from Silhouettes of My Contemporaries
by Lyman Abbott
Doubleday, Page, 1922.

MY FIRST recollection of my father is an incident which, though slight, is very significant of his spirit in dealing with children. Recovery from scarlet fever had left me subject to gatherings in the ear which produced very severe ear-aches. Surgical operations for such trouble were then unknown. The only relief obtainable was soaking cotton-wool in laudanum and putting it in the ear to deaden the pain. My father was living in the part of New York City now called Greenwich Village, and, with his brothers, was carrying on a school for girls in the city. It was quite essential for his work that he should get his night's rest. He made a bargain with me: he would tell me a story for fifteen minutes, then I was to let him sleep for fifteen minutes, and so we would go through the night together. Whether this was done for only one night or many nights, I do not now recall. By this bargain he and I became partners; he carried my burden, but I also did something to carry his burden. He would help me bear my pain, but he trusted me to help him get ready for his morrow's work.

This confidence in children and cooperation with children was one of his distinguishing characteristics. I have known men as fond of children as my father, but I have never known a man who had for them such respect. In a true sense, it might be said that he treated children as his equals, not through any device or from any scheme, but spontaneously and naturally. He trusted the judgment of children, took counsel with them, and in all the matters which concerned them and their world was greatly influenced by their judgments. He threw responsibility upon them, great responsibility, and they realized it.

This respect which he showed to children inspired them with respect for themselves and for one another. It gave dignity to the children who came under his influence. That influence was a masterful one. I should misrepresent him if I gave the impression that he exercised no authority. On the contrary, his authority was supreme and final. He gave few commands, but he required prompt, implicit, and unquestioning obedience to those which he did give. I have known children to disobey him, but I never knew one to rebel against him. I do not know what would have happened in case of a rebellion. I think no child ever thought of it as possible. I never knew him to strike a blow. I do not recall that he ever sent a child to his room, or supperless to bed, or set him to write in his copy book, or to learn tasks, or resorted to any other of the similar expedients, necessary perhaps in school, and frequent in most families. In general, he simply administered natural penalties. If a child lied or broke his promises, he was distrusted. If he was careless or negligent, the things that were given to other children to play with were withheld from him. If he quarrelled, he was taken away from his playmates, but made as happy as he could be made in solitude.

This spirit of respect which my father had for children interprets his literary method. He never condescended to children, never talked down to them or wrote down to them. He believed they could understand large truths if they were simply and clearly stated. So in "Science for the Young" he dealt with some of the most interesting scientific phenomena; in his "Red Histories" he used biography to make clear the great historical epochs; in his Young Christian Series he interpreted some of the profoundest phases of spiritual experience. This spirit of confidence determined his style. He never sought for short and easy words, but selected what he thought the best word to express his meaning. The child, he said, will get the meaning of the word from the context, or if he does not, he will ask his mother what the word means, and so he will be learning language. He did not write books about children for grown people to read. He wrote books for children because he shared their life with them. Perhaps it is a son's prejudice, but his books still seem to me to be among the best of true children's books.

I have been often asked which one of his four sons was Rollo. The answer is: none of them. So far as I know, my father never painted a portrait, never took a single child out of real life and set him in a story; never made a character to represent a type; never undertook to work out through fiction the development of a character first philosophically conceived. He wrote his stories as he might have told them. If shorthand had been in vogue in his time, and one could have taken down any story of my father's as he might have told it to a group of children gathered about his chair, it would have been essentially the story as it is published from his pen. He did not form a plot beforehand. Each incident led on to the next incident; it might almost be said that each paragraph led on to the next paragraph; and when the allotted number of pages was finished, the story came to its end, much as the story-telling would come to an end when the clock struck nine and it was time for the children to go to bed. This method accounts for the artlessness of his narratives. They are natural portrayals of child life to children. The only approximation to portrait painting is in "Jonas," "Beechnut," and "Rainbow." These characters in his stories used the devices, employed the methods, manifested the spirit which were characteristic of his dealing with children. To this extent and to this only can they be called portraits, for in every other respect they are unlike one another and quite unlike him.

