nourishment it may safely receive and the length of time that may intervene between tenders of supplies. That these judgments are far from infallible is well known. One mother of five living children confessed to me that she had lost one child, starved it in the process of learning that her lactation furnished a substance little more nutritious than water.
Grown older, the babe does not know the danger of touching a red-hot stove. How should it know? It is without experience. The mother's impulse is to rescue the tender, white baby-hand. Is she wise in interposing this restraint? I think she is not. If the child is to have bayoneted sentries always on guard between it and experience, it can only grow surreptitiously. I say "bayoneted" advisedly, since the hand interposed between the baby and the stove not infrequently emphasizes its power with a blow which gives more pain than the burn would have given, while its value as experience may be represented by the minus sign.
The theory that it is the duty of parents to provide for the needs of their young children, and of children to obey their parents, and, in their age, to support them, is so generally accepted that I shall rouse a storm of indignation by asserting that there are no duties.
While a cursory glance at the subject may seem to show a denial of equal freedom in the refusal of a parent to support his child, a more careful study will reveal the truth that, so long as he does not hinder the activities of any one nor compel any other person or persons to undertake the task which he has relinquished, he cannot be said to violate the law of equal freedom. Therefore his associates may not compel him to provide for his child, though they may forcibly prevent him from aggressing upon it. They may prevent acts; they may not compel the performance of actions.
It will, perhaps, be well to anticipate at this point a question sure to be asked during the discussion.
Is it not aggression on the part of parents to usher into existence a child for which they are either unable or unwilling to provide?
Much may be said in reply.
First: In any association differences of opinion would arise as to whether it was aggression or not; these differences would imply doubt, and the doubt would make forcible prevention, even if practicable, unjustifiable.
Second: This doubt would be strengthened by consideration of the fact that no one could be able to predict with certainty nine months previous to the birth of a child that at the time of its birth its parents would be unable to provide sustenance for it.
Third: It would be further strengthened by the knowledge that death is always open to those who find life intolerable, and, so long as persons seek to prolong existence, they cannot properly complain of those who thrust it upon them. A young babe does not question whether the milk it feeds upon flows from its mother's breast or from the udder of a cow, and should it, with dawning intelligence, feel disturbed in mind or distressed in body by reason of its relations towards its environments, it will, by then, have learned the art of dying.
And now, having opened a gulf which swallows up duty, shall I be able to allay the consternation of those who have substituted the worship of this for their repudiated worship of another unsubstantial God?
It has seemed to me that, generally speaking, people's love for their children is in inverse proportion to their love of God and duty. However
this may be,—and I will admit that, although parallel and pertinent, it is