Archibald Forbes.

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

. (page 77 of 121)
Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 77 of 121)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


tended to be depicted, such as a horse, an elephant,
or a lion, they are often surrounded and interwoven
with other extraneous objects, so that the principal
figure intended to be exhibited can scarcely be ais-
tiognished. Hence, most of our books intended for
the nursery, convey little else than vague and dis-
torted views of the objects of nature and the scenes
of human life, and are nothing short of trifiing with
the ideas that oueht to be distinctly exhibited to the
infant mind.* If children were permitted to imbibe
no ideas but what are true, or accordant with the
existing scenes of nature, their progress in useful
information would be rapid and sure, and its acqui-
sition easy and pleasant. But, as matters now stand.



* A considerable degree of knowledge may be
communicated to the voung b^ meaiis of pictorial
exhibitions ; but in orcler to thl<s they must be of a
different description from what is found in most of
our school-books and publications intended for the
nursery. Instead of caricatures, and indistinct
groups of objects unnaturally huddled together,
every object ought to be neatly^ vividly, and accu-
rately engraved, and the principal figures well de-
fined and detached iVom mere adventitious accom-
paniments *, and, if possible, colored after nature. —
The best little books and figures of this description
I have seen, are most of those published by Darton
and Harvey, London, entitled, " Instructive Hints,"
•• The Prixe for Good Children " " ^i tde Truths
for the Instruction of Children," &c. Su:, in which
the scenes of human life are neaUy and accurately
exhibited, and accompanied with many instructive
€mooB aaagted to the capscitios of youth.



one of the most difficult phrts of education consists
in cowiUroiUng the immoral principles and 'erro-
neous ideas which have been impressed upon the
mind in early life — which, in many cases, requires
arduous and long continued efforts.

It has a still more pernicious effect on the moral
principles of the young, when false assertions and
representations are made to them in reference to facts
and circumstances of a moral nature. How com-
mon is it, for example, for a mother to caiole a child
into obedience by promising him an article or a gra-
tuity which she has no intention of bestowing, or
which, perhaps, it is out of her power to bestow !—
She is about to take a walk, or to pay a visit, and
little Tom wishes to ffo along with her. This pro-
posal his mother thiuKs proper to refuse. Tom be-
gins a cryiuj?, and attempts to assail his mother by
his tears. She tries to cajole him, by telling him
she will bring home to him apples and oranges, a
little coach and four, a fiddle, a drum, or a fine new
jacket. Little Tom, perhaps, is somewhat appeased
by such flattering promises. His mother leaves
home^ pajTS her visit and returns, but forgets her
pronuses, as she never intended to ftilfil them. The
same thing is frequendy repeated, till at length the
child learns that no depenaence is to be placed on
the word of his parent. There can scaroelv be a
more direct way than this of training chilarcn to
prevarication and falsehood, and excidng them to
view with contempt their parents and guardians.—
Such deceptions are very commonly attempted, when
children are urged to take nauseous medicines for
the recovery of their health. The loathsome drug
is represented as pleasant, or in nowise unpalaUd>le,
till tne child tastes it, and, finding it offensive to his
palate, spits it out, and absolutely refuses to take
any more of the draught-awhile at the same time he
clearly perceives that he has been deceived. Mr.
Abbot relates the following story^ illustrative of this
point : — " A mo|her was once trying to persuade her
little son to take some medicine. The medicine was
verv unpalatable, and she, to induce him to take it,
declarea it did not taste bad. He did not believe
her. He knew by sad experience that her word
was not to be trusted. A gendeman and a friend
who was present took the spoon and said, * James,
this is medicine, and it tastes badly. I should not
like to take it, but I would if necessary. You have
courage enough to swallow something which does
not taste good, have you not V * Yes^^ said James,
looking a little less sulky. * but that is very bad in-
deed.' * I know it,' said the gendeman, * I presume
you never tasted any thing much worse.' The gen-
deman tnen tasted of the medicine himself, and said,
' It is very unpleasant. But now let us see if you
have not resolution enough to take it, bad as it is.'
The boy hesitatingly took the spoon. * It is bad,'
said the gentleman, * but the best way is to summon
all your resoludon, and down with it at once, like a
man.' James made, in reality, a great effort for a
child, and swallowed the dose. And whom will
this child most respect, his deceitful mother, or the
honest^ealing stranger 1 And whom will he here-
after motH readily believe 1 It ought, however, to
be remarked, that, had the child been properly go-
verned, he would at once, and without a murmur,
have ulcen what bis mother presented."

