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“ take care Sir; you must not run there, you will spoil my fine asparagus bed ;” or if he stuck his spade in a soiled mound of straw, and tried to break off a rough prickly leaf, he might be checked by the injunction not to hurt the cucumber plants."
But when the boy or girl is a little advanced in knowledge, and his faculties are somewhat expanded, he may be taught to weed up the delicate plants, as chickweed, &c., a grown person standing by, to show which are weeds, and which are not. Or it would be preferable that this person herself should engage in the work, to entice the child to the same, for nothing operates so forcibly, by way of incentive, as example. After weeding, and carrying in the small hand-barrow, watering the ground is a healthy exercise, and a work of industry. For this purpose, a small can, which might not hold more than a tea-cup full of water, may be given to the little hand to sprinkle through the spout, taking care that the left hand be equally used with the right, to prevent the possibility of injury to a delicate frame.
These rural employments, with sowing, and tending plants in pots, and, in the seasons, helping to gather herbs, fruit, or vegetables, in company with his mother or attendant, will fairly demand much time. But there are other resources which conduce to the child's advantage, uniting amusement and utility. The poultry yard, for those children who are brought up in the country, is a delightful attraction. The child should ris early, and attend his mother or the maid to this interesting spot. The little basket should be filled with corn, that the child may scatter it abroad
among the fowls of Heaven, and learn the exquisite sensations of making even a brute happy. Nay, I cannot see that it would degrade the child of a peer to be seen with a little milk in his pitcher, or a few scraps in his basket, for the generous beast whose eye and ear have been strained, in the depth and stillness of night, for the protection of his noble master.
All these hints may seem very puerile, but what is the capability of a little child ? The employments here enumerated are small; the labour trifling. What then ? Is not first childhood the age of beginnings, and are not the first beginnings and principles of all action, virtue, and knowledge, small and feeble ? These hints are suggested with diffidence ; and as in them is not comprized half the useful employments which, upon reflection, may be found for a child, so they are only offered, that they may be improved by practice and maternal ingenuity.
Amusements there are which properly come under the denomination of sports, in which a little girl or boy may partake. The hoop, battledore, drum, kite, bat and ball, &c. And there are others which belong exclusively to the one or the other sex; not because a female infant need be debarred the toy that her brother has, but because nature so works in her, that she of herself, after a few examinations, throws away that which delights him.
A girl is soon tired of a whip, the boy exults in the use of it; the play of marbles* every boy is fond of, the girl is soon
* It is, perlaps, as well here to remark, that if little children are allowed marbles, they should be of such a size only as to make it impossible that they should erer be introduced into any mouth under twelve years' growib.
of thenı. However, considerations of mere amuse. ments do not belong to this place.
As children improve in mind and stature, industry assumes in them a nobler and more distinct form. The little girl at four years of age, or earlier, begins of her own accord to desire to work with her needle, like her mother, and all the women of the household. The boy wishes to be taught to count up to forty, sixty, a hundred: to go further than he has ever gone before. The girl asks her mother to shew her the way to make out in her little book the pretty stories of which she has just heard one read, with new delight, for the twentieth time. The boy desires the same, and moreover is very anxious to scratch on his slate, as soon as he has learned the alphabet, a few undefinable, rugged, broken signs, which he is pleased to call letters; these he hastens to run off with to his father, while the girl asks for a handkerchief to hem for her papa. .
Here then are the faint openings of this virtue, this admirable one of industry. A virtue which the great and the good; the poet and the artificer; the husbandman and the prince must be acquainted with, or nobility, virtue, genius, invention, blessings, temporal and spiritual, will have been given in vain.
But these opening buds of virtue would not thus so happily put forth, let it be remembered, if early seeds had not been carefully and patiently sown. Children accustomed to spend their natural activity on matters useful, as well as engaging, will soon learn to be dissatisfied, if, after an exercise or exertion of one or two hours, they cannot produce some little proof of labour well applied. The girl, after a patient trial of a whole
hour, starts up from her mother's feet, and tells her that, at last, she has dressed her doll all by herself. The mother, with a parent's smile, strokes down the head of her child, and with an unaffected expression of surprise and pleasure takes the wooden lady in her hands, and, on examination, finds that the petticoats are all awry, and the frock tied in knots. Her commendation comes first; a hint how the thing might be improved, next; and encouragement, temperate but kind, to make another trial after a while, finishes the pleasing lesson. In all the little griefs and successes of childhood, a friend is sought with whom to share them. When children find a sympathy always alive to their griefs, and an encouragement ever ready to meet their best efforts, they will, sooner than is generally credited, be inspired with the ambition to do well, that they may gain commendation ; for, after all,
little child is but a mortal like ourselves, and is fain, at times, to adhere to virtue for the credit she brings, ere he learn to love her for virtue's sake. Notwithstanding which, let us be content. If, with the child's fair actions, we mingle honest praise, and attemper this praise with a gentle observation on the apparent failings and defects which it presents, he will run little risk of being spoiled or corrupted by it; especially if we always remember to put in this check : • For a little child as you are,
very well, my love, &c." For the want of such a clause, how many
unfortunate children do we see, strutting and tossing their heads, and arrogating to themselves the importance and consequence of grown persons: the girls seeming entirely to forget that their frocks are less than the
gown of a woman; or the boys, that they are not old enough to wear a sword and regimentals, only because both have been extravagantly praised, and their little merits overrated. But if a love of generous commendation be excited, the motive will urge to meritorious action, and action often repeated will produce habit. Let habit be fixed, and virtue fairly known, our object is gained, and we triumph.
It may here, perhaps, be expected that a list of regular employments for children of four or five years of age should be given. This will be no difficult task, but it must stand over for the present. The virtue which we are considering has assumed her own form, and our business is not now so much to ascertain what purposes industry may be applied to, as what industry actually is : and this, it is presumed, will be seen in her several attributes. And these are, activity, emulation, exertion or labour, diligence, perseverance, and expedition.
Of activity, or that desire for action which all children who are in health naturally possess, I have .already spoken. When cultivated and improved, it grows into a wish to be employed and be busy in some useful work. But this activity, if left to feed upon itself, without any object or any laudable pursuit, will degenerate into restlessness, producing mischievous effects, and will exhaust itself, and settle into barrenness and sloth.
The next attribute of industry is emulation. Not that, improperly allowed, which borders on vicious propensity, producing envy, rivalship, and jealousy, but the emulation which teaches that there is excel