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The Infant System by Samuel Wilderspin

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remove some well founded objections, which, but for this reason, would
not have existed. The infant mind, like a tender plant, requires to
be handled and dealt with carefully, for if it be forced and
injudiciously treated during the first seven years of its existence,
it will affect its whole constitution as long as it lives afterwards.
There are hundreds of persons who will not believe this, and those
persons will employ mere boys and girls to teach infants. Let them do
so if they please; I simply protest against it, and merely give it as
my opinion that it is highly improper to do so. If ever infant schools
are to become real blessings to the country, they must be placed under
the care of wise, discreet, and experienced persons, for no others
will be fit or able to develop and cultivate the infant faculties
aright. I have felt it necessary to make these remarks, because in
different parts of the country I have found mere children employed as
school-masters and school-mistresses, to the great detriment of the
young committed to their charge, and the dishonour of the country that
permits it. No wise man would put a mere child to break his colts;
none but a foolish one would employ an inexperienced boy to break in
his dogs; even the poultry and pigs would be attended by a person who
knew something about them; but almost any creature who can read and
write, and is acquainted with the first rules of arithmetic, is too
frequently thought a fit and proper person to superintend infants. I
know many instances of discarded servants totally unfit, made teachers
of infants, merely to put them in place; to the destruction of the
highest and most noble of God's creatures! which I contend infants
are. To expect that such persons can give gallery lessons as they
ought to be given, is expecting what will never, nor can take place.
The public must possess different views of the subject; more rational
ideas on the art of teaching must be entertained, and greater
remuneration must be given to teachers, and greater efforts made to
train and educate them, to fit them for the office, before any very
beneficial results can be seen; and it is to produce such results, and
a better tone of feeling on the subject, that I have thus ventured to
give my opinion more in detail. Efficient gallery lessons--efficient
teachers must be made. They do not at present exist in large numbers,
and can only be made by a suitable reward being held out to them, and
by their being placed under the superintendence of experienced persons
acquainted with the art. The art of teaching is no mean art, and must,
sooner or later, take its proper rank amongst the other sciences.
It is a science which requires deep study and knowledge of human
character, and is only to be learned like all other sciences, by much
perseverance and practice. In another work, on the education of older
children, I have given some specimens of gallery lessons; in this I
shall endeavour to give a few specimens of what I think useful lessons
for infants, and shall also try to clothe them in language suited to
the infant apprehensions; and I sincerely hope they may shew in a
plain manner the method of giving this species of instruction to the
children, and that teachers who were before ignorant of it, may be
benefitted thereby. I shall not pretend to give my opinion as to
whether I have succeeded, but will leave this point entirely to the
judgment and candour of my readers; for I know by experience that it
is a very difficult thing to put practice into theory; and although
this may seem paradoxical, yet I have no doubt that many have
experienced the very same results when trying to explain theoretically
on paper what they have with ease practised a thousand times.

These oral lessons on real objects ought to be given in pure, simple,
and plain language, level to the understanding and capacity of
children. It may be well at times to use words of a more difficult
or scientific character; but these should always have the proper
explanation given; the words used most frequently in common life, in
ordinary and proper conversation, ought to be most strongly impressed
on their memories. It may, perhaps, be retorted on me--why then teach
the difficult and scientific names of geometrical figures. The answer
is very simple. Most of them have no other, and where they have I
always give them also, as sloping, slanting, inclined, for oblique.
The geometrical figures are the elements of all forms, and the
simplest objects which can be presented to the young. I have found
them always learned with the greatest ease and pleasure. Pestalozzi, I
have understood, was led to the use of them by observing the wants
of the young mind, in a similar manner that I was myself. This is,
therefore, one of the many coincidences in thought and discovery by
minds wholly independent of each other, which have been directed to
the same subjects. This is an evitable result. If two men look at the
moon, both must see that it is round, bright, and mottled; and if
two minds far apart, turn their attention to similar subjects, the
probability is that their views will coincide. The most powerful mind
will of course make the deepest and simplest discovery.

Object lessons should be given chiefly on such things as fall under
more constant observation and are daily coming before the sight, and
then useful knowledge will be accumulated, and frequently reimpressed
upon the memory by the seeing of the objects.


We will suppose the children all properly seated, the little girls
on one side of the gallery and the little boys on the other, as
represented on the plan-plate. If the morning is fine and clear, a
lesson may be given on an object that the children are not frequently
in the habit of seeing; but should the weather be hazy, and the
atmosphere heavy, then a lesson must be given on some object which
they all frequently see, say, for example, a feather. The feather must
be held up in the hand, or placed in a small niche on the top of a
pointer, so that every child will see it, and it must be moved about
in various directions to arrest their attention. The first lesson
should be pure development, which is to get every idea from the
children relative to the object before you. Explain to them yours; as
for example,

"What is this?" The universal shout will be, "A feather." You may then
ask them, What are its uses? Some little creatures will say, to blow
about; others will say, to cover birds; others will say, to stuff
pillows and beds to sleep upon. Having got all the information out of
them you can in their own simple language, you have acted according to
nature's law, and it is now your turn to infuse additional information
into their minds, and, give them the benefit of your superior
knowledge; which may be done as follows:--You have told me that
feathers are useful to cover birds, it was for this that they were
made by God; they keep the birds warm just in the same way as your
clothes keep you from being cold; and as the poor birds cannot make
themselves clothes as men can, God has given them feathers that they
may not be cold when the bad weather comes. The feathers are useful to
the birds also in flying; the long feathers in a bird's wing keep him
in the air, which he could not fly through if he was covered with
any thing else, because feathers are very light. Seven of the large
feathers out of the great eagle's wing would not weigh more than two
halfpennies. The wings of a bird make him able to fly, and the tail
guides him through the air, just as you may see the men steer boats
with the rudder; and if you pulled the feathers off his tail, he would
not be able to fly near so straight or fast as when they are on. When
the rain falls on the feathers, they are never soaked through with it
as a piece of rag would be if you threw water on it, because they are
covered with a sort of oil which does not let in the water. If you
ever look at a duck dive into the water, you can see it when it comes
up quite dry; but if you dipped you head into the water it would wet
it all over. When little birds, such as the sparrow and canary, come
out of the egg, they have no feathers on, but the old ones cover them
with their wings to keep the cold away, and the feathers soon
grow, and then they can fly away and find food and make nests for
themselves; but large birds, such as the goose, turkey, hen, and duck,
have a sort of soft down on them when they come out of the shell,
and little ducks will go and swim as soon as they are hatched, as I
suppose some of you have seen.

Some birds' feathers are much prettier than others: the goose has not
such pretty feathers as the swan, nor the swan as the peacock; but we
must not think ill of the goose for this, for its flesh is better to
eat than either the peacock or swan. I am sure many of you little
children like roast goose. The peacock has very pretty feathers
indeed, and so has the pheasant, and the drake, and the cock; but some
birds that live in countries many hundred miles away from this, have
much prettier than any bird that lives in this country. This feather
that we have for our lesson is the feather of a goose; it is not very
pretty, but if we examine it well we shall find it is very curious,
and all the men in the world could not make one like it. Goose
feathers are the most useful; the small ones make stuffing for pillows
and beds, and the large ones make pens to write with. Birds change
their feathers often; they drop off and they get new ones; this is
called moulting.

Having thus given the children as much information on the subject as
they will be likely to be able to digest properly, you may then get it
back from them by question and answer; as for instance

Q. What have we been talking about? A. Birds' feathers. Q. Do they do
the birds any good? A. Yes, keep them warm. Q. What more good? A. Make
them able to fly. Q. Who gives the birds feathers to make them warm?
A. God. Q. Are feathers very heavy? A. No, very light. Q. What is the
reason that they are very light? A. That they may fly easily. Q. What
part of the body does a bird fly with? A. Its wings. Q. Is no other
part useful in flying? A. Yes. Q. Do you remember what part? A. Its
tail. Q. Of what use is its tail? A. To guide it. Q. What do you mean
by guiding it? A. Turning it any way it wants to go. Q. What is the
reason that birds' feathers do not get all full of wet when the rain
falls on them? A. Because there is an oily juice that makes the rain
fall off. Q. When little birds, such as sparrows and robins, come out
of the eggs, have they got feathers? A. No, they are naked. Q. Are
they very long naked? A. No, in a few days the feathers grow. Q. Is it
not curious that the cold does not kill the little birds while they
are naked? A. So it would, only the old ones sit over them and keep
them warm. Q. Are ducks and turkeys and hens naked when the come out
of the shell? A. No. Q. What are they covered with? A. A sort of down.
Q. Do you know of any bird that has very pretty feathers? A. Yes, the
peacock. Q. Is it prettier than the goose? A. Yes. Q. Is it so useful?
A. No. Q. What do the goose feathers make? A. The feathers in the
quill make pelts? Q. What do the small ones make? A. They make
stuffing for pillows and beds. Q. Where do the prettiest birds live?
A. In very warm places, far away from this. Q. Do the same feathers
always remain on a bird? A. No, they drop off, and new ones come. Q.
What is this called? A. Moulting.

Such lessons as this will never be forgotten by the little ones. They
will learn to adore the great God at the sight of any thing he has
made. It is hoped they learn to love to read Nature's book when they
grow older, as every correct notion obtained by a child, through a
natural object, which it is frequently accustomed to meet with, can
never be entirely effaced; and what is more, it prepares the way,
at some future time, for a larger amount of knowledge as to God's
revealed will.

A spider, a living specimen of which may be easily procured, may be
made a very instructive gallery lesson; it may prevent the fears and
foolish prejudices against ugly yet harmless insects, which often
remain through life. Part of a bush may be procured with a real web
and spider upon it, so that its beautiful and highly curious web may
be also exhibited to the children, its uses may be also pointed out,
and a short history of the little animal's habits may be given, but
not before their opinions have been taken on the object, which may be
done in a similar manner as that which we pointed out in the former
lesson, and then the teacher may proceed thus:

You have told me that this little creature is called a spider, and
some of you think it very ugly, and say you are afraid of it, but
sensible children will not be frightened at a spider, because they
will remember that they are very harmless little things, and have not
got a sting as the wasp and bee have. They are very ugly, to be sure,
but every ugly insect is not to be called a nasty creature, for some
are very useful, notwithstanding their not being as handsome as
others; and spiders are very useful too, although very few people know
how to make use of them; but they little think that the poor little
insect which they brush off the wall, and trample under their feet,
can tell them what weather they are going to have, as sure, and surer
than a weather-glass. When the weather is going to be fine it peeps
its head out of its hole, and stretches out its legs; and the farther
its legs and head are out, the longer will the fine weather stay. When
the weather is going to be very bad it goes farther back; and when
very dreadful and stormy weather is going to come, it turns its back
to the door of its hole and its head inside. In winter, when frost and
snow is going to commence, they make their webs very fast, and by this
you may know the frosty weather is coming; so you see, children, that
spiders may be useful to know what kind of weather we shall have.

Spiders are very cunning; they live on flies; but they could never
catch them, only they are able to weave a strong web, which they do in
a place where the flies often come; and when a poor fly gets into the
web, the spider runs out and soon kills it, and then drags it up to
his den, where he eats it at his ease, and hides the wings and skin,
that the other flies may not see them; but if an enemy stronger than
itself comes to his web, the spider remains in his hole till the
danger is all over. Some spiders that live in countries far away are a
great deal larger and uglier than our spiders; but we need not be ever
afraid of a spider, because they can neither bite nor sting us, and
are very curious insects. Q. What have I been telling you about? A.
The spider. Q. Are you afraid of it? A. No, you told us it would do
us no harm. Q. Are spiders very ugly? A. They are. Q. Should we think
badly of them for this? A. No. Q. Who made the spider? A. God. Q. Does
he not make every animal, whether handsome or ugly? A. Yes. Q. Can
spiders be of use? A. They will tell us what weather we are going to
have. Q. When it is going to be fine what do they do? A. They put
their legs and head out of their hole. Q. When it is going to be bad
weather what do they do? A. They turn their heads round and go into
their holes. Q. When the weather is going to be very cold and frosty
what do they do? A. They build their webs very fast. Q. What do they
live upon? A. Flies. Q. How do they catch them? A. By making webs. Q.
When a fly gets into their web what do they do? A. They kill it and
eat it. Q. Are the spiders in other countries larger than ours? A.
Yes, in some places they are much larger and uglier. Q. Who teaches
the spider to make its web? A. God. Q. Could any man in the world make
a spider's web? A. No, no one could do it.

