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both sides, they are fitted for this task far better than strangers can be. And if they suffer these great instruments of good to be lost or perverted to evil: or if they fail to qualify themselves for their task by obtaining other requisites, and by allotting to it sufficient time and thought, and taking due care and pains; they must be answerable to God. They may, with much propriety, call in assistance, especially in the mechanical parts of education; but should always consider themselves as keeping the higher branches, which respect the principles, dispositions, and habits, chiefly in their own hands. Can they entrust these to nurse-maids? They must certainly answer no! Or to governesses? These, in general, are but ill qualified to undertake this most important part of education. Besides, being extremely inferior to the parents in the points which have been mentioned, they are almost always unprepared for the task. The boarding schools, at which they are educated, afford them little instruction in this line, beyond what is necessary for ensuring the getting of lessons, and the maintenance of peace and subordination.
The Period between a Child's beginning to read and going to School :-its Importance —The Objects of Ed. ucation, and their relative Value.-Commencement of Instruction in Reading.-Rousseau :-Education a Discipline. Choice of Books.-Tones and Articulations.-Care in the Use of religious Books :-Selection of them. Catechisms.
URING the period between a child's first beginning to read and the time of his going to school, the mind becomes capable of more continued and systematic instruction. Its powers expand and acquire a degree of firmness and a far more regular foundation may be laid for the opinions, dispositions, and habits which ought to predominate in mature age. That wondrous being, man, displaying so many marks of his high origin, as well as of his deplorable fall; whose astonishing progress in knowledge, when his powers are cultivated, and whose more astonishing capabilities of knowledge, clearly point him out as destined to a more exalted state of being; and whose no less astonishing progress in good or in evil, and further capabilities of both according to the course he takes, afford clear indications that future state will be one of righteous retribution, eminently blessed or eminently wretched :—that wondrous being, at an early age,
receives impressions which sink deep into his as yet soft and yielding nature, and acquires habits which take such firm hold of that nature, as almost to become part of it. With what anxious care, then, should this springtime of life be employed in preparations for the future harvest! If there be not a harvest of good, there must be one of evil. The heavenly sickle will most assuredly, in due time, gather either the one or the other: and then with what unspeakable joy or grief will parents look back on their conduct towards their offspring during the years of early childhood!
There is a further consideration, which, in the case of boys, adds extremely to the importance of parental exertions in education during the period in question. On its expiration, they usually leave their father's house, never afterwards, during the whole course of their education, to spend in it any very large portion of their time. And whither do they go? To school, were they are surrounded by new companions, and find in abundance new sentiments, new habits, and new temptations. Their parents are no longer at hand; and it is impossible for the master to afford them the protection which parents can afford against the inroads of foily and vice, especially out of school hours. His time is too much occupied, and his family is too numerous to admit of close personal attention to his individual scholars, in their general manners and habits. If they enter this new world without decidedly good principles, and corresponding conduct of some continuance, what is to be expected? Can it be
rationally hoped that they will resist their own natural bias to evil, stimulated, as it will be, by bad example and false shame ? If the father sees, on his son's return home for the holidays, a change which shocks him, (though parental partiality will often make him in a great measure blind to that which is apparent to others,) how is he to remedy the evil? He will exert himself during the boy's continuance at home. But that is short and to be followed by a much longer period during which his son will be again exposed to the same temptations which he was before too weak to resist ;-temptations now more formidable from not having been resisted. The parent will engage the master to counteract the evils he deplores; but the master, whatever may be his ability and good intentions, cannot perform impossibilities, nor, if the number of his pupils is not extremely small, give the time and attention to the case of this one boy which it would probably require. Supposing, however, his engagements to admit of his executing this task effectually, I confess I should be apprehensive that he will very rarely be found disposed to do so. His affection for the child cannot be expected to be that of a parent, and therefore he will generally be found deficient in the delicate and unceasing duties of an office which requires all the tender solicitude that flows from parental affection. The father also writes frequently to his son. Letters, in such a case, are a very inadequate substitute for occular inspection and viva voce* admonition. Perhaps, however, he adopts what he deems the most efficacious measure, and * Admonition by word of mouth.