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Literature for Children


Literature is that quality in books which affords delight and nourishment
to the soul. But this is a scientific and skeptical age, insomuch that one
hardly ventures to take for granted that every reader will know what his
soul is. It is not the intellect, though it gives the intellect light; nor
the emotions, though they receive their warmth from it. It is the most
catholic and constant element of human nature, yet it bears no direct part
in the practical affairs of life; it does not struggle, it does not even
suffer; but merely emerges or retires, glows or congeals, according to the
company in which it finds itself. We might say that the soul is a name for
man's innate sympathy with goodness and truth in the abstract; for no man
can have a bad soul, though his heart may be evil, or his mind depraved,
because the soul's access to the mind or heart has been so obstructed as
to leave the moral consciousness cold and dark. The soul, in other words,
is the only conservative and peacemaker; it affords the only unalterable
ground upon which all men can always meet; it unselfishly identifies or
unites us with our fellows, in contradistinction to the selfish intellect,
which individualizes us and sets each man against every other. Doubtless,
then, the soul is an amiable and desirable possession, and it would be a
pity to deprive it of so much encouragement as may be compatible with due
attention to the serious business of life. For there are moments, even in
the most active careers, when it seems agreeable to forget competition,
rivalry, jealousy; when it is a rest to think of one's self as a man
rather than a person;--moments when time and place appear impertinent, and
that most profitable which affords least palpable profit. At such seasons,
a man looks inward, or, as the American poet puts it, he loafs and invites
his soul, and then he is at a disadvantage if his soul, in consequence of
too persistent previous neglect, declines to respond to the invitation,
and remains immured in that secret place which, as years pass by, becomes
less and less accessible to so many of us.

When I say that literature nourishes the soul, I implicitly refuse the
title of literature to anything in books that either directly or
indirectly promotes any worldly or practical use. Of course, what is
literature to one man may be anything but literature to another, or to the
same man under different circumstances; Virgil to the schoolboy, for
instance, is a very different thing from the Virgil of the scholar. But
whatever you read with the design of improving yourself in some
profession, or of acquiring information likely to be of advantage to you
in any pursuit or contingency, or of enabling yourself to hold your own
with other readers, or even of rendering yourself that enviable
nondescript, a person of culture,--whatever, in short, is read with any
assignable purpose whatever, is in so far not literature. The Bible may be
literature to Mr. Matthew Arnold, because he reads it for fun; but to
Luther, Calvin, or the pupils of a Sunday-school, it is essentially
something else. Literature is the written communications of the soul of
mankind with itself; it is liable to appear in the most unexpected places,
and in the oddest company; it vanishes when we would grasp it, and appears
when we look not for it. Chairs of literature are established in the great
universities, and it is literature, no doubt, that the professor
discourses; but it ceases to be literature before it reaches the student's
ear; though, again, when the same students stumble across it in the
recesses of their memory ten or twenty years later, it may have become
literature once more. Finally, literature may, upon occasion, avail a man
more than the most thorough technical information; but it will not be
because it supplements or supplants that information, but because it has
so tempered and exalted his general faculty that whatever he may do is
done more clearly and comprehensively than might otherwise be the case.