The teacher may then add thus:--Thus you see, little children, that
every living thing has some merit of its own, and can do many things
which we cannot do, although God has given us the means to become so
much wiser than they; and be sure you are not frightened at them, nor
put them to unnecessary pain. Some other day I will tell you what is
the shape of the spider's web, and shew you what a number of regular
figures the spider's web is composed of.

Almost every object, however simple it may be, will form an
instructive gallery lesson; thus for example, you may take a piece of
bog-turf, and after submitting it to the inspection of the infants,
you may inquire, What is this? If it be in a country where turf is
used, a general exclamation will inform you of its name; if not, you
may find a better and more familiar object for your lesson. When you
have got the name, you may then ask its uses, and will soon find that
the children are well acquainted with them. You may then proceed
to give your own information on the subject in something like the
following words, taking care that you use no word that the children do
not themselves understand, or that you have not explained to them.

Little children, look at what I hold. You have told me it is a piece
of bog-turf, and it is used to make fires. In Ireland turf is more
used to make fires than coal, because it is very plentiful there, and
many of the poor people in Ireland build their houses of it, and
when they keep them well mended and covered, they are very warm and
comfortable, and they burn good turf fires in their turf houses; but
some of them are lazy, and do not keep their turf houses mended, so
the rain comes in, and they are very miserable, and so will all idle
lazy people be. I hope no little child here will be lazy, Now I will
tell you where they get all this turf, they dig it out of the bogs.
There are bogs in England; they call them mosses or fens, and in
Scotland there are bogs, but the bogs in Ireland are much more
plentiful. Some of them are so very large that you cannot see across
them, and a great many birds live amongst them, such as wild ducks,
and geese, and cranes, and herons, and snipe, all of which I will tell
you about some other time. Those great bogs are very wild, lonesome,
dreary places; no person can live on them, because they are so wet and
soft, and they are full of great deep holes with water in them, which
are called bog holes, and if any person fell in they would be drowned.
Sometimes in the middle of this great bog you will see a pretty green
island, where the land is firm and strong, and the grass is nice and
sweet, so that the poor people make a dry path across the wet bog to
these islands, that they may drive their cows, and goats, and horses
to feed there; and some of these islands are very pretty places, and
look so green in the centre of the black bog. Those bogs which are now
such wet, black, nasty places, were once forests of great trees, as
large as any you children ever saw, and pretty bright rivers ran
through those forests, and nice birds sang in the branches, and great
stags eat the grass underneath; we will read about the stag at some
other time. This was many hundred years ago, and there were very few
people living then in Ireland, and by degrees, when the trees got very
old, they began to fall down into the rivers and stopped them up, so
that the water could not flow on, and the rivers overflowed all the
nice forests, and the trees all fell, so that when some hundred years
passed they were all down, and the branches rotted, and the grass and
clay became wet, like sponge, and the whole of the nice shady forests
of great trees became what we call bogs, and the remains of those
pretty branches and leaves, where the birds used to sing so sweetly,
has become turf, like this piece which we have for a lesson; and when
men are cutting this turf out, they often find the great trunks of
those trees, that many hundred years ago were so green and beautiful,
quite black and ugly, but still so hard that they can scarcely be cut,
and these old trees are called bog-oak, and the cabinet-maker buys
them and makes them into beautiful chairs, and tables, and presses,
and many other things, and they are quite black, and when polished you
little children might see your faces in them. Thus you see, my little
children, that there is nothing which God has made which is not very
wonderful and curious, even this piece of bog-turf, which you would
not have heard about if you did not come to the infant school to learn
about so many useful and curious things.

This will perhaps be enough of information for one lesson; and having
thus infused it in an agreeable form into their minds, you may proceed
in the manner before mentioned to get it back from them, in order to
impress it more firmly on their understandings; and if this be always
done in the proper manner, they will become as familiar with the
subject, and learn it as quickly as they would the tissue of nonsense
contained in the common nursery tales of "Jack and Jill," or, "the old
woman and her silver penny," whose only usefulness consists in their
ability to amuse, but from which no instruction can be possibly drawn;
beside which, they form in the child's mind the germ of that passion
for light reading which afterwards, in many instances, prevents an
application to any thing solid or instructive. Being in themselves the
foundation stone on which a huge and useless mass of fiction is piled
in after years, the philosophical mind will at once perceive the
advantage of our system of amusement mingled with instruction,
and perceive that upon its simple basis a noble structure may be
afterwards raised; and minds well stored with useful lore, and
capable of discerning evil in whatever shape it presents itself, and
extracting honey from every object, will be farmed, which, when they
become numerous, will cause a glorious change in the moral world, the
first germ of which will be traced to the properly managed gallery
lessons of an infant school. Having asked the children if they are
tired, the teacher, if he receives an answer in the negative, may thus

Q. What have we been hearing about? A. Turf. Q. What is the use of
turf? A. To make fires. Q. What other use is sometimes made of it? A.
To build houses. Q. Where do they build turf houses? A. In Ireland. Q.
Are they not very cold? Q. No; if they are kept mended, they are not.
Q. What do you call people, when they like to sleep in the cold rather
than mend their houses? A. Lazy. Q. Is it bad to be lazy? A. Yes; very
bad. Q. What do we call it besides being lazy? Q. Being idle. Q. Are
idle people very happy? A. No; they are always miserable. Q. Right;
and I hope no little children will be ever idle; they should always
try to be useful, and do all they can to help their friends. Now tell
me, where is the turf got From? A. From bogs. Q. What are they called
in England? A. Mosses and fens. Q. Are the bogs in England larger than
in Ireland? A. No; the Irish bogs are the largest. Q. What animals
live in the bogs? A. Some sorts of birds. Q. Do men and women live in
them? A. No. Q. Why not? A. They are too wet and soft. Q. What very
dangerous places are in some parts of them? A. Bog-holes. Q. What are
they? A. Deep holes full of water. Q. What did I tell you were in some
parts of these bogs? A. Nice green islands. Q. Are they of any use? A.
Yes; the people put cows and horses to feed on them. Q. How do they
get across the bog? A. They make a kind of rough road over to them. Q.
What do they cut the turf with? A. A sort of spade with two sides. Q.
What is this called? A. A Slane. Q. When the turf is cut, what do they
do next? A. Put it in heaps to dry. Q. What were those great bogs many
hundred years ago? A. Beautiful forests of fine large trees. Q. What
flowed through those forests? A. Nice bright rivers. Q. What sang in
the trees? A. Pretty birds. Q. What eat the grass? A. Fine large stags
and deer. Q. How did those beautiful places become ugly black wet
bogs? A. The trees, when they got old, fell into the rivers and
stopped them up. Q. What did this cause? A. The water flowed over the
banks. Q. What harm did this do? A. It made all the nice grass wet and
marshy. Q. What more? A. It rotted the roots of the trees. Q. What
happened then? A. They all fell down. Q. In some hundred years, what
did all those forests become? A. Great bogs. Q. Are any of the trunks
or bodies of those old trees ever found? A. Yes; many hundreds are yet
far under the bogs. Q. Are they of any use? A. Yes; they are useful to
make chairs, tables, and presses. Q. What colour are they? A. As black
as a piece of coal. Q. When they are polished, do they look nice? A.
Yes; so bright you can see your face in them. Q. What is this wood
called? A. Bog-oak. Q. Will you all try to remember this lesson? A.
We will. Teacher. That is right; for little children should always
remember the pretty things that their teacher takes such trouble to
tell them.

In places where coal is most burned, a piece of it may be made the
medium of a very useful and instructive lesson, being so familiar an
object, their attention will be arrested by its being made the subject
of a lesson; and their curiosity aroused to know every thing about
it. When the teacher asks what is this, the simultaneous shout, of
"a piece of coal," will convince him that he has arrested their
attention; and a few questions will exhaust their stock of information
on the subject--they will tell him its uses are to make fires to boil
up their dinners, &c. &c. He may then proceed as follows:--You see,
little children, this piece of coal; look at it attentively; it is
black and shining; and you all know will burn very quickly. The places
from whence all coal is brought are called _coal mines_; the men who
dig it out of the ground, and the ships that carry it over the sea,
are called colliers, and the place where the coals are got is called
a colliery. The coal mines are deep holes made very far under the
ground, in order to get at the coal; some of them go under the sea.
The colliers live a great part of their life, in those dark holes,
in order to get us coal to make us fires to dress our food, and very
often are killed, either by the falling in of the roof from above, or
from a sort of air called fire-damp, which, if touched with any fire,
will blow up like gunpowder, and will kill any person that is near it;
the poor colliers are also often smothered by the bad air that is in
those damp, dark holes; so you see, little children, what dangers they
go through, in order to get us coal, which we could very badly do

How very good God is to us; he made this coal under the earth that we
might have nice fires to dress our food, and warm ourselves by in
cold weather; we should be very thankful to him for all his great
blessings, and should never do anything to make him angry with us; he
is very sorry when he sees a little child naughty, because he has done
every thing to make us happy, and we never can be so if we are naughty
and bad. Bad boys and girls are never happy, and God does not love
them when they are so, and it is very sad to make God angry with us.

Coal is very useful for other things besides making fires to dress our
food, and to warm us. Many things that are very useful could not be
made without it. The gas that lights the streets is made from coal,
and when the gas is taken from it what is left is called coke, which
makes a very bright warm fire.

The teacher that properly enters into the spirit of these lessons, may
find in the simplest objects, a never-ending source of pleasure and
instruction for his infant pupils. No person who is not qualified to
give proper and really useful gallery lessons is by any means fit for
a teacher of infants; to learn the mere routine of an infant school is
not very difficult, but this will be of no avail if the teacher have
not qualifications of a much higher order, which will enable him
continually to pour instruction clothed in simple language, into
the minds of his pupils; simplicity is the life and soul of gallery
teaching; without this, the breath is wasted, and time is spent in
vain. To teach infants we must reduce our language to their tender
capacities, and become, in idea and words, one of themselves. Having
given the children your information on a piece of coal, you now
proceed to get it back, as follows

Q. Little children, what have we been speaking about? A. About coal.
Q. What colour is it? A. Black. Q. Is it anything besides? A. Yes;
shining. Q. What are the places called from whence coal is got? A.
Coal-mines. Q. What are the men that dig it out of the ground and the
ships that carry it over the sea called? A. Colliers. Q. What is the
place called where the coal pits are made? A. A colliery. Q. What are
coal pits? A. Deep holes dug to get at the coal. Q. Are the colliers
in danger down in these deep pits? A. They are. Q. From what? A.
From fire-damp? Q. What is it? A. A sort of air that blows up like
gun-powder. Q. From what more are they in danger? A. The roofs falling
in. Q. From what more? A. From bad air which often smothers them. Q.
What is made from coal to light the streets? A. Gas. Q. What is coal
called after the gas has been taken from it? A. Coke. Q. Does coke
make a good fire? A. Yes; very bright and strong. Q. Who made the
coal? A. God. Q. What should we be to him for it? A. Very thankful. Q.
How can we shew we are thankful? A. By being very good. Q. Is God
glad to see a child naughty? A. No; he is very sorry. Q. Does he love
naughty children? A. No; he does not. Q. Are naughty children happy?
A. No; very unhappy. Thus every lesson may be made not only a vehicle
for conveying instruction, but also of instilling into the infant mind
a reverence, a sense of gratitude and love towards that great Being
who called us all into existence; this should be never lost sight of,
in giving the child those primary sentiments, reverence and gratitude
towards its God, you lay a basis on which doctrinal religion may be
afterwards built with more advantage. The child thus early trained in
such feelings, conveyed in a manner so admirably adapted to its tender
mind, can scarcely fail, unless it possesses a heart of great natural
depravity, of becoming a good man, and it is thus that infant schools
may become a great and lasting blessing to the country. But where
this is overlooked--where the vital principle of the infant system
is rejected, and the mere mechanical parts alone retained, as to any
great and lasting benefit, it will be a complete and unhappy failure.
That the grand object of the infant system may be accomplished,
namely, of raising up a generation superior to the last, both in
religious, moral, and intellectual acquirements, an immense caution
and great experience in the selection of teachers is required; till
proper teachers are universally provided the infant system will never
be really successful: success does not merely consist in universal
adoption and extension, if it did it would be now really so. But
another thing is wanting before it can be called successful, that is,
it must be understood.