Hence the following pracUcal rules may be de-
duced iSever atUmpi tnsfiy instance to deaive tk$
yowng. How can a parent, widi anv consistenc^jr or
hope of success, inculcate upon a child^ that " it is
wicked to tell a falsehood," when the chdd perceives
his parent setting before him, in his own conduct,
an example of this vice 1 Such conduct necessarily
leads a child to distrust his parents, to despise them
in bis heart, and to practise himself the same arts
of decepd<XL - iV'«Mf sia4at a jpfMUM «0 a fiMI wAt64



Digitized by



Google



38



MORAL IMPROVEMENT OF MANKIND.



is noi intended to he pw^ctuaUy performed ; and —
Never threaten a pwnishment wMck is not intended to
be ir^ticted. Children have better memories in re-
gard to thestt things than what we are apt to snsoect,
and they draw their conclnsions, and act accorcLin^-
ly. A proper consideration of these things will
po&t oat the propriety of being very cautious and
droitmspect as to whM we promise and what we threaten
in respect to the foung^ — if we sincerely wish them
to respect truth, and be sabmissive to their superiors
and instractors.

Another rale to be attended to in infant educa-
tion, iHf that— loe should bewdre ofindulgingthe habit
of incessantly inding fault with children. The same
principles and feelings which oi)erate on adolt minds
are generally foond to affect, in a similar manner,
the minds of the young. When a man is contin a ally
found fault with, in every operation he performs,—
when his most minute deviations from accuracy are
censured and exaggerated, and his prominent excel-
lencies overlook^, and refused their due meed of
praise, he becomes disheartened in his pursuits, and
feels Httle stimulus to improvement ; whereas, the
bestowmcnt of deserved approbation animates the
mind, and excites to more assiduous exertions. In
like naanner, children are discouraged in their aims
to please their parents and i^rdians, when fault is
found with almost every thmg they do ; but there is
nothing that tends more to cheer and animate the
mind of a chUd, and to produce a desire of pleasing
his parents, than the hope of receiving the due re-
waitl of his attentions, and the smile and approba-
tion of those whom he is taught to love and ooey. —
Many little irregularities in the conduct of children,
if they be not directly vicious, or acts of disobedience,
mast be overlooked ; or if they are reproved, it should
be as seldom as possible, and with gentleness and
affection. We should always be more ready to ex-
press approbation, and to reward f;ood conduct,
than to cnide and frown at every tnvial fault that
may be committed through thoughtlessness and in-
attention. And it is surely more delightful to the
heart of an affectionate parent to have his children
excited to good conduct from the desire of pleasing
and the hope of reward, than merely from a fear of
offending. But when children are ahnost incessant-
ly scold^ — ^when, after endeavoring to do the best
they can, they are told that they never do any thing
right— that they are stuped asses — that they will
never be made to learn— that they are continually
giving us trouble and vexation— tnat they are like
no other children, and that we will give over at-
tempting to teach them,— such disheartening remon-
strances, when dfuly repeated, tend to chill the sus-
ceptible hearts of the young, to sour their disposi-
tions, and to render them indiff*erent to making im-
provement either in knowledge or virtue. On the
other hand, nothing tends more to promote filial
affection, cheerful obedience, a spirit of improve-
ment, and to cherish the best feelings of the human
heart, than the prospect of well-mented approbation,
and tne hope or reward.

Every child should be made to see and feel the no-
Mural conseqtiences of his conduct^ whether good or bad :
and the punishments and rewards he receives should
be of such a nature as to make him perceive the un-
happy tendency of thoughtless and obstinate tem-
pers, and the nappiness which invariably results
fh>m obedient submission, and the exercise of ami-
able dispositions. There are certain natural and
moral laws which cannot be infringed by any one
without his feeling the consequences of their viola-
tion ; and this holds true in the case of children, as
well as in that of adults. When a child rushes
heedlessly into a room, without looking before him,
he is almost certain of getting a fall, or knocking
his head againat a taUe. When he climbs on the



back of a chair, when he approaches too near the
grate, amuses himself with a nrebrand, or handlen,
without caution, knives and forks, he is certain,
sooner or later, by various pains and accidents, to
feel the consequences of his conduct; and in soch
cases he should be made distinctly to perceive the
connection between his fault and his punishment.

