Page images


READERS of newspapers are constantly being shocked with the unnatural conduct of parents towards their children. Some are detected in locking them up, and half-starving them : others tax them beyond their strength, and scourge them dreadfully for not bearing it: others take horrible dislikes to their children, and vex and torture them in every way. they can think of, short of subjecting themselves to the gallows. In most cases the tyranny is of long duration before it is exposed. A whole neighbourhood are saddened by the cries of the poor victim, till they are obliged to rise up in self-defence, and bring the offender to justice. By this we may judge how many miseries are taking place, of which people have no suspicion; how many wretches have crimes of this sort, to account for the evil in their looks; and how many others, more criminal because more lying, go about in decent repute, while some oppressed and feeble relative, awfully patient, is awaiting in solitude the horror of the returning knock at the door.

It is sometimes alleged by offenders of this description, that the children have real faults, and are really provoking; that their conduct is very “ aggravating," as the phrase is; and that “nothing çan mend them but blows,"which never do. But whence come the faults of children? And how were they suffered to grow to such a height? Really,-setting aside these monsters of unpaternity,-parents are too apt to demand a great deal in their children, which they themselves do not possess. The child, on the mere will of the parents, and without any of their experience, is expected to have good sense, good temper, and heaven knows how many other good qualities; while the parents perhaps, notwithstanding all the lessons they have received from time and trouble, have little or nothing of any of them. Above all, they forget that, in originating the bodies of their children, they originate their minds and temperaments; that a child is but a continuation of his father and mother, or their fathers and mothers, and kindred; that it is further modified, and made what it is, by education and bringing up; and that on all these accounts the parents have no excuse for abusing and tormenting it, unless with equal wisdom and a glorious impartiality they should abuse and torment themselves in like manner,—scourge their own flesh, and condemn themselves to a crust and a black hole. If a father were to give his own sore legs a good flogging for inheriting ill humours from his ancestors, he might with some shew of reason proceed to punish the continuation of them in those of his child. If a cruel mother got into a handsome tub of cold water, of a winter morning, and edified the neighbours with the just and retributive shrieks which she thence poured forth for a couple of hours, crying out to her deceased “mammy" that she would be a good elderly woman in future, and not a scold and a reprobate, then she might, like a proper madwoman (for she is but an improper one now) put her child into the tub after her, and make it shriek out “ mammy" in its turn.

But let us do justice to all one's fellow-creatures, not forgetting these very “ aggravating” parents. To regard even them as something infernal, and forget that they as well as their children have become what they are from circumstances over which they had no controul, is to fall into their own error, and forget our common humanity. We believe that the very worst of these domestic tyrants (and it is an awful lesson for the best of them) would have been shocked in early life, if they could have been shewn, in a magic glass, what sort of beings they would become. Suppose one of them a young man, blooming with health, and not illnatured, but subject to fits of sulkiness or passion, and not very wise; and suppose that in this glass he sees an old ill-looking fellow, scowling, violent, outrageous, tormenting with a bloody scourge his own child, who is meagre, squalid, and half starved : “Good God!” he would cry, “ can that be myself? Can that be my arm, and my face? And that my own poor little child? There are devils then, and I am doomed to be one of them.” And the tears would pour into his eyes. —No; not so, poor wretch: thou art no devil; there is no such thing as devilism, or pure malice for its own sake; the very cruellest actions are committed to relieve the cravings of their own want of excitement, more than to hurt another. But though no devil, you are very ignorant, and are not aware of this. The energies of the universe, being on a great scale, are liable in their progress from worse to better, to great roughness in the working, and appalling sounds of discord. The wişer you become, the more you diminish this jarring, and tend to produce that amelioration. Learn this, and be neither appalled nor appalling; or if your reflections do not travel so far, and you are in no danger of continuing your evil course by the subtle desperations of superstition, be content to know, that nobody ille treats: another, who is satisfied with his own conduct. If the case were otherwise, it would be worse; for you would not have the excuse, even of a necessity for relieving your own sensations, But it never is $0, sophisticate about it as you may. The very pains you take to reconcile yourself to yourself, may show you how much need you have of doing sq. It is nothing else which makes the silliest little child sulky; and the same folly makes the grown man a tyrant. When you begin to ill-treat your child, you begin to punish in him your own faults; and you most likely do nothing but beat them in upon him with every stroke of the scourge : for why should he be wiser than you? Why should he be able to throw off the ill-humours, of which your greater energies cannot get rid ?

