“Our Home, The Key to a Nobler Life”

My sister-in-law found this book (Our Home, The Key to a Nobler Life written by C.E. Sargent)  and suggested all to read it so I have been reading it.  Well, worth the time. It was published in 1890 and has been out of print for some time so it is now available free.  Here are a few quotes from it.

“What a mighty responsibility rests upon him who essays to make a home, for the founding of a home is as sacred a work as the founding of a church. Indeed, every home should be a temple dedicated to divine worship, where human beings through life should worship God through the service of mutual love the highest tribute man can pay to the divine.”  Pg. 23

“The body may exist without a home, but the heart, never.”  pg 24

“Patient children are never reared by impatient parents.”

“Of all human influences those of home are the most far reaching in their results.”

Here is an entire chapter:


“It is a law of all initiate life that it is susceptible to outward and formative influences in an inverse ratio to its age. An ear of corn while it is yet green may have an entire row of its kernels removed, and when it becomes ripe it will show no marks of this piece of vegetable surgery. So the young child may have many a vice removed while he remains as plastic clay in the hands of those whose privilege it is to mold the character for eternity, and when he is old he will show no marks of the cruel knife of discipline and denial through which the change was wrought.

“But if he becomes old before the work is begun the scar will always remain, even if the experiment succeeds. A bad temper in a young child may be sweetened, but the acid temper of an old man reluctantly unites with any sweetening influences.


“We find here a striking analogy to a physical law of our being. It is a well known fact that in early childhood the osseous tissues of the body are soft and flexible. The bones may be almost doubled upon themselves without breaking, but in the old the bones are so hard and brittle that they cannot be bent the least without breaking.  We can make little or no impression upon them.  They stubbornly refuse to respond to all influences.  Surely it is true of the body, “As the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.”  But it is no less true of the mind and soul.  The disposition of an animal may be made just what we choose to make it by our treatment of it when young.

“Who does not know that the disposition o f the dog is almost wholly dependent on the manner in which the puppy is treated?  This principle is recognized in the old adage, “It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”

“Whatever may be our views concerning the moral and spiritual relations of the human to the brute creation, it cannot be denied that the laws which govern the mental life of each are essentially the same.  The difference is in quantity rather than quality.

“What a grand virtue is patience!  How charming in childhood!  How sublime in manhood!  Then let us learn a lesson from the ease with which patience is created or destroyed at will in the young animal.

“The susceptibility of children to outward influences is largely due to their power of imitation, and its power was, doubtless, given them for a wise purpose.

“Originality is not a virtue of infancy and childhood.  Hence, if we would influence the acts of a child we should set him an example, we should act as we wish him to act. Patient children are never reared by impatient parents.

” Most of the crime and misery of the world are due to the early influences of home. We may not be aware how small an influence may work the ruin of a child when he has inherited slightly vicious tendencies. By nature the disposition of a child is the sweetest thing in the world, and how beautiful, tender and sweet might become the lives of all if parents were conscious of these truths, arid would act according to their knowledge. But they so often contaminate the sweet springs of childhood with the bitterness of their own lives, that we do not wonder that the old theologians so strongly believed in total depravity and innate sinfulness.

“is neither vicious nor virtuous; it is simply innocent, and is susceptible alike to good and bad influences.

” Its safety consists alone in the watchfulness of its guardians. The soldier has his hours of duty, but the parent in whose hands is entrusted the guardianship of an immortal soul is never off duty. When the baby is asleep all the household move softly lest they awake him; but when he is awake they should move and think and speak more softly lest they awaken in him that which no nursery song can lull to sleep again.

“The young child is an apt student of human nature.  You do not deceive him as you perhaps think. The knowledge of human nature, of the motive that impel us to actions, comes not from reason nor from observation.  It is an intuitive knowledge and is always keen in the child.  It acts, too with far greater vigor between the child and parent, especially the mother, than between the child and others.  Every look of the mother’s eye is interpreted by her child with far greater accuracy than the most profound student of the anatomy of expression could interpret it.

“The sharpest merchant may not detect the sign of dishonesty in the father’s face so quickly as the child.

“Parents, your child is the blank paper on which is to be written the record of your own lives.  Be careful then what you allow to be written there, for the world will read it.  Do you not see that through this principle by which you are instinctively en rapport with your child, an awful responsibility is thrown upon you?   The secrets of your inmost soul are the copy which the trembling hand of your child is trying to write.

“The word influence is the most incomprehensible, the most vast and far reaching in its significance, of all words.  We seldom use it in any but a literal sense, but in every degree of its true meaning there is the shadow of infinity.

