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You begin, then, the education of your infant by giving him truth : the first branch of which virtue appears to be integrity.
Integrity begins in thought, and is the very soul, essence, principle, and foundation of its corresponding honest words and action. It is a most powerful master-spring; and when once firmly fixed in the soul, is constantly working to overthrow or destroy the risings of covetousness, the suggestions of envy, and the inclinations to profit ourselves at the expense of others. An infant in whose mind integrity is to be seated, must be by times accustomed to the kind of treatment out of which must grow the principle here spoken of. It cannot be too often repeated, that infancy judges and learns by action only; with words it is for a length of time almost wholly unacquainted. Let the actions then of those who surround infants evince integrity, and they will make a corresponding impression; they will be received into the mind, and will spring up in ideas after the manner in which they are bent and inclined. This will indeed be teaching the young idea how to shoot.
But what is this treatment which must familiarize the infant to integrity of thought ? An explanation will be difficult, but it shall be attempted.
The treatment consists generally in laying down rules, which a mother will be resolved not to swerve from, unless illness, or imperious circumstances, call for such change.
She must, if she say the child shall rise and go to bed at a certain hour, be careful that she is obeyed. No intreaty or tears of the child
must force an object from her which she has refused to him, or prevent her from doing that which she has declared she would attempt. Every species of trick, artifice, deception, sleight of hand, cunning, sham, cheating, craft, imposition, and speciousness, are to be wholly and entirely set aside in the nursery games and government. The cat is never to be beaten for breaking a cup which she has never touched or seen ; neither is the sleeping dog to be chidden because the infant has knocked his head against the table. The mother, holding her child on her knee and playing with him at hide and seek, is not to declare she cannot find him and that he is lost : nor is she to say to a roaring infant of four or five months old, that she has something pretty to show him, when she can produce nothing. She will not tell a crying child, as the maid carries him off, that he shall come again to her, while she beckons to the servant to keep and coax him to sleep ; neither will she say, as she pours a spoonful of bitter physic down his throat, that it is some nice good stuff. She will not commit ten thousand such follies as are daily practised without one fear of consequences, and which produce so many fatal ones; but she will, from the very birth of her child, consider what she can do to make him an honest and good one.
She will suppose her infant to be something more than a mechanical instrument, upon which we may play any part, and fit to any purpose ; and she will wisely judge that a little creature, whose bodily powers develope themselves with such amazing rapidity, will hardly be left very far short by the proportionate
powers of mind. To sum up the whole, she will be open, straight-forward, careful, firm in her own integrity, and true to her trust; true to her principles ; true to her own established maxims of right; true to her child in every action, however trivial or unimportant, and true in the account which she renders to herself of her endeavours for the improvement of a human creature.'
Can an infant thus taught how to think have crooked ideas? It is possible that evil, like weeds in a rich soil, may strive to rise up and choak a good plant. But may not weeds be plucked forth and thrown away? And then how shall the plant flourish! Trained up, and supported, and nourished by the parental gardener. Oh, it is worth the experiment! For advantage, if not success, must follow such noble designs.
The entrance and preservation of truth in the ideas formed into habitudes during the tongue-tied period of infancy, will produce truth in words as soon as speech breaks forth from our cherub's lip. This second branch of the beautiful relative virtue may be styled ingenuousness.
The generality of neglected children, at this point of childhood, are put upon the practice of truth. After a year's acquaintance with fraud, deception, artifice of every kind, when their tender, unformed minds are warped and bent, disfigured and distorted by contradiction, falsehood, and perverseness, and that they are prepared to feast upon what they have digested ; to hatch what they have brooded on, during so many weeks and months ; to throw into
word and deed what they so long and so silently have had inwardly forming into principle; then all on a sudden they find, that to speak as they have been allowed to think is a crime. " Who threw down that plate and broke it ?” inquires the negligent mother of her little one, whom she herself observes to have caused this accident : “ cat, mama, pussy did it," in a moment replies the lisping babe, whose tongue is loosened by its Creator, as it appears, to offend him by a falsehood. Thus are words in their first utterance a disgrace; and we stand by in grief and astonishment, to behold the lips of an infant severed for a fraud! And is this human nature ? It is not. I boldly assert, it is not. It is a year's false tutillage and corrupt example, which have worked on the tender mind, and produced the effects we stand amazed at, but which we must be idiots not to expect.
It is not human nature. We may charge a burst of passion, or an act of greediness, to that influence with more probability; but an untruth is an effort against nature. Truth is born with us-it is stamped on our being; we seem to hold it with life from our God; it is misery to violate it when we can tell right from wrong; and even the little corrupted infant alluded to, bas a feeling of confusion, and an appearance of unsteadiness, when he pronounces his first lie : he seems to seek a refuge from the passing uneasiness in the remembrance of similar scenes acted, before he himself could speak, and he yet wonders he feels dissatisfied. Now the truly negligent mother, in answer, often permits herself to laugh or wink at the standers by, (alas ! she should rather
weep) and then with profound dissimulation and hypocrisy, drawing down her mouth into an appearance of gravity, says, “oh dear, what, did pussy do it? mama hopes her little child is not saying what is not true ; he must always tell the truth like a good child." " Dear madam,” will observe the maid, “ only think how cunning and clever of the child to turn it off so well ; poor little love, he knows nothing about truth, he can't tell who broke the plate, it is time enough to teach such a child any thing about truth."
And cannot, then, a child who begins to speak, discriminate one thing from another, or a friend from a stranger ? Is he such a mere machine, as to possess no mind, no sense, no recollection, no sight, no faculty? Does he know the cup out of which he feeds ? Can he from the age of six months understand for what use the hat he wears is brought forward, or why his maid ties on her own ? and yet at twelve, fifteen, or eighteen months, with his powers of mind unfolded and expanded, is it possible he should not know whether he did or did not a deed, of which he is questioned almost in the very act? Those may declare it who choose, but who will credit the assertion ?
The mother, on the contrary, who wishes well to her child, but has nevertheless suffered him to take bad impressions during his year of silence (and how few do not !), on listening to the falsehood spoken by her stammering infant, looks upon him with unaffected surprise and concern. With a grave tenderness of manner she lifts up his hands in her own, and drawing