Jean Nicolas Bouilly.

The juvenile scrap-book and youth's annual online

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what her kind mamma had often told her that
mamma who certainly loved her better, and was
more anxious for her happiness, than any one in
the world beside ? You think it strange, do you ?
I think it wrong, but not strange, and I will tell
you why : I have observed that little infants, in
their nurse's arms even, are fond of having their
own way. You have, perhaps, some baby brother



LITTLE EARS. 1GI

or sister who will fight and cry, and scratch, to
get what it wants ; and yet you, young as you are,
know that what baby desires would do it harm :
and, very properly, you, though only a few years
older, will not let baby have what it cried for.
Yet, observe, baby will go to a stranger, who will
indulge its humors, rather than remain with you,
who refuse it what it wants ; because there is an
obstinate principle of evil in its little mind, which
urges it on, so that, like Eve in the Garden of
Eden, it covets that which is not for its good.
My dear children, remember your ears are but
little, so they cannot catch the full meaning of
all you do hear you cannot judge for yourselves
till you are older and, therefore, I hope you
will attend only to those whom God has designed
to watch over and guard your tender years.
* * # * #

Lucy continued to grow in strength and per-
sonal beauty, until, when she was about twelve
years old, Lady Emily Elmore presented her
husband with what, though he loved his daugh-
ter very dearly, he had long desired a son and
heir. How happy I have seen some children
made by the birth of a new brother or sister ;
how delighted have they been, when the careful
14



162 LITTLE EARS.

nurse uncovered the dear little rosy face, that
each might have a peep; how have they kissed
its little pudsey hands, and lifted the borders of
its cap to ascertain if its hair was brown or
black ; how have they been disappointed at find-
ing that was there did not curl ; and how have
they watched and waited for its eyes to open, some
declaring they were black, others voting them
blue, while, like the cameleon, when they were
fairly opened, behold ! they were neither one nor
other.

I am sorry for it, but truth must be told ; when
Lucy heard that she had a living brother, she
turned so pale, that her faithful servant, Aggy,
who had remained with her from her birth, ex-
claimed, " La ! Miss Lucy, are you ill ? but
perhaps it is only joy." She rushed from the
house, across the lawn into the park, until she
sank down, from fatigue, upon a bank ; at last
she covered her face with her hands, and burst
into tears. She continued weeping for some time,
until a kind hand pressed her shoulder, and,
looking up, she saw her father standing by her
side. It was evening, the joy-bells of the village
church were ringing, and, as she gazed through
the trees, she perceived that the villagers had



LITTLE EARS. 163

already set a huge bonfire blazing, in commem-
oration of the event which filled her with so
much sorrow ; the shouts of her father's tenants
rang upon her ear. She threw herself upon his
knee, and, while he tenderly inquired the cause
of her tears, and upbraided her with not sharing
in the joy which animated all hearts at her moth-
er's safety, and her brother's birth, she exclaim-
ed, passionately, " What ! rejoice at the birth of
one ' who will take the bread out of my mouth ?' "
Her father was struck with horror at such an
idea occurring to one so young, at such a time.
He was not aware that '' little ears " had heard,
and the young mind remembered, what the care-
less nurse had spoken ; that tares had sprung up
with the corn, and that, while Lucy's beauty had
grown, envy against an unborn child, and that
child her own brother, had grown with it. A
few moments' reflection convinced Mr. Elmore
that this feeling must have existed for some time ;
and, as the mode of expressing that feeling was
vulgar, he concluded rightly that the impression
had been made in Lucy's early childhood ; he
questioned her, and she told the truth ; he then
reasoned with her, and Lucy was not unreasona-
ble ; but the early impression could not be so



164 LITTLE EARS.

readily effaced. To do her justice, she struggled
with herself, she tried to love the little innocent
that smiled in her face ; but the worse than fool-
ish words, which little ears had caught before her
understanding was capable of knowing that God
would not send a brother, unless it was right and
fitting so to do, the foolish words would recur
to her memory, and create anew the envious de-
sire, that a brother had not been born ! I cannot
tell you the misery this disposition of hers caused
her parents ; how they wept over it ; how affec-
tionately they reasoned with her : and how bitterly
Lady Emily regretted having left her child, at
five years old, to the almost sole care of nurse
Delay. Aggy told Lady Emily that she remem-
bered perfectly the time when the words were
spoken : " But I am sure, my lady," she added,
" I had no idea Miss Lucy would have thought
them over."

The dislike Lucy felt to her dear little brother
was not the only prejudice she had to struggle
against ; indeed, her life was one perpetual strug-
gle, from the wrong impressions she had taken
hold of in her early youth. What a great deal
of reproof and misery would have been spared
her, if she had attended more to the counsel of



LITTLE EARS. 165

her mother, and less to the foolish chatter of
persons who only sought to fool and flatter a really
clever and pretty child ; not, certainly, from a
desire to injure her, but from an idle and careless
method of talking. Lucy knew that she was
handsome. A beautiful face is a delightful thing
to look at ; it is one of the gifts of God, and,
consequently, must not be despised, nor must it
be overvalued.

There are few of my young friends who have
not gathered roses and dahlias, in their respec-
tive seasons gathered them and put them in
water to preserve their freshness. The dahlia
has no fragrance it blossoms it withers it
dies its leaves lose their beauty, and you hasten
to throw them from you. But I know little girls
who carefully save the leaves of the rose, and
place them in china jars, with salt and spicery ;
and the sweet perfume of the flower remains after
its external beauty is decayed : so you see that
the rose possesses a double charm, it pleases
the eye, it delights the smell ; when its beauty is
gone its fragrance remains. Now understand, or
try to understand me, little maids : goodness will
be to you, in your old age, what perfume is to
the rose it will remain wlieu your personal
14*



168 LITTLE EARS.

attractions have been stolen away, one by one,
by the hand of time.

Oh, how disappointed both you and I should
feel, if, when we tried to inhale the perfume of
a lovely moss-rose, we found it scentless ! Believe
me, pretty ones, the disappointment is greater
when we look at a handsome face combined with
an unamiable mind.

When Lucy found she was no longer an heir-
ess, she consoled herself with the idea of being
a beauty : this notion came into her head with
great vigor, when she had attained her fourteenth
year. Alas ! what " little ears " had heard, when
Lucy was about seven, occurred strongly to her
remembrance. The vain old lady had said, that
" beauty such as hers ought to command any
thing;" so she thought that now, as she could
not be an heiress in her own right, she would be
a duchess, or a countess at least. Why should
she not marry a duke or an earl 1 Had not the
old lady said, " beauty such as hers could com-
mand any thing?" I am sorry to say, that as
Lucy grew up, this opinion became confirmed :
Lady Emily's health was delicate, and Mr. El-
more much from home ; so Lucy, unfortunately,
had a habit of commanding, which was any thing



LITTLE EARS. 167

\

but proper or lady-like. She was so absorbed by
the idea that she was a beauty, and, consequent-
ly, born to command, that she almost forgot she
had been an heiress ; and Lady Emily rejoiced
exceedingly at her increased kindness to her
brother. Alas ! it was only the effect of one bad
impression triumphing over another, for Lucy did
not struggle as she might have done against that
which the nurse's ignorant observation had pro-
duced.

I must pause to tell you my belief, that there
is no prejudice which cannot be overcome, if we
are convinced it is right to overcome it, and exert
ourselves to do so. I had a very good mamma,
who took great care of me, and prevented my
being with persons whose opinions she did not
approve of; and yet, I know not how it was, I
grew up with a painful fear of spiders : I had
seen them eat flies ; and I am not quite sure
that, when I was very little, 1 did not fear they
would eat me. When 1 was a great girl of ten
years old, I used to scream if I saw a spider on
my piano, or what children call a " money-spin-
ner," on my drawing. A dear old gentleman,
who was blind, and used to spend many a long
summer day at our house, one morning asked



168 LITTLE EARS.

me, why I screamed ? I told him a spider was
running over the " Battle of Prague/' which I
had been going to run over on the piano.

" Maria," he said, " you are surely too old
now to believe that the spider can hurt you."

" Yes, sir," I replied, " I know it cannot hurt
me, yet I fear it much," and I screamed again.

