The first thing to be taken care of, is, that children be not too warmlyWarmth. clad or covered, winter or summer. The face, when we are born, is no less tender than any other part of the body: it is use alone hardens it, and makes it more able to endure the cold. And therefore the Scythian philosopher gave a very significant answer to the Athenian, who wondered how he could go naked in frost and snow: “How,” said the Scythian, “can you endure your face exposed to the sharp winter air?” “My face is used to it,” said the Athenian. “Think me all face,” replied the Scythian. Our bodies will endure any thing, that from the beginning they are accustomed to.
An eminent instance of this, though in the contrary excess of heat, being to our present purpose, to show what use can do, I shall set down in the author’s words, as I meet with it in a late ingenious voyage: ‘The heats, says he, are more violent in Malta, than in any part of Europe: they exceed those of Rome itself, and are perfectly stifling; and so much the more, because there are seldom any cooling breezes here. This makes the common people as black as gypsies: but yet the peasants defy the sun: they work on, in the hottest part of the day, without intermission, or sheltering themselves from his scorching rays. This has convinced me that nature can bring itself to many things, which seem impossible, provided we accustom ourselves from our infancy. The Malteses do so, who harden the bodies of their children, and reconcile them to the heat, by making them go stark naked, without shirt, drawers, or any thing on their head, from their cradles, till they are ten years old.’
Give me leave, therefore, to advise you, not to fence too carefully against the cold of this our climate: there are those in England, who wear the same clothes winter and summer, and that without any inconvenience, or more sense of cold than others find. But if the mother will needs have an allowance for frost and snow, for fear of harm; and the father, for fear of censure; be sure let not his winter-clothing be too warm: and amongst other things remember, that when nature has so well covered his head with hair, and strengthened it with a year or two’s age, that he can run about by day without a cap, it is best that by night a child should also lie without one; there being nothing that more exposes to head-ach, colds, catarrhs, coughs, and several other diseases, than keeping the head warm.
I would also advise his feetFeet. to be washed every day in cold water; and to have his shoes so thin, that they might leak and let in water, whenever he comes near it. Here, I fear, I shall have the mistress, and maids too, against me. One will think it too filthy; and the other, perhaps, too much pains to make clean his stockings. But yet truth will have it, that his health is much more worth than all such considerations, and ten times as much more. And he that considers how mischievous and mortal a thing, taking wet in the feet is, to those who have been bred nicely, will wish he had, with the poor people’s children, gone bare-foot; who, by that means, come to be so reconciled by custom, to wet their feet, that they take no more cold or harm by it, than if they were wet in their hands. And what is it, I pray, that makes this great difference between the hands and the feet in others, but only custom? I doubt not, but if a man from his cradle had been always used to go bare-foot, whilst his hands were constantly wrapped up in warm mittens, and covered with handshoes, as the Dutch call gloves; I doubt not, I say, but such a custom would make taking wet in his hands as dangerous to him, as now taking wet in their feet is to a great many others. The way to prevent this, is to have his shoes made so, as to leak water; and his feet washed constantly every day in cold water. It is recommendable for its cleanliness: but that which I aim at in it, is health. And therefore I limit it not precisely to any time of the day. I have known it used every night, with very good success, and that, all the winter, without the omitting it so much as one night, in extreme cold weather: when thick ice covered the water, the child bathed his legs and feet in it; though he was of an age not big enough to rub and wipe them himself; and when he began this custom, was puling and very tender. But the great end being to harden those parts, by a frequent and familiar use of cold water, and thereby to prevent the mischiefs, that usually attend accidental taking wet in the feet, in those who are bred otherwise; I think it may be left to the prudence and convenience of the parents, to choose either night or morning. The time I deem indifferent, so the thing be effectually done. The health and hardiness procured by it, would be a good purchase at a much dearer rate. To which if I add the preventing of corns, that to some men would be a very valuable consideration. But begin first in the spring with lukewarm, and so colder and colder every time, till in a few days you come to perfectly cold water, and then continue it so, winter and summer. For it is to be observed in this, as in all other alterationsAlterations. from our ordinary way of living, the changes must be made by gentle and insensible degrees; and so we may bring our bodies to any thing, without pain, and without danger.
How fond mothers are like to receive this doctrine, is not hard to foresee. What can it be less than to murder their tender babes to use them thus? What! put their feet in cold water in frost and snow, when all one can do is little enough to keep them warm! A little to remove their fears by examples, without which the plainest reason is seldom hearkened to; Seneca tells us of himself, e and 83, that he used to bathe himself in cold spring water in the midst of winter. This, if he had not thought it not only tolerable, but healthy too, he would scarce have done, in an exuberant fortune, that could well have borne the expence of a warm bath; and in an age (for he was then old) that would have excused greater indulgence. If we think his stoical principles led him to this severity; let it be so, that this sect reconciled cold water to his sufferance: what made it agreeable to his health? for that was not impaired by this hard usage. But what shall we say to Horace, who armed not himself with the reputation of any sect, and least of all affected stoical austerities? yet he assures us he was wont in the winter season to bathe himself in cold water. But perhaps Italy will be thought much warmer than England, and the chilliness of their waters not to come near ours in winter. If the rivers of Italy are warmer, those of Germany and Poland are much colder, than any in this our country; and yet in these, the jews, both men and women, bathe all over, at all seasons of the year, without any prejudice to their health. And every one is not apt to believe it is a miracle, or any peculiar virtue of St. Winifred’s well, that makes the cold waters of that famous spring do no harm to the tender bodies that bathe in it. Every one is now full of the miracles done, by cold baths, on decayed and weak constitutions, for the recovery of health and strength; and therefore they cannot be impracticable, or intolerable, for the improving and hardening the bodies of those who are in better circumstances.
If these examples of grown men be not thought yet to reach the case of children, but that they may be judged still to be too tender and unable to bear such usage; let them examine what the Germans of old, and the Irish now do to them; and they will find that infants too, as tender as they are thought, nay, without any danger, endure bathing, not only of their feet, but of their whole bodies in cold water. And there are, at this day, ladies in the highlands of Scotland, who use this discipline to their children, in the midst of winter; and find that cold water does them no harm, even when there is ice in it.
I shall not need here to mention swimming,Swimming. when he is of an age able to learn, and has any one to teach him. It is that saves many a man’s life: and the Romans thought it so necessary, that they ranked it with letters; and it was the common phrase to mark one ill-educated, and good for nothing; that he had neither learned to read, nor to swim: “Nec literas didicit, nec natare.” But besides the gaining a skill, which may serve him at need; the advantages to health, by often bathing in cold water, during the heat of summer, are so many, that I think nothing need to be said to encourage it; provided this one caution be used, that he never go into the water, when exercise has at all warmed him, or left any emotion in his blood or pulse.
Another thing, that is of great advantage to every one’s health, but especially children’s, is, to be much in the open air,Air. and very little, as may be, by the fire, even in winter. By this he will accustom himself also to heat and cold, shine and rain; all which if a man’s body will not endure, it will serve him to very little purpose in this world: and when he is grown up, it is too late to begin to use him to it: it must be got early and by degrees. Thus the body may be brought to bear almost any thing. If I should advise him to play in the wind and sun without a hat, I doubt whether it could be born. There would a thousand objections be made against it, which at last would amount to no more, in truth, than being sunburnt. And if my young master be to be kept always in the shade, and never exposed to the sun and wind, for fear of his complexion, it may be a good way to make him a beau, but not a man of business. And although greater regard be to be had to beauty in the daughters, yet I will take the liberty to say, that the more they are in the air, without prejudice to their faces, the stronger and healthier they will be; and the nearer they come to the hardships of their brothers in their education, the greater advantage will they receive from it, all the remaining part of their lives.
Playing in the open air has but this one danger in it, that I know: and that is, that when he is hot with running up and down, he should sit or lie down on the cold or moist earth. This, I grant, and drinking cold drink, when they are hot with labour or exercise, brings more people to the grave, or to the brink of it, by fevers, and other diseases, than any thing I know. These mischiefs are easily enough prevented, whilst he is little, being then seldom out of sight. And if during his childhood he be constantly and rigorously kept from sitting on the ground, or drinking any cold liquor, whilst he is hot, the custom of forbearing, grown into a habit,Habits. will help much to preserve him, when he is no longer under his maid’s or tutor’s eye. This is all I think can be done in the case. For, as years increase, liberty must come with them; and, in a great many things, he must be trusted to his own conduct, since there cannot always be a guard upon him; except what you put into his own mind, by good principles and established habits, which is the best and surest, and therefore most to be taken care of. For, from repeated cautions and rules, ever so often inculcated, you are not to expect any thing, either in this, or any other case, farther than practice has established them into habit.
One thing the mention of the girls brings into my mind, which must not be forgot; and that is, that your son’s clothesClothes. be never made strait, especially about the breast. Let nature have scope to fashion the body, as she thinks best. She works of herself a great deal better and exacter, than we can direct her. And if women were themselves to frame the bodies of their children in their wombs, as they often endeavour to mend their shapes, when they are out, we should as certainly have no perfect children born, as we have few well-shaped, that are strait-laced, or much tampered with. This consideration should, methinks, keep busy people (I will not say ignorant nurses and boddice-makers) from meddling in a matter they understand not; and they should be afraid to put nature out of her way, in fashioning the parts, when they know not how the least and meanist is made. And yet I have seen so many instances of children receiving great harm from strait lacing, that I cannot but conclude, there are other creatures, as well as monkies, who, little wiser than they, destroy their young ones, by senseless fondness, and too much embracing.
Narrow breasts, short and stinking breath, ill lungs, and crookedness, are the natural and almost constant effects of hard boddice, and clothes that pinch. That way of making slender waists, and fine shapes, serves but the more effectually to spoil them. Nor can there, indeed, but be disproportion in the parts, when the nourishment, prepared in the several offices of the body, cannot be distributed, as nature designs. And therefore, what wonder is it, if, it being laid where it can, or some part not so braced, it often makes a shoulder, or hip, higher or bigger than its just proportion? It is generally known, that the women of China, (imagining I know not what kind of beauty in it,) by bracing and binding them hard from their infancy, have very little feet. I saw lately a pair of china shoes, which I was told were for a grown woman; they were so exceedingly disproportioned to the feet of one of the same age, amongst us, that they would scarce have been big enough for one of our little girls. Besides this, it is observed, that their women are also very little, and short-lived; whereas the men are of the ordinary stature of other men, and live to a proportionable age. These defects in the female sex of that country, are by some imputed to the unreasonable binding of their feet; whereby the free circulation of the blood is hindered, and the growth and health of the whole body suffers. And how often do we see, that some small part of the foot being injured, by a wrench or a blow, the whole leg or thigh thereby loses its strength and nourishment, and dwindles away? How much greater inconveniencies may we expect, when the thorax, wherein is placed the heart and seat of life, is unnaturally compressed, and hindered from its due expansion?
As for his diet,Diet. it ought to be very plain and simple; and, if I might advise, flesh should be forborn, as long as he is in coats, or at least, till he is two or three years old. But whatever advantage this may be, to his present and future health and strength, I fear it will hardly be consented to, by parents, misled by the custom of eating too much flesh themselves; who will be apt to think their children, as they do themselves, in danger to be starved, if they have not flesh, at least twice a day. This I am sure, children would breed their teeth with much less danger, be freer from diseases whilst they were little, and lay the foundations of an healthy and strong constitution much surer, if they were not crammed so much as they are, by fond mothers and foolish servants, and were kept wholly from flesh, the first three or four years of their lives.
But if my young master must needs have flesh, let it be but once a day, and of one sort, at a meal. Plain beef, mutton, veal, &c. without other sauce than hunger, is best: and great care should be used, that he eat bread plentifully both alone and with every thing else. And whatever he eats, that is solid, make him chew it well. We English are often negligent herein; from whence follows indigestion, and other great inconveniencies.
