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Influence of the Passions.
a dozen sweet tempered children brought together, diffuse sweetness, and mildness, and love, and cheerfulness, and happiness; but ha!f a dozen ill-tempered ones are very apt to diffuse, with equal rapidity, the elements of discord and misery.
But all this unquiet and unhappiness, which grows out of disobedience, and which prevails among children whether alone or associated, is constantly fretting away life. It has this effect by increasing the action of the heart and arteries, by affecting the nervous system, and according to the doctrines of certain mod ern physiologists—and we believe them to be in the main correct-by deranging the secretions of the system, which deranged secretions react on the body and mind, and feed the same bad disposition and temper and feelings which led to their formation. No disobedient child has his circulatory system, nervous system, digestive system, or secretions in a perfectly healthful state. The machinery may indeed go on; because during infancy and child
ood there is such a tenacity to life, that we cannot at once destroy, though we derange it. The wheel work will continue to run, although it will not run right. There may even be a sort of harmony with itself, as when a clock or watch seems to go right, except that it goes too fast or too slow; but it will not be a natural harmony. If it cannot be considered as disease, it will lead to disease. It prepares the way for disease, at least ; so that whenever the latter comes to make its attacks, nature will be less able to bear up or react, than in those cases where the healthful harmony of the system has been preserved.
We wish to repeat, here, a principle which has been adverted to in the last paragraph ; viz. that the passions and affections influence the character of the bodily secretions. The fact that the saliva of the cat while in anger is somewhat poisonous, may be more generally known ; but that human anger, hatred, grief
, fear, &c., impair or deteriorate the qualities of the saliva, the gastric juice, the bile, &c., and that the opposite and more healthy passions have the contrary effect, is as yet but little known or suspected, except by a few who have made it a subject of study. And yet nothing is of more importance to be known in the education and management of children. We cannot forbear to repeat here—what can never be too often repeatedthat until parents, as well as teachers of every grade, apply themselves with zeal, and as a duty to God, to themselves, and to their children and neighbors, to the study of anatomy, physiology, and the laws of health, the great work of human improvement can make but little permanent progress.
Our views of the importance, and of the salutary physical and moral tendency of obedience, may serve to explain in part, the Examples of the Effects of Disobedience. 507 fact that children in families which are not well governed, are not so healthy or long lived as of those who are properly governed ; why it is, in short, that it is not well' with those who do not honor father and mother; why their days are not so * long on the earth' as those of others; why the wicked, in short, do not live out half their days. For it is not the gluttonous, the intemperate, the licentious, or the suicide alone, that cuts short his days by misconduct, but also the disobedient to parents.
In the first place—and to repeat what we have said elsewhere—there is more of sickness in disobedient than in obedient families, other things being equal ; very much more. We have seldom known a person who was a kind mother, and at the same time a very bad educator, who was not either perpetually dosing her children, or perpetually calling in the aid of the physician. We do not believe such a family-of any considerable number, -can be found. There may be found here and there a family without a mother; that is, under the control of a being who is a devotee of fashion, or wealth, or pleasure, but who is not a true mother. But of those who love their children, and yet do not succeed in making them obedient, we are not acquainted with one who does not either call the physician often, or act the part of the physician herself. Now either of these practices, once habitual, usually has no termination. We are aware that there are other causes which often operate, in the families to which we refer; but we have endeavored, in our observations, to make the proper discrimination.
In the second place, disobedient children, if actually sick, are apt to be worse than other children; nor do they so often get well. There are numerous reasons for this. 1. The same bad passions which rage uncontrolled when they are well, are apt to be excited during sickness, with consequences still more unhappy. Neither the effects of the functions of the body, nor of the medicine which is taken, nor indeed of the reaction or rallying of the vital powers, can be at all calculated upon, where the mind is so unquiet. 2. Disobedient children do not often take medicine as the physician directs. The parents cannot always induce them to take it, even with all their flattering, and artifice, and falsehood. The latter, indeed—the assurance that it is good, -only leads them to suspect it still more than before, and to resist with still more firmness. And as for compulsion, that, with such parents, is very seldom resorted to. 3. Medicine, when taken in such circumstances, does far less good. To be most useful, it must be taken regularly and cheerfully, if not with confidence or faith in its efficacy. Indeed, the least departure from the physician's prescriptions, either by omitting a
The Infirmities of Age.
dose, or in any other way, may not only defeat his whole purpose, but render what is actually taken injurious.
Thirdly ; disobedient children, if they get well, do not recover in so happy a manner as other children. On this point the community are almost universally in error. Few seem to have the least idea that a person, whether an adult or a child, can get well too soon, or in an improper manner. They seem generally to suppose that the quickest recovery is the best, let the means used be what they may; and he is esteemed the best physician whose cures are most rapid. Whereas, if any general rule were universally applicable, it would be that the slowest cures are best. Rapid cures by aid of powerful medicine, are often accomplished at very great expense of the powers of life, to say nothing of the seeds of other diseases which are sown. And thus it is that disobedient children may not recover in the best manner.
