The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 39
Naming of Infants
Naming of Infants.
The public identification of a child with the Secular party, may be accepted as an indication of its parents' desire to give their infant the advantages afforded by unfettered thought during the formation of its character. As diversity of organisation precludes uniformity of belief, we cannot of course guarantee that in after life our young friend shall profess any particular class of opinions. Still, by keeping its mind free from the influence of theological creeds, we enable it the better to acquire a more liberal education than is permitted by the conventional faith of the Church. During infancy, the imagination frequently revels in the ideal; too much care, therefore, cannot be taken to protect the child from the beguilements of superstition. For it is in the sunny days of childhood, when the heart knows no care, when sweet innocence beams on the cheek, and hope sparkles in the eye; when the mind in its purest simplicity is unable to detect the snare, it is then the seeds are sown which in after years bear such unfortunate fruit. Let the faculties be page 3 fairly developed before the judgment is taxed with the mysteries and perplexities of theology. Endeavour to place before the young the true and the beautiful in nature, assuring them that to understand and appreciate such realities, should be the real aim of their lives. Theological prejudice and religious bigotry, are ever the great obstacles to the realisation of this object. Children must be protected from their evil influence.
Viewing this emblem of innocence, we here recognise lineaments of love and simplicity, which are an index to the goodness of its nature. The germs of virtue are here awaiting judicious cultivation, they will then probably bud forth and ripen into moral fruit. Youth is impressible. The conduct of children, in after life, as a rule, is a reflex of their early education. Encircle them with pure influences, place before them examples of integrity, control them with love and discretion, foster the desire for excellence which is allied with human affections at the dawn of life, and you will thereby open the avenues to the purest instincts of their nature, and knit a bond of union between them and their parents which all the turmoil of life and strife of the world will fail to sever. Seek to win the affections of children with love, not repel them with fear; inspire hope and joy, awaken not dread and despair. The infant mind is sensitive, and requires to be irradiated with smiles, not darkened with gloom. Parental indifference, harsh treatment, and cruel frowns, page 4 produce stultified intellects and unpleasant dispositions; but kindness, care, and forbearance evoke intelligence and cheerfulness of conduct.
Henceforth the object of our present solicitude will be known as—
[Here name the child.]
And we sincerely hope that in after life he may have reason to rejoice in his fellowship with us. May the principles of Freethought enable him to brave successfully the battle of life. And as he sails o'er the billows of time, may experience increase his guiding power, that when arriving in the harbour of maturity, he Shall have acquired sufficient knowledge and skill to regulate his further voyage. And when the evening of his existence has arrived, may he obtain consolation from the knowledge that his conduct has won the approval of the wise and the good, and that to the best of his ability, it has been faithful to the mission of life.
London: Austin & Co., 17, Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, E.C. 1869.
Price one Halfpenny.