Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

. (page 76 of 121)
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sical education,— that, when children begin to lisp
out a few words, or syllables, grtat care ought to be
taken to give them an accurate and distinct prowun-
elation, Everv sound we wish them to pronounce,
should be slowly and distinctUf uttered before them,
beginning with single sounds, and proceeding to
easy words ; and they should never be taught any
pronunciation which they will afterwards be under
the necessity of unlearning. The pleasure we feel
at first hearing them aim at the CLse of language, is
apt to dispose us to listen with such attention, as to
relieve them from the necessity of acquiring a dis-
tinct and open articulation. The conseauence is,
that they get into a rapid, indistinct, and hesitating
mode of speaking, which is afterwards very difr
cuh, and sometimes impossible to correct. Would
we teach them a plain and distinct articulation, we
should uniformly speak with distinctness and accu-
racy in their presence ; and refuse to answer their
requests, unless they are expressed with the great-
est precision and accuracy which their organs of
articulation will permit. Attention to this circum-
stance would smooth the way to accurate and early
reading, and prevent much trouble both to teacher
and scholar, when the child commences a regtilar
train of instruction.

I have been induced to offer these few hints on
this subject, from a strong conviction, that the phy-
sical education of children is intimately connected
with the development of mind— and that whatever
tendj to promote health, and to strengthen the ani-
mal frame^ will also tend to invigorate the soul, and
call forth mto exercise its energies and powers.

%Onth€ M»rat Jiu^ruaion ofJnfamts.

This is a subject of peculiar importance, to which
the attention of every parent oagnt to be early and
thoroughly directed. No duties are generally more
trifled with than those which relate to the moral tui-
tion of infukts ; and even sensible and pious parents
too frequently err on this point, and lay the rotmda-
tionof many bitter regrets and perplexities in after
life, both to themselves and to their ofl^ring. On
the mode in which a child is traine<i| dunng the
two or three first years of its existence, will, in a
great measure, depend the comfort of its parents,
and its own happiness during the succeeding pe-
riods of its existence.

The first and most important rule on this subject,
and which may be considered as the foundation of
all the rest, i>-that an absohUe and entire authority
wtrihe chUdf shotUd, as early aspostibUy be establish-
ed. By authority I mean, a certain air and ascend-
ant, or such a mode of conducting ourselves towards
children, as shall infUlibly secure obedience. This
authority is to be obtained neither by age nor sta-
ture—by the tone of the voice, nor by threatening
hmgnage; but by an ertn, firm, niodmte dispod-



tion of mind — ^which is always master of itself—
which is guided only by reason — and never acts im-
der the impulse of mere fancy or angry passions. If
we wish such authority to be absolute and complete
— and nothing short of this ought to be our aim— we
must endeavor to acquire this ascendancy over the
young at a very early period of their lives. Children
at a very early age are capable of reasoning, of com-
paring different objects with each other, and of
drawmsr conclusions from them. I have seen a
child of eight months turn round and point at a
portrait, when the name of the individual whom it
represented was announced ; and another, not much
older, point firsW to the original and then to the
painting, indicating its perception of the resem*
blance of Jhe one to the otner. And as the rational
and perceptive powers soon begin to operate, so we
find that stubbornness, obstinacy, anger, and a spirit
of independence, di^lay themselves at a very earlr
period, even when tne child is sucking its mother?
breast. " What mean those cries, (says Aogusiine J
those tears, the threatening gesture of the eyes,
sparkling with rage, in an infant, when resolved ir
^in his point with all his force, or inflamed with
jealousy against one another t Though its infan-
tine members are weak and imbecile, its passioos
are sometimes strong and furious. I have seen a
child burning with iealousy. He could not yet ni-
ter a word, but, with a pale coimtenance, coold cast
a furious look at anotJier child who was sucking
with him at the same breast."

