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Titlepage Illustration: The Faithful Guardian. more
A small child, presumably a little girl, wearing a frilly lace bonnet, a dress, white stockings and tiny slippers, sits or half-kneels on the floor clutching a small dog—a puppy judging by the size of its paws—by the neck and mouth. The infant girl is looking straight towards the viewer. The picture is captioned “The Faithful Guardian.”
The poem (a few pages later) was originally published as “Etty’s Rover” by the poet and writer Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 – 1838), signing herself L.E.L.
The Faithful Guardian, by L.E.L.
Thou lovely and thou happy child,
Ah! how I envy thee!
I should be glad to change our state,
If such a change might be.
And yet it is a lingering joy
To watch a thing so fair
To think that in our weary life
Such pleasant moments are.
A little monarch thou art there,
And of a fairy realm,
Without a foe to overthrow,
A care to overwhelm.
Thy world is in thy own glad will,
And in each fresh delight,
And in thy unused heart, which makes
Its own, its golden light.
With no misgivings in thy past,
Thy future with no fear;
The present circles thee around,
An angel’s atmosphere.
How little is the happiness
That will content a child—
A favourite dog, a sunny fruit,
A blossom growing wild!
A word will fill the little heart
With pleasure and with pride;
It is a harsh, a cruel thing,
That such can be denied.
And yet how many weary hours
Those joyous ereatures know;
How much of sorrow and restraint
They to their elders owe!
How much they suffer from our faults!
How much from our mistakes!
How often, too, mistaken zeal
An infant’s misery makes!
We overrule and over-teach,
We curb and we confine,
And put the heart to school too soon,
To learn our narrow line.
No; only taught by love to love,
Seems childhood’s natural task;
Affection, gentleness, and hope
Are all its brief years ask.
Enjoy thy happiness, sweet child,
With careless heart and eye;
Enjoy those few bright hours which now,
E’en now are hurrying by.
And let the gazer on thy face
Grow glad with watching thee,
And better, kinder;—such at least
Its influence on me.