All this may happen; but if it should, I am not answerable for it. I have insisted strongly on guarding the child against wet clothing, and on watching him with the utmost care to prevent all real suffering. Mothers, like the specimen here given, if they happen to have a little sensibility to suffering, and not much love of their offspring, generally know of a shorter way to quiet their infants and procure time to work, than that which is here mentioned. They have nothing to do but to give them some cordial or elixir, whose basis is opium. Startle not, reader, at the statement;—this abominable practice is followed by many a female who claims the sacred name of mother. And many a wretch has thus, in her ignorance, indolence or avarice, slowly destroyed her children!
I repeat, therefore, that I do not think my remarks on crying are necessarily liable to abuse; though I am not sure that there are not a few individuals to be found who may apply them in the manner above mentioned—an application, however, which is as far removed from the original intention of the author, as can possibly be conceived.
“Laugh and be fat.” Laughing is healthy. A common error. Monastic notions yet too prevalent on this subject.
Laughing, like crying, has a good effect on the infantile lungs; nor is it less salutary in other respects. “Laugh and be fat,” an old adage, has its meaning, and also its philosophy.
There is an excess, however, to which laughing, no less than crying, may be carried, and which we cannot too carefully avoid. But how little to be envied—how much to be pitied—are they who consider it a weakness and a sin to laugh, and in the plenitude of their wisdom, tell us that the Saviour of mankind never laughed. When I hear this last assertion, I am always ready to ask, whether the individual who makes it has read a new revelation or a new gospel; for certainly none of the sacred books which I have seen give us any such information.
But I will not dwell here. The common notion on this subject, if not ridiculous, is certainly strange. I will only add, that, come into vogue as it might have done, there is no opinion more unfounded than the very general one among adults, that children should be uniformly grave; and that just in proportion as they laugh and appear frolicsome, just in the same proportion are they out of the way, and deserving of reprehension.
It is strange that it should be so, but I have seen many parents who were miserable because their children were sportive and joyful. Oh, when will the days of monkish sadness and austerity be over; and the public sentiment in the christian world get right on this subject!