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feverish anxiety about their safety in those who have them in charge. When extreme affection, as it frequently happens, takes this form, it is scarcely less fatal to the best interests of its objects than injudicious severity. The little beings, full of joyous activity, moved by the healthful impulses of nature, with their senses all awake, surrounded by objects which are to them full of wonder and delight, are perpetually carrying on processes of education beyond the reach of human art to equal. Observation, abstraction, reasoning, invention, are doing their rapid work, while the young investigators are running in the way of innumerable dangers. The anxious parent is not content with this education of Nature's choos'ng, but must interpose her protection between the child and the knowledge, which, by the ordinance of Nature, every one must learn from his own experience. He must not go here, for fear of knocking his head against the table,—nor there, lest he may tumble over the footstool,
,-nor play with a glass, lest it may break and cut him,-nor approach the hot water, lest it may scald his fingers ;—he must beware of the dog, because it may bite-of the cat, because it can scratch-and of fifty other things, frogs, mice, beetles, &c., for no reason but because his mother has an aversion to them. All these things the mother does her best to plant as objects of dread, and too often with success. Her incessant alarms are caught up by the child, and his terrors are perpetually excited. The feeling of fear acquires the rapidity and certainty of habit; the child becomes helpless, his active power almost paralyzed, and his powers of observation enfeebled by the spectres raised up in the way of their exercise. In his intercourse with others, his cowardice tempts to low tricks and base compliances, and he lives under the most wretched and agonizing slavery to his fears.
It is of immense importance that a child's physical courage should be strengthened, and that he should be trained to habits of steady circumspection and decision, in new or dangerous circumstances. We must preserve him from the contamination of groundless fears, as we would from a pestilence. Instead of perpetual injunction to avoid this or that, he should be allowed, as far as it can be done without serious danger, to obtain his knowledge of what things are safe, and what are hurtful for himself. His proceedings should be carefully superintended, but (for various reasons) his attention should be as little as possible drawn to the fact that he is watched. If he get a fall
, or a wetting, or burn his finger, or draw a little blood, the pain will be worth innumerable injunctions to avoid similar dangers. The memory of it will be a sentinel which no accident will call away from his post. We should do nothing for the child which we can lead him to do for himself. We should lead him to examine new objects with his own senses. If any symptoms of fear present themselves, we should remove them by showing him the harmlessness of what he dreads. A little management will set groundless fears at rest. While the root is yet loose in the soil, it may be easily, and without injury, pulled up. The child's free course of experience will give him the blended habit of caution and confidence. No slavish apprehensions will mar his natural frankness. He will be guarded against real perils by habits of self-possession. Our explanations of the precise nature of danger, when there is any, will be thoughtfully attended to. Our warnings, when they are absolutely necessary, will have tenfold force, by not being wasted on frequent and frivolous occasions.
One other impulse of great importance in childhood, and of almost universal influence in mature life, deserves notice,-the desire of the favorable opinion of others, or of being the subject of attention. There is no question that this feeling shows itself in infancy. The power of praise and attention over a child is soon perceived, and it is, in most cases, made the mainspring of scholastic education. If we let other feelings grow up by neglect, we often deliberately en. courage this, and make it the principal motive of action,—the basis of the moral character. We stimulate to intellectual labor, not by the purifying and ennobling pleasure of knowledge, but by adventitious rewards and distinctions. We hold up to youth wealth and high place as the chief goods, because they will secure the regard and respect of society. We show by our actions always more effective than our precepts—that our master-feeling is the worship of respectability. It is worth considering whether this principle deserves the supremacy which is practically accorded to it, and if not, how it ought to be regulated by education.
A child is early plied with stimulants to its vanity. Its pretty face—its beautiful eyes—its agreeable prattle—its nice dress—its clever feats—are all loaded with encomiums. Schools take up the growing feeling, and strengthen it with prizes, honors, public declamations, and exhibitions, by which the young heart is swelled with vanity, and the craving for attention and praise made more voracious. The tendencies of home and society are, for the most part, to the aggravation of this sensitiveness to opinion. The plans of life are formed under its influence. It insinuates itself into every fibre of the moral being; and all faculties and feelings become subservient to its gratification. In public life it may communicate an immense energy, but such power can not be trusted. It will play courtier in the monarchy and demagogue in the republic. Its veering will be precisely regulated by the shifting winds of passion in the holders of power. Whatever be the existing evils of society, from a man whose masterpassion this is, they are more likely to receive aggravation than check. The enlightenment of its ignorance, the destruction of popular fallacies, the uphold. ing despised truths for a brighter day, must be accomplished by men who can bear neglect or unpopularity, from a deep conviction of truth, and a steadfast adherence to the lasting interests of mankind.