But, in the next place, although we should beware
of constantly finding fault with children, we must
carefully guard against jsvery thing that m4ght excite
them to vdnii/y and self conceit. We encourage such
vicious propensities when we expatiate on their
good qualities to visiters, and praise them for the
excellent things they have said or done, while tkef
themselves are standing by and eagerly listen iog to
the conversation. At such times we arc apt to for-
get that they are paying strict attention to every
tiling that is said, and drinking in with pleasure the
flattering expressions bestowed upon them. One
should never speak in the presence of children about
any thing which he does not wish them to know,
if they are above fifteen or twenty months old. It
is amazing how soon children become acquainted
with the meaning of language, even before they are
capable of expressing their ideas in words, or enter-
ing upon a regular ccmversation. " A little child,"
says Mr. Abbot, " creeping upon the floor, and who
could not articulate a single word, was requested to
carry a piece of paper across the room, and pat it
in a chair. The cnild perfectly comprenended the
direction, and crept across the room and did as he
was told. An experiment or two of this kind will
satisfy any one how far a child's mind is in advance
of his power to express his ideas ; and yet when
a child is three or four years old, parents will re-
late in their presence shrewd things which they
have said and done, and sometimes even their acts
of disobedience will be mentioned with a smile!"—
Another circumstance by which pride and self-
coAceit are excited in the breasts of the young, is
the conduct of parents in exhibiting the acouire-
ments of their children to strangers, and to almost
every visiter that happens to cfdl. Little Ann has
been taught to repeat oy rote a few verses of a psalm
or h3rmn, and Andrew, a little more advanced in
years, has learned Sempronius* ** Speech for War,"
or a piece of an old play. Although they know no-
thing of the meaning of the pieces they have com-
mitted to memory, and cannot, perhaps, annei a
single idea to the words they pronounce, yet their
mamma is so enraptured witn their attainments,
that when any visiters happen to call, or a party i^
assembled, she introduces them to the company, and
encourages them to mout in their presence, some-
times to their no small di^rust and annoyance. Of
course^ every one pats them on the head, and praises
them for the exhibition they have made, while they
eagerly catch the words of approbation, to wane
their latent vanity and self-conceit. Such exhibi-
tions, when treqnenily repeated, cannot but have
an injurious taett on the youthful mind^ Pride
and self-conceit, however common in society, are
so odious and so inconsistent with the character and
circumstances of man, that Instead of fostering such
unamiable principles, every exertion should be made
to check their growth and counteract their influ-
ence. And modesty and humility are so amiaM^
and 90 congenial to beings so ignorant and depraved
as man— who is but an atom m creation and stands
near the lowest point of the scale of intellectual ex-
istence—that every thin^ ought to be careftilly
guarded against that womd prevent their culture,
and every n^ean used which has a tendency to che-
rish and promote theuL I do not mean to msiflntte
that it is improper, in every instance, to exhibit the
attainments of children ; but it should be d<mt wiUi
judgment and esutioo, » thtti it H»f produce fio



Digitized by



Google



MORAL IMPilOVEMCNT OF MANklND.



S3



immoral eflbets, or be the means of adding to the
impudence and self-conceit which too much abound
in the world. The practice of teaching children to
repeat, like parrots, what they do not understand,
oiiight to be entirely discarded. The best exhibition
of a child's attainments would be, to make him read
a passage fh>m any of his toy-books, and give the
meaning of the words, and an account of the facts
or sentiments it contams.

