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my fingers, so as almost to unfit me for using my pen, and the unsightly ap pearance they communicated to my hands, I steadily persevered in my enter prise, until the fabric was completed.
By the close of the vacation, my homely domicil, just sufficiently capacious to hold a small bed and table, and a few plain rush-bottom chairs, was finished. And in that place of noiseless retirement did I spend many a long and lonely night, from dark till near daylight, engaged in some form of mental exercise, when I was supposed by the family to be reposing on my pillow.
Such, at this early period of my life, was my ardor in quest of knowledge and letters, my determination to attain them, and, if possible, to excel in them. And, had I not thus labored, I could never have succeeded in any reputable degree in the accomplishment of my purpose. For this assertion I could render several plain and substantial reasons, one of which is as follows: My teachers were miserably deficient in qualifications and means to instruct, as well as in industry and conscientiousness to that effect. I was compelled, therefore, to depend, in a great measure, on my own resources. This, however, is a general truth, involving others no less than myself. Every person, whatever may be his opportunities, must be self-taught, else he is not thoroughly taught at all.
So rude and letterless, and so lamentably destitute of the means and opportunities for education was the tract of country in which I was born, that notwithstanding all the exertions my father and a few of his most enterprising neighbors could make, no school for me could be procured, until I had completed a portion (more, I think, than the half) of my ninth year. And to it I was obliged to walk a distance of more than three miles, along a slight and devious foot or cow-path, through a deep and tangled forest, infested by wolves, wild cats, snakes, and other animals, whose relation to man was the reverse of friendliness. But though I occasionally saw those lawless rovers of the forest, they neither injured nor annoyed me, nor excited in me the least apprehension of danger; or, if I felt a little dread of any of them, it was of rattlesnakes, vipers, and moccasins or yellow-heads, too near to some of which I at times, incidentally trod, with unprotected feet-in plainer and more significant language-barefooted. For, except during the frosts of winter, and I was dressed for some particular purpose, my foot was never encumbered by a shoe; and I need hardly add, that when equipped in shoes, those appurtenances were, in material and structure, sufficiently homely.
During the period of my life which I am now describing (and to myself it was one of peculiar importance, in its relation as well to the development and constitution of my body as to the habits of my mind,) the following (Sunday excepted) were my daily movements:
After an early country breakfast, I set out for school, carrying with me, for my dinner, a piece of Indian-corn bread and a bottle of milk fresh from the cow. This was provision made for my body; nor was I forgetful of a like provision for my mind. As tributary to that purpose, I also carried along with me my book or books, and in due time my slate and pencil, which I brought home with me in the evening as my companions and instructors until bedtime, before which period I rarely dismissed them. Under these circumstances, I was left free to pursue my own course without being disturbed by requests to take any concern in the business of the household; an indulgence which contributed much to my gratification, and not a little to my benefit.
querable and self-sacrificing zeal for human improvement, which their example will inspire in generation after generation.
But, while we should commence the child's moral education by surrounding him with all influences of love and happiness, and lay the foundation of religion deep in his nature, by associating its primary ideas with what is most loved, it does not follow that we should withhold all knowledge of God's severer dispensations. The great law of education, as of all science, is Truth. We must lead the child to know things as they are, and, therefore, he must know what is terrible in appearance, as well as what is kind in God's dealings with mankind. But if there be some aspects of the providential dispensations so awful that the firmest faith can not look upon them with a steady eye, of how much consequence is it that the feeble and susceptible mind of childhood should be preoccupied with ideas which give it strength while they excite its love, before it is acquainted with these that are fearful. The first feelings color the after-life. When a child's first impressions of the Divine Being represent him as a loving father, and when these have been confirmed by repetition, we may gradually show to the opening reason that it is sometimes the part of a father to chasteu those whom he loves. As the child's faculties ripen, we may lead him more and more to understand the wholesomeness to the moral being of many of the miseries and misfortunes of life, until he is left at maturity in the best plight that the care and culture of others can leave him, to combat the temptations of the world, and struggle with the awful mystery of evil. Thus by acting on the mind according to the laws of its moral development, we might insure that whatever peculiar doctrines the individual afterwards took up, the great moral principles of Christianity would have taken root in the depths of his nature, and would be interwoven with his earliest prejudices. The spirit of love and hope, and faith in good, would remain unshaken by calamities, shedding perpetual light on the dark and thorny path of life, revealing in the present evil the future good, and clothing the changeful incidents of this shifting scene with the hues and harmonies of a better existence. We can, indeed, scarcely conceive the purity, the self-denial, and the power, that might be given to the human character by systematic development. Recollecting how the finest minds have