Page images

One may

himself. One could boast on his death-bed that he never told a lie. *

The confirmed and inveterate liar is almost hopeless. He must be relegated to the hospital for moral incurables, with whom God alone can deal; but much may be done to check and even to cure incipient untruthfulness. First of all children should be cautioned against what may be called tinged truth. convey facts not falsely and yet not truly. The bad telescope presents an object with coloured fringes, and these correspond to the hue which an untruthful mind imparts to facts. Some glide into a habit of misrepresenting, a most dangerous habit, which deceives others first, and themselves last and most of all. If they have done something amiss, they will misrepresent the actual state of affairs; they will misplace facts; they will make out that some caprice of their own was an absolute necessity; they will assert that some suggestion of their own was the express wish of others; and thus by transposition of facts, by amalgamation of truth with fiction, and by a glaring colouring, they silence without satisfying. Such characters can scarcely hope to form an acquaintance with the guileless Nathaniel in the other world.

To pass on to another species of untruthfulness. How painful it is to be in the company of one, who serves up all his narratives with the sauce of exaggeration! Such an experience should lead teachers to guard children betimes against magnifying speech. Impress upon them that they will not succeed by merely disusing superlatives; but go deeper than words-go to the heart; teach them to cultivate a sober mind, and then will follow sober words.

* Mungo Park tells how an African herdsman was fatally wounded, and as he was being carried to his hut, his disconsolate mother walked on before, quite frantic with grief, clapping her hands and crying : “He never told a lie, no, never !”

Another danger which besets the young is rashness. They should be warned not to assert positively, especially when their inward consciousness refuses to endorse the statement. Teach them that certainly they will not always escape conviction. The rash speaker generally loses the confidence of others, and is liable to be put in the stocks of shame and confusion. “ Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him.”

The rashness which deals so confidently with the past is quite as ready to deal with the future. Now facility has ever something dangerous about it, and it is perilous in promise-making. It promises easily, but it forgets easily. If promises were made of glass, as the proverb alleges, a vast quantity of that broken material would be found accumulated at the door of the rash promiser.

Straightforwardness. He is a poor educationist who has not imbued children with this principle from their earliest years. Even boys should be taught to quit themselves like men, and to walk erect and upright in their integrity. Show them that, however artful and subtle a wicked man may be, he has to walk through life stooping, like an ourang-outang; and that the true alone are upright. Explain to them how men who leave off integrity are obliged to make moral commutationsappearance for reality, shrewdness for prudence, protestation for fidelity, and ostentation for liberality. Comparing all this trouble with the easiness of uprightness, the inference might be suggested that the hypocrite is not only a rogue, but a fool, and that there are no brains in a mask. This should be the more plainly asserted, because some pride themselves on shrewdness, and cunning, and ambi-dexterity, as if these were identical with acuteness and sagacity. Certainly equivocation is not one of the highest or noblest faculties. It is only to reptiles that God has given the power of changing colour in order to enable them to elude the vigilance of their enemies.

Very careful should we be in training the young how to deal with their fellows. We should show them how one may gain his end, in so many different ways, by reason, by flattery, by importunity, by interest, by ridicule, by alarm; and then teach them to take “ the more excellent way.”

In education nothing should be more rigidly excluded than pretence-all should be natural, nothing artificial. Jean Paul speaks of children," on whom, as on doves and canaries, false colours are painted by governesses, as well as by tutors, which the first rain or moulting removes.' The image is true as to the false colouring, but does it hold good as to the easy removal ?

One might say a word here to clergymen and ministers, who are great educationists. By requiring too high a standard of profession from communicants they are apt

[ocr errors]

“Levana,” p. 18.

to engender hypocrisy. The young Christian imagines that he must be perfect, and striving to maintain that profession becomes disingenuous, rather clokes than confesses a fault, and, hearing the lapses of the brethren instanced as proofs of insincerity, becomes a hypocrite in order to avoid the charge of hypocrisy. Where a man's creed is too high, he must either openly come short of it, or appear to reach it by standing on the tiptoe of pretence. The natural effect of subscription at Oxford from undergraduates has been to foster unreality. Bentham, from whom this requirement was made at the early age of twelve, declared that it left a stain upon his conscience which was never effaced in after-life, and with this feeling he dissuaded the late illustrious Marquis of Lansdowne from coming to Oxford, on the ground that it was a nest of perjury.* When we consider how incompetent young men are to understand abstruse doctrines, and yet that they have been obliged to declare their assent to them, on the pain of forfeiting University privileges, the system seems only a little less absurd than the scheme of the African chief Sechele, who offered to make all his men believe together by thrashing them with whips of rhinoceros hide.t

Steadfastness.-One can scarcely begin too soon to train the young in steadfastness and decision of character. Where hesitation and indecision are allowed to creep over the character, how helpless and unpractical the man becomes ! Resolutions in the mind of the un

* Dean Stanley's “ Essays on Church and State," p. 165.
+ Dr. Livingstone's Missionary Travels,” p. 17.


stable man are like birds dead in the shell; their womb is likewise their grave.

Where the moral character is defective, talent and even genius is terribly insecure. The clever man runs along on the wheels of glowing talents; but if the axletree of character is weak, he may at any moment break down irretrievably. There is no guarantee for steadfastness, unless in earnest religious and moral education.

A wise teacher will not overlook the discipline of failure. When a youth is puffed up with the pride and vanity of success, he provokes God to send him failurethat medicine which he most of all needs and yet dislikes. And, though such a man may be very ingenious in proving to himself that it was not he that failed, but some other person or thing that interrupted his success, yet he will feel humbled, nevertheless, in some degree; and he may now under judicious counsel discover what perhaps he never once thought of before —that some rival, or some report, or some desertion, is more than he can overcome, and therefore superior to him.

Purity.—Children take a dye as readily as wool; but who can restore the wool to its original whiteness, and who can restore youth to its original innocence? This question suggests the wisdom of commencing education when the child is still comparatively pure and good. Even then it needs the cleansing grace of God. The cloth must first be fulled before it takes on the beautiful dyes. Let children be kindly guarded, not watched ; let them be well and happily occupied ; let them have a horror of what is low, and let them not be exposed to allure

« PreviousContinue »