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THE LITTLE BOY.
So soon as you shall have put away has shaken off the last vestiges of from you the glamour of the tiny girl, sexless infancy, and is launched upon the spells of exquisite sorcery with a new state of things: boy now, but which she enslaves you, the allure- little boy no longer. ment of her coquetry and caprice, then He exists in two main types: the. you may face the question frankly, clinging, timorous, quiet child, whose and acknowledge that the warmest unimpeachable virtue is of the negative corner of your heart is reserved, alike kind-more often the result of feeble. by reason and instinct, for the little health than of sound doctrine; and the boy. The little boy militant, tramping quicksilver creature, brilliant and
with drum and flag and restless, scrambling from one. mischief scraps of patriotism; the little boy in- into another as fast as his badly consolable over a broken toy, or shed- bruised legs will carry him. The first. ding tears of tardy repentance upon may develop into a prig, the last gravia melted maternal breast. So easily tates toward the enfant terrible: each: abashed, so quickly elated; his cre- in turn is · adorable. Paradoxical dulity of glorious chances so illimit- though it seem, pathos is the keynote. able, and his sum of human wealth a of the little boy and all his works. penny. He walks among bewildering The little girl is the woman in minrealities and is companioned by rain- iature; her characteristics are not bow dreams; the world presents to changed but accentuated
years: him a series of golden vistas down pass. Her toys are the prototypes of which he gazes, faintly cognizant of her future concerns (this holds good: heroic deed and triumphant adventure even among savage nations), and ali: at the further end. These are the her amusements are of a stereotyped, roads into the past and the future; for stay-at-home order. The mother, the the present there is all-desirable and housewife, the coquette in embryo;. all-sufficient play, upon which the she carries out with more or less verdaily details of life are mere excres
isimilitude the details of these various: cences. He is himself so sweet, SO roles, and is in herself a standing ex-tender an anomaly. All those feminin- ample of the eternal fitness of things.. ities, from petticoats to petulance, But the little boy must suffer an explicwhich the little girl wears by right, it change before he can slough his: are his only for a brief space. There babyhood. In him you shall see Man, is continual war within him between the overlord, the dominant partner, these gentler attributes and the in- held in all humiliation for the noncc. cipient virility which crops up at un
under the thrall of women tutors and expected turns. Thus he draws one's governors, and in bondage to the weak affection by a twofold cord, by his and beggarly elements. He is the vicloveliness, his shyness, bis frailty, no tim of a present incapacity for those less than those robuster traits of nas- matters salient to his ultimate career. cent man by which he puts his sisters He is so chained about with “Thou: to open shame as “only girls.” He is shalt nots” on the one hand, and with: the crowned king of childhood; his petticoat influence and little fears on reign begins at two years old, and is the other, that the measure of his actover at eight or nine. By that time he ual achievement under such. harassing: circumstances touches the marvellous. rental control. Mr. Plowden, on see
“Every child is to a certain extent ing the little fellow, said he did not ina genius,” says Schopenhauer, "and tend to relieve a father of the responevery genius is to a certain extent a sibility of controlling a child of eight. child"-not least so in a potency of The Father: 'I can't control bim." overcoming obstacles. Those dare- The Magistrate: 'You must control devil acts with which the man-child him.' The father went on to state asserts his manhood and alarms his that he had beaten the child and kept anxious friends are counted and pun- him without food. Mr. Plowden said ished as crimes; and that somewhat starving a little boy was the way to inane nondescript, “a good boy," is us- send him off. The father said the boy ually, as I have said, be who lacks had stolen five shillings from his sufficient vitality for escapades. It is mother, and spent it riding in omni. the mother, the aunt, the nurse, the buses all day long. Mr. Plowden supgoverness, the elder sister-all his fe- posed the money was gone, and said male tyrants, greatly misunderstand- the father should keep it out of his ing, who are so "down" upon the little way and give him plenty of pudding. boy for his heinous transgressions of The boy was discharged.” This is the nursery code. His own sex are only a sample of many such cases.. laxer or more lenient; they also have Eight years old, by the way, seems to been in Arcadia. You may notice this be a significant period in the little fact in police reports, in newspaper ac- boy's history. The other day a child counts of those accidents to which the of eight actually received the Royal foolbardiness of the little boy renders Humane Society's medal for having: bim, alas! so frequently liable. He is saved, at various times, three other there constantly alluded to, with a babes from drowning. veiled tenderness, as "the little fel- The little girl is certainly mother of low," "the poor little fellow," "the the woman, but as to the child being unfortunate child." There is no such father of the man, that I utterly gainsympathy hinted when anything be- say. As a rule he is vastly superior to falls a little girl, but rather a grumb- the man, in observation, conscience, ling air, as who should say, “Que di- sense of beauty, and all those other able fait-elle dans cette galère ?” But qualities which fade into the light of one reads, "The little boy" (of six) common day and leave him but a dull “cried so bitterly when his dog was worldling at thirty who was a corusbrought to the hammer that the auc- cating brilliance at six. Goethe said tioneer refused to sell it"; and there that "if children grew up according to was a recent story of Boers raiding a early indications, we should have nothfarm and all its live stock, when the ing but genuises”; and the inevitable little boy of the house, Alinging his decrescence of this natural ability is arms round his beloved pony, defied one of the losses which men regret all and sundry to take it at the peril most bitterly, though they assign of their lives. The Boers had been lit
other names to it. Sometimes it is the tle boys themselves; they laughed, and playfulness of childhood they deplore, departed in peace. Even the stony. sometimes its invincible innocence. hearted magistrate relents and Justice “I cannot reach it," Henry Vaughan nods. “A pretty little boy, eight years writes of that vanished spring: old, was charged by his father at West London with being of such a dis- I cannot reach it, and my straining eye position as to be entirely beyond pa- Dazzles at it, as at eternity. ECLECTIC. VOL. LXXVIJ.
