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

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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12                                 INTRODUCTORY ESSAY.
of national as well as of personal existence, both physically and mor­ally. It ;s an ancient Hebrew proverb that " God always blesses a family or household through its women." If man fell from his high estate by a woman, it is through the same woman he is raised to a higher one. If a man discovered America, it was a woman that in­spired him and equipped the voyage. No matter who it is that ex­ecutes a great purpose, he was born, nursed and trained by a wo­man. The family is an institution founded by the Creator, and by Him constituted the greatest university on earth for molding human destinies. Nor can the divine laws be improved. It is His will that the wedded lamp be lighted at his altar and burn brightly and cheer­fully, and that children should come and grow up under its benign beams—that our sons may be trees of righteousness, well grown in their youth, and our daughters be as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace. He is then an enemy to God and man who discourages marriage, or seeks to corrupt society by weakening the bonds of the family which God has joined together. As the child is father to the man, a first question is, what then shall be the manner of the child? And the answer depends on the place, circumstances and earliest training of the child. Plato, in his book of the laws, says that he who is about to be a good man in anything whatever, ought immediately from childhood to begin to practice, even when engaged in playful as well as serious pursuits, the very things suited to the particular object he has in view. That is, the child should be taught what he is to do when he becomes a man. And there is great wis­dom in the Hebrew custom and of other people also, in teaching every boy some trade, no matter how rich the parents may be, by which in case of need he could make an honest living.
The home, the school-room and the house of worship, and alas! the streets, with all their sounds and sights, make our children what they are. The home, however humble, is the root that feeds the whole life. The education of children is like the nurture of trees. It begins with feebleness, its growth is gradual and slow, but is al­ways going on. Frosts may nip the sprout, and snow-storms come on the sapling, sunshine and tempests rock the growing oak, but from the acorn comes the monarch of the forest. The growth or education of children, physically, mentally and religiously, is always by degrees, and everything around them is an educator. The tidi­ness or sloven linen of the room where they are born, the landscape from the window on which they first gaze, and the pictures on the walls, and the books whose pictures and letters their eyes first trace out, men, animals and things—the whole world of nature and art is concerned in and actually engaged to give them lessons. They may not all receive the honors of graduation at the high school or univer­sity, but they all graduate from the parental hearth and nursery. It