Let me go back a little and tell how he came to enter upon his life work—the writing of children's books.

My grandfather gave his five boys a college and a theological education and then left them to employ that education as they thought best. One of them continued a preacher throughout his life, combining authorship with his pastoral duties. The others became teachers. My father accepted a tutorship at Amherst College almost immediately after his graduation from Andover Theological Seminary and at the age of twenty-two was made full professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. In a journal that he kept during his college days I find indications of a growing ambition toward authorship. Among these is a plan for an undenominational religious journal of a high character, though even then his habitual financial caution shows itself in the question whether such a journal could be made self-supporting.

Four years later he accepted an invitation to go to Boston and there organize and carry on a school for the broader and better education of girls, one among the first in that movement for woman's education out of which have grown the girls' high schools and colleges. He had already in Amherst College tried successfully, though in a small way, the experiment of self-government; had organized out of the students a "Fraternity of the Chapel Entry"; put into their hands the task of seeing that this entry was kept in order and provided with light and heat; and had so far enrolled himself as a member of the Fraternity as to be liable with the others to assessment for taxes and subject to the rules which the Fraternity might adopt. This principle of self-government he carried out to a much greater extent in the Mt. Vernon school, in Boston, where he left the girls to study by themselves in a common schoolroom without teacher or monitor, and appointed one of the girls to manage a simple but ingenious mechanism which he devised for letting the students know when the time for recess had come.

Into this school he carried his ministerial ambitions and gave on Saturday mornings a series of religious lectures which led afterward to the publication of the Young Christian Series.* [*"The Young Christian," "The Corner Stone," "The Way to Do Good," "Hoaryhead and McDonner."]

To prepare these lectures, or to write them in book form for the press, he rose very early in the morning, and wrote for a couple of hours or so before his breakfast. His ambition proved too great for his physique. He resigned and moved his family to his father's home in Farmington, Maine. He purchased a wild place just across the road from his father's house, half sandhill, half marsh, with just room enough between the sandhill and the road for a little cottage. Here he wrote the Rollo Books in the mornings, and worked on hill and marsh in the afternoons. He gradually converted the marsh into a pond; he opened the sand-bank to the public, and the public carted so much away that, in time, the grounds about the house became adequate if not ample; one hill grew into a grassy slope, the other, turfed and covered with trees, gave the place its name of "Little Blue," derived from a mountain twenty miles away known as "Old Blue." He redeemed wildness in boy and land by the same process, working with Nature, and waiting long and patiently for Nature to do her work. In later life he found equal pleasure in labouring upon the grounds of the two of his sons who had country homes; and the recreation of his declining years was simple but artistic landscape gardening at Fewacres, the old homestead. It was not enough for him to direct; he always wished to labour with his own hands. How often have I heard him say, when compelled by fatigue to relinquish the spade or pick, "I wish I could hire someone else's muscles and use them myself."

The account which Samuel Butler has given of his own childhood in that tragic story "The Way of All Flesh" is perhaps an exaggerated account of an exceptionally unhappy childhood. Yet it is true that in the first half of the nineteenth century the more or less deliberate purpose of religious parents in Puritan households was the government of the children by fear of a tyranny which could not be resisted and the suppression by that government of the natural instincts of childhood. This purpose found expression in two popular mottoes: "Children should be seen and not heard " and "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Each of these mottoes was the outward expression of a deep-rooted Puritan philosophy, which might be expressed thus: From Adam all his descendants have inherited a depraved nature. That nature must be eradicated; the child's will broken; his evil tendencies subdued. Only thus can he become a child of God. Jesus Christ had said: "Except ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Puritan theology had substituted: "Except ye become as grown-ups, ye cannot enter the Kingdom." The stories of childish saints is pathetic; the stories of the painstaking endeavour by pious parents to make childish saints is even more pathetic.

