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EFFECT OF HABIT ON THE INFANT MIND.
“I trust every thing to habit; habit, upon which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the schoolmaster, has mainly placed his reliance ; habit, which makes every thing easy, and casts all difficulties upon the deviation from the wonted course. Make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be hateful and hard ; make prudence a habit, and reckless profligacy will be as contrary to the nature of the child grown an adult, as the most atrocious crimes are to
your lordships. Give a child the habit of sacredly regarding the truth-of carefully respecting the property of others—of scrupulously abstaining from all acts of improvidence which can involve him in distress, and he will just as little think of lying, or cheating, or stealing, as of rushing into an element in which he cannot breathe."
EARLY FORMATION OF GOOD HABITS.
“If a child is neglected till six years of age, no subsequent education can recover it. If to this age it is brought up in dissipation and ignorance, in all the baseness of brutal habits, and in that vacancy of mind which such habits create, it is in vain to attempt to reclaim it by teaching it reading and writing. You may teach what you choose afterwards, but if you have not prevented the formation of bad habits, you will teach in vain.
An infant is in a state of perpetual enjoyment from the intensity of curiosity. There is no one thing which it does not learn sooner or better than at any other period of life, and with
burden to itself or the teacher. But learning is not all, nor the principal consideration-moral habits are acquired in these schools; and by their means children are kept out of the nurseries of obscenity, vulgarity, vice, and blasphemy. In the establishment at Westminster, none but children between three
and five years of age are admitted, and there they are kept out of the streets, and taken care of by a parental indulgent dame, while their mothers are set at liberty to go out and work. Whether the children learn less or more is of little consequence.
The moral discipline is the great consideration."
[The first sentence of this most true and eloquently expressed extract, contains an opinion directly opposed to the assertion of Thomas Jefferson : " That children should be left to the dictates of Nature, and without restraint or instruction, until seven years old.” And it was remarked by Milton, in his “Tractate :” “If you do not teach your children, the Devil will." But Socrates settled the question long since, when he said :
can learn of ourselves, but virtue and knowledge require a teacher.” And the danger of having nothing to do is quaintly expressed by John Bunyan : “The Devil tempts every man, but the idle man tempts the Devil.”
" Vice we
Habit has such an influence upon all, that it has been called "second nature,” and we cannot commence too early in doing right, for practice then will soon make that way the most pleasing. Lord Brougham has given it as his opinion, that children have learned more at the
of six, than they ever learn afterwards ;” that they should be rightly and wisely instructed during this active, susceptible period, we think no one will deny.
So potent is the power of habit that men usually act first, and think afterwards. We act, and then devise within ourselves how we may conform our opinion to our actions. These well known truths show all but the omnipotence of habit, which is formed early in life, and determines the character of manhood. Ed.]
BENEFITS RESULTING FROM INFANT SCHOOLS.
“I consider the establishment of infant schools as one of the most important improvements, I was going to say in the education, but I ought rather to say in the civil polity of this country,—that have for centuries been made. Whoever knows the habits of children at an earlier
than that of six or seven-the age at which they generally attend the infant schools--whoever understands their tempers, their habits, their feelings, or their talents, is well aware of their capacity of receiving instruction long before the age of six. The child is, at three and four, and even partially at two and under, perfectly capable of receiving that sort of knowledge which forms the basis of all education; but the observers of children, the student of the human mind, has learnt only half his lesson, if his experience has not taught him something more: it is not enough to say that a child can learn a great deal before the age of six years; the truth is, that he can learn,