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ESSAY XIV.

OP THE OBTAINING OF CONFIDENCE.

THERE is no problem in the subject of education more difficult and delicate of solution, than that which relates to the gaining the confidence, and exciting the frankness of youth.

This is a point perhaps that is never to be accomplished by austerity; and which seems frequently to refuse itself to the kindeft and moft equitable treatment.

There is an essential disparity between youth and age; and the parent or preceptor is perhaps always an old man to the pupil. Their dispofitions and their pursuits are different; their characters, their studies and their amusements must always be considerably unlike. This disparity will probably be found, however paradoxical the assertion may appear, to be increased in proportion to the frequency of their intercourse. A parent and a preceptor have of all human beings the least resemblance to children. Convert one young person into a sort of superintendent and director to his junior, and you

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Happy for him, if this development of his nature is proportioned to the growth of his frame, and not forced on prematurely by fome injurious affociate. This is a time when he is indeed in want of a pilot. He is now amidst shoals and quicksands, surrounded with dangers, on every side, and of denominations in the utmost degree varied. Yet this is a time when of all others he shuns the confidence of his fuperiors. If he were before in the utmost degree open and unreserved, and his thoughts always flowed unadulterated to his tongue, yet now shame suspends the communication, and he dares not commit his unfledged notions to the hearing of a monitor. He lights as a confident, upon a person, not less young, ignorant and inexperienced than himself; or, as it too frequently happens, his confident is of an imagination already debauched and depraved, who, instead of leading him with safety through untried fields, perpetually stimulates and conducts him to measures the most unfortunate.

It has sometimes been questioned whether such a confidence as is here alluded to, ought to be fought by the parent or preceptor, and whether the receiving it will not involve him in difficulties and uncertainties from which the wiseft moralist cannot afterwards extricate him

self, felf, without injury to the pupil, and disgrace to himself. But surely it cannot reasonably be doubted that, where the pupil stands most in need of a wisdom greater than his own, it should be placed within his reach; and that there must, in the nature of things, be a conduct fitter than any other to be observed by the pupil under these circumstances, which investigation can alcertain, and to which the persons who undertake his education may with propriety guide him. To commit the events of the most important period of his life to accident, because we have not yet been

wise enough to determine what they should be, may be the part of selfish policy preferring to all other concerns the artifice of its own reputation, but cannot be the part of enlightened affection and liberal philanthropy.

There is another reason beside that of the advantage to be derived from the assistance of supe. rior age and experience, why the parent or preceptor should desire the confidence of the pupil. If I desire to do much towards cultivating the mind of another, it is necessary that there should exist between us a more than common portion of cordiality and affection. There is no power that has a more extensive operation in the history of the human mind, than sympathy. It is one of the characteristics of our nature, that we incline

to

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Happy for him, if this development of his nature is proportioned to the growth of his frame, and not forced on prematurely by fome injurious associate. This is a time when he is indeed in want of a pilot. He is now amidst fhoals and quicksands, surrounded with dangers, on every side, and of denominations in the utmost degree varied. Yet this is a time when of all others he shuns the confidence of his fuperiors. If he were before in the utmost degree open and unreserved, and his thoughts always flowed unadulterated to his tongue, yet now shame suspends the communication, and he dares not commit his unfledged notions to the hearing of a monitor. He lights as a confident, upon a person, not less young, ignorant and inexperienced than himself; or, as it too frequently happens, his confident is of an imagination already debauched and depraved, who, instead of leading him with safety through untried fields, perpetually stimulates and conducts him to measures the most unfortunate.

It has sometimes been questioned whether such a confidence as is here alluded to, ought to be sought by the parent or preceptor, and whether the receiving it will not involve him in difficulties and uncertainties from which the wiseft moralist cannot afterwards extricate him

self,

felf, without injury to the pupil, and disgrace to himself. But surely it cannot reasonably be doubted that, where the pupil ftands most in need of a wisdom greater than his own, it should be placed within his reach; and that there must, in the nature of things, be a conduct fitter than any other to be observed by the pupil under these circumftances, which investigation can arcertain, and to which the persons who undertake his education

may with propriety guide him. To commit the events of the most important period of his life to accident, because we have not yet been wise enough to determine what they should be, may be the part of selfish policy preferring to all other concerns the artifice of its own reputation, but cannot be the part of enlightened affection and liberal philanthropy.

There is another reason beside that of the ad. vantage to be derived from the assistance of supe. rior age and experience, why the parent or preceptor should desire the confidence of the pupil. If I desire to do much towards cultivating the mind of another, it is necessary that there should exist between us a more than common portion of cordiality and affection. There is no power that has a more extensive operation in the history of the buman mind, than sympathy. It is one of the characteristics of our nature, that we incline

to

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