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cold on Sunday was sevennight, that has brought me almost to your Worship's age from sixty, within less than a fortnight. I am, Your Worship's in all obedience,
N235. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1710.
Scit Genius, natale comes qui temperat astrum.
HOR. 2 Ep. ii. 187.
But whence these turns of inclination rose,
From my own Apartment, October 9. AMONG those inclinations which are common to all men, there is none more unaccountable than that unequal love by which parents distinguish their children from each other.
Sometimes vanity and self-love appear to have a share towards this effect; and in other instances I have been apt to attribute it to mere instinct: but, however that is, we frequently see the child, that has been beholden to neither of these impulses in his parents, in spite of being neglected, snubbed, and thwarted at home, acquire a behaviour wisich makes him as agreeable to all the rest of the world, as that of every one else of their family is to each other. I fell into this way of thinking from an intimacy which I have with a very good louse in our neighbourhood, where there are three daughters of a very different character and genius. The eldest has a great deal of wit and cunning; the second has good sense, but no artifice ; the third has much vivacity, but little understanding. The first is a fine, but scornful woman; the second is not charming, but very winning; the third is no way commendable, but very desirable.
The father of these young creatures was ever a great pretender to wit, the mother a woman of as much coquetry. This turn in the parents has biassed their affections towards their children. The old man supposes the eldest of his own genius; and the mother looks upon the youngest as herself renewed. By this means, all the lovers that approach the house are discarded by the father, for not observing Mrs. Mary's wit and beauty; and by the mother, for being blind to the mien and air of Alrs. Biddy. Come never so many pretenders, they are not suspected to have the least ihonght of Mrs. Betty, the middle daughter. Betty, therefore, is mortified into a woman of a great deal of merit, and knows she must depend on that only for her advancement. The middlemost is thus the favourite of all her acquaintance, as well as mine ; while the other two carry a certain insolence about them in all conversations, and expect the partiality which they meet with at home to attend them whereever they appear. So little do parents understand that they are, of all people, the least judges of their children's merit, that what they reckon such is seldom any thing else but a repetition of their own faults and infirmities.
There is, methiuks, some excuse of being particular, when one of the offspring has any defect in nature. In this case, the child, if we may so speak, is so much the longer the child of its parents, and calls for the continuance of their care and indulgence from the slowness of its capacity, or the weakness of its body. But there is no enduring to see men enamoured only at the sight of their own impertinences repeated, and to observe, as we may sometimes, that they have a secret dislike of their children for a degeneracy from their very crimes. Commend me to Lady Goodly; she is equal to all her own chiliren, but prefers them to those of all the world beside. My lady is a perfect hen in the care of her brood; she fights and she squabbles with all that appear where they come, but is wholly unbiassed in dispensing ber favours among them. It is no small pains she is at to defame all the young women in her neighbourhood, by visits, whispers, intimations, and hearsays; all which she ends with thanking Heaven, “that no one living is so blessed with such obedient and well-inclined children as herself. Perhaps," says she, “ Betty cannot dance like Mrs. Frontinet, and it is no great matter whether she does or not; but she comes into a rooin with a good grace: though she says it that should not, she looks like a gentlewoman. Then, if Mrs. Rebecca is not so talkative as the mighty wit Mrs. Clapper; yet she is discreet, she knows better what she says when she does speak. If her wit be slow, her tongue never runs before it." This kind parent lifts up her eyes and hands in congratulation of her own good fortune, and is maliciously thankful that none of her girls are like any of her neighbours : but this preference of her own to all others is grounded upon an impulse of nature; while those, who like one before another of their own, are so uipardonably unjust, that it could hardly be equalled in the children, though they preferred all the rest of the world to such parents. It is no unpleasant entertainment to see a ball at a dancing-school, and
. observe the joy of relations when the young ones, for whom they are concerned, are in motion. You need not be told whom the dancers belong to. At their first appearance, the passions of their parents are in their faces, and there is always a nod of approbation stolen at a good step, or a graceful turn.
I remember, among all my acquaintance, but one man whom I have thought to live with his children with equanimity and a good grace. He had three sons and one daugliter, whom he bred with all the care imaginable in a liberal and ingenuous way. I have often heard him say, “ he had the weakness to love one much better than the other, but that he took as much pains to correct that as any otlier criminal passion that could arise in his mind." His method was, to make it the only pretension in his children to his favour, to be kind to each other: and he would tell them, “ that he who was the best brother, he would reckon the best son.” This turned their thoughts into an emulation for the superiority in kind and tender affection towards each other. The boys behaved themselves very early with a manly friendship; and their sister, instead of the gross familiarities, and iinpertinent freedoms in behaviour, usual in other houses, was always treated by them with as much complaisance as any other young lady of their acquaintance. It was an unspeakable pleasure to visit, or sit at a meal, in that family. I have often seen the old man's heart flow at his eyes with joy, upon occasions which would appear ivdifferent to such as were strangers to the turn of his mind; but a very slight accident, wherein he saw his children's good-will to one another, created in him the godlike pleasure of loving them because they loved each other. This great command of himself, in biding his first impulse to partiality, at last improved to-a steady justice towards them; and that, which at first was but an expedient to correct bis weakness, was afterwards the measure of his virtue.
The truth of it is, those parents who are interested in the care of one child more than that of another, no longer deserve the name of parents, but are, in effect, as childish as their children, in having such unreasonable and ungoverned inclinations. A father of this sort has degraded himself into one of his own offspring; for none but a child would take part in the passions of children.
N°236. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1710.
Nescio quà natale solum dulcedine mentent
OVID. Ep. ex Pont. I. 111.
A nameless fondness for our native clime
From my own Apartment, October 11. I FIND in the registers of my family that the branch of the Bickerstaffs, from which I am descended, came originally out of Ireland. This has given me a kind of natural affection for that country. It is therefore with pleasure that I see not only some of the greatest warriors, but also of the greatest wits, to be natives of that kingdom. The