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Mikołaj Rej - Life of an Honest Man
LIFE OF AN HONEST MAN
III. 3. What children's clothes should be like and training of their manners
Do not put on him in childhood any small buttons, embroidered frills, colorful clothes, like a piglet, because if he learns this in youth, he will absorb it in his memory and will then always want it like that and from this later both wantonness and wickedness can easily grow and will not go away, when he is more capable of understanding. Later, when he is growing up, one should not bring him up in fear, because this youth of his, when his senses must be still frail in the weak body, may be easily deprived of resoluteness by perverse fear and worry, so that later it is always timorous, dull, and mindless. So without too much fear and without worry, by gentle admonition, one should nevertheless gradually reduce his daily comforts of upkeep so that he would not grow like a willow, which bent over will grow that way. He should also be kept away from stupid and wicked boys, from corrupt servants; because what he sees and hears in his youth, will be easily impressed in his early memory and will also be growing with him. We hear it from older people that they remember better what was happening around them in youth than what they did not a long time ago. The child can learn nicely while playing a prayer and Latin words; and also an a,b,c, while playing, can easily be impressed in his memory. Do not allow him either to chatter anything, as some are pleased to see and call it a "little starling"; because if it becomes his habit, then it will grow into a wickedness which he will find difficult to break himself from. Also mothers should take great care of their daughters as they are a weak human race and allow themselves to bend easily. Believe me, early prudent upbringing can add a lot of good habits for everybody in old age. We can see it too among the brothers that one, brought up poorly and wantonly, how unpleasant he is in his habits, how careless in his own matters, that he can more easily lose everything, and bring himself to ruin. And the other, who will be of good and honest upbringing, will follow his brother, picking up everything. At the same time, honest people will look at each of them with different pleasure and different assessment of their habits.
X. 3. Reading – a great pleasure
Isn't it a pleasure, if you can read, having made yourself comfortable under a nice little tree, surrounded by many beautiful and fragrant little flowers or in winter on your delightful and pleasant bed, to hold a discourse with those ancient sages, with those numerous philosophers, from whom you will find great joys in your old age, in whom you will find a great lesson for each matter you consider? Or if you want to calm yourself or find comfort, won't you find those pleasant stories about unusual deeds of those knights and of important people, whom you marvel about and whose unusual deeds you can enjoy? And if you want to laugh, won't you find those amusing tales of those sage people, from which you can find joy and always learn something? And sometimes you will visit the prophets, the apostles, the evangelists, so that you would know your responsibility and not allow yourself to go astray by false information found in this world, because the Lord does not want to consider you His own sheep, if you do not listen to His own voice, but follow the voice of the ugly corrupt person, who will only bellow and roar like a bull for his own use. And this will be the most important matter on this road of your wandering to ask for the straightest road to your Lord and to this delightful place, where your responsibility leads you truly and you justly have assured yourself a promise to go to Him. It is a delightful thing for everyone who rides out or walks out on a road that he will not go by the wrong or erroneous roads but will ride or walk straight ahead and safely, by his well-known and clear highroad.
And if you yourself cannot read, you may tell someone else to read nicely to you and explain and from this your joy can grow in your every thought and your responsibility can be so confirmed that you will always stand like a wall, in which there is yet no crack, before the face of your Lord. And if you have the means, you can tell someone to sometimes play nicely for you either the lute or some string instrument and to comfort your worried thought and heart. When a friend comes to you, isn't it a pleasure when you can talk and laugh with him to your heart's content? And he will tell you about people's actions and deeds, what has happened to them, and you will only ponder it and recall that all of this had also happened during your younger years.
Translated by Michael J. Mikoś
Text: Rej, Mikołaj.
Żywot człowieka poczciwego
. Ed. by Julian Krzyżanowski. Wrocław: Ossolineum, Biblioteka Narodowa I 152, 1956, 34-36, 542-543.