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for those idle controversies in which ignorant young folks are too apt to indulge.
As soon as we begin to watch the dawn of reason spreading, we should seize it as a favourable opportunity to guard them against presumption: “You see,” we should exclaim,“that you are much more reasonable and tractable than you were last yearand in the following year you will observe things yet more clearly than you do at present—if, during the last year, you were eager to have passed judgment on things which you now know, and were then ignorant of, you would assuredly have judged wrong. You would therefore have been to blame in offering opinions on subjects above the reach of your intellect. There are, at this moment, many things
which remain for you to know; and you will one day be convinced how imperfect are your present conceptions. Nevertheless, adhere to the counsel of those who judge of things as you yourself would judge, were you gifted with their
As the curiosity of children is a faculty which precedes instruction, we should be careful to make them profit by it. For example, in the country when they see a mill, they wish to know what it is—here, then, you may shew them how that food is prepared which nourishes man. A little further they perceive reapers—and you must explain to them their occupation; how they sow the grain, and how it multiplies in the earth. In the town they see a number of shops, where various trades are exercised, and various merchandize is sold. Never consider their questions as importunate; they are overtures which nature makes to facilitate instruction shew them, therefore, that you take pleasure in these questions—for, by such means, you teach them insensibly how everything is made which conduces to the comfort of man, and extension of commerce. By degrees, and without any particular study, they become acquainted with every article that is useful, and with the price affixed to each, which is, indeed, the true foundation of economy. This kind of knowledge, which no one should despise, because no one is willing to be cheated from the want of it, is particularly necessary for women.
The Danger of Imitation. The ignorance of children, (in whose brain no correct impressions are made,) renders them extremely susceptible, and inclined to imitate every thing they see. It is, therefore, of consequence to set before them none but the
very best models of imitation; and to make them acquainted with those, by whose examples they would be profited in following. But as it happens, in spite of all our precautions, that they occasionally witness many irregularities, we must not fail to warn them betimes against the impertinence of certain foolish and
dissipated people, whose reputation is scarcely worth preserving: we must shew them how truly miserable and deserving of contempt, are those who abandon themselves to passion, without cultivating their reason. One may also give them, , a correct taste, free from affectation, and make them sensible of the true value of modesty and decorum; we must not even abstain from guarding them against probable errors, although by this means we may open their eyes to certain defects in those whom they are taught to respect. We have neither right nor reason to hope that they will remain ignorant on such points, and therefore the best method to pursue, in order to keep them to their duty, is, to persuade them to bear with the faults of others;