Some years ago I went on a boating expedition in Penobscot Bay. We went ashore to spend the night in a farmhouse which was hospitably open to "paying guests." On the parlour table I found a Sunday-school Story Book, dated about 1830. A new baby was to be christened. Her little sister, seven or eight years old, came aglow with eager expectation to the mother. "How are you going to dress the baby?" she asked. "My child," said the pained but patient mother, "bring me the Prayer Book." It was brought. "Now read what the God-father says at the time of the Christening." The child read as follows:

"Dost thou, in the name of this child, renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them?

"Answer: I renounce them all; and, by God's help, will endeavour not to follow, nor be led by them."

"Do you see, my child," said the mother, "how wicked it is to be thinking of the baby's dress at such a time? Go to your room and ask your Heavenly Father to forgive your worldly and sinful spirit."

My father abhorred controversies of every description and never attacked the current theology of his time, but all his children's books were based upon a psychological conception radically different. Toward the close of his life he published a volume entitled, "Gentle Measures in the Training of the Young." In this volume he interprets in a very simple form and with many concrete illustrations the philosophical principles on which all his children's books were based. Whether in 1834, when the first of the Rollo Books was published, he had defined to himself those principles and wrote his books to illustrate and enforce them, or whether he wrote his.. books and carried on his teaching for nearly forty years and then from his studies of children and his experiments with them evolved these principles, I do not know. I think the latter is more probably the truth. If so, if these principles were deduced from a third of a century's study and experiment, they are for that reason all the more valuable to the fathers and mothers of the present time. He neither assumed that the child is a little cherub or a little devil. He assumed that "in respect of moral conduct as well as of mental attainments children know nothing when they come into the world, but have everything to learn either from the instructions or from the examples of those around them." Therefore, the child must be trained to perceive the difference between truth and falsehood, generosity and selfishness, honesty and dishonesty exactly as he must be trained to walk or to talk. "The first time that a child attempts to walk alone what a feeble, staggering, and awkward exhibition it makes. And yet its mother shows by the excitement of her countenance and the delight expressed by her exclamations how pleased she is with the performance." He who really comprehends this philosophy and accepts it will realize that to train a child to perceive the sacredness of truth or recognize the rights of property requires infinite patience, and that the first failures of the child's conscience are no more deserving of punishment in the strict sense of that term than failures in his first experiments in walking. " The mother is thus to understand that the principle of obedience is not to be expected to come by nature into the heart of her child, but to be implanted by education. She must understand this so fully as to feel that if she finds that her children are disobedient to her commands— leaving out of view cases of peculiar and extraordinary temptation—it is her fault, not theirs."

Though training in this spirit rarely, if ever, calls for punishment, it calls continually for discipline. The difference between the two is not in the act of the judge, but in his purpose and his spirit. I must here condense into a very few words a distinction to which my father gives a chapter of his book.

Punishment may be regarded as a penalty demanded by the eternal principles of justice and the natural consequence of the sin of the transgressor, or it may be considered as a remedial measure adopted solely to deter from similar errors or sins in time to come. "According to the first view, punishment is a penalty which justice demands as a satisfaction for the past. According to the other it is a remedy which goodness devises for the benefit of the future." Without discussing the question which of these principles actuates God in his dealing with sin and the State in dealing with crime, my father contents himself with the declaration that "the punishment of a child by a parent, or of a pupil by a teacher, ought certainly, one would think, to exclude the element of vindictive retribution altogether, and to be employed solely with reference to the salutary influence that may be expected from it in time to come."

With this distinction between punishment demanded by justice and punishment devised by benevolence my father coupled another—the difference between instinct and capacities. "The dog has an instinct impelling him to attach himself to and follow his master; but he has no instinct leading him to draw his master's cart. He requires no teaching for the one. It comes, of course, from the connate impulses of his nature. For the other he requires a skilful and careful training. . . . So with the child. If he does not seem to know how to take his food, or shows no disposition to run to his mother when he is hurt or when he is frightened, we have reason to suspect something wrong, or, at least, something abnormal, in his mental or physical constitution. But if he does not obey his mother's commands—no matter how insubordinate or unmanageable he may be—the fault does not, certainly, indicate anything at all wrong in him. The fault is in his training. In witnessing his disobedience, our reflection should be, not 'What a bad boy!' but 'What an unfaithful or incompetent mother!'"

