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[From the Archive]

Other People’s Children


When we are asked if we like children, we are used to saying that it depends upon the child; that we like some children, just as we like some grown persons, and others we don’t like, or like less. That is true, but it isn’t the whole truth, for children as children do appeal to most of us in a way that grown-ups don’t. We feel towards all children something of paternal solicitude. An instinct prompts us to protect the young, and in most of us it is stronger than our nerves, our tempers, or our fears. The pains and distresses that befall children and which we can’t help, we don’t want to know about. When grown-ups die, it is the common lot, and we don’t grieve unless we have personal reasons. But a child’s death that seems uncalled for hurts us. When a child is lost, we search the newspapers till we read that it has been found. When a child is stolen, the news excites the whole country. Of course we love children; our own best; other folk’s children too; preferring those who are most lovable, but more or less solicitous about all.

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