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The Spartans were, of all people, the most renowned for their fortitude, magnanimity, and martial prowess; nor can we wonder at their pre-eminence in the heroic virtues, when we consider that the rules of their education were all directed to the great end of giving firmness and vigour both to mind and body.
We are perfectly alive to the value of manly "British Sports". Physical intrepidity sustains moral courage. The athlete acquires nervous energy, and that cerebral endurance, to which the greatest intellectual triumphs are traceable. There can be no real sanity of the intellect without health of its integument. Nothing contributes so much to presence of mind, as those exercitations of the body, which the Gymnastic exercises, the Drill,the Cricket match,-Boat and Foot racing,-Riding on Horseback, Sparring with Gloves,-the game of Fives, -Tennis,-Hockey, and other physical exercises require.
The errors in our modern systems of education have destroyed the native energies of the mind; and the corruptions of the church, during the dark ages, gained too much to relinquish her strong hold over the imagination. It was sufficient, to answer her purpose, if she made men superstitious; there was no necessity to make them good. The passion of fear was cultivated with indefatigable diligence; and it is worthy of remark that, in Petrarch's dialogue between himself and St. Augustine, he makes the Saint argue, that the dereliction of all men proceeded from their impressions not being sufficiently
lively on the subject of those sufferings which awaited them after death. To this Petrarch answers, that, notwithstanding his many imperfections and infirmities, his imagination was not defective in this particular. So terrible to him was the idea of the grim king of terrors, that often, when he laid down to rest, instead of being refreshed with the balmy comforts of sleep, he was thrown into unspeakable agonies; his limbs were bedewed with a cold sweat; and at length he was obliged to rise, in order to find some object to divest his mind of its insupportable burden. Thus the priest and the nurse have planted in the youthful breast timidity and cowardice, which nothing but the impetuous passions of pride, and the irresistible feelings of shame, could subdue. It is to these passions, that knight errantry owed its origin. Seneca tells us, that true courage consists in persevering in a good cause; and he might have added, in subduing sorrow, and the agitation of the passions; for there is as much courage in enduring with firmness the pains of the heart, as in remaining steady under the grape-shot of a battery to abandon oneself without resistance, to kill oneself in order to escape from misery, is to fly from the field of battle before one is conquered. Suffer not your spirit to be subdued by misfortunes; but, on the contrary, steer right onward with a courage greater than your fate seems to allow, is a precept worthy of regard.
Tacitus records that a centurian, being commanded by the executioner to stretch forth his neck valiantly, "I would," said he, "thou wouldst strike as valiantly."
True courage arises from the influence of a well directed education, and is the result of philosophic reflection; it prepares us for dangers of every kind; it gives us so much fear as should keep us awake, and excite our attention, industry, and vigour; but not so as to disturb the calm use of our reason, nor hinder the execution of what it dictates. To this, indeed, few men attain, and much therefore cannot be expected from children. However, something may be done; and a wise tutor, by insensible degrees, may carry them further than some imagine.
The neglect of cultivating, when young, this quality in the mind, is the reason why there are so few that have courage in its full sense, when men. Let the parents and tutor carefully keep children at all times from all fearful apprehensions and terrible objects of surprise, which tend to discompose the spirits. Let them convince them that true courage is the guard and support of the other virtues, and that without it no one can keep steadily to his duty, or fill up his character as truly worthy and good. This will serve to harden their tempers, and raise their courage to its true dignity. Rousseau may be consulted on the many pleasing inventions which he found out to reconcile children to darkness, and to make them exert in this situation their natural powers, and also serve to keep them from the evil of cowardice.
STRICTURE THE THIRTEENTH.
DISPOSITION FOR STUDY. PHYSICAL PRUDENCE. MORAL
AFTER arranging our various readings, as well as the several duties we have to perform, we sometimes feel a disinclination to take up the task that comes next in succession we feel no disposition for it. If we reluctantly pursue the object, it drags heavily, and much time is lost before we can obtain a right disposition for the employment, thus it is with children; they are often wearied to little purpose, by being obliged unwillingly to perform that for which at another season they might be disposed. It is the duty of a parent or tutor to watch this change of temper, and embrace the favourable moment when the pupil feels more inclined for any particular study. This will save much time, and the application will be more effective. A pupil will learn double the quantity, and in less time, when his mind is in tune, than he will when he has no disposition for it.
A discreet tutor will know the character of his pupil, and will give him suitable ideas to promote an inclination for the present business; and thus induce him to rouse his languid energies to exertion to promote a disposition, and to get dominion over his disinclination, when he
finds he is not of his own accord often enough in disposition.
The tutor, who has long had the direction of his pupil, will frequently induce him to leave his play of his own will, and to court with pleasure the occasion of learning. Education might be made as much a recreation to play, as play is to learning; but this, unfortunately, is not the modern way. The discipline of the rod is founded upon other principles; and blows and stripes have given to children an aversion to books.
Some persons appear to have this useful principle, we had almost said, innate; yet these same persons we have known destitute of any shining parts, vigour, or intellect, or of those energies of the mind which give birth to great actions. It cannot be clearly ascertained whether this quality of the mind owes its origin to the slow motion of the animal spirits, occasioning a cold and phlegmatic temperament; or arises from that equipoise of the affections which prevents any simple one from gaining an ascendancy; or whether it proceeds from a natural timidity of mind; from an anxious attention to self-interest; or from a natural sagacity, which points out with clearness the evil to be avoided, and the good to be pursued; or whether it proceeds from a union of two or more of these circumstances, or from a combination of the whole. Certain it is, that its operation begins early in life; and when such qualities exhibit themselves