These circumstances clearly point out the period
for subduing the bad inclinations of children, and
training them to submission and obedience. From
the age of ten or twelve months, and earlier if pos-
sible, every parent ought to commence the establish-
ment of autnority over his children; for the knger
it is delayed after this period, the more difficult it
will be to bring them under complete control. This
authority is to be acquired— not l^ pa.ssionately
chiding and beating children at an early a^e— bat
by accustoming them to perceive that our wtU must
always prevail over theirSf and in no instance allow-
ing them to gain an ascendancy, or to counteract a
command when it has once been given. Dr. Wither-
spoon recommends the following plan to accustom
ctiildren to obedience: — "As soon as they begin to
show their inclination by desire or aversion, let
single instances be cho6$en, now and then, Tnot too
frequently,) to contradict them. For example, if a
child shows a desire to have any thing in nis band
that he sees, or has any thing in his hand with
which he is delighted, let the parent take it from
him ; and when he does so, let no consideration
whatever make him restore it at that time. Then,
at a considerable interval, perhaps a whole day is
little enough, let the same thing be repeated. In the
mean time, it must be carefully observed, that no at-
tempt should be made to contradict the child in the
intervals. Not the least appearance of opposition,
if possible, should be found between the will of the
parent ana that of the child, except in those chosen
cases when the parent must always prevail. ICeiiher
mother nor nurse should ever presume to condole
with the child, or show any signs of displeasure at
his being croned; but, on the contrary, give every
mark ofapprobation. This experiment, ftnequcntly
repeated, will in a little time so perfectly haoituate
the chila to yield to the parent whenever he inte^
feres, that he will make no opposition. I can as-
sure yon fVom experience, having literally prac-
tised this method myself, that I never had a chikl
of twelve months old but would suffer me to take
any thing fW>m him or her, without the least mark
of anger or dissatisfiiction. while they would not
sufil^r any other to do so without the bittereiit com*
pUinta."



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Snch experiments, if properly coadacted, would
gradually produce in children habits of obedience :
but they require to be managed with judgment and
prudence, and gradually extended from one thing to
another, till absolute submission is produced ; care,
however, being taken that the chiia be not «i»9i«ces-
sariUf contracucted or irritated. The Rev. Mr.
Cecily in some of his writings, relates an experiment
of this kind which he triedon his own daughter, a
Uulc girl of about three or four years old. She was
standing one day before the fire, amusing herself
with a string of be&ds, with which she appeared to
be highly delighted. Her father apptroached her,
and said, " What is this you are playing with, my
little dear 1" ** My beads, papa." " Show me these
beads, my dear." She at once handed them to her
&ther, wDo immediately threw them into the fire.
"Now," said he, "let them remain there." She
immediately began to cry. " You must not cry, my
dear, but be quite contented." She then sat down
oo the floor, and amused herself with some other
toys. About two or three dajrs aAer this, he pur-
chased another string of beads much more valuable
•and brilliant, which he immediately presented to
her. She was much delighted with the appearance
of the new set of beads. " Now," said her father,
** I make a present of these to you, because you was
a good girl, and gaye me your beads when I asked
them." She felt, in this case, that obedience and
submission to her parent were attended with happy
effects, and would be disposed, in her future con-
duct, (o rely on his wisdom and affection.* Chil-
dren trained in this way, with firmness and aff*eo-
tion, soon become happy in themselves, and a com-
fort to their parents ; and those scoldings, conten-
tions, and sounds of discord, so frequently heard in
the family mansion, entirely prevented.

In order to establish complete authority, and se-
cure obedience, the following rule must be invaria-
bly acted upon — that no commamd, either Inf wordf
lock, or gesiure^ skotUd be given, which is not intend-
ed to be enforced and obeySi, It is the rock on which
most parents split, in infantile education, that, while
they are almost incessantly giving commands to
their children, they are not careful to see that they
are punctoally ob^ed; and seem to consider the
occasional violation of their injunctioDS, as a yery
trivial fhult, or as a matter of coorse. There is no
practice more common than this, and none more
ruinous to the authority of parents, and to the bMt
interests of their o&pring. When a child is ac-
customed, by frequent repetitions^ to counteract the
will of h» parent, a habit of insubordination is
gradually induced, which sometimes grows to such
a height, that neither entreaties, nor threats, nor
corporeal punishment, are sufficient to counteract
its tendencies ; and a sure foundation is laid for
many future perplexities and sorrows. The rule,
therefore, shookl be absolute— that every parental
command ought to be enforced. And, in order to
this, it is requisite that every command be reawnth
Mc— that a compliance with it produce no wimeces-
sarjf pain or trouble to the child — that it be express-
ed m the words of kindmttu and affection— ^Ma that
it ought never to be delivered in a spirit of pamon
or resenimenA. Reproof or correctaon given in a
rage, and with words of fury, is always considered
as the effect of weakness and of ihe want of self-
command, and unifbrmly frvtrates the pturpose it
was intended to stibaerve. " I have heard," says

