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place or company they are in, (which can only be where their parents are,) a look or a word from the father or mother, if they have established the authority they should, will be enough either to remove, or quiet them for that time. But this gamesome humor, which is wisely adapted by nature to their age and temper, should rather be encouraged, to keep up their spirits, and improve their strength and health, than curbed or restrained; and the chief art is to make all that they have to do, sport and play too.
58. And here giye me leave to take notice of one thing I think a fault in the ordinary method of education; and that is, the charging of children's memories, upon all occasions, with rules and precepts which they often do not understand, and are constantly as soon forgot as given. If it be some action you would have done, or done otherwise, whenever they forget or do it awkwardly, make them do it ove and over till they are perfect, whereby you will get these two advantages: First, to see whether it be an action they can do, or is fit to be expected of them. For sometimes children are bid to do things which upon trial, they are found not able to do, and had need be taught and exercised in, before they are required to do them. But it is much easier for a tutor to command than to teach. Secondly, another thing got by it will be this, that by repeating the same action till it be grown habitual in them, the performance will not depend on memory, or reflection, the concomitant of prudence and age, and not of childhood; but will be natural in them. Thus, bowing to a gentleman when he salutes him, and looking in his face when he speaks to him, is by constant u: as natural to a well-bred man, as breathing; it reqnires no thought, no reflection. Having this way cured in your child any fault, it is cured forever; and thus, one by one, you may weed them out all, and plant what habits you please.
59. I have seen parents so heap rules on their children, that it was impossible for the poor little ones to remember a tenth part of them, much less to observe them. However, they were either by words or blows corrected for the breach of those multiplied and often very impertinent precepts. Whence it naturally followed, that the children minded not what was said to them when it was evident to them, that no attention they were capable of, was sufficient to preserve them from transgression, and the rebukes which followed it.
Let therefore your rules to your son be as few as is possible, and rather fewer than more than seem absolutely necessary. For if you burden him with many rules, one of these two things must necessarily follow; that either he must be very often punished, which will be of ill consequence, by making punishment too frequent and familiar, or else you must let the transgressions of some of your rules go unpunished, whereby they will of course grow contemptible, and your authority become cheap to him. Make but few laws, but see they be well observed, when once made. Few years require but few laws; and, as his ago increases, when one rule is by practice well established, you may add another.
60. But pray remember, children are not to be taught by rules, which will be always slipping out of their memories. What you think necessary for them to do, settle in them by an indispensable practice, as often as the occasion returns, and if it be possible, make occasions. This will beget habits in them which, being once established, operate of themselves. easily and naturally, without the assistance of the memory. But here let me give two cautions : 1. The one is, that you keep them to the practice of what you would have grow into a habit in them, by kind words and gentle admonitions, rather as minding them of what they forget, than by harsh rebukes and chiding as if they were willfully guilty. 2. Another thing you are to take care of is, not to en. deavor to settle too many habits at once, lest by a variety you confound them, and so perfect none. When constant custom has made any one thing easy and natural to them, and they practice it without reflection, you may then go on to another.
This method of teaching children by a repeated practice, and the same action done over and over again, under the eye and direction of the tutor, till they have got the habit of doing it well, and not by relying on rules trusted to their memories, has so many advantages, which way soever we consider it, that I can not but wonder if ill customs could be wondered at in any thing,) how it could possibly be so much neglected. I shall name one more that comes now in my way. By this method we shall see, whether what is required of him be adapted to his capacity, and any way suited to the child's natural genius and constitution, for that too must be considered in a right education. We must not hope wholly to change their original tempers, nor make the gay pensive and grave, nor the melancholy sportive, without spoiling them. God has stamped certain characters upon men's minds, which, like their shapes, may perhaps be a little mended, but can hardly be totally altered and transformed into the contrary.
He, therefore, that is about children, should well study their natures and aptitudes, and see, by often trials, what turn they easily take, and what becomes them; observe what their native stock is, how it may be improved, and what it is fit for; he should consider what they want, whether they be capable of having it wrought into them by industry, and incorporated there by practice; and whether it be worth while to endeavor it. For, in many cases, all that wo can do, or should aim at, is, to make the best of what nature has given, to prevent the vices and faults to which such a constitution is most inclined, and give it all the advantages it is capable of. Every one's natural genius should be carried as far as it could; but to attempt the putting another upon him, will be but labor in vain; and what is so plastered on, will at best sit but untowardly, and have always hanging to it the ungracefulness of constraint and affectation.
