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schoolboy leaps with joy. The toymen and the pastry-cooks are already busily preparing for their harvest; and Mr. John Harris, successor to the illustrious Newberry, and his estimable Quaker rivals in Gracechurch street, have, we doubt not, in readiness a delightful variety of green-backed and scarlet-backed tomes, and neat yellow-covered picture books, (for alas! the days of gilt covers are gone by,) for good boys and good girls of all tastes and ages. Nor let it be imagined, because we have seldom noticed publications of this humble yet meritorious description, that we are insensible of either the attractions or the importance of juvenile literature. We confess that our apparent ingratitude to the authors of several excellent little storybooks, which have from time to time been transmitted to us, and which we have not found leisure to review, may have seemed to justify such an imputation. It has not been without compunctious feelings, that we have now and then looked towards the neglected shelf where lie Harry's Holiday, and Aunt Mary's Tales, and the amusing works of Arabella Argus, and some other neat little volumes of which certain little critical friends of ours, Reviewers in embryo, have reported favourably. But what is to be done? Unless, like good Mrs. Trimmer, whose very name bespoke her peculiar qualifications for the task, we devote a portion of our monthly Number expressly to the review of children's books and school books, or commence a new series of the " Guardian of "Education," it is clearly impossible to obviate the charge either of partiality or of total neglect. Besides which, we shrewdly suspect that Mr. Harris's or Mr. Holdsworth's young customers Would be very apt, without waiting for our critical sentence, to choose, after all, for themselves. We cannot be angry with them: they will know better by and by.

To shew our good will, however, to the rising race, as well as by way of general apology for former omissions, we have made choice of these admirable little stories as the subject of an article for our present Number. In making our selection, we have been partly influenced by finding the sentiments of the Author on the style proper to Children's Story books somewhat in unison with our own, and we are glad of the opportunity afforded us of making a few general remarks on the subject.

Fictitious narratives,' says the Preface to this volume, designed for the perusal of children, should (in the opinion of the Writer) be familiar in their subjects as well as in their style, and slight in their construction. They should hardly aim to excite more than a very transient or superficial emotion: If they are highly wrought, or la boured with dramatic interest, they will rarely be read without injury by children whose imaginations are lively, or whose feelings are strong. In other cases, they will be harmless only in proportion as they are useless.

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• It is desirable that children should be tempted to seek a portion →→ but never a large portion-of their amusement in books, as well as in active sports. That this species of amusement should be harmless, is, perhaps, its best praise. While it avoids the hazard which must always attend any fictitious excitement of the imagination or the stronger feelings, it may safely aim to illustrate the minor virtues, to exhibit the less important faults to which children are liable, or to give a playful exercise to the understanding.

In what way religious principles may be advantageously presented to the minds of children through the medium of fiction, is a question upon which the Writer has no wish to give an opinion: he has only to say, that he has not deemed himself qualified for the task.'

It will be immediately perceived that our Author is decidedly opposed to the hot-bed system of modern education, the forcing of the mind by stimulants applied either to the faculty of attention or to the feelings. It has generally been considered as a most important reformation in the annals of the Nursery, which has exploded the apocryphal narratives of Mother Bunch, the tales of giants and giant-killers, love-lorn damsels and princely lovers, ogres and white cats. Nor can it be concealed that the morality of some of those tales is very bad, whatever may be their professed moral. But the poison is so completely sheathed in the delicious nonsense, that we question whether, at the very early age at which alone such narratives are capable of amusing, there was much danger of their corrupting or polluting the fancy. And then, they were avowedly works of mere entertainment, and were dismissed with the doll and the wooden horse, as soon as the mind had outgrown them. The moral and instructive tales by which they have been succeeded, make higher pretensions, and have in them a greater efficiency for good or evil. A child listened to the story of Cinderella or Ricket with the Tuft, with broad-eyed wonder, as to poetry. He is summoned to hear or read the more rational story as a moral lesson; and it then becomes for the first time a question, whether stories are the best mode of conveying such lessons, and whether, if story-books are thus elevated into tools and vehicles of grave instruction, they are not the more likely to usurp too large a space in the library, and at once to produce a distaste for the less pleasing task, and to supplant the more harmless toy.

