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Ginx’s Baby
by [?]


In an old book store I found the other day, a little book that should not have been forgotten. It was written almost twenty-eight years ago by a man named Jenkins, an Englishman, born in India, and educated in part, in the United States. The name of the book is “Ginx’s Baby; His Birth and Other Misfortunes.”

With the remarkable growth of altruism or humanitarianism in the last thirty years, with the application of sincere sympathy as one of the possible solvents of the mystery of misery, it is strange that this book should have passed from the minds of men. The book is a true satire. That is to say its irony is excited for the benefit of mankind. The pessimism of the story, its note of despair, is in reality, a summons to man to do better by his brother. Underlying its bitterness there is such a gentleness of heart as must uplift the reader’s own.

The author has the great gift of humor, which all true pessimists possess, and none more than Schopenhauer. He loves humanity though he scourges it. He loves, above all, the little children whom Christ loved, as typifying the heart perfect in innocence.

Somewhat the quality of Dickens is in his method of thought, and his turns of expression; but he is not the evident artist that Dickens is. He does not seek opportunity to revel in mere rhetoric. He goes for the heart of his subject and his literary charms are displayed quite incidentally to his progress thereto. His stylism does not clog his story or cumber his argument. The result is that he produced a tract of the Church of Man which is a powerful argument for a realization in Man of the Church of God. His book is superbly human and “Ginx’s Baby” deserves immortality with other dream- children of good men’s hearts and minds in story and in song.

Room for Ginx’s Baby in the gallery of undying children; with Marjorie Fleming, Sir Walter’s “Bonnie, Wee Coodlin’ Doo,” with Pater’s “Child in the House,” with Ouida’s “Bebe,” with Mrs. Burnett’s “Fauntleroy,” with Barrie’s “Sentimental Tommy,” with all the little ones in the books of Dickens and the poems and stories of Eugene Field.

The child in literature is something new, comparatively. We need more of the effort to understand the child mind, the child heart, the child point of view. It will aid us to develop the child, if once we can enter his world and come into sympathy with his impression. It will purify ourselves, this fresh, new, beautiful world of the child’s; its clear, pure air will wash clean our souls; its innocence of doom will revive our hope. The child is a soul fresh from God’s mint. If only we could study it more we might re-gain, from the contemplation, some of our own lost innocence, and, when we come to die, go to our Maker, like Thackery’s immortal Col. Newcombe, with our hearts “as a little child’s.”

But “Ginx’s Baby” is not an idyl. It is a tragedy. It breathes the spirit of Malthus, only the spirit is transformed into one of pity for the victim of life rather than one of preservation of the nation. We are not, in this book, the victim of the baby. The baby is our victim. His story will illustrate the philosophy better than any attempt at interpretation, and the humor of the telling only intensifies the tragedy. “The name of the father of Ginx’s Baby was Ginx. By a not unexceptional coincidence, its mother was Mrs. Ginx. The gender of Ginx’s Baby was masculine.” That is the first paragraph of the book, and there you have a hint of the flippant flavor; also a very strong suggestion of Mr. Charles Dickens. The hero of the book was a thirteenth child. Ominously humorous! The mother previously had distinguished herself. On October 25th, one year after marriage, Mrs. Ginx was safely delivered of a girl. No announcement of this appeared in the papers. On April 10th, following, “the whole neighborhood, including Great Smith Street, Marsham Street, Great and Little Peter Street, Regent Street, Horseferry Road, and Strutton Ground, was convulsed by the report a woman named Ginx had given birth to “a triplet, consisting of two girls and a boy.” The Queen heard of it, as this birth got into the papers, and sent the mother three pounds. Protecting infant industry! And protection, it seems, resulted in over-production for, in a twelvemonth, there were triplets again, two sons and a daughter. Her Majesty sent four pounds. The neighbors protested and began to manifest their displeasure uncouthly, so the Ginx family removed into Rosemary Street, where the tale of Mrs. Ginx’s offspring reached one dozen. Then Ginx mildly entered protest. If there were any more, singles, twins or triplets, he would drown him, her or them, in the water-butt. This was immediately after the arrival of Number 12.