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The conversation had somehow turned upon parents
in plays who were depicted as turning their children
out of doors for disobedience, and incidents were cited
in actual life where the same thing had been done.
These were pronounced very unnatural, and much indignation
was expressed at their occurrence. One
instance, in particular, was named that seemed like the


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recital of an old-world tale, where a tyrannical father
had shut his door against his daughter for the offence
of loving and marrying one obnoxious to him, and she
had sickened and died with not one word of forgiveness
or message of love from his cold lips, and he had
denied her even the honor of a formal attendance at her
funeral. “Shame! shame!” was the cry; “how unnatural!”
Dr. Spooner raised his finger. The glove
was off, as though he were fearful the intervention of
thread would disturb the electric force of the gesture.
“Not unnatural,” said he; “pardon me, but to my view
the conduct of such a father is the most natural thing in
the world. Why, do you ask? Because the relation
between such father and daughter is entirely natural,
without one ray of spiritual light to illumine it, without
one feeling of spiritual sympathy to cement it. Such
fathers are the Dombeys, who are incapable of sympathetic
feeling; who marry and raise families, and cultivate
pride for affection, which is tested in scenes like
the one named. Their marriages are conventional, and
their offspring partake of the same conventionality.
They are proud of their children, as they might be of
their horses, and the world calls it affection; but, at
the first breath of opposition to their rule or inclination,
from a child that dares to love, the offended pride turns
the child out of doors, and has no remorseful feelings
afterwards for the act. Love does not thus. It may at
times storm and rave at opposition, where the hopes of
a lifetime are blasted by wilfulness — inherited wilfulness,
maybe — on the part of children; but where true
affection is, obdurate pride, anger, frustrated intention,
everything yields to its gentle pleadings, that never
plead in vain. Depend upon it, there is nothing unnatural
about the case you have named.”