We do not quite understand our Author's paradox, that, in certain cases, such books will be harmless only in proportion as they are useless; but we agree with him, that mischief is done by stimulating the love of reading in children, by interesting their feelings or working on their imagination. A child's amusements cannot be too simple. His every sensation is pleasurable; his own voice is music to him; the simplest incident is then fraught with all the interest of romance; and every inanimate object that surrounds him, is readily invested with

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life and consciousness. All sorts of excitement are at this stage alike unnecessary and injurious; and books may, on this account, be too clever, too interesting-we were going to say, too instructive. They may, at least, contain a great deal of premature instruction, relative both to good and evil, for which a child may be little the wiser, and something the worse. We do not want to make our children little reasoners, or philosophers, or sentimentalists, or encyclopedists, which the boasted interrogatory system, together with the free use of fiction, tends to make them. We wholly disapprove of cramming them on the one hand, or cheatingthem into knowledge on the other. We consider the alliance between work and play as quite illegitimate, and would have books and toys kept perfectly distinct as soon as a child is able to apprehend the distinction. A quick child would commit to memory a page of Propria quæ maribus, with as little difficulty as a page of Questions and Answers from one of Mr. Pinnock's Fifty Catechisms, would be less bothered by it, and would be much better employed; for the exercise of the memory and the formation of the habit of application, are the chief things to be aimed at. And as to his amusements, the more they employ the body, and the less they employ the mind, the better.

One word as to the communication of religious knowledge through the medium of fiction. We have the highest authority for the use of parables or apologues in conveying this most important kind of instruction; and no one who has made the experiment, can have failed, we think, to be sometimes surprised at the astonishing facility with which even abstract ideas are grasped by the infant intellect by the aid of these familiar analogies. It was an excellent definition which was given by a child in answer to the question, Do you know what a parable means? Parables were stories which Jesus Christ told his disciples about little things, to make them understand great ones.' The child does not understand the whole force and bearing of the allegory at first; but he understands something, and as he will never lose the impression of the narrative, he is likely, as he is able to bear it, to have gradually unfolded to his mind, the whole of its meaning. The remark of Hooker well applies to these: As for those things which at the first are obscure and dark, when memory hath laid them up for a time, judgement after'wards growing, explaineth them.' Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Holy War are, in this respect, equally adapted to all ages. The only danger is, lest they should make too vivid an impression on a child of lively imagination. But it is worth while to run all hazards for the sake of imbuing the mind with the invaluable instruction they contain, and which could be communicated to the child with equal efficiency in no other shape, We have known them, too, to be of admirable use as a Child's

Commentary on the Scriptures. By means of the continual illnstration which they afford, of Scriptural doctrines, expressions, and images, they are adapted to serve this important purpose" better than any formal explanation possible.

But it cannot be necessary to point out the broad line of ob-" vious distinction between fables or allegories, and religious stories. The one is a direct, the other an indirect method of religious instruction. The former strictly belongs to didactic teaching; the latter to the province of poetry and the drama. In the allegory, the very substance of religious truth is made palpable: in the narrative, it is rather religious sentiment which is presented to the mind. Now, in a child, religious sentiment is valuable only when it results from principles which story-books in general are not adapted to produce. These exhibit truths apart from the authority which enforces them,-that authority which is to a child instead of evidence, and upon the ground of which he is taught to believe and to obey. The native language of Religious Truth is that of command, and the all-important disposition in a child is, the habit of obedience. Religious stories are at best but illustrations of religious principles; and whether the fictitious illustration of principles is of much efficacy towards forming them in the mind, seems to us questionable. The best that can be said for this class of productions is, that they find their way where books directly religious would be excluded, and are the means of thus smuggling the contraband article of Methodism into many families. But we are very jealous of their being adopted as a legiti mate means of religious education. Yet, the admirable and unexceptionable stories of Mrs. Sherwood, shew that fiction may be employed with the happiest effect.