These two fundamental distinctions must be borne in mind by any reader who desires to understand the principles of family and school government which my father inculcated and illustrated by his books.

The first lesson a child must learn is obedience. He comes into a world of law. He neither knows what the laws are nor why he should obey them. To the father and the mother is entrusted the duty of teaching these first lessons of life.

There are inexorable laws of nature. He who does not know and obey these laws may easily kill himself by a single act of innocent because ignorant disobedience, and he will be certain to injure himself by repeated acts of disobedience. There are unwritten laws of society which will confront him in the family, in the playground, and later in social and commercial circles. If he ignores and disregards them he will soon find himself a social outcast. His companions will assume that he knows them and disregards them deliberately because either of malice or stupidity. There are laws of the State. If he habitually ignores or disregards these laws, he may speedily find himself in prison. Courts will not listen to his plea that he was ignorant of them. Ignorance is an excuse which the community does not accept. Nature is pitiless. Society, if not absolutely pitiless, is wholly unsympathetic. It is, therefore, the first and most fundamental duty of the parent to teach the child that he is not independent; that he cannot live his own life regardless of other lives; that he must learn to yield his will to the wills of others and to the One Supreme Will, if he would live a happy and a useful life.

But there are comparatively few families in which this necessity is understood and in which the children are taught to obey promptly and without question. In some obedience is not taught at all; in some it is taught only irregularly and fitfully; in some disobedience is inculcated by the constant issuing of commands which there is no purpose to enforce and the threatening of penalties which there is no purpose to inflict. In one of my father's stories he puts the secret of good government in family or school in four sentences, thus;

     When you consent, consent cordially.
     When you refuse, refuse finally.
     When you punish, punish good-naturedly.
     Commend often; never scold.

My father's stories for children are largely employed in illustrating and enforcing these four principles. I could wish that everyone who has to do with the government of children would commit them to memory and would, from time to time, by these rules test his administration of that government. But he will find impossible the last two rules unless he believes, with my father, in the truth that the child is not morally to blame for the failure to understand moral principles which have never been inculcated.

Josie comes to visit Phonny and Malleville. Phonny comes up into Beechnut's room, to which he is confined by a slight illness, and tells Beechnut that Josie is coming to make him a visit.

"Ah!" said Beechnut, "then I must get acquainted with her. And the first thing is to find out whether I have got to teach her to obey me, or whether she has learned to obey already."

"How do you think it is?" asked Phonny.

"I think she has not learned to obey," said Beechnut.

"Why not?" asked Phonny.

"Because she is a city girl," said Beechnut, "and city girls are very seldom taught to obey."

"Why not?" asked Phonny again.

"Oh, because," said Beechnut, "they are put away from their mother's care and into the care of nursery-maids so much. The nursery-maids coax them, and bribe them, and deceive them —and do everything to them except teach them simply to obey."

"And how are you going to find out," asked Phonny, "whether Josie has been taught to obey?"

"You will see," said Beechnut.

He finds out in a very simple manner. Josie starts to open the drawers of the little bureau, pays no attention to Beechnut's telling her not to do so and finds the drawers empty.

"Why, Beechnut," said Josie, "what did you say I must not open these drawers for? There is nothing in them."

"There is a knob," suggested Malleville.

"Yes; nothing but the knob," said Josie. "What was the reason?" repeated Josie.

"I had a reason," replied Beechnut.

"What was it?" persisted Josie.

"I know what it was," said Phonny.

"What?" asked Josie.

Phonny hesitated a moment, not being quite sure whether it would be polite for him to tell what he thought. At length he said, somewhat timidly:

"To see whether you would obey him or not."

"Was that the reason?" asked Josie.

"Yes," said Beechnut.

"Truly!" said Josie.

"Yes," said Beechnut, "really and truly."

Josephine looked a little ashamed and confused when she heard this, but presently recovering herself a little she asked Beechnut what made him wish to know particularly whether she would obey him.

