Imatges de pàgina
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desire it and contend for it still, when he is in breeches ? Indeed, as he grows more towards a man, age shows his faults the more, so that there be few parents then so blind as not to see them; few so insensible as not to feel the ill effects of their own indulgence. He had the will of his maid before he could speak or go; he had the mastery of his parents ever since he could prattle; and why, now he is grown up, is stronger and wiser than he was then, why now of a sudden must he be restrained and curbed; why must he at seven, fourteen, or twenty years old, lose the privilege which the parents' indulgence, till then, so largely allowed him ? Try it in a dog, or a horse, or any other creature, and see whether the ill and resty tricks they have learned when young are easily to be mended when they are knit: and yet none of those creatures are half so willful and proud, or half so desirous to be masters of themselves and others, as man.

30. We are generally wise enough to begin with them when they are very young; and discipline betimes those other creatures we would make useful and good for somewhat. They are only our own offspring, that we neglect in this point; and, having made them ill children, we foolishly expect they should be good men. For if the child must have grapes, or sugar-plums, when he has a mind to them, rather than make the poor baby cry, or be out of humor; why, when he is grown up, must be not be satisfied too, if his desires carry him to wine or women? They are objects as suitable to the longing of twenty-one or more years, as what he cried for, when little, was to the inclinations of a child. The having desires accommodated to the apprehensions and relish of those several ages is not the fault; but the not having them subject to the rules and restraints of reason: the difference lies not in the having or not having appetites, but in the power to govern, and deny ourselves in them. He that is not used to submit his will to the reason of others, when he is young, will scarce hearken or submit to his own reason, when he is of an age to make use of it. And what kind of a man such a one is like to prove, is easy to foresee.

31. These are oversights usually committed by those who seem to take the greatest care of their children's education. But, if we look into the common management of children, we shall have reason to wonder, in the great dissoluteness of manners which the world complains of, that there are any footsteps at all left to virtue. I desire to know what vice can be named, which parents, and those about children, do not season them with, and drop into them the seeds of, as often as they are capable to receive them? I do not mean by the examples they give, and the patterns they set before them, which is encouragement enough; but that which I would take notice of here, is the downright teaching them vice, and actual putting them out of the way of virtue. Before they can go, they principle them with violence, revenge and cruelty. "Give me a blow that I may beat him," is a lesson which most children every day hear; and it is thought nothing, because their hands have not strength enough to do any mischief. But, I ask, does not this corrupt their minds? is not this the way of force and violence, that they are set in? and if they have been taught when little to strike and hurt others by proxy, and encouraged to rejoice in the harm they have brought upon them, and see them suffer; are they not prepared to do it when they are strong enough to be felt themselves, and can strike to some purpose ?

The coverings of our bodies, which are for modesty, warmth, and defense, are by the folly or vice of parents, recommended to their children for other uses. They are made matter of vanity and emulation. A child is set a longing after a new suit, for the finery of it: and when the little girl is tricked up in her new gown and commode, how can her mother do less than teach her to admire herself, by calling her, “her little queen," and "her princess ?” Thus the little ones are taught to be proud of their clothes before they can put them on. And why should they not continue to value themselves for this outside fashionableness of the tailor or the tire-woman's making, when their parents have so early instructed them to do so ?

Lying and equivocations, and excuses little different from lying, are put into the mouths of young people, and commended in apprentices and children, whilst they are for their master's or parent's advantage. And can it be thought that he, that finds the straining of truth dispensed with, and encouraged, whilst it is for his godly master's turn, will not make use of that privilege for himself, when it may be for his own profit?

Those of the meaner sort are hindered by the straitness of their fortunes from encouraging intemperance in their children, by the temptation of their diet, or invitations to eat or drink more than enough: but their own ill examples, whenever plenty comes in their way, show that it is not the dislike of drunkenness and gluttony that keeps them from excess, but want of materials. But if we look into the houses of those who are a little warmer in their fortunes, there eating and drinking are made so much the great business and happiness of life, that children are thought neglected, if they have not their share of it. Sauces, and ragouts, and foods disguised by all the arts of cookery, must tempt their palates, when their bellies are full; and then, for fear the stomach should be overcharged, a pretense is found for the other glass of wine, to help digestion, though it only serves to increase the surfeit.

