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struction at church and at home; their duties to God, their parents, and the family relations, the duty of justice to others, of honesty as to property, and of veracity. In orderly society there is a feeling of honor attached to the performance of some of these duties, and of meanness to their violation which is a great additional motive to doing right.
But, without much system, important instruction may be given in regard to the nature of conscience, and its development aided. They may be warned against the various modes by which conscience may be blinded or misled. The illusions produced by passion, interest, by looking to the end as justifying the means, may be rendered intelligible to all. But it may be more difficult and require more maturity in the scholar to understand and properly to judge of the variety of opinions re. specting the moral nature of particular acts, produced by association and the complexity of actions. These can only be understood after considerable acquaintance with the operations and laws of the human mind.
There are some classes of duties which it is very difficult to define, and which law therefore can very seldom punish, but which are most essential to the happiness of society, and should receive our constantattention both in the school and out of it-I mean, our duties to others in regard to their feelings, if I may so express it. And it is in regard to this very class of duties, that the moral instruction of both young and old, in schools, colleges and at home, is probably most deficient. How many men who would scorn to injure their neighbors property, will yet make sport of injuring their feelings. If they can excite a quarrel, prejudice one person against another; if there are any subjects which they know to be peculiarly unpleasant, which the person addressed would like to have forgotten, anything calculated to produce a feeling of disgrace, or of physical or intellectual inferiority, or in any way to disturb his peace of mind, they perhaps take delight in suggesting it, in bringing it forward to public gaze, or if they do not absolutely take de light in it and do it purposely, they are not sufficiently cautious in guarding against it. " A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword.” And when we reflect how much of the happiness of life is made up of little things, how much it depends upon attention to the feelings of others, we see the importance of attending to it in early education.
A disposition to attend to the wants and feelings of others, and promote their happiness, united to a certain degree of knowledge of the conventional usages of society, constitutes what we call manners or politeness. Considered merely as regards the child's chances of success in life, it would be worthy of attention. But my object is to speak of it as a duty.Even in the gravest concerns in life, the manner is frequently as important as the matter of the deed.
This same regard to the feelings of others of which I have been speaking, will also lead us to be cautious how we do or say anything to affect their reputation. Of all the tittle-tattle and slander that is circulating in the world, the probability is, that a very small portion originates from malice or a direct design to injure. A great deal of it originates from carelessness, from a desire to fall in with what we suppose to be the prevailing humor of the company present; but probably by far the greater part, from vacancy of mind—from want of acquaintance with other and more proper subjects of conversation. Education and extension of information will supply us with other means of occupying our minds and maintaining conversation, but it is only a regard for the feelings of others which can entirely restrain this mischievous propensity,
In regard to the manner of teaching morals to the very young, there can be but very little difference of opinion. Before they can understand a system, they must have the elementary notions upon which a system is founded. The moral sentiment is first to be called out, trained, and developed.-And in doing this we should follow the course of nature. А. moral lesson suggested by some occasion in school life, will make a permanent impression upon a child and be remembered and recalled whenever a similar occasion presents itself; while a moral lesson upon the same subject, but unconnected with any present application, would be soon forgotten and would not be so likely to be recalled or suggest itself to the mind in case of need. Alcott's Record of a School and his Conversations on the Gospels, may suggest to a teacher many good ideas as to the best method of conducting conversations or remarks on this subject; and they have the advantage of being not imaginary but the record of real conversations which 'actually took place in his school.
“Moral instruction (says Wilm) ought to be less teaching than development; and it ought to aim less at conveying to the pupils some propositions as coming from the master and as forming a science invented by the genius of man, than at making them spring from the depths of his own conscious. ness."
"If (says Sir James Macintosh) we were to devise a method for infusing morality into the tender minds of youth, we should certainly not attempt it by arguments and rules, by definition and demonstration. We should certainly endeavor to attain our object by insinuating morals in the disguise of history, poetry and eloquence; by heroic examples, by pathetic incidents, by sentiments that either exalt and fortify or soften and melt the human heart. If philosophical ingenuity were to devise a plan of moral instruction, these I think would be its outlines."
“ As hieroglyphics preceded letters, so parables are older than arguments. And even now, if any one wishes to pour new light into any human intellect, and to do so expediently and pleasantly, he must proceed in the same way and call in the assistance of parables.”—Lord Bacon,
That these are the correct principles on which morals should be taught to the young, I suppose there can be very little doubt. To older scholars and classes, scientific treatises may be of advantage, but to mere children they wonld be incomprehensible. The conscience must be cultivated as occasions arise and the moral feelings called out and exercised upon the various events in school and home life before they can make themselves or can understand from others, the generalizations which make the moral code. Not that the teacher should wait for great occasions or displays of unusual passion or violence. The occasions will be constantly occurring. Lessons upon characters and events in history are highly recommended by Kant and Wilm; and the influence of the selections in the reading books which are used in our schools, in forming the moral character of the pupils, can hardly be overrated. But above all, let not the teacher forget the influence of his own example.
With regard to the greater part of children, at least of those who do not see very bad examples at home, the teacher's greatest difficulty will probably be, not in teaching them what is right and what is wrong, but in persuading them to do right. And the difficulty is the same with older people.-Most of the duties of ordinary life are plain. We all know tolerably well what is right in any given case. In pronouncing an opinion on the conduct of others we seldom disagree. But how seldom do we ourselves do what we know to be right. We need motives to do right, we need to have our disposition to do right strengthened and confirmed. We need to enlighten conscience and give force to its decisions; and some times perhaps must call in the aid of the sanctions of religion.
