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ground for thinking highly of themselves. Their usage in all respects should be answerable to such lessons. Cleanliness should be required of them, as far as ever their employments allow it: but no extraordinary provision should be made for it, nor the least affectation of nicety tolerated in either sex. Their clothes should be no better, if so good, as they may hope to wear all the rest of their lives; no gaiety of colour, no trifling ornaments permitted ; nor any distinction between them and other children, in which they can possibly be tempted to take plea
If they are fed : their food should be of the coarsest sort, and not more than enough. If they are lodged: it should be in a manner, that is suitable to every thing else. For, besides that frugality is a most important branch of fruitfulness in the management of charities, it is good that they should bear the yoke in their youth * ; be inured to the treatment they must expect to receive: and wrongjudged indulgence is the greatest cruelty, that can be exercised towards them.
These things, with others to be mentioned in their due places, require much diligence and prudence, but, if possible, yet more piety and seriousness, in their masters and mistresses. If they have the religion and morals of their children at heart; they will find means, with moderate abilities, and few and artless words, to give them a strong tincture of both. But if they are lukewarm, and indifferent about the matter ; they will take little pains, and be little minded; and nothing will be learnt, beyond a few forms. Therefore in the choice of them, not their
poverty, not the recommendation of others, not our own desire of serving them, should determine us : but
* Lam. ni. 27.
merely their fitness in these principal points ; for the want of which, no qualifications else, either natural or acquired, can ever compensate. Nor is choosing them discreetly by any means sufficient, without superintending them continually afterwards; to examine what progress is made under them; to excite or restrain, to praise or reprove, to support or dismiss them, as their behaviour shall give cause.
The ministers of their several parishes, I believe, do not fail, as occasion offers, to countenance and assist them, in the religious part of their work especially. And would they bestow pretty frequently some kind advice upon them and their scholars; the good consequences of it might reach further, than at the first view may appear. For if being taught their duty makes these children visibly better ; other persons,
may be hoped, will teach theirs also; but if it doth not, a hasty conclusion will immediately be drawn by too many, that religion doth harm, or at least no good.
One great help, both to the understanding and practising of religion, is, being able to read. The will of God is contained in his written word: and why have we it in our mother-tongue, but that all may be acquainted with it? We are often reminded, that persons ought to judge for themselves : this is qualifying them for it. By the means of pious books, which that excellent Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, amongst other good works, have provided for the poor at very cheap rates, they who can read, may have at all times plain and familiar instructions and warnings, concerning each part of their duty, which they can review at every leisure hour, dwell upon frequently, and fix in their hearts. Many of them
cannot attend on public service near so often as they would: reading will make them some amends for this. Many grow insensibly negligent and thoughtless : reading will awaken them, and strengthen the things that remain, and are ready to die*. They may indeed learn wickedness from books : but they may also learn full as much of it without them, by the discourse which they hear every day. And as good books will be put into the hands of these children first, and teach them to abhor bad ones, and enable them to spend their time agreeably and profitably alone, and bring them of consequence neither to need, nor love dangerous company: there can be no doubt in their case, on which side the benefit lies. But, besides religious advantages, being able to read is of very great use in all common business: and scarce any body hath servants who are unable, but on one occasion or another he finds considerable inconveniences from it: which is likewise the case of writing and accounts. If indeed the poorer sorts were to be carried on so far in the two last accomplishments, as to give them an expectation of living by their pen; it would neither be charity nor prudence, but only distressing their betters : amongst whom there are multitudes of persons thus qualified, ready at all times for employment. But some low degree of skill in this way is
is already too common, either to make them grow vain, or others murmur at them : and the more it approaches towards being universal, the smaller will be the danger, and the greater the benefit. In country villages indeed writing may be less needful : and possibly may turn the minds of the children, or of their parents for them, to some other business than husbandry. And therefore in such places, it may perhaps be as well omitted ; and I believe commonly is. But reading must be serviceable in all places. For however useless or hurtful to persons in low life the higher kind of improvements may be; which is a point most absurdly laboured in speaking against charity-schools, where no such things are taught : yet enabling the meanest people to carry on their business more commodiously, and know their duty more thoroughly, (the almost only uses they will ever find for their learning, if religiously educated) must surely have a tendency to make them better, not worse. Ignorance and stupidity, for which some, though unwilling to own it, have pleaded strenuously on this occasion *, who on others accuse the clergy as the great promoters of them, are neither virtues, nor friends to virtue. On the contrary, most of those are abundantly wise to do evil, who to do good have no knowledge t.
* Rev. iii, 2.
But still, as work is what all these children are destined for, it should be constantly had in view: and they should enter upon it whilst they are at school, if possible. It will make them useful at present, and both able and willing to work afterwards. It will put vain and idle fancies out of their heads; and shew all the world, what is really aimed at. It will silence the principal objection of enemies, and remove the only scruple of many true friends. Accordingly, for some years past, it hath been strongly insisted on by almost every preacher upon the subject; warmly recommended by the worthy society before mentioned, who were the first authors of this whole design: and is, I doubt not, as earnestly desired by the trustees, as it can be by the public; whose expectations are perfectly reasonable, excepting that they are a little too impatient.
* See an Essay on Charity and Charity Schools, page 340. 353. 370.
+ Jer. iv. 22.
Many right and excellent undertakings are surrounded with vastly more difficulties in the execution, than immediately shew themselves. Trustees of leisure and activity to attempt such a change, and of skill and interest enough to conduct it with success, cannot be had in an instant for every school. Masters and mistresses, very valuable in other respects, may be unqualified in this, or too fully employed already to undertake more : adding supernumerary ones would be chargeable; and substituting better upon the whole, may at present be impracticable. Doubts also may arise, on very just grounds, what work to try. Children are not fit for all sorts: manufactures proper for them are not ready at hand every where: and setting up such on purpose, as would' require any considerable number of them, might be an expence and a risk very imprudent, on so uncertain a fund as charity. Besides, where manufactures, which might be suitable to them, are established, the workmen concerned in them can usually supply them very fully with their own children: and heavy complaints would be made, and many contributions withdrawn, if others interfered to take the bread out of their mouths. It is said indeed, that hands are wanting : but the truth is, employments are wanting in most places, for these very young creatures. Their parents can make no profit of them : else they certainly would, instead of sending them to school. The parish workhouses can few of them find any work for the children brought up in them, that turns to account. And most unhappily, several of these difficulties are the