• This relation is not taken directly from Mr.
Cecirs writings. If I recollect right, it was intend-
ed to illustrate the nature of faith; but it may lUie^
wise exemplify the benefits which flow from unre-
served obedience to the eomaands of an aiectkm-
itaputnL



Dr. Witherspoon, "some persons of^ say, that
they cannot correct their children unless they are
angry ; to whom I have usually answered, * Then
you ou«ht not to correct them at all.' Every one
would be sensible, that for a magistrate to discover
an intemperate nge in pronouncmg sentence against
a criminal, would be highly indecent ; and oucht
not parenu to punish their children in this same dis-
passionate manner 1"

One of the greatest obstacles in the way of ac-
quiring complete authority, is the want of fortitude
and perseverance, especially on the part of the mo-
ther. She is sometimes oppressed with anxieties
and difficulties, busied with domestic affiurs,or per-
haps has a young infant at the breast that requires
her chief attention, or strangers may have paid a
visit to the funily. Her olaer child becomes rest-
less and fretful, and runs throtigh the dwelling,
disturbing every one with his cries. She tries to
coax him with flattering promises ; but it is of no
avail. He is perhaps crying for something which
she does^iot think proper to give. She at len|[th
scolds and threatens, and attempts to strike, which
generally makes the child redouble his cries. Wea«
ried out, at length, with his cries and tears, and
anxious to attend to some necessary affairs, she al-
lows herself to be vanquished, and submits to his
desires. Sugar, jellies, or plumcakes, are supplied
to pamper his depraved appetite, and put an end to
his crying ; and, being exnausted with screaming,
in a snort time he drops asleep. The same process
is repeated, when similar circumstances occur. —
Now, it is admitted that there is a difficulty in such
cases ; but it is a difficulty whichimcjf be overcome,
if we would not become slaves to our children, and
reader them disobedient and unhappy through life.
Were a mother, for a few days, or weeks at most,
to make a strong efibrtt and to sacrifice fbr a little
her own ease, and even some urgent business, and
never flinch from the object till complete submission
be accomplished, she would soon gain the requisite
ascendancy ; and, having acquired it, it would save
her fVom a multitude of troubles and perplexities,
which must otherwise be felt during succeeding
years— prevent the necessity of scolding, threaten-
ing, and whipping^and lay a sure foundation for'
domestic harmony and filial afi*ection. But th«
longer she delajrs. the more difficult it will be to ac-
quire the requisite ascendancy; and the mother
who trifles with this important duty, from day to
day, lays the foundation of many bitter regrets and
self-reproaches readers her children curses instead
of blessings— and will, sooner or later, feel the
effects of her misconduct, and behold her nn in her
punishment.

The violation of parental authority, especial^
among the children ot the lower ranks, is so com-
mon, that it ceases to excite wonder or surprise.
One can scarcely walk the streets without seeinc
parental authority disre|rarded. A father is beheld
with a whip or a stick m his hand, driving home
his stubborn son, as if be were " a bullodc unaccus-
tomed to the ^oke"— and a mother rtraning after
her child with looks of f\iry and words of execration,
seizing him by the shoulders, beating him with her
fists, and dragginfr him along like a piece of lum*
ber, while the little urchin is resisting with aU hii
might, and bellowing like an ox. A short time ago^
I was passing along the suburb of a large town,
when I beheld a child of about three years old
amosinK himself on the footpath before his dwell-
ing. His mother lipproacbed the threshold, and
caUed him in. *" Come awa' Jamie, to the house,
it's a cauld day." Jamie paid no attention to the
command, but moved with the utmost deliberstion
to a graatnr distance. " Come awa'," says his mo-
ther a stoood tine, <« aad FUgiayetOM good thing.*'



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MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



