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rjarks and characters of Nature, and the qualities and operations of surrounding objects, are as much unknown to him as the sciences of Philology, Mathematics and Astronomy, to the untutored savage; and, consequently, require a certain degree of attention and reasoning before the knowledge of them can be acquired.
The little student, however, prosecutes his observations and studies with apparent pleasure, and with evident marks of industry, and soon acquires pretty correct notions of the nature and relations both of the inanimate and of the living world. He leams to correct the illusions to which he was at first exposed —to distinguish one object from another, and to exert his memory so as to know tfiem again, and to recognize their general forms and qualities. It is amazing what a degree of knowledge a child has thus acquired before he arrives at the age of two years, or even twenty months. By this time lie has made a thousand experiments on an indefinite variety of objects, all which he has arranged in his mind, and distinctly remembers. Light and heat, the properties of fire and flame, of water and air, the laws of projectiles and moving bodies, things sweet and bitter, soft and hard, rough and smooth, articulate sounds and the objects they denote, sounds soft or loud, agreeable or terrible; horses, cattle, dogs, asses, sheep, ducks, birds, butterflies, beetles, worms, the clouds, the sun, moon, stars, and numerous other objects—arc all distinguished, and many of their properties and relations indelibly imprinted on the mind. He has acquired more real knowledge during this short period, than he generally does, on the present plan of instruction, throughout the eight or ten succeeding years of his life: and it is a striking instance of the Benevolence of the Creator, and a prelude of the vast extent of knowledge he is afterwards capable of acquiring, that all these acquisitions are not only made without pain, but, in the greater number of instances, arc accompanied with the highest pleasure and enjoyment
In the process of instruction, now described, during the first two years of human existence, although Nature is the principal instructress, she frequently requires to be guided by the d of Art; and much is left to the judicious attentions of parents and guardians, that her benevolent designs may not be thwarted, and that her efforts may be conducted to their proper ends. In throwing out a few hints on this point, our remarks may be arranged under the following heads—Physical, Moral, and in.ellectual Education.
1. The Physical Education of Infants.
The influence of physical education during
infancy, on the future happiness of the individual, is much greater, and more extensive in its consequences, than is generally imagined. A proper attention to food, climate, cleanliness, air and exercise, may have an important effect, not only in developing the different parts of the body, and strengthening the animal system, but also in invigorating, and calling forth into exercise, the powers of the mind. We find, in advanced life, that the state of the body as to health or sickness, has a powerful influence on the vigour of the intellectual faculties; and we have reason to believe that the same -connection between the physical system and the development of mind exists in the most early period of life. A certain writer has observed that," as the manifestations of mind depend on organization, it is conceivable why even talents and moral feelings depend on the influence of climate and nourishment"—In throwing out a few cursory remarks on this subject, I shall attend, in the first place, to
The fimd of Infant!. As soon as an infant is ushered into the world, Providence has provided for it food exactly adapted to its situation. The milk of the mother is at first of a thin, watery consistence, fitted to evacuate the meconium, and no other substance is found to be so efficacious for this purpose. Syrups, wines, oils, honey, or rhubarb, which have been so frequently administered to new-bom infants, by midwives and nurses, are repugnant to nature, and are condemned, except in extraordinary cases, by every medical practitioner. Children require very little food for some time after birth; and what they receive should be thin, weak, light, and of a cooling quality. After a few days the mother's milk becomes thicker and more nutritious, and should form the principal nourishment of the child during the first three months. It appears to be the dictate of nature, that every mother ought to suckle her own child, since she is furnished with the proper nutriment for this purpose; and nothing but downright necessity should prevent her from undertaking the task, or induce her to have recourse to a substitute. We might tell the mother who, without necessity, throws the care of her issue upon a stranger, that the admirable liquor which the God of Nature has provided for her child, may become mortal to her for want of a discharge, diffuse itself within, gather and stagnate, or, at least, bring on a dangerous fever—that there is a natural proportion between the blood that runs in the veins of a child, and the milk it receives from its mother —that to receive the caresses, to enjoy the smiles, and to mark the gradual progress of her child towards maturity, would be mora than a compensation for all the fatigues she
would undergo in watehing over its infant years—that the mutual affection of a mother and her child depends, in no inconsiderable degree, on the child's spending the period of its infancy in its mother's arms—and that, when she substitutes another in her place, the child naturally transfers its affection to the person who performs the duties of a mother. But, before such considerations can have much weight with the higher classes of society, who chiefly indulge in this practice, their general system of education must be altered and reformed. The daughters of the nobility and of opulent citizens, must be more accustomed to the open air and rural employments, and their bodies trained to the bearing of burdens, the endurance of severe heat or intense cold, and to the resisting of danger and fatigue;— in short, they must be educated like the daughters of Bethuel and of Laban—the nobles of ancient times—who did not disdain to "keep their father's sheep," and to go " to the well of water, with their pitehers on their shoulders."