Affectation is not, I confess, an early fault of childhood, or the product of untaught nature; it is of that sort of weeds which grow not in the wild uncultivated waste, but in garden-plots, under the negligent hand, or unskillful care of a gardener. Management and instruction, and some sense of the necessity of breeding, are requisite to make any one capable of affectation, which endeavors to correct natural defects, and has always the laudable aim of pleasing, though it always misses it; and the more it labors to put on gracefulness, the farther it is from it. For this reason it is the more carefully to be watched, because it is the proper fault of education; a perverted education indeed, but such as young people often fall into, either by their own mistake, or the ill conduct of those about them.
He that will examine wherein that gracefulness lies, which always pleases, will find it arises from that natural coherence, which appears between the thing done, and such a temper of mind, as can not but be approved of as suitable to the occasion. We can not but be pleased with an humane, friendly, civil temper, wherever we meet with it. A mind free, and master of itself and all its actions, not low and narrow, not haughty and insolent, not blemished with any great defect, is what every one is taken with. The actions which naturally flow from such a well-formed mind, please us also, as the genuine marks of it, and being as it were, natural emanations from the spirit and disposition within, can not but be easy and unconstrained. This seems to me to be that beauty, which shines through some men's actions, sets off all that they do, and takes with all they come near, when by a constant practice they have fashioned their carriage and made all those little expressions of civility and respect, which nature or custom has established in conversation, so easy to themselves, that they seem not artificial or studied, but naturally to follow from a sweetness of mind and a well-turned disposition.
On the other side, affectation is an awkward and forced imitation of what should be genuine and easy, wanting the beauty that accompanies what is natural; because there is always a disagreement between the outward action, and the mind within, one of these two ways: 1. Either when a man would outwardly put on a disposition of mind, which then he really has not, but endeavors by a forced carriage to make show of, yet so that the constraint he is under, discovers itself, and thus men affect sometimes to appear sad, merry, or kind, when, in truth, they are not so.
2. The other is, when they do not endeavor to make show of dispositions of mind which they have not, but to express those they have by a carriage not suited to them; and such in conversation are all constrained motions, actions, words or looks which, though designed to show either their respect or civility to the company, or their satisfaction and easiness in it, are not yet natural nor genuine marks of the one or the other, but rather of some defect or mistake within. Imitation of others, without discerning what is graceful in them, or what is peculiar to their characters, often makes a great part of this. But affectation of all kinds, whencesoever it proceeds, is always offensive, because we naturally hate whatever is counterfeit, and condemn those who have nothing better to recommend themselves by.
Plain and rough nature, left to itself, is much better than an artificial ungracefulness, and such studied ways of being ill-fashioned. The want of an accomplishment, or some defect in our behavior, coming short of the utmost gracefulness, often escapes observation and censure. But affectation in any part of our carriage, is lighting up a candle to our defects, and never fails to make us taken notice of, either as wanting sense, or wanting sincerity. This governors ought the more diligently to look after, because, as I have observed, it is an acquired ugliness, owing to mistaken education, few being guilty of it but those who pretend to breeding, and would not be thought ignorant of what is fashionable and becoming in conversation; and, if I mistake not, it has often its rise from the lazy admonitions of those who give rules, and propose examples, without joining practice with their instructions, and making their pupils
repeat the action in their sight, that they may correct what is indecent or constrained in it, till it be perfected into an habitual and becoming easiness.
61. Manners, as they call it
, about which children are go often perplexed, and have so many goodly exhortations made them, by their wise maids and governo esses, I think, are rather to be learned by example than rules; and then children, if kept out of ill company, will take a pride to behave themselves prettily, after the fashion of others, perceiving themselves esteemed and commended for it. But if by a little negligence in this part, the boy should not put off his hat, nor make legs very gracefully, a dancing-master will cure that defect, and wipe off all that plainness of nature, which the à-la-mode people call clownishness. And since nothing appears to me to give children so much becoming confidence
and behavior, and so to raise them to the conversation of those above their age, as dancing, I think they should be taught to dance, as soon as they are capable of learning it. For, though this consist only in outward gracefulness of motion, yet I know not how it gives children manly thoughts and carriage, more than anything. But otherwise I would not have little children much tormented about punctilios, or niceties of breeding.
