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properly directed from childhood, have exalted them to eminence in virtue. The very same misguided ingenuity that has brought many a miserable malefactor to the gallows, might have raised him, under happier circumstances and better instruction, to fortune and to fame. Do we not find, indeed, in strict conformity with this position, that almost all the wretched beings, who forfeit their lives to the outraged laws of society, attribute their destruction to a neglected education, or to evil company in their earlier days? What an awful and important lesson is this circumstance calculated to teach parents, and, indeed, to all who have, in any way, the oversight and guidance of the young! A single folly encouraged, a single evil passion suffered to triumph, a single vicious habit permitted to take root, in what an awful catastrophe may it one day terminate!
It may not be unnecessary to state here, that by the word education, which I have already used, and which I shall have occasion frequently to use in this discourse, I do not mean merely, nor even principally, school learning; but, in the widest sense, everything which has a tendency to influence the mind, the principles, the temper, and the habits of the young. In this legitimate sense of the term, we are bound to consider the restraining of improper desires, and the encouragement of virtuous sentiments, to be a much more important part of education, than having children taught to read and write and cast accounts. This valuable species of moral instruction even the most illiterate parent is capable of bestowing, and has constant opportunities of bestowing; and, believe me, he or she, who omits this duty, will one day have bitter cause to lament such negligence.
The temper and dispositions of a child, upon which so much of the happiness or misery of life depends, are the earliest objects of watchfulness and interest; and every person, who has at all observed children, must be aware how exceedingly early these begin to develope themselves. In fact, they appear almost with the first smile, or the first tear; and it is quite astonishing, how soon the infant can read the expression of the countenance, and how soon it becomes sensible of praise or blame. Long before it can either utter or understand a single syllable, the little physiognomist can decipher the sentiments of the mind, in the features of the face. So wonderful is this almost instinctive perception of character, that, I think, I have never seen a child spontaneously extend its arms to a person who was decidedly cruel or ill natured. Even then, education may begin; nay, I am persuaded, ought to begin. I know that there is nothing more common with parents, and with others who have the care of children, than to laugh at violent bursts of bad temper, or instances of peevishness and selfishness: and this practice is usually palliated upon the weak supposition, that such feelings may be easily subdued as the child grows older; or, to use the vulgar phrase, 'when it gets more sense.' But, I firmly believe, that in nine cases out ten, the requisite portion of sense never comes; whilst the pernicious tendency and habit as certainly remain. This may appear a very trifling, perhaps undignified, or even ludicrous remark; but, from experience and observation, I am deeply convinced of its importance; well knowing, that nothing so materially tends to sweeten or to embitter the cup of human life as TEMPER.
A well regulated temper is not only an abundant source of personal enjoyment and general respect to its fortunate possessor, but also of serious advantage to others in all the social relations. I have seen the mother of a family, under its hallowed influence, moving in the domestic circle with a radiant countenance, and like the sun in the firmament, diffusing light and joy on all around her. I have seen her children artless and happy, her domestics respectful and contented, and her neighbors emulous in offices of courtesy and kindness. Above all, I have seen her husband returning, with a weary body and an anxious mind, from the harassing avocations of the world; but, the moment he set his foot upon his own threshold, and witnessed the smiling cheerfulness within, the cloud of care instantly passed away from his brow, and his heart beat lightly in his bosom, and he felt how much substantial happiness a single individual, in a comparatively humble station, may be enabled to dispense. Yet, how many scenes of a very different character are every day exhibited in the world, where the evils of poverty are augmented ten-fold by the miserable burthen of a peevish and repining spirit; and where the blessings of affluence seem only to supply their possessors with additional means of manifesting the extent of wretchedness, personal and social, which ill-regulated tempers are able to produce! Many a man, whose judgment is adequate to direct the destinies. of nations, whose eloquence enraptures senates, and whose playful wit and vivid fancy render him the idol of the brilliant circles of fashion, is, nevertheless, totally unable to govern his own temper, and never enters his home, (that spot which, of all others upon earth,
should be peculiarly consecrated to gentleness and affection,) in any other character than that of a cold, gloomy and capricious tyrant. Let it be remembered, too, that the influence of temper is coextensive with society itself; and it will not appear a matter of trifling moment, to devise the best means of regulating and restraining a principle, so intimately associated with the general happiness of our species.
Next to the regulation of the temper, should come what may be termed the moral part of education; and this, I am persuaded, may also commence at a very early period of life. Children can distinguish between right and wrong much sooner than a superficial observer would imagine. Playthings are to them the same as property to men; and in the details of the nursery may be found a miniature representation of almost all the passions, that actuate society. Sentiments of honor, generosity, integrity, benevolence, and truth may all be cherished at a very early age; whilst meanness, selfishness, dishonesty, unkindness and falsehood may be as early and effectually restrained.
So fully am I convinced of the paramount importance of a minute and anxious attention to the very dawnings of reason and of passion, that I am convinced, if we knew the early history of the eminent men who have most adorned and benefited the world, we might trace back the stream of their usefulness and their fame to the nursery- to the pure fountain of maternal prudence and affection. I trust I shall not be accused of degrading either my character or my office, by the meanness of flattery, when I declare my firm persuasion, that in all the
social, friendly, and most estimable relations of life, in everything that tends to sweeten the cup of mortality, the influence of woman is inconceivably superior to that of man. But it is in the earliest and most important years of existence, that her influence is of unspeakable consequence. The first dawning of reason, the first stirring of passion, the first line of character, are marked by her eye. Her familiarity and affection remove all restraint, and she can distinctly perceive the very inmost workings of the heart and mind. From earliest dawn till latest eve,' her eye follows the beloved object of her hopes and fears; so that she enjoys constant opportunities of checking every symptom of folly, encouraging every appearance of virtue, and deducing lessons of improvement from every occurrence, and from every surrounding object. On the contrary, man, engaged in the turmoil of business, the cares of a profession, or any of the thousand harassing avocations of the world, returns home, rather to relax his mind, by indulging his little ones, than to search for imperfections, or to punish faults. His return is generally a little jubilee in the domestic circle, and it would be hard to act the part of a rigid censor; to cast a gloom over cheerful faces, or to freeze the current of enjoyment in happy hearts. Praise is always freely, if not always justly given; and the father of a family often knows less of the real dispositions and characters of his children, than the humblest domestic in his establishment.
If we look to the commencement of learning, it is upon the mother that task also must fall. Her patience, her perseverance, her affection, alone, are equal to sustain