Back to Children's Moral Instruction
Sir Peabody: Lady Befuddled, if I may take the liberty
Befuddled: Why certainly . . .
Peabody: Is your little Thomas a very pretty child?
Befuddled: Why yes, I would say with only two years
age he is growing to be rather handsome.
Sir Peabody: And tell me, you say that he is given all that he desires.
Lady Befuddled: 'Tis true.
Peabody: And how plentiful are his desires?
Or, should I say, do the number of items add up to great expense?
Befuddled: Indeed Sir, I’d think you’d
already be quite aware of the high position and great wealth of my immediately
family and relations. With us in such high standing, Thomas receives only
the best and the best is expensive.
Peabody: I see.
Madame I am aware of the high position of your family and am only asking
these questions to bring us to a point.
Befuddled: And that . . .
Sir Peabody: That 'twould be better if your son had been born an ugly penniless foundling--a tiny orphan with nothing in the world to work with but his hands and head. You see, Madame, if your son was brought into this world with nothing or shipwrecked on a desert island like Robinson Crusoe2 and stripped of all he had, it would be much easier for your dear Thomas to sort out right from wrong, correct manners and proper notions of justice. Has Thomas any handicap?
Befuddled: My Thomas, of course not!
Peabody: It is perhaps not too late for that; he is
only two years into the world. Handicaps
strongly contribute to moral development and growth.
Have you heard the story of Matilda . . .
It is too bad Matilda, also known
as the Barbadoes Girl, did not have any type of handicap or, for that matter,
illness; such states might have saved her from her bad temper--only seven and
already completely succumbed to her passions.
‘Tis true, she did eventually break from her bad humors, but in the
meanwhile it was a drudge for the Harewood family to bear.
Here, I’ll just let you read for yourself.
The pages are right over there. Yes,
yes, here we are--Matilda, or, the Barbadoes Girl.
The book is filled with multiple lengthy chapters.
Mrs. Barbara Hoole Hofland6
did do such excellent work putting them together.
Perhaps, for now, due to length, you should simply take a look at a few
bits and pieces of chapter one. I
will point out to you those I feel most didactic.
Just pause and take a look.
sad to think, Matilda may have continued in these barbarous ways had her father
not passed away and she not been sent to the Harewoods.
Death is a sad sad thing, but in times can prove indeed a blessing.
Nevertheless, modesty and a mild temper are key to successful life. Such example of this is clearly demonstrated in Samuel