페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

.

Mife and consciousness. All sorts of excitement are at this stage alike unnecessary and injurious; and books may, on this account, be too clever, too interesting—we were going to say, too instructive. They may, at least, contain a great deal of premature instruction, relative both to good and evil, for which a child may be little the wiser, and something the worse. We do not want to make our children little reasoners, or philosophers, or sentimentalists, or encyclopedists, which the boasted interrogatory system, together with the free use of fiction, tends to make them. We wholly disapprove of cramming them on the one hand, or cheatingthem into knowledge on the other. We consider the alliance between work and play as quite illegitimate, and would have books and toys kept perfectly distinct as soon as a child is able to apprehend the distinction. A quick child would commit to memory a page of Propria quæ maribus, with as little difficulty as a page of Questions and Answers from one of Mr. Pinpock's Fifty Catechisms, would be less bothered by it, and would be inuch better employed; for the exercise of the memory and the formation of the babit of application, are the chief things to be aimed at. And as to bis amusements, the more they employ the body, and the less they employ the mind, the better.

One word as to the communication of religious knowledge through the medium of fiction. We have the highest authority for the use of parables or apologues in conveying this most important kind of instruction; and no one who has made the experiment, can have failed, we think, to be sometimes surprised at the astonishing facility with which even abstract ideas are grasped by the infant intellect by the aid of these familiar analogies. It was an excellent definition which was given by a child in answer to the question, Do you know what a parable means?

Parables were stories which Jesus Christ told his disciples • about little things, to make them understand great ones. The child does not understand the whole force and bearing of the allegory at first; but he understands something, and as he will never lose the impression of the narrative, he is likely, as he is able to bear it, to have gradually unfolded to his mind, the whole of its meaning. The remark of Hooker well applies to these : . As for those things which at the first are obscure and dark, • when memory hath laid them up for a time, judgement after• wards growing, explaineth them.' Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Holy War are, in this respect, equally adapted to all ages. The only danger is, lest they should make too vivid an impression on a child of lively imagination. But it is worth while to run all bazards for the sake of imbuing the mind with the invaluable instruction they contain, and which could be communicated to the child with equal efficiency in no other shape, We have known them, too, to be of admirable use as a Child's

Oommentary on the Scriptures. By means of the continual iltration which they afford, of Scriptural doctrines, expressions, and images, they are adapted to serve this important purpose better than any formal explanation possible.

But it cannot be necessary to point out the broad line of obvious distinction between fables or allegories, and religious stories, The one is a direct, the other an indirect method of religious instruction. The former strictly belongs to didactic teaching, the latter to the province of poetry and the drama. In the allegory, the very substance of religious truth is made palpable: in the Darrative, it is rather religious sentiment which is presented 10 the mind. Now, in a child, religious sentiment is valuable only when it results from principles which story-books in general are not adapted to produce. These exhibit truths apart from the authority which enforces them that authority which is to a child instead of evidence, and upon the ground of which he is taught to believe and to obey. The native language of Religious 'Truth is that of command, and the all-important disposition in a child is, the babit of obedience. Religious stories are at best but illustrations of religious principles; and whether the fictitious illustration of principles is of much efficacy towards forming them in the mind, seems to us questionable. The best that can be said for this

class of productions is, that they find their way where books di- rectly religious would be excluded, and are the means of thrus smuggling

the contraband article of Methodism into many families. But we are very jealous of their being adopted as a legitimate means of religious education. Yet, the adinirable and unlexceptioitable stories of Mrs. Sherwood, shew that fiction may be employed with the bappiest effect.

We trust that our readers will excuse our going thus far out of our way as critics, to make a stand for some of the-potions and prejudices of the old school of education, to which we take it for granted, the present Writer would acknowledge bimself to belong. The great excellence of these Incidents of Childhood is, that they strictly answer to their title, and the book is, therefore, admirably adapted for Children. The subjects, the sentiments, and the : style are alike in character, extremely simple and quiet; and the

tone of the Writer is pitched to the ear of his youthfal readers. The volume contains eight stories: the Iron-box: Phæbe's Visit; Curibsity and Inquiry; the two Tempers ; little Fanny's Plan; the Visit to London ; the Belfry; and the linger's Son.' In order to give a fair specimen of the book, we ooglit to transcribe an entire story; but as this would much exceed our due Jimits, we thust content ourselves with an extraet from the first.

