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as young people often fall into, either by their own mistake, or the ill conduct of those about them.
He that will examine wherein that gracefulness lies, which always pleases, will find it arises from that natural coherence, which appears between the thing done, and such a temper of mind, as can not but be approved of as suitable to the occasion. We can not but be pleased with an humane, friendly, civil temper, wherever we meet with it. A mind free, and master of itself and all its actions, not low and narrow, not haughty and insolent, not blemished with any great defect, is what every one is taken with. The actions which naturally flow from such a well-formed mind, please us also, as the genuine marks of it, and being as it were, natural emanations from the spirit and disposition within, can not but be easy and unconstrained. This seems to me to be that beauty, which shines through some men's actions, sets off all that they do, and takes with all they come near, when by a constant practice they have fashioned their carriage and made all those little expressions of civility and respect, which nature or custom has established in conversation, so easy to themselves, that they seem not artificial or studied, but naturally to follow from a sweetness of mind and a well-turned disposition.
On the other side, affectation is an awkward and forced imitation of what should be genuine and easy, wanting the beauty that accompanies what is natural; because thero is always a disagreement between the outward action, and the mind within, one of these two ways: 1. Either when a man would outwardly put on a disposition of mind, which then he really has not, but endeavors by a forced carriage to make show of, yet so that the constraint he is under, discovers itself, and thus men affect sometimes to appear sad, merry, or kind, when, in truth, they are not so.
2. The other is, when they do not endeavor to make show of dispositions of mind which they have not, but to express those they have by a carriage not suited to them; and such in conversation are all constrained motions, actions, words or looks which, though designed to show either their respect or civility to the company, or their satisfaction and easiness in it, are not yet natural nor genuine marks of the one or the other, but rather of some defect or mistake within. Imitation of others, without discerning what is graceful in them, or what is peculiar to their characters, often makes a great part of this. But affectation of all kinds, whencesoever it proceeds, is always offensive, because we naturally hate whatever is counterfeit, and condemn those who have nothing better to recommend themselves by.
Plain and rough nature, left to itself, is much better than an artificial ungracefulness, and such studied ways of being ill-fashioned. The want of an accomplishment, or some defect in our behavior, coming short of the utmost gracefulness, often escapes observation and censure. But affectation in any part of our carriage, is lighting up a candle to our defects, and never fails to make us taken notice of, either as wanting sense, or wanting sincerity. This governors ought the more diligently to look after, because, as I have observed, it is an acquired ugliness, owing to mistaken education, few being guilty of it but those who pretend to breeding, and would not be thought ignorant of what is fashionable and becoming in conversation; and, if I mistake not, it has often its rise from the lazy admonitions of those who give rules, and propose examples, without joining practice with their instructions, and making their pupils
repeat the action in their sight, that they may correct what is indecent or constrained in it, till it be perfected into an habitual and becoming easiness.
MANNERS. 61. Manners, as they call it, about which children are so often perplexed, and have so many goodly exhortations made them, by their wise maids and governo esses, I think, are rather to be learned by example than rules; and then chil. dren, if kept out of ill company, will take a pride to behave themselves prettily, after the fashion of others, perceiving themselves esteemed and commended for it. But if by a little negligence in this part, the boy should not put off his hat, nor make legs very gracefully, a dancing-master will cure that defect, and wipe off all that plainness of nature, which the à-la-mode people call clownishness. And since nothing appears to me to give children so much becoming confidence and behavior, and so to raise them to the conversation of those above their age, as dancing, I think they should be taught to dance, as soon as they are capable of learning it. For, though this consist only in outward gracefulness of motion, yet I know not how it gives children manly thoughts and carriage, more than anything. But otherwise I would not have little children much tormented about punctilios, or niceties of breeding.
Never trouble yourself about those faults in them which you know age will cure. And, therefore, want of well-fashioned civility in the carriage, whilst civility is not wanting in the mind, (for there you must take care to plant it early,) should be the parents' least care whilst they are young. If his tender mind be filled with a veneration for his parents and teachers, which consists in love and esteem, and a fear to offend them, and with respect and good-will to all people, that respect will of itself teach those ways of expressing it which he observes most acceptable. Be sure to keep up in him the principles of good. nature and kindness; make them as habitual as you can, by credit and commendation, and the good things accompanying that state, and when they have taken root in his mind, and are settled there by a continued practice, fear not: the ornaments of conversation, and the outside of fashionable manners, will come in their due time, if, when they are removed out of their maid's care, they are put into the hands of a well-bred man to be their governor.
