Reproach will seldom mend the young,
If they are left to need it;
The breath of love must stir the tongue,
If you would have them heed it.
How oft we see a child caressed
For little faults and failings,
Which should have been at first suppressed
To save the after railings!
If, when the heart would go astray,
You would the passion smother,
You must not tear the charm away,
But substitute another.
Thus it is pleasant to be led,
If he who leads will measure
The heart's affection by the head,
And make pursuit a pleasure.
Speak gently! -- It is better far
To rule by love, than fear --
Speak gently -- let not harsh words mar
The good we might do here!
Speak gently! -- Love doth whisper low
The vows that true hearts bind;
And gently Friendship's accents flow;
Affection's voice is kind.
Speak gently to the little child!
Its love be sure to gain;
Teach it in accents soft and mild: --
It may not long remain.
Speak gently to the young, for they
Will have enough to bear --
Pass through this life as best they may,
'T is full of anxious care!
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Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.
See it springing all around us --
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.
Who loves not its joyous revel,
Leaping lightly on the lawn,
Up the knoll, along the level,
Free and graceful as a fawn?
Let it revel; it is nature
Giving to the little dears
Strength of limb, and healthful features,
For the toil of coming years.
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