had to struggle with bad passions strengthened before the maturity of reason, and how much power has been expended in those internal strivings, who shall set limits to the moral force which might be attained by one trained from the first to combat and keep down its selfish impulses? What mighty object for the regeneration of mankind might not be accomplished by a mind impelled from the outset in one direction, and instead of working with what energy remains after its self-conflicts and dubious wanderings in speculations darkened by passion, directing its full unwasted endowment of WILL against external obstacles? Veracity-truthfulness in thought, word, and deed-is a first principle of morals. It would almost seem as if we need not teach children truthfulness, provided only we could avoid teaching them falsehood. The child's impulse is unreservedly to believe and to speak the truth. We teach him doubt and falsehood. We teach him doubt by repeatedly deceiving him. We teach him falsehood by our own example, and by making it easier for him to say what is false than what is true. That truth is the natural impulse of the mind, is manifest from the slightest consideration of the laws of its development. The ideas of the objects or events which have had words associated with them (i. e., which
in some respects, of a piece with the building in which he presided. Though not cast in exactly the same mold, he was as odd and outré as Dominie SampYet was he a creature of great moral worth, being as single-minded, pure, and upright, as he was eccentric and unique; and he had an excellent intellect. To me he was extremely kind and attentive, took boundless pains in my instruction, and, in no great length of time, taught me as much of Latin and Greek, English composition, and the art of speaking (alias declamation,) as he knew himself. In "speaking," he taught me, or I acquired myself, much more; for, in that accomplishment, he was lamentably deficient. Nature had irrevocably forbidden him to be an orator. His lips were so thin and skinny, tight-drawn, yet puckered over a set of long projecting teeth (making his mouth resemble that of a sucker,) that he could never utter a full masculine sound. In his base tones he sputtered, and squeaked in his tenor; and the treble chord he could not reach at all. His person resembled a living mummy. It was little else than a framework of bone, tendon, and membrane, covered by a dingy skin, so tensely fitted to it as to prevent wrinkles His entire figure was unmarked by the swell and rounding of a single muscle. Still, I say, ho was clever, in the highest and strongest meaning of the term. Besides instructing me much better than any other teacher had done, he gave me whole tomes of excellent advice, which was highly serviceable to me in after years; and which even now, in the winter of my life, I remember with a flush of gratitude and pleasure.
Soon after I left his school he left it also, and repaired to Princeton (in New Jersey) to fit himself, by higher and ampler attainments in college-learning, for the study of divinity. His sound scholarship and general merit being there discovered, he received soon after his graduation, as Bachelor of Arts, the appointment of first tutor in that ancient and respectable institution. His performance of the duties of the responsible station to which, though unasked for, he was thus promoted, was all that could be desired-faithful, conscientious, and able. But his tenure of it was brief. About nine months from the time of his appointment, the united toils of teaching and professional study struck him down, in a violent fever, accompanied by an inflammation of the brain, which, in less than a week, proved fatal to him.
Many years afterwards, I visited the cemetery where the relics of my early benefactor were deposited, and, not without some difficulty, found his lonely and neglected grave, honored only by its moldering contents. Indignant at the disrespect with which it had been treated, I had the wild weeds that grew around it plucked up, a covering of fresher sods laid over it, and a more respectable head and foot-stone erected, to mark more lastingly the consecrated spot. I next, with my own hands, placed in the earth around it a few flowerbearing plants, and then gazing on it for a moment, not perhaps without a moistened eye, bade it a feeling and final farewell. Poor Harris ! Grow on and around his grave what may, neither the nettle nor the thorn, the brier nor the thistle, can derive from his clay congenial nourishment. He was one of the purest impersonations I have ever known of what is most valuable and attractive in mildness and amenity, unsophisticated kindness and good-nature.
I entered next an institution called an academy, in which, together with the ancient languages, were taught a few branches of science to which I was a stranger. Much to my regret, however, I found that also to be but a meager con
The teachers of it, though neither actually weak nor ignorant, were equally remote from being, in any measure, powerfully gifted, or extensively informed. But the worst feature of their case was, that they were destitute alike of skill and faithfulness in the art of teaching. But, far from having on me the slightest influence, through a disposition on my part to follow their example of idleness and neglect, that example but rendered me the more industrious and energetic; for now I clearly perceived that, for the accomplishment of my education, I must depend almost entirely on my own resources. To this view of the subject I adapted my measures, with all the assiduity, judgment, and firmness I could bring to the enterprise. And, by the close of my fourteenth year, I had made myself master of all the school and academical learning that could be furnished by the institutions of the region in which I resided. Perhaps I might amplify my representation of the case, and say that I now possessed as much attainment of the kind referred to as could be imparted to me at any institution then in the State of North Carolina; for, as yet, the University of that State had not been founded.
