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expensive toy ready made to their hands would have afforded. But their chief amusement was derived from the little hoards of shells, feathers, mosses, dead insects, and dried flowers, which they collected; in a word, Nature furnished their toyshop, and a more glorious one, or one more richly stored, no child can have access to. Oh! what a treat was a portfolio of prints, when chance threw such a treasure in their way; for, unlike the children of the wealthy, they were not accustomed to see daily before their eyes, drawing-room tables loaded with annuals and scrap-books, and were spared the misfortune of that premature fastidiousness which arises from satiety rather than judgment. The few books they had access to, they remembered the longer, and with more delight; and it were not going too far to assert, that the few friends they had they valued the more, and evinced in after life a very unusually grateful remembrance of kindnesses early received. When at length they quitted their rural seclusion, which was not until girlhood verged upon womanhood, there was a freshness for them, thanks to previous poverty and obscurity, in everything they saw: a charm in existence, which the children of prosperity, who might perhaps have pitied their early privations, would have purchased at any cost. This little episode must not be considered a digression from our subject. Although it was a case arising out of necessity, it is unhesitatingly
EXPECTANCY AND INGRATITUDE.
offered as an example worthy, to a certain extent at least, of imitation.
EXPECTANCY AND INGRATITUDE.
To heap indulgences upon children is onlysuch, alas, is human nature!-to lead them into the sins of rapacity and ingratitude. I do not mean to be severe, and believe that I am not unjust, when I affirm that the majority of young persons are ungrateful. Yet this is more the fault of education than of nature; of that wretched mismanagement which fosters the seeds of pride and selfishness in their hearts, and begets false notions of their own importance and claims upon others. Children accustomed to consider themselves objects of the first importance, necessarily regard every display of kindness towards them, every benefit conferred, as a right, and consequently not entitled to their gratitude. They expect to find the whole world interested in their happiness, and upon the alert to promote their amusement, without entertaining the least idea of reciprocal claims and duties. The more they are fêted, and the more presents they receive, the more do they expect. Presents, unless very judiciously managed, are a sure means of making them covetous and mercenary.
“What have you brought for me? every body brings me something”—was the first salutation the Author received, on paying a visit to a friend, from that friend's little spoilt boy. “The child,”
as Wordsworth tells us, “is father of the man.” From such small beginnings, in expectancy, grow up those mercenary feelings which take possession of the hearts of too many in mature life.
I fear that to mercenary motives we may ascribe many of those trifling sacrifices wrung from youth in favour of elderly relatives and childless acquaintance. I apprehend also that it is generally the parents of the young persons who put such notions into their heads; for, as I have elsewhere observed, to be mercenary is not natural to youth. Such schemes ought never to be mentioned in their presence: it would be well if they had no place in the thoughts of their parents; and I bid the latter reflect, before recommending their sons and daughters to endeavour to get into the good graces of the elderly and the childless, in the hope that something may come of it, that it is just possible such counsel may work so as to cause themselves to become objects of sordid speculation to their own offspring
Of the ungrateful dispositions with which illeducated persons grow up, I could adduce many instances, were not individualizing contrary to the whole design of this work. I would moreover encourage the hope that time may yet correct some of them, for time is a stern disenchanter. There are few persons from whose eyes the scales do not fall before they are closed in death. However thankless, however presumptuous in their own strength the children of indulgence may go
EXPECTANCY AND INGRATITUDE.
forth, however confident in hope, ere they have passed through the half of this life's trials, it is an hundred to one but they acknowledge, tacitly at least, that they have been the victims of selfdelusion, and would weep tears of blood could they only recall the days that are gone, never to return. Then do they perceive their own ingratitude; then do they feel the value of the affections they once scorned and slighted; and would give half they possess for a tithe of those countless neglected opportunities, to prove to the friends of their youth that their kindness was not entirely thrown away. Oh! how disinterested does that kindness appear in retrospect, when contrasted with the indifference, or, at best, the cold and hollow courtesies of the world! Yet, while it was lavished upon them, they perhaps grudged in return even the trivial sacrifice of a little of their time and attention, the utmost demanded from them. Experience, which we refuse at secondhand, comes too late when gathered with our own. Time matures for us the bitter fruits of repentance; and whether we repent or not, Death claims his prey. The eyes that looked tenderly on us are shrouded for ever; the voices, whose tones were all sincerity and kindness, are silenced for ever. We could not, if we would, make reparation for the past. Death, to the mind of youth, is, however, a mere shadow, which rarely darkens enjoyment. The young seem to think the familiar faces they have been accustomed to see around them from infancy, must be immortal. Did they reflect a little oftener, and more seriously on the nature of Death, they would be more prompt to repay kindness with kindness, and not put off its requital till an indefinite period.