Upon writing an article on education for a magazine, Mrs Prentiss opened with a discourse on the birth of a new baby...
The King is at hand. Heralds have been announcing his advent in language incomprehensible to man, but which woman understands as she does her alphabet. A dainty basket, filled with mysteries half hidden, half displayed; soft little garments, folded away in ranks and files; here delicate lace and cambric; there down and feathers and luxury. The King has come. Limp and pink, a nothing and nobody, yet welcomed and treasured as everything and everybody, his wondrous reign begins. His kingdom is the world. His world is peopled by two human beings. Yesterday, they were a boy and girl. Today, they are man and woman, and are called father and mother.
Their new King is imperious. He has his own views as to the way he shall live and move and have his being. He has his own royal table, at which he presides in royal pomp. His waiting-maid is refined and educated—his superior in every way. He takes his meals from her when he sees fit; if he cannot sleep, he will not allow her to do so. His treasurer is a man whom thousands look up to, and reverence, but, in this little world, he is valued only for the supplies he furnishes, the equipages he purchases, the castle in which young royalty dwells. The picture is not unpleasing, however; the slaves have the best of it, after all.
The reign is not very long. Two years later, there is a descent from the throne, to make room for the Queen. She is a great study to him. He puts his fingers into her eyes to learn if they are little blue lakelets. He grows chivalrous and patronizing. So the world of home goes on. The King and Queen give place to new Kings and Queens, but, though dethroned, they are still royal; their wants are forestalled, they are fed, clothed, instructed, but above all beloved. When did their education begin? At six months? A year? Two years? No; it began when they began; the moment they entered the little world they called theirs. Every touch of the mother’s hand, every tone of her voice, educates her child. It never remembers a time when she was not its devoted lover, servant, vassal, slave. Many an ear enjoys, is soothed by music, while ignorant of its laws. So the youngest child in the household is lulled by uncomprehended harmonies from its very birth. Affections group round and bless it, like so many angels; it could not analyze or comprehend an angel, but it could feel the soft shelter of his wings.