LEADING CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN. 89
tor to others. In schools, the system of mutual instruction, founded upon this principle of sympathy between children, may be rendered very useful. It needs, however, the constant vigilance of the teacher.
But, while this principle in children may be turned to good account, it is sometimes the source of mischief. That fellow-feeling which renders one child the natural monitor of another, gives the power of communicating evil, as well as good. Beware, then, of trusting a good child to the influence of a bad one. The infectious diseases incident to children are not more easily transmitted from one to the other than are bad manners and bad habits.
There is another universal trait of childhood which deserves notice, and that is its disposition to imitation. It might seem, at first, to be but a maniiestation of the same principle which I have just commented upon : but, though often blended with it, it is still as often distinct. It renders a child peculiarly susceptible to the influence of example, and makes it a matter of the greatest importance that all who have the charge of children should see that they are never placed under the influence, or in the society, of those who display ill-temper, who have coarse manners, or who are addicted to any bad 8*