Charles Lamb

The Duty Of A Brother

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Why on your sister do you look,
Octavius, with an eye of scorn,
As scarce her presence you could brook?--
Under one roof you both were born.

Why, when she gently proffers speech,
Do you ungently turn your head?
Since the same sire gave life to each;
With the same milk ye both were fed.

Such treatment to a female, though
A perfect stranger she might be,
From you would most unmanly show;
In you to her 'tis worse to see.

When any ill-bred boys offend her,
Showing their manhood by their sneers,
It is your business to defend her
'Gainst their united taunts and jeers.

And not to join the illiberal crew
In their contempt of female merit;
What's bad enough in them, from you
Is want of goodness, want of spirit.

What if your rougher out-door sports
Her less robustious spirits daunt;
And if she join not the resorts
Where you and your wild playmates haunt:

Her milder province is at home;
When your diversions have an end,
When over-toiled from play you come,
You'll find in her an in-doors friend.

Leave not your sister to another;
As long as both of you reside
In the same house, who but her brother
Should point her books, her studies guide?

If Nature, who allots our cup,
Than her has made you stronger, wiser;
It is that you, as you grow up,
Should be her champion, her adviser.

It is the law that hand intends
Which framed diversity of sex;
The man the woman still defends,
The manly boy the girl protects.

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