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can we expect as the consequences, but quarrelling, teazing, envy, and malice ? and when once these are allowed to stand forth among first and second children, they will flourish among all the following ones, to the very brink of the grave.
An eldest child, then, which has been, as is natural, much caressed, should be even more tenderly treated than formerly, as soon as a mother can bear his company after having presented him with a little creature for a future companion, comforter, and friend An infant requires much attendance, but the eldest should evidently see that he is as dear as ever to his parents. He should be amused and instructed, and made to feel as happy as possible. At the very first, it might be prudent in the parents to abstain from extravagantly praising, or caressing, the youngest. No such speech as, " Ah, you 'have a sister now, or brother, what will
do? Mamma must love little sister,” should never be made use of by a parent, nor heard by one in the nursery, without a severe reprimand. The child will thus not be rritated by a great change, from tender treatment to neglect, nor will he feel an uneasy sensation rise as he perceives a strange being engross many of those attentions which were exclusively his. By degrees, affection will grow, and habit will strengthen it, and the first-born will be accustomed to think that the stranger has a right to half of whatever he has. This must also have been taught by words and action. When the second child is old enough, he should have his trifles and his shares, and to make this well understood, nothing should be given to the
elder, without a remark being made that the little one is equally entitled with him, to that which its age prevents it from enjoying.
Personal admiration is another source of mischief among children of a family. One child must be prettier, or brighter in intellect, or better shaped than another. The superiority is injudiciously noticed, and jealousy immediately springs up in the bosoms of the others.
Emulation is good in a public establishment, but with a family of sisters and brothers it may be very dangerous to excite it too violently. We must drop competition if we wish to preserve harmony, and it is in no trifling degree better, we presume, to ensure affection and moral qualities, than to purchase excellence in any art or science at the expense of both.
These hints, however, are given in the supposition that the children are permitted to live together during their infancy and childhood; and, indeed, unless this be the case, we can reckon upon no strong affection. Eight, ten, or twelve years of pleasant, joyful, affectionate intercourse are necessary, and this, too, in the gayest, most undisturbed, careless, delightful period of existence, when all is life and unclouded hope, to make a profound impression that shall stand every casualty of time, and defy every vicissitude of event. But children who are separated in infancy form other ties, and twine other recollections with memory, than those connected with a brother or sister. They are, on growing up, reminded of duty, and affection, and tenderness, when they coldly meet; but alas ! in matters of affection, the reason is in
vain addressed if the heart make no response. Duty is here a cold, heavy obligation, if inclination go not along with it, and so oppressive, that human nature constantly desires to rebel and throw it afar off. Ah! for one little precept, one small secret to teach man's stubborn, restless and rebellious nature, how in all matters to unite his inclination with his duty; to instruct him from his infancy how he shall run down the stream of existence, loving where affection is due ; respecting, where respect is meet : esteeming all in their just proportion, and setting no further value on himself than as a weak being sent on earth to act, but only according to fixed principle, and to stand accountable for
deed. But man's nature is prone to evil, and duty too often runs counter to his will. A few remarks must now be made on the correction and other points regarding children of one family.
We are not born alike in disposition, any more than we resemble each other in every feature. There is often as much variety in the children of the same family as in the same number of strangers. powerful are the effects of habit and education, that many distinguishing characteristics shall be filed down, and in place of a young, evil propensity, which was smothered in the birth, shall be planted an excellence which may flourish during life. Notwithstanding which, a bias or propensity must be observed this or that way; and it often happens that, during several years of infancy, every effort is required to bear down, with all the preponderance of a mother gifted with supreme authority over her child, the
turbulent evil, which, like compressed air, seeks to escape at any fissure, and with every opportunity. But as it may shew itself at one fissure, let us close that for ever, and in time such struggles will be powerless and vain. Such repellant exertion on the mother's part is arduous and difficult, yet never hopeless whilst habit fluctuates ; when this is fixed, amendment and alteration may be expected, but are rarely found. Thus does the appearance of fault lead to detection, the detection to remonstrance, and the remonstrance disregarded, to the correction of children.
One little girl, then, has a propensity which her sister has not; the first is corrected, whilst the second, who has no such fault, is blameless and unreproved. If the strongest affection has been cultivated, and exists between these sisters, the second will burst into tears, on witnessing the disgrace of her beloved companion and friend; and will feel in the highest degree wretched until the other is pardoned. This is the test of sisterly love. Let us carefully guard so precious a tenderness.
In order to do so, a mother should begin by separating the two little girls, that whatever she may say to the one, of reproof or accusation, may not prejudice the other's mind : besides which, a culprit is humiliated in the highest degree by the presence of those who listen to his accusation, and this feeling of shame, however advantageous in a general way, is not a proper one to excite between sisters or brothers. The severest punishment of a child should be, a banishment of an hour from the society. of these dear little relatives. Not a word of blame on the
corrected child should pass the mother's lips in presence of the better children, and even when the offender has pleaded forgiveness and is pardoned, the mother may restore her to her place, but without comment. The child will doubtless be questioned when the parent does not listen, and she may tell her own story. The self-accusations of a being we love go a very little way; but the grave charges against him by another, and respected person, sink very deep.
In the second place, and by way of still more preserving the equality between sisters and brothers, a mother should dress her children, exactly alike; the boys in the same colours and habit, the girls exactly in the muslins and fashions which the others wear. One child is, propably, prettier than another; I would neither remark nor deny this, but if other officious persons made the observation, should give them no encouragement, but take the first opportunity for alluding to some object in nature, which may be most remarkable for plain appearance, but which is most valuable in intrinsic worth ; as well as to another object of pretty or gaudy shape or hue, which is of no value. When beauty and excellence are however united, we should observe, that they are very admirable, but when we cannot have both, how much excellence is preferable to mere outward show. The
power of beauty over the human soul is uni. versal and supreme; but as beauty varies according to prepossession and taste, and that taste has no fixed law, we cannot but observe that the graces which enchant one person, excite in another no extraor