The effects of a slavish deference to opinion, upon individual happiness, are perhaps of more consequence, as they are more intimately felt, than those which society experiences from the influence of its leading minds. In private life, one whose education has made this feeling all-powerful has no peace. The free play of his affections, the sole sources of happiness, is controlled by incidents fixing his attention perpetually on himself. The grace of unconsciousness, the delight of self-abandonment, he can not know. Society has a thousand stings for his trembling sensitiveness ;-fancied neglects, imagined contempts, possible absurdities, the success of rivals. Now and then an hour of triumph sets him ablaze, and whatever is best in his nature seems to flow out freely under the excitement; but when the temporary incentives are withdrawn, the return of daily life and its common duties contracts the expansion into the hard, cold selfishness, which is the basis of vanity.
Those who admit that the morality of Christ ought to form the busis of character, must feel bound, in education, to make this principle subject to others. Christianity requires that a far higher motive than the good opinion of men should be the mainspring of our actions. It was itself an insurrection against
ancient and cherished prejudices. It admitted of no compromise; it imperatively demanded that the opinion of men should be set at nought; that contempt, calumny, injustice, –all the penalties of rebellion against established usages, -should be met and borne without repining, by the strength of that love for the erring children of the same common Father, which triumphed on the cross. The model of this high morality remains and will remain—ages may pass before society shall answer its lofty requirements; but unless we fling it aside and convert its shrine to some meaner worship, we can not deliberately disobey the ordinance to bring "little children" within the sanctuary.
We must, however, use the stimulus of praise in education, and obtain the command of the instrument, or others will seize it to thwart our purposes. We must praise, but praise sparingly, that it may be of value. A very little from those who give with judgment and exact justice will have great power. We should praise affectionately, that the gratification which it gives may be associated with the kind feelings. Our praise should be regulated by the nature of the action that calls forth, and be always most warm for moral excellence. Here, as in all other treatment, the peculiarities of individual character must guide us; a touch is enough for the quick mettle of one child—much spurring will be required to remove the sluggishness of another. Prizes and distinctions -matters which provoke competition, and set in antagonism those between whom Christianity requires love--are mischievous. The winners and the losers are equally liable to injury. The pride of success may be as unchristian and as unfavorable to happiness, as the burning of envious disappointment.
The working of these various conflicting impulses, which seldom present themselves but in combination, makes soon apparent the presence of feelings to which we give the name of conscience, or the moral sense. Without entering into the controversy respecting their origin, whether they are instinctive impulses, or whether their gradual formation from simpler elements may be traced, it is enough for the present purpose that their existence, at a very early period of life, is admitted. They are real feelings; and, like other feelings, may be greatly modified by education. The contradictory forms in which they appear among different nations and different individuals has led to the denial of the reality of moral distinctions; but if the discrepancies do not warrant this conclusion, they at least establish the power of circumstances over the development of the feelings. We may enlist them in support of empty ceremonies and unintelligible creeds, or give their sanction to the hatreds of sect and party. No animosity—individual, sectarian, or national-should, either by direct precept or casual remark, receive such sanction. The great Christian principle of the brotherhood of men will tolerate no exception. Our aim should be to give depth and clearness to the moral emotions. The mind should be led to regard the moral qualities is actions, and to reason upon them. It should be taught to look back on what it has doneand, for the sake of methodizing its ideas, to record the results of its self-examination. The exercise of the moral sense will give it strength, and will constantly tend to harmonize the impulses 'with the moral judgments. The blending of the two would give the rectitude and steadiness of moral calculation to impulse; the passionate energy and beauty of impulse to morality. Instead of the unhappy conflict between liking and duty, which, when the passions are matured before the sense of right is awakened, often continues through life, wasting the internal force and producing vacilla
tion, despondency, and innumerable failures, the mind would move in a direct line with the impetus of its utmost power,-its highest delight and its highest duty being one and the same.
These notices will be sufficient to indicate what is meant by moral education. It must be unnecessary to repeat, that the foregoing remarks are not meant to present any thing like a complete view or outline of education. If there were no other reasons against making such an attempt in this place, it would, in fact, be impossible from the state in which education at present exists. As an art, or body of rules founded on science, it is too imperfectly developed to admit of an outline being given. There are systems in actual operation distinguished by partial excellencies; valuable hints of physical, intellectual, and moral management, in various books; and the works of Hartley, Stewart, Brown, and Mill, contain expositions of the laws of mind very suggestive of the art that ought to be built upon them; but nowhere has this scattered knowledge been reduced to a system. Nor perhaps is the time come,-until the ground is more accurately marked by continued observation, and the materials collected by additional and better directed industry,—to set about raising the structure.