Peter Simons was the son of a poor fisherman, who lived in a solitary cottage, built of rough stone, on the steep side of a rock Which faced the sea. Behind the cottage the dark jagged clif slanted

1

up to a great height: before it you might look straight down upon the sea, two hundred feet below. Steps were cut in the solid stone, which led wiņding down to the shore. On one side of the house there was a stack of furze to serve for firing ; on the other side was a small level space, with poles, on which the fisherman bung dried fish, of different sorts, cut open, and all shrivelled and yellow: at the door hung the fisherman's great sea boots, and his rough blue coat, lined with red stuff.

Peter was a lazy boy; and his father and mother used no means to correct his idle habits; but suffered him to spend his time as he pleased. Sometimes he would lie half the day on the ground before the door, just looking over the edge, to watch the curling foam of the waves among the broken rocks below; or throw down stones to see them jump from ledge to ledge as they fell. When the weather was perfectly calm, and the sun shone, so that, from the top of the hill, the sea appeared all in a blaze of light, you might perceive a black speck at some distance, like a lark in the clear sky: this was the fisherman's small boat, in which Peter would spend all the hours from one tide till the next. Having anchored the boat on a sand bank, he would doze with his hat slouched over his face, or if he was awake, listen to the tapping of the waves against the side of the boat ; and dow and then halloo to make the gulls that were swimming about; rise into the air. But most often, in fine weather, he would saunter along upon the beach, to a neck of sand about a mile from his home. Here there was the old hulk of a sloop, that had been wrecked at a spring tide ; so that it lay high upon the beach ; it was now half sunk in the sand, and the sea-weed had gathered round it, three or four feet deep. "It was Peter's delight to sit upon the deck, lolling against the capstan, while his naked legs dangled down the gangway in the forecastle.

i When the weather was too cold to sit still out of doors, and when his mother drove him from the chimney corner, Peter would take a large knife and an old hat ; and gather muscles from the rocks : but almost the only thing of any use which he did in the whole course of the year, was to plait a straw hat for himself, and patch his jacket.

Peter seemed always dismal and discontented; he seldom more than half opened his eyes, except when he was searching the crannies of the rocks, and fumbling in the heaps of sea-weed, after a storm, in hope of finding something that had been thrown up by the waves. Indeed he lived in expectation that some great good luck would one day come to him in this way: and so in fact it happened.

One morning after a gale of wind, and a very high spring tide, the 'sea retired so far that Peter made his way to a reef

of rocks which he had never before been able to reach. There were two hours i before the tide would oblige him to return: he determined therefore to make the best use of his time in hunting over this new ground. He scrambled up and down, and jumped from rock to rock so nimbly, that, at a little distance, no one would have guessed that it was Peter Simons. He dived his arm deep into the weedy basins in the rocks, VOL. XVI. N. S.

2 Y

and groped, with his hands under water, among the pebbles, shells, and oily weed with which they were filled. Nothing, however, was to be found, except, now and then, a whitened bone, a piece of green sheet-copper, or some rusty iron.

Peter staid till the sea had several times run over the sand bank which joined the reef of rocks to the shore. It was now necessary to make speed back ; and he took such long strides in returning, that he sank over his ancles in the loose sand. Just before he reached the solid ground, he set his bare foot upon a staple and ring, to which a small rope was tied. He pulled the rope pretty stoutly, supposing it to be fastened to a piece of timber from a wreck; but, in doing so, he dragged from under the sand an iron box, about six inches square. It was very rusty, and he would have thought it a solid block of iron, if it had not been for the appearance of hinges on one side.

