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know nothing: we should therefore make conscience not to mislead them. And though their questions seem sometimes not very material, yet they should be seriously answered; for however they may appear to us (tg whom they are long since known) inquiries pot worth the making, they are of moment to those who are wholly ignorant. Children are strangers to all we are acquainted with; and all the things they meet with are at first unknown to them, as they once were to us; and happy are they who meet with civil people, that will comply with their ignorance, and help them to get qut of it.
If you or I now should be set down in Japan, with all our prudence and knowledge about us, a conceit whereof makes us perhaps so apt to slight the thoughts and inquiries of children; should we, I say, be set down in Japan, we should, no doubt, (if we would in. form ourselves of what is there to be known,) ask a thousand questions, which to a supercilious or incon. siderate Japanese, would seem very idle and impertiņent; though to us they would be very material, and of importance to be resolyed; and we should be glad
to find a man so complaisant and courteous, as to · satisfy our demands, and instruct our ignorance.
When any new thing comes in their way, children usually ask the common question of a stranger, What is it? whereby they ordinarily mean nothing but the name; and therefore to tell them how it is called, is usually the proper answer to that demand. The next question usually is, What is it for? And to this it should be answered truly and directly; the use of the thing should be told, and the way explained, how it serves to sạch a purpose, as far as their capacities can comprehend it; and so of any other circumstances they shall ask about it ; not turning them going, till you have given them all the satisfaction they are capable of, and so leading them by your answers into farther questions. And perhaps to a grown man such conversation will not be altogether so idle and insignificant, as we are apt to imagine. The native and untaught sugges. tions of inquisitive children do often offer things that may set a considering man's thoughts on work. And I think there is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men, who talk in a road, according to the notions they have bórrowed, and the prejudices of their education. 9 121. 4. Perhaps it may not sometimes be amiss to excite their curiosity, by bringing strange and new things in their way, on purpose to engage their enquiry, and give them occasion to inform themselves about them; and if by chance their curiosity leads them to ask what they should not know, it is a great deal better to tell them plainly, that it is a thing that belongs not to them to know, than to pop them off with a falsehood, or a frivolous answer.
§ 122. Pertness, that appears sometimes so early, proceeds from a principle that seldom accompanies a strong constitution of body, or ripens into a strong judgment of mind. If it were desireable to have a child a more brisk talker, I believe there might be ways found to make him so; but, I suppose, a wise father had rather that his son should be able and useful, when a man, than pretty company, and a diversion to others, whilst a child ; though, if that too were to be considered, I think I may say, there is not so much pleasure to have a child prattle agreeably, as to reason well. Encourage therefore his inquisitiveness all you can, by satisfying his demands, and informing his judgment; as far as it is capable. When his reasons are any way tolerable, let him find the credit and commendation of them; and when they are quite out of the way, let him, without being laughed at for his mistake, be gently put into the right; and, if he show a forwardness to be reasoning about things that come in his way, take care, as much as you can, that nobody check this inclination in him, or mislead it by captious or fallacious ways of talking with him: for, when all is done, this, as the highest and most important faculty of our minds, deserves the greatest care and attention in cultivating it: the right improvement and exercise
of our reason being the highest perfection that a man can attain to in this life.
§ 123. Contrary to this busy inquisitive temper, there is sometimes observable in children a listless carelessness, a want of regard to any thing, and a a sort of trifling, even at their business.
Sauntering This sauntering humour I look on as one of the worst qualities can appear in a child, as well as one of the hardest to be cured, where it is natural. But, it being liable to be mistaken in some cases, care must be taken to make a right judgment concerning that trifling at their books or business, which may sometimes be complained of in a child. Upon the first suspicion a father has, that his son is of a sauntering temper, he must carefully observe him, whether he be listless and indif. ferent in all his actions, or whether in some things alone he be slow and sluggish, but in others vigorous and eager: for though he find that he does loiter at his book, and let a good deal of the time he spends in his chamber or study run idly away, he must not presently conclude, that this is from a sauntering humour in his temper; it may be childishness, and a preferring some. thing to his study, which his thoughts run on; and he dislikes his book, as is natural, because it is forced upon him as a task. To know this perfectly, you must watch him at play, when he is out of his place and time of study, following his own inclinations, and see there, whether he be stirring and active; whether he designs any thing, and with labour and eagerness pursues it, till he has accomplished what he aimed at; or whether he lazily and listlessly dreams away his time. If this sloth be only when he is about his book, I think it may be easily cured ; if it be in his temper, it will require a little more pains and attention to remedy it.
