As to any recreation with other children of my age, I had very little of that; for the gloomy theology

Category: Daily Life | Type: Discussion | Title: David Copperfield (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: I Fall into Disgrace

The prevailing wisdom of the age on the subject of children and work can be found in Isaac Watts's (1674-1748) poem "How to Prevent Idleness and Mischief" (better known from Lewis Caroll's parody, which follows it).

How doth the little busy bee

Improve each shining hour,

And gather honey all the day

From every opening flower. . . .

"In works of labour, or of skill,

I would be busy too;

For Satan finds some mischief still

For idle hands to do. . . .

In books, or work, or healthful play,

Let my first years be past,

That I may give for every day

Some good account at last."

 

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How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

The Romantic poets, Blake especially in Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, Wordsworth, and Coleridge exalted the child as the source of what is best in the adult, a view Dickens did much to popularize. The 19th c. witnessed the proliferation of books about and for children, from the Grimm brothers to Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, and Beatrix Potter. 

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