The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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INTRODUCTORY ESSAY.                                 II
hearthstone, the evil one is to be burned and cast out " They that rock the cradle rule the world."
The mind of human beings at birth is not a blank sheet of pa­per. Somehow or other there is something on it as if written with invisible ink, that the least exposure to the heat of external life is sure to develop. This something may be called by the ugly name of original sin, or any other name you please. You may account for it by creationism, or traducianism, or any other theory, but still it is there. And hence, " 'Tis education makes the man." For what­ever may be said of the hereditary principle, it is founded on fact and nature. Every other part and faculty of man, even if the mind is a blank paper at our birth, is stamped with hereditary ten­dencies and peculiarities; and these tendencies are transmitted ca­pabilities for good and for evil. Is the offspring of a good horse or dog likely to be good ? Why is it not equally true of the child of a good man, and still more of a good woman ? And if the parents are ♦ distinguished for any special ability, there is a strong probability that their children will inherit something of it, or at least that it will be called out by their education, if they receive one worthy of the chil­dren of such parents. Folly and crime are sure, however, to weaken the powers of any race or nation, or of any part of it. This illustra­tion is beautifully and truly applied somewhere in Kingsley's " An­cient Regime."
The first paths trodden by the child may be scratched and crooked, or plain and smooth, but certainly in most cases his aged steps will be taken in seeking a return to them. An eccentric cler­gyman and wit of England, who lived about one hundred years ago, that I would rather not name lest some one should go to reading his works and get from them more poison than honey, says in his own way, " I dare say, good folks, you have all heard of animal spirits, as how they are transfused from father to son. Now this is not so inconsiderable a thing as many of you may think it. Take my word for it, that nine parts in ten of a man's sense or of his nonsense, his successes and miscarriages in this world, depend upon the motions and activity, and the different tracks and trains you put them into; so that when they are once set agoing, whether right or wrong, 'tis not a half-penny matter—away they go cluttering like hey-go mad ; and by treading the same steps over and over again, they presently make a road of it as plain and as smooth as a garden walk, which, when they are once used to, the devil himself, if he should wish sometimes to do it, shall not be able to drive them off it."
Men may complain (for the most part unjustly} as much as they judge comports with their dignity, about mothers-in-law and the ex­pense and trouble of housekeeping, as if they knew anything about it, but it is the will of heaven that the society of women is a necessity