Having thus, in some measure, considered what is literature and what the
soul, let us note, further, that the literature proper to manhood is not
proper to childhood, though the reverse is not--or, at least, never ought
to be--true. In childhood, the soul and the mind act in harmony; the mind
has not become preoccupied or sophisticated by so-called useful knowledge;
it responds obediently to the soul's impulses and intuitions. Children
have no morality; they have not yet descended to the level where morality
suggests itself to them. For morality is the outcome of spiritual pride,
the most stubborn and insidious of all sins; the pride which prompts each
of us to declare himself holier than his fellows, and to support that
claim by parading his docility to the Decalogue. Docility to any set of
rules, no matter of how divine authority, so long as it is inspired by
hope of future good or present advantage, is rather worse than useless:
except our righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees,--that
is, except it be spontaneous righteousness or morality, and, therefore,
not morality, but unconscious goodness,--we shall in no wise have
benefited either ourselves or others. Children, when left to themselves,
artlessly and innocently act out the nature that is common to saint and
sinner alike; they are selfish, angry, and foolish, because their state is
human; and they are loving, truthful, and sincere, because their origin is
divine. All that pleases or agrees with them is good; all that opposes or
offends them is evil, and this, without any reference whatever to the
moral code in vogue among their elders. But, on the other hand, children
cannot be tempted as we are, because they suppose that everything is free
and possible, and because they are as yet uncontaminated by the artificial
cravings which the artificial prohibitions incident to our civilization
create. Life is to them a constantly widening circle of things to be had
and enjoyed; nor does it ever occur to them that their desires can
conflict with those of others, or with the laws of the universe. They
cannot consciously do wrong, nor understand that any one else can do so;
untoward accidents may happen, but inanimate nature is just as liable to
be objectionable in this respect as human beings: the stone that trips
them up, the thorn that scratches them, the snow that makes their flesh
tingle, is an object of their resentment in just the same kind and degree
as are the men and women who thwart or injure them. But of duty--that
dreary device to secure future reward by present suffering; of
conscientiousness--that fear of present good for the sake of future
punishment; of remorse--that disavowal of past pleasure for fear of the
sting in its tail; of ambition--that begrudging of all honorable results
that are not effected by one's self; of these, and all similar politic and
arbitrary masks of self-love and pusillanimity, these poor children know
and suspect nothing. Yet their eyes are much keener than ours, for they
see through the surface of nature and perceive its symbolism; they see the
living reality, of which nature is the veil, and are continually at fault
because this veil is not, after all, the reality,--because it is fixed and
unplastic. The "deep mind of dauntless infancy" is, in fact, the only
revelation we have, except divine revelation itself, of that pure and
natural life of man which we dream of, and liken to heaven; but we,
nevertheless, in our penny-wise, pound-foolish way, insist upon regarding
it as ignorance, and do our best, from the earliest possible moment, to
disenchant and dispel it. We call the outrage education, understanding
thereby the process of exterminating in the child the higher order of
faculties and the intuitions, and substituting for them the external
memory, timidity, self-esteem, and all that armament of petty weapons and
defences which may enable us to get the better of our fellow-creatures in
this world, and receive the reward of our sagacity in the next. The
success of our efforts is pitiably complete; for though the child, if
fairly engaged in single combat, might make a formidable resistance
against the infliction of "lessons," it cannot long withstand our crafty
device of sending it to a place where it sees a score or a hundred of
little victims like itself, all being driven to the same Siberia. The
spirit of emulation is aroused, and lo! away they all scamper, each
straining its utmost to reach the barren goal ahead of all competitors. So
do we make the most ignoble passions of our children our allies in the
unholy task of divesting them of their childhood. And yet, who is not
aware that the best men the world has seen have been those who, throughout
their lives, retained the aroma of childlike simplicity which they brought
with them into existence? Learning--the acquisition of specific facts--is
not wisdom; it is almost incompatible with wisdom; indeed, unless the mind
be powerful enough not only to fuse its facts, but to vaporize them,--to
sublimate them into an impalpable atmosphere,--they will stand in wisdom's
way. Wisdom comes from the pondering and the application to life of
certain truths quite above the sphere of facts, and of infinitely more
moment and less complexity,--truths which are often found to be in
accordance with the spiritual instinct called intuition, which children
possess more fully than grown persons. The wisdom of our children would
often astonish us, if we would only forbear the attempt to make them
knowing, and submissively accept instruction from them. Through all the
imperfection of their inherited infirmity, we shall ever and anon be
conscious of the radiance of a beautiful, unconscious intelligence, worth
more than the smartness of schools and the cleverness of colleges. But no;
we abhor the very notion of it, and generally succeed in extinguishing it
long before the Three R's are done with.

