From The Rise and Fall of the Mustache, and other “Hawk-eyetems,” by Robert J. Burdette, illustrated by R. W. Wallis; Burlington Publishing Company, Burlington, Iowa; 1877; pp. 293-295.
AH yes, we do love children. We fairly dote on them, and enjoy and admire their sweet, innocent ways, from the dear little cloudy-faced, bare-legged cherubs that swear and throw stones at you as you go past Happy Hollow, to the sweet-faced but pampered angel that sits in the golden lap of luxury and breaks the mirrors and your head with pa’s cane. It was purely our love for the little innocents that induced us to comply with the urgent request of many parents, and open a department in The Hawkeye for the smart sayings of precocious children.
Mrs. H— y B—k, of North Hill, has a sweet little rosebud, of four bright Summers, who came into the house and lisped, “Ma, Ith tho theepy.”
“What makes you sleepy?” asked Rosebud’s mother.
“I don’t know,” murmured the child.
Strange yearning after the incomprehensible in an infant heart. Could any of the children of an older growth have made a better answer?
Then there is little Freddy L——, out on West Hill. 294 Although he is but three years old, he put his father’s watch in the shaving mug, filled the mug out of a kerosene lamp, and set the mixture in the oven to dry, where it presently dried — soon after the hired girl made up the breakfast fire — with such abruptness that three of the stoveplates haven’t been found since. After the excitement had subsided, his mother took him on her lap and said:
“Freddy, did you put papa’s watch and the mug full of oil in the oven?”
And the dear child, opening wide his innocent eyes, and smiling in tender confidence in her face, said placidly:
“No, ma’am, ’deed I didn’t.”
Sweet, cautious instinct of an untried heart. Could any of us get out of it any better than that? Who can tell what vague, uncertain dreams of congressional honors float through that busy little mind?
Johnnie K—— is a charming little cherub of four bright Springs. One day he poured the ink into the globe where the gold-fish were, submerging them instantaneously in total eclipse; then he put the Bible in the fire, threw a bronze paper-weight through the looking-glass, broke four eggs in his sister’s new hat, and wound up his artless sport by throwing the cat down the cistern. His mother, discovering all this mischief, suspected who was the author, and sought her son.
“Johnnie,” she said, sadly, “Why did you act so naughty?”
“I didn’t,” he persisted. “Deed, muzzy, it was ze cat!”
Sweet child! Does it need the prescience of a prophet to see that he will some day make an excellent witness in a great scandal case?
Then there is another sweet little tid-toddler out on 295 Seventh Street. The other day one of his parents, the female one, put him to sleep and laid him in his little crib, and then she ran over the street to ask Mrs. Muldoon how she washed flannels, and got to talking about the last funeral, and the mission circle, and the new preacher, and forgot all about the baby, and when she went home there that dear little blessed was, flat on his back, with his little crib lying on top of him, and he yelling like a scalded pig.
Ah, the wild, weird, ventures and dreams of child life. Try it, gray-haired man; see if you can fall out of bed and flop your bedstead, slats, springs, mattress and all, on top of you as you land on the floor. You can not do it, but the tid-toddler of three sweet Summers — ah, well, who shall say how their untried instinct shames the lore and knowledge of our elder years.