Godey's Lady's Book
THE MOTHER'S LOVE.
BY MRS. ELLIS.
If the love of a mother be considered as an instinct which pervades all animated nature, it is not the less beautiful when exhibited in the human character, for being diffused throughout creation; because it proves that the Author of our being knew that the distinctive attributes of humanity would be insufficient to support the mother through her anxieties, vexations, and cares. He knew that reason would be making distinctions between the worthy and unworthy, and prematurely consigning the supposed reprobate to ruin; that fancy would make selections, and dote upon one while it neglected another; that caprice would destroy the bond of domestic union; and that intellectual pursuits would often take precedence of domestic duties. And therefore he poured into woman's heart the same instinct which impels the timid bird to risk the last extremity of danger for her helpless young. Nor let any one think contemptuously of this peculiar capability of loving, because under the extinct it is shared with the brute. It is not a sufficient recommendation to our respect that it comes immediately from the hand of our Creator -- that we have no power to control or subdue it -- that it is "strong as death" -- and lastly, that it imbues the mind of the mother with equal tenderness for her infirm, or wayward, or unlovely child, as for him who gives early promise of personal as well as mental beauty?. But for this wonderful provision in human nature, what would become of the cripple, the diseased, the petulant, or the perverse? Who would be found to fulfil the hard duties of serving the ungrateful, ministering to the dissatisfied, and watching over the hopeless? No. There is no instance in which the providential care of our Heavenly Father is more beautifully exhibited than in that of a mother's love. Winding its silken cords alike around every natural object, whether worthy or unworthy, it creates a bond which unkindness cannot break. It pursues the wanderer without weariness, and supports the feeble without fainting. Neither appalled by danger, nor hindered by difficulty, it can labor without reward, and persevere without hope. "Many waters cannot quench" it; and when the glory has vanished from the brow of the beloved one, when summer friends have turned away, and guilt, and misery, and disgrace have usurped their place, it steals into the soul of the outcast like the sunbeams within the cell of the prisoner, lighting the darker dungeon of the polluted heart, bringing along with it fond recollections of past happiness, and wooing back to fresh participation in the light and the gladness that still remain for the broken and contrite spirit.
If the situation of a wife brings woman to a right understanding of her own character, that of a mother leads to a strict knowledge of her own principles. Scarcely is any one so depraved as to teach her child what she conscientiously believes to be wrong. And yet teach it she must, for its "clear, pure eyes" are fixed upon hers to learn their meaning ,and its infant accents are inquiring out the first principles of good and evil. How, with such a picture before her, would any woman dare to teach what she did not implicitly, as well as rationally, and from mature examination, believe to be true? In a few days -- hours -- nay, moments, that child may be a cherub in the courts of Heaven. What if a stain should have been upon its wings, and that stain the impress of a mother's hand! or if its earthly life should be prolonged, it is the foundation of the important future that the mother lays. Other governors in after years may take upon themselves the tuition of her child and lead him through the paths of academic lore, but the early bias, the bent of the moral character, the first principles of spiritual life, will be hers, and hers the lasting glory or the lasting shame.
There is no scene throughout the whole range of our observation more strikingly illustrative of intellectual, moral, and even physical beauty than that presented by a domestic circle, where a mother holds her proper place, as the source of tenderness, the centre of affection, the bond of social union, the founder of each salutary plan, the umpire in all contention, and the general fountain of cheerfulness, hope, and consolation. It is to clear up the unjust suspicion that such a mother steps forward; to ward off the unmerited blow; to defend the wounded spirit from the injury to which it would sullenly submit; to encourage the hopeless, when thrown back in the competition of talent; to point out to those who have been defeated other aims in which they may yet succeed; to stand between the timid and the danger they dread; and, on behalf of each, and all, to make their peace with offended authority, promising, hoping, and believing, that they will never willingly commit the same fault again.