The Child’s Judgment

Photo by Bernard Hoffman

I heard the late Lord Hyde tell the story of one of his friends who, returning from Italy after three-years absence, wanted to examine his nine- or ten-year-old son’s progress. They went for a walk one evening with the boy and his governor in a field where schoolboys were playing at flying kites. The father asked his son, in passing, “Where is the kite whose shadow is here?” Without hesitation, without lifting his head, the child said, “Over the highway.” “And, indeed,” added Lord Hyde, “the highway was between us and the sun.” The father at this response kissed his son and, leaving his examination at that, went away without saying anything. The next day he sent the governor the title to a lifetime pension in addition to his salary.

What a man that father was, and what a son was promised him! The question suits his age precisely; the response is quite simple. But see what it implies about the incisiveness of the child’s judgment! It is thus that Aristotle’s pupil tamed that famous steed which no horseman had been able to break.