"Because," said Beechnut, "I have got a number of pictures, and picture-books, and curiosities of various kinds up in my room, which perhaps it would amuse you to see. I let children go up and see them sometimes without me if I am only sure beforehand that they will follow precisely the directions that I give them."

Josie has thus had an opportunity to learn her first lesson: obedience is not a door of admission into a prison, it is a door of exit into liberty; it is an achievement by which one's powers and privileges are increased. It is curious how slow even philosophy has been to learn that all our powers over nature have been acquired by intelligent obedience of the laws of nature, and how, similarly, freedom in the moral realm is acquired only by voluntary obedience of the moral laws written in the constitution of man and of human society. "The first duty," says my father, "which devolves upon the mother in the training of her child is the establishment of her authority over him." . . . "The first essential condition required for the performance of this duty is the fixing of the conviction in her own mind that it is a duty."

The penalty need not be severe. It is not by the severity but by the certainty of the penalty that a habit of obedience is developed. But whatever the penalty, it must not only always be just, but if possible, such as will seem just to the child. For the object of the ruler should be not to suppress, but to develop the child. Not infrequently in his books my father illustrates methods by which the cooperation of the child can be secured in selecting and enforcing discipline. The penalty need not necessarily inflict any pain; since the object is not to deter by fear, but to secure the aid of the child in future endeavours to cure his fault, not infrequently the penalty is even amusing. Phonny in harnessing the horse which is to take them to ride has failed to follow Beechnut's directions. Beechnut at the time says nothing, but after they have started on their ride he suggests that Phonny would enjoy his ride more if he were first to be punished for his disobedience. He suggests that Phonny mount upon the horse with his face toward his tail and ride in that way for a quarter of a mile. Phonny accepts the punishment. Malleville and Phonny are both greatly amused during the operation, though Phonny's seat proved to be very uncomfortable.

Though discipline is not always terrifying and sometimes may even be amusing, it must always be sufficient at the time to secure obedience. Severity in punishment is rarely necessary, but certainty of some punishment is necessary. And no inconvenience that the enforcement of law may occasion to the parent or teacher furnishes any excuse for allowing disobedience to pass without such penalty as the circumstances may require.

Jonas, with three boys, is sailing on a pond to take some grain to the mill. Jonas is in command of the expedition. Josey, who has not yet learned to obey, disregards Jonas's directions, and undertakes to go forward to take a seat which Jonas has assigned to another boy. As he starts to go forward Jonas with his paddle brings the boat around. The boom comes thumping against Josey's head and shoulders and he sinks down into the bottom of the boat to get out of the way. "What was that for?" asks Josey. "I am going to put you ashore," replied Jonas. "Me ashore!" repeated Josey, more and more surprised. He looked forward, and saw that the boat was now pointed toward the shore, at a place on the back side of the point of land which they had just passed.

"Yes," said Jonas, "the only way, when we have an unmanageable passenger on board, is to put him ashore upon the nearest land." . . . "But what shall I do," said he, "if you put me ashore?"

"You can either walk home, or wait there till we come back from the mill. I'll call for you when I come back."

The other two boys finally interceded for Josey, and Jonas, with some hesitation, accedes to their request. But Josey had learned his lesson that "there is no getting along out at sea without obeying the commander."

The reader will observe another element in this incident: Jonas is sustained by the public opinion of the community, that is, by the other two boys. I am almost inclined to the opinion that all rebellion against government, whether in school, factory, or nation, is partly due to the fault of the governor. My father was professor in a college and three times principal in schools of considerable size, and so far as I know, never had the slightest difficulty in enforcing law and maintaining order. The reason, I think, was that he was always supported in his administration by the public opinion of the students. Government by force over an objecting population is always a despotism, though it may be a benevolent despotism. My father was constitutionally a democrat, that is, a believer in self-government, and it was because he believed in self-government that he laid stress upon the duty of the parent and the teacher, to maintain his authority by so exercising it as to develop self-control in his subjects.