It is too true that education now realizes but little of the good which an examination of the principles on which it ought to proceed would lead us to hope for. Except the mechanical processes of reading and writing, the mass of society derives little from its designed education. The ignorance of the poorer classes is scarcely touched by the feeble educational machinery brought to bear against it. The children of the middle ranks acquire some small knowledge which is useful in their worldly callings; and the educated classes " obtain a smattering of the dead languages, though most of them lose it within a few years by neglect. In every class there are individuals who, by their own eneryy, make considerable acquirements; but the effect of education is to be estimated by the condition of the majority subject to its influence. Tried by this test, existing education is all but universally inefficient. Real knowledge is not derived from schools or instructors, but from unaided observation both by boys and men; and their morals are as little affected by the dry precepts and empty routine which make up their religious education. Men's governing principles spring from their undesigned education; not from what has been said to them, but from what has been often unconsciously done before them, and from the workings of their own minds unsympathized with, and therefore unguided by their instructors. Hence, learned and studious men send forth pupils confirmed in vicious dispositions, because they do not see the powerful education received by boys from each other, which goes on under their own eyes. Innumerable are the abortive results of the most anxious efforts in education. Men, distinguished by every virtue, not seldom have the evening of their days imbittered by the ingratitude and profligacy of their offspring. It would seem, indeed, in most cases, a matter of chance whether children grow up dull or clearheaded ; with good, or with evil dispositions; or, as if there were no fixed principles by which slow intellect might be unfolded, or man be led to love virtue rather than vice.
But the intellectual and moral nature of man is not an anomaly in a world of harmony and order. It is no shapeless and unintelligible chaos, where good and evil are in perpetual commotion, without object or law. It is a creation surpassing all others in the nicety of its adaptation to the circumstances in
which it is placed; and possessing seeds which, under a right culture, would burst forth into forms of yet unimagined power and beauty. But education fails, miserably fails—it brings no germ of intellectual or moral greatness to maturity; and for this all-sufficient reason, that those to whom its business is intrusted are incompetent to the task; to the most arduous duties they bring the least qualifications. The highest interests are intrusted to the meanest hands. Society tolerates an unfitness in those who profess to form its young minds, which it would not endure in the lowest menial offices that minister to its material interests or enjoyments. For, if there be any act which, more than another, requires in those who practice it a high union of skill and character, that art, beyond a question, is education. In no department of exertion does success so absolutely depend on the personal qualifications of the workman. "As is the master, so is the school," says the Prussian maxim; a few words saturated, as it were, with truth. The system is indeed truly important; but the main part of a system is, what is in the master's mind. The form—the external material adjuncts—of a system are of themselves nothing; its living spirit, that part of it which has got into the thoughts and feelings of him who is to work it, is everything.
The process of education, whether at home or in school, is perpetually going on; the instructor may guide but can not stop it. Whether he is attentive or neglectful, observation is at work, intellect is developing, character is forming, and all under the most powerful influences from him, whether for good or evil. What he says earnestly, and, above all, what he does, is graving itself on the tenacious memory of childhood. His inconsistencies, partialities, ill-temper, tyranny, selfishness, leave lasting traces. If his dispositions are unfavorable, no check from without can remedy the evil. Parents can control him little. They are managed through their prejudices at the expense of their children. A superior authority, with the most perfect machinery of inspection, will fail to get the work of good men performed by bad ones. Its laws will be no restraint on him to whom their execution is intrusted; its best systems fruitless, where they can not insure states of mind according with their spirit. The gove ernment of children must be a despotism, and it must have all the vices of a despotism, if we can not purify the depositaries of supreme power. But, if the instructor be one who is filled with a consciousness of bis high duties, how mighty is his influence! He is the fountain of instruction, and the prime source of enjoyment to his pupils. Their little difficulties are brought to him, and in his solution rest. His casual remarks sink into their minds. His opinions on men and things make their way by the double force of authority and affection. His companionship, his sympathy, are above all things delightful. The imitative principle, so powerful in early life, is incessantly in action. The children are daily assimilating parts of his nature-making it one with their own. What an influence is his over their future destiny !
Education is, in truth, the first concern of society, and it ought to have the energies of society's best minds. The Athenians, who had glimpses of what. ever was most glorious, did in this matter leave mankind a great example. Teaching was the honorable occupation of their greatest men. The brightest minds of Athenian Philosophy were the instructors of Athenian youth; so keenly was the truth felt, that the mature intelligence and moral power, acquired in the struggles of a distinguished life, could perform no higher function than that of rearing up the same precious fruits in the rising minds of the community,