$ 124. If you are satisfied, by his earnestness at play, or any thing else he sets his mind on, in the intervals between his hours of business, that he is not of himself inclined to laziness, but that only want of relish of his book makes him negligent and sluggish in his application to it; the first step is to try, by talking to him kindly of the folly and inconvenience of it, whereby
he loses a good part of his time, which he might have for his diversion: but be sure to talk calmly and kindly, and not much at first, but only these plain reasons in short. If this prevails, you have gained the point in the most desirable way, which is that of reason and kindness. If this softer application prevails not, try to shame him out of it, by laughing at him for it, asking every day, when he comes to table, if there be no strangers there, “ how long he was that day about his busi“ ness?” And if he has not done it, in the time he might be well supposed to have dispatched it, exposé and turn him into ridicule for it; but mix no chiding, only put on a pretty cold brow towards him, and keep it till he reform; and let his mother, tutor, and all about him, do so too. If this work not the effect you desire, then tell him, " he shall be no longer troubled with a “ tutor to take care of his education : you will not be « at the charge to have him spend his timě idly with “ him: but since he prefers this or that [whatever play “ he delights in to his book, that only he shall do;" and so in earnest set him to work on his beloved play, and keep him steadily, and in earnest to it, morning and afternoon, till he be fully surfeited, and would at any rate change it for some hours at his book again: but when you thus set him his task of play, you must be sure to look after him yourself, or set somebody else to do it, that may constantly see him employed in it, and that he be not permitted to be idle at that too. I say, yourself look after him; for it is worth the father's while, whätever business he has, to bestow two or three days upon his son, to cure so great a mischief as his sauntering at his business.
$ 125. This is what I propose, if it be idleness, not from his general temper, but a peculiar or acquired aversion to learning, which you must be careful to examine and distinguish. But, though you have your eyes upon him, to watch what he does with the time which he has at his own disposal, yet you must not let him perceive that you, or any body else do so; for thất may hinder him from following his own inclination, which he being full of, and not daring, for fear of you,
to prosecute what his head and heart are set upon, he may neglect all other things, which then he relishes not, and so may seem to be idle and listless; when, in truth, it is nothing but being intent on that, which the fear of your eye or knowledge keeps him from executing. To be clear in this point, the observation must be made when you are out of the way, and he not so much as under the restraint of a suspicion that any body has an eye upon him. In those seasons of perfect freedom, let somebody, you can trust, mark how he spends his time, whether he inactively loiters it away, when, with. out any check, he is left to his own inclination. Thus, by his employing of such times of liberty, you will easily discern whether it be listlessness in his temper, or aversion to his book, that makes him saunter away his time of study.
§ 126. If some defect in his constitution has cast a damp on his mind, and he be naturally listless and dreaming, this unpromising disposition is none of the easiest to be dealt with; because generally carrying with it an unconcernedness for the future, it wants the two great springs of action, foresight and desire; which, how to plant and increase, where nature has given a cold and contrary temper, will be the question. As soon as you are satisfied that this is the case, you must carefully inquire whether there be nothing he delights in; inform yourself, what it is he is most pleased with; and if you can find any particular tendency his mind hath, increase it all you can, and make use of that to set him on work, and to excite his industry. If he loves praise, or play, or fine clothes, &c. or, on the other side, dreads pain, disgrace, or your displeasuré, &c. whatever it be that he loves most, except it be sloth, (for that will never set him on work) tet that be made use of to quicken him, and make him bestir himself; for in this listless temper you are not to fear an excess of appetite (as in all other cases) by cherishing it. It is that which you want, and therefore must labour to raise and increase; for, where there is no desire, there will be no industry.