DELLA AND THE DOLLS.
This book may, perhaps, sometimes fall into the hands of persons who have, temporarily or otherwise, the charge of young children without any absolute authority over them, or any means, or even any right, to enforce their commands, as was the case, in fact, with the older brothers or sister referred to in the preceding illustrations. To such persons, these indirect modes of training children in habits of subordination to their will, or rather of yielding to their influence, are specially useful. Such persons may be interested in the manner in which Delia made use of the children’s dolls as a means of guiding and governing their little mothers.
Della had a young sister named Maria, and a cousin whose name was Jane. Jane used often to come to make Maria a visit, and when together the children were accustomed to spend a great deal of time in playing with their dolls. Besides dressing and undressing them, and playing take them out to excursions and visits, they used to talk with them a great deal, and give them much useful and valuable information and instruction.
[Illustration: ROUNDABOUT INSTRUCTION.]
Now Delia contrived to obtain a great influence and ascendency over the minds of the children by means of these dolls. She fell at once into the idea of the children in regard to them, and treated them always as if they were real persons; often speaking of them and to them, in the presence of the other children, in the most serious manner. This not only pleased the children very much, but enabled Della, under pretense of talking to the dolls, to communicate a great deal of useful instruction to the children, and sometimes to make very salutary and lasting impressions upon their minds.
Lectures to the Dolls.
For instance, sometimes when Jane was making Maria a visit, and the two children came into her room with their dolls in their arms, she would speak to them as if they were real persons, and then taking them in her hands would set them before her on her knee, and give them a very grave lecture in respect to the proper behavior which they were to observe during the afternoon. If Delia had attempted to give precisely the same lecture to the children themselves, they would very soon have become restless and uneasy, and it would have made very little impression upon them. But being addressed to the dolls, they would be greatly interested in it, and would listen with the utmost attention; and there is no doubt that the counsels and instructions which she gave made a much stronger impression upon their minds than if they had been addressed directly to the children themselves. To give an idea of these conversations I will report one of them in full.