" Listen to me, Maria," said the kind and wise
old gentleman ; " hold one hand close to the spi-
der, and place the other hand on your mouth ; if
the spider likes to cross your hand, or run up
your arm, do not move, still keep your hand firm ;
and, if the other hand does its duty, remember,
you cannot scream ; all this depends on your own
will remember that : and now, have you suffi-
cient strength of mind to conquer a prejudice
a silly fear ?"

" I will try, sir," I replied ; and I held my
hand close to the insect. I did not then know
that nearly all spiders have eight eyes, fixed im-
movably in their immovable heads, so that they
can see before and behind, below and above, at
the same time ; and I confess I hoped it would
not see my hand : but it did, though ; and, after
crossing my fingers, its eight legs tripping over
them as if it were dancing a quadrille, it walked



LITTLE EARS. 169

deliberately up my arm, till it arrived at my
elbow ; there it paused, threw out, to me, its
almost invisible ladder, and descended to the
carpet ! " There, sir !" I exclaimed triumphant-
ly, " I never screamed!" When I have seen
young people inconvenience others, and make
themselves ridiculous by foolish fears, I have fre-
quently wished that they had some such friend to
break them of their absurdities.

Although Lucy, as I have said, was singularly,
and, I may add, unfortunately, beautiful, she had
little beyond mere beauty to recommend her.
When application was really necessary, she re-
membered that her music master had said, " She
can learn in fifteen minutes what would take
others thirty ;" and, thinking frequently of this
foolish commendation, she neglected her instruct-
ors and her lessons. " I can pull it up some
other time," she would say, when idleness or
pleasure tempted her from her studies. " I can
pull it up in half the time that it would take any
other girl to get through so much." Poor Lucy !
she said this so often, that at last she did not give
half, no, nor quarter the time her too flattering
teachers deemed necessary ; the result may be
easily imagined.



170 LITTLE EARS.

But of all the injudicious speeches which little
vars had heard, none operated so much against
the comfort of her family, and against her own
happiness, as the fatal observation, which Lucy
not only treasured, but often quoted, " That kind-
hearted people are always passionate." Had this
been said when she was sixteen or eighteen, her
observation would have taught her its danger and
its injustice ; but it became impressed upon her
mind at such an early age, and was so conven-
ient a way of apologising for her frequent bursts
of violence, that her disposition was really injured
by it. Thus, my dear children, from the fact of
little ears hearing what little minds can neither
contradict nor understand, Lucy Elmore, at sev-
enteen, had been an envious, and was still a vain,
idle, violent girl. Oh, if your kind parents, my
young friends, have guarded you from such con-
tamination, how greatly is the debt increased
which Nature decided you should owe them ! If
Lady Emily had been aware of the effects, she
would have guarded against the cause ; but, un-
happily for Lucy, her kind mother was not suffi-
ciently informed as to the necessity of not only
early, but the earliest education ; she did not
know that little ears hear every thing, at a period



LITTLE EARS. 171

when, as I have said before, the juvenile mind is
incapable of judging, and the impression is made
before the mind is called into action. Children
are so apt to believe what strangers say, in pref-
erence to what their parents tell them, often be-
cause it pleases that growing vanity which it i&
the duty of every mother to combat against and
to overcome.

When Lucy was seventeen, her little brother
had attained his fifth year. And though, partly
from a changed motive, and still more (for I must
do her justice) from a desire to overcome that
envy which she knew was wicked, and which
caused her dear parents so much misery, she
entertained towards him the affection of a sister ;
yet the poor child frequently suffered from her
vanity, her idleness, and her violence. You won-
der how a child could suffer from a sister's vanity.
I will tell you : vanity hardens the heart into
selfishness, and selfishness makes us think prin-
cipally, if not entirely, of ourselves. Selfish per-
sons will hardly be troubled to render necessary
civilities to their acquaintances, much less the
kindnesses, which those who are good and amia-
ble love to give and to receive. Lucy's vanity
had rendered her selfish ; and this prevented her