Never trouble yourself about those faults in them which you know age will cure. And, therefore, want of well-fashioned civility in the carriage, whilst civility is not wanting in the mind, (for there you must take care to plant it early,) should be the parents' least care whilst they are young. If his tender mind be filled with a veneration for his parents and teachers, which consists in love and esteem, and a fear to offend them, and with respect and good-will to all people, that respect will of itself teach those ways of expressing it which he observes most acceptable. Be sure to keep up in him the principles of goodnature and kindness; make them as habitual as you can, by credit and commendation, and the good things accompanying that state, and when they have taken root in his mind, and are settled there by a continued practice, fear not; the ornaments of conversation, and the outside of fashionable manners, will come in their due time, if, when they are removed out of their maid's care, they are put into the hands of a well-bred man to be their governor.
Whilst they are very young, any carelessness is to be borne with in children that carries not with it the marks of pride or ill-nature, but those, whenever they appear in any action, are to be corrected immediately, by the ways abovementioned. What I have said concerning manners, I would not have so understood, as if I meant that those who have the judgment to do it, should not gently fashion the motions and carriage of children when they are very young. It would be of great advantage, if they had people about them from their being first able to go, that had the skill, and would take the right way to do it. That which I complain of is the wrong course that is usually taken in this matter. Children who were never taught any such thing as behavior, are often (especially when strangers are present) chid for having some way or other failed in good manners, and have thereupon reproofs and precepts heaped upon them, concerning putting off their hats, or making of legs, &c. Though in this those concerned pretend to correct the child, yet in truth, for the most part, it is but to cover their own shame, and they lay the blame on the poor little ones, sometimes passionately enough, to divert it from themselves, for fear the bystanders should impute to their want of care and skill the child's ill behavior.
For, as for the children themselves, they are never one jot bettered by such occasional lectures; they at other times should be shown what to do, and by reiterated actions be fashioned before-hand into the practice of what is fit and becoming, and not told, and talked to do upon the spot, what they have never been accustomed to, nor know how to do as they should; to hare and rate them thus at every turn, is not to teach them, but to vex and torment them to no purpuse. They should be let alone, rather than chid for a fault, which is none of theirs, nor is in their power to mend for speaking to. And it were much better their natural, childish negligence, or plainness, should be left to the care of riper years, than that they should frequently have rebukes misplaced upon them, which neither do nor can give them graceful motions. If their minds are well disposed, and principled with inward civility, a great part of the roughness which sticks to the outside for want of better teaching, time and observation will rub off, as they grow up, if they are bred in good company; but if in ill, all the rules in the world, all the correction imaginable, will not be able to polish them. For you must take this for a certain truth, that let them have what instructions you will, and ever so learned lectures of breeding daily inculcated into them, that which will most influence their carriage, will be the company they converse with, and the fashion of those about them. Children (nay, and men too,) do most by example. We are all a sort of chameleons, that still take a tincture from things near us; nor is it to be wondered at in children, who better understand what they see than what they hear.
62. I mentioned above, one great mischief that came by servants to children, when by their flatteries they take off the edge and force of the parents' rebukes, and so lessen their authority. And here is another great inconvenience which children receive from the ill examples which they meet with amongst the meaner servants.
They are wholly, if possible, to be kept from such conversation; for the contagion of these ill precedents, both in civility and virtue, horribly infects children, as often as they come within reach of it. They frequently learn, from unbred or debauched servants, such language, untowardly tricks and vices, as otherwise they possibly would be ignorant of all their lives.
63. It is a hard matter wholly to prevent this mischief. You will have very good luck if you never have a clownish or vicious servant, and if from them your children never get any infection. But yet, as much must be done towards it as can be, and the children kept as much as may be in the company of their parents,* and those to whose care they are committed. To this purpose, their being in their presence should be made easy to them; they should be allowed the liberties and freedom suitable to their ages, and not be held under unnecessary restraints, when in their parents' or governor's sight. ' If it be a prison to them it is no wonder they should not like it. They must not be hindered from being children, or from playing or doing as children, but from doing ill. All other liberty is to be allowed them. Next, to make them in love with the company of their parents, they should receive all their good things there, and from their hands. The servants should be hindered from making court to them, by giving
. • How much the Romans thought the education of their children a business that properly belonged to the parents themselves, see in Suetonius, August. sect. 64. Plutarch in vita Ca. tonis Censoris; Diodorus Siculus, 1. 2. chap. 3.