February 28, 1857

28 February 1857


Entered according Act of Congress in the year 1855, by ROBERT BONNER, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.


Why will parents use that expression? What right have you to have a favorite child? The All-Father maketh his sun to shine alike upon the daisy and the rose. Where would you be, were His care measured by your merits or deserts? Is your child none the less your child, that nature has denied him a fluent tongue, or forgotten her cunning, when in careless mood she fashioned his limbs? Because beauty beams not from the eye, is there no intelligence there? Because the rosy flush mantles not the pale cheek, does the blood never tingle at your coldness or neglect? Because the passive arms are not wound about your neck, has the soul no passionate yearnings for parental love? Oh, how often does God, more merciful than you, passing by the Josephs of your household, stoop in his pity and touch those quivering lips with a live coal from off the altar! How often does this neglected one, burst from out the chrysalis in which your criminal coldness has enveloped him, and soaring far above your wildest parental imaginings, compel from your ambition, what he could not gain from your love?

How often does he replenish with liberal hand, the coffers, which the "favorite child," in the selfishness which you fostered, has drained of their last fraction. "He that is first shall be last, and the last shall be first." Let parents write this on their heart tablets. Let them remember it when they repulse the little clinging arms, or turn a deaf ear to the childish tale of sorrow. Oh, gather up those clinging tendrils of affection with gentlest touch; trample them not with the foot of haste or insensibility rudely in the dust.

And they in the darkest of days shall be
Greenness, and beauty, and strength to thee.


There was not a child in the house, not one; I was sure of it, when I first went in. Such a spick-and-span look as it had! Chairs—grown-up chairs, plastered straight up against the wall; books arranged by rule and compass; no dear little careless finger-marks on furniture, doors, or window-glass; no hoop, or ball, or doll, or mitten, or basket, or picture-book on the premises; not a pin, or a shred on the angles and squares of the immaculate carpet; the tassels of the window shades, at which baby-fingers always make such a dead set, as fresh as if just from the upholsterers. I sat down at the well-polished window, and looked across the street. At the upper window of a wooden house opposite, I saw a little bald baby, tied into a high chair, speculating upon the panorama in the street, while its little fat hands frantically essayed to grab distant pedestrians on the sidewalk. Its mother sat sewing diligently by its side. Happy woman! she has a baby! She thought so, too; for bye and bye she threw down her work, untied the fettering handkerchief, took the child from its prison-house, and covered it with kisses. Ah! she had heard a step upon the stairs—the step! And now there are two to kiss the baby; for John has come to his dinner, and giving both mother and child a kiss that makes my lips work, he tosses the babe up in his strong arms, while its mother puts dinner on the table.

But, pshaw!—here come the old maids I was sent to see. I hear the rustle of their well-preserved silks in the entry. I feel proper all over. Vinegar and icicles! how shall I ever get through with it? Now the door opens. What a bloodless look they have!—how dictionary-ish they speak!—how carefully they lower themselves into their chairs, as if the cushions were stuffed with live kittens!—how smooth their ruffs and ribbons!

Bibs and pinafores! Give me the upper room in the wooden house, with kissing John and the bald baby!

Source Text:

Fanny Fern, "The "Favorite" Child; The House Without a Baby" The New-York Ledger (28 February 1857 ): [4]

To cite this project:

Fanny Fern, "The "Favorite" Child; The House Without a Baby" Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger Ed. Kevin McMullen (2014) http://fannyfern.org.

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