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DUCATION, though of great im-. portance to the public, as well as to individuals, is no where carried on in any perfect manner. Upon the revival of arts and fciences in Europe, the learned languages, being the only inlets to knowledge, occupied almoft the whole time that commonly can be fpared for education. Thefe languages are, and will always be, extremely ornamental; but, tho' they have become lefs effential to education than formerly, yet the fame plan continues without much variation. We never think of making improvements, becaufe cuftom and familiarity hide the defects of the established plan.
THE faculty of reflecting, and of forming general obfervations, is capable of great improvements by proThis branch of educa
tion, though capital, is not cultivated with due care. Nature, in her courfe, begins with particulars, and afcends gradually to what is general and abstract. But Nature is ill feconded in the ordinary courfe of education. We are firft employed, it is true, in languages, geography, hiftory, natural philofophy, fubjects that deal in particulars. But, at one bound, we are carried to the most abstract studies; logics, for example, and metaphyfics. Thefe, indeed, give exercise to the reasoning faculty; but it will not be faid that they are the beft qualified for initiating a young perfon in the art of reafoning? Their obfcurity and intricacy unfit them for that office. Here then is evidently a void, which must be filled up, if we wish that education fhould be fuccefsful. To improve the faculty of abftracting, and gradually to lead us from particular facts to general propofitions, the tender mind cught at firft to be exercised in obfervations of the fimpleft kind,
fuch as may cafily be comprehended. To that end, the fubject ought, by all means, to be familiar; and it ought also to be agreeable and inftructive.
IN the prefent collection, human nature is chofen for the fubje&; beeause it is of all the moft familiar,. and no lefs inftructive than familiar. In this fubject there are indeed many intricate parts, that require the matureft understanding. But this little effay is confined to the rudiments of the fcience, and no maxim or observation is admitted, but what is plain,. and eafy apprehended. Apophthegms that refolve into a play of words, which fwell every collection, ancient and modern, are carefully rejected.. Witticifms may be indulged for the fake of recreation; but they are improper where inftruction is the aim.
BUT, as faid, it is not fufficient that the fubject be familiar and infruce
ftru&tive; it ought alfo to be agreeable, in order to attract young minds. Unconnected maxims, however inftructive, will not in youth be relifhed without feasoning; and as the best feafoning for fuch a work are ftories and fables, a number of them are here felected with fome care. These ferve not only to attract a young reader, but are in reality the finest illustrations that can be given of abstract truths.
FABLES in Efop's manner tend no doubt to inftruction, when they fuggeft fome moral truth; and accordingly place is here given to fuch of them as contain an obvious moral. I am, however, far from thinking fuch fables the moft proper in the dawn of reafon; for, to difguife men under the mask of goats and bulls, tends to Little other purpose than to obfcure the moral inftruction. Stories, real or invented, where perfons are introduced in their native appearance, ferve much, better