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challenges your understanding by a display of his finished graces. The blush of simplicity and surprise, the naiveté of ignorance, even the tear of terror, or the struggle of occasional waywardness, impress the affections more forcibly, than the cold propriety of an artificial puppet, moved by the wires of discipline, under the inspection of vanity.
Excessive affection is one of the most common faults of mothers, and is generally apt to predominate among those ainiable women who employ themselves wholly in their domestic duties. A confined sphere of observation naturally makes them believe, that the “ dear little creatures” to whom they cheerfully devote their lives, are as interesting to every body else.—Whenever, therefore, we introduce our darlings into company, we should previously teach them their inferiority. We should assure them, that it is a condescension in their elders to notice them, and that it is rude (or, with your leave, I will use the old word naughty,) either to interrupt conversation, or to intrude upon any one who is so kind as to commend or amuse them, longer than they are desired so to do. The pleasure of a social party must be entirely spoiled if these rules are not adhered to. But a more important consideration arises from the effect which a contrary practice bas upon the temper and disposition of the child. You lay the foundation of that overbearing character, which is no less opposite to female gentleness, than to manly greatness of soul ; you introduce the gem of coxcombical impertinence and self-conceit; above all, you create the necessity of extraneous amusement, which is, in a moral sense, a fault and a misfortune. A child that is not much accustomed to be talked to, or played with, soon finds out a method of making itself happy. It is amazing, in an age which professes to pay so much attention to all kinds of early culture, that we should neglect the simple rule of suffering want to sharpen invention.
No idea is more fatal to the future improvement and happiness of a child, than undue self-consideration. As extraordinary acuteness often accompanies this high sense of desert, it will be in vain to seek to subdue it by telling him that he is a little weak, helpless, unworthy object, and that it is the benevolence of his attendants and friends which induces them to relieve his wants: the urchin will soon discover that mamma idolizes him, that her eye follows all his actions with silent applause, that she devotes herself, and sacrifices her comforts, to his convenience, and that the imperative manner for which she chides him, is afterwards spoken of as a token of the dawning of a distinguished character. If a mother would endeavour to command her own feelings, and to practise a sort of concealed attention to her young charge, her watchfulness would answer the most beneficial purposes. Her children may sport around her, while to them she seems engrossed by a friend, by her work, or her amusements; and thus she allows full scope for their passions and dispositions to evince themselves, and can judiciously interfere or reprove where it may be necessary.
If she can conduct them to the age of adolescence with healthy bodies, docile tempers, just notions, benevolent hearts, and firm minds, she has performed the essential parts of her duty. Whatever instructions may be superadded, will then stand on a sure foundation. If she be judicious, she will not aim at reducing their characters to one prescribed standard; she will suffer nature to send forth its vigorous shoots, and will only aim at pruning its excessive redundances, cutting off its oblique branches, or eradicating its diseases; in other words, principles should be introduced, and habits formed, but the original bent of character (if not vicious) should be suffered to remain.
Most mothers wish that their sons may possess talent, and their daughters beauty. Johnson has exposed this vanity of human wishes in a most impressive manner, by describing the misery incident to their attainment. But how rarely is the desire granted ! how few of the human race are distinguished for mental or personal excellence! Common characters form the mass of society. Tell me, is the admired science of education, which mothers study with such avidity, calculated to correct the faults and improve the virtues of these ordinary, but useful, nay important beings?
Among the misfortunes, however, of juvenile life, that of being the beauty or the wit of our own family seems most lamentable. A great deal of natural good sense and agreeableness has by this been early perverted, as it engenders vanity and affectation, and in the end becomes perfectly odious. Let a mother convince her children, that whilst the plain path of life is the most safe and easy, it is also the most respectable. A mind that is conscious of its own superiority, will not be restrained in its progress by being told that difficulties will impede it; but folly may be prevented setting out under the guidance of that will-o'-the-wisp, conceit, and thus be preserved from destruction in the quagmire of ridicule. It is equally true, that although some tempers want encouragement, to the majority of the human race, in civilized states, the curb is more necessary than the spur.