The last ten years of his life my father spent quietly with his two sisters in what had been his father's home in Farmington, Maine. Here his children and grandchildren delighted to visit him; here he organized a school of a unique character composed of his grandchildren and some of their playmates. Admission to this school was by invitation. There were no fees and no entrance examinations, and attendance was voluntary. But if the child entered the school it was as a loyal subject of an educational commonwealth. He could not be sometimes a citizen and sometimes an alien. To be admitted to this school was accounted, by its pupils, a high privilege. One of these pupils has written for me, at my request, the following reminiscence which will give to the readers not only a graphic picture of the school, but an interesting illustration of my father's method.

"When I was a boy, ten or eleven years of age, I spent one winter and a part of two summers, I think, with my grandfather, Jacob Abbott, at his home in Farmington, Maine, carrying on my studies under his supervision.

"No elements of knowledge seemed to him too abstract or difficult to interest a child, and his methods of teaching were such that they did interest the children. I studied with him, for example, some of the simple problems of Euclidean geometry, and for many years kept the blank books in which I had drawn my diagrams and written my demonstrations. His method was to make every study apply in some way or other to the actual life round about us. Two instances illustrating this method of teaching have remained in my memory for fifty years. I was studying arithmetic and came to percentage. Now my experience with my own children is that percentage as ordinarily taught in the schools is a horrible bore. It means learning rules by rote with very little conception of the practical use and operation of percentage. My grandfather solved the difficulty in this way. When we came to percentage he entrusted me with the duty of making his deposits, cheques and cash, in the village bank, which was about half a mile away. I had to write out the deposit slips and take the pass book and have the proper entry made. He made a contract with me that I was to be paid for this work on a percentage basis. I do not remember what the rate was, but let us say it was a quarter of 1 per cent. or a tenth of 1 per cent. If the latter was the rate I therefore got ten cents for making a deposit of one hundred dollars, or a fraction of ten cents for a lesser sum. Both the purpose and operation of percentage were thus fixed in my mind and by a process which was the very reverse of boresome.

"In a garden adjoining the house there was a martin box, that is to say a bird-house rather elaborately built on the top of a tall painted pole, to house the martins, a bird of the swallow family which frequents parts of New England and is welcomed by the householders both because it is picturesque in its swooping flight and because it clears the garden of insects and worms. One day a conversation like this took place between my grandfather and myself, my grandfather being at that time a man of about sixty-five years of age:

"Grandfather. L., how would you like to measure the height of a martin pole without getting within twenty-five feet of it?

"L. Pooh! It can't be done.

"Grandfather. Yes, I think you could do it if you are willing to take a little pains.

"L. Do you really think I could do it?

"Grandfather. Yes, I think you can if you are willing to take the pains that surveyors take when they build a railroad.

"L. Do they have to measure things without going near them?

"Grandfather. Yes, they have to measure the height of precipices, sometimes of mountains.

"L. (His curiosity now somewhat excited). How do they do that?

"Grandfather. By what is called triangulation and by using some interesting tables of figures called logarithms.

"To make a long story short, I was enticed by this method into studying the very simple elements of surveying, and I did measure the height of a martin pole and used a logarithm table in the process. Instead of being a dry-as-dust study which I rebelled against, it was transformed into a game which I really enjoyed. In the same way my elemental French and elemental Latin were applied to the objects and the life round about us. My grandfather was, I think, one of the pioneers in this country in the application of this principle of interesting the child in its studies.

"Quarrels and controversies between the grandchildren or the village children who came to Fewacres to play were settled by the application of this principle. A court would be organized, one of the quarrellers would be the plaintiff, the other the defendant. Witnesses would be summoned; a small jury would be empanelled and my grandfather would be the judge. If the defendant was found guilty he usually was punished by a fine of some kind, perhaps suggested by the judge, but generally determined by the jury. If it was a quarrel over a swing, for example, and the defendant was found guilty he might be sentenced not to use the swing for an hour or for a day, as the case might be, and the police who were duly appointed among the children were expected to see that the sentence was carried out. The result was that Fewacres was not only the favourite resort of the grandchildren, but the favourite resort of many of the village children, who, I am sure, like myself, had impressed upon their minds, although wholly subconsciously, some of the elemental principles of science and government that were very useful to them in after life."