We are too apt to appeal both with the old and young to motives of interest to induce them to do right. Honesty may be and no doubt is the best policy, and yet that may be a very mean motive for a man's being honest. There is a strong temptation to use this motive with children because they can easily be made to understand it. But is there no fear that we may make too much of this and lead them to undervalue other motives, so that other motives will have little influence over them? And will not the consequence be, that when they
come to grow up and find, as they often will, that they cannot succeed in some favorite project honestly—that honesty does not always secure wealth, but is very often an obstacle to it, the foundation of their morality gives way, and they have not been accustomed to the control of better motives.
It may be questionable whether it would not be better to do nothing at all, than to appeal as often as we do to improper motives to encourage the young to what we deem a right course of action. It is a common practice to pay children for being good. And when they get to be children of a larger growth, we still appeal to the same motives. We tell them that doing good or a correct course will insure success in life. We make too much of prosperity, success and wealth. Economy and correct conduct will, it is true, secure the means of living, but those generally best succeed in obtaining wealth who make the most sacrifices of time and of personal comfort for it, and too often of honesty too. We should try to impress on them that true success, considered in relation to the great end of life, does not consist in making a show or in making a noise in the world; but that the approbation of conscience is better than all else.
One of the ancient moralists has represented human life as a sort of a market in which various commodities, health, wealth, literary distinction, military glory are exposed for sale, and we can have whatever we choose if we pay the price for it.
Mrs. Barbauld has taken up this idea and most eloquently expanded and illustrated it in a passage which I will quote.
"We should consider this world as a great mart of commerce where fortune exposes to our view various commodities, riches, ease, tranquillity, fame, integrity, knowledge. Everything is marked at a settled price. Our time, our labor, our ingenuity, are so much money which we are to lay out to the best advantage.
“Examine, compare, choose, reject; but stand to your own judgment; and do not, like children, when you have purchased one thing, repine that you do not possess another which you did not purchase.
"Such is the force of well-regulated industry, that a steady and vigorous exertion of our faculties, directed to one end, will generally insure success. Would you for instance, be rich ? Do you
think that single point worth the sacrificing everything else to ?
“ You may then be rich. Thousands have become so from the lowest beginnings, by toil and patience, diligence, and attention to the minutest articles of expense and profit. But you must give up the pleasures of leisure, of a vacant mind, of a free unsuspicious temper. If you preserve your integrity, it must be a coarse-spun and vulgar honesty. Those high and lofty notions of morals which you brought with you from the schools, must be considerably lowered, and mix with the baser alloy of a jealous and worldly-minded prudence. You must learn to do hard if not unjust things; and for the nice embarrassments of a delicate and ingenuous spirit, it is necessary for you to get rid of them as fast as possible. You must shut your heart against the Muses, and content to feed your understanding with plain household truths. In short, you must not attempt to enlarge your ideas, or polish your taste or refine your sentiments; but must keep in one beaten track, without turning aside either to the right hand or left. ·But I cannot submit to drudgery like this, I feel above it.' 'Tis well : be above it then ; only do not repine that you are not rich.
"Is knowledge the pearl of price? That too may be purchased -by steady application, and long solitary hours of study and reflection. Bestow these, and you shall be wise. But (says the man of letters) what a hardship it is that many an illiterate fellow, who cannot construe the motto of the arms on his coach, shall raise a fortune : and make a figure, while I have little more than the common conveniences of life.
“ Et tibi magna satis ! Was it in order to raise a fortune that you consumed the sprightly hours of youth in study and retirement ? Was it to be rich that you grew pale over the midnight lamp, and distilled the sweetness from the Greek and Roman spring ?
“ You have then mistaken your path, and ill employed your industry. • What reward have I then for all my labors ? What reward ! A large comprehensive soul, well purged from vulgar fears, and perturbations, and prejudices; able to comprehend and interpret the works of man-of God: A rich flourishing, cultivated mind, preg. nant with inexhaustible stores of entertainment and reflection. A perpetual spring of fresh ideas; and the conscious dignity of superior intelligence. Good heaven! and what reward can you ask besides?
"But is it not some reproach upon the economy of Providence that such a one, who is a mean dirty fellow should have amassed wealth enough to buy half a nation ? Not in the least. He made himself a mean dirty fellow for that very end. He has paid his health, his conscience, his liberty for it: and will you envy him for his bargain? Will you hang your head and blush in his presence because he outshines you in equipage and show? Lift up your brow with a noble confidence and say to yourself, I have not these things, it is true ; but it is because I have not sought, because I have not desired them ; it is because I possess something better. I have chosen my lot, I am content and satisfied.
“ You are a modest man-you love quiet and independence, and have a delicacy and reserve in your temper, which renders it impossible for you to elbow your way in the world, and be the herald of your own merits. Be content then with a modest retirement, with the esteem of your intimate friends, with the praises of a blameless heart, but resign the splendid distinctions of the world to those who can better scramble for them.
“ The man whose tender sensibility of conscience, and strict regard to the rules of morality make him scrupulous and fearful of offend