To the rules on this subject, already stated, may
be added the following : — Never aUempl to fngkten
ekUdren to their dmtf by presenting to their faacii ter-
rific objects, and exciting imaginary alarms. 'This
rule is violated when ft*ightfal hobgoblins are repre-
sented as having been seen in darkness, and during
night, and when fooli^th tales of fairies, witches and
apparitions, are gravely related to children. And
when their minds are thus stuped with confVised
ideas of imaginary objects, they are afterwards
frightened into obedience by the terror of some of
these visionary being^s suddenly making their ap-
pearance. Darkness is thus associated with terrinc
phflmtoms, and children are sometimes thrust into
dark and narrow rooms, to make them cease their
crying, or to frighten them into obedience. It is not
uncommon to hear nurses, and even foolish mothers,
threatening to send for the ** blaek man" with cloven
ffeet, and horns on his head— to cut off their child-
ren's heads, to toss them out c(C a window, or to send
them to the black-hole. Such a mode of frighten-
ing children into obedience, not only lays the foun-
dation oj[superstitiouK notions, and renders them af-
terwards cowards in the dark, but is sometimes at-
tended with the most tragical effects. An English
writer, says Mr. Abbot, gives an account of two in-
stances in whiph fatal consequences attended the
strong excitement of fear. He says, " I knew in
Philadelphia a child, as fine and as sprightly, and
as intdligent a child as ever was boro, made an
idiot for life by being, when about three years old,
shut into a dark closet by a maid-servant, in order
to terrify it into silence. The thoughtless creature
first menaced it with sending it to "the bad place,'
as the phrase is ; and at last, to reduce it to silence,
pat it mto the closet, shut the door, anfd went out of
the room. She went back In a few minutes, and
fotud the child in a fit. It recovered fh>m that, but
was for life an idioL" — " It is not long since we read
in the newspapers of a child being inlled by being
thnsi frighteiied. The parents had gone out to what
is caUed an evening party. The servants had their
party at home, and ine mfstmsf, who, by some un-
axpect^ accident, had been brought home at an
early hour, finding the imrlour tail of company, ran
op stain to see her child, who was about two or
three years dd. She found it with its eyes open,
bat fixed ; touching it, she fbtmd it inanimate. The
doctor was sent for in vain ; it was qtrite dead. The
maid affected to know nothing of^ the cause ; but
some one of the persons assembled discovered, pin-
ned up to the curtains of the bed, a horridjigwre,
made ap parlly of a fyichtfbl mask I This, as the
wretched girl eonfessed, had be^n d<me to keep the
child quiet while she was with her company below.'*
It is surely imneeessary to add more, in order to de-
ter parents and servants ttom practices fraught with
sactt dangerous and appalling consequences. La
chiklTen be inspired both with physical and moral
courage. Let them be taught that there is nothing
more frichtfiil in (he dark than in the light of day,
exeept the danger of knocking against any object
we do not perceive. Let them be accustomed, at
tioMS, to be in the dark, bo<fi in company and alone,
in the house and in the open air, when there is
BO danger of meeting with aceidenK Let (hem
be taaght, above all things, to love Ckid and fees
Itini; sad that tlwy used Aotbivoiy greatly ilam-
Ifmbcr 48.



ed at whatever may befall them from any other

?uarter.
In practising the rules now laid down, and in
every branch of domestic education, it is a matter
of the first importance, that fathers and mothers,
norses and servants, shtmtd act in harmanw in the
commands and instructions given to childreiL —
When a foolish mother, from a mistaken ad&ction.
indulges her children in their vicious humors and
impertinent whims, and is careless whether or not
parental authority be respectcd^it is next to impos-
sible for a father, however judicious his plans, to
maintain domestic order and authority, and to ** train
up his children in the way they should go." The
altercations which not unfrequently happen between
parents, ai$ to the mode of managing their of&pring,
and that too in the presence of their children, sub-
vert the very fbundations of family govemtnent, and
endanger the best interests of those whom they pro-
fess to bold dear. Little John has. perhaps, been for
some time in a sulky humor ; he nas struck his ins-
ter, torn her frock, and tossed her doll into the fire,
and obrstinately refused to comply with some pa^
rental commands. His father wishes to correct him
for his conduct, which his mother endeavors to pre-
vent Puni<«hment, however, is inflicted corres-
ponding to the crime ; but the silly mother, instead
of going hand in hand with her husband in main-
taining fkmily order, exclaimj against the severity
of the correction, and taking the child in her arms,
caresses him, and condoles with him on account of
the pain he has suffered— plainly indicating to the
child that his father had acted towards him with
crtieltv and injustice. Wherever such conduct fre-
quently recurs, domestic order is overthrown, the
moral principles of the young corrupted, deceit and
hypocrisy cherished, filial affection undermined,
and a sure foundation laid for many future perplex-
ities and sorrows. However much'parents mav dif-
fer in opinion about certain principles, or modes of
conductmg fiunily aflihirs, it ou^ht never to be dis-
played in the presence of their children ; and, for
the same reason, parents oocrht never to speak dis-
respectfully of any teacher they employ, while their
children are listening to their remarks, whatever
may be the private opinion they entertain respect-
ing his qualifications or conduct.

