"What sort of Children therefore are the Blank Paper, upon which such Morality as this ought to be written?"

— Croxall, Samuel (1688/9-1752); Aesop

Place of Publication
Printed for J. and R. Tonson, and J. Watts
"What sort of Children therefore are the Blank Paper, upon which such Morality as this ought to be written?"
Metaphor in Context
Now the Purpose for which he principally intended his Book, as in his Preface he spends a great many Words to inform us, was for the Use and Instruction of Children; who being, as it were, a mere rasa tabula, or blank Paper, are ready indifferently for any Opinion, good or bad, [end page] taking all upon Credit; and that it is in the Power of the first Comer to write Saint or Devil upon them, which he pleases. This being truly and certainly the Case, what Devils, nay, what poor Devils would Lestrange make of those Children, who should be so unfortunate as to read his Book, and imbibe his pernicious Principles! Principles, coin'd and suited to promote Growth, and serve the Ends of Popery and Arbitrary Power. Tho' we had never been told he was a Pensioner to a Popish Prince, and that he himself profess'd the same unaccountable Religion, yet his Reflexions upon Æsop would discover it to us: In every political Touch, he shews himself to be the Tool and Hireling of the Popish Faction; since, even a Slave, without some mercenary View, would not bring Arguments to justify Slavery, nor endeavour to establish Arbitrary Power upon the Basis of Right Reason. What sort of Children therefore are the Blank Paper, upon which such Morality as this ought to be written? Not the Children of Britain, I hope; for they are born with free Blood in their Veins; and suck in Liberty with their very Milk. This they should be taught to love and cherish above all things, and, upon occasion, to defend and vindicate it; as it is the Glory of their Country, the greatest Blessing of their Lives, and the peculiar happy Privilege in which they excel all the World besides. Let therefore Lestrange, with his slavish Doctrine, be banish'd to the barren Desarts of Arabia, to the Nurseries of Turkey, Persia, and Morocco, where all Footsteps of Liberty have long since been worn out, and the Minds of the People, by a narrow Way of Thinking, contracted and inur'd to Fear, Poverty, and miserable Servitude. Let the Children of Italy, France, Spain, and the rest of the Popish Countries, furnish him with Blank Paper for Principles, of which free-born Britons are not capable. The earlier such Notions are instill'd into such Minds as theirs indeed, the better it will be for them, as it will keep them from thinking of any other than the abject servile Condition to which they are born. [...]
Searching "tabula rasa" in ECCO
Aesop. Fables of Æsop and others. Newly done into English. With an application to each fable. Illustrated with cutts. The fifth edition. London, 1747. Based on information from English Short Title Catalogue. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale Group. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/ECCO
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Date of Entry

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