It is still less necessary to advert, in a work like this, to the effect which much observation and experience shows good society to have on purity, both physical and moral. Every one must have observed its tendency to form habits of cleanliness, not to say neatness. There may be excess, even in this. Young persons, of both sexes, often spend too much time in preparing their dress for the reception or the visiting of their friends. Still this is only the abuse of a good thing. Nor is it less true, though it may be less obvious, that moral purity is more likely to be secured where children and youth of both sexes associate a great deal, from the earliest infancy. [Footnote: If this principle be correct, what is the tendency of our numerous schools, which are exclusively for one sex? Must there not be latent evil to counterbalance some of the seeming good? For myself, I doubt whether moral character can ever be formed in due proportion and harmony, where this separation long exists.] There are tremendous cases of declension on record, which establish this point beyond the possibility of debate.
To say that the mother—and indeed both parents—ought to form a part of the playing circle of the youngest children, in order to watch their opening dispositions, to check what may be improper, and encourage what ought to be encouraged, would be only to repeat what has often been recommended by the best writers on education—but which must be repeated, again and again, till it leaves an impression, especially on CHRISTIAN parents. It is strange that many regard this matter as they do, and appear not only ashamed to be seen sporting with their children, but almost ashamed to have their children thus occupied. They might as well be ashamed of the gambols of the kitten or the lamb; or of the grave mother, as she turns aside occasionally to join in its frolics. When will parents be willing to take lessons in education from that brute world which they have been so long accustomed to overlook or despise?
Influence of mothers over daughters. Anecdote of Benjamin West. Anecdote of a poor mother. Of set lessons and lectures. Daughters under the mother’s eye. Why young ladies, now-a-days, dislike domestic employments. Miserable housewives—not to be wondered at. Mistake of one class of men. Mr. Flint’s opinion.
One important and never-to-be-forgotten employment of the young is the cultivation of their minds; and another, that of their morals. But my present purpose is only to speak of those employments denominated manual, or physical.
It is obvious, at the first glance, that the influence of the mother, in our own country, at least, will be less over boys than over girls. We leave it to savages and semi-savages to employ their females, and even their mothers, in hard manual labor. Here, in America, what I should say on the employment of boys would be more properly addressed to the YOUNG FATHER.