For breakfast and supper, milk, milk-pottage, water-gruel, flummery, and twenty other things, that we are wont to make in England, are very fit for children: only in all these let care be taken, that they be plain, and without much mixture, and very sparingly seasoned with sugar, or rather none at all: especially all-spice, and other things that may heat the blood, are carefully to be avoided. Be sparing also of salt, in the seasoning of all his victuals, and use him not to high-seasoned meats. Our palates grow into a relish and liking of the seasoning and cookery, which by custom they are set to; and an over-much use of salt, besides that it occasions thirst, and over-much drinking, has other ill effects upon the body. I should think that a good piece of well-made and well-baked brown bread, sometimes with, and sometimes without, butter or cheese, would be often the best breakfast for my young master. I am sure it is as wholesome, and will make him as strong a man as greater delicacies; and if he be used to it, it will be as pleasant to him. If he at any time calls for victuals between meals, use him to nothing but dry bread. If he be hungry, more than wanton, bread alone will down; and if he be not hungry, it is not fit the should eat. By this you will obtain two good effects: 1. That by custom he will come to be in love with bread; for, as I said, our palates and stomachs too are pleased with the things we are used to. Another good you will gain hereby is, that you will not teach him to eat more nor oftener than nature requires. I do not think that all people’s appetites are alike; some have naturally stronger, and some weaker stomachs. But this I think, that many are made gormands and gluttons by custom, that were not so by nature: and I see, in some countries, men as lusty and strong, that eat but two meals a day, as others that have set their stomachs by a constant usage, like larums, to call on them for four or five. The Romans usually fasted till supper: the only set meal, even of those who ate more than once a day: and those who used breakfasts, as some did at eight, some at ten, others at twelve of the clock, and some later, neither ate flesh, nor had any thing made ready for them. Augustus, when the greatest monarch on the earth, tells us, he took a bit of dry bread in his chariot. And Seneca in his 83d epistle, giving an account how he managed himself, even when he was old, and his age permitted indulgence, says, that he used to eat a piece of dry bread for his dinner, without the formality of sitting to it: though his estate would have as well paid for a better meal (had health required it) as any subject’s in England, were it doubled. The masters of the world were bred up, with this spare diet: and the young gentlemen of Rome felt no want of strength or spirit, because they ate but once a day. Or if it happened by chance, that any one could not fast so long, as till supper, their only set meal; he took nothing but a bit of dry bread, or at most a few raisins, or some such slight thing with it, to stay his stomach. This part of temperance was found so necessary, both for health and business, that the custom of only one meal a day held out against that prevailing luxury, which their eastern conquests and spoils had brought in amongst them: and those, who had given up their old frugal eating, and made feasts, yet began them not till the evening. And more than one set meal a day was thought so monstrous, that it was a reproach, as low down as Cæsar’s time, to make an entertainment, or sit down to a full table, till towards sun-set. And therefore, if it would not be thought too severe, I should judge it most convenient, that my young master should have nothing, but bread too for breakfast. You cannot imagine of what force custom is; and I impute a great part of our diseases in England to our eating too much flesh, and too little bread.
As to his meals,Meals. I should think it best, that, as much as it can be conveniently avoided, they should not be kept constantly to an hour. For, when custom hath fixed his eating to certain stated periods, his stomach will expect victuals at the usual hour, and grow peevish if he passes it; either fretting itself into a troublesome excess, or flagging into a downright want of appetite. Therefore I would have no time kept constantly to, for his breakfast, dinner, and supper, but rather varied, almost every day. And if, betwixt these, which I call meals, he will eat, let him have, as often as he calls for it, good dry bread. If any one think this too hard and sparing a diet for a child, let them know, that a child will never starve, nor dwindle for want of nourishment, who, besides flesh at dinner, and spoon-meat, or some such other thing at supper, may have good bread and beer, as often as he has a stomach: for thus, upon second thoughts, I should judge it best for children to be ordered. The morning is generally designed for study, to which a full stomach is but an ill preparation. Dry bread, though the best nourishment, has the least temptation: and nobody would have a child crammed at breakfast, who has any regard to his mind or body, and would not have him dull and unhealthy. Nor let any one think this unsuitable to one of estate and condition. A gentleman, in any age, ought to be so bred, as to be fitted to bear arms, and be a soldier. But he that in this, breeds his son so, as if he designed him to sleep over his life, in the plenty and ease of a full fortune he intends to leave him, little considers the examples he has seen, or the age he lives in.
His drinkDrink. should be only small beer: and that too he should never be suffered to have between meals, but after he had eat a piece of bread. The reasons why I say this are these:
More fevers and surfeits are got by people’s drinking when they are hot, than by any one thing I know. Therefore, if by play he be hot and dry, bread will ill go down; and so if he cannot have drink, but upon that condition, he will be forced to forbear. For if he be very hot, he should by no means drink. At least, a good piece of bread first to be eaten, will gain time to warm the beer blood-hot, which then he may drink safely. If he be very dry, it will go down so warmed, and quench his thirst better: and if he will not drink it so warmed, abstaining will not hurt him. Besides, this will teach him to forbear, which is an habit of great use for health of body and mind too.
Not being permitted to drink without eating, will prevent the custom of having the cup often at his nose; a dangerous beginning and preparation to good fellowship. Men often bring habitual hunger and thirst on themselves by custom. And, if you please to try, you may, though he be weaned from it, bring him by use to such a necessity of drinking in the night, that he will not be able to sleep without it. It being the lullaby, used by nurses, to still crying children; I believe mothers generally find some difficulty to wean their children from drinking in the night, when they first take them home. Believe it, custom prevails, as much by day as by night; and you may, if you please, bring any one to be thirsty every hour.
I once lived in a house, where, to appease a froward child, they gave him drink, as often as he cried; so that he was constantly bibbing: and though he could not speak, yet he drank more in twenty-four hours than I did. Try it when you please, you may with small, as well as with strong beer, drink yourself into a drought. The great thing to be minded in education is, what habitsHabits. you settle: and therefore in this, as all other things, do not begin to make any thing customary, the practice whereof you would not have continue and increase. It is convenient for health and sobriety, to drink no more than natural thirst requires: and he that eats not salt meats, nor drinks strong drink, will seldom thirst between meals, unless he has been accustomed to such unseasonable drinking.
Above all, take great care that he seldom, if ever, taste any wine, or strong drink.Strong drink. There is nothing so ordinarily given children in England, and nothing so destructive to them. They ought never to drink any strong liquor, but when they need it as a cordial, and the doctor prescribes it. And in this case it is, that servants are most narrowly to be watched, and most severely to be reprehended, when they transgress. Those mean sort of people, placing a great part of their happiness in strong drink, are always forward to make court to my young master, by offering him that which they love best themselves: and, finding themselves made merry by it, they foolishly think it will do the child no harm. This you are carefully to have your eye upon, and restrain with all the skill and industry you can: there being nothing, that lays a surer foundation of mischief, both to body and mind, than children’s being used to strong drink; especially to drink in private with the servants.
FruitFruit. makes one of the most difficult chapters in the government of health, especially that of children. Our first parents ventured paradise for it: and it is no wonder our children cannot stand the temptation, though it cost them their health. The regulation of this cannot come under any one general rule: for I am by no means of their mind, who would keep children almost wholly from fruit, as a thing totally unwholesome for them: by which strict way they make them but the more ravenous after it; and to eat good and bad, ripe or unripe, all that they can get, whenever they come at it. Melons, peaches, most sort of plums, and all sorts of grapes in England, I think children should be wholly kept from, as having a very tempting taste, in a very unwholesome juice; so that, if it were possible, they should never so much as see them, or know there were any such thing. But strawberries, cherries, goose-berries, or currants, when thorough ripe, I think may be very safely allowed them, and that with a pretty liberal hand, if they be eaten with these cautions. 1. Not after meals, as we usually do, when the stomach is already full of other food. But I think they should be eaten rather before, or between meals, and children should have them for their breakfasts. 2. Bread eaten with them. 3. Perfectly ripe. If they are thus eaten, I imagine them rather conducing, than hurtful to our health. Summer-fruits, being suitable to the hot season of the year they come in, refresh our stomachs, languishing and fainting under it: and therefore I should not be altogether so strict in this point, as some are to their children: who being kept so very short, instead of a moderate quantity of well-chosen fruit, which being allowed them, would content them, whenever they can get loose, or bribe a servant to supply them, satisfy their longing with any trash they can get, and eat to a surfeit.
Apples and pears too, which are thorough ripe, and have been gathered some time, I think may be safely eaten at any time, and in pretty large quantities; especially apples, which never did any body hurt, that I have heard, after October.
Fruits also dried without sugar I think very wholesome. But sweetmeats of all kinds are to be avoided; which, whether they do more harm to the maker or eater, is not easy to tell. This I am sure, it is one of the most inconvenient ways of expence, that vanity hath yet found out: and so I leave them to the ladies.
Of all that looks soft and effeminate, nothing is more to be indulged children than sleep.Sleep. In this alone they are to be permitted to have their full satisfaction; nothing contributing more to the growth and health of children, than sleep. All that is to be regulated in it is, in what part of the twenty-four hours they should take it: which will easily be resolved, by only saying, that it is of great use to accustom them to rise early in the morning. It is best so to do, for health: and he that, from his childhood, has by a settled custom made rising betimes easy and familiar to him, will not, when he is a man, waste the best and most useful part of his life in drowziness and lying a-bed. If children therefore are to be called up early in the morning, it will follow of course, that they must go to bed betimes; whereby they will be accustomed to avoid the unhealthy and unsafe hours of debauchery, which are those of the evenings: and they who keep good hours, seldom are guilty of any great disorders. I do not say this, as if your son, when grown up, should never be in company past eight, nor never chat over a glass of wine till midnight. You are now, by the accustoming of his tender years, to indispose him to those inconveniences as much as you can; and it will be no small advantage, that contrary practice having made sitting-up uneasy to him, it will make him often avoid, and very seldom propose midnight revels. But if it should not reach so far, but fashion and company should prevail, and make him live, as others do, above twenty, it is worth the while to accustom him to early rising and early going to bed, between this and that; for the present improvement of his health, and other advantages.
Though I have said, a large allowance of sleep, even as much as they will take, should be made to children when they are little; yet I do not mean, that it should always be continued to them, in so large a proportion, and they suffered to indulge a drowzy laziness in their beds, as they grow up bigger. But whether they should begin to be restrained at seven, or ten years old, or any other time, is impossible to be precisely determined. Their tempers, strength, and constitutions must be considered: but some time between seven and fourteen, if they are too great lovers of their beds, I think it may be seasonable to begin to reduce them, by degrees, to about eight hours, which is generally rest enough for healthy grown people. If you have accustomed him, as you should do, to rise constantly very early in the morning, this fault of being too long in bed will easily be reformed, and most children will be forward enough to shorten that time themselves, by coveting to sit up with the company at night: though, if they be not looked after, they will be apt to take it out in the morning, which should by no means be permitted. They should constantly be called up, and made to rise at their early hour: but great care should be taken in waking them, that it be not done hastily, nor with a loud or shrill voice, or any other sudden violent noise. This often affrights children, and does them great harm. And sound sleep, thus broke off with sudden alarms, is apt enough to discompose any one. When children are to be wakened out of their sleep, be sure to begin with a low call, and some gentle motion; and so draw them out of it by degrees, and give them none but kind words and usage, till they are come perfectly to themselves, and being quite dressed, you are sure they are thoroughly awake. The being forced from their sleep, how gently soever you do it, is pain enough to them: and care should be taken not to add any other uneasiness to it, especially such as may terrify them.
Let his bedBed. be hard, and rather quilts than feathers. Hard lodging strengthens the parts: whereas being buried every night in feathers, melts and dissolves the body, is often the cause of weakness, and the forerunner of an early grave. And, besides the stone, which has often its rise from this warm wrapping of the reins, several other indispositions, and that which is the root of them all, a tender weakly constitution, is very much owing to down-beds. Besides, he that is used to hard lodging at home, will not miss his sleep (where he has most need of it) in his travels abroad, for want of his soft bed and his pillows laid in order. And therefore I think it would not be amiss, to make his bed after different fashions; sometimes lay his head higher, sometimes lower, that he may not feel every little change he must be sure to meet with, who is not designed to lie always in my young master’s bed at home, and to have his maid lay all things in print, and tuck him in warm. The great cordial of nature is sleep. He that misses that, will suffer by it; and he is very unfortunate, who can take his cordial only in his mother’s fine gilt cup, and not in a wooden dish. He that can sleep soundly takes the cordial: and it matters not, whether it be on a soft bed, or the hard boards. It is sleep only that is the thing necessary.
One thing more there is, which hath a great influence upon the health, and that is going to stool regularly; people that are very loose, have seldom strong thoughts, or strong bodies. But the cure of this, both by diet and medicine, being much more easy than the contrary evil, there needs not much to be said about it: for if it come to threaten, either by its violence, or duration, it will soon enough, and sometimes too soon, make a physician be sent for: and if it be moderate or short, it is commonly best to leave it to nature. On the other side, costivenessCostiveness. has too its ill effects, and is much harder to be dealt with by physic; purging medicines, which seem to give relief, rather increasing than removing the evil.
If what I have said in the beginning of this discourse be true, as I do not doubt but it is, viz. that the difference to be found in the manners and abilities of men, is owing more to their education than to any thing else; we have reason to conclude, that great care is to be had of the forming children’s minds, and giving them that seasoning early, which shall influence their lives always after. For when they do well or ill, the praise or blame will be laid there: and when any thing is done awkwardly, the common saying will pass upon them, that it is suitable to their breeding.
The great mistake I have observed in people’s breeding their children has been, that this has not been taken care enough of in its due season; that the mind has not been made obedient to discipline, and pliant to reason, when at first it was most tender, most easy to be bowed. Parents being wisely ordained by nature to love their children, are very apt, if reason watch not that natural affection very warily; are apt, I say, to let it run into fondness. They love their little ones, and it is their duty: but they often with them cherish their faults too. They must not be crossed, forsooth; they must be permitted to have their wills in all things: and they being in their infancies not capable of great vices, their parents think they may safely enough indulge their little irregularities, and make themselves sport with that pretty perverseness, which they think well enough becomes that innocent age. But to a fond parent, that would not have his child corrected for a perverse trick, but excused it, saying it was a small matter; Solon very well replied, “Aye, but custom is a great one.”