And yet, by wisely directing the child's use of the first of the Three,
much of the ill effects of the trio and their offspring might be
counteracted. If we believed--if the great mass of people known as the
civilized world did actually and livingly believe--that there was really
anything beyond or above the physical order of nature, our children's
literature, wrongly so called, would not be what it is. We believe what we
can see and touch; we teach them to believe the same, and, not satisfied
with that, we sedulously warn them not to believe anything else. The
child, let us suppose, has heard from some unauthorized person that there
are fairies--little magical creatures an inch high, up to all manner of
delightful feats. He comprehends the whole matter at half a word, feels
that he had known it already, and half thinks that he sees one or two on
his way home. He runs up to his mother and tells her about it; and has she
ever seen fairies? Alas! His mother tells him that the existence of such a
being as a fairy is impossible. In old times, when the world was very
ignorant and superstitious, they used to ascribe everything that happened
to supernatural agency; even the trifling daily accidents of one's life,
such as tumbling down stairs, or putting the right shoe on the left foot,
were thought or fancied to be the work of some mysterious power; and since
ignorant people are very apt to imagine they see what they believe
[proceeds this mother] instead of only believing what they see; and since,
furthermore, ignorance disposes to exaggeration and thus to untruth, these
people ended by asserting that they saw fairies. "Now, my child,"
continues the parent, "it would grieve me to see you the victim of such
folly. Do not read fairy stories. They are not true to life; they fill
your mind with idle notions; they cannot form your understanding, or aid
you to do your work in the world. If you should happen to fall in with
such fables, be careful as you read to bear in mind that they are pure
inventions--pretty, sometimes, perhaps, but essentially frivolous, if not
immoral. You have, however, thanks to the enlightened enterprise of
writers and publishers, an endless assortment of juvenile books and
periodicals which combine legitimate amusement with sound and trustworthy
instruction. Here are stories about little children, just like yourself,
who talk and act just as you do, and to whom nothing supernatural or
outlandish ever happens; and whose adventures, when you have read them,
convey to you some salutary moral lesson. What more can you want? Yes,
very likely 'Grimm's Tales' and 'The Arabian Nights' may seem more
attractive; but in this world many harmful things put on an inviting
guise, which deceives the inexperienced eye. May my child remember that
all is not gold that glitters, and desire, not what is diverting merely,
but what is useful and ... and conventional!"

Let us admit that, things being as they are, it is necessary to develop
the practical side of the child's nature, to ground him in moral
principles, and to make him comprehend and fear--nominally God, but
really--society. But why, in addition to doing this, should we strangle
the unpractical side of his nature,--the ideal, imaginative, spiritual
side,--the side which alone can determine his value or worthlessness in
eternity? If our minds were visible as our bodies are, we should behold on
every side of us, and in our own private looking-glasses, such abortions,
cripples, and monstrosities as all the slums of Europe and the East could
not parallel. We pretend to make little men and women out of our children,
and we make little dwarfs and hobgoblins out of them. Moreover, we should
not diminish even the practical efficiency of the coming generation by
rejecting their unpractical side. Whether this boy's worldly destination
be to clean a stable or to represent his country at a foreign court, he
will do his work all the better, instead of worse, for having been allowed
freedom of expansion on the ideal plane. He will do it comprehensively, or
as from above downward, instead of blindly, or as from below upward. To a
certain extent, this position is very generally admitted by instructors
nowadays; but the admission bears little or no fruit. The ideality and
imagination which they have in mind are but a partial and feeble imitation
of what is really signified by those terms. Ideality and imagination are
themselves merely the symptom or expression of the faculty and habit of
spiritual or subjective intuition--a faculty of paramount value in life,
though of late years, in the rush of rational knowledge and discovery, it
has fallen into neglect. But it is by means of this faculty alone that the
great religion of India was constructed--the most elaborate and seductive
of all systems; and although as a faith Buddhism is also the most
treacherous and dangerous attack ever made upon the immortal welfare of
mankind, that circumstance certainly does not discredit or invalidate the
claim to importance of spiritual intuition itself. It may be objected that
spiritual intuition is a vague term. It undoubtedly belongs to an abstruse
region of psychology; but its meaning for our present purpose is simply
the act of testing questions of the moral consciousness by an inward
touchstone of truth, instead of by external experience or information.
That the existence of such a touchstone should be ridiculed by those who
are accustomed to depend for their belief upon palpable or logical
evidence, goes without saying; but, on the other hand, there need be no
collision or argument on the point, since no question with which intuition
is concerned can ever present itself to persons who pin their faith to the
other sort of demonstration. The reverse of this statement is by no means
true; but it would lead us out of our present path to discuss the matter.

Assuming, however, that intuition is possible, it is evident that it
should exist in children in an extremely pure, if not in its most potent
state; and to deny it opportunity of development might fairly be called a
barbarity. It will hardly be disputed that children are an important
element in society. Without them we should lose the memory of our youth,
and all opportunity for the exercise of unselfish and disinterested
affection. Life would become arid and mechanical to a degree now scarcely
conceivable; chastity and all the human virtues would cease to exist;
marriage would be an aimless and absurd transaction; and the brotherhood
of man, even in the nominal sense that it now exists, would speedily be
abjured. Political economy and sociology neglect to make children an
element in their arguments and deductions, and no small part of their
error is attributable to that circumstance. But although children still
are born, and all the world acknowledges their paramount moral and social
value, the general tendency of what we are forced to call education at the
present day is to shorten as much as possible the period of childhood. In
America and Germany especially--but more in America than in Germany--
children are urged and stimulated to "grow up" almost before they have
been short-coated. That conceptions of order and discipline should be
early instilled into them is proper enough; but no other order and
discipline seems to be contemplated by educators than the forcing them to
stand and be stuffed full of indigestible and incongruous knowledge, than
which proceeding nothing more disorderly could be devised. It looks as if
we felt the innocence and naturalness of our children to be a rebuke to
us, and wished to do away with it in short order. There is something in
the New Testament about offending the little ones, and the preferred
alternative thereto; and really we are outraging not only the objective
child, but the subjective one also--that in ourselves, namely, which is
innocent and pure, and without which we had better not be at all. Now I do
not mean to say that the only medicine that can cure this malady is
legitimate children's literature; wise parents are also very useful,
though not perhaps so generally available. My present contention is that
the right sort of literature is an agent of great efficiency, and may be
very easily come by. Children derive more genuine enjoyment and profit
from a good book than most grown people are susceptible of: they see what
is described, and themselves enact and perfect the characters of the story
as it goes along.

Nor is it indispensable that literature of the kind required should
forthwith be produced; a great deal, of admirable quality, is already on
hand. There are a few great poems----Spenser's "FaŽrie Queene" is one--
which no well regulated child should be without; but poetry in general is
not exactly what we want. Children--healthy children--never have the
poetic genius; but they are born mystics, and they have the sense of
humor. The best way to speak to them is in prose, and the best kind of
prose is the symbolic. The hermetic philosophers of the Middle Ages are
probably the authors of some of the best children's stories extant. In
these tales, disguised beneath what is apparently the simplest and most
artless flow of narrative, profound truths are discussed and explained.
The child reads the narrative, and certainly cannot be accused of
comprehending the hidden philosophical problem; yet that also has its
share in charming him. The reason is partly that true symbolic or
figurative writing is the simplest form known to literature. The simplest,
that is to say, in outward form,--it may be indefinitely abstruse as to
its inward contents. Indeed, the very cause of its formal simplicity is
its interior profundity. The principle of hermetic writing was, as we
know, to disguise philosophical propositions and results under a form of
words which should ostensibly signify some very ordinary and trivial
thing. It was a secret language, in the vocabulary of which material facts
are used to represent spiritual truths. But it differed from ordinary
secret language in this, that not only were the truths represented in the
symbols, but the philosophical development of the truth, in its
ramifications, was completely evolved under the cover of a logically
consistent tale. This, evidently, is a far higher achievement of ingenuity
than merely to string together a series of unrelated parts of speech,
which, on being tested by the "key," shall discover the message or
information really intended. It is, in fact, a practical application of
the philosophical discovery, made by or communicated to the hermetic
philosophers, that every material object in nature answers to or
corresponds with a certain one or group of philosophical truths. Viewed in
this light, the science of symbols or of correspondences ceases to be an
arbitrary device, susceptible of alteration according to fancy, and
avouches itself an essential and consistent relation between the things of
the mind and the things of the senses. There is a complete mental
creation, answering to the material creation, not continuously evolved
from it, but on a different or detached plane. The sun,--to take an
example,--the source of light and heat, and thereby of physical nature, is
in these fables always the symbol of God, of love and wisdom, by which the
spirit of man is created. Light, then, answers to wisdom, and heat to
love. And since all physical substances are the result of the combined
action of light and heat, we may easily perceive how these hermetic sages
were enabled to use every physical object as a cloak of its corresponding
philosophical truth,--with no other liability to error than might result
from the imperfect condition of their knowledge of physical laws.

To return, however, to the children, I need scarcely remark that the cause
of children's taking so kindly to hermetic writing is that it is actually
a living writing; it is alive in precisely the same way that nature, or
man himself, is alive. Matter is dead; life organizes and animates it. And
all writing is essentially dead which is a mere transcript of fact, and is
not inwardly organized and vivified by a spiritual significance. Children
do not know what it is that makes a human being smile, move, and talk; but
they know that such a phenomenon is infinitely more interesting than a
doll; and they prove it by themselves supplying the doll with speech and
motions out of their own minds, so as to make it as much like a real
person as possible. In the same way, they do not perceive the
philosophical truth which is the cause of existence of the hermetic fable;
but they find that fable far more juicy and substantial than the ordinary
narrative of every-day facts, because, however fine the surface of the
latter may be, it has, after all, nothing but its surface to recommend it.
It has no soul; it is not alive; and, though they cannot explain why, they
feel the difference between that thin, fixed grimace and the changing
smile of the living countenance.

It would scarcely be practicable, however, to confine the children's
reading to hermetic literature; for not much of it is extant in its pure
state. But it is hardly too much to say that all fairy stories, and
derivations from these, trace their descent from an hermetic ancestry.
They are often unaware of their genealogy; but the sparks of that primal
vitality are in them. The fairy is itself a symbol for the expression of a
more complex and abstract idea; but, once having come into existence, and
being, not a pure symbol, but a hybrid between the symbol and that for
which it stands, it presently began an independent career of its own. The
mediaeval imagination went to work with it, found it singularly and
delightfully plastic to its touch and requirements, and soon made it the
centre of a new and charming world, in which a whole army of graceful and
romantic fancies, which are always in quest of an arena in which to
disport themselves before the mind, found abundant accommodation and
nourishment. The fairy land of mediaeval Christianity seems to us the most
satisfactory of all fairy lands, probably because it is more in accord
with our genius and prejudices than those of the East; and it fitted in so
aptly with the popular mediaeval ignorance on the subject of natural
phenomena, that it became actually an article of belief with the mass of
men, who trembled at it while they invented it, in the most delicious
imaginable state of enchanted alarm. All this is prime reading for
children; because, though it does not carry an orderly spiritual meaning
within it, it is more spiritual than material, and is constructed entirely
according to the dictates of an exuberant and richly colored, but,
nevertheless, in its own sphere, legitimate imagination. Indeed, fairy
land, though as it were accidentally created, has the same permanent right
to be that Beauty has; it agrees with a genuine aspect of human nature,
albeit one much discountenanced just at present. The sequel to it, in
which romantic human personages are accredited with fairy-like attributes,
as in the "FaŽrie Queene," already alluded to, is a step in the wrong
direction, but not a step long enough to carry us altogether outside of
the charmed circle. The child's instinct of selection being vast and
cordial,--he will make a grain of true imagination suffuse and glorify a
whole acre of twaddle,---we may with security leave him in that fantastic
society. Moreover, some children being less imaginative than others, and
all children being less imaginative in some moods and conditions than at
other seasons, the elaborate compositions of Tasso, Cervantes, and the
others, though on the boundary line between what is meat for babes and the
other sort of meat, have also their abiding use.

The "Arabian Nights" introduced us to the domain of the Oriental
imagination, and has done more than all the books of travel in the East to
make us acquainted with the Asiatic character and its differences from our
own. From what has already been said on the subject of spiritual intuition
in relation to these races, one is prepared to find that all the Eastern
literature that has any value is hermetic writing, and therefore, in so
far, proper for children. But the incorrigible subtlety of the Oriental
intellect has vitiated much of their symbology, and the sentiment of sheer
wonder is stimulated rather than that of orderly imagination. To read the
"Arabian Nights" or the "Bhagavad-Gita" is a sort of dissipation; upon the
unhackneyed mind of the child it leaves a reactionary sense of depression.
The life which it embodies is distorted, over-colored, and exciting; it
has not the serene and balanced power of the Western productions.
Moreover, these books were not written with the grave philosophic purpose
that animated our own hermetic school; it is rather a sort of jugglery
practised with the subject---an exercise of ingenuity and invention for
their own sake. It indicates a lack of the feeling of responsibility on
the writers' part,--a result, doubtless, of the prevailing fatalism that
underlies all their thought. It is not essentially wholesome, in short;
but it is immeasurably superior to the best of the productions called
forth by our modern notions of what should be given to children to read.

