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DOMESTIC EDUCATION, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM
PURCHASED TUITION; THE OBLIGATIONS TO WHICH ARE NOT ONLY INDISPENSABLE, BUT
UNTRANSFER A BLE.
Domestic Education, a term of extensive import—in its most im
portant sense cannot be purchased-nor its duties performed by substitute.-The Education of circumstances. The Education of the dispositions
In the proper sense of the term, Education is a thing of great scope and extent; and within the doors of a household, it is of a far more important and extensive character, than any thing for which the Children can be sent to schools of any description whatever It affords, however, matter at once for surprise and deep regret, to observe how much this superior department of Education, which no wealth can purchase, has been overlooked; more especially since it is one in which the rich have little if any advantage over the poor. For Education, in its largest sense, as it is enjoined in the word of God, includes the training up of a Child—the bringing him up, or educating him, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; so that Education, in this sense, includes the whole process by which a human being is formed to be what he is, in principles, and habits, and cultivation of every kind. Now, whatever proportion of all this may be in the power of Parents, a smaller still, and that which has much less influence in forming the character, can be directed or acquired by purchased tuition of any kind. Besides, it is, and must be, by far the most valuable part of Education which cannot, by any possibility, be purchased with money. This is one of those beautiful and benign arrangements of Infinite Wisdom, in which “ He regardeth not the rich more than the poor ;” since this species of Education “cannot be gotten for gold, neither can silver be weighed for the price thereof.” Neither can this parental department of Education, by any ingenuity of man, be transferred or undertaken by others; for it will be seen, after every vain expedient, that Parents will, and do, and must here educate their Children. In one word, as neither love, nor friendship, nor wealth, can turn the course of nature, so neither can they relieve Parents, whether rich or poor, from those obligations which God, and nature, and their interests too, alike demand and enjoin. Let not the reader search about for exceptions. Exceptions may and do exist ; but such, after all, is the course of nature, or, in other words, the will of God.
Under these circumstances, let no Parent complain of his limited means of his other occupations or of any disadvantages in his situation,-let him only fix his eye with vigilance on that department of parental training, which is at once unpurchaseable and untransferable. You engage for your Children, and with considerable anxiety, even the best masters in every department, and you do well, and nothing more than is incumbent; but in the business of education, properly so called, they can do but little for you!
Addressing myself, therefore, especially to Parents, I would say—Placed by the all-wise providence of Heaven in such a peculiar situation, it will be well for you to keep
especially in view, what may be denominated, the Education of circumstances, and the Education of the dispositions.
I. THE EDUCATION OF CIRCUMSTANCES.—Let purchased tuition be carried up to the very highest perfection, and let neither money nor wisdom be spared in reaching this height, of such vital importance in the training of Children, is that department to which I now refer, that it can, and, if neglected, will, undermine and undo the whole, as well as render many efforts in educating the disposition altogether abortive. Suffer me to explain my meaning.
In the laudable anxiety of their hearts, two Parents, with a family of infants playing around their feet, are heard to say—“Oh! what will-what can best educate these dear Children ?" I reply-Look to yourselves and your circumstances. Maxims and documents are good in themselves, and especially good for the regulation of your conduct and your behavior towards them; but with regard to your Children, you have yet often to remark, that many maxims are good, precisely till they are tried, or applied, and no longer. In the hands of many Parents they will teach the Children to talk, and very often little more. I do not mean to assert, that sentiments inculcated have no influence; far from it: they have much, though not the most; but still, after all, it is the sentiments you let drop occasionally – it is the conversation they overhear, when playing in the corner of the room, which has more effect than many things which are addressed to them directly in the tone of exhortation. Besides, as to maxims, ever remember, that between those which you bring forward for their use, and those by which you direct your own conduct, Children have almost an intuitive discernment;
and it is by the latter they will be mainly governed, both during childhood and their future existence.
The question, however, returns, What will educate these Children? And now I answer, “ Your example will educate them your conversation with your friends—the business they see you transact—the likings and dislikings you express—these will educate them; the society you live in will educate them—your domestics will educate them; and whatever be your rank or situation in life, your house, your table, and your daily behavior there, these will educate them. To withdraw them from the unceasing and potent influence of these things is impossible, except you were to withdraw yourself from them also. Some Parents talk of beginning the education of their Children: the moment they were capable of forming an idea, their education was already begun,—the Education of circumstances- insensible education, which, like insensible perspiration, is of more constant and powerful effect, and of far more consequence to the habit, than that which is direct and apparent. This education goes on at every instant of time; it goes on like time—you can neither stop it, nor turn its course. Whatever these, then, have a tendency to make your Children, that, in a great degree, you at least should be persuaded, they will be.”
The language, however, occasionally heard from some Fathers, may here not unseasonably be glanced at. They are diffuse in praise of maternal influence; and, pleased at the idea of its power and extent, they will exclaim, “O) yes, there can be doubt of it, that every thing depends on the Mother.” This, however, will be found to spring from a selfish principle, and from anxiety to be relieved from mighty obligations, which, after all, cannot be transferred from the Father's shoulders to those even of a Mother; to say nothing of the unkindness involved in laying upon her a burden, which naturé never intended, and never does. Her influence, as an instrument, indeed, a Husband cannot too highly prize; but let no Father imagine that he can neutralize the influence of his own presence and his own example at home. He cannot if he would, nor can he escape from obligation. The patience and constancy of a Mother are, no doubt, first mainly tried, but then those of the Father. The dispositions in each Parent are fitted by nature for this order in the trial of patience; but, from the destined and appropriate share allotted to each, neither of the two parties, when in health, can relieve the other.
Addressing myself, therefore, to both Parents, I would say, “Contract to its just and proper dimensions the amount of all that purchased Education can do for you, and expect no more from it than it is truly able to perform. It can give instruction. There will always be an essential difference between a human being cultivated and uncultivated. In the department of purchased tuition, you will portion out to the best advantage many of those precious hours of youth which never will return; and such employ. ment will lend you powerful aid in forming those personal habits which lie within the province of parental education; but rest assured, and lay it down to yourselves as a cardinal principle, that the business of education, properly so called, is not transferable. You may engage a master, or masters, as numerous as you please, to instruct your Children in many things, useful and praiseworthy in their own place, but you must, by the order of nature, educate them yourselves. You not only ought to do it, but you will perceive that, if I am correct in what I have stated, and may still advance, you must do it, whether you intend it or not. “ The Parent,” said Cecil, “is not to stand reasoning and calculating. God has said, that his character shall have influence; and so this appointment of Providence becomes often the punishment of a wicked or a careless man." As