Chapter III


“When, like a heavenly sign
Compact of many golden stars, the princely child did shine.”—
(Illiads, Book Six (Chapman’s Trs.).)


                    “How like an angel I came down!
                    How bright are all things here!
                    When first among His works I did appear
                    O how His glory did me crown!
                    The world resembled His eternity,
                    In which my soul did walk;
                    And everything that I did see
                    Did with me talk.

                    .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .

          Now, if such be the child’s natural estate, what is our part? Parents are right enough in thinking that this fine sense of dignity, this luminous intelligence, grace their child, should help him through life, and are by all means to be preserved. But they make a fool of the child when the magnification of his family are the method they adopt. Whatever elements of dignity and greatness do exist in a family will have, we may be sure, enormous influence
on its young scions; and the less said the better. But young Pendennis was brought up in an atmosphere of spurious dignity, none the less false because it was believed in by ‘our family.’ As a consequence, he was always superior to his situation, and, indeed, that is a human propensity which needs not be accentuated: at school, at college, in the world, notwithstanding a kindly and generous nature, he was never quite genial and simple, and when he had outgrown ‘airs,’ he took on the superiority of the cynic.
          How fine a start, on the other hand, would the child have whose parents recognised his distinction as that of a human being’ for this, after all, is no common state; it is distinction in each case. And what a world of persons, sweet and serviceable, we should have if each child were brought up to be all that is in him!

[1] Thomas Traherne (1636-1674).

[2] Thomas Traherne (1636-1674).

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