With this, I close the account of my literary pupilage in the South, but not of my literary education. That process I still continued, with unabated ardor, though I changed materially the mode of conducting it; a measure which formed an epoch in the history of my life.
I was now virtually alone in the world, having followed both my parents to the grave, and to no control, except theirs, had I ever submitted; nor from any other source could I deigu to take counsel. Too young, as well as, in my own opinion, too superficially educated to enter on the study of a learned profession, and not having at immediate command a sufficient amount of funds to enable me to repair to one of the distinguished northern colleges for the completion of my elementary education, I was induced, by a complimentary invitation, and the prospect of a liberal income, to place myself at the head of a large and flourishing grammar school, situated in a remote and wealthy section of the state. That institution had at all times previously been under the direction of gentlemen somewhat advanced in years, and of acknowledged scholarship; and it contained, at the time of my appointment to it, several pupils from five to ten years older than myself.
The gentleman who had preceded me in the direction of the school acted toward me with a degree of kindness and liberality which was highly honorable to him, and which I have never ceased to remember with gratitude.
In the government of the institution I found no difficulty. Discarding entirely the levity of youth, in which I had never but very moderately indulged, and assuming a deportment sufficiently authoritative, mingled with affability and courtesy of manner, I commanded, from the first act of my official duties, the entire respect and deference of my pupils. The elder and more intelligent of them conformed to order and good government from a threefold motive-the decorum and propriety of the measure, in a social and gentlemanly point of view-a conviction that submission to rightful anthority is a moral duty, which can not be violated without disrepute among the enlightened and the virtuousand a sentiment of self-interest; for they had the sagacity very soon to perceive my ability to bestow on them lasting benefits, and my resolution to do so, provided they should deserve them.
A given portion of time excepted, which, for the benefit of the school, I deemed it my duty to devote to social intercourse, my intellectual labors be
impulses of generosity, and of that sympathy which is the foundation of politeness, would be observed in such a group, where nature had not been corrupted by unnatural stimulants. The pleasure of society, and of communicating enjoyment, would soon be felt more vividly than the mere gratification of appetite. Dinners would come to be regarded as dull and cheerless without the circle of happy faces; and thoughts of pleasures of the palate would be clustered round and interwoven with ideas of similar gratification in others. Many a warm and benevolent heart has been first moved to its good work by feelings which, if analyzed, would present, simply, a deep and strong conception of the physical wants of others.
We may thus do much to prevent the clashing of appetites with higher impulses. If a child is debarred from the gratification of his natural appetite, he will use any means in his power to obtain the requisite satisfaction. His appetite is a powerful impulse growing continually more urgent. If he can set it at rest by falsehood or theft, he is certain, after more or less hesitation, to do so. The principles of truth and justice, in a child of the best organization, are feebler than the principle of appetite; and where we compel a collision in which these forces are left to their own unaided strength, the appetite must prevail. Whatever the Spartan discipline might have been able to effect in more advanced youth, such self-command as would maintain truth and justice against cravings of a growing appetite is not possible in childhood.
The general rule, therefore, should be to avoid such collisions. But it is necessary that the man should be able to control his appetites, and, therefore, the child must attempt it. The early strength of these impulses is probably not more necessary for the preservation of our physical frame, than for our moral probation and advancement. We must begin with the slightest trials. If the child's attention has been awakened to the pleasure or pain of others, he will often be disposed to give up a pleasure in order to relieve pain, or to make another happy. All such impulses and acts should receive their due reward of affectionate encouragement. He should be made to feel that such things, above all others, win for him our esteem; and his own feeling will teach him that selfdenial has its reward. His imagination should be excited by brief and vivid anecdotes of those who have given up their pleasure to benefit mankind; but particularly of Him so humble and so gentle, the friend of little children, and so like one that little children would love; who gave up all for the good of men; and rejecting the bright road of ambition and of royal power, took up the bitter and humiliating cross. But we must guard against any unnatural forcing. We must beware of exciting a false and calculating benevolence. Every act of kindness in the child should be followed by its precise natural consequences, both painful and pleasant. All education ought to lead the mind to a more perfect acquaintance with the realities of nature and society—the real properties of things, the real consequences of actions. If a child has willingly sacrificed his own enjoyment for another, he must suffer the loss, and find his reward in the pleasure of doing the kindness and of seeing the happiness he produces. But if we, as a reward for his benevolence, pamper the appetite which he has denied if we restore the apple or orange which he has given up that he might bestow a penny in charity, we do much to destroy the good of his action and to teach him the trick of hypocrisy. On the next occasion he will expect his loss to be made good, and he will readily please his teacher, or his mama, by be