But I can do no more than touch upon this branch of the subject; nor will
it be possible to linger long over the department of our own literature
which came into being with "Robinson Crusoe." No theory as to children's
books would be worth much attention which found itself obliged to exclude
that memorable work. Although it submits in a certain measure to
classification, it is almost _sui generis_; no book of its kind,
approaching it in merit, has ever been written. In what, then, does its
fascination consist? There is certainly nothing hermetic about it; it is
the simplest and most studiously matter-of-fact narrative of events,
comprehensible without the slightest effort, and having no meaning that is
not apparent on the face of it. And yet children, and grown people also,
read it again and again, and cannot find it uninteresting. I think the
phenomenon may largely be due to the nature of the subject, which is
really of primary and universal interest to mankind. It is the story of
the struggle of man with wild and hostile nature,--in the larger sense an
elementary theme,--his shifts, his failures, his perils, his fears, his
hopes, his successes. The character of Robinson is so artfully generalized
or universalized, and sympathy for him is so powerfully aroused and
maintained, that the reader, especially the child reader, inevitably
identifies himself with him, and feels his emotions and struggles as his
own. The ingredient of suspense is never absent from the story, and the
absence of any plot prevents us from perceiving its artificiality. It is,
in fact, a type of the history of the human race, not on the higher plane,
but on the physical one; the history of man's contest with and final
victory over physical nature. The very simplicity and obviousness of the
details give them grandeur and comprehensiveness: no part of man's
character which his contact with nature can affect or develop is left
untried in Robinson. He manifests in little all historical earthly
experiences of the race; such is the scheme of the book; and its
permanence in literature is due to the sobriety and veracity with which
that scheme is carried out. To speak succinctly, it does for the body what
the hermetic and cognate literature does for the soul; and for the healthy
man, the body is not less important than the soul in its own place and
degree. It is not the work of the Creator, but it is contingent upon
creation.

But poor Robinson has been most unfortunate in his progeny, which at this
day overrun the whole earth, and render it a worse wilderness than ever
was the immortal Crusoe Island. Miss Edgeworth, indeed, might fairly pose
as the most persistently malignant of all sources of error in the design
of children's literature; but it is to be feared that it was Defoe who
first made her aware of the availability of her own venom. She foisted her
prim and narrow moral code upon the commonplace adventures of a priggish
little boy and his companions; and straightway the whole dreary and
disastrous army of sectarians and dogmatists took up the cry, and have
been ringing the lugubrious changes on it ever since. There is really no
estimating the mortal wrong that has been done to childhood by Maria
Edgeworth's "Frank" and "The Parent's Assistant"; and, for my part, I
derive a melancholy joy in availing myself of this opportunity to express
my sense of my personal share in the injury. I believe that my affection
for the human race is as genuine as the average; but I am sure it would
have been greater had Miss Edgeworth never been born; and were I to come
across any philosophical system whereby I could persuade myself that she
belonged to some other order of beings than the human, I should be
strongly tempted to embrace that system on that ground alone.

After what has been advanced in the preceding pages, it does not need that
I should state how earnestly I deprecate the kind of literary food which
we are now furnishing to the coming generation in such sinister abundance.
I am sure it is written and published with good and honorable motives; but
at the very best it can only do no harm. Moreover, however well
intentioned, it is bad as literature; it is poorly conceived and written,
and, what is worse, it is saturated with affectation. For an impression
prevails that one needs to talk down to children;--to keep them constantly
reminded that they are innocent, ignorant little things, whose consuming
wish it is to be good and go to Sunday-school, and who will be all
gratitude and docility to whomsoever provides them with the latest fashion
of moral sugarplums; whereas, so far as my experience and information
goes, children are the most formidable literary critics in the world.
Matthew Arnold himself has not so sure an instinct for what is sound and
good in a book as any intelligent little boy or girl of eight years old.
They judge absolutely; they are hampered by no comparisons or relative
considerations. They cannot give chapter and verse for their opinion; but
about the opinion itself there is no doubt. They have no theories; they
judge in a white light. They have no prejudices nor traditions; they come
straight from the simple source of life. But, on the other hand, they are
readily hocussed and made morbid by improper drugs, and presently, no
doubt, lose their appetite for what is wholesome. Now, we cannot hope that
an army of hermetic philosophers or Mother-Gooses will arise at need and
remedy all abuses; but at least we might refrain from moralizing and
instruction, and, if we can do nothing more, confine ourselves to plain
stories of adventure, say, with no ulterior object whatever. There still
remains the genuine literature of the past to draw upon; but let us
beware, as we would of forgery and perjury, of serving it up, as has been
done too often, medicated and modified to suit the foolish dogmatism of
the moment. Hans Christian Andersen was the last writer of children's
stories, properly so called; though, considering how well married to his
muse he was, it is a wonder as well as a calamity that he left no
descendants.

Julian Hawthorne

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