The fondling must be taught to strike, and call names; must have what he cries for, and do what he pleases. Thus parents, by humouring and cockering them when little, corrupt the principles of nature in their children, and wonder afterwards to taste the bitter waters, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain. For when their children are grown up, and these ill habits with them; when they are now too big to be dandled, and their parents can no longer make use of them as playthings; then they complain, that the brats are untoward and perverse; then they are offended to see them wilful, and are troubled with those ill humours, which they themselves infused and fomented in them; and then, perhaps too late, would be glad to get out those weeds which their own hands have planted, and which now have taken too deep root to be easily extirpated. For he that has been used to have his will in every thing, as long as he was in coats, why should we think it strange that he should 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 parent’s indulgence, till then, so largely allowed him? Try it in a dog, or an 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 wilful and proud, or half so desirous to be masters of themselves and others, as man.
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 humour; why, when he is grown up, must he 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.
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 defence, 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 taylor or 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 streightness 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 or 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 pretence 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 defence against their increase; that, being freed from the ordinary labour of digesting any new load in the stomach, she may be at leisure to correct and master the peccant humours.
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 need yield to the lessons, which every-where will be read to them upon this part of epicurism. The commendation that eating well has every-where, cannot fail to be a successful incentive to natural appetite, and bring them quickly to the liking and expence 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 censured, 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 instil 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.
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 authorise 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.
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 eomplied 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 confess, it will follow, that none but discreet people shouldbe about them. If the world commonly does otherwise, I cannot 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 importunity; unless one has a mind to teach them to be impatient and troublesome, by rewarding them for it, when they are so.
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 indulgence 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?”
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 browbeatings; nor can we bear severe humours, 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 rigour 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 favour of their parents and the esteem of every body else.
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 friendship 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? Indeed, 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 be 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.
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 aweAwe. 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.
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 apprehension 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.
On the other side, if the mind be curbed, and humbled too much in children; if their spirits be abased and broken much, by too strict an hand over them; they lose all their vigour and industry, and are in a worse state than the former. For extravagant young fellows, that have liveliness and spirit, come sometimes to be set right, and so make able and great men: but dejectedDejected. minds, timorous and tame, and low spirits, are hardly ever to be raised, and very seldom attain to any thing. To avoid the danger that is on either hand is the great art: and he that has found a way how to keep up a child’s spirit, easy, active, and free; and yet, at the same time, to restrain him from many things he has a mind to, and to draw him to things that are uneasy to him; he, I say, that knows how to reconcile these seeming contradictions, has, in my opinion, got the true secret of education.
47.Beating.—The usual lazy and short way by chastisement, and the rod, which is the only instrument of government that tutors generally know, or ever think of, is the most unfit of any to be used in education; because it tends to both those mischiefs; which as we have shown, are the Scylla and Charybdis, which, on the one hand or the other, ruin all that miscarry.
This kind of punishment contributes not at all to the mastery of our natural propensity to indulge corporal and present pleasure, and to avoid pain at any rate; but rather encourages it; and thereby strengthens that in us, which is the root, from whence spring all vicious actions, and the irregularities of life. From what other motive, but of sensual pleasure, and pain, does a child act, who drudges at his book against his inclination, or abstains from eating unwholesome fruit, that he takes pleasure in, only out of fear of whipping. He in this only prefers the greater corporal pleasure, or avoids the greater corporal pain. And what is it to govern his actions, and direct his conduct, by such motives as these? what is it, I say, but to cherish that principle in him, which it is our business to root out and destroy? And therefore I cannot think any correction useful to a child, where the shame of suffering for having done amiss does not work more upon him than the pain.
This sort of correction naturally breeds an aversion to that which it is the tutor’s business to create a liking to. How obvious is it to observe, that children come to hate things which were at first acceptable to them, when they find themselves whipped and chid, and teased about them; and it is not to be wondered at in them; when grown men would not be able to be reconciled to any thing by such ways. Who is there that would not be disgusted with any innocent recreation, in itself indifferent to him, if he should with blows, or ill language, be hauled to it, when he had no mind? or be constantly so treated, for some circumstances in his application to it? This is natural to be so. Offensive circumstances ordinarily infect innocent things, which they are joined with; and the very sight of a cup, wherein any one uses to take nauseous physic, turns his stomach; so that nothing will relish well out of it, though the cup be ever so clean, and well shaped, and of the richest materials.
Such a sort of slavish discipline makes a slavish temper. The child submits, and dissembles obedience, whilst the fear of the rod hangs over him; but when that is removed, and, by being out of sight, he can promise himself impunity, he gives the greater scope to his natural inclination; which by this way is not at all altered, but on the contrary heightened and increased in him; and after such restraint, breaks out usually with the more violence.
If severity carried to the highest pitch does prevail, and works a cure upon the present unruly distemper, it is often bringing in the room of it worse and more dangerous disease, by breaking the mind; and then, in the place of a disorderly young fellow, you have a low-spirited moped creature: who, however with his unnatural sobriety he may please silly people, who commend tame inactive children, because they make no noise, nor give them any trouble; yet, at last, will probably prove as uncomfortable a thing to his friends, as he will be, all his life, an useless thing to himself and others.
Beating then, and all other sorts of slavish and corporal punishments, are not the discipline fit to be used in the education of those who would have wise, good, and ingenuous men: and therefore very rarely to be applied, and that only on great occasions and cases of extremity. On the other side, to flatter children by rewardsRewards. of things that are pleasant to them, is as carefully to be avoided. He that will give to his son apples, or sugar-plums, or what else of this kind he is most delighted with, to make him learn his book, does but authorise his love of pleasure, and cocker up that dangerous propensity, which he ought by all means to subdue and stifle in him. You can never hope to teach him to master it, whilst you compound for the check you give his inclination in one place, by the satisfaction you propose to it in another. To make a good, a wise, and a virtuous man, it is fit he should learn to cross his appetite, and deny his inclination, to riches, finery, or pleasing his palate, &c whenever his reason advises the contrary, and his duty requires it. But when you draw him to do any thing that is fit, by the offer of money; or reward the pains of learning his book, by the pleasure of a luscious morsel; when you promise him a lace-cravat, or a fine new suit, upon performance of some of his little tasks; what do you, by proposing these as rewards, but allow them to be the good things he should aim at, and thereby encourage his longing for them, and accustom him to place his happiness in them? Thus people, to prevail with children to be industrious about their grammar, dancing, or some other such matter, of no great moment to the happiness or usefulness of their lives, by misapplied rewards and punishments, sacrifice their virtue, invert the order of their education, and teach them luxury, pride, or covetousness, &c. For in this way, flattering those wrong inclinations, which they should restrain and suppress, they lay the foundations of those future vices, which cannot be avoided, but by curbing our desires, and accustoming them early to submit to reason.
I say not this, that I would have children kept from the conveniencies or pleasures of life, that are not injurious to their health or virtue: on the contrary, I would have their lives made as pleasant, and as agreeable to them as may be, in a plentiful enjoyment of whatsoever might innocently delight them: provided it be with this caution, that they have those enjoyments, only as the consequences of the state of esteem and acceptation they are in with their parents and governors; but they should never be offered or bestowed on them, as the reward of this or that particular performance, that they show an aversion to, or to which they would not have applied themselves without that temptation.
But if you take away the rod on one hand, and these little encouragements, which they are taken with, on the other; how then (will you say) shall children be governed? Remove hope and fear, and there is an end of all discipline. I grant, that good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature, these are the spur and reins, whereby all mankind are set on work and guided, and therefore they are to be made use of to children too. For I advise their parents and governors always to carry this in their minds, that children are to be treated as rational creatures.
First, children (earlier perhaps than we think) are very sensible of praise and commendation. They find a pleasure in being esteemed and valued, especially by their parents, and those whom they depend on. If therefore the father caress and commend them, when they do well; show a cold and neglectful countenance to them upon doing ill; and this accompanied by a like carriage of the mother, and all others that are about them; it will in a little time make them sensible of the difference: and this, if constantly observed, I doubt not but will of itself work more than threats or blows, which lose their force, when once grown common, and are of no use when shame does not attend them; and therefore are to be forborn, and never to be used, but in the case hereafter mentioned, when it is brought to extremity.
But secondly, to make the sense of esteem or disgrace sink the deeper, and be of the more weight, other agreeable or disagreeable things should constantly accompany these different states; not as particular rewards and punishments of this or that particular action, but as necessarily, belonging to, and constantly attending one, who by his carriage has brought himself into a state of disgrace or commendation. By which way of treating them, children may as much as possible be brought to conceive, that those that are commended and in esteem for doing well, will necessarily be beloved and cherished by every body, and have all other good things as a consequence of it; and, on the other side, when any one by miscarriage falls into dis-esteem, and cares not to preserve his credit, he will unavoidably fall under neglect and contempt: and, in that state, the want of whatever might satisfy or delight him, will follow. In this way the objects of their desires are made assisting to virtue; when a settled experience from the beginning teaches children, that the things they delight in, belong to, and are to be enjoyed by those only, who are in a state of reputation. If by these means you can come once to shame them out of their faults, (for besides that, I would willingly have no punishment,) and make them in love with the pleasure of being well thought on, you may turn them as you please, and they will be in love with all the ways of virtue.
Concerning reputation,Reputation. I shall only remark this one thing more of it: that, though it be not the true principle and measure of virtue, (for that is the knowledge of a man’s duty, and the satisfaction it is to obey his Maker, in following the dictates of that light God has given him, with the hopes of acceptation and reward,) yet it is that which comes nearest to it: and being the testimony and applause that other people’s reason, as it were, by a common consent, gives to virtuous and well-ordered actions, it is the proper guide and encouragement of children, till they grow able to judge for themselves, and to find what is right by their own reason.
This consideration may direct parents, how to manage themselves in reproving and commending their children. The rebukes and chiding, which their faults will sometimes make hardly to be avoided, should not only be in sober, grave, and unpassionate words, but also alone and in private: but the commendations children deserve they should receive before others. This doubles the reward, by spreading their praise; but the backwardness parents show in divulging their faults, will make them set a greater value on their credit themselves, and teach them to be the more careful to preserve the good opinion of others, whilst they think they have it: but when, being exposed to shame, by publishing their miscarriages, they give it up for lost, that check upon them is taken off; and they will be the less careful to preserve others good thoughts of them, the more they suspect that their reputation with them is already blemished.
But if a right course be taken with children, there will not be so much need of the application of the common rewards and punishments, as we imagined, and as the general practice has established. For all their innocent folly, playing, and childishChildishness. actions, are to be left perfectly free and unrestrained, as far as they can consist with the respect due to those that are present; and that with the greatest allowance. If these faults of their age, rather than of the children themselves, were, as they should be, left only to time, and imitation, and riper years to cure, children would escape a great deal of misapplied and useless correction; which either fails to overpower the natural disposition of their childhood, and so, by an ineffectual familiarity, makes correction in other necessary cases of less use; or else if it be of force to restrain the natural gaiety of that age, it serves only to spoil the temper both of body and mind. If the noise and bustle of their play prove at any time inconvenient, or unsuitable to the 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 humour, 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.
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 age increases, when one rule is by practice well established, you may add another.
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 habitsHabits. 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 wilfully guilty. 2dly, Another thing you are to take care of, is, not to endeavour 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 practise it without reflection, you may then go on to another.
Virtue is harder to be got, than a knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered. Sheepishness and ignorance of the world, the faults imputed to a private education, are neither the necessary consequences of being bred at home; nor, if they were, are they incurable evils. Vice is the more stubborn, as well as the more dangerous evil of the two; and therefore, in the first place, to be fenced against. If that sheepish softness, which often enervates those, who are bred like fondlings at home, be carefully to be avoided, it is principally so for virtue’s sake; for fear lest such a yielding temper should be too susceptible of vicious impressions, and expose the novice too easily to be corrupted. A young man, before he leaves the shelter of his father’s house, and the guard of a tutor, should be fortified with resolution, and made acquainted with men, to secure his virtue; lest he should be led into some ruinous course, or fatal precipice, before he is sufficiently acquainted with the dangers of conversation, and has steadiness enough not to yield to every temptation. Were it not for this, a young man’s bashfulness, and ignorance of the world, would not so much need an early care. Conversation would cure it in a great measure; or, if that will not do it early enough, it is only a stronger reason for a good tutor at home. For, if pains be to be taken to give him a manly air and assurance betimes, it is chiefly as a fence to his virtue, when he goes into the world, under his own conduct.
