« ElőzőTovább »
left of it? Are there not some of us who for months scarcely see our children by daylight, and did we not all see, a year or two ago, that a father did not know his own child,- an infant of six months, – whom his wife had caused to be left in a basket at the door 2 Ought we not to bless God that, overworked in a world to whose exactings we consecrate ourselves, there comes in mercy the evening, as a silver clasp binding together the day and the night? Ought we not to have a care that it be kept bright and pure, sullied by no ill-doing or neglect 2 Not so holy and beautiful is the evening without, when moon and stars in all their quiet glory glisten in the sky, as evening within, where human hearts beat true, and the hours are sacred to the developing of the best home good. This can only be through care and effort. Only on conditions does God grant any success or joy. Home is not given, but made. When the man has once entered the home, there he should remain, as a general thing, until the duties of the morrow call him away. I say, as a general thing, for one has duties as a citizen and a neighbor which should not be omitted, and there are opportunities of instruction, amusement, not to be wholly foregone. Shut up exclusively to home, men and women become narrow and selfish in their views and aims
and sympathies; themselves and their children suffer. The evening at home, however, is to be the rule, and the evening abroad the exception. Is it not a fact, that the evening at home is the rare thing in some men's lives 2 There was something more than satire in that anecdote of the man who complained that, now he was married, he had nowhere to spend his evenings. Before a woman is your wife, you know very well, and she knows, where you spend your evenings. After that, you may know, but she does not. The first suspicion many a woman has of the waning of the honeymoon is in the absence of her husband in the evening, and the fact in many homes is, that the husband and father has no place in the evening circle, and no influence there. A hasty supper swallowed — not eaten — in silence or complaint, the coat and hat are resumed. The door is opened, closed, and the husband gone, without a sign to show that home has any place in his affections. She who at first remonstrated has long since ceased even to sigh, and takes with a patient resignation that which she finds is inevitably her lot. Even the children evince no disappointment, and the door shuts out a man who goes to the street, the club, the secret meeting, oblivious of the obligations he voluntarily assumed when he became a husband and a parent, — a man whose care for home is, that it have food, fuel, and shelter, and his demand of it, that it do not trouble him. Is there not many such a husband and many such a home 2 I know wives are not always angels. I know that even our own children are not always cherubs. I know home does not always smile and welcome, it is not always neat and cheery; but do you never, if you are a man, abandon or complain of it until you have tried to the uttermost your skill upon it. It is a mean and cowardly thing in a man to turn his back upon a home in which he has never been known as an earnest and sympathetic coadjutor and friend. So far as it is possible, I should say that the evening should not only be spent at home by the various members of the family, but that they should spend it together. Simply to be at home does not answer the home requirement. To be thoughtlessly or selfishly absorbed in one's own special pursuit, absent or apart from the home circle, is not discharging the duty. To be in the house is not to be in the home. Some men always do a certain class of writing at home, shut up by themselves, or, if with the family, compelling it to silence and restraint. Go to their places of business, and you cannot see why this need be. Very few men have their time so wholly absorbed as to be compelled to rob home in this way. There are intervals of leisure in the busiest day. Men are far from busy the whole time they are at their places of business, and it must but rarely occur that a man determined upon an unoccupied evening at home shall find
it impossible. Others have a definite home employ- .
ment, some pursuit aside from the calling of life, – very well, very honorable, but not to obliterate the duties of home. Others — especially the growing children — have separate rooms and establishments, in which, with books or work, the evening is spent.
The evening life of the home should be a life in com
mon. What a glee is there in young voices and young hearts when the lamps are lighted How eagerly they gather about the table, wheeling up father's chair, bringing out mother's basket, each settling to his place, happy, busy, and joyous; while the talk, the story, the book, the game, employ the sparkling hours, and sow the seed of never-ending, ever-pure delight. Some one, speaking of the past, says, “We remember little of father and mother except what they were about the cheerful fire; the hearth-stone is the pedestal of their images, and the serene glow of the evening light upon their faces is the favorite picture which the mind cherishes.” Since we have banished that sacred thing, “the fireplace,” we have only the centre-table and the lamp as the holy centre of our homes. Never may that central lamp be dimmed, nor at that table one seat of parent or of child vainly waiting to be filled !
As children grow out of the early ways and hours of childhood, one of the gravest parental duties presents itself. It is the furnishing of pleasant occupation for the evening hours. Easy enough it is when the little things are to be turned off with a toss and a kiss, and after a brief frolic, tired and sleepy, go to their beds, and leave the evening free to the elders for their own employments. But very different is it as boys and girls begin to grow, at first straining every nerve to prove that they can sit up a little later, and then, when they have gained their point, beginning to cry, “O dear, what shall I do l’’ This is a very important moment in life for the child and for the parent, and according as it is met will largely depend the issues of home.
The great difficulty is to know what to do with the boys. The girls are more easily controlled, because there are sedentary pursuits and household occupations to which they are used. From nature they take to in-door life. Inclination and habit lead them toward, rather than from home. With the boy it is different. His first manliness is asserted in his demand to go out and play in the evening, and in the permission begins a host of evils without name or number, — evils most pernicious to the individual, the home, and society at large. I do not know a single good result that by
remotest possibility can result from allowing boys in