An older sister has been taking a walk, with little Johnny, four years old, as her companion. On their return, when within half a mile of home, Johnny, tired of gathering flowers and chasing butterflies, comes to his sister, with a fatigued and languid air, and says he can not walk any farther, and wants to be carried.
“I can’t carry you very well,” she says, “but I will tell you what we will do; we will stop at the first tavern we come to and rest. Do you see that large flat stone out there at the turn of the road? That is the tavern, and you shall be my courier. A courier is a man that goes forward as fast as he can on his horse, and tells the tavern-keeper that the traveller is coming, and orders supper. So you may gallop on as fast as you can go, and, when you get to the tavern, tell the tavern-keeper that the princess is coming—I am the princess—and that he must get ready an excellent supper.”
The boy will gallop on and wait at the stone. When his sister arrives she may sit and rest with him a moment, entertaining him by imagining conversations with the inn-keeper, and then resume their walk.
“Now,” she may say, “I must send my courier to the post-office with a letter. Do you see that fence away forward? That fence is the post-office. We will play that one of the cracks between the boards is the letter-box. Take this letter (handing him any little scrap of paper which she has taken from her pocket and folded to represent a letter) and put it in the letter-box, and speak to the postmaster through the crack, and tell him to send the letter as soon as he can.”
Under such management as this, unless the child’s exhaustion is very great, his sense of it will disappear, and he will accomplish the walk not only without any more complaining, but with a great feeling of pleasure. The nature of the action in such a case seems to be that the vital force, when, in its direct and ordinary passage to the muscles through the nerves, it has exhausted the resources of that mode of transmission, receives in some mysterious way a reinforcement to its strength in passing round, by a new channel, through the organs of intelligence and imagination.
These trivial instances are only given as examples to show how infinitely varied are the applications which may be made of this principle of appealing to the imagination of children, and what a variety of effects may be produced through its instrumentality by a parent or teacher who once takes pains to make himself possessed of it. But each one must make himself possessed of it by his own practice and experience. No general instructions can do any thing more than to offer the suggestion, and to show how a beginning is to be made.
TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD.