Reproach will seldom mend the young,
If they are left to need it;
The breath of love must stir the tongue,
If you would have them heed it.
How oft we see a child caressed
For little faults and failings,
Which should have been at first suppressed
To save the after railings!
If, when the heart would go astray,
You would the passion smother,
You must not tear the charm away,
But substitute another.
Thus it is pleasant to be led,
If he who leads will measure
The heart's affection by the head,
And make pursuit a pleasure.
Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.
See it springing all around us --
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.
Who loves not its joyous revel,
Leaping lightly on the lawn,
Up the knoll, along the level,
Free and graceful as a fawn?
Let it revel; it is nature
Giving to the little dears
Strength of limb, and healthful features,
For the toil of coming years.
He who checks a child with terror,
Stops its play, and stills its song,
Not alone commits an error,
But a great and moral wrong.
Give it play, and never fear it --
Active life is no defect;
Never, never break its spirit --
Curb it only to direct.
Would you dam the flowing river,
Thinking it would cease to flow?
Onward it must go forever --
Better teach it where to go.
Childhood is a fountain welling,
Trace its channel in the sand,
And its currents, spreading, swelling,
Will revive the withered land.
Childhood is the vernal season;
Trim and train the tender shoot;
Love is to the coming reason,
As the blossom to the fruit.
Tender twigs are bent and folded --
Art to nature beauty lends;
Childhood easily is moulded;
Manhood breaks, but seldom bends.