a moment to look at them. The child will directly observe her,
“ Let me see too, mamma.” On the book being given to him, he will enter upon a long list of questions relating to these pictures. “Which is the little boy, mamma, and which is the other little boy?" “And where is the garden? which is the good girl, and which is the naughty one ?" “What is the good boy saying now, mamma?" "Is he speaking to his
sister, or to the other boy?" &c. It is worthy of remark, how perfectly the whole scene of the story seems sketched out in some very tender minds. A child will inquire for every person of the book by name; and seem disappointed if he cannot find the papas and mammas, and a family of sisters, brothers, and acquaintances, in short, the whole company of his drama, before him in one small square engraving or woodcut, of two or three inches in size.* He will be equally disappointed if the dress, or other peculiarities, should not correspond in these miserable sketches to the printed description. No faithfully engraved scene is lost upon a reflecting child. He will look in the picture of a cow for the horns, hoofs, tail, ears, eyes ; count every spot in her skin, and be delighted at the fidelity of the portrait. He will even endeavour to make out the very tuft of grass that is to be cropped by the animal. The pictures for childrens' books should in consequence be better designed and executed than we sometimes find them; but a faithful illustration is impossible, where one engraving or cut is made to serve for the representation of different scenes in different works.
At length the child himself will be able to read; and not only able to read, but willing to seek in that employment for his own amusement. Now the first book which is left with him, for he never should have
* I have seen a child quite distressed to make three or four old fashioned figures, and all nearly of a size, in one picture, suit the description of half a dozen heroes and heroines, of whom some were adults, some little children.
more than one given him at a time, and a new one very seldom indeed while he is very young, should be that which he has nearly learned by heart, from having heard it read many times by his mother. Some persons may imagine that the child must have lost all interest in a work he knows so well, and that he will not now read it, though he have the ability and permission to do so. But these persons judge falsely : an uncorrupted child will tremble with delight, on receiving from his mother, one by one, the little books from which she read aloud those stories which charmed his infant years, and helped to assist the development of his faculties; which instructed his mind and improved his heart ; in which every difficulty has long been cleared away, and every scene made familiar by explanation and thought. Such a child will seem to run to the perusal of this well-known story, as a man rushes to the meeting of a person most dear to his dearest friend, one who has been often and often described in his countenance, eyes, hair, stature, manners, habits, but never till
now seen, or made personally known to him. The child has heard every thing that he could possibly hear of the personages of the tale ; now he is going, as it were, to see them, and have an interview with all; to examine their speeches and actions himself, and to make acquaintance in person. Will any reflecting teacher or parent say, it is unlikely that gratification should not, in a very high degree, be attendant upon such a perusal?
It is both unnecessary and injudicious to give children under six or seven years of age many books.