3. Onth£hUauauaiffutimeHon of Infants

In regard to the inteUedual instruaion of infants,
I have alrc»&dy thrown out a few cursory remarks,
and shall afterwards illustrate more minicularly a
few principles applicable to this subject. In the
mean time, the following brief hints majr suflice.—
As the senses are the primary inlets of^ all know-
ledge—every object. Within view, in the system of
nature, which has a tendency to convey a new idea,
should be distinctlv presented to the eyes of a child.
He should be taught to contemplate it fbr some time
with steadiness and attention, and the sound or
name by which it is distinguished fluently re-
peated to him. In order gradually to enlarge the
sphere of his information^ the objects more immedi*
ately around him may, in the first instance, be se-
parately and distinctly pointed out. uniformly ac-
companying the name with the exhibition of the ob*
ject. He should next be occasionally led into the
fields, and to the banks of a river, the margin of ihs
ocean, and a seaport, if such places lie adjacent, and
his attention directed to the most prominent objects
c<»nected with those scenes: care being taken not
to confuse his imagination with too many ol^s<^ts at
one time. Perhaps it may be sufficient to confine hbf
attention to about three or (bur objects at a tim«^
such as a house, a tree, a cow, and a horse. TO
these his attentioii sbouU b^ ptnioiito^r' fitiM^



Digitized by



Google



34



MORAL IMPEOVEMENT OF MANKIND.



so that the idea of the object and its riame may be i
inseparably connected, and indelibly impressed upon [
his mind. Afterwards, other objects, as a ship, a
boat, a spire, a flower, the clouds, &c. may, in the'
same manner, be presented to his view, varying the
scene, and gradually presenting new objects to his
attention. When he has thus acquired some know-
ledge of the most interesting objects which compose
the scene around him, he may be desired to point
out any particular object when its name is mention-
ed. Supposing him m the fields, or on the banks of
a river, let him be desired to point to a tree, a sheep,
or a boat, if such objects are within view ; and by
this means, he will become gradually familiarized
•with the scenery of nature, and the terms by which
its various parts are distinguished. His attention
may also be directed to the sky, not merely for the
puipose of distinguishing its oDjects, but for tracing
their motions. I^t him oe taken to a certain point,
where he will observe the rising sun, and, on the
evening of the same day, let him be brought to the
same position to behold his setting^ and let him be
taught to mark the different direction in which he
set3 from that in which he arose ; from which he
will naturally conclude, that motion of some kind or
other has taken place. In like manner, about twi-
light, when the moon begins to appear, let him be
directed, from a certain station, to mark her posi-
tion in the heavens with respect to certain objects on
the earth over which she appears, apd, before going
to bed, let her be viewed from the same station, and
the different position in which she then appears
pointed out. Such observations will pave the way
for more particular instructions on such subjects, as
be advances in years.

In the same manner, artificial objects of various
descriptions, as windmills, tables, sofas, candlesticks,
hammers, scissors, organs, piano-fortes, clocks,
watches, globes, telescopes, microscopes, Ac. may be
exhibited, and some of their uses explained. It
might not be improper to give a child of two years
old a lesson of this kind every day.— making it a
rule to have, if possible, some new object to exhibit
to him at every lesson, and occasionally recurring
to the oHects to which his atteniion was formerly di-
rected, tnat they may become still more familiar to
his mind. Jn communicating to children the names
of the various objects of nature and art, all improper
pronunciations and dinUnuHves ought to be avoiaed
— such as doggie^ caUie^ horsie. chairiey instead of
dog, cat, horse, chair. It should be considered as
an important rule in infant education — that a child
should never be taught any pronunciation^ or any senr
timeni^ opinion^ or idea whatever, which he will after-
wards be obliged to unlearn. Were this rule univer-
sally aitendea to, in connection with the hints now
suggested, the path to knowledge would be render-
ed smooth and easy— every day would increase the
ideas which tend to enlarge the capacitor of the in-
fant mind— the way for regular scholastic instruc-



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 77 of 121)