Among the first traits of the heavenly spirit in the child is restfulness. The following remarks on cultivating this, even during the two first years of a child's life, are well worthy of a thoughtful perusal.
'We may even from the earliest infancy cultivate those dispositions which are unfavourable to the growth of dangerous inclinations. Certain habits, which exercise a salutary influence on the moral feelings, may be given to the infant, even before his character distinctly shows itself. Inward tranquillity will calm the restlessness of his wishes; and the kindness bestowed upon him will direct his attention out of himself, and make him feel kindly towards others.
'Inward tranquillity is produced by outward tranquillity: and for this, among other reasons, infants should, as much as possible, be prevented from crying. By a careful attention in this and other things we may keep the minds of the children in a state of habitual tranquillity, an inestimable advantage, easily lost, indeed, but perhaps the quality of all others most necessary to their moral constitution, as yet so weak and vacillating. Their nerves, once agitated, are long in recovering their tone; and both the health and character suffer in consequence. Nor do I dwell on this merely as a means of preventing evil. There is one entire class of qualities, the noblest of any, which will grow and ripen only in the shade of repose; in this class are not only included our virtues, but also our most valuable acquirements. There is nothing worthy of admiration, nothing great in our moral nature, which is not cherished by serenity of mind. Why is it that this disposition, which seems to establish a connection between the soul and heaven, which can exist only when the heart is at peace with itself and all around it, is now so rarely to be met with among us? Whatever the reason may be, we shall always find this happy disposition of mind in young children, unless we ourselves are so unfortunate as to disturb it.
'I have often thought that we are too much accustomed to keep infants constantly in motion. We ought certainly not to allow them to grow weary,—ennui is ,the lethargy of the soul; but nothing is more likely to produce this evil than an excess of variety in our methods of amusing them. The more tranquillity a child has enjoyed in infancy, the more he will possess hereafter; and a calm cheerfulness of disposition may be permanent, which gaiety and mirth seldom are. It is for this reason that it is so much more desirable for children to be occupied with things than with people; things are tranquil objects which do not
interest them too eagerly. With people their feelings of sympathy or dislike are continually excited.'—From 'Progressive Education] from the French of Madame flecker de Saussure.