Whilst they are very young, any carelessness is to be borne with in children that carries not with it the marks of pride or ill-nature, but those, whenever they appear in any action, are to be corrected immediately, by the ways abovementioned. What I have said concerning manners, I would not have so understood, as if I meant that those who have the judgment to do it, should not gently fashion the motions and carriage of children when they are very young. It would be of great advantage, if they had people about them from their being first able to go, that had the skill, and would take the right way to do it. That which I complain of is the wrong course that is usually taken in this matter. Children who were never taught any such thing as behavior, are often (especially when strangers are present) chid for having some way or other failed in good manners, and have thereupon reproofs and precepts heaped upon them, concerning putting off their hats, or making of legs, &c. Though in this those concerned pretend to correct the child, yet in truth, for the most part, it is but to cover their own shame, and they lay the blame on the poor little ones, sometimes passionately enough, to divert it from themselves, for fear the bystanders should impute to their want of care and skill the child's ill behavior.
For, as for the children themselves, they are never one jot bettered by such occasional lectures; they at other times should be shown what to do, and by reiterated actions be fashioned before-hand into the practice of what is fit and becoming, and not told, and talked to do upon the spot, what they have never been accustomed to, nor know how to do as they should; to hare and rate them thus at every turn, is not to teach them, but to vex and torment them to no purpose. They should be let alone, rather than chid for a fault, which is none of theirs, nor is in their power to mend for speaking to. And it were much better their natural, childish negligence, or plainness, should be left to the care of riper years, than that they should frequently have rebukes misplaced upon them, which neither do nor can give them graceful motions. If their minds are well disposed, and principled with inward civility, a great part of the roughness which sticks to the outside for want of better teaching, time and observation will rub off, as they grow up, if they are bred in good company; but if in ill, all the rules in the world, all the correction imaginable, will not be able to polish them. For you must take this for a certain truth, that let them have what instructions you will, and ever so learned lectures of breeding daily inculcated into them, that which will most influence their carriage, will be the company they converse with, and the fashion of those about them. Children (nay, and men too,) do most by example. We are all a sort of chameleons, that still take a tincture from things near us; nor is it to be wondered at in children, who better understand what they see than what they hear.
62. I mentioned above, one great mischief that came by servants to children, when by their flatteries they take off the edge and force of the parents' rebukes, and so lessen their authority. And here is another great inconvenience which children receive from the ill examples which they meet with amongst the meaner servants.
They are wholly, if possible, to be kept from such conversation; for the contagion of these ill precedents, both in civility and virtue, horribly infects children, as often as they come within reach of it. They frequently learn, from unbred or debauched servants, such language, untowardly tricks and vices, as otherwise they possibly would be ignorant of all their lives.
63. It is a hard matter wholly to prevent this mischief. You will have very good luck if you never have a clownish or vicious servant, and if from them your children never get any infection. But yet, as much must be done towards it as can be, and the children kept as much as may be in the company of their parents, * and those to whose care they are committed. To this purpose, their being in their presence should be made easy to them; they should be allowed the liberties and freedom suitable to their ages, and not be held under unnecessary restraints, when in their parents' or governor's sight. If it be a prison to them it is no wonder they should not like it. They must not be hindered from being children, or from playing or doing as children, but from doing ill. All other liberty is to be allowed them. Next, to make them in love with the company of their parents, they should receive all their good things there, and from their hands. The servants should be hindered from making court to them, by giving
• How much the Romans thought the education of their children a business that properly belonged to the parents themselves, see in Suetonius, August. sect. 64. Plutarch in vita Ca. tonis Censoris; Diodorus Siculus, 1. 2. chap. 3.
them strong drink, wine, fruit, playthings, and other such matters, which may make them in love with their conversation.
COMPANY.-PUBLIC SCHOOLS. 64. Having named company, I am almost ready to throw away my pen, and trouble you no farther on this subject. For since that does more than all precepts, rules, and instructions, methinks it is almost wholly in vain to make a long discourse of other things, and to talk of that almost to no purpose. For you will be ready to say, “What shall I do with my son? If I keep him always at home, he will be in danger to be my young master; and if I send him abroad, how is it possible to keep him from the contagion of rudeness and vice, which is everywhere so in fashion? In my house he will perhaps be more innocent, but more ignorant too of the world, wanting their change of company, and being used constantly to the same faces, he will, when he comes abroad, be a sheepish or conceited creature."