We trust that our readers will excuse our going thus far out of our way as critics, to make a stand for some of the notions and prejudices of the old school of education, to which we take it for granted, the present Writer would acknowledge himself to belong. The great excellence of these Incidents of Childhood is, that they strictly answer to their title, and the book is, therefore, admirably adapted for Children. The subjects, the sentiments, and the style are alike in character, extremely simple and quiet; and the tone of the Writer is pitched to the ear of his youthful readers. The volume contains eight stories: the Iron-box: Phoebe's Visits Curiosity and Inquiry; the two Tempers; little Fanny's Plan; the Visit to London; the Belfry; and the Tinner's Son.' In order to give a fair specimen of the book, we ought to transcribe an entire story; but as this would much exceed our due limits, we must content ourselves with an extract from the first.

Peter Simons was the son of a poor fisherman, who lived in a solitary cottage, built of rough stone, on the steep side of a rock which faced the sea. Behind the cottage the dark jagged cliff slanted

up to a great height: before it you might look straight down upon the sea, two hundred feet below. Steps were cut in the solid stone, which led winding down to the shore. On one side of the house there was a stack of furze to serve for firing; on the other side was a small level space, with poles, on which the fisherman þung his nets to dry. The front of the cottage was covered with rows of dried fish, of different sorts, cut open, and all shrivelled and yellow at the door hung the fisherman's great sea boots, and his rough blue coat, lined with red stuff.

Peter was a lazy boy; and his father and mother used no means to correct his idle habits; but suffered him to spend his time as he pleased. Sometimes he would lie half the day on the ground before the door, just looking over the edge, to watch the curling foam of the waves among the broken rocks below; or throw down stones to see them jump from ledge to ledge as they fell. When the weather was perfectly calm, and the sun shone, so that, from the top of the hill, the sea appeared all in a blaze of light, you might perceive a black speck at some distance, like a lark in the clear sky; this was the fisherman's small boat, in which Peter would spend all the hours from one tide till the next. Having anchored the boat on a sand bank, he would doze with his hat slouched over his face, or if he was awake, listen to the tapping of the waves against the side of the boat; and now and then halloo to make the gulls that were swimming about, rise into the air. But most often, in fine weather, he would saunter along upon the beach, to a neck of sand about a mile from his home. Here there was the old hulk of a sloop, that had been wrecked at a spring tide; so that it lay high upon the beach; it was now half sunk in the sand, and the sea-weed had gathered round it, three or four feet deep. It was Peter's delight to sit upon the deck, lolling against the capstan, while his naked legs dangled down the gangway in the forecastle.

When the weather was too cold to sit still out of doors, and when his mother drove him from the chimney corner, Peter would take a large knife and an old hat; and gather muscles from the rocks: but almost the only thing of any use which he did in the whole course of the year, was to plait a straw hat for himself, and patch his jacket.

Peter seemed always dismal and discontented; he seldom more than half opened his eyes, except when he was searching the crannies of the rocks, and fumbling in the heaps of sea-weed, after a storm, in hope of finding something that had been thrown up by the waves. Indeed he lived in expectation that some great good luck would one day come to him in this way: and so in fact it happened.

One morning after a gale of wind, and a very high spring tide, the sea retired so far that Peter made his way to a reef of rocks which he had never before been able to reach. There were two hours before the tide would oblige him to return: he determined therefore to make the best use of his time in hunting over this new ground. He scrambled up and down, and jumped from rock to rock so nimbly, that, at a little distance, no one would have guessed that it was Peter Simons. He dived his arm deep into the weedy basins in the rocks, VOL. XVI. N. S.

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