It is preposterous, therefore, to sacrifice his innocency to the attaining of confidence, and some little skill of bustling for himself among others, by his conversation with ill-bred and vicious boys; when the chief use of that sturdiness, and standing upon his own legs, is only for the preservation of his virtue. For if confidence or cunning come once to mix with vice, and support his miscarriages, he is only the surer lost; and you must undo again, and strip him of that he has got from his companions, or give him up to ruin. Boys will unavoidably be taught assurance by conversation with men, when they are brought into it; and that is time enough. Modesty and submission, till then, better fits them for instruction: and therefore there needs not any great care to stock them with confidence beforehand. That which requires most time, pains, and assiduity, is to work into them the principles and practice of virtue and good breeding. This is the seasoning they should be prepared with, so as not easily to be got out again: this they had need to be well provided with. For conversation, when they come into the world, will add to their knowledge and assurance, but be too apt to take from their virtue; which therefore they ought to be plentifully stored with, and have that tincture sunk deep into them.
But fathers, observing that fortune is often most successfully courted by bold and bustling men, are glad to see their sons pert and forward betimes; take it for an happy omen, that they will be thriving men, and look on the tricks they play their school-fellows, or learn from them, as a proficiency in the art of living, and making their way through the world. But I must take the liberty to say, that he that lays the foundation of his son’s fortune in virtue and good breeding, takes the only sure and warrantable way. And it is not the waggeries or cheats practised among school-boys, it is not their roughness one to another, nor the well-laid plots of robbing an orchard together, that makes an able man; but the principles of justice, generosity, and sobriety, joined with observation and industry, qualities which I judge school-boys do not learn much of one another. And if a young gentleman, bred at home, be not taught more of them, than he could learn at school, his father has made a very ill choice of a tutor. Take a boy from the top of a grammar-school, and one of the same age, bred as he should be in his father’s family, and bring them into good company together; and then see which of the two will have the more manly carriage, and address himself with the more becoming assurance to strangers. Here I imagine the school-boy’s confidence will either fail or discredit him; and if it be such as fits him only for the conversation of boys, he had better be without it.
The more this advances, the easier way will be made for other accomplishments in their turns. For he that is brought to submit to virtue, will not be refractory, or resty, in any thing that becomes him. And therefore I cannot but prefer breeding of a young gentleman at home in his father’s sight, under a good governor, as much the best and safest way to this great and main end of education; when it can be had, and is ordered as it should be. Gentlemen’s houses are seldom without variety of company:Company. they should use their sons to all the strange faces that come there, and engage them in conversation with men of parts and breeding, as soon as they are capable of it. And why those, who live in the country, should not take them with them, when they make visits of civility to their neighbours, I know not: this I am sure, a father that breeds his son at home, has the opportunity to have him more in his own company, and there give him what encouragement he thinks fit: and can keep him better from the taint of servants, and the meaner sort of people, than is possible to be done abroad. But what shall be resolved in the case, must in great measure be left to the parents, to be determined by their circumstances and conveniencies. Only I think it the worst sort of good husbandry for a father not to strain himself a little for his son’s breeding; which, let his condition be what it will, is the best portion he can leave him. But if, after all, it shall be thought by some, that the breeding at home has too little company, and that at ordinary schools not such as it should be for a young gentleman; I think there might be ways found out to avoid the inconveniencies on the one side and the other.
But to return to the business of rewards and punishments.Punishment. All the actions of childishness, and unfashionable carriage, and whatever time and age will of itself be sure to reform, being (as I have said) exempt from the discipline of the rod, there will not be so much need of beating children, as is generally made use of. To which if we add learning to read, write, dance, foreign languages, &c. as under the same privilege, there will be but very rarely any occasion for blows or force in an ingenuous education. The right way to teach them those things, is, to give them a liking and inclination to what you propose to them to be learned, and that will engage their industry and application. This I think no hard matter to do, if children be handled as they should be, and the rewards and punishments above mentioned be carefully applied, and with them these few rules observed in the method of instructing them.
None of the things they are to learn should ever be made a burden to them, or imposed on them as a task.Task. Whatever is so proposed, presently becomes irksome: the mind takes an aversion to it, though before it were a thing of delight or indifferency. Let a child be but ordered to whip his top at a certain time of the day, whether he has, or has not a mind to it; let this be but required of him as a duty, wherein he must spend so many hours morning and afternoon, and see whether he will not soon be weary of any play at this rate. Is it not so with grown men? What they do cheerfully of themselves, do they not presently grow sick of, and can no more endure, as soon as they find it is expected of them as a duty? Children have as much a mind to show that they are free, that their own good actions come from themselves, that they are absolute and independent, as any of the proudest of you grown men, think of them as you please.
As a consequence of this, they should seldom be put about doing even those things you have got an inclination in them to, but when they have a mind and dispositionDisposition. to it. He that loves reading, writing, music, &c. finds yet in himself certain seasons wherein those things have no relish to him: and, if at that time he forces himself to it, he only pothers and wearies himself to no purpose. So it is with children. This change of temper should be carefully observed in them, and the favourable seasons of aptitude and inclination be heedfully laid hold of: and if they are not often enough forward of themselves, a good disposition should be talked into them, before they be set upon any thing. This I think no hard matter for a discreet tutor to do, who has studied his pupil’s temper, and will be at a little pains to fill his head with suitable ideas, such as may make him in love with the present business. By this means a great deal of time and tiring would be saved: for a child will learn three times as much when he is in tune, as he will with double the time and pains, when he goes awkwardly, or is dragged unwillingly to it. If this were minded as it should, children might be permitted to weary themselves with play, and yet have time enough to learn what is suited to the capacity of each age. But no such thing is considered in the ordinary way of education, nor can it well be. That rough discipline of the rod is built upon other principles, has no attraction in it, regards not what humour children are in, nor looks after favourable seasons of inclination. And indeed it would be ridiculous, when compulsion and blows have raised an aversion in the child to his task, to expect he should freely of his own accord leave his play, and with pleasure court the occasions of learning: whereas, were matters ordered right, learning any thing they should be taught, might be made as much a recreation to their play, as their play is to their learning. The pains are equal on both sides: nor is it that which troubles them; for they love to be busy, and the change and variety is that which naturally delights them. The only odds is, in that which we call play they act at liberty, and employ their pains (whereof you may observe them never sparing) freely; but what they are to learn, is forced upon them; they are called, compelled, and driven to it. This is that which at first entrance, balks and cools them; they want their liberty: get them but to ask their tutor to teach them, as they do often their play-fellows, instead of his calling upon them to learn; and they being satisfied that they act as freely in this, as they do in other things, they will go on with as much pleasure in it, and it will not differ from their other sports and play. By these ways, carefully pursued, a child may be brought to desire to be taught any thing you have a mind he should learn. The hardest part, I confess, is with the first or eldest; but when once he is set aright, it is easy by him to lead the rest whither one will.
Though it be past doubt, that the fittest time for children to learn any thing is, when their minds are in tune, and well disposed to it; when neither flagging of spirit, nor intentness of thought upon something else, makes them awkward and averse; yet two things are to be taken care of: 1. that these seasons either not being warily observed, and laid hold on, as often as they return; or else not returning as often as they should; the improvement of the child be not thereby neglected, and so he be let grow into an habitual idleness, and confirmed in this indisposition. 2. That though other things are ill learned when the mind is either indisposed, or otherwise taken up; yet it is of great moment, and worth our endeavours, to teach the mind to get the mastery over itself; and to be able, upon choice, to take itself off from the hot pursuit of one thing, and set itself upon another with facility and delight; or at any time to shake off its sluggishness, and vigorously employ itself about what reason, or the advice of another, shall direct. This is to be done in children, by trying them sometimes; when they are by laziness unbent, or by avocation bent another way, and endeavouring to make them buckle to the thing proposed. If by this means the mind can get an habitual dominion over itself, lay by ideas or business, as occasion requires, and betake itself to new and less acceptable employments, without reluctancy or discomposure, it will be an advantage of more consequence than Latin or logic, or most of those things children are usually required to learn.
Compulsion.——Children being more active and busy in that age, than in any other part of their life, and being indifferent to any thing they can do, so they may be but doing; dancing and scotch-hoppers would be the same thing to them, were the encouragements and discouragements equal. But to things we would have them learn, the great and only discouragement I can observe, is, that they are called to it; it is made their business; they are teased and chid about it, and do it with trembling and apprehension; or, when they come willingly to it, are kept too long at it, till they are quite tired: all which intrenches too much on that natural freedom they extremely affect. And it is that liberty alone, which gives the true relish and delight to their ordinary play-games. Turn the tables, and you will find, they will soon change their application; especially if they see the examples of others, whom they esteem and think above themselves. And if the things which they observe others to do, be ordered so that they insinuate themselves into them, as the privilege of an age or condition above theirs; then ambition, and the desire still to get forward, and higher, and to be like those above them, will set them on work, and make them go on with vigour and pleasure; pleasure in what they have begun by their own desire. In which way the enjoyment of their dearly beloved freedom will be no small encouragement to them. To all which, if there be added the satisfaction of credit and reputation, I am apt to think, there will need no other spur to excite their application and assiduity, as much as is necessary. I confess, there needs patience and skill, gentleness and attention, and a prudent conduct to attain this at first. But why have you a tutor, if there needed no pains? But when this is once established, all the rest will follow more easily, than in any more severe and imperious discipline. And I think it no hard matter to gain this point; I am sure it will not be, where children have no ill examples set before them. The great danger therefore, I apprehend, is only from servants, and other ill-ordered children, or such other vicious or foolish people, who spoil children, both by the ill pattern they set before them in their own ill manners, and by giving them together, the two things they should never have at once; I mean, vicious pleasures and commendation.
Obstinacy.——I foresee here it will be objected to me: what then, will you have children never beaten, nor chid, for any fault? this will be to let loose the reins to all kind of disorder. Not so much as is imagined, if a right course has been taken in the first seasoning of their minds, and implanting that awe of their parents above mentioned. For beating, by constant observation, is found to do little good, where the smart of it is all the punishment is feared or felt in it; for the influence of that quickly wears out, with the memory of it. But yet there is one, and but one fault, for which, I think, children should be beaten; and that is obstinacy or rebellion. And in this too, I would have it ordered so, if it can be, that the shame of the whipping, and not the pain, should be the greatest part of the punishment. Shame of doing amiss, and deserving chastisement, is the only true restraint belonging to virtue. The smart of the rod, if shame accompanies it not, soon ceases, and is forgotten, and will quickly, by use, lose its terrour. I have known the children of a person of quality kept in awe, by the fear of having their shoes pulled off, as much as others by apprehensions of a rod hanging over them. Some such punishment I think better than beating; for it is shame of the fault, and the disgrace that attends it, that they should stand in fear of, rather than pain, if you would have them have a temper truly ingenuous. But stubbornness, and an obstinate disobedience, must be mastered with force and blows: for this there is no other remedy. Whatever particular action you bid him to do, or forbear, you must be sure to see yourself obeyed; no quarter, in this case, no resistance. For when once it comes to be a trial of skill, a contest for mastery betwixt you, as it is, if you command, and he refuses; you must be sure to carry it, whatever blows it costs, if a nod or words will not prevail; unless, for ever after, you intend to live in obedience to your son. A prudent and kind mother, of my acquaintance, was, on such an occasion, forced to whip her little daughter, at her first coming home from nurse, eight times successively, the same morning, before she could master her stubbornness, and obtain a compliance in a very easy and indifferent matter. If she had left off sooner, and stopped at the seventh whipping, she had spoiled the child for ever; and, by her unprevailing blows, only confirmed her refractoriness, very hardly afterwards to be cured: but wisely persisting, till she had bent her mind, and suppled her will, the only end of correction and chastisement, she established her authority thoroughly in the very first occasions, and had ever after a very ready compliance and obedience in all things from her daughter. For, as this was the first time, so, I think, it was the last too she ever struck her.
The pain of the rod, the first occasion that requires it, continued and increased without leaving off, till it has thoroughly prevailed; should first bend the mind, and settle the parents authority: and then gravity, mixed with kindness, should for ever after keep it.
This, if well reflected on, would make people more wary in the use of the rod and the cudgel; and keep them from being so apt to think beating the safe and universal remedy, to be applied at random, on all occasions. This is certain however, if it does no good, it does great harm; if it reaches not the mind, and makes not the will supple, it hardens the offender; and, whatever pain he has suffered for it, it does but endear to him his beloved stubbornness, which has got him this time the victory, and prepares him to contest and hope for it for the future. Thus, I doubt not, but by illordered correction, many have been taught to be obstinate and refractory, who otherwise would have been very pliant and tractable. For, if you punish a child so, as if it were only to revenge the past fault, which has raised your choler; what operation can this have upon his mind, which is the part to be amended? If there were no sturdy humour or wilfulness mixed with his fault, there was nothing in it, that required the severity of blows. A kind, or grave admonition is enough, to remedy the slips of frailty, forgetfulness, or inadvertency, and is as much as they will stand in need of. But, if there were a perverseness in the will, if it were a designed, resolved disobedience, the punishment is not to be measured by the greatness or smallness of the matter wherein it appeared, but by the opposition it carries, and stands in, to that respect and submission that is due to the father’s orders; which must always be rigorously exacted, and the blows by pauses laid on, till they reach the mind, and you perceive the signs of a true sorrow, shame, and purpose of obedience.