I confess, both sides have their inconveniences. Being abroad, it is true, will make him bolder, and better able to bustle and shift amongst boys of his own age, and the emulation of school-fellows often puts life and industry into young lads. But till you can find a school, wherein it is possible for the master to look after the manners of his scholars, and can show as great effects of his care of forming their minds to virtue, and their carriage to good breeding, as of forming their tongues to the learned languages, you must confess that you have a strange value for words, when, preferring the languages of the ancient Greeks and Romans to that which made them such brave men, you think it worth while to hazard your son's innocence and virtue, for a little Greek and Latin. For, as for that boldness and spirit, which lads get amongst their play. fellows at school, it has ordinarily such a mixture of rudeness, and an ill-turned confidence, that those misbecoming and disingenuous ways of shifting in the world must be unlearned, and all the tincture washed out again, to make way for better principles, and such manners as make a truly worthy man. He that considers how diametrically opposite the skill of living well, and managing, as a man should do, his affairs in the world, is to that malapertness, tricking, or violence, learnt among school-boys, will think the faults of a privater education infinitely to be preferred to such improvements, and will take care to preserve his child's innocence and modesty at home, as being nearer of kin, and more in the way of those qualities, which make a useful and able man. Nor does any one find, or so much as suspect, that that retirement and bashfulness which their daughters are brought up in, makes them less knowing or less able women. Conversation, when they come into the world, soon gives them a becoming assurance, and whatsoever beyond that, there is of rough and boisterous, may in men be very well spared too; for courage and steadiness, as I take it, lie not in roughness and ill-breeding.
Virtue is harder to be got than a knowledge of the world, and if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered. Sheepishness and ignorance of the world, the faults imputed to a private education, are neither the necessary consequences of being bred at home, nor, if they were, are they incurable evils. Vice is the more stubborn, as well as the more dangerous evil of the two, and therefore, in the first place, to be fenced against. If that sheepish softness, which often ener. vates those who are bred like fondlings at home, be carefully to be avoided, it is principally so for virtue's sake, for fear lest such a yielding temper should be too susceptible of vicious impressions, and expose the novice too easily to be corrupted. A young man before he leaves the shelter of his father's house, and the guard of a tutor, should be fortified with resolution, and made acquainted with men, to secure his virtue, lest he should be led into some ruinous course, or fatal precipice, before he is sufficiently acquainted with the dangers of conversation, and has steadiness enough not to yield to every temptation. Were it not for this, a young man's bashfulness, and ignorance of the world, would not so much need an early care. Conversation would cure it in a great measure, or, if that will not do it early enough, it is only a stronger reason for a good tutor at home. For, if pains be to be taken to give him a manly air and assurance betimes, it is chiefly as a fence to his virtue when he goes into the world, under his own conduct.
It is preposterous, therefore, to sacrifice his innocency to the attaining of confidence, and some little skill of bustling for himself among others, by his conversation with ill-bred and vicious boys, when the chief use of that sturdiness, and standing upon his own legs, is only for the preservation of his virtue. For if confidence or cunning come once to mix with vice, and support his miscarriages, he is only the surer lost, and you must undo again, and strip him of that he has got from his companions, or give him up to ruin. Boys will unavoidably be taught assurance by conversation with men, when they are brought into it, and that is time enough. Modesty and submission, till then, better fits them for instruction, and therefore there needs not any great care to stock them with confidence before-hand. That which requires most time, pains, and assidu. ity, is to work into them the principles and practice of virtue and good breeding. This is the seasoning they should be prepared with, so as not easily to be got out again; this they had need to be well provided with. For conversation, when they come into the world, will add to their knowledge and assurance, but be too apt to take from their virtue, which therefore they ought to be plentifully stored with, and have that tincture sunk deep into them.
How they should be fitted for conversation, and entered into the world, when they are ripe for it, we shall consider in another place. But how any one's being put into a mixed herd of unruly boys, and there learning to wrangle at trap, or rook at span-farthing, fits him for civil conversation, or business, I do not see. And what qualities are ordinarily to be got from such a troop of play. fellows, as schools usually assemble together, from parents of all kinds, that a father should so much covet it, is hard to divine. I am sure, he who is able to be at the charge of a tutor, at home, may there give his son a more genteel car. riage, more manly thoughts, and a sense of what is worthy and becoming, with a greater proficiency in learning into the bargain, and ripen him up sooner into a man, than any at school can do. Not that I blame the schoolmaster in this, or think it to be laid to his charge. The difference is great between two or three pupils in the same house, and three or fourscore boys lodged up and down. For, let the master's industry and skill be ever so great, it is impossible he should have fifty or an hundred scholars under his eye, any longer than they are in the school together; nor can it be expected, that he should instruct them successfully in anything but their books; the forming of their minds and manners requiring a constant attention, and particular application to every single boy, which is impossible in a numerous fock, and would be wholly in vain,