It is a common fault in all theories of education, that one prescribed rule is laid down, without attend ing to differences of rank, fortune, temper, or even sex. Some of our sciolists have indeed ridiculed all considerations of this last distinction, and have determined that, till the age of puberty, boys and girls ought to bave the same mode of instruction. Till society can be persuaded to alter all existing institutions, so as to render the offices and duties of men and women exactly similar, it will be wise in us to adhere to the old method, which was founded on reason and revelation, and has been sanctioned by experience. It seems advisable that mothers should early endeavour to give to each sex the proper bias ; for, surely, fribbles and viragos are equally contemptible and unnatural. Let activity, energy, courage, and enterprise, particularly mark the boys. A man wbo is deficient in these qualities, can only be a negatively good citizen, and may, indeed, be said to encumber rather than strengthen the commonwealth. If we wish our girls to be happy, we must try to make them docile, contented, prudent, and domestic. Man must range abroad and forage for his family; woman must look well to the ways of ber household, and bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The passive virtues, and the christian graces, are her natural dowry; and surely a disposition which is more peculiarly calculated to bring forth the tree of life, cannot be considered as more sterile than that firmer soil in which the tree of knowledge is most disposed to extend its knotted fibres. Men are taught to be domestic tyrants in early life, by the injudicious conduct of parents ; who accustom their boys to expect such obsequiousness from their sisters, as imprints their minds with indelible opinions of the natural intrinsic superiority of man. “ Do not regard what the girls say to you,” is the common parental precept; “ Do as your brother bids you,” is as frequently the injunction of the mother. I do not wish to have every family converted into a school of gallantry and chivalrous attention to women; but surely, if ever the wise climax of seniority be inverted, it should be in favour of that sex to whom the habits of polished life invariably assign precedence. But the protection and respect which the weaker sex was intended to derive from these punctilios of decorum, will effectually be counteracted, if a feeling of contempt be one of the features in domestic education. Would it not improve the boisterous schoolboy, if he were convinced that his manly dignity would be more unequivocally shewn by promoting the happiness of his sisters, than by burying their dolls, and putting pattens on their cats. Let him be taught (and he cannot imbibe this notion too early) that nature has designed him to be the protector and friend of women ; and let every attempt to tyrannize over or insult the females of his family, be reprobated as a mark of mean selfish cowardice.
A consideration of the painful disappointment which plain well-meaning mothers often experience, when they receive back their girls, polished into impertinence, from some vulgarly-expensive school for young
ladies, makes one earnestly wish that seminaries for the education of young women could be opened with any chance of success. Education should be suited to the rank in life, the fortunes, and the connections of our children. To be really more refined than those around us, is a misfortune, and a fruitful source of unhappiness to a delicate reflecting mind. A good heart and a sound judgment will, however, sweeten these bitter waters, by wisely and kindly condescending to bend to the gross capacities which it cannot illuminate. But refinement is more frequently fictitious than real; and Miss despises her Mamma, not because she is really more wise, but from her being a much greater fool, whose state is indeed hopeless ; for ignorance, simplicity, and humility, may be improved: but affectation and conceit, founded upon half information, never can.
An obliging, accommodating disposition, where it is not natural, may be formed by prudent attention to the manners of a person in early life. A habit of saying and doing civil things is indeed afterwards taught by our intercourse with the world ; but it is not merely external deportment, but the inward principle of urbanity, that we should seek to introduce. Fraternal love is considerably strengthened by preserving the laws of civility and decorum ; and it must be a singularly amiable disposition, and uncommon natural affection, which can resist the perpetual irritation of rude and morose deportment. A harsh expression to a brother or a sister should never pass unreproved ; a spirit of contention should be discouraged ; envy and jealousy should be repressed by every method which reproof or exhortation, punishment or reward, encouragement or disgrace, can alternately supply; and, most of all, by a strict observance of impartiality in the parent: for, if we suffer ourselves to be misled in our parental superintendence by a spirit of favouritism, we take the surest means to ruin the temper and character of all our offspring, and to render our household the reverse of what called forth the rapturous exclamation of the Psalmist : “ Behold, how good and