One of two courses should be taken with children who are sick-we might indeed say with all persons who are sick-either to trust the disease wholly to nature and good nursing, or to follow implicitly the directions of the physician. Any other course is more or less unsafe, and will be attended sooner or later with injurious effects. But neither of these courses is adopted in the case of disobedient children. The kind parents who do not govern a child, would never trust the cure to nature, in a country where physicians are as abundant, as they are among us ; nor do they even follow implicitly the physician's orders. The consequence is that the child either dies, or as the result of possessing a constitution naturally firm, recovers in spite of his half treatment; but recovers with his constitution impaired. Either certain parts or organs are left greatly weakened, or the seeds of new diseases are sown in some other way, to spring up at a future time, when a new cause of disease is applied, or when an accumulation of old causes seems to render an explosion necessary.
But in the fourth and last place, disobedient children, if they live on to middle age, or even to old age, are more burdened with infirmities than children who are obedient. This is indeed little else than a repetition of the statements of the last paragraph. These infirmities, as they are called, of old age, are almost universally the punishment of former errors, either of sickness or health.' They are precisely that germination and growth which from the seeds sown, either ignorantly or voluntarily, should have been expected. The truth is, we seldom witness any thing which is worthy of being dignified with the honorable name of old age. What we call age is a state of premature The Secret of Good Government.
decrepitude—a mass of punishments justly due to our sinswhich being attached to the oldest persons we have among us, is, for want of a better name, regarded as old age. But the old age of obedient children is a greener, more juvenile old age, and far more free from what are called infirmities, than the so called old
age of those who never learned nor practised this virtue. Seldom, however, after all, is the disobedient child found to attain anything which approximates to old age. His ungoverned temper, and its terrible consequences, invite or aggravate diseases of various kinds, which sweep him away at least by fifty, usually much sooner. Nothing perhaps which could be named, except intemperance and impurity, has a more direct agency in fulfilling the prediction that the wicked shall not, that is, will not, live out half his days, than disobedience. Parents and teachers, hear this, and consider; for it is an important, nay, a solemn subject. Hear it, and tremble, for it is for your lives and the lives of the children God has given you
NO ROYAL ROAD, IN DISCIPLINE.
For myself, I have long been convinced that there is no royal road in discipline, either of the school or the family. Much, I know, has been said within a few years of methods of instruction and discipline. Some are for using the rod, but using it early. Some are for using it only at a very late period. Some never use it. Some succeed by the mere force of moral suasion; some by means in a greater or less degree mercenary; some by the excitements of emulation and ambition, some by the voice of stern authority, and some by two or three or four of these, combined. And it is notorious to every close and unprejudiced observer that children are, in many instances, very well governed on every one of those several plans—dissimilar as they may be to each other. Yet the advocates of nearly all of these plans gravely tell us, in turn, that theirs is the only true method.
How happens all this? Whence is it that success, or a tolerable share of it, is obtained in such a diversity of ways? Can they be all right—all better than every other?
The secret is as follows. A tolerable degree of success may be attained by various means, provided we are perseveringly consistent in their use. Perhaps there is
Perhaps there is no one thing of more importance in governing, than consistency. If a parent or a teacher govern himself, and pursue a steady, uniform course, suc
cess may be attained, as I have just said, by many and various roads.—I do not mean, by this, that there is no difference at all, in the various courses which, as individuals, we pursue ; but only that it is very far from being indispensable to a high degree of success that we all travel precisely the same road.
I have a case at hand which will illustrate the position I have taken. Miss P., a worthy lady of about 30, took up from the streets a destitute little boy about six years of age, and out of mere compassion, kept him under her care till she had clothed him. Then she tried to find a place for him; but not being successful, and unwilling to turn him again into the streets, she was obliged to retain him ;-however contrary it was to her original intention.
But Egbert-for that was the lad's name—had been too long neglected and ungoverned to be rendered manageable by the lady at once. When I say he had been neglected, I do not mean to say that he had been permitted to run in the woods, absolutely, like Peter the wild boy. He had been in several families, though he had not, for many years, been under the vigilant eye of a parent. He had been ordered about, and sometimes scolded or beaten; but never governed.
Miss P. soon found, in him, a habit of insubordination, that was not only insupportable to others, but which, if not checked, would prove ruinous to himself. The care of a child bad never before devolved upon her; but a good fund of common sensethe best sort of sense—taught her that he must be made to obey. So she went to work, in her own way; giving him rules when necessary; and when she saw they were disregarded, annexing penalties to them.
It happened, however, that she was surrounded, both in the family and in the neighborhood, by a number of that class of people—subjects of single blessedness-whose children are always well governed; and who have ever at hand, a royal road for others to travel with similar success. Egbert must not be whipped, it was so barbarous! Oh, no! He must be persuaded-flattered.-There was no need-oh, no!-of ever whipping rational beings.-It was so degrading, too; and had such an effect on the character! It was far better to let a child go unpunished and obstinate, than to inflict corporal punishmentso barbarous a measure—in this wonder working day of knowledge and improvement !
All this sounded well in the ears of Miss P., and for some time she was prevailed upon to yield to the flood of new light which came in upon her from all quarters. His teacher in the day school where he attended, was one of the new lights in ed