These thoughts we address to those who are worthy of them; and who, not being tyrants, may yet become such, for want of refleetion. Vulgar offenders can be mended only with the whole progress of society, and the advancement of education. There is one thing we must not omit to say, which is, that the best parents are apt to expect too much of their children, and to forgeti how much error they may, have committed in the course of bringing them up. Nobody is in fault, in a criminal sense. Children have their excuses; and parents have their excuses; but the wiser any of us become, the less we exaft: from others, and the more we do to deserve their regard. The great art of being a good parent consists in setting a good example, and in maintaining that union of dispassionate firmness with habitual good-humour, which a child never thinks of treating with disrespect. . We have here been speaking principally of the behaviour of parents to little children. When violent disputes take place between parents and children grown up; --young men and women, there are generally great faults on both sides.; through, for an obvious reason, the parent; who has had the training and formation of the other; is likely to be most in the wrong. But unhappily, very excellent people may sometimes find themselves hampered in a calamity of this nature; and out of that sort of weakness, which is so confounded with strength, turn their very sense of being in the right to the same hostile and implacable purpose, ás if it were the reverse. We can only say; that from all we have seen in the world, and indeed from the whole experience of mankind, they "who are conscious of being right, are the first to make a movement towards reconciliation, let the cause of quarrel be what it may; and that there is no suret method, in the eyes of any who know what human nature is, both to sustain the real dignity of the right side, and to amend the wrong one. To kind-hearted fathers in general, who have the misfortune to get into a dilemma of this sort, we would recommend the pathetic story of a French general, who was observed after the death of his son in battle, never to hold up his head. He said to' a friend, “ My boy was used to think mé severe; and he had too much reason to do so. He did not know how I loved him at the bottom of my heart; and it is now too late." . .


MARRIAGES ROYAL, AND OF DOUBTFUL PROPRIETY. The following remarks on the little prince George, with a memorandum respecting his father, are from the Times.-A Sunday paper has headed it,

A Tale of MYSTERY.—“The arrival of a certain person in England created pain when it first took place : it was anxiety for his health, no doubt, that excited the feeling the season was wet, and he was exposed to raw cold. His mother had other reasons for wishing him to stay abroad : in those, perhaps, the people of England do not partake ; but the supposed cause of his visit would, if it were more than a mere supposition, create real pain and disgust. It is said, among other things, to be the negotiation of a marriage between two children. Nature revolts at the proposition; and let us-let the people of England still adhere to nature. In barbarous and brutal times it was not uncommon to unite infants of high birth (if any birth be high, all being born alike) by what may be called pre-natural, if not preternatural, marriage ; but the age of barbarism, we should suppose, is extinct, and the sacred ritual of our church is totally incompatible with any application to an union such as that which is rumoured or insinuated. Our last Princess chose for herself. The union was not long, and it led to no results; but it was not unhappy to the parties, we believe, whilst it lasted, and to the people it imparted unmingled satisfaction. In proportion to that satisfaction would now be the public loathing, if any expedient of an infantine union or betrothment were ayowed. We trust, therefore, this matter will sink. into oblivion for some eight or ten good years to come; and then-ay, but who knows what may happen then? We may here mention another circumstance of minor importance, but yet curious. A certain venerable and learned peer-whose prolonged, and we sincerely hope happy life, seems to justify the slowness with which he once decided causes-was seen pacing down St James's street on Saturday last ; and who should be observed following him step for step-pari passu, as certain orators say— but Neale, the Neale who was a witness in the affair of Sellis, when the Duke of Cumberland was all but hewn in pieces : together they entered the palace where his Royal Highness now resides, and there they continued for some time. We only mention the facts: they are curious. We have not been able to learn what was the subject of the confabulation.” Arte

Edge Base INOX The consideration of the importance of a little child to a great people has always in it something humiliating; and on no occasion perhaps have the subjects of a monarchy greater reason to cast a glance of doubt and shame at the people of a republic., One, cannot help fancying the legislators of the United States turning, to look at one another, and joining in a smile of dignified scorn, at the necessity we are under of regarding these matters. We feel as if they must look upon us as so many little boys.

Nature does indeed, as the Times says, revolt at the proposition of these infantine unions or betrothments. It may have turned out well enough occasionally to bring two children together, and let an affection grow up between them, uninfluenced or uninterested; but these things are best done in the Arcadian vallies of St Pierre. The recklessness of will royal can never manage them properly : and if it could, in an instance like the present, other and very serious objections remain. The little parties alluded to are cousins. Now it is a fact well ascertained in these latter days, and notorious to everybody at all conversant with nature, that “ breeding in and in," as we believe they term it, inevitably spoils any race of animals; and unfortunately human beings cannot escape this de signation, por princes among them. The latter indeed, by the unlucky chances of their station, are too often rendered especially animal and corporeal; and in exhibiting little mind, have all the disadvantages of their nature brought forward in pampered promi

« PreviousContinue »