Page:Letters to Mothers (1839).djvu/126

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LETTERS TO MOTHERS.

perfectly qualified to judge, and an encouragement to such mothers as shrink at the threshold of their higher duties

Methinks, I hear the voice of some fair sceptic exclaiming, "I doubt whether it would be as well for my children to be educated at home. They require the stimulus to exertion, which is found in schools." Are you quite sure of it? Is not the emulation which you quote, often but another name for "envying and strife?" May not an ambitious mind be so incited by it, as to make exertions which would be destructive of health? We think such instances are not uncommon.

But will not the duty of obedience, the desire of pleasing you, or the satisfaction of knowledge, impel your children to the brief lessons which you appoint? Do they all require the external prompting to which you allude? Is not one capable of higher motives? If so, select that one as an example, and let your approbation, bearing decidedly upon that one, "provoke the others to good works." If all are equally torpid, there are methods by which all may be aroused. I knew a mother who kept two blank books, one bound in red, the other in black. For every well-committed lesson, or proof of improvement, a mark of credit was entered in the red book. Indolence, and other faults, gained a mark in the sad-coloured one. At the close of every week or month, the