This, I confess, requires something more than setting children a task, and whipping them without any more ado, if it be not done, and done to our fancy. This requires care, attention, observation, and a nice study of children’s tempers, and weighing their faults well, before we come to this sort of punishment. But is not that better, than always to have the rod in hand, as the only instrument of government; and, by frequent use of it, on all occasions, misapply and render inefficacious this last and useful remedy, where there is need of it? For, what else can be expected, when it is promiscuously used upon every little slip? When a mistake in concordance, or a wrong position in verse, shall have the severity of the lash, in a well-tempered and industrious lad, as surely as a wilful crime in an obstinate and perverse offender; how can such a way of correction be expected to do good on the mind, and set that right? which is the only thing to be looked after; and, when set right, brings all the rest that you can desire along with it.
ted and wilful neglect of those shows the fault to be in the mind, and that a manifest perverseness of the will lies at the root of their disobedience. But whenever obstinacy, which is an open defiance, appears, that cannot be winked at, or neglected, but must, in the first instance, be subdued and mastered; only care must be had, that we mistake not; and we must be sure it is obstinacy, and nothing else.
It will perhaps be wondered, that I mention reasoningReasoning. with children: and yet I cannot but think that the true way of dealing with them. They understand it as early as they do language; and, if I mis-observe not, they love to be treated as rational creatures, sooner than is imagined. It is a pride should be cherished in them, and, as much as can be, made the greatest instrument to turn them by.
But, of all the ways whereby children are to be instructed, and their manners formed, the plainest, easiest, and most efficacious, is to set before their eyes the examplesExamples. of those things you would have them do or avoid. Which, when they are pointed out to them, in the practice of persons within their knowledge, with some reflections on their beauty or unbecomingness, are of more force to draw or deter their imitation, than any discourses which can be made to them. Virtues and vices can by no words be so plainly set before their understandings, as the actions of other men will show them, when you direct their observation, and bid them view this or that good or bad quality in their practice. And the beauty or uncomeliness of many things, in good and ill breeding, will be better learnt, and make deeper impressions on them, in the examples of others, than from any rules or instructions can be given about them.
This is a method to be used, not only whilst they are young; but to be continued, even as long as they shall be under another’s tuition or conduct. Nay, I know not whether it be not the best way to be used by a father, as long as he shall think fit, on any occasion, to reform any thing he wishes mended in his son; nothing sinking so gently, and so deep, into men’s minds, as example. And what ill they either overlook, or indulge in themselves, they cannot but dislike, and be ashamed of, when it is set before them in another.
It may be doubted concerning whipping,Whipping. when, as the last remedy, it comes to be necessary; at what times, and by whom it should be done: whether presently upon the committing the fault, whilst it is yet fresh and hot; and whether parents themselves should beat their children. As to the first; I think it should not be done presently, lest passion mingle with it: and so, though it exceed the just proportion, yet it loses of its due weight; for even children discern when we do things in passion. But, as I said before, that has most weight with them, that appears sedately to come from their parents reason; and they are not without this distinction. Next, if you have any discreet servant capable of it, and has the place of governing your child, (for if you have a tutor, there is no doubt,) I think it is best the smart should come more immediately from another’s hand, though by the parent’s order, who should see it done; whereby the parent’s authority will be preserved, and the child’s aversion, for the pain it suffers, rather be turned on the person that immediately inflicts it. For I would have a father seldom strike his child, but upon very urgent necessity, and as the last remedy; and then perhaps it will be fit to do it so, that the child should not quickly forget it.
But, as I said before, beating is the worst, and therefore the last, means to be used in the correction of children; and that only in cases of extremity, after all gentler ways have been tried, and proved unsuccessful: which, if well observed, there will be very seldom any need of blows. For, it not being to be imagined that a child will often, if ever, dispute his father’s present command in any particular instance; and the father not interposing his absolute authority, in peremptory rules, concerning either childish or indifferent actions, wherein his son is to have his liberty; or concerning his learning or improvement, wherein there is no compulsion to be used; there remains only the prohibition of some vicious actions, wherein a child is capable of obstinacy, and consequently can deserve beating: and so there will be but very few occasions of that discipline to be used by any one, who considers well, and orders his child’s education as it should be. For the first seven years, what vices can a child be guilty of, but lying, or some ill-natured tricks; the repeated commission whereof, after his father’s direct command against it, shall bring him into the condemnation of obstinacy, and the chastisement of the rod? If any vicious inclination in him be, in the first appearance and instances of it, treated as it should be, first, with your wonder; and then, if returning again a second time, discountenanced with the severe brow of the father, tutor, and all about him, and a treatment suitable to the state of discredit before mentioned; and this continued till he be made sensible and ashamed of his fault; I imagine there will be no need of any other correction, nor ever any occasion to come to blows. The necessity of such chastisement is usually the consequence only of former indulgences or neglects. If vicious inclinations were watched from the beginning, and the first irregularities which they caused, corrected by those gentler ways, we should seldom have to do with more than one disorder at once; which would be easily set right without any stir or noise, and not require so harsh a discipline as beating. Thus, one by one, as they appeared, they might all be weeded out, without any signs or memory that ever they had been there. But we letting their faults (by indulging and humouring our little ones) grow up, till they are sturdy and numerous, and the deformity of them makes us ashamed and uneasy; we are fain to come to the plough and the harrow; the spade and the pick-ax must go deep to come at the roots, and all the force, skill, and diligence we can use, is scarce enough to cleanse the vitiated seed-plat, overgrown with weeds, and restore us the hopes of fruits to reward our pains in its season.with children from the beginning, very few will be found to be such; and when there are any such instances, they are not to be the rule for the education of those who are better natured, and may be managed with better usage.
Governor.——In all the whole business of education, there is nothing like to be less hearkened to, or harder to be well observed, than what I am now going to say; and that is, that children should, from their first beginning to talk, have some discreet, sober, nay wise person about them, whose care it should be to fashion them aright, and keep them from all ill, especially the infection of bad company. I think this province requires great sobriety, temperance, tenderness, diligence, and discretion; qualities hardly to be found united in persons, that are to be had for ordinary salaries: nor easily to be found any-where. As to the charge of it, I think it will be the money best laid out that can be about our children; and therefore, though it may be expensive more than is ordinary, yet it cannot be thought dear. He that at any rate procures his child a good mind, well-principled, tempered to virtue and usefulness, and adorned with civility and good-breeding, makes a better purchase for him, than if he had laid out the money for an addition of more earth to his former acres. Spare it in toys and play-games, in silk and ribbons, laces and other useless expences, as much as you please; but be not sparing in so necessary a part as this. It is not good husbandry to make his fortune rich, and his mind poor. I have often, with great admiration, seen people lavish it profusely in tricking up their children in fine clothes, lodging, and feeding them sumptuously, allowing them more than enough of useless servants; and yet at the same time starve their minds, and not take sufficient care to cover that, which is the most shameful nakedness, viz. their natural wrong inclinations and ignorance. This I can look on as no other than a sacrificing to their own vanity; it showing more their pride, than true care of the good of their children. Whatsoever you employ to the advantage of your son’s mind will show your true kindness, though it be to the lessening of his estate. A wise and good man can hardly want either the opinion or reality of being great and happy. But he that is foolish or vicious, can be neither great nor happy, what estate soever you leave him: and I ask you, whether there be not men in the world, whom you had rather have your son be, with 500l. per annum, than some other you know, with 5000l.?
Besides being well-bred, the tutor should know the world well; the ways, the humours, the follies, the cheats, the faults of the age he is fallen into, and particularly of the country he lives in. These he should be able to show to his pupil, as he finds him capable; teach him skill in men, and their manners; pull off the mask, which their several callings and pretences cover them with; and make his pupil discern what lies at the bottom, under such appearances; that he may not, as unexperienced young men are apt to do, if they are unwarned, take one thing for another, judge by the outside, and give himself up to show, and the insinuation of a fair carriage, or an obliging application. A governor should teach his scholar to guess at, and beware of, the designs of men he hath to do with, neither with too much suspicion, nor too much confidence; but, as the young man is by nature most inclined to either side, rectify him, and bend him the other way. He should accustom him to make, as much as is possible, a true judgment of men by those marks, which serve best to show what they are, and give a prospect into their inside; which often shows itself in little things, especially when they are not in parade, and upon their guard. He should acquaint him with the true state of the world, and dispose him to think no man better or worse, wiser or foolisher, than he really is. Thus, by safe and insensible degrees, he will pass from a boy to a man; which is the most hazardous step in all the whole course of life. This therefore should be carefully watched, and a young man with great diligence handed over it; and not, as now usually is done, be taken from a governor’s conduct, and all at once thrown into the world under his own, not without manifest danger of immediate spoiling; there being nothing more frequent, than instances of the great looseness, extravagancy, and debauchery, which young men have run into, as soon as they have been let loose from a severe and strict education: which, I think, may be chiefly imputed to their wrong way of breeding, especially in this part; for, having been bred up in a great ignorance of what the world truly is, and finding it quite another thing, when they come into it, than what they were taught it should be, and so imagined it was; are easily persuaded, by other kind of tutors, which they are sure to meet with, that the discipline they were kept under, and the lectures that were read to them, were but the formalities of education, and the restraints of childhood; that the freedom belonging to men, is to take their swing in a full enjoyment of what was before forbidden them. They show the young novice the world, full of fashionable and glittering examples of this every-where, and he is presently dazzled with them. My young master, failing not to be willing to show hiBesides being well-bred, the tutor should know the world well; the ways, the humours, the follies, the cheats, the faults of the age he is fallen into, and particularly of the country he lives in. These he should be able to show to his pupil, as he finds him capable; teach him skill in men, and their manners; pull off the mask, which their several callings and pretences cover them with; and make his pupil discern what lies at the bottom, under such appearances; that he may not, as unexperienced young men are apt to do, if they are unwarned, take one thing for another, judge by the outside, and give himself up to show, and the insinuation of a fair carriage, or an obliging application. A governor should teach his scholar to guess at, and beware of, the designs of men he hath to do with, neither with too much suspicion, nor too much confidence; but, as the young man is by nature most inclined to either side, rectify him, and bend him the other way. He should accustom him to make, as much as is possible, a true judgment of men by those marks, which serve best to show what they are, and give a prospect into their inside; which often shows itself in little things, especially when they are not in parade, and upon their guard. He should acquaint him with the true state of the world, and dispose him to think no man better or worse, wiser or foolisher, than he really is. Thus, by safe and insensible degrees, he will pass from a boy to a man; which is the most hazardous step in all the whole course of life. This therefore should be carefully watched, and a young man with great diligence handed over it; and not, as now usually is done, be taken from a governor’s conduct, and all at once thrown into the world under his own, not without manifest danger of immediate spoiling; there being nothing more frequent, than instances of the great looseness, extravagancy, and debauchery, which young men have run into, as soon as they have been let loose from a severe and strict education: which, I think, may be chiefly imputed to their wrong way of breeding, especially in this part; for, having been bred up in a great ignorance of what the world truly is, and finding it quite another thing, when they come into it, than what they were taught it should be, and so imagined it was; are easily persuaded, by other kind of tutors, which they are sure to meet with, that the discipline they were kept under, and the lectures that were read to them, were but the formalities of education, and the restraints of childhood; that the freedom belonging to men, is to take their swing in a full enjoyment of what was before forbidden them. They show the young novice the world, full of fashionable and glittering examples of this every-where, and he is presently dazzled with them. My young master, failing not to be willing to show himself a man, as much as any of the sparks of his years, lets himself loose to all the irregularities he finds in the most debauched; and thus courts credit and manliness, in the casting off the modesty and sobriety he has till then been kept in; and thinks it brave, at his first setting out, to signalize himself in running counter to all the rules of virtue, which have been preached to him by his tutor.
I know it is often said, that to discover to a young man the vices of the age is to teach them him. That, I confess, is a good deal so, according as it is done; and therefore requires a discreet man of parts, who knows the world, and can judge of the temper, inclination, and weak side of his pupil. This farther is to be remembered, that it is not possible now (as perhaps formerly it was) to keep a young gentleman from vice, by a total ignorance of it; unless you will all his life mew him up in a closet, and never let him go into company. The longer he is kept thus hood-winked, the less he will see, when he comes abroad into open day-light, and be the more exposed to be a prey to himself and others. And an old boy, at his first appearance, with all the gravity of his ivy-bush about him, is sure to draw on him the eyes and chirping of the whole town volery; amongst which, there will not be wanting some birds of prey, that will presently be on the wing for him.
