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STRICTURE THE SIXTH.
EXCUSES OF CHILDREN.
CHILDISH COMPLAINTS. IDLENESS.
A CHILD that has been previously warned against telling an untruth, will be anxious to make every excuse rather than be caught in a lie. However, this is not to be indulged, but cured rather with shame than by roughness. Whenever a child begins to make an excuse, admonish him seriously to tell the truth; and should he then persist in prevaricating, he must be corrected. Should he frankly confess his error, the tutor must commend his ingenuousness, and whatever may be his fault, pardon and think no more of it. Thus must he act at all times.
Should an excuse at any time want proof of being a falsehood, let the tutor pass it for truth, rather than risk the loss of his pupil's high opinion of him; for when once that is gone, the tutor has lost the best hold of him.
Children, like men, are fond of alleging complaints against their equals; the motives which induce the former are anger and revenge; the latter arises from feelings of envy and pride. This evil must be discountenanced from infancy, and the complaints of children not favourably received nor listened to. To suffer them to complain weakens the mind; and by permitting them to
endure occasional crossing from others, however mortifying it may be, will do them no harm; it will teach them to endure, and harden them early. But however much the tutor may discountenance the complaints of the querulous, yet he must take care to curb the insolence and ill nature of the offender. Whenever he observes the annoyance complained of himself, let it be reproved before the injured party; but if the complaint be worthy of serious notice, to prevent repetition, let the reproof be alone, away from the complainant, and require him to ask pardon and make reparation which, coming, from the offender as it were voluntarily, will be more cheerfully performed, and more kindly received; love and affection will be strengthened between the parties, and the custom of civility also become familiar.
Cato, the Censor, (an old Roman of great virtue and wisdom,) used to say, that there were but three actions of his life which he regretted. The first was, having told a secret to his wife: the second, that he had once gone by sea, when he might have gone by land; and the third, the having passed one day without doing any thing,-in idleness.
Idleness may be well called the mother of all vice; at least, it is certain, that laziness is the inheritance of fools. It is scarcely possible to conceive, that a reasoning being can squander away a single moment in absolute idleness.
Idleness, in fact, seldom leaves a man a moment's leisure to perform any duty. This may appear a paradox; but it is truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in. A man yawns, procrastinates; he can perform his task when he pleases, and therefore seldom performs it at all; whereas, those who are industrious, and have much to do, do it heartily; and thus find time enough to do it in. This is our own experience, and the tutor must convince his pupil of its truth, by constantly employing him either in amusements or study.
There are some children of a listless and sauntering disposition, which is one of the greatest evils that can appear in a child. The tutor must ascertain if it be a listless indifference in all his actions, or an aversion to books. The season of freedom from study will enable him to discover the case, and apply the remedy.
If some defect in the constitution have cast a damp on the child's mind, and he be naturally listless; if any thing can be discerned in which he takes more delight than another, make every possible use of it, whatever it may be, to excite and increase his industry. Make him bestir himself, and fear no excess by promoting it. If this cannot be effected, put him immediately to bodily exercise, and give no opportunity to be idle, so that he may acquire a habit of doing something; and if a little hardship and shame be necessary, promote it, that he
may the sooner be wearied, and desire to return to his books. When you perceive the desire, give him a respite from a portion of his labour, as you see him industrious and attentive to his studies, which you may diminish as his application increases, and he be wholly cured of his sauntering.
If, on the other hand, it be discovered by his earnestness at play, that he only wants a relish for his books, let the tutor first talk to him kindly of the folly and inconvenience of it, as well as the concern it gives him to perceive such carelessness and indifference to his own interests. Should this succeed, the point is gained; if not, let the tutor endeavour to shame him from such conduct, by laughing at him, asking, when no strangers are present, at meal-times, how long he was about such and such a business? If it be found it was not performed in the time it ought, expose and ridicule him; but mix no chiding; only put on a cold brow, and make others about him do the same, till he reform. If this has not the desired effect, surfeit him with bodily labour, as recommended before.
STRICTURE THE SEVENTH.
TRUTH. LYING. REASONING WITH CHILDREN NECESSARY.
TRUTH is one of the first duties of religion and morality; and he who is void of it, is deficient in every good quality, and must become detestable both to God and man. A parent or tutor must establish this inviolable upon the mind of the pupil; and must point out the folly, the dishonour, and crime attending its neglect and breach. A pupil must be so transported with the love of it, that his interests both in this life and the next must be felt to depend upon its observance.
It is a great evil introduced into society, that whenever we feel it inconvenient to receive the call or visit of any individual, we order our servant to deny our being at home; which, children observing, can scarcely be kept, without great care, from falsehood, to serve also their purposes. However this denial may be considered, in fashionable life, as the polite mode of expressing the time of call to be inconvenient, it cannot be expected that youth and inexperience can attain such a comprehensive view of things, as to give a proper weight to the power of custom, and to that irresistible influence of