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cess, in quantity and quality, and thereby laying the foundation of pernicious and disgusting habits : of such a temperance (and that for mere infants goes no further) I have spoken. In fact, this virtue is the first we practically enforce, by which the very best food of its kind is allowed, but not to be made luscious, and dangerously tempting, by the addition of ingredients, which serve only to please the palate, and to excite to repletion.
Of the other virtues, then, I propose to treat, not after a speculative, but a practical manner. He who sits down with a purpose to form the human mind and heart on a mass of theory and no experience, is like the clerk of a banking-house, who pretends to meet all demands on the firm, and is yet unprovided with any silver, or inferior coin of the realm. Speculative treatises are amusing, but not always useful, and that which is not useful is not worth a part of man's existence: of existence, which in the best pursuits is spent, ere it is appreciated, and terminates, oh how often! in the most lengthened period, ere the end for which we received it from our Maker is considered ! The virtues here to be spoken of shall be brought down to a level within a child's attainment; and they will be found to make a code of infant moral law, which gentle enforcement, and regular habit, will render familiar, and happy consequences pleasing ; for the great decree of providence immutably fixes misery and uneasiness to vice and wrong; happiness and satisfaction to virtue and right. He who practises goodness is as surely certain to feel inward satis
faction, as that he who commits sin is to find attendant misery
That most interesting question put to the Redeemer by Pilate, “ What is truth ?” was not answered, because as soon as it was asked he left the hall; but we know that the Saviour and his Apostles attached infinite importance to it, undoubtedly in a moral as well as in a religious sense. Indeed rigid truth banishes every idea of deception, prevarication, or artifice, and without a recourse to all, or one of these, none of the principal virtues can be violated. Truth, in every shade and appearance, is therefore the first virtue to cultivate in the infant heart. Not actually by precept, for words are hard sounding, and all language is alike foreign, we must recollect, to infancy, but by actions, which come home, and carry conviction to every awakening sense ; for the just, open conduct of all persons who have to do with chil. dren, will work a way to their feelings and underderstanding, which, as adamant, would have resisted impression from more direct but less sure attacks.
Virtue or goodness may be shown in action and speech, but the sure test is by acts. Speech is very artificial, and few persons there are who will not at times
say what they do not feel. Action is nearer to feeling, for deeds sometimes tell a tale of opposition to words; therefore, to speak and act well, we must think soundly: or, to excel in practice, we must have good principles; and these, the acquirement of the virtues, secures us.
With regard to truth, then, it seems children must be early led to think uprightly, and upright speech
and action will follow. Thus the whole force of the argument seems to point to thought : for he who is taught to encourage and have good thoughts, discovers them in his speech, and openly manifests them in his actions before the world. With what a beautiful propriety, then, did the poet say, that a mother's most delightful task must be
“ To teach the young idea how to shoot." There is a peculiar grace in this metaphor. Idea is made a tender plant, which is to put forth blossom, and hereafter to bear fruit. Now the mother's business is not meant to consist in urging her child to think, for thoughts with age will spring up, undoubtedly, in the human mind; so neither can we suppose, but that if a healthy scion were put into the ground, it would grow without assistance from us; but the word how imparts a spirit, a force, and a moral, which have made this line so famous. teach the young idea how to shoot,” for ideas may take either of two directions, the wrong, or the right, and a scion put into the ground may shoot up in either direction, according as it is trained or neglected, and grow either straight and perfect, or crooked and deformed.
To teach an infant how to think, is then the grand object : and to teach him how to think uprightly, or to give him the virtue of truth in thought, is now our particular consideration.
TRUTH even to thought! And is this noble gift in our power ? Can one person train up virtues in another ? Shall faulty man, whose nature is constantly rebelling against goodness, shall he, can he be made excellent by art? And further, does not evil predominate or strive for mastery in one nature more than in another? If we even do succeed with one disposition, are we to expect success with all ? Are all nature's works in her several species the same? Does every oak bear an equal number of acorns ? Is every bee as vigorous as her neighbour? And are all clouds of equal density ?
To these questions I answer : that as far as excellence is implied in mere virtue, or moral goodness, it should seem that any one, by dint of extreme care from his infancy upward, may be made to possess it. That dispositions from the birth are seen and known to vary in a very great degree ; some inclining to be bad, evidently more than others; on which account that the labour and pains bestowed on these must be in proportion to the necessity; that where success has followed a small undertaking through one means, it may be reasonably expected to produce the same again in a greater instance, but of the same kind, if
the requisite exertion be doubled; and finally, that as the responsibility increases, so is the necessity aug. mented for watchfulness, zeal, and faithful observation. We may judge, then, if a mother be fitted for this exertion, or may hope for success from the use of it: or whether, if she decline the task, she may expect happy results from the committal of it to others.
And even should a very extraordinary case present itself, in which the most scrupulous care and earnest endeavours have in part failed of their object, from the violence of propensity and the evil of nature, we are still bound in duty to persevere, in the wellgrounded confidence that good must ultimately arise somehow or somewhere, from the discharge of duty. The earth does not refuse her nourishment to the bad seed, or the crooked tree. Summer rains descend on the nettle as on the rose. Like nature, so is the good mother. Her children are plants, which she supports, strengthens, and tends with never-ceasing care, whether they be weeds or whether they be flowers.
A child left to himself, says the royal moralist, bringeth his mother to shame ; is a disgrace to his parents. Human nature, then, leans to evil? It does so ; and from the earliest periods of infancy is this apparent.
Leave him not then to himself, ye mothers, and it follows that you shall rejoice in him ; and if evil shall so dreadfully preponderate that you cannot reap success, you shall at least have comfort from the recollection of your labour and exertion.