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faults of an immoral tendency are committed, who betray far more displeasure, perhaps entirely lose their temper, if their child chance to break a China jar, spill ink on a fine carpet, or neglect some immaterial point of civility towards a stranger, whom his father or mother wishes to please. This is hurtful in many directions ; and, if it does not lower the parent's character in the eye of the child, must create a false scale of right and wrong in his mind, increasing that value for externals which it is part of the business of a good education to diminish. The intention, not the event, should call forth our reproofs; and they should never be tedious or insulting.
Examples of youthful merit should be sought for among the absent or dead. It is dangerous to offer a friend, or relation, or even an acquaintance, as a model : it often excites envy, and always awakens a desire to know the faults, as well as merits, of one proposed as such. This leads our pupils to excuse similar faults in themselves, or to suppose their absence atones for the absence also of those merits we hold up for their imitation.
There is a species of lecturing used to the young, which degenerates sometimes into rating and scolding, that we should never permit, either in ourselves or others. It spoils the temper of those that give and those that receive it, and induces an indifference to the temperate, grave, and mild rebukes of truth and well-regulated affection. The wisdom that is from above, is gentle; and St. Paul could find no stronger adjuration, by which to entreat his converts, than “ by the meekness and gentleness of the Author and Finisher” of our faith.
We can best judge of the dispositions of the young, by the choice and conduct of their amusements. One of the benefits of a great school is, that these are enjoyed in public. The heart is often wofully injured, in domestic education, by the plays which occur between two or three children, “when some still, removed place will fit,” at a distance from all inspection. “ Now you have finished your business, you may go and play,” is frequently the signal for a return to plays where habits are fostered of teasing, of artifice, of tyranny, of meanness, and many others equally reprehensible. The amusements of childhood and youth, should be shared among so many as to create that respect for truth and firmness generated by the public eye, or should be sedulously inspected. Children should not feel the bridle, but it should be ever on their
necks. A parent, or governor, who acts as he ought, will always be their favourite play-fellow; and may have some trouble in complying with their solicitations for his constant presence and assistance, though he will have none in seeking to prevent their escape from his jurisdiction.
Still less should a single child be abandoned to himself in the hours of relaxation. His disposition is in danger of being deteriorated by his own musings, as much as that of two or three by their communications. The reveries indulged in by the young, if they have lively imaginations, weaken their reasoning powers, and create a love of excitement through life: those who are addicted to this fantastic habit seldom avow it, and usually possess singular address in its conçealment. So far it partakes of the character of insanity.
“To cure the habit of reverie,” says Miss Edgeworth, “We must take different methods with different tempers: with those who indulge in the stupid reverie, we should employ strong excitation, and present to the senses a rapid succession of objects; but to break the habit in children of great sensibility, we should set them
to some employment which is wholly new, and will exercise and exhaust all their faculties, so, as to leave them no life for castle-building."
Such exercises in the open air as employ both mind and body, particularly gardening, (in which the pupil should be taught some of the nicer branches, and allowed to try experiments, uniting practice with theory,) are invaluable in this disease of day-dreaming. If you do not promote healthful and deep sleep, by efficient exercise, you will vainly chain down your pupil's mind in the day. When he closes his eyes at night, it will be to muse, but not to rest : the . favourite visions will be recalled, the broken thread of the narrative will be resumed, and all your web unravelled by his superior skill. We recommend Dr. Johnson's admirable paper on castle-building*, to those who may think this point has been more dwelt upon than it deserves. If they still retain that opinion, they will thank us for referring them to such an eloquent de lineation of what often passes in the recesses of the human mind, and has seldom been a subject of inquiry.
* See The Rambler, No. 89.