A brighter picture.

But fortunately these dreadful people are comparatively rare; and the majority of English homes—thousands and thousands of them, thank God!—are abodes of peace and love, refuges from the cares of business and the coldness of the outer world. The gentle courtesies of look and manner are not reserved for strangers, but freely dispensed in the domestic circle. The smile, the word of sympathy spoken in season, whether in the happiness or troubles of the others, the thoughtfulness translated into actions of kindly care for the well-being of all within the house; all these are of almost angelic import in daily life. One is inclined to deify gentleness and the sweet humility that is never exacting when one realises how immensely they act and re-act on home-life. It is, perhaps, possible to rate them too highly; but there are moments in which they appear to be virtues of the very first order.

The mother’s duty to her children.

It is the mother’s duty to teach children to behave well at home and elsewhere. Too often she fails in it, and the young ones are unruly. The great lesson of obedience has not been learned; not even begun. And yet it means so much that is beyond and above mere obedience! It is the beginning of moral training. It is like the mastering of the clefs and notes in music. That done, the learner may teach himself. Left undone, there is nothing but discord to be evolved from his best efforts.

Tyrants of Nursery-land.

Fathers have not the same chance of spoiling the children. When they do, they chiefly incline to pet the girls. Mothers prefer, as a rule, to spoil the boys; and many a wife owes half her married misery to the injudicious years of misrule in which her husband’s boyhood was passed. Even now the girls are taught in many a nursery to give up at once anything that the boys may wish for. Is it not true? And, being true, is it surprising that the age of chivalry is fading, fading? And often, in Nursery-land, there is a tyrant girl. That tyrant girl, generally the eldest child, rules the little ones with a rod of iron, supplies the lacking discipline of parents with a terrorism which is founded on no principles of order or of justice, and nourishes in infant breasts a like sentiment of tyranny to her own, that of the trampled slave who waits only for opportunity to be tyrant in his turn. That is what the carelessness of elders does in the nursery!

The home of the ideal house-ruler.

But the gentle firmness of the ideal house-ruler is as genially expansive as the warm southern airs that come in April, and make us forget, in a moment, the long bitterness of winter. If every one is not happy in the homes where it is to be found, at least every one has a chance of happiness. There is a wonderful solace in even the superficial sweetness of politeness in such a home. The stranger within its gates is at once aware of a balmy moral atmosphere, from which harsh words, frowning looks, recriminations, scowls, sulks, and all their kin are wholly banished, and where the amenities of life are at least as much studied as its more substantial needs. Has not Solomon himself given us a precedent for according more importance to the former than to the latter? Has he not told us that—“Better is the dinner of herbs where love is than the stalled ox and hatred therewith”?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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