None can understand it but thinkers, and deep thinkers, and thinkers
in the right direction. Merely to glance around and gather scraps of
knowledge from the various, "ologies" in existence, which the "march
of intellect" has brought into being, and which were unknown to our
forefathers; and then to force them on the young memory at random, may
be to teach what was not before taught, but it is not to display any
_new method of teaching; any more efficient way of communicating
knowledge_. Those who would truly understand the infant system, must
think for themselves, and observe the workings of the young mind, mark
the intellectual principles which first develope themselves, strive to
understand the simple laws of mental action; and all this that they
may know how to teach in accordance with them. When this is fairly
done, perhaps the whole that is recorded in this book, may be thought
more valuable than it is at present, and be found a not unworthy
subject to devote a whole life to become acquainted with and elucidate
both practically and theoretically. Others then will, perhaps, not be
quite so audacious in unjust plagiarisms. When Columbus had made
the egg stand on an end all others could then do it. When he had
discovered America, every one said they might have done it also. All
great and important truths are simple, and when presented to the mind,
although unknown before, seem as if they had been well known, there is
such an accurate consistency between the mind and them. This leads me
to suppose that there is simple and useful truths in my volumes, as
every one seems to take them for their own. I can only say that they
have cost _me_ many and many an hour of close observation, and deep
and independent thinking. I have devoted my whole life for the good
of others, and have injured myself and family, that I might do so. To
rescue little children from vice and misery, and to have them placed
under physical, intellectual, moral, and religious discipline, has
been the delight of my heart, and the object of my life. After this
labour, to have my inventions pirated, my plans made use of in part,
and in the rest spoken against; to have others to reap the fields that
I have sown, and at the same time traduce and injure me; to be thus
thrust out as it were from my rightful employment, and left in
comparative obscurity as old age begins to draw on; requires a spirit
stronger than that of man, and a heart more than human, not to feel
it, and feel it deeply. I care little for myself, but regret most to
see spurious systems of infant education palmed upon the public by
ignorant persons, and thus deprive them of a great benefit which they
might possess.

Facts recorded in Scripture may be given orally as gallery lessons,
taking care to exhibit some picture representing the subject proposed
for the lesson--take, for example, the finding of Moses--which
represents the daughter of Pharaoh coming down to bathe with her
maidens, and also the infant Moses in the ark, cradle, or boat, which
was made for the purpose. The subject is then to be propounded to the
children as follows, and the teacher is to take care to repeat it
clearly and distinctly in short sentences, and to be careful that
all the pupils repeat it as distinctly after him; by thus means the
essence of the story is infused into the minds of the children, with
the addition of their being taught to repeat all the words distinctly
and properly, which will assist their pronunciation very much when
they begin to read the lesson described in another part of this work.

"And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river,
and her maidens walked along by the river's side, and when she saw the
ark among the flags she sent her maid to fetch it, and when she had
opened it she saw the child, and behold the babe wept. And she had
compassion on him; and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.
Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to
thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for
thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go; and the maid went and
called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take
this child away and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages;
and the woman took the child and nursed it, and the child grew, and
she brought hum unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son, and
she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the
water."--_Exodus_ ii.

Q. What does this picture represent? A. The finding of Moses. Q. Who
came down to wash herself at the river? A. Pharaoh's daughter. Q. Who
was Pharaoh? A. The king of Egypt. Q. What is Egypt? A. A country in
Africa. Q. What is Africa? A. A part of the earth on which we live. Q.
Where did her maidens walk? A. They walked along by the river's side.
Q. When Pharaoh's daughter saw the ark amongst the flags, what did she
do? A. She sent her maid to fetch it. Q. And when she opened it, what
did she see. A. She saw the child. Q. What was the ark? A. A sort of
boat made of rushes, such as grow in the river. Q. Would not the water
get into this? A. No; it was kept dry inside by pitch and slime. Q.
What were the flags that the ark was among? A. A sort of plant that
grows in rivers. Q. Did the child laugh? A. No; it wept, and she had
compassion on him. Q. And what did she say? A. This is one of the
Hebrews' children. Q. What did his sister say to Pharaoh's daughter?
A. Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women? Q. What is
meant by his sister? A. The sister of Moses who stood to watch what
would become of him. Q. What did she ask to call a nurse for? A. To
nurse the child. Q. What did Pharaoh's daughter say? A. Go. Q. Who
did the maid fetch? A. The child's mother. Q. When she came what did
Pharaoh's daughter say to her? A. Take this child away and nurse it
for me. Q. And what did she say she would give her? A. Her wages. Q.
Did the woman take the child? A. Yes; and nursed it. Q. What became of
the child? A. It grew, and she brought it unto Pharaoh's daughter, and
it became her son. Q. What name did she give him? A. She called his
name Moses. Q. What for? A. Because she drew hum out of the water.
Q. Look at this picture, what is the girl holding over Pharaoh's
daughter's head? A. A sort of umbrella. Q. What is she holding it up
for? A. To keep away the heat of the sun. Q. Were there slaves in
those days? A. Yes. Q. Is the little girl holding the umbrella meant
to represent a slave? A. Yes. Q. Do you know what a slave is? A. A
person who is taken from his home and made to work for nothing and
against his wills.

Christ with the doctors in the temple, forms, when given as explained,
a good gallery lesson--thus:

"And it came to pass that after those days she found him in the temple
sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them
questions; and all that heard him were astonished at his understanding
and answers. And when they saw him they were amazed, and his mother
said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy
father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How
is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's
business. And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto
them; but his mother kept all these sayings in _her heart_: and
Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and
man."--_Luke_ ii. 46-52.

Q. Where did they find him? A. In the temple. Q. Sitting in the midst
of whom? A. Of the doctors. Q. What was he doing there? A. Hearing and
asking them questions. Q. And they were astonished at his, what? A.
Understanding and answers. Q. What did Jesus' mother say unto him? A.
Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Q. What more did she say? A.
Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. Q. What did Jesus say
unto her? A. He said, how is it that ye sought me? Q. Did he say
anything more? A. Yes; wist ye not that I must be about my father's
business. Q. What is the meaning of wist ye not? A. Know ye not. Q.
When Jesus went with them, where did they come to? A. To Nazareth? Q.
What is Nazareth? A. A town in Asia. Q. His mother kept those sayings,
where? A. In her heart. Q. In what did Jesus increase? A. In wisdom
and stature. Q. What do you mean by increasing in stature? A. Growing

Many books of scripture stories have been written for children, but
it is far best to select simple and suitable passages from the sacred
volume, and have them properly illustrated by coloured plates. By
this method the children become acquainted with the very letter of
scripture. Written stories often leave very wrong impressions; and the
history of David and Goliah has been given in an infant school, so
that it would make an excellent counterpart to Jack, the giant
killer. Surely such things ought never to be! Abundance of historical
portions, full of moral and religious instruction, and such as are
calculated from their simplicity and beauty, to deeply impress the
minds of children, can be selected from both Testaments; but the
miracles and parables of our Saviour constitute the richest store.


One of the grand aims of the infant system was intended to improve
the system of moral training. The great deficiency in our systems of
education, with respect to moral training, is truly lamentable, from
the highest down to the lowest schools in the land. There is room for
immense improvement in this matter, it is hardly possible to visit a
school and witness proper efforts made on this important subject; and
never will education produce the glorious effects anticipated from
it, until this subject is legislated for and well understood by the
public; and I pray to God that he will enable me to use arguments in
this chapter to prove effective in the minds of my readers, so as to
induce them to co-operate with me to produce another state of things.
In these days there is much said about education; it has at last
arrested the attention of parliament; and through them, the
government, and, as it should be, through the government, the
sovereign. Thus is truly encouraging and will act as a stimulus to
practical men to develop a system workable in all its parts, and thus
carry out the views and benevolent intentions of the legislature.
Infant education, however, must be the basis, this is beginning at
the right end; if errors are committed here the superstructure is
of little avail. The foundation of moral training must be laid in
infancy, it cannot be begun too soon, and is almost always commenced
too late. Mere infants can understand the doing as they would be done
by; no child likes to be deprived of its play-things, his little toys,
or any thing which he considers his property; he will always punish
the aggressor if he can, and if he cannot he will cry, or put himself
in a passion, or seek aid from his parents, or any other source
where he thinks he may get justice done to him. Little children have
beautiful ideas on this subject, and would have, if properly trained,
correct notions as to the rights of property; to teach them to respect
the property of others, and even to respect themselves, is far
preferable to cramming their memories with good rules in theory; this
was the old plan; we have proof that it has not worked well. The new
plan must operate upon the will, it must influence the heart of the
child; this is the Scripture plan, which continually refers to the
heart, and not so much to the head. Every opportunity must be allowed
the child to develop its character; to do this it must be associated
with its fellows; if the child is a solitary being, his faculties
cannot be drawn out, it is in society only they can be beneficially
acted upon, and it is in the company of its fellows, that it will
shew its true character and disposition; hence the necessity of moral
training. There should be temptations placed within reach of the
children, such as fruits, flowers, and shrubs. The child taught to
respect these will set due bounds to his desire, gardens will cease to
be robbed, hedges will not be broken down, turnips and potatoes will
not be stolen to the extent which is but too prevalent in the present
day. And I am perfectly convinced that every pound the country spends
in promoting a rightly directed education, will be saved in the
punishment of crime, which in a political point of view, is quite
sufficient to induce the country to call for a properly directed
system of national education, which must ultimately be based on the
oracles of eternal truth. If these ends could be obtained by theory,
we have plenty of that in these days. All the writers on education
tell us that such and such things should be done, but most of them
that I have read, forget to tell us how to do it. They complain of
the schools already in existence, they complain of the teachers, they
complain of the apathy upon the subject; all of which is very easy.
And I regret to say there is but too much cause for all these
complaints; but this will not remedy the evil, we must have new plans
for moral training; teachers must have greater encouragements held out
to them; they must take their proper rank in society, which I contend
is next to the clergy; and, until these things take place, we may go
on complaining, as talented men will sooner devote themselves to any
profession rather than to the art of teaching.

We will now endeavour to show how these things are to be remedied, so
far as moral training is applicable to infants from twelve months old
to six or seven years. In another part of this work, we have shewn
what may and ought to be done in the play-ground; in this chapter
we will endeavour to shew what may be done to this end in the
school-room. In the pages on gallery teaching we have given specimens
of lessons on natural objects and scriptural subjects. Moral training
may receive considerable aid from gallery teaching also; the children
must not only be continually told what they ought to do, but as often
what they ought not to do; they must be told that they are not to
fight, and the reasons must be given; they must be told that they are
not to throw stones, and also told the consequences; they must be told
not to strike each other with sticks; they must be told not to play in
the dirt; they must be trained in cleanly and delicate habits; they
must not only be told all these things; but they must be watched in
their private hours, they must be encouraged to assist and love each
other, and it must _be proved_ to them that this is the way to advance
their own individual happiness. It is self-love that is the cause of
half our miseries. Children cannot be told this too soon; it must be
explained _and proved_ to them that evil, sooner or latter, brings its
own punishment, and that goodness as assuredly brings its own reward.
Opportunities will be continually developing themselves for giving
moral training to the children, the judicious teacher will seize these
as they occur, and always make the best of them for the good of
the children. A school is a family upon a large scale; nay, 'tis a
commonwealth, and no day will pass without facts shewing themselves,
to enable the teacher to give sound moral instruction. It is true we
want a better race of teachers, but we must have a better sort of
schools first; for it is only from these that a better race of
teachers can be supplied. The well trained infants of this generation,
will make the efficient teachers of the next.

