labour to diffuse the important good
Till this great truth by all be understood,
That all the pious duty which we owe
Our parents, friends, our country, and our God,
The seeds of every virtue here below,
From discipline and early culture grow.”
The different chapters of a novel remind me of a convoy of vessels. The incidents and dramatis personae are so many respective freights, all under the charge of the inventor, who, like a man-of-war, must see them all safely, and together, into port. And as the commanding officer, when towing one vessel which has lagged behind up to the rest, finds that in the meantime another has dropped nearly out of sight, and is obliged to cast off the one in tow, to perform the same necessary duty towards the sternmost, so am I necessitated for the present to quit Nicholas and Newton, while I run down to Edward Forster and his protegee.
It must be recollected that, during our narrative, “Time has rolled his ceaseless course,” and season has succeeded season, until the infant, in its utter helplessness to lift its little hands for succour, has sprung up into a fair blue-eyed little maiden of nearly eight years old, light as a fairy in her proportions, bounding as a fawn in her gait; her eyes beaming with joy, and her cheeks suffused with the blush of health, when tripping over the sea-girt hills; meek and attentive when listening to the precepts of her fond and adopted parent.
“Faithful,” the Newfoundland dog, is no more, but his portrait hangs over the mantel-piece in the little parlour. Mrs Beazely, the housekeeper, has become inert and querulous from rheumatism and the burden of added years. A little girl, daughter of Robertson, the fisherman, has been called in to perform her duties, while she basks in the summer’s sun or hangs over the winter’s fire. Edward Forster’s whole employment and whole delight has long been centred in his darling child, whose beauty of person, quickness of intellect, generous disposition, and affectionate heart, amply repay him for his kind protection.
Of all chapters which can be ventured upon, one upon education is perhaps the most tiresome. Most willingly would I pass it over, not only for the reader’s sake, but for mine own; for his—because it cannot well be otherwise than dry and uninteresting; for mine—because I do not exactly know how to write it.
But this cannot be. Amber was not brought up according to the prescribed maxims of Mesdames Appleton and Hamilton; and as effects cannot be satisfactorily comprehended without the causes are made known, so it becomes necessary, not only that the chapter should be written, but, what is still more vexatious, absolutely necessary that it should be read.
Before I enter upon this most unpleasant theme—unpleasant to all parties, for no one likes to teach, and no one likes to learn,—I cannot help remarking how excessively au fait we find most elderly maiden ladies upon every point connected with the rearing of our unprofitable species. They are erudite upon every point ab ovo, and it would appear that their peculiar knowledge of the theory can but arise from their attentions having never been diverted by the practice.