Sunday, January 7, 2018

Maternal Love

       If there is one mortal feeling free from the impurities of earthly frailty that tells in its slightest breathings of its celestial origin, it is that of a mother's love - a mother's chaste, overwhelming and everlasting love of her children.
       The name of a mother is our childhood's talisman, our refuge and safeguard in all our mimic misery; 'tis the first half-formed word that falls from a babbling tongue; the first idea that dawns upon the mind; the first, the fondest and the most lasting tie in which affection can bind the heart of man.
       It is not a feeling of yesterday or to-day ; it is from the beginning the same and unchangeable ; it owes its being to this world, but is independent and self-existent, enduring while one pulse of life animates the breast that fosters it; and if there be anything of mortality which survives the grave, surely its best and noble passion will never perish.
"Maternal Affection" print from 1846.
       Oh! it is a pure and holy emanation from Heaven's mercy, implanted in the breast of woman for the dearest and wisest purposes, to be at once her truest and most sacred pleasure, and the safety and blessing of her offspring.
       'Tis not selfish passion, depending for its permanency on the reciprocation of its advantages; but in its sincerity it casteth out itself, and when the welfare of that object is at stake, it putteth away fear, and knoweth not weariness. It is not excited by form or feature, but rather, by a happy perversion of perception, imbues all things with imaginary beauty. It watches over our helpless infancy with the ceaseless benignity of a guardian angel, anticipates every childish wish, humors every childish fancy, soothes every transient sorrow, sings our sweet lullaby to rest, and cradles us on its warm and throbbing breast, and when pain and sickness prey upon the fragile form, what medicine is there like a mother's kiss, what healing pillow like a mother's bosom!
       And when launched upon the wide ocean of a tempestuous world, what eye gazes on our adventurous voyage with half the eagerness of maternal fondness. amid the sad yet not unpleasing contest of hopes, and fears, and deep anxieties?
       When the rugged path of life has been bravely, patiently and nobly trodden - when prosperity has smiled upon us - when virtue has upheld us amid the world's temptations - virtue which she herself first planted in us - and when fame has bound her laurels round us, is there a heart that throbs with a more lively or greater pleasure?
       Yet it is not prosperity, with her smile and beauty, that tries the purity and fervor of a mother's love; it is in the dark and dreary precincts of adversity, amid the cold frowns of an unfeeling world, in poverty and despair, in sickness and in sorrow, that it shines with a brightness beyond mortality, and, stifling the secret of its own bosom, strives but to pour balm and consolation on the wounded sufferer; and the cup of misery, filled to overflowing, serves but to bind them more firmly and dearly to each other, as the storms of winter bid the sheltering ivy twine itself more closely round the withering oak.
       Absence cannot chill a mother's love, nor can even vice itself destroy a mother's kindness. The lowest as degradations of human frailty cannot wholly blot out the remembrance of the first fond yearnings of your affection, or the faint memorial of primeval innocence; nay, it seems as if the very consciousness of the abject state of her erring child more fully developed the mighty force of that mysterious passion, which can forget and forgive all things; and though the youth of her fairest hopes may be as one cast off from God and man, yet will she not forsake him, but participate in all things save his wickedness!
       I speak not of a mother's agonies when bending over the bed of death! nor of Rachel weeping for her children, because they were not!
       The love of a father may be as deep and sincere, yet it is calmer, and, perhaps, more calculating, and more fully directed in the great periods and ends of life; it cannot descend to those minutiae of affection, those watchful cares for the minor comforts and gratifications of existence, which a mother, from the finer sensibilities of her nature, can more readily appreciate.
       The pages of history abound with the records of maternal love in every age and clime, and every rank of life ; but it is a lesson of never-ending presence, which the heart can feel and acknowledge, and needs not example to teach how to venerate.
       Can there be a being so vile and odious, so dead to nature's impulse, who, in return for constant care, such unvarying kindness, can willingly or heedlessly wound the heart that cherished him, and forsake the lonely one who nursed and sheltered him; who can madly sever the sweetest bonds of human union, and bring down the gray hairs of his parents with sorrow to the grave; who can leave them in their old age to solitude and poverty, while he wantons in the pride of undeserved prosperity?
       If there be, why let him abjure the name of man and herd with the beasts that perish, or let him feel to distraction that worst of human miseries.

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child." - Shakespeare.  

"A babe is a mother's anchor." - Beecher

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