« PreviousContinue »
expected, flew into many pieces. Whether destructiveness was very large in the boy, or correctiveness very small in the parent, we leave each one to settle according to their fancy.
The more rapid the children are in the early unfoldings of the powers both of mind and body, the more do they require wise guidance and wholesome restraint. And here arises the parental difficulty. It seems to require as much self-denial in the father to refuse his boy anything, as it can require in the boy to be refused. And thus, as each child obtains a seat at the family table at meals as early as they can be trusted in an elevated chair, they are used to ask for and to receive all manner of varieties of food. Breakfasts, like all other meals in a country richly prolific in luxuries, are made of many dishes, and many kinds of cakes, and it is common to feed the little ones on fish, flesh, and game; fruits, salads, and hominy; Johnny-cakes, corn cakes, buckwheat cakes, all hot, with molasses ; toast swimming in butter, and mayhap a little plain bread and milk; tea or coffee, if it is acceptable. It may be but a taste of many of these things, but thus is the foundation laid, I doubt not, of many a poor dyspeptic's pining life. How often have I run over in my mind the many brave and wise men of my own country, who grew to health and strength on simple fare, and remembered Sir Walter Scott's list of "lads” who, like himself, had breakfasted till they were fifteen on porridge and milk.
· The same danger meets them at all meals, and especially when they are allowed to sit up, as they commonly are, to see the guests at evening parties, and share oysters, jellies, and ices, fruits, and preserves, not in the moderate way that contents grown-up persons, but with all the heartiness and excess of “frugivorous children.”
In spite of melting summer suns, and the keen pursuit of objects, to which it is common to impute the exceeding lack of flesh, which renders many a fine profile no better than the edge of a knife when the face is turned to you, might it not be that a more abstemious and simple diet in early years might be the means of adding to both the strength and beauty of the full-grown man ?
Children's diseases are hasty, and come with a fell swoop, desolating cities and hearts —0 how desolating! Who can compute the pungency of the parents' grief when the nursery is the scene of such visitations? Many a young heart that in its first love and early marriage and early maternity scarcely knew any throb but that of joy, by a visit of death to her nursery, has suddenly been taught the solemn truth, that the world is a blighted place, and that the passage is through a wilderness—and also the deeper lesson, that there is a world of spirits, a treasure-house for those who are gone. Our departed friend Hewitson beautifully wrote on that subject : “God has taken from you, as it were, a pledge that you will live for eternity. The bereaved
soul goes across the border of time in quest of the departed spirit, and so acquaints itself better with eternity and its unseen realities. How real is the distant isle to which a friend has gone, though formerly it seemed but a dim fog on the sea! How real is eternity, when one that we have loved, and love still, is there! One that I love is there'—that gives our hearts a local habitation in eternity. This event tells us that we are nearer our journey's end now than we were yesterday. The Jordan is not far off—a few breathings of the air of the wilderness, a few steps across the dreary sands, and then we reach home."*
It is very touching to listen to many parents, who will tell you it never entered their apprehension that their first dear child was mortal, till, on being weaned, it fell sick, or convulsions in teething, or that widewasting destroyer, “summer complaint,” swept it away.
This loss of children seems to me the rod under which the Good Shepherd gathers many a sheep into his fold. It is precious to hear them tell how they first turned to Christ, when they followed their departed lambs to his bosom. Sweetly and confidingly do they intrust you with their soul's secret, and amid the riches of their new-found hopes, mingle their sweet smiles and tears with your sympathiesand precious it is to hear of little disciples, taught early by the Great Teacher, who never made a soul
* Herrtson's Memoir.
too young to receive His influences, speaking words of resignation, of love, and peace, to the weeping parents whom they are about to leave, and of hope and joy of the welcoming Lord whose presence they are about to enter. On listening to narratives of such early Christians, I have felt it difficult to abstain from congratulating the mourners with a “Blessed are the dead who are already dead, more than the living who are yet alive.”
There never was better material of which to make good and wise citizens than these children, so quick to understand, so keen to feel, so prompt to act. But the very metal in them renders the use of breaking-bridles in childhood, and a tight rein in youth, of great importance. They receive education with facility and smartness, but those who are destined for commerce are so generally mounted on a tall desk.seat in their fourteenth or fifteenth year, that they much require exact and strict moral discipline before that early period. Obedience, that grave selfdenying quality, is never so easily nor so fitly learnt as in childhood-self-will never gains strength more rapidly than in the nursery. If the child does not learn submission to his natural guardians with the first shooting up of his own will and desires, how shall he, later in life, learn obedience to the Divine will ?
One perceives a perplexity in the parent's mind sometimes, between a consciousness that he ought to rule his son, and a notion that the little rebel's escapades are the natural result of “Liberty"-liberty ! that sacred name under which many a crime has been perpetrated, and many a dangerous and ruinous mistake committed. There is no fear of the child born under free institutions and destined to exercise a freeman's privilege, becoming too tame by means of just parental discipline—and it is certain that he will render the more healthful obedience to the laws of his country, and more reverential observance of the laws of God, by his being accustomed to observe the laws of his earliest protectors and loving friends. To see sensible people smile with secret admiration of the “spirited” exhibition of rebellious will on the part of their offspring, excites, in an English mind, a sense of lurking danger-as also to hear pupils asserting boldly what they “will never learn,” and what they will learn,” and to see teachers using all manner of adroit flatteries and timid expostulations, with a view to obtain a slender influence over the pupils, leads one to look out anxiously for ultimate results.
Natural quickness enables persons to discern methods of " getting along," and to pass well in social life, who have lacked thorough training. Many a man finds himself in a position which forces him to guide or influence others, who has not acquired the difficult art of governing himself; and many a girl is placed in the centre of maternal cares, with all the duties and responsibilities of rearing a family, who feels herself at a loss on many points, because of her own