Were now that Chronicle alive,
and one must confess that playfulness, Those white designs which children
imitativeness, and various other trandrive,
sient attributes are shared by the And the thoughts of each harmless
young of most animals. But it is this hour, With their content, too, in my power,
amazing inquisitive propensity which Quickly would I make my path even,
makes our hero such a mine of extenAnd by mere playing go to Heaven. sive and peculiar information. Let
some work be afoot in the roads or The little boy in the abstract is streets-pipe-laying, wire-fixing, whatcalled Tommy-always Tommy. He not-you shall see every little boy may figure under other aliases, but straining to dislocation at the arm of you know he is Tommy at heart. In a his disgusted nurse. It is absolutely score of Du Maurier's drawings you necessary that he should acquaint come across the upper-class Tommy, himself with bow and why these men with his bewitching misdeeds and con- are mployed, and in what manner versational faux pas. Then there is the work is done. The little girl in the middle-class child, who sees more
sublime indifference passes with of his parents, and who, if he be averted eyes. Exactitude as to word, brought up in the country, inhabits a and accuracy as to raison d'être are perpetual wonderland. The poor little also strongly marked in Tommy, and slum gamin, whose end is so often are the correlatives of his curiosity. tragic, enjoys his abbreviated Tommy- It is this exactitude which hands hood as much as any. He knows of
down the traditional nursery songs, no better state--and one can always almost ipsissima verba, from genplay. One would hesitate to apply to eration to generation. One of the some of these starveling, crippled lit- queerest instances of the thirst for irtle beings Herbert Spencer's theory relevant information is to be found that superfluous energy is the cause of in those little boys, just able to play; and yet with closer knowledge write, who perch with pencil and one discovers them playful on the paper on the
suburban railway very verge of extinction. Play is the fences, and laboriously register the child's primal necessity of life, his name of every engine that passes. means of development, his all in all. Aware of these abstruse researches, Tommy is usually kindly in his play, one is the less surprised at Peter, ætat. and has a special weakness for babies, two and a half, on being taken by his his protective masculine tendency as- mother to Kew Gardens, addressing serting itself. A little boy in charge astounded under-gardener with of a perambulator, such as may fre- "You those Chionodoxas? Well, quently be seen in mean streets, is we've lots of them at home!"– -or at a hundredfold kinder than a little girl Victor, about four, heard discussing in the same position; less apt to neg.
with Robin, a year older, the myslect his duty, having more sense of re- teries of triple-expansion boilers; or at sponsibility, and manifesting a pecu- Dicky, aged three, using as a war-cry liar gentleness in handling his infant. those blessed words Encyclopædia Bri
Tommy's chief characteristics, I take tannica. Of course, four-fifths of this it, are three: an insatiable curiosity, miscellaneous lore is only attained by an inveterate desire to play, and a the child transforming himself into a strong bias towards eating not wisely walking note of interrogation. "The but too well. Imagination is not com- little boy who was gored to death by mon to every child in the same degree, a mad bull for asking questions," held
up as an awful warning to little Paul of so recondite and incomprehensible a Dombey, suffered vicariously for all nature, that it goes hard to comfort his brethren since the world began. them out of sight, or douche them
Between Tommy's ideals of right with cold common-sense. Explain and wrong there runs a thick line of away and whittle down as you will, demarcation, too soon to become ob- the wisdom of the ages beats in vain literated in this life of mixed motives. against the child's inviolable certiHis conscience is divided into two tude. Yet the small impenitence in camps, that of guilt and that of con- abbreviated "trousis,” who defies scious rectitude; and whatsoever is authority and despises personal chasnot of faith to him most emphatically tisement immediately before and after is sin. The notion that the Age of its application, may be reduced to Faith is past is a fond thing vainly moral pulp by the apparition of some invented. We all have dwelt in it, and terror inadvertently evoked. I have our children are now its inheritors. known the most scandalous rebel, “Nothing can stagger a child's faith; knowing no awe of parent or policehe accepts the clumsiest substitute, man (the latter is usually a name to and can swallow the most staring in- conjure with), quail and grovel before congruities.” But at the same time the recollection of the Böas. (The his logic is merciless, and he will push Böas is a fearful wildfowl depicted in a conclusion or drive an argument to Jusserand's "English Novel of the such justly demonstrable issues as to Time of Shakespeare,” where it figland his embarrassed parent in a cul- ures in the act of devouring a little asde-sac. To silence his questions is not tonished boy.) “The devil you know,”. to put a stopper on his reasoning, and