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THE Editors of the EDUCATIONAL COURSE design that this little volume should be used in schools, and in private instruction, by children of about ten years of age. While their Third Book of Reading and Introduction to the Sciences aim respectively at conveying a knowledge of the more obvious features of the common world, and of the simpler elements of natural science, they venture to hope that the present treatise will be equally serviceable in conveying intelligible views of the more important moral and economic duties.
The work, nevertheless, must be regarded as only a humble aid in the business of moral education. Precept, example, and training, are the three degrees of comparison in this important business—the first being good, the second better, and the third best of all. The education of home is also of infinitely greater importance than that which comes from any other source. Finally, as we need scarcely remark, it is by the influence of religious principle that we may chiefly expect to give the right stamp to human character. When we examine the present volume with a regard to these principles, we find that, being purely didactic, it can only be expected to do a little for the greatest of causes religion; which the editors conceive should be taught directly from the oracles of sacred truth.
It is on the peculiar construction of our little treatise that we chiefly rest our hopes of its success. As the great end in view was to familiarise moral rules, we have adopted a form in which the abstract holds only a secondary place. The various virtues are described, chiefly by means of narratives, in which
individuals are shown as exemplifying them. To these have been added all those fables of Æsop and others, which are most remarkable for their happy bearing on the important points of human conduct. While chiefly depending on these narrative illustrations for the means of impressing the nature, the beauty, and the good effects of each virtue, a definition or explanation of that virtue is also in each case given, generally, it is hoped, in such terms as, with a little help from a teacher or parent, may be found within the capacity of the learner. Further, that nothing may be wanting to give the principle itself the desirable force, a series of appropriate passages from Scripture is usually given in conclusion.
EDINBURGH, September 2, 1839.
*** The explanations of the virtues are compositions of the compiler. Of the