But when parents go farther than this, and actually discourage their children from rising early, and use every means in their power short of actual punishment—and sometimes even that—to make them lie still till breakfast, in order that they may be out of the way, what shall we say? And what is to be expected as the result?
There is hope, however, under the last circumstances. People sometimes carry things to an extreme that defeats their very purposes. Thus it occasionally is, in the case before us. This forbidding children to rise early, and threatening them if they do, sometimes excites their curiosity, and leads them to the forbidden course of conduct, simply because it is forbidden. Not a few persons among us possess the disposition to be governed by what has sometimes been called the “rule of contrary.”
I might stop here to show that there is nothing so well calculated to develope and improve the mind and heart, even of parents themselves, as the society of those whom God gives them to train for Him and their country. I might show that not a few of those traits of character which render the company of many old persons rather irksome, especially to the young, have their origin in their neglect of the young, and of keeping up, as long as circumstances will possibly admit, juvenile feelings, actions, and habits.
And yet what do we too often witness in life? Is not every effort made to induce the young to lie in bed late that they may be out of the way? Are they not placed, as soon as possible after they are up, with the servants—if unfortunately there are any in the family—that they may be out of the way? Are they not required to breakfast, and dine, and sup elsewhere, if possible, that they may be out of the way? Do we not send them to school, even the Sabbath school, to get them out of the way? Do not some mothers even dose their infants with stupifying medicines to lull them to sleep, in order to have them out of the way? And to crown all, though they are quite too often permitted to sit up late in the evening, to enjoy that society which they are denied so great a part of the day-time, are they not occasionally put to bed early that they may be out of the way, and that the parents may attend late parties, to indulge in immoral or unhealthy habits?
In the last instance, they are indeed sometimes put out of the way, in the result—and with a vengeance. Many a child, nay, many thousands of children, are burnt up yearly, while their parents are gone abroad in the evening in quest of that enjoyment which ought to be found in the bosom of their families. “In Westminster, a part of London, containing less than two hundred thousand inhabitants, one hundred children were thus destroyed, during a single year.” And the moral results which occasionally happen are a thousand times worse than burning. But enough of this.