Another grandchild has told me that a bank was organized with a president, a board of directors, a cashier, and a teller, in which ivory counters served as coin. Bank bills were issued, promissory notes were discounted, and all the ordinary operations of banking were carried on in what was at once a game and a study. My father used a very simple method to teach the children the difference between labour and commodities, a difference which even to this day some larger employers of labour appear not to comprehend. "Grandfather," says my informant, "would send two of us into the village to make a purchase for him. Sometimes he would tell us that if we would get the needed article he would purchase it from us, in which case, we sold it to him at a small profit, but if we could not get the article at the stores, we got nothing for our errand. Sometimes he would employ us to do the errand and then we were paid whether we succeeded or failed."

My father accumulated few books and nothing that could be called a library, but his method of using books was of a great service to his neighbours. There is an excellent village library in Farmington and its catalogue shows large and constant contributions from Fewacres, which include many of which my father was the author. He also sent periodically to this library the weekly papers and monthly magazines after their immediate use by the Fewacres' household. He took no active part in church affairs, and I do not think ever attended the monthly meeting for the transaction of church business. But he habitually attended the church service on Sunday mornings, where his presence was an inspiration to the preacher. His pastor, the Reverend George N. Marden, subsequently a professor in Colorado College, in a manuscript account of his recollections of my father, says, "Before me, at this moment, lies a note from his hand, in which, with a modest apology, he refers to the sermon of the previous day as likely to call forth various opinions and states that he wishes to state his own decided approbation." In such simple and characteristic ways as this, he showed himself to be an appreciative rather than a critical hearer.

He did not take any active part in village politics and never, so far as I know, any other active part than that of a voter in the politics of either the state or the nation. But his view of what was due to the Government under which he lived is indicated by an incident which Mr. Marden relates: "Mr. Abbott's sterling integritiy as a citizen was illustrated when having changed his legal residence from New York to Farmington he stated the amount of his taxable property. The astonished assessor exclaimed, 'Why, Mr. Abbott, if you are assessed on this entire sum you will pay a larger tax than any man in Farmington, you will pay more than your share.' Mr. Abbott quietly replied, 'I know but one way of stating the amount of my taxable property and that is to state it just as it is."'

Thus my father spent his last years peacefully and quietly in his old home, honoured by his fellow-citizens, adored by the children. He died in 1879 in the seventy-sixth year of his age. His youngest son and I were with him at the time of his death. My brother, who was stronger than I, lifted my father up during a paroxysm of pain and then laid him down again upon the pillow, saying to him, "Are you more comfortable now. Father?" and received the whispered answer, "Too comfortable. I hoped that I was going." These were, I think, his last words.

In his preface to the Franconia Stories my father states the principle by which he has been guided in all his story-writing for children: "The development of the moral sentiments in the human heart, in early life—and everything, in fact, which relates to the formation of character—is determined in a far greater degree by sympathy, and by the influence of example, than by formal precepts and didactic instruction." . . . "It is in accordance with this philosophy that these stories, though written mainly with a view to their moral influence on the hearts and dispositions of the readers, contain very little formal exhortation and instruction."

Therefore, in his stories for children, my father's religious teaching was implied, rather than directly expressed; but it was not less effective for that reason. To his Christian faith he has given expression in the Young Christian Series, though even in those volumes it is expressed, never in the abstract terms of scholastic theology, but in dramatic forms and by simple illustrations taken from our common life. Faith in a Heavenly Father as a friend and companion made known to us by the human life of Jesus of Nazareth, and a supreme desire to know his will, deserve his confidence, and cooperate with him in his work, were the secrets of my father's religious experience, the foundation of his theological philosophy, and the inspiration of his life-long industry. This simple creed I have inherited from him. It has been the substance and the inspiration of my teaching for over three quarters of a century, and for it I am indebted to lessons received and spirit imbibed from the author of the Rollo Books, the Franconia Stories, and the Young Christian Series.


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