says the Irish proverb, “is better than it is often better worth while patient- the devil you don't know." Besides, ly to thrash out a question with him, in the child's mind, 'bus-horses and as far as his intelligence will allow, Böases are an equal footing of than to shut him up with brusque re- probability, nor does he vex himself to buff. “The existence of human child. discriminate between real and possible hood, in its long period of plasticity monsters. The late H. J. Bryon, the and educability, has made possible hu- dramatist, used to recount with deman civilization"; and one is at least light a fragmentary dialogue overbound to furnish the little son with heard at some railway station. First some explanation of the ordinary phe- Little Boy: "Oh, yes, and we had great pomena of life. That is no more than games, you know. They were all dihis due. At the same time one should vided into two parties, you know, and forbear to press him too closely for a one party stayed in the room, and the definite reason or statement about other party went outside." Second Litanything. An excellent example of tle Boy: “And what did they do?" the child at bay is that little boy of First: "Oh, they came in and pretendWordsworth's, who, driven into ed to be things, you know." Second: corner as to why he preferred Kilve to “What sort of things?” First: "Oh, some other place, replied, "At Kilve well, er-Dwagons, foh instance!" there was no weather-cock, and that's I have not touched upon the little the reason why!"
boy at school; personally I consider His fears are not the least pathetic that nobody should go to school at all part of him; they are as a rule so ob- until he be past eight. One can very vious, so rudimentary, lightly aroused well acquire a modicum of the three and augmented, and yet in some cases R's by easy stages at home; and for
the rest, why waste the irretrievable than the April storms and sunshines hours of the play-years in acquiring of the tiny scamp. Cherubs, Cupids, a reluctant knowledge of things which Holy Innocents, what you will, little are not presently essential? Educa- boys have been the trump cards of the tion is at best a mitigated blessing. artist down to the ubiquitous “BubThe reduction of so many germinal ex- bles." The poets are rather addicted cellences to a dead level of scholastic to squander verbiage upon the irreattainment is one of the unhappiest sponsive little girl; but the plucky litcertainties of the little boy's future; tle Buccleuch, in the “Lay of the and "I am afraid,” to quote Jean Paul Last Minstrel,” is a glorious boy, and Richter, “of every adult hairy hand has a few worthy mates, the most and fist that paws in among this ten- lovable among them being that charmder pollen of child-flowers, shaking off ing unhappy child of Coventry Pathere one color, there another, so as to more's, who, sent to bed "with hard produce the right variegated carna- words and unkissed, His mother, who tion."
was patient, being dead," is found Consider how large the little boy asleep with wet eyelashes beside his looms in the public eye down all the treasures: centuries. Just the spontaneous loyalty of the nation is now focussed
For, on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach, in Prince Edward of Wales, so all
A box of counters and a red-veined English history is punctuated by the
stone, stories, the calamities, the tragedies A piece of glass abraded by the beach, of little boys. Arthur of Brittany, for And six or seven shells, example, and the Princes in the Tower A bottle with bluebells, were actually beyond the age limit I
And two French copper coins, ranged
there with careful art have specified, but in popular imagi
To comfort his sad heart. nation they are quite small “kiddies,” about eight years old. No amount of There are many little boys familiar Higher Criticism has affected the lit- to us in English fiction, each a joy for tle boys of Biblical narrative; there is ever. Some are Dickens's, several are still the same undyicg interest, the Mrs. Ewing's; there is Tom in the same touching intonation about the “Water Babies." One of the best restories of Samuel and his little coat, cent ones is “Q's" Taffy in the "Ship and the small Josiah wondering under of Stars.” None of them, however, his heavy crown, and the Shunam- can hold a candle to Thackeray's. mite's child, who came back from the When you recollect Georgy Osborne harvest field moaning “My head! my and little Rawdon, Tommy Newcome head!” And where would the painters (afterwards the Colonel) and Clivey of Christendom be, lacking their Ges- Newcome and Tommykin or "Boy" of ulino? He is hardly ever represented the third generation-do you remem. as a Baby-nearly always as a well- ber how “Codd” Colonel and Clive put grown Child of two to three years, in- Boy to bed and beard his prayers, stinct with that divine pensiveness after the rout of the Campaigner?and sometimes with that enchanting you must needs acknowledge that here roguery which are the poles of the lit- is the master painter. Not with one tle boy's behavior. After all, the casual sketch, but with a hundred inlarge-eyed innocence of the quiescent timate details here and there, Thackchild, "dragged about by nurses in a eray gives you his little boys' bands to pleasing stupor,” is less charming hold—those warm, grubby, velvety