We will suppose the children to be seated in the gallery, the doors of
the school closed, and every thing snug and quiet; _the teacher must
be alone_, and there must be nothing to distract the children's
attention. He must then bring out his store of facts which he has
noted down as they occurred; he makes his selection according to
circumstances, according to the state of his own mind; not forgetting
the state of mind that the children may be in, and especially the
state of the weather. The following little ditty may then be repeated,
the subject being On Cruelty to Animals.

I'll never hurt my little dog,
But stroke and pat his head;
I love to see him wag his tail,
I like to see him fed.

Poor little thing, how very good
And very useful too;
And do you know? that he will mind
What he is bid to do.

Then I will never hurt my dog,
Nor ever give him pain,
But I will always treat him kind,
And he will love again.

If the children do not appear so bright as the teacher should desire,
the before-mentioned ditty, after it has been repeated, may be sung.
But the tune must be such as would be likely to operate upon the moral
feelings; great caution and circumspection is necessary in selecting
proper times for children, and this must be guided by the subject
treated of. If the subject is exhilarating, a lively tune must be
selected; if the subject is serious, a corresponding tune must also be
chosen; but if the subject is intended to operate upon the feelings,
what is usually called "_a love tune_" will be the most desirable. The
tune having been sung, and the feelings operated upon as desired, the
teacher may entertain the little pupils with some one of the numerous
stories written about the dog. But before he does this, he must
exhaust so much of the subject as appears in the before-mentioned
ditty, by question and answer, similar to the other lessons mentioned
before, something like the following:--

Little children; you have just sung that you would never hurt a little
dog, can you tell me why not? Some of the children will be sure to
say, Please, sir, because he has got the sense of feeling. Teacher.
Right, a little dog has got the same sense of feeling as you little
children have, and when it is hurt, how does it shew that it has got
the sense of feeling? Children. Please, sir, it will cry out. Teacher.
Yes, it can only tell us it is hurt by doing so. A poor dog cannot
speak, and so we should never hurt it. Has a little fly the sense of
feeling? Children. Yes, sir. Teacher. Right again, and so has every
creature that God gave life to, and we should never give any of them
unnecessary pain. In the song that we have just sung, you said you
would stroke and pat the little dog's head. What would you do this
for? Children. Please, sir, the little dog likes it, and he is not
afraid of us when we do it, but loves us. Teacher. So he does, and
will always love those that are kind to him; no one but a very bad boy
would be unkind to a dog. You told me, little children, that a poor
little dog cries out when it is hurt. Now when he is pleased, what
does he do? Please, sir, he wags his tail, and his eyes look very
bright. Teacher. So he does, which is the same as if he said, How
happy I am to be with such good children who do not beat me as some
wicked boys and girls would, but love me and pat my head, and feed me;
for you, little children, you have said you liked to see your little
dog fed, and remember, any of you that have a little dog, or who may
have one when you get older and larger, that it is very cruel not to
see it fed every day; the poor dog cannot ask for its dinner as a
little child can, and that is the, very reason why we should always
remember to give it to him. Will you all remember this? Children. Yes,
sir, we will. Teacher. You sung in your song that the dog was very
useful, tell me how? Children, Please, sir, he will mind the house,
and bark when any one comes to steal anything. Teacher. Yes, you see
how sensible the little dog is, he knows what a wicked thing it is to
be a thief, and so he barks when he sees one. How else is a little
dog useful? Children. Please, sir, they often lead poor blind people
about. Teacher. So they do, and good faithful guides they are. When
they see any danger they will lead their master out of it, and they
will bring him safely through the crowded streets; and when they go
home the poor blind man divides his bit of bread with his good dog;
and dogs are useful in other ways, they catch hares and rabbits for
their masters, and do many other things. You said also that the dog
minded what he was bid to do, did you not? Children. Yes, sir, and
they will often go back a long way for any thing they are bid, or stay
all day minding their master's coat while he is at work. Teacher.
Right, and little children when they will not do as they are desired
are not so good as a little dog, and should take example by one. Do
you remember what you said the dog would do if you treated him kindly?
Children. Please, sir, that he would love us again. Teacher. Right.
When we love any thing, a dog, or a horse, or a little lamb, it will
love us again; for you know, little children, that love makes love,
and if you all love one another, and are kind to one another, and
never beat or strike each other with any thing, then you will all be
very happy, no little children in the world will be more happy, or
have prettier smiling faces than you will have; for when we look kind
and pleasant we always look pretty, but when we look cross and angry,
then we look ugly and frightful. Remember then, never be cruel to a
dog, or any thing else, but think of this lesson, and the pretty song
we sung. Now, little children, shall I tell you a story, a real true
story about a very cruel boy? If the children say, Yes, the following
may be related.

A poor little dog was once going along the streets of a town, and a
carriage which was coming up the street very fast, ran over it, and
the poor thing was very nearly killed, but it had still strength to
crawl over to a house where a boy was standing at the door, and it
began to whine and looked up in the boy's face, as if to say, you see
how much I am hurt, so please take me in and try and cure me; but the
boy was a very cruel boy, and had no pity on the poor dog, but took a
large pot of boiling water and threw it over the poor wounded little
dog, so that it died soon after in very dreadful pain. But the chief
governor of the place, that is, the person whom the king had put there
to punish wicked people, heard of what a cruel thing this bad boy had
done. So he brought him up to the market place, and he made a man take
off this cruel boy's clothes, and lash him on the bare back before all
the people of the town, in order that he might know a little of the
pain that the poor dog had felt. From this story, little children, you
may learn, that you must not begin to be cruel, if you do, the habit
will grow up with you as it did with this bigger boy, and will never
leave you, even when you are men.

Such lessons as these, given at proper times and when the infant mind
is in a fit state to receive them, will do more to prevent what you
wish to avoid, than any thing which could be possibly done at a more
advanced age; this is indeed moral training, and when such is given
generally in infant schools, we may look forward to a generation very
superior to the present, in the genuine parts of Christianity, and in
every moral and social virtue.

The beneficial results of moral training have been practically shown
in every infant school where the subject has been properly understood
and carried out, and numerous anecdotes illustrative of its beneficial
effects might be here introduced, which would convince those who have
any doubt on the subject, of the good effects of exercising kindness
and consideration for others, in opposition to reckless mischief,
hardheartedness, and cruelty, vices which render the lower orders
dangerous and formidable; but as a complete collection of such
anecdotes would form in themselves a volume, we will for the present
lay before our readers a few taken at random, to illustrate the
subject; they are from the appendix of the first report of the
Edinburgh Infant School Society, the model school of which was
organized by the author of this book.

"Two of the children, brothers, about five and four years of age,
coming one morning late into school, were to go to their seats without
censure, if they could give an account of what they had been doing,
which should be declared satisfactory by the whole school, who should
decide; they stated separately that they had been contemplating
the proceedings of a large caterpillar, and noticing the different
positions of its body as it crossed their path, that it was now
horizontal, and now perpendicular, and presently curved, and finally
inclined, when it escaped into a tree. The master then asked them
abruptly, Why did you not kill it? The children stared. _Could_ you
have killed it? asked the teacher. Yes, but that would have been
cruel and naughty, and a sin against God. The little moralists were
acquitted by acclamation; having, infants as they were, manifested a
character which, were it universal in the juvenile population, would
in another generation reduce our moral code to a mass of waste paper,
in one grand department of its bulk.

"This anecdote illustrates the good effect of inculcating into the
infant mind an abhorrence of cruelty to animals, which is too often a
seed sown in the young heart, which goes on increasing daily with
the growth of the child, until a fearful career of crime is ended by
murder, and its necessary expiation on the scaffold. How many men who
have suffered death for murder, could date their first steps towards
it, from the time when in infancy they tortured a fly, or spun a

"The teacher mentioned to the children one day, that he had been
occupied about a boy and a girl who had no father or mother, and whose
grandfather and grandmother, who took care of them, were bed-rid and
in great poverty. The boy was seven years of age, too old for the
infant school, but some gentlemen, he said, were exerting themselves
to get the boy into one of the hospitals. Here he purposely stopped
to try the sympathies of his audience for the girl. He was not
disappointed, several little voices called out at once, '_Oh! master!_
What for no the lassie too?' he assured them the girl was to come to
the infant school, and to be boarded there; which intelligence was
received with loud plaudits."

Here we see the seeds of philanthropy sown in the young mind,
beginning, even in infancy, to burst and blossom forth, giving promise
in after years of a glorious and abundant harvest. The germ of love
and mercy is in every breast, and cannot fail to be developed, if
early called into action; and by the blessing of Almighty God, who
is the great First Cause of all good results, the day is fast
approaching, yea, is now at hand, when the fierce passions, the love
of self, the long catalogues of debasing crimes, which have so long
disgraced human nature, will give way before a golden age of true
Christianity; when man will not be arrayed against his fellow-men, but
all will go hand in hand together in the bond of love, seeking to do
good, and to accomplish the purposes for which they were created by an
all-wise and all-benevolent God.

The following anecdote illustrates the subject still further:--

"One day, when the children were in the play-ground, four boys
occupied the boys' circular swing, while a stranger gentleman was
looking on with the teacher. Conscious of being looked at, the little
fellows were wheeling round with more than usual swiftness and
dexterity, when a little creature of two or three years made a sudden
dart forward into their very orbit, and in an instant must have
been knocked down with great force. With a presence of mind and
consideration, and with a mechanical skill,--which to admire most we
knew not, one of the boys, about five years old, used the instant of
time in which the singular movement was practicable, threw his whole
body into a horizontal position, and went clear over the infant's
head. But this was not all; in the same well employed instant it
occurred to him that that movement was not enough to save the little
intruder, as he himself was to be followed as quick as thought by the
next swinger; for this he provided, by dropping his own feet to the
ground, and stopping the whole machine the instant he had cleared the
child's head. The spectator of this admirable specimen of intellect
and good feeling, which was all necessarily the thought and act of a
moment, had his hand instinctively in his pocket for a shilling, but
was stopped by the teacher, who disowns all inferior motives for acts
of kindness and justice. The little hero, however, had his reward,
for the incident was related by the teacher in a full school, in the
presence of the strangers, and was received with several rounds of
hearty applause."

We will quote another anecdote illustrative of the good effects of
exercising the kindly feelings.

J.J. accused H.S. of having eaten up J.J.'s dinner. It was proved by
several witnesses that H.S. not only appropriated the dinner, but used
force: the charge being proved to the satisfaction of the _jury_ (the
whole school), the same tribunal were requested by the teacher to
decide what should be the consequence to the convict. One orator rose,
and suggested that as H.S. had not yet eat his own dinner, he ought
to give it to J.J. This motion, for the children always welcome
any reasonable substitute for corporal punishment, was carried by
acclamation. When one o'clock came, and the dinner was handed over,
"_coram publico_," to J.J., H.S. was observed by him to be in tears,
and lingering near his _own_ dinner. They were by this time nearly
done, but the teacher was watching the result. The tears were too much
for J.J., who went to H.S., threw his arms round his neck, told him
not to cry, but to sit down and take half. This invitation was of
course accepted by H.S., who manifested a great inferiority of
character to the other, and furnished an example of the blindness of
the unjust to the justice of retribution, which they always feel to
mere revenge and cruelty. He could not bear to see J.J. even sharing
_his_ dinner, and told him with bitterness that he would tell his
mother. "Weel, weel!" said the generous child, "I'll gin y'd a'
back again." Of course the teacher interfered to prevent this gross
injustice, and in the afternoon made their school-fellows perfectly
aware of the part each had acted. It is not easy to render a character
like H.S. liberal, but a long course of such practice, for precept is
impotent in such cases, might modify what in after life would have
turned out a selfish, unjust, and unsocial character.

