Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

Fenelon's Treatise
on the
Education of Daughters;
Translanted from the French and Adapted to English Readers
With an Original Chapter, "On Religious Studies."
By the Rev. T. F. Dibdin, B. A. F. A. S
Albany; printed and published by Backus and Whiting, 1806.

Chapter IV.

The Danger of Imitation.
THE ignorance of children, (in whose brain no correct impressions are made) renders them extremely susceptible, and inclined to imitate every thing they see. It is, therefore, of consequence to set before them none but the very best models of imitation ; and to make them acquainted with those, by whose; examples they would be profited in following. But as it happens, in spite of all our precautions, that they occasionally witness many irregularities, we must not fail to warn them betimes against the impertinence of certain foolish and dissipated people, whose reputation is scarcely worth preserving : we must shew them how truly miserable and deserving of contempt, are those who abandon themselves to passion, without cultivating their reason. One may also give them, a correct taste, free from affectation, and make them sensible of the true value of modesty and decorum ; we must not even abstain from guarding them against probable errors, although this means we may open their eyes to certain defects in those whom they are taught to respect. We have neither right nor reason to hope that they will remain ignorant on such points, and therefore the best method to pursue, in order to keep them to their duty, is, to persuade them to bear with the faults of others ; not to pass too severe a sentence on them, as they often appear greater than they really are-that they are even compensated for by many good qualifica
tions-and that as there is no perfection in this world, they should admire that which approaches the nearest towards it. Lastly, although this advice should not be offered but in extreme cases, we should, nevertheless engraft on them true principles, and preserve them from imitating all the evil that is set before them.

We must also be on our guard to prevent their imitation of ridiculous people; whose low and buffoon-like manners have something in them extremely revolting to noble and generous sentiments ; we should be apprehensive lest children afterwards assume these very manners ; as the warmth of their imagination, and pliability of body, added to the pleasure they seem to take in such diversion, gives them. a peculiar aptitude to represent every ridiculous object they behold.

This proneness to imitation, which is natural to children, is the source of infinite mischief when they are delivered up to improper people who are hardly able to restrain themselves before them. But providence has ordained this imitative power, that children may be also capable of applying themselves to what is good and virtuous. Often, without speaking to them, we have only to shew them in others what we would have them do themselves.

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