This, I confess, containing one great part of wisdom, is not the product of some superficial thoughts, or much reading; but the effect of experience and observation in a man, who has lived in the world with his eyes open, and conversed with men of all sorts. And therefore I think it of most value to be instilled into a young man, upon all occasions which offer themselves, that when he comes to launch into the deep himself, he may not be like one at sea without a line, compass, or sea-chart; but may h阿ave some notice before-hand of the rocks and shoals, the currents and quick-sands, and know a little how to steer, that he sink not, before he get experience. He that thinks not this of more moment to his son, and for which he more needs a governor, than the languages and learned sciences, forgets of how much more use it is to judge right of men, and manage his affairs wisely with them, than to speak Greek and Latin, or argue in mood and figure; or to have his head filled with the abstrusespeculations of natural philosophy and metaphysics; nay, than to be well versed in Greek and Roman writers, though that be much better for a gentleman, than to be a good peripatetic or cartesian: because those ancient authors observed and painted mankind well, and give the best light into that kind of knowledge. He that goes into the eastern parts of Asia, will find able and acceptable men, without any of these: but without virtue, knowledge of the world, and civility, an accomplished and valuable man can be found no-where.
A great part of the learning now in fashion in the schools of Europe, and that goes ordinarily into the round of education, a gentleman may, in a good measure, be unfurnished with, without any great disparagement to himself, or prejudice to his affairs. But prudence and good-breeding are, in all the stations and occurrences of life, necessary; and most young men suffer in the want of them; and come rawer, and more awkward, into the world, than they should, for this very reason; because these qualities, which are, of all other, the most necessary to be taught, and stand most in need of the assistance and help of a teacher, are generally neglected, and thought but a slight, or no part of a tutor’s business. Latin and learning make all the noise: and the main stress is laid upon his proficiency in things, a great part whereof belongs not to a gentleman’s calling; which阿 is to have the knowledge of a man of business, a carriage suitable to his rank, and to be eminent and useful in his country, according to his station. Whenever either spare hours from that, or an inclination to perfect himself in some parts of knowledge, which his tutor did but just enter him in, set him upon any study; the first rudiments of it, which he learned before, will open the way enough for his own industry to carry him as far as his fancy will prompt, or his parts enable him to go: or, if he thinks it may save his time and pains, to be helped over some difficulties by the hands of a master, he may then take a man that is perfectly well skilled in it, or choose such an one, as he thinks fittest for his purpose. But to initiate his pupil in any part of learning, as far as is necessary for a young man in the ordinary course of his studies, an ordinary skill in the governor is enough. Nor is it requisite that he should be a thorough scholar, or possess in perfection all those sciences, which it is convenient a young gentleman should have a taste of, in some general view, or short system. A gentleman, that would penetrate deeper, must do it by his own genius and industry afterwards: for nobody ever went far in knowledge, or became eminent in any of the sciences, by the discipline and constraint of a master.
The great work of a governor is to fashion the carriage, and form the mind; to settle in his pupil good habits, and the principles of virtue and wisdom; to give him, by little and little, a view of mankind; and work him into a love and imitation of what is excellent and praise-worthy; and, in the prosecution of it, to give him vigour, activity, and industry. The studies which he sets him upon, are but, as it were, the exercises of his faculties, and employment of his time, to keep him from sauntering and idleness, to teach him application, and accustom him to take pains, and to give him some little taste of what his own industry must perfect. For who expects, that under a tutor a young gentleman should be an accomplished critic, orator, or logician; go to the bottom of metaphysics, natural philosophy, or mathematics; or be a master in history or chronology? though something of each of these is to be taught him; but it is only to open the door, that he may look in, and, as it were, begin an acquaintance, but not to dwell there: and a governor would be much blamed, that should keep his pupil too long, and lead him too far in most of them. But of good breeding, knowledge of the world, virtue, industry, and a love of reputation, he cannot have too much: and, if he have these, he will not long want what he needs or desires of the other.
This is a knowledge he must have about him, worn into him by use and conversation, and a long forming himself by what he has observed to be practised and allowed in the best company. This, if he has it not of his own, is no-where to be borrowed, for the use of his pupil: or if he could find pertinent treatises of it in books, that would reach all the particulars of an English gentleman’s behaviour; his own ill-fashioned example, if he be not well-bred himself, would spoil all his lectures; it being impossible, that any one should come forth well-fashioned out of unpolished, ill-bred company.
I say this, not that I think such a tutor is every day to be met with, or to be had at the ordinary rates: but that those, who are able, may not be sparing of inquiry or cost, in what is of so great moment; and that other parents, whose estates will not reach to greater salaries, may yet remember, what they should principally have an eye to, in the choice of one, to whom they would commit the education of their children; and what part they should chiefly look after themselves, whilst they are under their care, and as often as they come within their observation; and not think, that all lies in Latin and French, or some dry systems of logic and philosophy.
I told you before, that children love liberty; and therefore they should be brought to do the things that are fit for them, without feeling any restraint laid upon them. I now tell you, they love something more; and that is dominion:Dominion. and this is the first original of most vicious habits, that are ordinary and natural. This love of power and dominion shows itself very early, and that in these two things.
We see children (as soon almost as they are born, I am sure long before they can speak) cry, grow peevish, sullen, and out of humour, for nothing but to have their wills. They would have their desires submitted to by others; they contend for a ready compliance from all about them, especially from those that stand near or beneath them in age or degree, as soon as they come to consider others with those distinctions.
Another thing, wherein they show their love of dominion, is their desire to have things to be theirs; they would have property and possession, pleasing themselves with the power which that seems to give, and the right they thereby have to dispose of them as they please. He that has not observed these two humours working very betimes in children, has taken little notice of their actions: and he who thinks that these two roots of almost all the injustice and contention that so disturb human life, are not early to be weeded out, and contrary habits introduced, neglects the proper season to lay the foundations of a good and worthy man. To do this, I imagine, these following things may somewhat conduce.
That a child should never be suffered to have what he craves,Craving. much less what he cries for, I had said, or so much as speaks for. But that being apt to be misunderstood, and interpreted as if I meant a child should never speak to his parents for any thing, which will perhaps be thought to lay too great a curb on the minds of children, to the prejudice of that love and affection which should be between them and their parents; I shall explain myself a little more particularly. It is fit that they should have liberty to declare their wants to their parents, and that with all tenderness they should be hearkened to, and supplied, at least, whilst they are very little. But it is one thing to say, I am hungry; another to say, I would have roast-meat. Having declared their wants, their natural wants, the pain they feel from hunger, thirst, cold, or any other necessity of nature, it is the duty of their parents, and those about them, to relieve them: but children must leave it to the choice and ordering of their parents what they think properest for them, and how much; and must not be permitted to choose for themselves; and say, I would have wine, or white bread; the very naming of it should make them lose it.
My meaning therefore is not, that children should purposely be made uneasy: this would relish too much of inhumanity and ill-nature, and be apt to infect them with it. They should be brought to deny their appetites; and their minds, as well as bodies, be made vigorous, easy, and strong, by the custom of having their inclinations in subjection, and their bodies exercised with hardships; but all this without giving them any mark or apprehension of ill-will towards them. The constant loss of what they craved or carved to themselves should teach them modesty, submission, and a power to forbear: but the rewarding their modesty and silence, by giving them what they liked, should also assure them of the love of those who rigorously exacted this obedience. The contenting themselves now, in the want of what they wished for, is a virtue, that another time should be rewarded with what is suited and acceptable to them; which should be bestowed on them, as if it were a natural consequence of their good behaviour, and not a bargain about it. But you will lose your labour, and, what is more, their love and reverence too, if they can receive from others what you deny them. This is to be kept very staunch, and carefully to be watched. And here the servants come again in my way.
True fortitude I take to be the quiet possession of a man’s self, and an undisturbed doing his duty, whatever evil besets, or danger lies in his way. This there are so few men attain to, that we are not to expect it from children. But yet something may be done; and a wise conduct, by insensible degrees, may carry them farther than one expects.
The neglect of this great care of them, whilst they are young, is the reason, perhaps, why there are so few that have this virtue, in its full latitude, when they are men. I should not say this in a nation so naturally brave as ours is, did I think, that true fortitude required nothing but courage in the field and a contempt of life in the face of an enemy. This, I confess, is not the least part of it, nor can be denied, the laurels and honours always justly due to the valour of those who venture their lives for their country. But yet this is not all: dangers attack us in other places besides the field of battle; and though death be the king of terrours, yet pain, disgrace, and poverty, have frightful looks, able to discompose most men, whom they seem ready to seize on: and there are those who contemn some of these, and yet are heartily frighted with the other. True fortitude is prepared for dangers of all kinds, and unmoved, whatsoever evil it be that threatens: I do not mean unmoved with any fear at all. Where danger shows itself, apprehension cannot, without stupidity, be wanting. Where danger is, sense of danger should be; and so much fear as should keep us awake, and excite our attention, industry, and vigour; but not disturb the calm use of our reason, nor hinder the execution of what that dictates.
The first step to get this noble and manly steadiness, is, what I have above mentioned, carefully to keep children from frights of all kinds, when they are young. Let not any fearful apprehensions be talked into them, nor terrible objects surprise them. This often so shatters and discomposes the spirits, that they never recover it again; but during their whole life, upon the first suggestion, or appearance of any terrifying idea, are scattered and confounded; the body is enervated, and the mind disturbed, and the man scarce himself, or capable of any composed or rational action.Cowardice. Whether this be from an habitual motion of the animal spirits, introduced by the first strong impression: or from the alteration of the constitution, by some more unaccountable way; this is certain, that so it is. Instances of such, who in a weak timorous mind have born, all their whole lives through, the effects of a fright when they were young, are every-where to be seen; and therefore, as much as may be, to be prevented.
The next thing is, by gentle degrees, to accustom children to those things they are too much afraid of. But here great caution is to be used, that you do not make too much haste, nor attempt this cure too early, for fear lest you increase the mischief instead of remedying it. Little ones in arms may be easily kept out of the way of terrifying objects, and till they can talk and understand what is said to them, are scarce capable of that reasoning and discourse, which should be used to let them know there is no harm in those frightful objects, which we would make them familiar with, and do, to that purpose, by gentle degrees, bring nearer and nearer to them. And therefore it is seldom there is need of any application to them of this kind, till after they can run about and talk. But yet, if it should happen, that infants should have taken offence at any thing which cannot be easily kept out of their way; and that they show marks of terrour, as often as it comes in sight; all the allays of fright, by diverting their thoughts, or mixing pleasant and agreeable appearances with it, must be used, till it be grown familiar and inoffensive to them.
I think we may observe, that when children are first born, all objects of sight, that do not hurt the eyes, are indifferent to them; and they are no more afraid of a blackamoor, or a lion, than of their nurse, or a cat. What is it then, that afterwards, in certain mixtures of shape and colour, comes to affright them? Nothing but the apprehensions of harm, that accompany those things. Did a child suck every day a new nurse, I make account it would be no more affrighted with the change of faces at six months old, than at sixty. The reason then, why it will not come to a stranger, is because, having been accustomed to receive its food and kind usage only from one or two that are about it, the child apprehends, by coming into the arms of a stranger, the being taken from what delights and feeds it, and every moment supplies its wants, which it often feels, and therefore fears when the nurse is away.
Timorousness.The only thing we naturally are afraid of, is pain, or loss of pleasure. And because these are not annexed to any shape, colour, or size of visible objects, we are frighted with none of them, till either we have felt pain from them, or have notions put into us, that they will do us harm. The pleasant brightness and lustre of flame and fire so delights children, that at first they always desire to be handling of it: but when constant experience has convinced them, by the exquisite pain it has put them to, how cruel and unmerciful it is, they are afraid to touch it, and carefully avoid it. This being the ground of fear, it is not hard to find whence it arises, and how it is to be cured in all mistaken objects of terrour: and when the mind is confirmed against them, and has got a mastery over itself, and its usual fears in lighter occasions, it is in good preparation to meet more real dangers. Your child shrieks, and runs away at the sight of a frog, let another catch it, and lay it down at a good distance from him: at first accustom him to look upon it; when he can do that, then to come nearer to it, and see it leap without emotion; then to touch it lightly, when it is held fast in another’s hand; and so on, till he can come to handle it as confidently as a butterfly, or a sparrow. By the same way any other vain terrours may be removed, if care be taken that you go not too fast, and push not the child on to a new degree of assurance, till he be thoroughly confirmed in the former. And thus the young soldier is to be trained on to the warfare of life; wherein care is to be taken, that more things be not represented as dangerous, than really are so; and then, that whatever you observe him to be more frighted at than he should, you be sure to toll him on to, by insensible degrees, till he at last, quitting his fears, masters the difficulty, and comes off with applause. Successes of this kind, often repeated, will make him find, that evils are not always so certain, or so great, as our fears represent them; and that the way to avoid them is not to run away, or be discomposed, dejected, and deterred by fear, where either our credit or duty requires us to go on.