This selfish principle it is the great object of moral training to
combat against. We may trace almost all the misery in the world to it;
and until it ceases to exist to the extent which it now does, little
can be done to accomplish any good or great purpose. But lessons like
the above, and received into the infant mind when in a receptive
state, will, if proper advantage be taken of their occurrence, prove
in the hands of the Almighty a powerful engine for the removal of
selfishness; and we know of no method so effectual to accomplish this
object as the drawing infants into societies, which is done only in
infant schools.

The following anecdote, bearing on the same subject, came under the
observation of the author of this work, very early in his labour for
the extension of his system. He gives it here in the same words as he
communicated it to a friend at the time of its occurrence.

A few days since I went to the Boston Street school; the children were
in the gallery, and the moment I entered, they rose to receive me.
When the school was over, the children came around me, as they usually
do, saying, When will you come again? and so on. I told them I could
not tell, but that I would come as soon as I could. This answer would
not satisfy them, and I talked to them until near six o'clock in
the evening. One little girl, about four years old, kept looking
stedfastly at me the whole time, not letting a single word or gesture
escape her notice. At last I finished my observations, and desired the
children to go. The infant in question immediately took hold of my
hand, and said, "We shall never see you any more, you must come home
with me." I replied, "What do you want me to go home for?" The child
answered, "I have nothing to give you, but if you will come home
mother will give you some tea." I patted the child on the head,
telling it I could not go. The child went home, as I thought, and I
remained some time talking to one of the ladies of the committee. On
walking down the street I saw the same child crying bitterly, and
surrounded by many other children. On inquiring the cause, I received
for answer, "_You would not come home to tea_." If only one half the
invitations that are given amongst _men_ were given with as much
sincerity and disinterestedness as was manifested by this _infant_,
I am much mistaken if we should not see a very different state of

"Moral education," writes Mr. Simpson in his "Philosophy of
Education," "embraces both the animal and moral impulses. It regulates
the former, and strengthens the latter, whenever gluttony, indelicacy,
violence, cruelty, greediness, cowardice, pride, insolence, vanity,
or any mode of selfishness shew themselves in the individual under
training, one and all must be repressed with the most watchful
solicitude, and the most skilful treatment. Repression may at first
fail to be accomplished, unless by severity; but the instructor
sufficiently enlightened in the faculties, will, in the first
practicable moment, drop the coercive system, and awaken and appeal
powerfully to the higher faculties of conscience and benevolence, and
to the powers of reflection: this, done with kindness, in other words,
with a marked manifestation of benevolence itself, will operate with
a power, the extent of which in education is yet, to a very limited
extent, estimated. In the very exercise of the superior faculties the
inferior are indirectly acquiring a habit of restraint and regulation;
for it is morally impossible to cultivate the superior faculties
without a simultaneous though indirect regulation of the inferior."

It is indeed a melancholy truth, that moral training is yet, to a very
limited extent, estimated, and this is mainly owing to its not being
understood by the generality of those selected for the office of
teachers of infants, nor can it be expected that persons of sufficient
intellect and talent to comprehend and carry out this great object,
can be procured, until a sufficient remuneration is held out to them,
to make it worth their while to devote their whole energies to the
subject. It is a fatal error to suppose that mere girls, taken perhaps
from some laborious occupation, and whose sum total of education
consists of reading and writing, can carry out views which it requires
a philosophical mind, well stored with liberal ideas and general
knowledge, to effect. They may be able to instruct the children in
the mere mechanical part of the system; and as long as they confine
themselves to this, they will go on capitally, but no further than
this can they go; and though the children may appear to a casual
visitor, to be very nicely instructed, and very wonderful little
creatures, on a closer examination they will be found mere automatons;
and then, without a thought on the subject, the system will be blamed,
without once considering that the most perfect figure of mechanism
will not work properly in any hands, except those that thoroughly
understand it.

Enough may have now been said on this subject, and my earnest prayer
is, that by God's help, these remarks may produce beneficial results;
and if my endeavours to make the subject of moral instruction more
easily understood, and to demonstrate its importance as clearly as
possible are successful, the results will soon shew me that the hard
labour of three-and-thirty years has not been entirely in vain, and
this will be to me a greater reward than all the praise, distinction,
and honour that it is in man's power to confer.

Whenever an infant is detected in any of those animal impulses, to
regulate which is the great end of moral training, a gallery lesson
should be immediately given, having a tendency to excite an abhorrence
of the fault on the minds of all the children. An opportunity of this
description should never be let pass. These are the very best times
to implant virtuous and moral sentiments in the minds of the young
pupils. These are the golden opportunities of bringing into action
the higher faculties of conscience and benevolence, and the powers of

If an instance of the too prevalent cruelty of the young to animals
be detected, which often occurs from mere thoughtlessness, it may be
prevented from again occurring by a few lessons like the one which we
have given as a specimen. The same means may be taken for crushing the
rudiments of gluttony, violence, pride, deceit, or any other vice. The
gallery is the proper place for these lessons; and after the matter
has been thoroughly _sifted_ in the play-ground, or wherever else it
has occurred, the children should then be marched to the gallery, to
receive a proper instruction on the subject. Cruelty, on the part of
boys, is too prevalent; it is energy, enterprise, and high animal
spirit, not legislated for on the part of parents and teachers, which
descends to cruelty, first to animals, then to all which has life,
that cannot defend itself. Children soon learn to distinguish those
children and animals, who can, and will, resent cruelty, from those
who will not; and therefore, speculate on the results accordingly, and
become self-taught up to this point. A child should never be without a
kind and wise guide at this period; that which in itself descends
to evil, for the want of a moral guide, may be turned to good. The
faculties mentioned, cannot be extinguished, but can be regulated.
This is the office of the teacher. Too frequently we try to crush the
powers that early want training and regulating. The same powers which
run to vice, may be trained to virtue, but the activities cannot, and
ought not, to be kept too much in abeyance.

Children are not naturally cruel, although they differ much in the
propensity to annoy and reduce animals and each other under their
individual control; the passive submit at once, but the energetic will
not; it is then that the active assailant learns an important lesson,
which can only be learned in society, and which to him, is of great
importance. The difficulty on the part of the teacher, is to know
when to interfere, and when to let alone. I have often erred by
interference, of this I am quite satisfied; the anxiety to prevent
evil, has caused me to interfere too soon, by not giving time to the
pupil fully to develops his act. I hope others will profit from this;
it requires much practice and long study of different temperaments, in
children, to know when to let alone and when to interfere; but certain
it is, that the moral faculties can and must be developed, in any
system worthy of the name of education. Other vices beside cruelty are
to be found in children. Moral training applies to these, and none are
left to run their own course. Why should they? What are schools for?
but to form the virtuous character--the being who can command self
control--the orderly character, the good citizen, and, the being who
fears and loves God. Ends less than these, cannot be worthy of the
efforts of the philanthropist and the truly religious man.

There is another idea which has long been in my mind, and which I
hope some day to see carried into practice, viz., a Religious Service
adapted for children, in our various places of worship. No accurate
observer of the young in churches during divine service, can have
failed to witness the inattention of the numbers of children who are
assembled on such occasions. The service is too long and inappropriate
for them, as is also the sermon. It is addressed to adults, and
sometimes the terms used by the preacher, is Greek to half the adults,
in agricultural districts. Men cannot be too simple with the young and
illiterate; there is much room for improvement in these things, and
with regard to the young, I can answer for them that, if they are
addressed in proper language, which they can understand, and are
supplied with proper religious food for the understanding, suitable to
its state of receptivity, and, if I may say, digestive powers; they,
as a body, will shew us an example which will surprise many. With
regard to the Church, there might be taken from the Prayer Book, a
simple service adapted to the purpose. I am certain I could do it with
ease, as I know what is adapted for children, or at least I ought
to do. The next point, all the preachers should be men of peculiar
temperament and great simplicity of manner. I do not care how learned
they are; the more learned, the better; but it, need not be in
languages but in spiritual things. There are thousands of passages
in the Holy Word which are adapted, and I think, intended for the
purpose, and there are many men now living who are able to do the
thing, and more will be raised up. One thing, however, must not be
forgotten, they must be _men advanced_ in life, not _lads_. To teach
natural things properly to children, requires more knowledge than the
generality of the public suppose. The younger the children are, the
more knowledge it requires on the part of the instructor. But to teach
spiritual things properly to children, men cannot know too much,
provided they have the power to simplify that knowledge and reduce it
to practice. An evening service will not do for children, it must
be either in the morning or the middle of the day. So fully am I
impressed with the importance of this idea, that I am determined
shortly to take means to carry it out.



_Necessity of some punishment--Rewards to Monitors--Trial by
Jury--Illustrative case--Necessity of firmness--Anecdotes--Playing
the truant--Its evils--Means for prevention--Devices for
punishment--Sympathy encouraged--Evil of expelling children--Case of
Hartly--Difficulty of legislating for rewards and punishments--Badge
of distinction not necessary_.

* * * * *

How does the Deity deal with His creatures, on this momentous
question? This is the question which every thinker--and every
religious man, must ask himself; and then, act accordingly.

* * * * *

As man comes into the world with a propensity to do that which is
forbidden, it has been found necessary at all times, to enact laws to
govern and even to punish him, when he acts contrary to them; and
who will deny the man a just reward who has done any act whereby his
fellow-men have been benefitted? "The hope of reward sweetens labour."
If, then, rewards and punishments are necessary to make _men_ active,
and to keep them in order, how can it be expected that children can be
governed without some kind of punishment? I am aware that I am taking
the unpopular side of the question, by becoming an advocate for
punishment, but notwithstanding this, I must say, that I think no
school in England has ever been governed without it; and that the
many theories ushered into the world, on this subject, have not been
exactly acted upon. And since this was written I am in a position to
state the same with regard to both Scotland and Ireland. Indeed, it
appears to me, that while men continue to be imperfect beings, it is
not possible that either they or their offspring, can be governed
without some degree of punishment. I admit that it should be
administered with great prudence, and never employed but as a last
resource; and I am sorry to say, that it has descended to brutality in
some schools, which, perhaps, is one reason why so many persons set
their faces against it altogether. I might write as others have done,
by stating that I had brought up a family of my own without ever
having struck even once any of my children, but then this is no
argument for the general conducting of a school; in school, children
are spoiled before they come to you, in a family the judicious parent
begins at the beginning, the cases therefore entirely differ.

The first thing that appears to me necessary, is to find out, if
possible, the real disposition and temper of a child, in order to be
able to manage it with good effect. I will allow that it is possible
to govern some children without corporal punishment, for I have had
some under my charge whom I never had occasion to punish, to whom a
word was quite sufficient, and who, if I only looked displeased, would
burst into tears. But I have had others quite the reverse; you might
talk to them till you were tired, and it would produce no more effect
half an hour afterwards, than if they had not been spoken to at all.
Indeed, children's dispositions are as various as their faces; no two
are alike; consequently, what will do for one child will not do for
another; and hence the impropriety of having an invariable mode of
punishment. What should we think of a medical man who was to prescribe
for every constitution in the same manner? The first thing a skilful
physician does, is to ascertain the constitution of the patient, and
then he prescribes accordingly; and nothing is more necessary for
those who have charge of little children, than to ascertain their real
character. Raving done this, they will be able, should a child offend,
to apply some appropriate antidote.

To begin with rewards: to the monitors I have generally allowed one
penny a week each, as I found much difficulty in procuring monitors;
for, whatever honours were attached to the office, children of five
years old could not exactly comprehend them. They could much more
easily perceive the use of a penny; and as a proof how much they
valued the penny a week above all the honours that could be bestowed,
I always had a good supply of monitors after this remuneration was
adopted. Before this time, they used to say, "Please, sir, may I sit
down? I do not like to be a monitor." Perhaps I might prevail on some
to hold the office a little longer, by explaining to them what an
honourable office it was: but after all, I found that the penny a week
spoke more powerfully than I did, and the children would say to each
other, "I like to be a monitor now, for I had a penny last Saturday;
and master says, we are to have a penny every week; don't you wish you
were a monitor?" "Yes, I do; and master says, if I am a good boy, I
shall be a monitor by and bye, and then I shall have a penny." I think
they richly deserve it. Some kind of reward I consider necessary, but
what kind of reward, must, of course, rest entirely with the promoters
of the different schools.[A]

[Footnote A: In many of the infant schools I hull visited, I found the
spelling and reading very much neglected, that neither the monitors
nor children look at the lessons, but merely say them by rote; if the
monitors are punished for inattention they wish to give up the office,
because there is no reward attached to it; but if there is a reward
attached to it of any kind, the children have sense enough to see that
the thing is fairly balanced, for if they are rewarded for doing their
duty they see no injustice in being punished for neglecting it.]

