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object from time to time under every point of view which is calculated to demonstrate its loveliness. Criticise, commend, exemplify. Nothing is more common than for a master to fail in infusing the passions into his pupil that he purpofes to infuse; but who is there that refuses to confess, that the failure is to be ascribed to the indolence or unskilfulness of the master, not to the impossibility of success ?
The more inexperienced and immature is the mind of the infant, the greater is its pliability. It is not to be told how early, habits, pernicious or otherwise, are acquired. Children bring some qualities, favourable or adverse to cultivation, into the world with them. But they speedily acquire other qualities in addition to these, and which are probably of more moment than they. Thus a diseased state of body, and still more an improper treatment, the rendering the child, in any considerable degree, either the tyrant or the Ilave of those around him, may in the first twelve months implant seeds of an ill temper, which in fóme inftances may accompany him through life.
Reasoning from the principles already delivered, it would be a gross mistake to suppose, that the fole object to be attended to in the first part of education, is to provide for the present 6
ease and happiness of the individual. An awakened mind is one of the most important purposes of education, and it is a purpose that cannot too foon enter into the views of the preceptor.
It seems probable that early instruction is a thing, in itself considered, of very inferior van lue. Many of those things which we learn in our youth, it is necessary, if we would well understand, that we should learn over again in our riper years. Many things that, in the dark and unapprehensive period of youth, are attained with infinite labour, may, by a ripe and judicious understanding, be acquired with an effort inexpressibly inferior. He who should affirm, that the true object of juvenile education was to teach no one thing in particular, but to provide against the age of five and twenty a mind well regulated, active, and prepared to learn, would certainly not obtrude upon us the absurdest of paradoxes.
The purpose therefore of early instruction is not absolute. It is of less importance, generally speaking, that a child should acquire this or that species of knowledge, than that, through the medium of instruction, he should acquire habits of intellectual activity. It is not so much for the direct confideration of what he learns, that his mind must not be suffered to be idle. The B 3
preceptor in this respect is like the incloser of uncultivated land; his first crops are not valued for their intrinsic excellence; they are fown that the land may be brought into order. The springs of the mind, like the joints of the body, are apt to grow fiiff for want of employment. They must be exercised in various directions and with unabating perseverance. In a word, the first lesson of a judicious education is, Learn to think, to discriminate, to remember and to enquire *
nil * Conjectures respecting the studies to be cultivated in youth, not so much for their own sake, as for that of the habits they produce, are stated in Essay VI.
Doubts have sometimes been suggested as to the desirableness of talents.
66 Give to a child,” it has frequently been said, " good sense and a virtuous propensity ; I desire no more. Talents are often rather an injury than a benefit to their poffeffor. They are a fort of ignis fatuus leading us aftray; a fever of the mind incompatible with the sober dictates of prudence. They tempt a man to the perpetration of bold, bad deeds; and qualify him rather to excite the admiration, than promote the interests of fociety."
This may be affirmed to be a popular doctrine ; yet where almoft is the affectionate parent who would seriously say,
“ Take care that my child do not turn out a lad of too much ca
The capacity which it is in the
of education to bestow, must confist principally in information.' Is it to be feared that a man should know too much for his happiness ? Knowledge for the most part consists in added means of
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mentointertime coisars and def. Tie per eure ut aitaks, mit te nord rece ciormativa; at to take auzia. nach I tare.
Talents in general, artwibranding the ex. cara rutioned in the outlet, bolů a bigter eftimation among mankind, than virtues. There wr, few tea ubo has not rather you should fay of then, that they are knaves, than that they are fool's. But folly and wisdom are to a great degree relative terms. He who passes for the oracle of an obscure club, would perhaps appear ignorant and confused and vapid and tedious in a circle of men of genius. The only complete protection against the appellation of frol, is to be the poffeffor of uncommon capacity. A self-satisfied, half-witted fellow, is the most ridiculous of all things.
The decifion of common fame, in favour of talents in preference to virtues, is not so absurd as has sometimes been imagined. Talents are the instruments of ufefulness. He that has them,