But, since the great foundation of fear in children is pain, the way to hardenHardiness. and fortify children against fear and danger, is to accustom them to suffer pain. This, it is possible, will be thought, by kind parents, a very unnatural thing towards their children; and by most, unreasonable, to endeavour to reconcile any one to the sense of pain, by bringing it upon him. It will be said, it may perhaps give the child an aversion for him that makes him suffer; but can never recommend to him suffering itself. This is a strange method. You will not have children whipped and punished for their faults; but you would have them tormented for doing well, or for tormenting’s sake. I doubt not but such objections as these will be made, and I shall be thought inconsistent with myself, or fantastical in proposing it. I confess, it is a thing to be managed with great discretion; and therefore it falls not out amiss, that it will not be received or relished, but by those who consider well, and look into the reason of things. I would not have children much beaten for their faults, because I would not have them think bodily pain the greatest punishment; and I would have them, when they do well, be sometimes put in pain, for the same reason, that they might be accustomed to bear it without looking on it as the greatest evil. How much education may reconcile young people to pain and sufferance, the examples of Sparta do sufficiently show: and they who have once brought themselves not to think bodily pain the greatest of evils, or that which they ought to stand most in fear of, have made no small advance towards virtue. But I am not so foolish to propose the Lacedæmonian discipline in our age or constitution: but yet I do say, that inuring children gently to suffer some degrees of pain without shrinking, is a way to gain firmness to their minds, and lay a foundation for courage and resolution in the future part of their lives.
Not to bemoan them, or permit them to bemoan themselves, on every little pain they suffer, is the first step to be made. But of this I have spoken elsewhere.
The next thing is, sometimes designedly to put them in pain: but care must be taken that this be done when the child is in good humour, and satisfied of the goodwill and kindness of him that hurts him, at the time that he does it. There must no marks of anger or displeasure on the one side, nor compassion or repenting on the other, go along with it; and it must be sure to be no more than the child can bear, without repining or taking it amiss, or for a punishment. Managed by these degrees, and with such circumstances, I have seen a child run away laughing, with good smart blows of a wand on his back, who would have cried for an unkind word, and have been very sensible of the chastisement of a cold look from the same person. Satisfy a child, by a constant course of your care and kindness, that you perfectly love him; and he may by degrees be accustomed to bear very painful and rough usage from you, without flinching or complaining: and this we see children do every day in playing one with another. The softer you find your child is, the more you are to seek occasions at fit times thus to harden him. The great art in this is to begin with what is but very little painful, and to proceed by insensible degrees, when you are playing and in good humour with him, and speaking well of him: and when you have once got him to think himself made amends for his suffering, by the praise given him for his courage; when he can take a pride in giving such marks of his manliness, and can prefer the reputation of being brave and stout, to the avoiding a little pain, or the shrinking under it; you need not despair in time, and by the assistance of his growing reason, to master his timorousness, and mend the weakness of his constitution. As he grows bigger, he is to be set upon bolder attempts than his natural temper carries him to; and whenever he is observed to flinch from what one has reason to think he would come off well in, if he had but courage to undertake; that he should be assisted in at first, and by degrees shamed to, till at last practice has given more assurance, and with it a mastery, which must be rewarded with great praise, and the good opinion of others, for his performance. When by these steps he has got resolution enough not to be deterred from what he ought to do, by the apprehension of danger; when fear does not, in sudden or hazardous occurrences, discompose his mind, set his body a trembling, and make him unfit for action, or run away from it; he has then the courage of a rational creature; and such an hardiness we should endeavour by custom and use to bring children to, as proper occasions come in our way.
One thing I have frequently observed in children, that, when they have got possession of any poor creature, they are apt to use it ill; they often torment and treat very roughly young birds, butterflies, and such other poor animals, which fall into their hands, and that with a seeming kind of pleasure. This, I think, should be watched in them; and if they incline to any such cruelty,Cruelty. they should be taught the contrary usage; for the custom of tormenting and killing of beasts will, by degrees, harden their minds even towards men; and they who delight in the suffering and destruction of inferior creatures, will not be apt to be very compassionate or benign to those of their own kind. Our practice takes notice of this, in the exclusion of butchers from juries of life and death. Children should from the beginning be bred up in an abhorrence of killing or tormenting any living creature, and be taught not to spoil or destroy any thing unless it be for the preservation or advantage of some other that is nobler. And truly, if the preservation of all mankind, as much as in him lies, were every one’s persuasion, as indeed it is every one’s duty, and the true principle to regulate our religion, politics, and morality by, the world would be much quieter, and better-natured, than it is. But to return to our present business; I cannot but commend both the kindness and prudence of a mother I knew, who was wont always to indulge her daughters, when any of them desired dogs, squirrels, birds, or any such things, as young girls use to be delighted with: but then, when they had them, they must be sure to keep them well, and look diligently after them, that they wanted nothing, or were not ill used; for, if they were negligent in their care of them, it was counted a great fault, which often forfeited their possession; or at least they failed not to be rebuked for it, whereby they were early taught diligence and good-nature. And indeed I think people should be accustomed, from their cradles, to be tender to all sensible creatures, and to spoil or waste nothing at all.
This delight they take in doing of mischief (whereby I mean spoiling of any thing to no purpose, but more especially the pleasure they take to put any thing in pain that is capable of it) I cannot persuade myself to be any other than a foreign and introduced disposition, an habit borrowed from custom and conversation. People teach children to strike, and laugh when they hurt, or see harm come to others; and they have the examples of most about them to confirm them in it. All the entertainment of talk and history is of nothing almost but fighting and killing; and the honour and renown that is bestowed on conquerors (who for the most part are but the great butchers of mankind) farther mislead growing youths, who by this means come to think slaughter the laudable business of mankind, and the most heroic of virtues. By these steps unnatural cruelty is planted in us; and what humanity abhors, custom reconciles and recommends to us, by laying it in the way to honour. Thus, by fashion and opinion, that comes to be a pleasure, which in itself neither is, nor can be any. This ought carefully to be watched, and early remedied, so as to settle and cherish the contrary and more natural temper of benignity and compassion in the room of it; but still by the same gentle methods, which are to be applied to the other two faults before mentioned. It may not perhaps be unreasonable here to add this farther caution, viz. that the mischiefs or harms that come by play, inadvertency, or ignorance, and were not known to be harms, or designed for mischief’s sake, though they may perhaps be sometimes of considerable damage, yet are not at all, or but very gently, to be taken notice of. For this, I think, I cannot too often inculcate, that whatever miscarriage a child is guilty of, and whatever be the consequence of it, the thing to be regarded in taking notice of it, is only what root it springs from, and what habit it is like to establish; and to that the correction ought to be directed, and the child not to suffer any punishment for any harm which may have come by his play or inadvertency. The faults to be amended lie in the mind; and if they are such as either age will cure, or no ill habits will follow from, the present action, whatever displeasing circumstances it may have, is to be passed by without any animadversion.
CuriosityCuriosity. in children (which I had occasion just to mention, § 108) is but an appetite after knowledge, and therefore ought to be encouraged in them, not only as a good sign, but as the great instrument nature has provided, to remove that ignorance they were born with, and which without this busy inquisitiveness will make them dull and useless creatures. The ways to encourage it, and keep it active and busy, are, I suppose, these following:
Not to check or discountenance any inquiries he shall make, nor suffer them to be laughed at; but to answer all his questions, and explain the matters he desires to know, so as to make them as much intelligible to him, as suits the capacity of his age and knowledge. But confound not his understanding with explications or notions that are above it, or with the variety or number of things that are not to his present purpose. Mark what it is his mind aims at in the question, and not what words he expresses it in: and, when you have informed and satisfied him in that, you shall see how his thoughts will enlarge themselves, and how by fit answers he may be led on farther than perhaps you could imagine. For knowledge is grateful to the understanding, as light to the eyes: children are pleased and delighted with it exceedingly, especially if they see that their inquiries are regarded, and that their desire of knowing is encouraged and commended. And I doubt not but one great reason, why many children abandon themselves wholly to silly sports, and trifle away all their time insipidly, is, because they have found their curiosity baulked, and their inquiries neglected. But had they been treated with more kindness and respect, and their questions answered, as they should, to their satisfaction, I doubt not but they would have taken more pleasure in learning, and improving their knowledge, wherein there would be still newness and variety, which is what they are delighted with, than in returning over and over to the same play and play-things.
When any new thing comes in their way, children usually ask the common question of a stranger, What is it? whereby they ordinarily mean nothing but the name; and therefore to tell them how it is called, is usually the proper answer to that demand. The next question usually is, What is it for? And to this it should be answered truly and directly; the use of the thing should be told, and the way explained, how it serves to such a purpose, as far as their capacities can comprehend it; and so of any other circumstances they shall ask about it: not turning them going, till you have given them all the satisfaction they are capable of, and so leading them by your answers into farther questions. And perhaps to a grown man such conversation will not be altogether so idle and insignificant, as we are apt to imagine. The native and untaught suggestions of inquisitive children do often offer things that may set a considering man’s thoughts on work. And I think there is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men, who talk in a road, according to the notions they have borrowed, and the prejudices of their education.
This is what I propose, if it be idleness, not from his general temper, but a peculiar or acquired aversion to learning, which you must be careful to examine and distinguish. But, though you have your eyes upon him, to watch what he does with the time which he has at his own disposal, yet you must not let him perceive that you, or any body else do so; for that may hinder him from following his own inclination, which he being full of, and not daring, for fear of you, to prosecute what his head and heart are set upon, he may neglect all other things, which then he relishes not, and so may seem to be idle and listless: when, in truth, it is nothing but being intent on that, which the fear of your eye or knowledge keeps him from executing. To be clear in this point, the observation must be made when you are out of the way, and he not so much as under the restraint of a suspicion that any body has an eye upon him. In those seasons of perfect freedom, let somebody, you can trust, mark how he spends his time, whether he inactively loiters it away, when, without any check, he is left to his own inclination. Thus, by his employing of such times of liberty, you will easily discern whether it be listlessness in his temper, or aversion to his book, that makes him saunter away his time of study.
If some defect in his constitution has cast a damp on his mind, and he be naturally listless and dreaming, this unpromising disposition is none of the easiest to be dealt with; because generally carrying with it an unconcernedness for the future, it wants the two great springs of action, foresight and desire; which, how to plant and increase, where nature has given a cold and contrary temper, will be the question. As soon as you are satisfied that this is the case, you must carefully inquire whether there be nothing he delights in; inform yourself, what it is he is most pleased with; and if you can find any particular tendency his mind hath, increase it all you can, and make use of that to set him on work, and to excite his industry. If he loves praise, or play, or fine clothes, &c. or, on the other side, dreads pain, disgrace, or your displeasure, &c. whatever it be that he loves most, except it be sloth, (for that will never set him on work) let that be made use of to quicken him, and make him bestir himself; for in this listless temper you are not to fear an excess of appetite (as in all other cases) by cherishing it. It is that which you want, and therefore must labour to raise and increase; for, where there is no desire, there will be no industry.
If you have not hold enough upon him this way, to stir up vigour and activity in him, you must employ him in some constant bodily labour, whereby he may get an habit of doing something: the keeping him hard to some study, were the better way to get him an habit of exercising and applying his mind. But, because this is an invisible attention, and nobody can tell when he is, or is not idle at it, you must find bodily employments for him, which he must be constantly busied in, and kept to; and, if they have some little hardship and shame in them, it may not be the worse, that they may the sooner weary him, and make him desire to return to his book: but be sure, when you exchange his book for his other labour, set him such a task, to be done in such a time, as may allow him no opportunity to be idle. Only, after you have by this way brought him to be attentive and industrious at his book, you may, upon his dispatching his study within the time set him, give him, as a reward, some respite from his other labour; which you may diminish, as you find him grow more and more steady in his application; and, at last, wholly take off, when his sauntering at his book is cured.
Children, afraid to have their faults seen in their naked colours, will, like the rest of the sons of Adam, be apt to make excuses.Excuses. This is a fault usually bordering upon, and leading to untruth, and is not to be indulged in them; but yet it ought to be cured rather with shame than roughness. If therefore, when a child is questioned for any thing, his first answer be an excuse, warn him soberly to tell the truth; and then, if he persists to shuffle it off with a falsehood, he must be chastised; but, if he directly confess, you must commend his ingenuity, and pardon the fault, be it what it will; and pardon it so, that you never so much as reproach him with it, or mention it to him again: for, if you would have him in love with ingenuity, and by a constant practice make it habitual to him, you must take care that it never procure him the least inconvenience; but, on the contrary, his own confession, bringing always with it perfect impunity, should be, besides, encouraged by some marks of approbation. If his excuse be such at any time, that you cannot prove it to have any falsehood in it, let it pass for true, and be sure not to show any suspicion of it. Let him keep up his reputation with you as high as is possible; for, when once he finds he has lost that, you have lost a great and your best hold upon him. Therefore let him not think he has the character of a lyar with you, as long as you can avoid it without flattering him in it. Thus some slips in truth may be overlooked. But, after he has once been corrected for a lye, you must be sure never after to pardon it in him, whenever you find, and take notice to him, that he is guilty of it: for it being a fault, which he has been forbid, and may, unless he be wilful, avoid, the repeating of it is perfect perverseness, and must have the chastisement due to that offence.