172 LITTLE EARS.

seeking to amuse, to please, to instruct the pale
delicate boy, who often kissed her cheek, clung
round her neck, and wished that his sister would
" love him." Poor little fellow ! those who love
themselves a great deal have seldom much love
to bestow on others. An idle sister is a sad
plague to either young brothers or young sisters.
Industry does not consist only in hemming and
stitching ; that is only a portion of industry, and
one which there would be no necessity for a
young lady circumstanced like Miss Elmore to
practise ; but idleness is never prompt, never
kindly, never active, never animated, except,
perhaps, in words. We may plan all things ;
but idleness, if indulged, prevents our doing any
thing. I am not quite sure you will understand
me, when I tell you that it is the moral ivy of the
mind, which prevents the sap from flowing thro'
the tree, and destroys what it embraces. Lucy
was too idle ever to try to please her brother.

I almost fear to tell you of the dreadful effects
of her temper ; how the servants dreaded her f
how her mother mourned over her ; and how fre-
quently she made that little pale boy feel the
influence of her petulance and anger. One day
she had flown into a passion with Theodore (so



LITTLE EARS. 173

was her brother called) for letting some water
fall over a drawing she had finished ; and, in her
violence, struck him a blow with a ruler on his
arm. Theodore ran screaming to his father's
library, where Lady Emily was reading to Mr.
Elmore ; the blow told its own tale, it was burn-
ing red on his thin white arm. Lucy was sum-
moned ; and when she came, anger was in her
father's eyes, and sorrow in the eyes of her
mother.

" You said, the day he was born," said her
father, sternly, " that he would take the bread
out of your mouth ; you are resolved this shall
not be the case, Lucy ; you will murder the boy
one of these days in your wicked passion."

" No, no," said Lady Emily, pitying her dis-
may at this sad reproof; " no, no, you should not
reproach her for what is past ; she has improved
since then : it is her violence I complain of. Ay,
Lucy, you may shed tears, now that your temper
has been exhausted ; but tears will not heal your
mother's heart when you have broken it!"

Lucy promised amendment ; but, with the sel-
fish, to promise and to perform does not mean the
same thing. Why ? Because performance of a
promise interferes with self-love. Time passed
15



174 LITTLE EARS.

on Lucy's brightest dreams as to the power of
her beauty were about to be realised Lucy El-
more was about to be married to a nobleman of
large fortune ; one so considerably above herself,
that her mother was astonished at her good for-
tune. In her triumph, she remembered the vain,
silly old lady's observation, " that beauty such as
hers could command any thing," and she thought
the vain lady had not been so very silly.

However, Lucy's prospect of carriages and dia-
monds, and magnificence, was never realised.
The nobleman overheard her, in a tremendous
passion with her faithful maid Aggy ; and, beau-
tiful though she was, he thought, and I confess
he thought wisely, that a sweet temper will bestow
much loveliness upon a plain face ; but that vio-
lence would destroy the most beautiful before its
time. Lucy's ambitious views were destroyed ;
and she had the mortification of knowing that the
cause was talked of throughout the county. But
this was not the only trial she had to encounter
before she attained her twentieth year. Lady
Emily, her kind, too kind mother, was dying. As
she stole one morning softly into her sick-room,
she heard her say to her father, who was kneeling
by her bedside :



LITTLE EARS. 175

" Believe me, my dearest husband, the first
wish of my heart is, that you will marry again
when I am gone ! Lucy's beauty, her connex-
ions, and even my comparatively small fortune,
which is settled on her, will secure her an alli-
ance, and you would then be quite alone, for our
boy is too young to be either friend or companion ;
but were not this the case, I should still wish you
to seek out one who would take my place. Lucy,
our poor girl, is too idle to superintend your
establishment, too selfish to consult your comforts.
Oh ! how I have prayed to Heaven to make her
less violent, to make her different from what she
is ; and my misery is increased by tracing back
to her quick and intelligent childhood, the small
roots from which her habits, her evil habits,
sprung. I charge you, Elmore, guard our boy
from such contamination. God knows how, taught
by experience, I have watched over him ; and to
think that my chief cause of dread on his ac-
count, has been the example of his beautiful
sister ! Oh, Lucy, Lucy ! I have been well pun-
ished for having set my heart on things below.
My own child has strewn my couch with thorns,
and steeped my bread in bitterness i and yet,
Elmore, she has many virtues."