Perhaps nothing would tend more to the order and efficient conducting
of an infant school, than the plan of giving rewards to the monitors.
From the part they take in teaching and superintending others, it
seems due to them,--for the labourer is worthy of his hire. If we are
to make use of monitors at all, I am now convinced that they _must_ be
rewarded; parents do not like their children to work for nothing,
and when they become useful, they are taken away entirely, unless
rewarded. The training system uses monitors only in that which is
purely mechanical; or, to infuse into the external memory that which
is to be learned by rote, singly or simultaneously, by the pupils,
such as chapters out of the Scriptures, catechisms, creeds, poetry,
psalms, hymns, prayers, and commandments, and whatever is (as it is
called) to be learned by heart, but to develope the faculties of the
pupils--to really teach religion, morals, intellectuals, or anything
which applies to the interior of the pupils, they are useless.

A most important means of discipline appears in what we term "trial
by jury," which is composed of all the children in the school. It has
been already stated that the play-ground is the scene for the
full development of character, and, consequently, the spot where
circumstances occur which demand this peculiar treatment. It should
also be particularly observed, that it is next to prayer in solemnity,
and should only be adopted on extraordinary occasions. Any levity
manifested either by the teacher or the pupils will be fatal to the
effect. But to illustrate it, I will state a fact. In the play-ground
of an Infant School there was an early dwarf cherry-tree, which, from
its situation, had fruit, while other trees had only flowers. It
became, therefore, an object of general attention, and ordinarily
called forth a variety of important observations. Now it happened that
two children, one five years of age, and the other not quite three,
entered the school in the autumn, and on the return of spring, they,
having had only a winter's training, were charmed by this object, and
in consequence fell into temptation. Accustomed to watch new scholars
narrowly, I particularly observed them; when I marked the elder one
anxiously, intently, and wishfully gazing on the fruit, and especially
on one amazingly large cherry pendent from a single shoot. While thus
absorbed, the younger child was attracted to the spot, and imitated
his example. The former then asked if he did not think it a large one,
and the reply was of course, in the affirmative. Having thus addressed
the powers of observation, the next appeal was to the taste, by the
inquiry, "Is not it a nice one?" The answer to which was, "Yes." Then
followed the observation, "It is quite soft," when the young one,
being thus excited by the touch of the other, touched it also. This
act, he subsequently repeated, by desire of the elder, who, having
charged him to hold it tight, struck his hand, and thus detached the
cherry. I now withdrew to some distance, and it was evident that the
little one was distressed by what he had done, as he did not eat it,
but began to cry faintly, on which the elder took the cherry out of
his hand, and ate it. This increased the crying, when, on approaching,
he ran up to me, saying that the other took my cherry. The little one
continuing to cry, the other stated that he saw him take it; to which
I replied, "We will try him by and bye." As soon, therefore, as the
proper time arrived, the bell was rung; prior to which, however, I was
apprised of the loss by several children, and when all were seated in
the gallery, I proceeded as follows "Now, little children, I want you
to use all your faculties, to look at me attentively, and to think
of what I am about to say, for I am going to tell you a tale of two
little boys. Once on a time they were amusing themselves with a great
many other children in a play-ground, where there was a great many
flowers and some fruit trees. But before I go on, let me ask you is it
right to take the flowers or fruit which belong to others?" to which
the general reply was "No," with the exception of the culprits. I then
described their age, stated that one boy was five years old, and the
other three; that the former was looking at one of his master's fine
cherries, which was growing against the wall, and that the latter
approached, and looked at it too; on which several exclaimed, "Please,
sir, your big cherry is gone;" which caused an inspection of each
others' countenances. To this, I replied, "I am sorry for it, but let
me finish my tale. Now, children, while they were both looking at the
cherry, the older one asked the younger if it were not large, to which
he replied, 'Yes;' he then inquired, whether it were not nice, when
he again answered, 'Yes;' afterwards, be told him, having touched it
himself first, to touch it because it was soft, and the little boy
unfortunately did so, on which the big one pulled his arm, and the
cherry came off in his hand." While this was proceeding, the two
delinquents sat very demurely, conscious that they were pourtrayed,
though all the rest were ignorant of the fact. I then said, "Which
do you think the worst of these boys?" when several answered, "The
biggest was the worst." On inquiring, "Why?" the reply was, "Because
he told the little one to take it;" while others said, "Because he
pulled his arm." I added, "I have not told you the whole tale yet, but
I am glad to see that you know right from wrong, and presently you
will be still better prepared to judge. When the big boy had told
the little one to take the cherry, he then robbed him of it, and
immediately betrayed him by telling the master. Now which do you think
was the worst?" When a great number of voices vociferated, "The big
one." I then inquired, if they thought we had such children in our
school? the general reply was 'No;' but the scrutiny among themselves
was redoubled. To this I rejoined, "I am sorry to say such children
are now sitting among you in the gallery." At this crisis the little
one burst into tears, on which the children said, "Please, sir, that's
one of them, for his face is so red, and he cries." I answered, "I am
sorry it is so," and called the culprit down with "Come here, my dear,
and sit by the side of me until we examine into it." This was followed
by the outcry, "Please, sir, we have found the other, he hangs his
head down, and his face looks so white."

This child was then called down in the same mild manner to sit on the
other side of me. I then told them, that they would find, when they
became men and women, that in our courts of law, witnesses of what was
done were called, and as the elder boy had seen the young one take the
cherry, it was necessary and desireable to hear what he had to say. On
being desired to stand up, I therefore said, "Did you see him take the
cherry?" To which he promptly replied, "Yes." The next inquiry was,
"What did he do with it?" To this he was silent, on which the little
one, not being able to contain himself, called out, "He took it from
me, and ate it." All eyes were now turned to the big one, and all felt
convinced that he was the most guilty, whilst the confidence of the
little one increased by the prospect of having justice done him, as he
previously feared that being accused by the elder one, he should be
condemned without ceremony.

Finding that the elder one had no more to say, it only remained to
hear the defence of the young one, who, sensible of having done what
was wrong, said, in broken accents, "He told me to take it,--he hit my
hand,--and he ate the cherry." To which it was necessary to give the
admonition, That he never ought to do wrong, though required to do so
by others; and that such a defence would avail him nothing were he a
man. Both the children were now exceedingly distressed, and hence
this was the time to appeal to the rest, as to the measure of the
punishment that was due. The general opinion was, that the eldest
should be punished, but no one mentioned that the young one should
even have a pat on the hand; the next thing was to appeal to the
higher faculties of the little culprit, who, seeing that he had thus
far got off, required to be softened down in reference to the other,
though he had betrayed him, while the best way of operating on the
elder was a display of love on the part of the younger; he was
therefore asked if he would forgive the other, and shake hands with
him, which he immediately did, to the evident delight and satisfaction
of all the children, while the countenance of the elder showed that he
felt himself unworthy of the treatment he received. I then inflicted
the sentence which had been pronounced,--two pats of the hand, which
the girls asked might be soft ones, and sent him to his seat, while I
concluded the whole with some appropriate exhortations. It is pleasing
to add that the elder proved one of the most useful monitors I ever

[Footnote A: This mode of treatment has succeeded in a number of
instances, several first-rate writers on education have tried it, and
have found it work well; it is one of the most effective methods to
operate upon the minds of young children that I have been able to
discover: I have tried the plan with older children with great
success. Reader! can teachers, who are mere boys and girls, act thus,
in such a case?]

Should any person be disposed to object to such a process, they may
be reminded that the Infant System deals with children as rational
creatures, and is designed to prepare them for future life. I have
seen numerous instances of its beneficial effects? these have induced
me to pursue the plan, and in the strongest terms to recommend it to
others. In all cases, the matter should be stated to the children
simply, calmly, and slowly, and they will seldom, if ever, come to a
wrong conclusion.

A manual trade, or a business, which requires dexterity can never be
learnt from books alone, or properly understood from mere precepts.
All must be acquired by practice, and then the knowledge of it
becomes, as it were, a part of our very selves. The same applies to
the precepts of morality. If they be merely committed to memory
by rote, they will often lie there cold and inactive, and not
unfrequently tend even to harden the feelings. But when they are
brought out into actual practice, and made to bear upon the conscience
of the culprit, and on the moral feelings of all the children through
him, they are seen in a new and convincing light, and learnt with a
power that will impress them indelibly on the memory. "Nathan said
unto David, Thou art the man." The most effectual teaching of a
christian parent is not at the time of the mere infusion of moral
truth into a child's mind, but in the example he gives in his life,
and the direction he gives according to it to his child when he "walks
by the way" and when he "sits in the house." Such should be the
teaching aimed at in every infant school. How wise are the dealings of
the creator with us on the subject of reward. What being ever yet did
good, who did not feel within a certain reward? Who felt most of the
influence of the Holy Spirit? the passers by,--or the good Samaritan?
Nay! who felt the greatest reward in his own breast, the Samaritan
himself, or the man who fell amongst thieves? I think the Samaritan.
Throughout all creation we see rewards; for assiduity, "the early crow
gets the worms; the cautious animal escapes his enemies; the good
man enjoys the most happiness; out of goodness happiness cannot be
found;--virtue brings its own reward;" obedience to the natural laws
does the same, so does obedience to the spiritual laws bring such
rewards as my pen cannot describe, but, I doubt not, many have felt
them. The whole system of society appears to me to depend upon this
stimulant. Who would wish to be the heads of the church and take
the additional responsibilites and labours attached to them without
reward? Who would accept the office, the weighty office of being Her
Majesty's ministers without reward? I might go on in this strain of
reasoning and prove that rewards are founded in knowledge of human
nature; but I am content to skew we have some ground for them, they
are useful, if not essential, in the right management of the young,
but, like every thing else, require to be managed judiciously. It
appears to me that the argument to the contrary would be untenable.
I should like to see the man who would invest his capital in
railways--electric telegraphs, steam ships, and in business of any
kind, without hope of reward, pooh! it is the mainspring of human
action, the incentive to public service, it rests not in this world
but follows us to the next, "Well done, good and faithful servant,
enter into the joy of thy Lord." Ah! but this refers to men, not to
children. What are children but men in embryo? Why be unjust to them,
and just to man. I say rewards are necessary in a sound system of
education to little children; if judiciously selected and properly
applied, they will be found incentives to action, and add greatly to
the pleasure of learning. In my other work for the education of older
children, this subject is treated of more at length as applicable to

With regard to punishments, they are various, and must be adapted to
the disposition of the child. The only corporal punishment that we
inflict is a pat on the hand, which is very of great service in
flagrant cases of misconduct. For instance, I have seen one child
bite another's arm, until it has almost made its teeth meet. I should
suppose few persons are prepared to say, such a child should not be
punished for it. I have seen others who, when they first came to
school, would begin to scream as if they were being punished, as soon
as their mother brought them to the door, while the mother continued
to threaten the child without ever putting one threat into execution.
The origin of all this noise, has been, perhaps, because the child has
demanded a half-penny, as the condition of coming to school, and the
mother probably has not had one to give him, but has actually been
obliged to borrow one in order to induce him to come in at the school
door. Thus the child has come off conqueror, and set it down as a
maxim, that, for the future, he may do just as he pleases with his
mother. I have sometimes made my appearance at this time, to know what
all the noise was about, when the mother has entered into a lamentable
tale, telling me what trouble she has had with the child, and that he
would not come to school without having a half-penny each time. But
the moment the child has seen me, all has been as quiet as possible.
I have desired him to give me the half-penny, which he has done
directly, I have returned it to the mother, and the child has gone
into school, as quietly as any child could do. I have had others who
would throw their victuals into the dirt, and then lie down in it
themselves, and refuse to rise up, crying, "I will go home; I want
to go into the fields; I will have a half-penny." The mother has
answered, "Well, my dear, you shall have a half-penny, if you will
stay at school." "No, I want to go and play with Billy or Tommy;" and
the mother at length has taken the churl home again, and thus fed his
vanity and nursed his pride, till he has completely mastered her, so
that she has been glad to apply to the school again, and beg that I
would take him in hand.

