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The following work has been written for the use of schools and families, as well as for miscellaneous readers. It embraces a class of subjects in which every individual is deeply interested, and with which, as a mere philosophical inspector of the affairs of men, he should become acquainted.
They, however, challenge attention by considerations of greater moment than mere curiosity; for, in the present age, a great proportion of mankind pursue some kind of business as means of subsistence or distinction; and in this country especially, such pursuit is deemed honorable and, in fact, indispensable to a reputable position in the community.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that cannot have escaped the attention of persons of observation, that many individuals mistake their appropriate calling, and engage in employments for which they have neither mental nor physical adaptation; some learn a trade who should have studied a profession; others study a profession who should have learned a trade. Hence arise, in a great measure, the ill success and discontent which so frequently attend the pursuits of men.
For these reasons, parents should be particularly cautious in the choice of permanent employments for their children; and, in every case, capacity should be especially regarded, without paying much attention to the comparative favor in which the several employments may be held; for a successful prosecution of an humble business is far more honorable than inferiority or failure in one which may be greatly esteemed.
To determine the particular genius of children, parents should give them, at least, a superficial knowledge of the several trades and professions. To do this effectually, a systematic course of instruction should be given, not only at the family fireside and in the schoolroom, but also at places where practical exhibitions of the several employments may be seen. These means, together with a competent literary education, and some tools and other facilities for mechanical operations, can scarcely fail of furnishing clear indications of intellectual bias.
The course just proposed is not only necessary to a judicious choice of a trade or profession, but also as means of intellectual improvement; and as such it should be pursued, at all events, even though the choice of an employment were not in view.