Imágenes de páginas

for children are innumerable; that some of them are very ingenious, and others very attractive; but our question is now of those which blend amusement with use, be it in ever so small a degree.

For a very little child it appears, then, that pictures, not of mere paper, which would be torn to pieces, but of pasted paper upon wood, and neatly coloured, would be almost the first really acceptable gift. The objects represented should be domestic animals, in a set perhaps of a dozen. They might be given one by one, the names of dog, cat, cow, horse, fly, &c. being mentioned, and a comparison made of each, if possible, with the original. Some exertion of the infant mind is necessary to conceive the resemblance, or the possibility of shewing on a small space an image of a large animal, or indeed of any animal whatsoever. Such a pack of wooden pictures would give indescribable satisfaction to a child whose taste had not been spoiled by a load of gaudy, useless playthings, during the first months of his capability, to lift up and take pleasure in them. According to a very homely proverb, choice breeds care. It is true; and if care brings more or less of uneasiness, the child who is least distracted by variety must be most happy. Never should several toys or books be given at once to a child : one at a time, and that one will be valued. Present two books to a little girl or boy who can read, and loves readingAn hour perhaps will be lost in considering which might be the prettiest, and which the worthiest of perusal. The title-page is looked at again and again, the fron. tispiece examined, and the pictures turned over.

Mamma is teazed to pronounce which is the prettiest book, and as no mother should reply at random, she must say she cannot tell; for though a mother is expected to have read every book which she allows her child to possess, it is surely too much to require that she should treasure up in her memory the comparative merits of Master Billy and Miss Polly's respective adventures. In short, the books are often thrown down, and left unread, which, if separately bestowed, would have been accepted with eagerness, and perused with delight.

Besides, if tèmperance is to be cultivated, it must extend to pleasures and enjoyments of all kinds; and the waste and extravagance, the destruction and disorder which an indulged child's store-room offers, are undoubtedly not calculated to form or preserve those habits which moderation enjoins. Sufficiency, but not profuseness, should be our rule; use, and not abuse, our maxim. If we would increase the child's pleasures, we must deal them out to him with caution, and try to make him discover and affix a proper value to each. Abundance produces satiety, and he who has more than every want and wish gratified, will feel no incitement to labour in the search of new amuse, ments; much less will he suppose, in the drowsy sloth of plenitude, that any amusement can be found in pursuits which require exertion of body or mind.

But those occupations which do not ask some effort from either are mostly unfit for children. Thus, to return to the pictures just mentioned. The sense of the child is first caught by the striking colours they exhibit, the sight being engaged; next come the

name and description, when the mind is addressed, and it rouşes to observe the likeness, or to receive the information. Some exertion of the body should also accompany, as indeed of children it surely will, every act of sense or faculty. The twelve pictures are tossed on the carpet to and fro, are examined, and comprehended. The child grows weary, and discards them for some other objects in view. We then ask the first regular effort of a child.

“ Now, my dear, as you are tired of the pictures, they shall be put away for another time; go, therefore, and pick up every one, bring them to mamma, and she will put them in the box." A spoiled, idle, self-willed child directly refuses to do thus. No, forsooth; he can run about the house nimbly enough when he so pleases, but to exert himself for two minutes, to put in place what he has chosen to scatter abroad, is what he does not like. But the child who has been gently trained to obedience complies, perhaps after a little hesitation ; he however does comply; and as he runs backwards and forwards to gather and deliver the pictures, his little cheeks flushed with this his first act of laborious industry, that cheek deepens also with the first flush of conscious merit in the performance of active duty, and in the reward of a mother's smile.

For so true it is, that duty performed, is happiness gained. Oye mothers, think not that the training up of your infants to virtue, duty, and goodness, is the abridging of the infantine enjoyments which are their natural right! Oh no ; believe, on the contrary, that those little children alone know true happiness, whose

passions are held under controul, whose desires are limited, and whose bodies are inured to the exercise and labour which are proportioned to their strength.

Much of a little child's time must, of necessity, be passed in plays and amusements which are apparently of no utility, excepting to exercise the bodily frame. He walks, runs, hops from corner to corner of the room, and seems to have no one object in view; but this passiveness of mind when the body is in active exertion is not of long continuance; neither is it natural to children. They soon learn to run only to the object they desire to possess, to be fretful and restless when they have nothing to exert their faculties upon, and to walk or sit content when the object is undergoing the examination and trial of any or every sense. The older the child, the more persevering are his efforts, and the more eager his desires for something for which he may run; with which he may walk; or which he may sit still and contemplate or enjoy after his own fancy. It is then of great importance to determine what objects are worthy of being set in his way.

What toy for little girls is comparable to the doll ? Tenderness, concern, and all the watchfulness of af. fection are by turns visible in the countenance and manner of the little mamma towards her wooden charge ; and strikingly indeed does she copy those she lives with. Children are admirable imitators, and when the little girl fancies herself a mother, she invariably takes, as closely as she can, her own mother

Her manner, tone of voice, way of reproving, expostulating, or commending ; her cautions,

for a copy.

her excellencies, or her failings are all remembered, as well as a little child can remember any thing, and are acted. The doll is always the little heroine ; commits the same faults, has the same fancies, wishes, and dislikes with her juvenile mistress. If the little girl has been accustomed to capricious treatment, so is that of the doll, which is whipped, reproved, indulged, and kissed in the same minute. But if the child has been steadily and judiciously managed, Miss Dolly is reasoned with upon her faults, caressed for her good behaviour, and made, if she is desired to do any thing, to set aside all amusement and every occupation, till, in imagination, she chooses to obey. Thus every lesson or practice of the real mother is revived in the memory of the imaginary one, to her injury or benefit. Besides these, there are inferior advantages to be derived from the amusement of a doll. The little girl learns to dress and undress, and to put it into a box, when she is tired of playing for that hour with it. The clothes will require folding, and keeping neatly arranged, and a child of even two years old, of moderate quickness, can do thus much, if she be not too lazy to engage in any little effort of industry whatever. Indeed, so truly feminine and engaging is this amusement, that I should almost be inclined to augur ill of any little girl's disposition, in whom a decided aversion appeared to this most use

ful toy.

The slate and pencil, one thick enough not to be easily broken, will make a pretty sitting amusement for a child. Pieces of wood, of plain deal, without any paint, of a size which a little hand could grasp, would

« AnteriorContinuar »