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appears outwardly, and takes the form of an act and deed.
Mercy, then, in its first dependancy, is tenderheartedness, or the preservation of the heart in that state in which the natural affections may be maintained warm and lively.
As no two objects of the same species in the creation are perfectly, completely, and entirely alike in every separate part, shade, size and bearing, so neither can there be found two full grown human creatures offering an exact resemblance to each other in form, stature, faculty, bodily powers, taste, inclinations and affections.
Infants vary as much as men; for, from the experience of attention, care and tenderness from those about them, do some begin much earlier than others to receive the impression, and consequently to discover that they are sensible to kindness shewn. One infant at the age of two months will smile in joy, when the
person who has most caressed and fed it advances to take it from the hands of a stranger, while another child of twice that age will seem scarcely to notice whom he is particularly with, so that his wants are speedily supplied.
And as the feelings discover themselves with uncertainty, so are they also unequal in their degree and intensity. One rule will, however, hold good under every diversity ; keep the heart tender in infancy. If it be too soft in childhood, a remedy may be applied with ease and safety. If feeling be condensed, and every entrance to it blockaded, if apathy, obduracy and selfishness be allowed to creep in and hedge round
a heart, no human force, no example, no precept, no after attempts can ever avail in restoring the spring of the milk of human kindness : it is iced and encrusted,
and lost for ever. Man is a social creature. He is formed to live in communities : to attach himself to many; to love a few; and to be well disposed to all. We see this disposition at different periods of infancy, but still it is universally seen. The kind, soothing, tender voice of the being who pourishes the babe; her caresses, smiles, exertions and watchfulness, all affect the infant breast, in the shape of comfort, enjoyment, delight ; and habit strengthens these feelings into love. At the age of a few months, generally, this noble and natural affection has begun to take root. The father, mother, nurse, sister, brother, all are dear. The infant heart is large enough to shelter within it an interest in five persons, and even in double that number, should the family be composed of so many. But of all these, one is supreme ; that one whom Nature has appointed to give support to the babe. To be convinced of this, let a mother attempt to wean a child, and let those who doubt the sense, acuteness, intelligence, powers of memory, observation, and natural affections of infants, narrowly watch and attentively consider the movements of the little sufferer ; its anxiety in surveying every countenance, in the hope of discovering the dearest and best of all ; its eagerness in listening to every voice, and the burst of impatience on distinguishing, among many, that one most welcome to which it has been accustomed during its little life. And when the dear lost friend is
recovered, let the same person condescend to notice how firmly the miniature hands grasp the folds of her robe, or cling to her bosom, in the consciousness of what has been done, and in the fear of what may again be attempted. And may not all these, and a hundred other proofs of the intelligence of infancy, be brought forward in children of six, seven, eight and nine months old ? Let us, then, not hesitate to speak of the natural affections of infancy, and seriously consider how we may best act to preserve them true and in original purity.
Love of children to their parents is the first of natural affections. This love is cultivated, in general, with sufficient anxiety, and it would be superfluous to dwell upon its necessity. Parents, on the other hand, who desire their children to love them (and what parents do not?) must by their example, conduct, principles and precepts, deserve their love; or that which is given by the infant will be withdrawn, in
a great measure, by the youth.
A good parent, who faithfully and conscientiously fulfils his trust, deserves to be looked upon, and will be, by his children in the noblest light; the most exalted feelings of gratitude which can swell a human breast will be awakened for him ; and all the purest offerings of nature will be his. But a parent must labour to deserve so full and perfect an affection before he can obtain it ; he must also be prepared to wait some years till reason is expanded, and assists in confirming all that nature, and habit, and feeling would give. It is generally to be remarked, that those who make too many pretensions are often least entitled
to do so, and that the parents who are most in the habit of reminding their children how much they owe them, and how greatly their conduct falls short of duty, are, for the most part, such as by weakness or improper behaviour have least right to expect a steady, warm, undeviating, filial affection in return. Indeed, affection flies in proportion as it is exacted; and all attachment is sweetest when it is not insisted upon or demanded : in the same degree, as a confidence which is extorted is never sincere, and attentions which are insisted on are always irksome. Thus we may argue well of a mother who never feels herself obliged to remind her daughter that she is wanting in respect and duty to her ; as we may justly conclude, that that rather has acted a good part, who says,
« I have no need to remind a child of mine of the confidence and love which, as his parent, are my right; all his affection is spontaneous, and all his unboasted actions, without a hint from me, are directed at once to my comfort, pleasure, and gratification, and spring from a glowing heart, and a regulated mind."
But although this is the case with regard to adolescence, we should in childhood teach a little being what duty does consist in. This, I apprehend, is better done by inference than by direct means.
There is something awkward in even a mother's assertion, that she is to be esteemed more highly than all the world besides ; that all trust, all hope, all the highest gratitude and love are to be centred in her and the other parent. We know it ought to be so, until maturity shall lead to the forming of other ties; but how,
is to be said * Fortunately there are innumerable ways of conveying this lesson into tender minds, without a mother having any necessity to ask for her child's affection. All nature teems with examples, and the press abounds with pleasing images of parental solicitude, and filial duty: and an image of nature, or examples from a book, are worth more, make more profound impression, than all the verbal precepts of " I do all this for you, and you should do all that for me,” in the world.
In the poultry-yard, a mother may point out and make the reflexions as she pleases upon the parent hen, and desire her children to observe its anxiety, its solicitude, its care, its risk of all to save and protect its young. The ewe, the cow, with all the tribes of small birds; the bee, and many
may point out and remark the attention, and filial return of the young. And in books, if there were no other sources than Mrs. Trimmer's beautiful fabulous bistory, she would have abundant materials for description, and narrative to repeat in an easier language than this excellent woman has used, since her's is a book calculated for the age of eight or nine years, and would not suit a very little child. All these, with the habit of living with and receiving a thousand tender, unextolled attentions from two beings, will be sufficient to effect all that the tenderest parents could wish. They will be fervently, and truly loved, and
* Those who talk most of their affection have perhaps least. Let niothers prefer actions to professions, lest King Lear's error and punishment be theirs.