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of what is natural while they do so. Here is a poor lad who has
never felt a parent’s care, who has scarcely known anything all his
life but suffering and sorrow, presented to a man who he is told is
his father, and whose first act is to signify his intention of putting
an end to his short term of happiness, of consigning him to his old
fate, and taking him from the only friend he has ever had--which
is yourself. If Nature, in such a case, put into that lad’s breast but
one secret prompting which urged him towards his father and
away from you, she would be a liar and an idiot.’

Nicholas was delighted to find that the old gentleman spoke so
warmly, and in the hope that he might say something more to the
same purpose, made no reply.

‘The same mistake presents itself to me, in one shape or other,
at every turn,’ said brother Charles. ‘Parents who never showed
their love, complain of want of natural affection in their children;
children who never showed their duty, complain of want of natural
feeling in their parents; law-makers who find both so miserable
that their affections have never had enough of life’s sun to develop
them, are loud in their moralisings over parents and children too,
and cry that the very ties of nature are disregarded. Natural
affections and instincts, my dear sir, are the most beautiful of the
Almighty’s works, but like other beautiful works of His, they must
be reared and fostered, or it is as natural that they should be
wholly obscured, and that new feelings should usurp their place,
as it is that the sweetest productions of the earth, left untended,
should be choked with weeds and briers. I wish we could be
brought to consider this, and remembering natural obligations a
little more at the right time, talk about them a little less at the
wrong one.’

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