The first is, a natural roughness,Roughness. which makes a man uncomplaisant to others, so that he has no deference for their inclinations, tempers, or conditions. It is the sure badge of a clown, not to mind what pleases or displeases those he is with; and yet one may often find a man, in fashionable clothes, give an unbounded swing to his own humour, and suffer it to justle or over-run any one that stands in its way, with a perfect indifferency how they take it. This is a brutality that every one sees and abhors, and nobody can be easy with: and therefore this finds no place in any one, who would be thought to have the least tincture of good-breeding. For the very end and business of good-breeding is to supple the natural stiffness, and so soften men’s tempers, that they may bend to a compliance, and accommodate themselves to those they have to do with.
Contempt,Contempt. or want of due respect, discovered either in looks, words, or gesture: this, from whomsoever it comes, brings always uneasiness with it; for nobody can contentedly bear being slighted.
Censoriousness,Censoriousness. and finding fault with others, has a direct opposition to civility. Men, whatever they are or are not guilty of, would not have their faults displayed, and set in open view and broad day-light, before their own, or other people’s eyes. Blemishes affixed to any one, always carry shame with them: and the discovery, or even bare imputation of any defect, is not born without some uneasiness. RailleryRaillery. is the most refined way of exposing the faults of others; but, because it is usually done with wit and good language, and gives entertainment to the company, people are led into a mistake, and, where it keeps within fair bounds, there is no incivility in it: and so the pleasantry of this sort of conversation often introduces it amongst people of the better rank; and such talkers are favourably heard, and generally applauded by the laughter of the by-standers on their side: but they ought to consider, that the entertainment of the rest of the company is at the cost of that one, who is set out in their burlesque colours, who therefore is not without uneasiness, unless the subject, for which he is rallied, be really in itself matter of commendation; for then the pleasant images and representations, which make the raillery, carrying praise as well as sport with them, the rallied person also finds his account, and takes part in the diversion. But, because the nice management of so nice and ticklish a business, wherein a little slip may spoil all, is not every body’s talent, I think those, who would secure themselves from provoking others, especially all young people, should carefully abstain from raillery; which, by a small mistake, or any wrong turn, may leave upon the mind of those, who are made uneasy by it, the lasting memory of having been piquantly, though wittily, taunted for something censurable in them.
There is another fault in good manners, and that is, excess of ceremony, and an obstinate persisting to force upon another what is not his due, and what he cannot take without folly or shame. This seems rather a design to expose, than oblige; or, at least, looks like a contest for mastery; and, at best, is but troublesome, and so can be no part of good breeding,Breeding. which has no other use or end, but to make people easy and satisfied in their conversation with us. This is a fault few young people are apt to fall into; but yet, if they are ever guilty of it, or are suspected to incline that way, they should be told of it, and warned of this mistaken civility. The thing they should endeavour and aim at in conversation, should be to show respect, esteem, and good-will, by paying to every one that common ceremony and regard, which is in civility due to them. To do this, without a suspicion of flattery, dissimulation, or meanness, is a great skill, which good sense, reason, and good company, can only teach; but is of so much use in civil life, that it is well worth the studying.
This therefore should be carefully watched in young people, stopped in the beginning, and the contrary habit introduced in all their conversation: and the rather, because forwardness to talk, frequent interruptions in arguing, and loud wrangling, are too often observable amongst grown people, even of rank amongst us. The Indians, whom we call barbarous, observe much more decency and civility in their discourses and conversation, giving one another a fair silent hearing, till they have quite done: and then answering them calmly, and without noise or passion. And if it be not so in this civilized part of the world, we must impute it to a neglect in education, which has not yet reformed this ancient piece of barbarity amongst us. Was it not, think you, an entertaining spectacle, to see two ladies of quality accidentally seated on the opposite sides of a room, set round with company, fall into a dispute, and grow so eager in it, that in the heat of their controversy, edging by degrees their chairs forwards, they were in a little time got up close to one another in the middle of the room; where they for a good while managed the disputeDispute. as fiercely as two game-cocks in the pit, without minding, or taking any notice of the circle, which could not all the while forbear smiling? This I was told by a person of quality, who was present at the combat, and did not omit to reflect upon the indecencies, that warmth in dispute often runs people into; which, since custom makes too frequent, education should take the more care of. There is nobody but condemns this in others, though they overlook it in themselves: and many who are sensible of it in themselves, and resolve against it, cannot yet get rid of an ill custom, which neglect in their education has suffered to settle into an habit.
I have one thing more to add, which as soon as I mention, I shall run the danger of being suspected to have forgot what I am about, and what I have above written concerning education, all tending towards a gentleman’s calling, with which a tradeTrade. seems wholly to be inconsistent. And yet, I cannot forbear to say, I would have him learn a trade, a manual trade; nay, two or three, but one more particularly.
The busy inclination of children being always to be directed to something that may be useful to them, the advantages proposed from what they are set about may be considered of two kinds; 1. Where the skill itself, that is got by exercise, is worth the having. Thus skill not only in languages, and learned sciences, but in painting, turning, gardening, tempering and working in iron, and all other useful arts, is worth the having. 2. Where the exercise itself, without any consideration, is necessary or useful for health. Knowledge in some things is so necessary to be got by children, whilst they are young, that some part of their time is to be allotted to their improvement in them, though those employments contribute nothing at all to their health: such are reading, and writing, and all other sedentary studies, for the cultivating of the mind, which unavoidably take up a great part of gentlemen’s time, quite from their cradles. Other manual arts, which are both got and exercised by labour, do many of them, by that exercise, not only increase our dexterity and skill, but contribute to our health too; especially such as employ us in the open air. In these, then, health and improvement may be joined together; and of these should some fit ones be chosen, to be made the recreations of one, whose chief business is with books and study. In this choice, the age and inclination of the person is to be considered, and constraint always to be avoided in bringing him to it. For command and force may often create, but can never cure an aversion; and whatever any one is brought to by compulsion, he will leave as soon as he can, and be little profited, and less recreated by, whilst he is at it.
That which of all others would please me best, would be a painter,Painting. were there not an argument or two against it, not easy to be answered. First, ill painting is one of the worst things in the world; and to attain a tolerable degree of skill in it, requires too much of a man’s time. If he has a natural inclination to it, it will endanger the neglect of all other more useful studies, to give way to that; and if he have no inclination to it, all the time, pains, and money shall be employed in it, will be thrown away to no purpose. Another reason why I am not for painting in a gentleman, is, because it is a sedentary recreation, which more employs the mind than the body. A gentleman’s more serious employment, I look on to be study; and when that demands relaxation and refreshment, it should be in some exercise of the body, which unbends the thought, and confirms the health and strength. For these two reasons I am not for painting.
The last part usually in education, is travel,Travel. which is commonly thought to finish the work, and complete the gentleman. I confess, travel into foreign countries has great advantages; but the time usually chosen to send young men abroad, is, I think, of all other, that which renders them least capable of reaping those advantages. Those which are proposed, as to the main of them, may be reduced to these two: first, language; secondly, an improvement in wisdom and prudence, by seeing men, and conversing with people of tempers, customs, and ways of living, different from one another, and especially from those of his parish and neighbourhood. But from sixteen to one-and-twenty, which is the ordinary time of travel, men are, of all their lives, the least suited to these improvements. The first season to get foreign languages, and form the tongue to their true accents, I should think, should be from seven to fourteen or sixteen; and then too a tutor with them is useful and necessary, who may with those languages, teach them other things. But to put them out of their parents view, at a great distance, under a governor, when they think themselves too much men to be governed by others, and yet have not prudence and experience enough to govern themselves: what is it but to expose them to all the greatest dangers of their whole life, when they have the least fence and guard against them? Till that boiling boisterous part of life comes on, it may be hoped the tutor may have some authority; neither the stubbornness of age, nor the temptation or examples of others can take him from his tutor’s conduct, till fifteen or sixteen: but then, when he begins to consorthimself with men, and thinks himself one; when he comes to relish, and pride himself in, manly vices, and thinks it a shame to be any longer under the control and conduct of another: what can be hoped from even the most careful and discreet governor, when neither he has power to compel, nor his pupil a disposition to be persuaded; but, on the contrary, has the advice of warm blood, and prevailing fashion, to hearken to the temptations of his companions, just as wise as himself, rather than to the persuasions of his tutor, who is now looked on as the enemy to his freedom? And when is a man so like to miscarry, as when at the same time he is both raw and unruly? This is the season of all his life, that most requires the eye and authority of his parents and friends, to govern it. The flexibleness of the former part of a man’s age, not yet grown up to be headstrong, makes it more governable and safe; and, in the after-part, reason and foresight begin a little to take place, and mind a man of his safety and improvement. The time therefore I should think the fittest for a young gentleman to be sent abroad, would be, either when he is younger, under a tutor, whom he might be the better for; or when he is some years older, without a governor; when he is of age to govern himself, and make observations of what he finds in other countries worthy his notice, and that might be of use to him after his return: and when too, being thoroughly acquainted with the laws and fashions, the natural and moral advantages and defects of his own country, he has something to exchange with those abroad, from whose conversation he hoped to reap any knowledge.
The ordering of travel otherwise, is that, I imagine, which makes so many young gentlemen come back so little improved by it. And if they do bring home with them any knowledge of the places and people they have seen, it is often an admiration of the worst and vainest practices they met with abroad; retaining a relish and memory of those things, wherein their liberty took its first swing, rather than of what should make them better and wiser after their return. And indeed, how can it be otherwise, going abroad at the age they do, under the care of another, who is to provide their necessaries, and make their observations for them? Thus, under the shelter and pretence of a governor, thinking themselves excused from standing upon their own legs, or being accountable for their own conduct, they very seldom trouble themselves with inquiries, or making useful observations of their own. Their thoughts run after play and pleasure, wherein they take it as a lessening to be controlled; but seldom trouble themselves to examine the designs, observe the address, and consider the arts, tempers, and inclinations of men they meet with; that so they may know how to comport themselves towards them. Here he that travels with them, is to skreen them, get them out, when they have run themselves into the briars; and in all their miscarriages be answerable for them.
I confess, the knowledge of men is so great a skill, that it is not to be expected a young man should presently be perfect in it. But yet his going abroad is to little purpose, if travel does not sometimes open his eyes, make him cautious and wary, and accustom him to look beyond the outside, and, under the inoffensive guard of a civil and obliging carriage, keep himself free and safe in his conversation with strangers, and all sorts of people, without forfeiting their good opinion. He that is sent out to travel at the age, and with the thoughts, of a man designing to improve himself, may get into the conversation and acquaintance of persons of condition where he comes: which, though a thing of most advantage to a gentleman that travels; yet I ask, among our young men that go abroad under tutors, What one is there of an hundred, that ever visits any person of quality? much less makes an acquaintance with such, from whose conversation he may learn what is good breeding in that country, and what is worth observation in it; though from such persons it is, one may learn more in one day, than in a year’s rambling from one inn to another. Nor indeed is it to be wondered; for men of worth and parts will not easily admit the familiarity of boys, who yet need the care of a tutor: though a young gentleman and stranger, appearing like a man, and showing a desire to inform himself in the customs, manners, laws, and government of the country he is in, will find welcome assistance and entertainment amongst the best and most knowing persons every-where, who will be ready to receive, encourage, and countenance any ingenious and inquisitive foreigner.
he stay at home till that dangerous heady age be over, because he must be back again by one-and-twenty, to marry and propagate. The father cannot stay any longer for the portion, nor the mother for a new set of babies to play with: and so my young master, whatever comes on it, must have a wife looked out for him, by that time he is of age; though it would be no prejudice to his strength, his parts, or his issue, if it were respited for some time, and he had leave to get, in years and knowledge, the start a little of his children, who are often found to tread too near upon the heels of their fathers, to the no great satisfaction either of son or father. But the young gentleman being got within view of matrimony, it is time to leave him to his mistress.
Though I am now come to a conclusionConclusion. of what obvious remarks have suggested to me concerning education, I would not have it thought, that I look on it as a just treatise on this subject. There are a thousand other things that may need consideration; especially if one should take in the various tempers, different inclinations, and particular defaults, that are to be found in children; and prescribe proper remedies. The variety is so great, that it would require a volume; nor would that reach it. Each man’s mind has some peculiarity, as well as his face, that distinguishes him from all others; and there are possibly scarce two children, who can be conducted by exactly the same method. Besides that, I think a prince, a nobleman, and an ordinary gentleman’s son, should have different ways of breeding. But having had here only some general views in reference to the main end and aims in education, and those designed for a gentleman’s son, who being then very little, I considered only as white paper, or wax, to be moulded and fashioned as one pleases; I have touched little more than those heads, which I judged necessary for the breeding of a young gentleman of his condition in general; and have now published these my occasional thoughts, with this hope, that, though this be far from being a complete treatise on this subject, or such as that every one may find what will just fit his child in it; yet it may give some small light to those, whose concern for their dear little ones makes them so irregularly bold, that they dare venture to consult their own reason, in the education of their children, rather than wholly to rely upon old custom.