176 LITTLE EARS.

But Lucy heard no more, she escaped from the
room to the solitude of her own chamber ; her
faults rose in gaunt array before her ; she wept,
she prayed, she resolved ; she entreated God to
strengthen that resolve, and it was strengthened.
She rose from her knees ; she listened for her
father's step upon the stair, that she might throw
herself by her mother's side, and assure her that
she would hereafter be Oh, how different !
she trusted she would believe her ; she knew she
was sincere. Suddenly, instead of the stealthy
step she looked for, the bell of her mother's cham-
ber pealed loudly through the house. She rushed
to the room, only in time to hear the bursting
sobs of her father, as he hung over the dead body
of her mother. Can you imagine what Lucy
felt ? I think not. I should be almost sorry you
could. Her beloved parent, then, had died be-
lieving in her unworthiness, in her selfishness, in
her violence ; she had given her no blessing ;
she hacT said that she feared her example would
contaminate her brother !

My dear young friends, I am sure you pity
Lucy. She continually repeated, " If I could
but have told her my resolve could but have
known that she forgave and blessed me, I think,






LITTLE EARS. 177

as it is God's will, I might be resigned; but
now ! "

Lucy lay long in the fitful ravings of a brain
fever ; and as she slowly recovered, her little
pale brother would steal, day after day, into her
chamber, with fruit and flowers, which he had
gathered for her pleasure, and lay them in her
lap, and look up in her face with a sad sweet
smile; so like his mother's smile, that Lucy loved,
really loved, him more and more every hour.
Her father, too, would come and sit and gaze on
her, till his eyes filled with tears ; and then Lucy
would grow very, very sorrowful, for she said
within herself, " My father is thinking of the last
words my mother spoke."

When she regained a portion of her strength,
she resolved to tell her father what she had heard
in her mother's room, the morning of her death
and to ask him to watch her narrowly for one
year, and then judge whether or not her determi-
nation to amend could be depended on. " By
that time," she said, " he will have deeds, not
mere words, to trust to."

Lucy had undertaken a task of no small mag-
nitude. To control vanity, overcome idleness,
and subdue a violent temper, is by no means an



178 LITTLE EARS.

easy task; bitter were her mortifications, most
severe her struggles ; but, in the end, she did
conquer. When I think of the length of time
she suffered from the evil impressions little ears
are so prone to receive ; when I remember the
difficulties which self-love constantly threw in her
path, I do not despair of any one's reform, for
reform it may assuredly be called.

Despite the beauty which you may remember
the vain old lady so highly praised, Lucy El more
is at this moment an old maid ! An old maid
without envy an industrious old maid an old
maid of a calm and gentle temper. I saw her
the other day, with one of her brother's children
upon her knee, and another playing at her feet ;
and I talked with her over the faults and follies
of her youth. She told me that she felt the great-
est pleasure in guarding those two lovely children
from the contamination from which she had suf-
fered ; and she assured me that her brother's
young and beautiful wife assisted her in the task.
She had another pleasure surrounded as she is
by servants, she is the unwearied nurse, during
her aged father's frequent indisposition. " He
has been some years," she said, " convinced of
the sincerity of my resolves, by the proof of my



LITTLE EARS. ' 179

actions." And she added, " I should be, though
an old maid, as happy as the twenty-first of June
is long, if I could efface from my remembrance
the picture of my mother's death-bed ! She died
believing in my unworthiness ; she died without
bestowing on me a blessing ! "

If we err, my dear young friends, the only
atonement we can make is to reform ; but happy
is it for ourselves and others, when little ears
hear nothing it is necessary to forget.






BY S. C. HALL.

" OH ! blessed is my baby boy ! "

Thus spoke a mother to her child ;
And kissed him with excess of joy,
He looked into her face, and smiled.

But, as the mother breathed his name,
The fervent prayer was scarcely said,

Convulsions shook his infant frame,
The mother's only hope was dead !

Yet, still, her faith in Him she kept,

In Him who turned to grief her joy ;
And still she whispered as she wept,
" Oh ! blessed is my baby boy ! "



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Online LibraryJean Nicolas BouillyThe juvenile scrap-book and youth's annual → online text (page 8 of 8)