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She may for ever renounce the sacred and delightful task of educating them to morality, of rearing up in their hearts the sanctuary of virtue; of training them to think and act according to the laws of Christianity; she may leave them to her domestics, or to their governess, and cease to be a Mother, in every sense of the word! Let none imagine that giving birth to children gives a title to the honourable name of Mother! None can justly claim it, but she who endeavours to gain from her child the fulness of love, faith, and gratitude.
To every unnatural Mother these endearing affections of her children's hearts are lost, and, to her shame, bestowed on the nurse, on the governess, or any other person who is most occupied with them, who best nurses, entertains, and instructs them; and from whom they experience most acts of kindness, attention, and benevolence.
With the loss of the child's affections, the Mother also loses her claim to that unconditional obedience, which, if not founded upon the purest sentiments of humanity, will change into a kind of despotism, paralyzing and deadening every moral principle.
A Mother, who neglects to observe and superintend her child, will lose all influence over him, and continually be at a loss in choosing means best adapted for cultivating the principles of morality within him. "Alas! thou poor and abandoned child! She who gave thee birth is alive, and yet thou hast no mother!" Although she should introduce into her family the most approved methods of instruction, with all the Pestalozzian exercises, and could abandon her little ones during the greater part of the day, she would have the appearance of a good Mother, but be far from being one in reality.
A Mother, who sacrifices maternal duty to the follies and vanities, the sensual pleasures and idle diversions of the world, will never be able to excite in her children religious sentiments; which, however, she alone can do, and therefore ought to do.
A child should not be left in the first period of its development to the action of its own will: its moral guardians, its Parents, must guide the infant will till obedience has raised delight, and it feels it has done right: this feeling is a fruit of the development of the Godly principle in a child, and it is only by a continuance of the operation of this divine force that the child's sensual will becomes moral; and it finds in itself an inward guide, which incites it to its ultimate end.
To diminish the power of the sensual will, and to animate the activity, energy and operation of the Godly principle, is the grand secret of Education, and requires the tender, skilful hand of Parents devoted to their Duty*.
Gratitude, faith, and love are excited within the child, by acts of kindness and love. By means of them, his Mother appears to him as a higher, but, at the same time, as a benevolent power; she consequently becomes to him a representative of the Deity, before he knows the Deity, and these sentiments constitute what may be called the elements of religion.
The name of God is mentioned as the common Father Of All; to whom his Parents are indebted for every blessing they possess:
* "Le seul fondement soHde et vrai de toute moraKte se trouve dans les premieres relations de la Mere et de l'Enfant. Meres, songez-y-bien, c'est de vos soins, c'est de votre influence sur vos nourrissons que depend leur avenir. S'il vous appartient de donner une direction ju6te a leurs premieres idees, il vous appartient a plus forte raison de developper et de fixer leurs premieres sensations et affections morales." Pestalozzi.
he must therefore serve and love God, and the desire to please Him must be the motive of every action.
Every propitious event, every physical and spiritual blessing, is attributed to God. Each time he has performed some good and moral deed, the child is reminded of God; for any sort of succour, protection, comfort, and bounty, thanks are rendered to God, in the presence of the child, from the fulness of the heart. The Mother occasionally prays, in an earnest, unaffected manner before him, shewing, by all her words and actions, that nothing is, or can remain, hidden before God; and that the study and delight of her life is always to act in conformity to His will*.
As to the historical part of the Bible, the following hints may be useful.
She should keep her children as long as possible in Paradise, or in a world of innocence, where sin is uuknown, and consequently, omit the histories that give an account of bad men, and wicked deeds.
It is an important principle in education to
* " Quel enfant pourroit ne pas croire au Dieu que sa Mere invoque, au Dieu qui prend soin de sa Mere, comme sa Mere prend soin de lui?" Pestalozzi.
practise the tender heart and mind in good, and thus lay the foundation deep and firm before evil be introduced.
We may then reasonably hope that the love of good, and the hatred of evil, will be strong and lasting,
Whereas by an injudicious haste prematurely to develop to evil, by acting upon the mistaken notion that the mind should be early introduced to depravity, that the knowledge of the world, as it is called, that is, a knowledge of its follies, its errors, and its crimes should be familiar to the young mind, we destroy tenderness of conscience, and prepare the soil for the reception and growth of the tares which the enemy is ever on the watch to sow *.
When she has selected the parts which she considers as fit to be related, she minutely details all circumstances, which she endeavours to make as intuitive as possible, in order to excite the interest, and to fix the whole attention of her little auditor. This she takes
* "C'est ainsi qu'on verse de bonne heure dans son jeune coeur les passions qu'on impute ensuite a la nature, & qu'apres avoir pris peine a le rendre mechant, on se plaint de le trouver tel."