A Little Pretty Pocket-book/Introduction

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A Little Pretty

Pocket-book, &c.

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The grand Design in the Nurture of Children, is to make them Strong, Hardy, Healthy, Virtuous, Wise, and Happy; and these good Purposes are not to be obtained without some Care and Management in their Infanacy.

Would you have your Child Strong, take Care of your Nurse, let her be a prudent Woman, one that will give him what Meat and Drink is necessary, and such only as affords a good Nutriment, not salt Meat, rich tarts, Sauces, Wine, &c. a Practice too common amongst some indulgent People. She must also let the Child have due Exercise; for it is this that Life and Spirits, circulates the Blood, strengthens the Sinews, and keeps the whole Machinery in Order.

Would you have a Hardy Child, give him common Diet only, clothe him thin, let him have good Exercise, and be as much Exposed to Hardships as his natural Constitution will admit. The Face of a Child, when it come into the world (says the great Mr. Locke) is as tender and susceptible of Injuries as any other part of the Body; yet, by being always exposed, it becomes Proof against the severest Season and the most inclement Weather; even at a Time when the Body (though wrapped in Flannels) is pierced with Cold. It is beside my Purpose to give a physical Reason for this; nor indeed will the Brevity of my Design admit of it. It is a Fact sufficiently known, what every Man must be sensible of, and therefore can need no Demonstration.

Would you have a Healthy Son, observe the Directions already laid down with regard to Diet and Excercise, and keep him, as much as possible, from Physick; for Physick is to the Body, as Arms to the State; both are necessary, but neither to be used but in Cases of Emergency and Danger.

Would you have a Virtuous son, instill into him the Principles of Morality early, and encourage him in the Practice of those excellent Rules, by which whole Societies, States, Kingdoms, and Empires are knit together. Take heed what Company you intrust him with, and be always sure you set him a good Example yourself. Would you have a Wise Son, teach him to reason early. Let him read, and make him understand what he reads. No Sentence should be passed over without a strict Examination of the Truth of it; and though this may be thought hard at first, and seem to retard the Boy in his Progress, yet, a little Practice will make it familiar, and a Method of Reasoning will be acquired, which will be of Use to him all his Life after. Let him study Mankind; shew him the Springs and Hinges on which they move; teach him to draw Consequences from the Actions of others; and if he should hesitate or mistake, you are to set him right: But then take Care to do it in such a Manner, as to forward his Enquiries, and pave this his grand Pursuit with Pleasure. Was this Method of Reasoning put more in Practice by Tutors, Parents, &c. we should not see so many dismal Objects in the World, for People would learn by the Misfortunes of others to avert their own.

I doubt not but every Parent, every Father and Mother, would gladly contribute what they could towards the Happiness of their Children; and yet it is surprising to see how blind they are, and how wide they mistake the Mark. What the indulgent Parent generally proposes for the Happiness of his Child, is a good Fortune to bear him up under the Calamities of Life; but daily Experience tells us, this is insufficient. Happiness and Misery have their Source from the Passions: If in the Midst of the greatest Affluence, we are always repining, and think ourselves poor and miserable, we are so; and the Beggar in the Straw, who is content, and thinks he has sufficient, is rich and happy. The whole Matter subsists in the Mind, and the Constitution: Subdue therefore your Children's Passions; curb their Tempers, and make them subservient to the Rules of Reason. And this is not to be done by chiding, whipping, or severe Treatment, but by Reasoning and mild Discipline. Were I to see my Son too much ruffled and discomposed, I should take him aside, and point out to him the Evils that attend passionate Men; tell him, that my Love for him would make me overlook many Faults, but that this was of so heinous a Nature, that I could not bear the Sight of him while he continued so wicked; that he should not see his Mother, nor any of his Playmates, until he had sufficiently repented of that Crime: Upon which, I would immediately order him (in a very calm Manner) to be shut up from any Company for five or six Hours, and then, upon his Confession of the Fault, asking Pardon for his Offence, and promising Amendment for the future I would forgive him. This Method, regularly pursued, would soon break his Passion of Resentment, and subdue it to Reason. The next prudent Step to be taken, is to check his inordinate craving and desiring almost every Thing he sees; and this, I think, might be as easily effected as the other; for, in the first Place, I would lay down this as a Maxim with him, that he should never have any Thing he cried for; and therefore, if he was willing to obtain any Favour, he must come with some reasonable Request, and withdraw without the Appearance of any Uneasiness in Case of a Disappointment.

Some over-fond People will think these are harsh Precepts. What, say they, are Children never to be obliged? answer, Yes, I would have them obliged and pleased, but not humoured and spoiled. They should have what they asked for in a proper Manner; but then they should wait my Time, without seeming over solicitous, or crying after it. I would make them exercise their Patience, that they might know the Use of it, when the Cares of the World came on. And therefore, I say again, Children should never have any Thing they cried for; no, not on any Consideration whatsoever.

Children, like tender Osiers, take the Bow, And as they first are fashion'd, always grow. Dryden.

'Tis Education forms the tender Mind; just as the Twig is bent, the Tree's inclin'd. Pope.