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On Children And Dogs
by [?]

Are you very shocked that I should couple these two subjects? An insult to the children, do you say? Well, do you know, I am afraid I consider it an insult to the dogs. I am not fond of children, and I love dogs. A man may be a superior animal to a dog, but a puppy is decidedly more intelligent than a baby. What can you find more helpless, more utterly incapable, than a baby? Look at a puppy in comparison. At a month old it is trotting about, and growing quite independent; more sensible altogether than a child aged a year.

I am afraid I shock people often by my opinions, but they are really genuine. I am always more interested in the canine race than in the blossoms of humanity. Very likely it is the behavior of each that makes me so. Children never take to me, nor come near me if they can help it. I do not understand them, or know what to talk to them about. On the other hand, dogs will come to me at once, and, what is more, keep to me. I have never been growled at in my life, and I have come across a good many dogs, too.

“You were a baby yourself once!” How often has this been said to me when I have aired the above opinions. It is put before me as an unanswerable argument, a sort of annihilating finale to the conversation. Yet I really don’t see what it has to do with the matter. I suppose I was a baby once. At least they say so. Which protestation, by the way, rather leaves it open to doubt, for “on dits” like weather forecasts are nice reliable institutions if you do but follow the opposite of what they tell you. Still, as there is more than one witness to the effect, I will give in and admit it; I was a baby.

But the admission makes me no fonder of the species. If anything it makes me admire them the less; for if I at all resembled the photographs that were taken of me–“before my eyes were open,” I was going to say; at any rate before I could stand–I wonder a stone was not put round my neck, and they did not drown me in the first bucket of water they came across.

It is said that ugly babies grow up the best looking, and vice versa. This is a pleasant and comforting thought for the ugly baby. It can bear a little depreciation now, because it can look forward to the time when it will far outdo its successful rival. And the pretty baby’s glory is soon over. It becomes only a memory which rather irritates than soothes. For after all, retrospection is not so pleasant as anticipation.

The above remark was said before a child about four years old, the other day. She must have been listening intently, and having taken in the sense she inwardly digested it; for the next time she quarrelled with her sister, she broke in spitefully, “You must have been the beautifullest baby that ever was born.”

Children should never be seen until they are over two. Until then they are neither pretty nor entertaining. But at this age they begin to say funny things, and so are interesting. “You only care for them when they amuse you!” cried a young mother once, indignant at my selfishness. I suppose it is a selfish way of looking at it; but if modern children were brought up as we were brought up I should not object to them in the least. We were always kept strictly in the nursery, only appearing down-stairs on the rarest occasions: and when we arrived there we behaved properly–we were seen and not heard. We did not run noisily up and down the room, taking up the whole conversation of the party. We did not try to make the most disagreeable personal remarks; or if we did we were sent up-stairs at once, and not laughed at for our “sharpness.”