[Illustration: AFRAID OF THE COW.]
This, in the case supposed, she meets in the form of the farmer’s son, a young man browned in face and plain in attire, who comes along while she stands loitering at the fence looking at the cow, and not daring after all, notwithstanding the assurances she has received at the house, to cross the field. His name is Joseph, and he is a natural gentleman—a class of persons of whom a much larger number is found in this humble guise, and a much smaller number in proportion among the fashionables in elegant life, than is often supposed. “Yes,” says Joseph, after hearing the child’s statement of the case, “you are right. Cows are sometimes vicious, I know; and you are perfectly right to be on your guard against such as you do not know when you meet them in the country. This one, as it happens, is very kind; but still, I will go through the field with you.”
So he goes with her through the field, stopping on the way to talk a little to the cow, and to feed her with an apple which he has in his pocket.
It is in this spirit that the fears, and antipathies, and false imaginations of children are generally to be dealt with; though, of course, there may be many exceptions to the general rule.
When Children are in the Wrong.
There is a certain sense in which we should feel a sympathy with children in the wrong that they do. It would seem paradoxical to say that in any sense there should be sympathy with sin, and yet there is a sense in which this is true, though perhaps, strictly speaking, it is sympathy with the trial and temptation which led to the sin, rather than with the act of transgression itself. In whatever light a nice metaphysical analysis would lead us to regard it, it is certain that the most successful efforts that have been made by philanthropists for reaching the hearts and reforming the conduct of criminals and malefactors have been prompted by a feeling of compassion for them, not merely for the sorrows and sufferings which they have brought upon themselves by their wrongdoing, but for the mental conflicts which they endured, the fierce impulses of appetite and passion, more or less connected with and dependent upon the material condition of the bodily organs, under the onset of which their feeble moral sense, never really brought into a condition of health and vigor, was over-borne. These merciful views of the diseased condition and action of the soul in the commission of crime are not only in themselves right views for man to take of the crimes and sins of his fellow-man, but they lie at the foundation of all effort that can afford any serious hope of promoting reformation.
This principle is eminently true in its application to children. They need the influence of a kind and considerate sympathy when they have done wrong, more, perhaps, than at any other time; and the effects of the proper manifestation of this sympathy on the part of the mother will, perhaps, be greater and more salutary in this case than in any other. Of course the sympathy must be of the right kind, and must be expressed in the right way, so as not to allow the tenderness or compassion for the wrong-doer to be mistaken for approval or justification of the wrong.