«« Now,” said Peter, “ here's my fortune to be sure in this box: what should an iron box be for, but to keep gold and diamonds in ? Nobody shall know a word of this till I see what's in it.” He knocked and banged it about on the rocks for some time, to get it open; but finding his efforts vain, he determined, for the present, to carry it to the old sloop, where he spent so much of his time; and lodge it safely in the sand which filled the hold: by the time he had done this, it was nearly dark.

• Although he had been kept awake some part of the night, in making various guesses of what might be in the box, and planning what he should do with his treasure, Peter rose two hours before his usual time the next morning. The rising sun shone upon the bighest peak of the rocky headland, just as he climbed upon the deck of the sloop. He had brought a large knife, and a hammer with him, to force the box open ; but he found he could not get the point of the knife in any where; and all his blows with the hammer only made the rusty flakes of iron peel off from the sides of the box. No trace of a key-hole could be found, and when the top of the box was cleaned, it appeared that the lid was screwed down on three sides. Peter buried the box again in the same place; and set himself to think what was to be done. He knew that the blacksmith at the village could open the box easily enough; but he would trust his secret to nobody. The only way therefore was to procure tools, and go to work upon it himself. Lazy folks, when they choose to exert themselves, are often very ingenious, and sometimes, even, very diligent. Peter had not a penny of his own. How was he to get money enough to buy a screw-driver?

• Peter Simons, as we have said before, could plait a straw hat pretty neatly. It was a sort of employment that suited him ; because he could do it while he sat lolling in the sunshine, thinking about nothing, with his eyes half shut, and his mouth half open. He thought that if he made two or three hats, lie might be able to sell them at the town for as much money as would buy the screw-driver, or what other tools he might want. He procured the straw therefore, and taking it to the cabin of the old sloop, went to work more heartily than ever he had done in his life before. Peter's father and

[ocr errors]

mother concerned themselves very little with the manner in which he spent his time : and when he took his dinner with him, and was absent the whole day, his mother was glad to get rid of him, and asked him no questions when he came home in the evening.

The first thing that Peter did every morning before he sat down to his straw. hat making, was to take the box out of the sand, and make some violent efforts to force it open without further ado.: but, after spending some time in turning it about, looking at it, banging it against the rock, and trying to wheedle in the point of the knife, he quietly buried it in its place; having convinced himself afresh that the only way was to go on steadily with the plan he had determined upon. He often wondered that he could not hear the diamonds or the guineas rattle, when he shook the box; but he concluded that it was stuffed so full, that there was no room for them to wag.

• After Peter had been thus diligently employed several days, he began to feel a pleasure in work which was quite new to him. Although he now rose two or three hours earlier than he used to do, the days seemed to him shorter instead of longer than they did when he spent all his time in idleness. He almost lost his habit of yawning ; and when he went home in the evening, instead of squatting down sulkily in the chimney corner, he would jump about the house, and do little jobs for his mother. " I do'nt know what's come to our “ Peter,” said his mother, “ he's not the same boy that he was.

Wbat Peter found in the Iron Box, when screw-driver had been bought, and, that failing, two files, which cost another whole week's labour, and the nine screws which held down the lid, had had, in slow succession, their heads filed off, we do not mean to tell; but the sequel informs us, that when Peter grew up, and was in business for himself, be used to say, that be found all his good fortune in this Iron Box.

Art. IX. A Greek and English Manual Lexicon to the New Testa

ment ; with Examples of all the irregular and more difficult Inflec

tions. By J. H. Bass. 18mo. pp. 183. Price 45. London. 1821. THIS very neatly printed little volume is principally an

abridgement of Parkhurst's Greek and Eoglish Lexicon to the New Testament, whose definitions are generally adopted by the present Compiler. The work is increased in value by the occasional contributions which it has received from Schleusner, and by the insertion of a considerable number of inflections of verbs, intended to facilitate the progress of the learner without affording him improper assistance in bis study of the Greek Testament. Its convenient size and price, and its concise but comprehensive explanations, cannot fail of recommending this “ Manual Lexicon” to the acceptance of those persons for whose use it has been prepared. We would recommend, however, a sedulous attention to its revision.

« 이전계속 »