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CHAPTER II.

INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD.

The period which elapses before boyhood, may be conveniently divided into infancy, which properly signifies before the use of speech, and childhood. Persons who examine this subject more with scientific, than with poetical eyes, tell us, that the first dentition is completed by the end of the second or the middle of the third year, when childhood begins; and the second dentition about the twelfth year, whence are dated boyhood and girlhood. Though we are about to extract literary compositions and not teeth, we shall find it convenient to treat of infancy and childhood in separate sections, in order that we may notice some incidents of life which occur between the mewling of the baby and the whining of the schoolboy ; in a third section we shall consider some matters common to the Infant, and the Child.

SECTION 1.

On Infancy.
I hasten to remove some disagreeable impressions which
Shakspeare's description of infancy may create in a fastidious
mind

And, first, the Infant
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Let us turn from this description to one from Lord Byron

Full sweeps the deep pure fountain of young life,
Where on the heart and from the breast we took

Our first and sweetest nurture, when the wife
Blest into mother, in the innocent look
Or even the piping cry of lips that brook
No pain, and small suspense, a joy perceives
Man knows not, when from out his cradled nook

She sees her little bud put forth its leaves. Shakspeare, in another place, strongly depictures a mother's feelings, where he makes a ruthless character, like Lady Mac

“I have given suck, and I know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.” With a sort of divided admiration between the mother and the child, but inclining to the side where his poetry would be most appreciated, Moore writes

beth say,

His little snow white fingers straying

Along her lips' luxuriant flower,
Looked like a flight of ring-doves playing,

Silvery through a roseate bower!
And when to shade the playful boy

Her dark hair fell in mazes bright,
Oh! 'twas a type of stolen joy,

'Twas love beneath the veil of night!
Soft as she smiled, he smiled again;

They seem'd so kindred in their charms,
That one might think the babe had then

Just budded in her blooming arms ! The following extract upon the subject displays Chaucer, not in the light of a dissector of human nature, and a humorist, for which he is best known in the present day, but as a describer of the tender feelings, upon which he most prided himself, and for which he was most extolled by his contemporaries. It is from the Man of Law's Tale-Custance is supposed to be condemned by her jealous husband to be put with her child on board a ship, which is then to be drifted to sea.

Hire litel child lay weeping in hire arm,
And, kneeling pitiously, to him she said,

“ Pees, Litel son, I wol do thee no harm :”
With that hire couverchief of hire bed she braid,
And over his litel eyen she it laid,
And in hire arme she lulleth it ful fast,
And into the Heven hire eyen up she cast.
“Mother," quod she, "and mayden bright Marie!
Soth is, that thurgh womannes eggement (egarement)
Mankind was borne, and domned ay to die,
For which thy child was on a crois yrent :
Thy blissful eyen saw all his turment,
Than is ther no comparison between
Thy wo, and any wo man may sustene.
Thou saw thy child yslain before thine eyen,
And yet now liveth my litel child parfay:
Now, Lady bright, to whom all woful crien,
Thou glory of womanhed, thou faire May,
Thou haven of refute, bright sterre of day,
Rew on my child, that of thy gentellesse
Rewest on every rewful in distresse.
Therewith she loketh backward to the lond,
And saide; Farewell, housbond routheless ?

she rist, and walketh doun the strond
Foward the ship hire foloweth all the press :
And ever she praieth hire child to hold his pees,
And taketh hire leve, and with an holy intent
She blesseth hire, and into the ship she went.

And up

The next extract is of a still more melancholy character ; it is by Kirke White, and is supposed to be spoken by a female convict on the night before her execution.

Sleep, baby mine, enkerchieft on my bosom

Thy cries they pierce again my bleeding breast,
Sleep, baby mine, not long thou'lt have a mother

To lull thee fondly in her arms to rest.
Poor wayward wretch ! and who will heed thy weeping,

When soon an outcast on the world thou'lt be ;
Who then will soothe thee, when thy mother's sleeping,

In her low grave of shame and infamy !

A very different kind of nursing and sucking is noticed in a spirited description by Lord Byron of the statue at Rome of the she-wolf that brought up Romulus

And thou the thunder stricken Nurse of Rome,
She-wolf! whose brazen-imaged dugs impart
The milk of conquest yet within the dome
Where, as a monument of antique art
Thou standest : mother of the mighty heart,
Which the great Founder suck'd from thy wild teat,
Scorched by the Roman Jove's etherial dart
And thy limbs black with lightning-dost thou yet

Guard thine immortal cubs, nor thy fond charge forget ? This notice of a monument of art reminds us that many of the most exquisite productions of the Italian and Spanish schools of painting, are upon the subject of the Virgin Mary aud Child, which is, in fact, a picture of nursing. There is a virgin and child by Corregio in which the repose of the picture is assisted by introducing a little white rabbit. A virgin and child by Parmegiano, like all his pictures remarkable for grace of attitude, represents the virgin putting her finger to the teeth of the child. In another virgin and child by Corregio, Mary Magdalene is kissing the feet of the infant.

But if our nurse's arms are not tired of dangling, the reader must be tired of the nurse's arms. It is therefore high time to put the baby into the cradle and rock it to sleep. To aid this operation the Poets have supplied us with lullabies ; besides writing cradle hymns still more soporific. It is unnecessary to extract poems of such easy access and so well known as Watts's cradle hymn, or Walter Scott's lullaby on

an infant chief. Campbell in his Pleasures of Hope,” and • Rogers in his

of “Human Life,” have described babies in cradles ; but their pictures of infancy are so inferior to that of little Torquatus, with his half-opened lips, by the Roman poet Catullus, that it is not for the honor of English poetry to cite them.

poem

But I will cite, as more of a literary curiosity, the first stanza of a lullaby composed by Greene, and supposed to be sung by his wife on his leaving her and his child upon going abroad. Greene is the person that has given us the first extant notice of Shakspeare, by the name of Shakescene, in his “ Groatsworth of Wit.He died, after supping to excess on red herrings and Rhenish wine, in the year 1592.

Weepe not my Wanton, smile upon my knee,
When thou art old, there's grief enough for thee.

Mother's wagge, prettie boy,
Father's sorrow, father's joy ;
When thy father first did see
Such a boy by him and me,
Then he was glad, and I was woe,
Fortune chang'd now makes him so.
Now he must leave his prettie boy
Last his sorrow, first his joy.

Having now rocked our baby to sleep, an opportunity is afforded of talking over the little stranger-one of the first subjects of remark is its likeness to its parents. This is the prominent topic in the descriptions by Campbell and Rogers before noticed. There is a curious circumstance connected with this subject in Shakspeare's play of the Winter's Tale. It is generally believed, and apparently with reason, that Shakspeare, in this play, alludes to Henry VIII declaring the illegitimacy of his daughter by Anne Boleyne, Queen Elizabeth. And this supposition is aided by reference to a character in the piece of Mamilius, a young Prince who is only introduced that he may die in infancy ; Anne Boleyne having had a

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