1861 | Mississippi River

Milk & Rosy Laughter

Anthony Trollope is astonished by spoiled American babies.

I must protest that American babies are an unhappy race. They eat and drink just as they please; they are never punished; they are never banished, snubbed, and kept in the background as children are kept with us; and yet they are wretched and uncomfortable.

My heart has bled for them as I have heard them squalling by the hour together in agonies of discontent and dyspepsia. Can it be, I wonder, that children are happier when they are made to obey orders and are sent to bed at six o’clock than when allowed to regulate their own conduct; that bread and milk is more favorable to laughter and soft childish ways than beefsteaks and pickles three times a day; that an occasional whipping, even, will conduce to rosy cheeks? It is an idea which I should never dare to broach to an American mother, but I must confess that after my travels on the western continent my opinions have a tendency in that direction. Beefsteaks and pickles certainly produce smart little men and women. Let that be taken for granted. But rosy laughter and winning childish ways are, I fancy, the produce of bread and milk.

Contributor

Anthony Trollope

From North America. Some thirty years prior to Trollope’s travels that afforded him the above observations, his mother, Frances, had taken his two sisters to live in Tennessee, during which time she noted that Americans “consume an extraordinary quantity of bacon. Ham and beefsteaks appear morning, noon, and night. In eating, they mix things together with the strangest incongruity imaginable.” Trollope published forty-seven novels, among them the series of six set in the fictional town of Barsetshire, and died at the age of sixty-seven in 1882.