"As Iron is to be hammer'd whilst it is hot and ductile, so Children are to be taught when they are young"

— Mandeville, Bernard (bap. 1670, d. 1733)

Place of Publication
J. Roberts
"As Iron is to be hammer'd whilst it is hot and ductile, so Children are to be taught when they are young"
Metaphor in Context
Yet we seldom remember any thing of what we saw or heard, before we were two Years old: then what would be lost, if Children should not hear all that Impertinence?

As Iron is to be hammer'd whilst it is hot and ductile, so Children are to be taught when they are young: as the Flesh and every Tube and Membrane about them, are then tenderer, and will yield sooner to slight Impressions, than afterwards; so many of their Bones are but Cartilages, and the Brain itself is much softer, and in a manner fluid: This is the Reason, that it cannot so well retain the Images it receives, as it does afterwards, when the Substance of it comes to be of a better Consistence. But as the first Images are lost, so they are continually succeeded by new ones; and the Brain at first serves as a Slate to Cypher, or a Sampler to work upon. What Infants should chiefly learn, is the Performance itself, the [end 169] Exercise of Thinking, and to con-tract a Habit of disposing, and with Ease and Agility managing the Images retain'd, to the Purpose intended: which is never attain'd better than whilst the Matter is yielding, and the Organs are most flexible and supple. So they but exercise themselves in thinking and speaking, it is no Matter what they think on, or what they say, that is inoffensive. In sprightly Infants we soon see by their Eyes the Efforts they are making to imitate us, before they are able; and that they try at this Exercise of the Brain, and make Essays to think, as well as they do, to hammer out Words, we may know from the Incoherence of their Actions, and the strange Absurdities they utter: but as there are more Degrees of Thinking well, than there are of Speaking plain, the first is of the greatest Consequence.
(Vol II, pp. 169-70)
Complicated publication history. At least 16 entries for The Fable of the Bees in ESTC (1729, 1732, 1733, 1734, 1740, 1750, 1755, 1755, 1772, 1795).

The Grumbling Hive was printed as a pamphlet in 1705. 1st edition of The Fable of the Bees published in 1714, 2nd edition in 1723 (with additions, essays "On Charity Schools" and "Nature of Society"). Part II, first published in 1729. Kaye's text based on 6th edition of 1732.

See The Fable of the Bees. Part II. By the Author of the First. (London: Printed: and sold by J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane, 1729). <Link to ESTC><Link to ECCO>

See also Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, ed. F.B. Kaye, 2 vols. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1988). Orig. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924. Reading first volume in Liberty Fund paperback; also searching online ed. <Link to OLL>

I am also working with another print edition: The Fable of the Bees, ed. F. B. Kaye, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.