Quiet Talks by Samuel Dickey: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on Home Ideals: 71. The Brooding Father.

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Quiet Talks by Samuel Dickey: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on Home Ideals: 71. The Brooding Father.

TOPIC: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on Home Ideals (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 71. The Brooding Father.

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The Brooding Father.

And the father's part during this critical time is only less than that of the mother. If the mother's influence be the greater at this time, his is yet very great, beyond any power to estimate, or words to try to tell. His attiude toward the mother has great influence upon her, and so upon the child. If ever a man acts well the part of lover it should be at that time. His eager forethought for her comfort, and to spare her strength, his tenderness of touch, and his lover devotedness,—the breathing of a warm fresh love into her life daily, will have enormous influence.

And his thought toward the coming child will be moulding him directly. He can as really be brooding over the child in spirit and prayer, as the mother is actually. And the effect will be incalculably great.

There is a striking story that came to us out of real life, at very close range, that illustrates not only the influence of the mother upon the child, but the marked influence of another upon the mother and so in turn upon the child. The story came to us from a friend who got it directly, a number of years ago, from the woman who tells the story.

This woman was an English woman who came to the United States to join the Brook Farm Community at West Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts. After being there awhile she decided to go to California, and it was on the way out there that the incident came to her of which she told our friend. It was in the early days of the settling of our West, when the first railroads were being built across the Mississippi Valley States.

This English woman had gotten as far as the Middle West on her journey, when indisposition led her to leave the train to rest for a few days. She stopped in the only home, that of the man who kept the railroad station, and who combined crude hotel-keeping with his other occupation. There was no town. The man and his wife and children were all quite common, ordinary people, with one exception.

The youngest child was totally different from all the others. She seemed a being of a different world. Fine features, keen thoughtful eyes, the quickness and lightness of a bird in movement, and a gentle refined spirit, gave her a, distinction, of which of course she was not conscious, but which stood out all the more strikingly because of the contrast with the other children, and with her father and mother.

The visitor noticed this constantly, and then made bold to speak of it. The mother said gently, with a touch of reverence in her manner, "She is the child of a woman lying out under that tree over yonder," pointing to a grave-stone not far off. "Oh! she is my own daughter, but she was made so different from the others by that woman's influence." Then she told the story.

The woman had been travelling west, and being taken sick was compelled to leave the train at this point, and lived in the home as this later woman was doing. That was several months before the child was born. Her sickness continued for a number of months. It was during the open part of the year. She used to sit out under the trees reading and talking with the mother of the child. One of her favourite books was Scott's poems, and her favourite poem, "The Lady of the Lake."

She would read aloud, or have her hostess read to her, when unable to read herself. She would talk of the lady in the story until the mother of the child came to idealize the lady of the poem as the perfection of sweet, young womanhood. Her eye and heart were filled with the vision of fair Ellen as Scott so winsomely pictures her:

"The maiden paused, as if again

She thought to catch the distant strain

With head up-raised, and look intent,

With eye and ear attentive bent,

And locks flung back, and lips apart,

Like monument of Grecian art,

In listening mood, she seemed to stand

The guardian Naiad of the strand.

"And ne'er did Grecian chisel trace

A Nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace,

Of fairer form, or lovelier face:

A foot more light, a step more true,

Ne'er from the heath-flower dash'd the dew;

E'en the slight harebell raised its head,

Elastic from her airy tread:

What though upon her speech there hung

The accents of the mountain tongue,—

Those silver sounds, so soft, so clear,

The listener held his breath to hear!

"A Chieftain's daughter seemed the maid,

Her satin snood, her silken plaid,

Her golden brooch, such birth betray'd.

And seldom was a snood amid

Such wild luxuriant ringlets hid,

Whose glossy black to shame might bring

The plumage of the raven's wing;

And seldom o'er a breast so fair,

Mantled a plaid with modest care;

And never brooch the folds combined

Above a heart more good and kind.

Her kindness and her worth to spy,

You need but gaze on Ellen's eye;

Not Katrine, in her mirror blue,

Gives back the shaggy banks more true,

Than every free-born glance confess'd

The guileless movements of her breast;

Whether joy danced in her dark eye,

Or woe or pity claimed a sigh,

Or filial love was glowing there,

Or meek devotion pour'd a prayer,

Or tale of injury call'd forth

The indignant spirit of the North." ("The Lady of the Lake," Scott.)

No doubt this woman's talk was a very large part of the influence. After months the woman grew weaker, and then died, and was tenderly laid away under the tree, and her grave marked. Soon after this child was born, and named Ellen, and grew up into the child the English woman had admired so much. Is it not a winsome tale out of life? Coming to us so directly it has all the peculiar force of a bit of real life.

There was shown in a remarkable way the power that one person may exert upon another's child at that impressionable time. Not only had the mother shaped the child, but the other had shaped the mother, and so in turn the child had been shaped. The thoughtful father can exert both sorts of influence upon his child, directly by his own thought and spirit, and indirectly but tremendously upon the mother.

Did Mary brood prayerfully over the wondrous babe those long months before He came? Who can doubt it? Did Joseph brood tenderly over Mary as one entrusted to him by God, and in his heart brood over the coming child? Who can doubt that? Did the Father above brood over both human mother and divine Son all those months? Who doubts that?

We may yield ourselves habitually to our Father's brooding presence, and so be being made afresh into His image. And as we brood habitually over the coming one, the image being imprinted anew from within and above upon us, shall come to that new face that by and by shall look up into ours.