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a thousand apologies to be made to the child for the effects of the wind? Or because a person's foot happens to touch his plaything? Or even in the intentional frolic, which, however, being of a mischievous kind, should draw forth a reprimand upon the aggressor, even for this, is our child to be allowed to use rude language, to fret, pine, or be cross and peevish, and suddenly to forsake all amusement ? much less
kind of revenge? No ; if we do so permit him, how, I would ask, is he to endure the crosses, vexations, calumnies, provocations, and the injuries of maturity? Train up your child in the way he should go ; teach him to bear when young, or when he is grown up he will be wretched. But to offer one more case.
The child is to go and visit a little friend; or to take a pleasant walk ; or a friend is to come to him. He is neatly dressed for the occasion, with something more of preparation than customary. Whilst the very coat or pelisse is being adjusted, and expectation at the highest pitch, the sun darkens, clouds gather, the wind howls, large drops descend, and the day is so clouded over as to afford no hope of mending. After a few kind expressions of condolence, the mother unties the bonnet or hat ; unclasps the pelisse; the strong shoes are taken off: and submit he must; for such disappointments are among the common occurrences of life. Patience is the only remedy which we can present to support them; and miserable indeed is the existence of that person who is not habituated to the exercise of any such virtue. Wretched is the child who fancies the world made for him; and that events,
occurrences, and accidents are to yield to his will and pleasure in every prospect and state before him! Besides, are those who extravagantly indulge their children not aware, that the filling up of
wish as it is formed, though it be not in itself perhaps hurtful, is yet a sure means of opening a source highly dangerous for unlawful or injurious desires.
Grant a child every innocent demand. What then? Is he content? On the contrary, he is more restless than ever. harmless desire is gratified, will he cease to wish, or will not the habit of wishing be strengthened by time? Undoubtedly he will continue to wish, and to demand, to urge and to fret for what he ought not to possess or to have; and in proportion as his wishes have heretofore been easy to comply with, his anxiety, irritability, and peevishness, will be great for what he is now told is improper for bim, or impossible to procure. But how, above all, does such a child behave under crosses, disappointments, or illness ? His impatience endangers his life, and his peevishness, murmurs, and impetuosity perplex and harrass the senses, and destroy the
of all who are so unfortunate as to be related to or interested for him.
On the other hand, let us never forget the weakness of childhood, and its whole dependence upon us for comfort, happiness, and enjoyment. Unnecessary harshness is cruelty; and the laws of any sovereignty, whether regal or parental, which are enforced strictly, to the very letter, upon all occasions, is the despotism of a tyrant; for there may be tyrants in private houses fully as well as in palaces. It is impossible to provide for every contingency; and where a shade of
extenuation can be traced, we should lean to mercy. A mother, for instance, tells a mischievous child, whom she has within an hour several times reproved, that if he touches her work-box again the same morning, he shall be sent out of the room.
The little one, accustomed to firmness and decision in the treatment of him, hastens from the chair on which he has climbed to go and seek any other amusement. In his haste, or in his vexation, no matter which, he accidentally slips on one side, stretches out his hand to save himself, and actually touches the workbox; perhaps pulls it down on the floor, with all the paraphernalia of scissars, needles, thread, &c. after him. Now the child at such a moment is certain to look alarmed if he be guiltless : that is, if he did not evil from design ; and the question is, did he or did he not ? If the whole was an accident, does the child deserve the punishment? The law, as it was laid down, set forth that the child should be punished if he touched the box. He has touched it, but not of his own will; the act was unpremeditated and unintentional. He deserves not, then, to be punished ; and he will himself feel it an injustice if he should be a sufferer.
It is in such nice cases as these that the private codes should, as the public ones in our happy country do, lean to the side of mercy. I say private ones should, for how often does it happen that, in such a case as I have supposed, the motive and cause are never weighed or sought after, but that in the instant the prohibited articles are seen in danger the person grows exasperated, and the punishment is immediately
inflicted, perhaps even beyond the threatened penalty. Surely this is most unkind, as it is certainly injudicious, to make no allowances, to accept of no plea in behalf of the little trembling petitioner for mercy.
And as patience respects other points of the ques. tion, I must be allowed to urge a merciful though steady administration of its laws. In requiring action, or passiveness in children, every person should be extremely cautious, and always bear in mind the delicacy and smallness of their frames; the weakness of their natural powers, and their total inability to fix, or withdraw for a great length of time their attention to any one thing. I have several times had occasion to observe a fine little girl that has been desired to be quiet, and wait with patience for some promised object or amusement ; I have seen her stand looking up, and holding both hands as high as her lip, to rest them on the table which she could barely reach : while she has supported her tender body, first leaning on one leg, then on the other ; and, when quite wearied, has stood with one foot crossed on the other, presenting a languid eye, dejected expression of countenance, and pale cheek, which most truly evinced the lassitude under which she laboured. Such exaction is very wrong; it may not be unkindly intended, but its effect is certainly productive of harm; though it be error through neglect, it is still error. In the above instance, the child suffered only from neglect ; she made her petition ; was put upon her exercise, and the reward of virtue was forgotten.
ONE THAT RULETH WELL HIS OWN HOUSE, HAVING HIS CHILDREN IN SUBJECTION.” “ FOR BETTER IT IS THAT THY CHILDREN SHOULD SEEK TO THEE, THAN THAT THOU SHOULDEST STAND TO THEIR COURTESIE.'
It is needless, however, in these days, to enforce the necessity of a general kind consideration towards children, for extreme indulgence seems but too fatally to be the prevailing practice of all parents. Those days are, indeed, gone by, in which the good gentlemen, teachers of orthography,* penned their
* Vyse, Dilworth, Fenning, Dyche, Coles, “ schoolmasters and gentlemen,” &c. In the Londou Spelling Book, by Charles Vyse, are these rules, after many admirable lessons and instructions for the higher duties to God and man, drawn chiefly from Scripture,
Of Behaviour at Home to your Parents. As soon as you come into the room to your parents and relations, bow, and stand near the door till you are told where to sit.
When any one calls to you, go up to him without running; when you are come near him stand still, and fixing your eyes modestly on his face, wait till he is pleased to speak to you.
Never sit down till you are desired; and then not till you have bowed, and answered what was asked of you.
Be careful how you speak to those who have not spoken to you.
Never speak to any one while he is talking with another, nor while he is reading, nor when he is busy.
Begin what you would say with Sir or Madam; and when you have spoke, wait patiently for an answer.
Before you speak, make a bow or curtsey, and when you have received your answer, make another, but with discretion.