We sometimes observe that spoiled children contract a habit of annoying quite wantonly those who have charge of them, and seem to measure their own sense of well-being, not by what they do, but by the degree of reaction they can cause. It is vain to get rid of them by not minding them: if purring and humming is not noticed, they squeal and screech; then if you chide and console them, they find the experiment succeeds, and they begin again. The child will sit in your arms contented if you do nothing. If you take a book and read, he commences hostile operations.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Address Delivered in Concord on the Anniversary of the Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies, August 1, 1884," Miscellanies (1883, repr. 1903).
Emerson is comparing the behavior of slaves and slave holders to spoiled children and their parents.