Is my young master a little out of order? the first question is, “What will my dear eat? what shall I get for thee ?" Eating and drinking are instantly pressed: and every body's invention is set on work to find out something luscious and delicate enough to prevail over that want of appetite, which nature has wisely ordered in the beginning of distempers, as a defense against their increase; that, being freed, from the ordinary labor of digesting any new load in the stomach, she may be at leisure to correct and master the peccant humors.

And where children are so happy in the care of their parents, as by their prudence to be kept from the excess of their tables, to the sobriety of a plain and simple diet; yet there too they are scarce to be preserved from the contagion that poisons the mind. Though by a discreet management, whilst they are under tuition, their healths, perhaps, may be pretty well secured; yet their desires must needs yield to the lessons, which every-where will be read to them upon this part of epicurism. The commendation that eating well has everywhere, can not fail to be a successful incentive to natural appetite, and bring them quickly to the liking and expense of a fashionable table. This shall have from every one, even the reprovers of vice, the title of living well. And what shall sullen reason dare to say against the public testimony? or can it hope to be heard, if it should call that luxury, which is so much owned and universally practised by those of the best quality ?

This is now so grown a vice, and has so great supports, that I know not whether it do not put in for the name of virtue; and whether it will not be thought folly, or want of knowledge of the world, to open one's mouth against it. And truly I should suspect, that what I have here said of it might be cedsured, as a little satire out of my way, did I not mention it with this view, that it might awaken the care and watchfulness of parents in the education of their children; when they see how they are beset on every side, not only with temptations, but instructors to vice, and that perhaps in those they thought places of security.

I shall not dwell any longer on this subject; much less run over all the particulars, that would show what pains are used to corrupt children, and instill principles of vice into them: but I desire parents soberly to consider what irregularity or vice there is which children are not visibly taught; and whether it be not their duty and wisdom to provide them other instructions.

CRAVING. 32. It seems plain to me, that the principle of all virtue and excellency lies in a power of denying ourselves the satisfaction of our own desires, where reason does not authorize them. This power is to be got and improved by custom, made easy and familiar by an early practice. If therefore I might be heard, I would advise, that, contrary to the ordinary way children should be used to submit their desires, and go without their longings, even from their very cradles. The very first thing they should learn to know, should be, that they were not to have any thing because it pleased them, but because it was thought fit for them. If things suitable to their wants were supplied to them so that they were never suffered to have what they once cried for, they would learn to be content without it; would never with bawling and peevishness contend for mastery; nor be half so uneasy to themselves and others as they are, because from the first beginning they are not thus handled. If they were never suffered to obtain their desire by the impatience they expressed for it, they would no more cry for other things than they do for the moon.

33. I say not this as if children were not to be indulged in any thing, or that I expected they should, in hanging-sleeves, have the reason and conduct of counsellors. I consider them as children, who must be tenderly used, who must play, and have play-things. That which I mean is, that whenever they craved what was not fit for them to have, or do, they should not be permitted it, because they were little and desired it: nay, whatever they were importunate for, they should be sure, for that very reason, to be denied. I have seen children at a table, who, whatever was there, never asked for any thing, but contentedly took what was given them: and at another place I have seen others cry for every thing they saw, must be served out of every dish, and that first too. What made this vast difference but this, that one was accustomed to have what they called or cried for, the other to go without it? The younger they are, the less, I think, are their unruly and disorderly appetites to be complied with; and the less reason they have of their own, the more are they to be under the absolute power and restraint of those in whose hands they are. From which I con. fess, it will follow, that none but discreet people should be about them. If the world commonly does otherwise, I can not help that. I am saying what I think should be; which, if it were already in fashion, I should not need to trouble the world with a discourse on this subject. But yet I doubt not but, when it is considered, there will be others of opinion with me, that the sooner

this way is begun with children, the easier it will be for them, and their governors too; and that this ought to be observed as an inviolable maxim, that whatever once is denied them, they are certainly not to obtain by crying or im. portunity; unless one has a mind to teach them to be impatient and troublesome, by rewarding them for it when they are so.

EARLY REGULATION, 34. Those, therefore, that intend ever to govern their children, should begin it whilst they are very little, and look that they perfectly comply with the will of their parents. Would you have your son obedient to you when past a child ? Be sure then to establish the authority of a father, as soon as he is capable of submission, and can understand in whose power he is. If you would have him stand in awe of you, imprint it in his infancy; and, as he approaches more to a man, admit him nearer to your familiarity; so shall you have him your obedient subject (as is fit) whilst he is a child, and your affectionate friend when he is a man. For methinks they mightily misplace the treatment due to their children, who are indulgent and familiar when they are little, but severe to them and keep them at a distance, when they are grown up. For liberty and indul. gence can do no good to children; their want of judgment makes them stand in need of restraint and discipline. And, on the contrary, imperiousness and severity is but an ill way of treating men, who have reason of their own to guide them, unless you have a mind to make your children, when grown up, weary of you, and secretly to say within themselves, "When will you die, father ?"