At another time a girl came with a pillow; she had insisted on having
it for a doll; but, so far from contributing to her happiness, it had
a contrary effect. Nevertheless, the parent, for want of that firmness
so necessary in the management of children, had allowed her to bring
it to school, and on her journey she cried all the way, to the
amusement of the lookers on. When I remonstrated with the mother, she
replied, "What could I do? she would not come without it" The child,
however, gave it up to me without any trouble, and the over _indulgent
mother_ took it back with her. Numerous have been the instances of a
similar kind; and all far the want of firmness.

The master of an infant school, whenever opportunity occurs, should
feel it incumbent upon him to urge the parents to make a due use of
judicious parental authority. This is the very foundation of all
social order, rule, and government, and to relax it is to loosen the
very keystone of society. He ought also perpetually to inculcate
obedience to their parents upon the children, as being one of their
first and most important duties. Some have objected to our schools,
that they are calculated to loosen the ties and the authority between
parent and child; but if these precepts are carefully attended to, the
result will be precisely the reverse. It is, however, necessary to
state, in the three cases just noticed, that in each, the children had
been previously conquered by me, and young as they were, they knew
quite well that, although such conduct as they exhibited gained the
end they had in view with the parent, similar conduct would not
succeed with me. It is little short of cruelty to let any child have
its own way in such matters. They will always try hard to get the
tipper hand, not knowing but that such conduct adds to their own
happiness. When once conquered, and proof is afforded that it does
not, then the children are always thankful for the discipline. At all
events, I have never found it otherwise. Many, I may say numerous
cases, have occurred of worse kinds than the above, such as children
insisting on bringing something from home, as the bellows, tongs,
poker, the mother's bonnet, father's hat, &c., as the condition of
coming to school, which the simple parent has complied with rather
than adopt the required firmness, which is essential in matters of
this kind. More infants know quite well the weak and the strong
points of a parent's character, they all are excellent judges on this

I found it necessary, under such circumstances, to enter into a kind
of agreement with the mother, that she should not interfere in any
respect whatever: that on such conditions, and such only, could the
child be admitted; observing, that I should act towards it as if it
were my own, but that it must and should be obedient to me; to which
the mother has consented, and the child has been taken in again; and,
strange to say, in less than a fortnight, has been as good, and has
behaved as orderly as any child in the school. But I should deem
myself guilty of duplicity and deceit, were I to say that such
children, in all cases could be managed without corporal punishment,
as it appears to me, that this, in moderation, has been the mode of
correcting refractory children, from the earliest ages; for it is
expressly said in the Scriptures, "_He that spareth his rod, hateth
his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes_;" and again,
"_He that knoweth his Lord's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten
with many stripes_." There is certainly something very pleasing in the
sound, that several hundred infant children may be well managed, kept
in good order, and corrected of their bad habits, without _any sort_
of punishment. But as I have not been able to attain to that state of
perfection in the art of teaching, I shall lay before the reader what
modes of punishment I have adopted, and the success that attended

If punishments be judiciously and justly applied, when offences
require them, from the earliest periods of life, they will soon cease
to be wanted. We cannot form a more important association in the
young mind than one between pain and moral evil, and this judicious
correction will effect. It should not be given in anger, or it will
have the appearance of revenge; but if administered calmly and with
feelings of sorrow and regret, it will soon exercise a mighty moral
influence. The providence of God applies to us the correction of
sickness, pain, and sorrow, to withdraw us from evil; and thus in His
moral government, as well as in His Word, He commands us to use the
rod; but always for good, and never in anger or cruelty. Recent events
have proved to me that there is a mawkish sentimentality but too
prevalent on this subject abroad, which interferes greatly with moral
training, the proper freedom of the school-master, and even with the
administration of public justice.

The first offence deserving punishment which I shall notice, is
playing the truant; and I trust I may be permitted to state, that
notwithstanding the children are so very young, they frequently, at
first, stay away from the school, unknown to their parents; nor is
this to be wondered at, when we consider how they have been permitted
to range the streets, and get acquainted with other children in
similar circumstances. When this is the case, they cannot be brought
into order in a moment; it is a work of time, and requires much
patience and perseverance to accomplish it effectually. It is well
known that when we accustom ourselves to particular company, and form
acquaintances, it is no easy matter to give them up; and it is a
maxim, that a man is either better or worse for the company he keeps.
Just so it is with children; they form very early attachments, and
frequently with children whose parents will not send them to school,
and care not where they are, so long as they keep out of their way.
Hence such children will persuade others to accompany them, and of
course they will be absent from school; but as night approaches, the
child will begin to think of the consequences, and mention it to his
companions; who will instruct him how to deceive both his teachers and
his parents, and perhaps bring him through his trouble. This will give
him fresh confidence, and finding himself successful, there will be
little difficulty in persuading him to accompany them a second time. I
have had children absent from school two or three half-days in a
week, and sometimes whole days, who have brought me such rational and
plausible excuses as completely to put me off my guard, but who have
been found out by their parents from having stayed out till seven or
eight o'clock at night. The parents have applied at the school to know
why they kept the children so late, add have then in formed me that
they have been absent all day. Thus the whole plot has been developed;
it has been found that the children were sent to school at eight
o'clock in the morning, and had their dinners given them to eat at
school, but instead of coming they have got into company with their
older companions, who, in many cases, I have found were training them
up for every species of vice. Some of them have been cured of truant
playing by corporal punishment, when all other means I could devise
have failed, others by means the most simple, such as causing the
child to hold a broom for a given time.

The most powerful punishment I have yet discovered is to insist on the
child sitting still, without moving hand or foot for a given time,
say half an hour at most. Long punishment always has the tendency to
harden the child; he soon gets contented in his situation, and you
defeat your own object.

By keeping a strict eye upon them it will be remarked, they soon begin
to form an attachment with some of their own school-fellows, and
ultimately become as fond of their new companions, their books, and
their school, as they were before of their old companions and the
streets. I need scarcely observe, how strong our attachments, formed
in early years at school, are, and I doubt not but many who read this
have found a valuable and real friend in a school-fellow for whom they
would do any thing within their power.

There were several children in the school who had contracted some
very bad habits, entirely by their being accustomed to run about the
streets; and one boy in particular, only five years of age, was so
frequently absent, and brought such reasonable excuses for his being
so, that it was some time before I detected him. I thought it best to
see his mother, and therefore sent the boy to tell her that I wished
her to come. The boy soon returned, saying his mother was not at home.

The following morning he was absent again, and I sent another boy to
know the reason, when the mother waited on me immediately, and assured
me that she had sent the child to school. I then produced the slate
which I kept for that purpose, and informed her how many days and
half-days her child had been absent during the last month, when she
again assured me that she had never kept the child at home for a
single half-day, nor had he ever told her that I wanted to see her; at
the same time observing that be must have been decoyed away by some of
the children in the neighbourhood. She regretted that she could not
afford to send him to school before, adding, _that the Infant School
was a blessed institution, and one, she thought, much wanted in the
neighbourhood_. I need scarcely add, that both the father and mother
lost no time in searching for their child, and after several hours,
they found him in the nearest fruit-market with several children,
pretty well stored with apples, &c., which they had, no doubt, stolen
from the fruit-baskets continually placed there. They brought him to
the school, and informed me they had given him a good flogging, which
I found to be correct from the marks that were on the child. This,
they said, they had no doubt would cure him; but he was not so soon
conquered, for the very next day he was absent again; and after the
parents had tried every experiment they could think of, in vain, they
delivered him over to me, telling me I might do what I thought proper.
I tried every means I could devise with as little success, except
keeping him at school after school hours; for I had a great
disinclination to convert the school into a prison, as my object was,
if possible, to cause the children to love the school, and I knew I
could not take a more effectual method of causing them to dislike it
than by keeping them there against their will. At last I tried this
experiment, but to as little purpose as the others, and I was about to
exclude the child altogether as incorrigible; but unwilling that it
should be said a child five years old had mastered us, I at last hit
upon an expedient which had the desired effect. The plan I adopted was
to put him on an elevated situation within sight of all the children,
so secured that he could not hurt himself. I believe it was the force
of _ridicule_ that effected the cure. This I had never tried before,
and I must say I was extremely glad to witness it. I never knew him
absent without leave afterwards, and, what is more surprising, he
appeared to be very fond of the school, and became a very good child.
Was not this, then, a brand plucked from the fire?

I have been advised to dismiss twenty such children, rather than
retain them by the above means; but if there be more joy in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons
who need no repentance, ought not such a feeling to be encouraged
on earth, particularly when it can be done by means that are not
injurious to the orderly, but, on the contrary, productive of the best
effects? The child just mentioned afterwards went into the National
School, with several others who had been nearly as bad as himself,
but they scarcely ever failed to come and see me when they had a half
holiday, and the master of the school told me that not one of them had
ever been absent without leave, and that he had no fault to find with
them. I have further to observe that the moment I perceived a bad
effect produced by any method of punishment, it was relinquished. But
I feel it my duty here to caution the reader against the too frequent
practice of many to object. It may cost a man many years to find out
what may be desirable and workable; but to become an objector requires
no thought, accordingly the most thoughtless are generally the
greatest objectors.

I believe that there was not a child in the school who would not have
been delighted _to carry the broom_, if I had called it play; the
other children might have laughed as long as they pleased, for he
would have laughed as heartily as any of them, and as soon as he had
done, I should have had a dozen applicants, with "Please, sir, may I?
please, sir, may I?" but it was called a _punishment_, and hence I had
no applications whatever; they all dreaded it as much as they would
a flogging. I am aware that this plan of punishment may appear
ridiculous, and perhaps it would be so to use it for older children;
but with such young children I have found it to answer well, and
therefore I have no wish to dispense with it. I would, however, have
care taken not to encourage the children to ridicule each other while
undergoing this or any other punishment, except in extraordinary
cases, such as the one I have mentioned; on the contrary, we should
encourage them to sympathize with and comfort a child, as soon as the
punishment is over, and I can truly add, that I do not recollect
a single instance when any child has been undergoing the broom
punishment, but some of the others have come, and attempted to beg
him off, with "Please, sir, may he sit down now?" and when asked the
reason why they wished the little delinquent to be forgiven, they have
answered, "May be, sir, he will be a good boy." Their request has been
complied with, and the culprit forgiven; and what have I seen follow?
Why, that which has taught me an important lesson, and convinced me
that _children can operate on each other's minds, and be the means of
producing very often better effects than adult people can_. I have
seen them clasp the child round the neck, take him by the hand, lead
him about the play-ground, comfort him in every possible way, wipe his
eyes with their pinafores, and ask him if he was not sorry for what he
had done. The answer has been, "Yes;" and they have flown to me with,
"Master, he says he is sorry for it, and that he will not do it
again." In short, they have done that which I could not do--they have
so won the child over by kindness, that it has caused the offender not
only to be fond of them, but equally as fond of his master and the
school. To these things I attribute the reclaiming of the children I
have mentioned, and so far from punishment being productive of the
"_worst effects_," I have found it productive of the best.

