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There we studied together; and there he was pleased to teach just such wisdom as I was pleased to learn. Never was there a more pleasant instructor, or a less tyrannical school. We read together Salmon's Geography, Robertson's History of Greece, Goldsmith's Rome, Don Quixote and Gil Blas. My dear uncle taught me the mathematics; I went through the rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication and scratch division, together with the other mode of performing that useful rule. I was not more than six months, (besides making four slings, harnessing two pair of skates, and fixing three sleds,) in learning the multiplication table; in short, in the estimation of my grandfather's family, I bid fair to be a wonderful mathematician; had not an unlucky accident, blown in by the cross wind of fortune, determined me to be irrevocably a poet.
What due offence from amorous causes springs,
As my uncle's regimen may teach a new course of medicine, so his shop or chamber may open a new plan of education. I will tell the truth.
I had cyphered according to the good maxim festina lenté, as far as vulgar fractions, when one day my uncle being absent, I came to a question which posed all my powers, and brought me to a dead set. After performing the operation every way, it would not come out any thing like the printed answer ;
it was evident the book must be wrong, or I was wrong; and as I then had no idea that there could be a lie in print, I was very distrustful of my own calculations. My uncle had already given me a lecture for idleness; and it was expected at least that one sum should be finished on his return. What could J do? Like a bard in distress, I had recourse to the Muses; and wrote on my slate, the following lines, not without some faint resemblance to an anacre creontic which I had read in our Almanac.
'Tis hard to cypher, I am sure;
The anguish of a wounded heart,
No language can express the astonishment with which these lines were read. Applauses rung through all the rooms of Oldbug house; my grandfather, aunt Hannah, even David, swelled the chorus. That a boy only twelve years old should produce such lines! Amazing! unparalleled! As for my uncle Gideon, he knew too well what Cupid's arrows were, not to admire. From that moment away went dull prose and mathematics; and we gave ourselves up to all the sublimities of love and poetry. Early in the morning, late at night, we were found in the little chamber, under the back chimney, courting the Muses. I wrote, and my uncle corrected; there were produced rebusses, acrostics, anagrams, on all the beauties of
our-village on whom my uncle's eyes had strayed. Never was a young bard encouraged by more enthusiastic admiration; though I must confess, judging of my poetry by its effects, I have no reason for selfgratulation; for it never softened the hearts of one of the beauties with whom my uncle was in love. My verses and his eloquence were alike ineffectual; the poor man died an old bachelor. But what can be expected from the hard hearts of modern women, especially when addressed by a shrivelled bachelor of fifty! They would be too hard for Orpheus himself.
Reader, if you have one son, and wish to make him a sober, practical man, never suffer him to be brought up at his grandpa's, nor install his uncle over him as a schoolmaster. They will ruin him without intending it; for though I there learned much that was excellent, yet, there also but what avail excuses and reflections. My faults are my own; and the only lesson they can now teach me, is, humility and repentance.
The current, that with gentle murmur glides,
He makes sweet music with the enamel'd stones;
Two Gentlemen of Verona.
I FIND on reviewing my last number, that I have fallen into such a train of reflections as I have often heard and condemned in others. Such is the eagerness with which the mind flies from its own errors, that almost every man finds something to condemn in his own education. It was too severe, too lax, too religious, or too sensual, and he reposes on the excuse that he was injured or spoiled before he came to the years of discretion. Vain endeavors! The real fault lies where we are not willing to find it.
In this age, education has become a science; and,
I fear, a whole generation will be spoiled by its perfections. If books can teach man this duty, certainly no being need to complain. We have them of all sizes, from the ponderous octavo with its double volumes, down to the penny pamphlet, all entering into the minutest article, and undertaking to make virtuous masters and misses almost by mechanical skill. One teaches us that we must procure nurses of a good natured countenance, because the temper of the infant is often soured by a bad usage; another proposes to banish from our young libraries all the little tales of fiction, which have amused children for ages, because these books, being untrue, may teach our children to lie; one great philosopher thinks that fables with speaking trees and reasoning brutes, are supremely pernicious; and we have volumes on volumes written with the best intention to force on the minds of youth prematurely the intricate articles of some system of theology. Wasted labor! Education in my opinion is a very simple business. It is like eloquence; so far as specifics are concerned, there are ten thousand ways of accomplishing the same end. To educate your children well, you must in the first place have plain, honest, hearty, good intentions; you must exhibit a good example, have an orderly family, and feel yourself and set before them the motives of the Christian religion. This is the whole secret. Theory there is none; and those who pretend to it, desire more to sell their books than to profit mankind. If