Page:Father's memoirs of his child.djvu/70
custom of the old ones, he arrived by degrees at an almost niform exactness; so that for some time this exercise of his discriminative powers was among the most amusing of his employments.
So early as before he was three years old, he had taught himself to make letters, first in imitation of printed books, and afterwards of hand-writing; for it is to be recollected, that he was left to himself, to chalk out his own pursuits of this nature. It was thought expedient to limit the province of instruction to those occasional assistances, for which the intervention of casual errors and difficulties may well be imagined to have furnished frequent opportunity. His parents would indeed have considered the attempt to impose on a child of his tender years, such tasks as he voluntarily assumed, not merely a hopeless, but a presumptuous and cruel effort. At the same time, it would have been an instance either of perverseness or timidity, to have checked his ardour after knowledge, since it cost his mind no pain-