“Philosophers tell us, not in jest, but in the profoundest ca est, that every foot fall on the pavement jars the sun, and every pebble dropped into the ocean moves the continents with vibrations that never cease.  Your hand gives motion to a pendulum, and in that act you have produced an effect which shall endure through eternity. The vibration of the pendulum as a mass ceases, but only because its motion has been transformed from mass motion to molecular motion. Had it been suspended in a vacuum and been made to swing without friction at the point of suspension, it would have vibrated on forever, but the friction which is inevitable, and the resistance of the air gradually bring it to rest, and we say the motion has ceased, but this is not true. The motion has not ceased, it has simply become invisible. At every vibration a part of the motion was changed at the point of suspension and in the air into the invisible undulations of heat and electricity. A moment ago the pendulum was swinging, but now infinitely small atoms are swinging in its stead, and the aggregate motion of all those atoms is just equal to the motion of the pendulum at first. These waves of atomic motion expand and radiate from the points of origin, extending on and on and on, past planets and stars, beating and dashing against their brazen bosoms as the waves of the ocean beat the rocky shore. This is not the language of fancy; it is the veritable philosophy, the demonstrated facts of science. Your will gave birth to motion communicated along the nerve of your arm to the pendulum, and that motion has gone past your recall, on its eternal errand among the stars. What a solemn thought!  You are the parent of the infinite!

“And yet this illustration but faintly shadows the awfulness of human influence.   If a simple motion of your hand is fraught with eternal consequences, what shall we say of the influences of your mind?  They shall live as long as the throne of the Infinite.  Oh, that we might impress upon the minds of mother and father the awful truth that an influence in its very nature is eternal.  Not a word or thought or deed of all the myriad dead but lives to-day in the character of our words and deeds and thoughts.  We are the outgrowth of all the past, the grand resultant of all the worlds, past forces.  Only God can measure the influence of a human thought.

“No stream from its source

Flows seaward, how lonely soever its course,

But what some land is gladdened.  No star ever rose

And set without influence somewhere.  Who knows

What earth needs from earth’s lowest creature?  No life

Can be pure in its purpose and strong in its strife,

And all life not be purer and stronger thereby.”


“A mother speaks a fretful word to a child at a critical moment, when just upon his trembling lips hangs the ready word of penitence, and in his eye a tear, held back by the thinnest veil through which a single tender glance might pierce.  But the tender glance is withheld.  The penitence grows cold upon his lip, the tear creeps back to its fountain the heart grows harder day by day, until that mother mourns over a wayward child, the neighborhood over a rude boy, the city over a reckless youth, the state over a dangerous man, and the nation over the sad havoc of a dark assassin.  Who can trace to its ultimate effect that fretful word through all its ramifications to infinite consequences? That word shall reverberate through the halls of eternity when planets are dust and stars are ashes.

“Does any one doubt that the infinite results, in the form of modified thought, speech and action, yet to be experienced from the assassination of our late beloved president, are all traceable to the early influences of home? Who can tell how much of that enormous crime must be shouldered by the parents of Guiteau? But if the ultimate consequence of the assassin’s evil deed can never be estimated, neither can the good deeds of his victim. Truly may it be said of the immortal Garfield,

Such life as his can ne’er be lost;

It blends with unborn blood,

And through the ceaseless flow of years

Moves with the mighty flood.

His life is ours, he lives in us,

We feel the potent thrill,

And through the coming centuries

The world shall feel it still.


The web of human life is wove

Not with a single strand,

But every grand and noble man

Holds one within his hand.

And in that pulseless hand to-day

There lies a strand of power,

Whose gentle draft shall still be felt

Till time’s remotest hour.


“Of all human influences those of home are the most far reaching in their results.  The mutual influence of brothers and sisters may be almost incalculable.  There are many men who owe their honor, their integrity and their manhood to the influence of pure minded sisters.  Sisters usually have it in their power to shape the character of their brothers as they choose.  There is naturally a pure and holy affection existing between brothers and sisters.  It is natural for all brothers to feel and believe that, in some way, their sisters are purer and better than others, and sisters also believe that their brothers are nobler than the brothers of their associates.  This sentiment is so universal that we cannot help believing it was ordained for a wise purpose. Of course there is the element of deception in it, but it is one of nature’s wise deceptions.  She deceives us, or tries to deceive us, when she paints what seems a solid bow upon the canvas of the sky.  She deceives the superstitious and ignorant when she flings her chain of molten gold around the dusky shoulders of the night.  But these deceptions are not such as to cast any reflections upon her integrity.  So we may believe that this sweet deception which makes angels of sisters and heroes of brothers was divinely ordered to unite brothers and sisters in closest communion and to bring them both within the enchanted circle of home influence.


“I shot an arrow in the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where.


“I breathed a song into the air,

It fell on earth, I knew not where.


“Long, long aqfterwards in an oak

I found the arrow still unbroken;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.”


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