James, howerer, marched on to a stiU greater dis-
tance. " Come back, Jamie," rejoined the mother,
** and ni gie ye an apple." James paused for a
moment, and looked back with a kind of leer; hot,
recolkcting, perhaps, that his mother bad often
promiBed. and failed in performing her promises, he
set off with more speed than beforei His mother
now became yociieroa«, and bawled out, " Come
back, yoa little villain, or Til whip you, as sure's
Tm alive." James, however, who appeared to have
known his mother better than she knew herself, still
marched cm. The foolish mother now became fu-
rious, rushed after the child, and dragged him home
like a squeaking pig. lamenting that her children
were so stubborn and disobedient ; and forgetting,
in the mean time, that she herself was their in-
structor, and the cause of their obstinacy and diso-
bedience. Children brought up in this manner are
not only unhappy in themselves, but not tmfrequent-
ly become pests m society, and particularly to the
public instructors of youtn, who find it extremely
difficult, and sometimes next to impossible/ to bring
them under control and subordination to scholastic
order and discipline— without which their progress
in learning cannot be promoted.

Some children, even in the same fhmily, are pli-
ant and of tender ftelings^ and are easily brought
under subjection by a jumcious parent ; while others
are naturally proud, self-willed and obstinate. But
even in the worst supposable cases, it is quite prac-
ticable, by firmness and prudent management^ to
bring the most sulky and stubborn under subjection.
This may be illustrated from the following i&ctjCX-
tracted from an excellent little work, entitled "The
Mother at Home, or the Principles of Maternal
Duty familiarly illustrated ; by the Rev. John S. C.
Abbot, of Worcester, America."*—" A gentleman,
a few ^ears since, sitting by his fireside one evening,
with his family around nim, took the ^IHng-book.
and called upon one of his little sons to come ana
read. John was about four years-old. He knew all
the letters of the alphabet perfectly, but happened at
that moment to be in rather a sullen humor, and was
not at all disposed to mtify his father. Very re-
luctantly he came as he was bid: but when his fa-
ther pointed to the first letter or the alphabet, and
said, 'What letter is that, Johnl' he could gel no
answer. John looked upon the book, snlky and
silent ' My son ' said the father pleasantly, ' you
know the letter A.' ' I cannot say A,' said John.



• While I was writing the preceding paragrapht
this interesting little vorame was put into my hands
—a volume which I would strongUf recommend to
the perusal of every parent. Its style is simple and
perspicuous, its sentiments rational and pious, tod
are uniformly illustrated with a variety of appro-
priate examples taken firom real life^-so that the
most ignorant and illiterate may easily enter into
all the views and representations of the author, and
feel their propriety and force. Were the principles
inculcatea in this smaU volume w/tfenauf recog-
nised and acted tipon, the aspect of the moral world
would, ere lonj^, undergo an important change, and
a new generation would soon spring up, to renovate
the world, and to hail the commencement of the
millennial era. The amiable author himself ap-
pears to be an affectionate and " GraUful Stmt"
for, instead of attempting to curry favor with the

Oby dedicating nis work to the Earl of F. the
ess of G. or the President of the United States,
he very appropriately dedicates it to his " FHiher
and Mother J* of whom he speaks with affectionate
regard. Tne volume is very neatly got up, contains
above 140 pages, pretty closely printed, and is sold,
neatly bound, for only ona shilling : to that it is
witfam the reach of the poorsat ikmi^.



