Page:Letters to Mothers (1839).djvu/23

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tion, by which your pupils are continually in your presence, receiving lessons whether you intend it or not, and if the voice of precept be silent, fashioning themselves on the model of your example. You cannot escape from their imitation. You cannot prevent them from carrying into another generation, the stamp of those habits which they inherit from you. If you are thoughtless, or supine, an unborn race will be summoned as witnesses of your neglect.

            "Meantime, the mighty debt runs on,
               The dread account proceeds,
            And your not-doing is set down
               Among your darkest deeds."[1]

In ancient times, the theory that the mother was designated by nature as an instructor, was sometimes admitted and illustrated. The philosopher Aristippus, was the pupil of maternal precepts. Revered for his wisdom, he delighted in the appellation of Metrodidactos, the "taught of his mother."

"We are indebted," says Quintilian, "for the eloquence of the Gracchi, to their mother Cornelia," who though qualified to give publick lectures in philosophy at Rome, did not forget to be the faithful teacher in private, of those, whom she so justly styled "her jewels." St. Jerome also bears similar testimony. "The eloquence of the Gracchi, derived its perfection from the mother's elegance and purity of language."

  1. Edward Young, Resignation, Part I. Altered from original.