Page:Letters to Mothers (1839).djvu/196

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carefully perused every book which was to be entrusted to their children, and marked with the scrupulousness of refined and religious taste, such [147] parts as they considered either injurious, or inapposite; and so perfect were the habits of obedience which they had enforced, that the penciled passages were left unread.

The ambition to have children read at a very early age, seems ill-placed. Apart from any ill effect of infantine application upon health, is not the attainment, rather the sound of words, than the reception of ideas?

"My daughter could read as well at three years old, as she does now," says some fond mother, trespassing a little upon that province of boasting, from which the "very chiefest of the apostles" has excluded us. Had the child been gifted with the wisdom of the stripling David, it would have objected to be thus girded with the heavy armour of a veteran. What can be the motive for thrusting weapons into a hand, which is too weak to wield them? What is the use of repeating words, which the understanding cannot comprehend? Is it even safe, to force an immature intellect into unnatural prominence?

I once admired precocity, and viewed it as the breath of Deity, quickening to ripe and rare excellence. But I have since learned to fear it. Minds, which in childhood, distanced their contemporaries,