' You must,* said the father in a serious and decided
tone ; ' what letter is that V John refused to an-
swer. The contest was now fairly commenced.—
John was wilful, and determined tnat he would not
read. His father knew that it would be roiDoos to
his son to allow him to conouer ; he felt that be
must at all hazards subdue him. He took him into
another room, and punished him. He then return-
ed, and again showed John the letter ; but John still
refused to name it. The father again retired with
his son, and punished him more severely. Bat it
was unavailmg. The stubborn child still refoaed
to name the letter ; and when told that it was A, de-
clared that he would not say A. Again the father
inflicted punishment as severely as he dared (o do
it, and still the child, with his whole frame in agi-
tation, refused to yield. The father was su&rinF
with most intense solicitude. He regretted exceecf
ingly that he had been drawn into the contest. He
had already punished his child with a severity which
he feared to exceed : and yet the wilful sufferer
stood before him, sobbing and trembling, but appa-
rently as unyielding as a rock. I have often heard
that parent mention the acuteness of his feelin|y
at that moment ; his heart was bleeding at the pain
which he had been compelled to inflict upon hl« sod.
He knew that the question was now to be settled,
who should be master; and after his son had with-
stood so long and so much, he greatly feared the
result. The mother sat by, suffering of course most
acutely, but perfectly satisfied that it was their doty
to subdue the child, and that, in such a trying boor,
a mother's feelings must not interfere. With a
heavy heart, the father again took the hand of his
son, to lead nim out of the room for farther punish-
ment ; but, to his inconceivable joy, the child shrunk
fVom enduring any more suffering, and cried, ' fa-
ther, ni tell the tetter.' The fauier, with feelings
not easily conceived, took the book and pointed to
the letter. ' A,* said John, distinctly and fhlly.—
' And what is that V said the father, pointing to the
next letter. * B,' said John. * And what is that 1*
* C,' he continued. * And what is that V pointinff
again to the first letter. ' A ' said the now humbled
child. 'Now carry the book to your mother, and
tell her what the letter is.' ' What letter is that,
my son V said his mother. ' A,' said John. He
was evidently perfectly subdued. The rest of the
children were sitting by, and they saw the contest,
and they saw where was the victory ; and John
learned a lesson which he never forgot : be learned
never again to wage such an unequal warfare-4e
learned that it was the safest and happiest coorstf
for him to obey."

The conduct of the prent, in this case, so Ux
fVom being branded witn harshness or cruelty, was
the dictate of mercy «nd love. Had the son been

Eermitted to obtain the mastery, it might not cnly
ave proved his ruin through life, but have Intro*
duced a spirit of insubordination among the other
branches of the family. The only fault which, pe^
haps, may be attributed to the father, in the present
instance, was his insisting on his son pointing ont
the letters when he happened to be in a "jaflM
kuimor,^ But, after the contest was commenced, it
was indiqiensable to the happiness and order of the
family, that victory should be obtained on the part
of the parent. And this circumstance suggests the
followmg rule^that, Wke% children htMonUUi^
afr€if%L or jutty ktmor, €Miif disagretalAe comrnmi
or iiUwHcHon thai is noi indispemabUj ought ie If
avoided ; for it is best to prevent collisions of this
kind, at a time when children are disposed to " som-
mon up all their energies to disobey."

Another important maxim in infantile instructHA
Y$.tkMinMmgUUiUorrefrmiiUdiockilini^i^
wm ii stridi^ aoeordani with tmtk Thia:



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is yiolated in thousand)) of instances by mothers and
nanes, to the manifest injury of the moral principles
and the intellectual powers of the young. The sys-
tem of nature is frequently misrepresented, and even
caricatured^ when its objects are pointed out to child-
ren i qualities are ascribed to them which they do
not possess ; their real properties are concealed, and
even imaginary invisible beings, which have no ex-
istence in the universe, are attempted to be exhibit-
ed to their imagination. The moon is sometimes
represented as within reach of the child's grasp,
when he is anxiously desired to take hold of it ; a
table or a chair is represented as an animated being,
when he is desired to strike it in revenge, after hav-
ing knocked his head against it ; a dog or a cat is
represented as devoid of feeling, when he is en-
couraged to beat or whip these animals for his
amusement ; certain animated beings are represent-
ed as a nuisance in creation, when a boy is permit-
ted to tear asunder the legs and wings of nies, or
dyirecied to crush to death every worm or beetle that
comes in his way ; and the' sfaiades of night are ex-
hibited as peopled with spectres, when a child is
threatened with a visit of a frightful hobgoblin from
a dark apartment. In these and similar instances,
not only is the understanding bewildered and per-
verted, but the moral powers are corrupted ;— false-
hood, deceit, a revengeful disposition, cruelty to-
*jvards the lower animals, superstitious opinions and
vain alarms, are indirectly losicred in the youthful
mind. Even the pictorial representations which are
exhibited to children in their toy-books, too frequent-
ly partake of this character. The sun and moon
are represented with human faces, as if they were
small and insignificant objects, and partook of the
nature of animated beings. Peacocks and cranes.
foxes and squirrels, cats and mice, are represented
in the attitude of speakins: and of holding conversa-
tion with each other, as itthey were rational being^s
endowed with the faculty of speech. A monkey is
represented as riding on a sow, and an old woman,
mourned on a broom, as directing her course through
the air to the moon. Even when real objects are m-



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 76 of 121)