Sidor som bilder

revered ; not because they are his parents, but because habit, wisdom, reason and affection, all agree

in stamping them on memory as the best, the wisest, the dearest of friends. Let, then, a parent fulfil his obligations to the child, and filial affection and obedience must flow back in return.

After the parents, the natural affections rest upon the other offspring of those parents; the brothers and sisters.

Here we come to equality. A few years, more or. less, make but little difference in the estimation of a young mind. It has no respect for a being descended from the same stock, and sharing in the same enjoy. ments, liberties, advantages and restrictions with itself. But what is wanting in respect, is made up in strong affection. We naturally have a tender, familiar, confidential feeling towards those who share our fate, our hopes, our fears, our lot, our joys, our griefs; and this is the case with children of the same parent. They grow up together, and fare alike; dispute, rejoice, and mourn ; if one weeps, tears spring from the other's eye; and if another laughs, the first cannot forbear to smile. And thus it is that habit and peculiar circumstance so form them, that fraternal love may, in its purity, zeal, habit, association and interest, form into the noblest friendship in the world.

And here again the social inclinations of human nature do much towards producing that which it is so desirable to secure : fraternal and sisterly affection. It is necessary, however, with this as with most other important concerns, to begin well, that we may have a well founded hope of good progress and end. An

infant is very often allowed to teaze, and scratch, and pull the hair of his little sister or brother, who endures the pain of the little tormentor until the drops spring up into his eyes, and he is forced to retreat to some distance. The infant cries out for his victim, and the

person who holds him, to stop the noise, carries him to the elder child, with a “ don't beat brother, or sister," which the infant neither understanding nor heeding, catches at the hair of his little relative, which he sturdily pulls ; pinches the arms or neck, scratches the face, and very often puts down his mouth and fastens the teeth which are just peeping through the gums into any tender part of the frame. The patience of a good-natured child is quite exhausted when thus tried; he perhaps bursts into a crying fit, which frightens the infant, who begins to scream; the nurse, or mother, begins to scold, right or wrong; the babe is jerked up for a punishment; the brother or sister is reproved; both are immediately after coaxed and caressed, and thus ends the matter for that time. The infant commences his tormenting for the sake of amusement (and perhaps it is agreeable to exercise power and to have a will at that age, in proportion as it is in after times), the very first opportunity that he can find no better entertainment, and the same scene occurs, unless indeed it varies a little, by a slap in return from the elder child, when the confusion is greater, and the punishment of the really unoffending one more serious than in the other case.

Now, why is all this ever allowed ? If it be wrong in a child of two or three years of age to bite, scratch, pinch, and teaze a brother or sister, so

wrong as to require reproof and punishment, I would ask, why was it right at six, seven, or eight months ? And if not right, why permitted ?. The answer is plain ; because thoughtless, idle persons, considering infants as mere machinery, or rather considering not at all upon the matter, suffer, permit, encourage, promote any thing and every thing, right or wrong, good or bad, silly or wise, so that present ease may be obtained ; temporary quiet secured, and peace and idleness bought upon any terms whatever. They seem to say, “ My dear child be satisfied ; do not trouble me ; eat and drink and thrive, and give me as much ease as possible, and I will allow you to grow up with any vices you like, and be just what character you please." What character can grow out of such an infancy, but one addicted to strife, envy, bickerings, uncharitableness, malice, and illpature? The evils are endless ; we turn from the contemplation of them in disgust, to the consideration of the requisite means to produce a contrary effect in the tender heart.




It is not hard to imagine that one child may stand higher in a parent's love and regard than another, for we are creatures so much disposed to be influenced by adventitious circumstances, that a reason cannot always be assigned, nor will any apparent cause inform us, why two beings which have a near resem. blance to each other, in person, manners, and dispositions, nevertheless affect us in different ways ; the one gaining over our will and affection in

proportion as the other is incapable of exciting any emotion whatever. How many thousand delightful associations may be wrapped round one child's image, whilst with that of another


be entwined as many of a painful, or distressing, or irritating nature ! These are weaknesses which every mother should strive to conquer, but that such weaknesses there are, cannot be disputed. Whatever, then, may be felt, she should discover only the strictest impartiality. Her's is a'nice and delicate part to act, especially so with a second child. The first-born is accustomed to exclusive love, tenderness, and attention, until the appearance of a brother or sister, when the attention

of a mother is wholly interrupted for a time, and then is but divided. The very extraordinary care which a little infant requires, engages much of a mother's time, and the first-born, who was all, is now only a part. This truth is not so harsh to him at first, because there is surprise and pleasure in the contemplation of a baby's features, and an observance of its helpless ways. But an eldest is at length tired of observing always, and deriving but little amusement; of hearing the plaints, and above all, of the change which the stranger has evidently wrought in his own situation. This is the moment in which a mother should govern with a cautious, skilful, and prudent hand. I am convinced that many of the quarrels, enmity and strife of grown brothers and sisters, might be traced through adolescence and childhood, to mismanagement in this stage of infancy when a difference of treatment is noticed, and a comparison between present and past made ; when disgust arises, and envy and jealousy follow. And when the infant is able to sit up and eat, trifling observations are made to its disadvantage; when it can talk and walk, little tales are told to its preju. dice; and at all times there appears an irritability which bodes no future good. Is this false ? then why are visitors interrupted by, “mamma, the baby has taken this, or that ;" mamma, make him give it me back again ;" and if it be not attended to, by the burst of furious passion which follows, with the words “ tiresome, naughty baby, I wish it had never come." No, there is not one who has not, at some time of his life, heard such an exclamation. What

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