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parlour to that of the kitchen. If the benevolent affections have been properly cultivated, young people will not be likely to exclude servants from that courtesy which they have been taught, both by precept and example, to extend to all without exception. Let them also early be accustomed to hold themselves more independent than is usual of menial services. Let them learn to help themselves and one another.
This plan will be one of two-fold utility; and instead of being viewed as a hardship by the little folk themselves, it will prove a benefaction; since there is nothing children delight in so much as to be usefully employed. If no opportunities are afforded them of being really useful, they will make pretence of being so, or resort to positive mischief. The boy who combs off the woollen mane and tail of his wooden horse, or unharnesses it from the carriage, spoils the toy, it is true, but gives his parents a practical lesson, and tacitly bids them provide for him some occupation which will turn to good account. Urged by the same motive, the wish to be doing something useful, or of imitative utility, little girls will often be found busied in cutting and combing their dolls' wigs, and washing their faces until the paint comes off.
Never drive children into the kitchen by severity: they naturally love coaxing and flattery, and to be with those to whom they are not afraid to put questions. Servants are ever ready to gratify them in all these things; and many a child has
been taught deceit by the artful policy of unprincipled servants. Even when our domestics are well-disposed, they counteract the parental system through ignorance. It is therefore most desirable to keep them while young-for then only will there be much inclination for it, or much danger-out of their company.
To do this, parents must make some sacrifices; and is it not their duty to make sacrifices for the sake of their own offspring? But it generally happens that these sacrifices are not of a more serious kind than the relinquishment of some personal gratification; of time which otherwise might have been devoted to what the world calls pleasure: though one would imagine there would be no pleasure comparable to that which an affectionate parent would feel in watching the dawning intelligence of his child, and drawing forth the affections of his young heart.
Every hour in the society of a parent, who entertains just notions of what education ought to be, and knows how to apply them, will be an hour of moral and mental improvement gained to the child. The avocations of the father, it may be urged, are often such as to make it impossible for him to be a great deal with his children; but might he not be more with them than he is? and when with them, might he not employ the time more profitably in regard to their instruction than he does? It sometimes also happens, that owing to his own manner towards them they are under a degree of
restraint in his presence, which prevents his obtaining a true knowledge of their characters; in consequence of which many minute, but nevertheless important shades, escape his notice, and he adopts a wrong mode of correction. These are obstacles, certainly, sometimes unavoidable ones; but none such lie in the way of maternal tuition.
There are few situations in which English mothers are placed that admit not of their having much time at their own disposal; and women are, after all, both on account of their greater warmth of affection and quickness of perception, best calculated by nature to conduct the early education of their children. That they have done so sometimes most admirably, the biography of various eminent men bears testimony; and it is delightful to reflect upon the grateful filial love with which such maternal care has been rewarded. Never, we might almost venture to affirm, has there been an instance of a truly great and good man, blessed with an amiable, sensible mother, who did not in after life acknowledge his obligations to her with pride and reverence, and look back to the years during which he received her instructions as the happiest and most profitable of his existence.
Sensibility True and False Sentiment-Constitutional and Educational Sensibility- Favouritism - Benevolence to the Inferior Animals-Considered in reference to Education-How best induced.
It is a mistake to suppose that young people, or indeed persons of any age, can have too much SENSIBILITY. It is the want of sensibility, rather than the excess of it, that causes more than half the misery of this world.
"We do too little feel another's pain,
We do too much relax the social chain
What, in fact, is sensibility, but the state of being alive to the pains and pleasures of others, through that sympathy which nature intended should subsist between all creatures capable of reciprocation? The term itself, like many others, is strangely misinterpreted; and false sentiment, affectation, cowardice, sometimes even sheer selfishness, construed into sensibility, brings the latter into disrepute.
That sensibility may be converted by injudicious management into a source of evil, instead of good, is undeniable; but, under proper regulation, its
active agency in rendering mankind virtuous and happy, is equally certain. To avoid the misdirection of this invaluable quality, it will be desirable to cultivate the sensibility of young persons, through the medium of actual occurrences, rather than through that of the imagination. Every-day life, even in the most secluded places, will not be found so barren in occasions for the exercise of it as to render this impracticable. The emotions of sympathy, produced by an exercise of the imagination, as they do not invariably impel to action, are too precarious to be depended on as a certain means of exciting attention to the sufferings of others, so as irresistibly to prompt to their relief.
Books, to a certain extent, are useful in awakening the sympathy of youth; but scenes of fictitious woe ought not to be indulged in too freely; for they have the two-fold disadvantage of wearing out the sensibilities, and of investing distress either with the attributes of personal beauty, or the circumstances of romance; so as to render real distress, by comparison, when encountered in every-day life, wholly uninteresting and unrecognizable. The same objection holds good in regard to theatrical representation: too often repeated, it either becomes an unhealthy excitement, or diverts the current of sensibility away from its legitimate channel. I have seen eyes weep torrents at the woes of some fair tragedy heroine, which, I well knew, could look with a cold and tearless gaze upon the sufferings of real life.