The ill effects of expelling children as incorrigible may be seen in
the case of Hartley, who was executed some years back. He confessed
before his execution that he had been concerned in several murders,
and upwards of two hundred burglaries; and by the newspaper account we
learn that he was dismissed from school at nine years of age, there
being no school master who would be troubled with him, when, finding
himself at liberty, he immediately became a robber. "Hartley's father"
(the account proceeds), "formerly kept the Sir John Falstaff inn at
Hull in Yorkshire; he was put to school in that neighbourhood, but his
conduct at school was so marked with depravity, and so continually did
he play the truant, that he was dismissed as unmanageable. He then,
although only nine years of age, began with pilfering and robbing
gardens and orchards, till his friends were obliged to send him to
sea. He soon contrived to run away from the ship in which he had been
placed, and having regained the land, pursued his old habits, and got
connected with many of the principal thieves in London, with whom he
commenced business regularly as a house-breaker, which was almost
always his line of robbery."

Should not every means have been resorted to with this child before
proceeding to the dangerous mode of expulsion? for it is not the whole
who need a physician, but those who are sick; and I strongly suspect
that if judicious punishment had been resorted to, it would have
had the desired effect. I can only say that there never was a child
expelled from the infant school under my care as incorrigible.

In conclusion, I have to observe, that the broom punishment is only
for extraordinary occasions, and I think we are justified in having
recourse to any means that are consistent with duty and humanity, in
preference to turning a child out into the wide world.

Of all the difficulties I ever had to encounter, to legislate for
rewards and punishments, gave me the most trouble. How often have I
seen one child laugh at that which would make another child cry. If
any department in teaching requires knowledge of character more than
another it is this. Many a fine child's spirits are broken through the
ignorance of teachers and parents in this particular; but for me to
lay down _invariable rules_ to manage _every child_, would be like a
person undertaking to describe a voyage to the moon. Every person's
own good sense must decide for them according to character and
circumstances; and as to rewards, the same discrimination must be
used. One child will set much value on a little book, whilst another
will destroy it in a day; and though the book might be worth the
sixpence, a half-penny worth of what _they_ call good stuff would be
much more valuable. I have had more business done sometimes for a plum
than for a sixpenny book. It is never necessary to give the child
badges of _distinction_, and to allow it as many orders and degrees as
an Austrian field-marshal. Crosses at the button holes, and bits
of ribbon on the shoulders are unnecessary; they throw an apple of
discord between the young creatures, who have sense enough to see
that these things are frequently given away with a wonderous lack
of discrimination, and sometimes to please parents more than reward
merit. A carraway comfit put into the mouth of an infant will do more
good than all the badges of distinction that I have mentioned, as a
reward; but with respect to punishment, more will be said on it in
my larger work, when we come to treat of National Education. Each
creation of the most High is truly wonderful, and worthy of our
constant study. We may learn lessons of the truest wisdom from the
meanest leaf or insect, if we would regard it as one of His works. But
how much more may be learnt, and what an amount of useful instruction
may be gained, by a study of the finite mind, the highest work in
creation. Many have turned their attention to minerals, plants, and
animals, and thus added to our stores of knowledge. If equal attention
had been paid to the young mind, to mark the gradual germination of
its intellectual and moral powers, how much more accurate would
our knowledge be of the proper methods of dealing with it both in
instruction, direction, and punishment. Thus to study it has been the
aim of my life, and I have made observations on thousands of children.
When this great and living book is more constantly read, the contents
of this humble volume may have a better chance of being appreciated;
and the utter absurdity of many things palmed upon the public for the
education of infants made glaringly manifest.



_Means for conveying instruction--Method of teaching the alphabet
in connection with objects--Spelling--Reading--Developing
lessons--Reading lessons in Natural History--The Arithmeticon--Brass
letters--Their uses_.

* * * * *

"Without things, words, accumulated by misery in the memory, had far
better die than drag out a miserable existence in the dark. Without
words, theirs stay and support, things unaccountably disappear out of
the storehouse, and may be lost for ever; but bind _a thing with a
word_, a strong link, stronger than any steel, and softer than
any silk, and the captive remains for ever happy in its bright

* * * * *

The senses of children having revealed every object in its true light,
they next desire to know its name, and then express their perceptions
in words. This you have to gratify, and from the time you tell them
the name of an object, it is the representative of the thing in the
mind of the child; if the object be not present, but you mention
the name, this suggests it to the infant mind. Had this been more
frequently thought of by instructors, we should have found them less
eager to make the child acquainted with the names of things of which
it has no knowledge or perception. Sounds and signs which give rise
to no idea in the mind, because the child has never seen or known the
things represented, are of no use, and can only burden the memory.
It is, therefore, the object of our system to give the children a
knowledge of things, and then a knowledge of the words which represent
those things. These remarks not only apply to the names of visible
things, but more particularly to those which are abstract. If I would
say, shew a child _a horse_, before you tell it the name of the
animal, still more would I urge it on the teacher to let a child see
what love, kindness, religion, &c. are, before it is told what names
to designate those principles by. If our ignorance as to material
things be the result of instructing the children in names, instead of
enabling them to become acquainted with things, so, on the other hand,
I believe we may account, in the same way to some extent, for _virtue_
being so frequently a mere word, an empty sound, amongst men, instead
of an active principle.

Our next endeavour is to teach the children to express their thoughts
upon things; and if they are not checked by injudicious treatment,
they will have some on every subject. We first teach them to express
_their notions_, we then tell them ours, and truth will prevail even
in the minds of children. On this plan, it will operate by its own
strength, not by the power of coercion, which renders even truth
disagreeable and repulsive; the children will adopt it from choice in
preference to error, and it will be firmly established in their minds.

It will no doubt be perceived, that for the promotion of the
course here recommended, it will be advisable to connect with our
_alphabetical and reading lessons_, as much information as we possibly
can. By so doing, the tedium of the task to the child will be
considerably lessened, as well as much knowledge attained. The means
of doing this in a variety of ways will, no doubt, suggest themselves
to the intelligent teacher; but as an illustration of what we mean,
the following conversational plan may not be useless.

We have twenty-six cards, and each card has on it one letter of the
alphabet, and some object in nature; the first, for instance, has the
letter A on the top, and an apple painted on the bottom. The children
are desired to go into the gallery, which is formed of seats, one
above the other, at one end of the school. The master places himself
before the children, so that they can see him, and he them, and being
thus situated, proceeds in the following manner:--


Q. Where am I? A. Opposite to us. Q. What is on the right side of me?
A. A lady. Q. What is on the left side of me? A. A chair. Q. What is
before me? A. A desk. Q. Who is before me? A. We, children. Q. What
do I hold up in my hand? A. A letter A.Q. What word begins with A? A.
Apple. Q. Which hand do I hold it up with? A. With the right hand. Q.
Spell apple.[A] A. A-p-p-l-e. Q. How is an apple produced? A. It grows
on a tree. Q. What part of the tree is in the ground? A. The root. Q.
What is that which comes out of the ground? A. The stem. Q. When
the stem grows up straight, what would you call its position? A.
Perpendicular. Q. What are on the stem? A. Branches. Q. What are on
the branches? A. Leaves. Q. Of what colour are they? A. Green. Q. Is
there any thing else beside leaves on the branches? A. Yes, apples. Q.
What was it before it became an apple? A. Blossom. Q. What part of the
blossom becomes fruit? A. The inside. Q. What becomes of the leaves
of the blossom? A. They fall off the tree. Q. What was it before it
became a blossom? A. A bud. Q. What caused the buds to become larger,
and produce leaves and blossom? A. The sap. Q. What is sap? A. A
juice. Q. How can the sap make the buds larger? A. It comes out of the
root, and goes up the stem. Q. What next? A. Through the branches into
the buds. Q. What do the buds produce? A. Some buds produce leaves,
some blossoms, and some a shoot. Q. What do you mean by a shoot? A.
A young branch, which is green at first, but becomes hard by age. Q.
What part becomes hard first? A. The bottom.

[Footnote A: It is not supposed that all or many of the children will
be able to spell this or many of the subsequent words, or give such
answers as we have put down. But _some_ among the older or more acute
of them will soon be able to do so, and thus become instructors to the
rest. It may be proper to mention also that the information in Natural
History, &c. &c., displayed in some of the answers, is the result of
the instructions in Natural History which the children simultaneously
receive, and which is spoken of in a subsequent chapter. Mr. Golt's
simple arrangement of the Alphabet I much approve of, and no doubt it
will come into general use.]


Q. What is this? A. The letter B--the first letter in baker, butter,
bacon, brewer, button, bell, &c., &e. [The teacher can take any of
these names he pleases, for instance, the first:] Children, let me
hear you spell baker. A. B-a-k-e-r. Q. What is a baker? A. A man who
makes bread. Q. What is bread made of? A. It is made of flour, water,
yeast, and a little salt. Q. What is flour made of? A. Wheat. Q. How
is it made? A. Ground to powder in a mill. Q. What makes the mill go
round? A. The wind, if it is a windmill. Q. Are there any other kinds
of mills? A. Yes; mills that go by water, mills that are drawn round
by horses, and mills that go by steam. Q. When the flour and water and
yeast are mixed together, what does the baker do? A. Bake them in an
oven. Q. What is the use of bread? A. For children to eat. Q. Who
causes the corn to grow? A. Almighty God.


Q. What is this? A. It is letter C, the first letter in cow, c-o-w,
and cat, &c. Q. What is the use of the cow? A. The cow gives us milk
to put into the tea. Q. Is milk used for any other purpose besides
putting it into tea? A. Yes; it is used to put into puddings, and for
many other things. Q. Name some of the other things? A. It is used to
make butter and cheese. Q. What part of it is made into butter? A.
The cream which swims at the top of the milk. Q. How is it made into
butter? A. It is put into a thing called a churn, in the shape of a
barrel. Q. What is done next? A. The churn is turned round by means of
a handle, and the motion turns the cream into butter. Q. What is the
use of butter? A. To put on bread, and to put into pie-crust, and many
other nice things. Q. Of what colour is butter? A. It is generally
yellow. A. Are there any other things made of milk? A. Yes, many
things; but the principal one is cheese. Q. How is cheese made? A. The
milk is turned into curds and whey, which is done by putting a liquid
into it called rennet. Q. What part of the curd and whey is made into
cheese? A. The curd, which is put into a press; and when it has been
in the press a few days it becomes cheese. Q. Is the flesh of the cow
useful? A. Yes; it is eaten, and is called beef; and the flesh of the
young calf is called veal. Q. Is the skin of the cow or calf of any
use? A. Yes; the skin of the cow or calf of any use? A. Yes; the skin
of the cow is manufactured into leather for the soles of shoes. Q.
What is made with the calf skin? A. The top of the shoe, which is
called the upper-leather. Q. Are there any other parts of the cow that
are useful? A. Yes; the horns, which are made into combs, handles of
knives, forks, and other things. Q. What is made of the hoofs that
come off the cow's feet? A. Glue, to join boards together. Q. Who made
the cow? A. Almighty God.


Q. What is this? A. Letter D, the first letter it dog, dove, draper,
&c. Q. What is the use of the dog, A. To guard the house and keep
thieves away. Q. How can a dog guard the house and keep thieves away?
A. By barking to wake the persons who live in the house. Q. Is the dog
of any other use? A. Yes; to draw under a truck. D. Does he do as his
master bids him? A. Yes; and knows his master from any other person.
Q. Is the dog a faithful animal? A. Yes, very faithful; he has been
known to die of grief for the loss of his master. Q. Can you mention
an instance of the dog's faithfulness? A. Yes; a dog waited at the
gates of the Fleet prison for hours every day for nearly two years,
because his master was confined in the prison. Q. Can you mention
another instance of the dog's faithfulness? A. Yes; a dog lay down on
his master's grave in a churchyard in London for many weeks. Q. How
did the dog get food? A. The people who lived near noticed him, and
brought him victuals. Q. Did the people do any thing besides giving
him victuals A. Yes; they made a house for him for fear he should die
with wet and cold. Q. How long did he stay there? A. Until the people
took him away, because he howled dreadfully when the organ played on
Sundays. Q. Is it right to beat a dog? A. No; it is very wrong to use
any animal ill, because we do not like to be beaten ourselves. Q. Did
Almighty God make the dog? A. Yes; and every thing else that has life.


Q. What letter is this? A. E, the first letter in egg. Q. What is
the use of an egg? A. It is useful for many purposes; to put into

Book of the day: