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of society : topics that have been the standing dish from time immemorial; and have been treated of so often, and in some instances so ably, as almost to preclude the possibility of adding a single thought altogether new. There is one important particular, however, which seems to have been less heeded than the rest; and that is the salutary restraints which wellregulated society imposes upon its members : I mean not the restraints of law, but merely those of opinion. If there be persons who care not at all what any
think of them, their minds are either far above, or far below, the natural feelings of humanity. Indeed it is more than doubtful whether any person, of this description exists, unless amongst the vilest and most abandoned of the species. It is human nature, to love esteem and abhor reproach ; and, for this reason, no law has so general influence over civilized man, as the law of Decency ; inasmuch as it governs the external conduct, or the manners, of even those who have little or no regard for moral principle. A sense of shame is one of the most powerful checks upon the atrocious vices which society deems scandalous: so that decency of manners in society is owing not so much to its laws, as to public sentiment, or the authority of opinion.
How happens it that they who emigrate from places in which public sentiment is decidedly in favour of the virtues and the decencies of life, and settle themselves flown in a solitary situation, or among neighbours of corrupted sentiments ; how happens it, that often they are so changed, so strangely degenerated in their morals and manners? The reason is, that they have lost, or thrown off, what had been the main check upon their behaviour. As they are no longer under the stern, scru. tinizing eye of virtuous society, they no longer scruple to indulge freely the irregular propensities of their minds and hearts.
There are those in private life, who are capable of doing nearly, if not quite as much good, as can be done by legislators and magistrates : they are persons possessed of great or considerable wealth. In our coun. try, there is no one thing that confers so much weight of personal influence as riches. The rich, if they pos. sess parts withal, have a matchless influence upon the morals and manners of society. They are looked up to; they are imitated; in things pertaining to manpers, they take the lead, and have considerably the direction. Happy were it, if their influence were always directed to shame vice and to make virtue fashionable.
Of learning children to lie.
" To be branded with the name of liar Is ignominy fit for slaves alone.
This was the sentiment of an ancient Greek poet of great and deserved fame ; a man, who, unenlightened with the rays of christianity, spoke merely from the impulse of nature.
The ancient Persians, as history informs us, were at great pains to learn and habituate their children to speak the truth, and thought this a main point in their education. The old Grecians and Romans considered lying so infamous as to degrade a freeman to a level with their slaves. Even the Turks, are reported to hold a liar in the utmost contempt. And indeed, by &
sort of general consent, in most parts of the world, this vice has been reckoned a mark of cowardly meanness of nature, and been branded with infamy. While the laws and sanctions of christianity, most solemnly forbid lying, and threaten it with all that is awful, the laws even of fashion condemn and reproach it as the offspring of a pitiful, dastardly spirit. So that a notorious liar, is excluded, as by general suffrage, not only from the communion of the pious, but also from the society of the polite.
It is not to my purpose however, to treat here of the vice itself, or of its direful consequences ; but rather to suggest ways and means to prevent its growing into a habit with young children. For, of these two things I am confident: first, that few, if any, have become notorious for lying, who did not begin to learn it while young; and second, that few children, if any, are deeply initiated in this black art, unless through the fault, directly or indirectly, of those who have had the immediate care of their persons and their education. Truth is as easily spoken as falsehood; and the habit of speaking the truth, when once fixed, is perhaps nearly as hard to be broken off, as the habit of lying. They both grow into habits by degrees, and most commonly according to the management and moulding of early childhood.
Tell me not that there is in some children, even in some little children, such a strong propensity to lying that the habit is not preventable by any human means. How many thousand pagans (the old Persians, for instance) had taken such pains with their children in this particular, that, among them all, a single liar was scarcely known. And it is hard to tell why christian parents and instructors might not be equally success.
ful, if they would only use the same prudence and unweariable diligence.
It is said that the children of the oppressed poor in jolly and generous-hearted Ireland, are remarkably quick and intelligent, but almost universally addieted to lying, which they are taught by even their own mothers. The boy is sent off by his mother, to pilfer and bring home, fuel from the landlord's turf-rick. If the little urchin succeeds, and returns well-laden with plunder, he is applauded. If he happens to meet with the lardlord, or any of his domestics, and is asked whither he is going ; provided he brings himself off by lying, he is praised for his art and cunning. But should it bechance him to speak the truth in reply to the interrogation, he is sure of a whipping upon his return home ; or, at best, of a sharp reprimand from his mother, in terms like the following :
little brat! And what måde ye tell the gentleman when he met ye, ye rogue, that ye were going to the rick ? And what business had ye to go and belie me to his honor, ye unnatural piece of goods ! I'll teach ye to make mischief through the country ! So I will. Have ye got no better sense and manners at this time o' day, than to behave, when one trusts ye abroad, so like an innocent p»*
I would fain believe, that, in this free and goodly country of ours, there are not very many mothers, por fathers, disposed to learn their children to lie, wittingly, directly, and even by their positive injunctions: yet I do fear there are very many who do it either unwittingly, or indirectly, or consequentially.
Some do it unwittingly, or without consideration. The child (be it supposed) begins to lie ere it can fair
Edgeworth's practical Education.-Miss Edgeworth remarks, that, in Ireland, an innocent is synonymous with a fool
ly be regarded as a moral agent. In such a case, and such cases are not uncommon,-it is diverting, particularly to parents, to hear the cunning little thing fib. And where is the harm P".So say, or so think, some inconsiderate ones. But they wofully err.The harm lies here. The fibbing child, though only three or four years old, is now beginning to be fashioned to the awful habit of lying : and though easy to be cured at this age, the cure might, a few years hence, be very difficult, if not impossible.
Others again, indirectly learn their little children to lie, by passing deceptions upon them.-Now every deception that is passed upon the child, goes to learn the child to deceive. The deceptive arts that are played off
' upon himself, he is quickly prepared to put in practice upon others. Especially if his parents, to whom he looks for examples,--if they deceive him with falsehoods, whether to induce him to take medicine, or for whatever purpose else, he, also, will not scruple to utter falsehoods to gain his ends.
Finally, some, so keenly mark, and so severely punish, even the petty faults of children, that they are strongly tempted to a denial of the truth, whenever they see the least chance of escape by that means ; and thus they begin to get the habit of lying, as it were in their own defence.
To learn children to despise and detest falsehood and prevarication, and on no account to be guilty of an untruth, is one of the most essential articles in a good education. This is among the good seed that should be sown, betimes, in their minds, by their parents and instructors ; so as to prevent, if possible, their ever uttering a wilful falsehood, or at least, to cure the evil at its first budding: else the force of habit being superad