Monday, March 23, 2009

For Children

How to Be Happy
by Lydia Sigourney, (1791-1865)
This is the introduction to a little book written in 1833. It has more clarity when read aloud, with proper expression. It gives you a glimpse into the character of the teachers, parents and children, who were raised with these values.

My Dear Children,

I write this little book, because I love you and wish you to be happy. I like to see children contented and pleasant, smiling when they speak, and attentive whey they are spoken to. Such children have more friends than those who are fretful. They make other people happier, and are repaid by their love. A child who has a cross look and a complaining temper is disliked and avoided. But you cannot always be pleasant, unless you are happy. If your feelings are wrong, or you have displeased your friends, you cannot have a cheerful heart or a sweet smile upon your face.

If you desire to be happy, you will be willing to take pains to learn how. If you wished to understand a trade, or a profession, to build a house, or to cultivate a farm, or to guide a vessel over the sea, or to be a merchant, or a physician, or a clergyman, you would be required to spend some years in learning. You would expect to work as an apprentice, or to study as a scholar.

To be always happy, is the best of trades, because it helps you to acquire others, and the youngest child may begin it, and the oldest is never tired of it. You would find it difficult to be admitted to a shop, or counting house, until you were fourteen years old; or to study a profession before you had passed through college. But, if you have lived but a little while---even if you are not able to read this little boo, yet if you can understand it, when another reads it, you are old enough to begin the science of being happy. To assist your memory, it may be divided into three branches:

1st--Discharge your duties;
2nd - Do good to others;
3rd - Love good things.

To render these more simple, they may be still further divided. They may be compared to a flight of steps leading to a beautiful house, where you wish to go. Every one that you ascend, brings you nearer to its entrance. Let me take hold of your hands, every one of you, and help to lead you up these steps to the temple of goodness. For it is the temple of happiness in this world, and the temple of happiness in the world to come, is Heaven. There all good people of every kindred and nation, meet and dwell together forever.

Let us begin then today, to study the alphabet of happiness. And its Alpha and Omega, that is, its first, and its last letter, is to "remember your Creator."

This lady was a young school teacher who wrote this poem. When I read it aloud, it reminded me of so many home school Mama's, who think they will just spend a few hours on one subject and then be done with school for the day, but the children continually want to know more. This poem is best read aloud.

An Excuse for Not Fulfilling an Engagement (written in school)

My friend, I gave a glad assent
To your request at noon,
But now, I find I cannot leave
My little ones so soon.

I early came, and as my feet
First entered at the door,
"Remember" to myself, I said,
"You must dismiss at four."

But slates and books and maps appear,
And many a dear one cries:
"Oh tell us where that river runs,
And where those mountains rise,

"And where that blind old monarch reigned,
And who was king before,
And stay a little after five, and tell us something more!"

And then my little A******comes,
And who, unmoved, can view
The glance of that imploring eye,
"Oh, teach me something, too!"

And who would think, amid the toil,
(Though scarce a toil it be)
That through the door the muses coy
Should deign to peep at me.

Their look is somewhat cold and stern,
As if it meant to say,
"We did not know you kept a school,
We must have lost our way."

Their visit was but short indeed,
As these light numbers show;
But Oh! They bade me write with speed,
My friend, I cannot go.

(the asterisk indicated a child deprived of the powers of hearing and of speech)


Kalianne@BygoneBeauty said...

What beautiful advice. The secrets of a happy life. We need more books like this for our young ones!
Thanks for sharing!

Marqueta said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you so much for sharing these! How true that happiness is a life-long study, if we truly would acquire it. How much our children need happiness in these dark times.



hip chick said...

I love the piece from the old book. It is lovely.


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