35. I imagine every one will judge it reasonable, that their children, when little, should look upon their parents as their lords, their absolute governors; and as such stand in awe of them, and that when they come to riper years, they should look on them as their best, as their only sure friends, and as such love and reverence them. The way I have mentioned, if I mistake not, is the only one to obtain this. We must look upon our children, when grown up, to be like ourselves; with the same passions, the same desires. We would be thought rational creatures, and have our freedom; we love not to be uneasy under constant rebukes and brow-beatings; nor can we bear severe humors and great distance in those we converse with. Whoever has such treatment, when he is a man, will look out other company, other friends, other conversation, with whom he can be at ease. If therefore a strict hand be kept over children, from the beginning, they will in that age be tractable, and quietly submit to it, as never having known any other, and if, as they grow up to the use of reason, the rigor of government be, as they deserve it, gently relaxed, the father's brow more smoothed to them, and the distance by degrees abated, his former restraints will increase their love, when they find it was only a kindness for them, and a care to make them capable to deserve the favor of their parents and the esteem of every body else.

36. Thus much for the settling your authority over children in general. Fear and awe ought to give you the first power over their minds, and love and friend. ship in riper years to hold it; for the time must come when they will be past the rod and correction, and then, if the love of you make them not obedient and dutiful; if the love of virtue and reputation keep them not in laudable courses, I ask, what hold will you have upon them, to turn them to it? Ln

deed, fear of having a scanty portion, if they displease you, may make them slaves to your estate, but they will be nevertheless ill and wicked in private, and that restraint will not last always. Every man must some time or other bo trusted to himself, and his own conduct; and he that is a good, a virtuous, and able man, must be made so within. And, therefore, what he is to receive from education, what is to sway and influence his life, must be something put into him betimes; habits woven into the very principles of his nature, and not a counterfeit carriage, and dissembled outside, put on by fear, only to avoid the present anger of a father, who perhaps may disinherit him.

PUNISHMENTS. 37. This being laid down in general, as the course ought to be taken, it is fit we come now to consider the parts of the discipline to be used a little more particularly. I have spoken so much of carrying a strict hand over children, that perhaps I shall be suspected of not considering enough what is due to their tender age and constitutions. But that opinion will vanish, when you have heard me a little farther. For I am very apt to think, that great severity of punishment does but very little good; nay, great harm in education; and I believe that it will be found that cæteris paribus, those children who have been most chastised, seldom make the best men. All that I have hitherto contended for, is, that whatsoever rigor is necessary, it is more to be used, the younger children are ; and, having by a due application wrought its effect, it is to be relaxed, and changed into a milder sort of government.

AWE. 38. A compliance and suppleness of their wills, being by a steady hand introduced by parents, before children have memories to retain the beginnings of it, will seem natural to them, and work afterwards in them as if it were so, preventing all occasions of struggling or repining. The only care is, that it be begun early, and inflexibly kept to, till awe and respect be grown familiar, and there appears not the least reluctancy in the submission, and ready obedience of their minds. When this reverence is once thus established, (which it must be early, or else it will cost pains and blows to recover it, and the more the longer it is deferred,) it is by it, mixed still with as much indulgence, as they made not an ill use of, and not by beating, chiding, or other servile punishments, they are for the future to be governed, as they grow up to more understanding.

SELF-DENIAL 39. That this is so, will be easily allowed, when it is but considered what is to be aimed at, in an ingenuous education, and upon what it turns.

1. He that has not a mastery over his inclinations, he that knows not how to resist the importunity of present pleasure or pain, for the sake of what reason tells him is fit to be done, wants the true principle of virtue and industry, and is in danger of never being good for any thing. This temper, therefore, so contrary to unguided nature, is to be got betimes; and this habit, as the true foundation of future ability and happiness, is to be wrought into the mind as early as may be, even from the first dawnings of any knowledge or apprehen. sion in children, and so to be confirmed in them by all the care and ways imaginable, by those who have the oversight of their education.

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