As the child advances, he may be gradually accustomed to other food besides the milk of his mother—beginning with liquids, such as milk and sugar, broth, boiled biscuits, thin milk pottage, and similar aliments, and then going on to more solid nutriment, according to the strength of his digestive powers. The younger the child, the less nourishment should be given at one time, and the oftencr repeated; older children may take more food at once, and at longer intervals. All high-seasoned, salted, and smoke-dried provisions, tough, heavy, and fat meats, uuripe fruits, sweetmeats, wines and spirituous liquors, are injurious to children. Few things are more so than the common practice of sweetening their food, which entices them to take a greater quantity than is necessary, and makes them grow fat and bloated. All cramming of their stomachs, pampering them with delicate meats, and guzzling of ale and other fermented liquors, ought to be carefully avoided. Pure water for drink, plain and simple food—which will never induce them to take more than enough —and abstinence from physic, except in very critical cases, will be found the most judicious means for preserving and confirming the health of children, and invigorating their mental jmwers.
No less attention ought to be paid to the air they breathe, than to the food with which they are nourished. Pure atmospheric air is indispensable to the existence of every sensitive being, for where it is greatly corrupted or exhausted, animals languish or die. It may be rcranled as a universal medicine and restorative, and as the principal pabulum of life. Wherever it is confined for want of circula6
tion, and impregnated with the deleterious fumes of sulphur, putrid substances, smoke, dunghills, excrements, and other noxious exhalations, it acts as a slow poison, induces diseases, and gradually undermines the human constitution. Hence the propriety of rearing children in apartments where the air is clear and dry, uncontarainated with the steam arising from cooking victuals, and from ironing linen, and from the breath and perspiration of persons crowded into a narrow room—and the necessity of frequently leading them abroad into the open air, to enjoy the light of heaven and the refreshing breeze. Hence the impropriety of crowding two or three children's beds into one small apartment,—of covering a child's face when asleep, and wrapping him up too close in a cradle, by which means he is forced to breathe the same air over and over again, all the time he sleeps. In great towns, where the poorer class of inhabitants live in low, dirty, confined houses, and narrow lanes, where pure air has seldom access, the want of wholesome air often proves destructive to their offspring; and those of them who arrive at maturity are most frequently weak and deformed. In the improvements now going forward in society, it would be of vast importance to the health and comfort of the labouring classes, that such dwellings were completely demolished, and for ever prevented from again becoming the habitations of men.
In connection with air, the influence of light ought not to be overlooked. Almost all organized bodies require the influence of ligh" for their health, and the full development of their parts and functions. It changes the colour of plants and animals, and the complexion of man. As plants when deprived of light grow pale, and insects confined to dark places remain white, so those who spend their lives in their closets, or in gloomy apartments, acquire a pale and yellowish complexion, and many sickly persons become worse about sunset, and during the continuance of night Hence the propriety of nursing children in light and cheerful apartments, and of carrying them frequently into the fields, to enjoy the full influence of the radiant sun. And hence it follows, that dark habitations, close and narrow lanes, houses sunk beneath the level of a street, small windows, sombre walls, trees immediately in the front of dwellings, and whatever intercepts the light of heaven from the habitations of men, must damp the animal spirits, and prove noxious to the vigour of the human frame. Whereas, a full and uninterrupted view of the beauty, the variety, and the lively colours, of the scenes of nature, has the happiest effects on the temper, and a tendency to exercise and invigorate the powers of the mind;—for there D 2 (41)
can be little doubt, that the faculties of the understanding, and the dispositions of the heart, which characterize the individual in the future part of his life, acquire their particular hias and distinguishing features from the circumstances in which he is placed, and the objects with which he is surrounded, in early life.—It may not be improper to add, that, as the eyes of very young children are delicate, they should not at once be exposed to a strong light; and, when they advance, as they are eager to stare at every thing, particularly at a brilliant light, their eyes should be turned so as to have the object in a straight line before them, or their backs turned directly to it. To allow them to look at it sideways, or with one eye, would teach them a hahit of squinting.
Few things are of more importance to the Health and comfort of children than cleanliness. The functions of the skin are of peculiar importance in the animal system, and have a great influence in preserving the health and vigour of the corporeal frame. Through its millions of pores, the insensible perspiration is incessantly flowing, and more than the onehalf of what we eat and drink is in this way discharged. Hence the danger which must arise from frequent obstruction of this essential function, from wet, excrements, dirty linens, and every kind of uncleanliness. From want of attention to this circumstance, various diseases of the skin, eruptions, catarrhs, coughs, the iteh, obstructions of the first passages, and even many fatal disorders, derive their origin. It is injurious both to the health and the virtue of man; it stupifies the mind, sinks it into a lethargic state, deprives him of animal enjoyment, and of the esteem and regard of others. Whereas cleanliness promotes both health and virtue, clears the understanding, encourages to cheerfulness and activity, prevents many loathsome maladies, and procures the attachment and esteem of associates. Hence the incessant and minute attention which ought to De paid to this circumstance, by parents and nurses, in the rearing of the young. Cleanliness in domestic life, may be considered as one of the cardinal virtues, as an essential requisite in the physical education of children, and, perhaps, the only province of parental care in which they can never do too much. The pores of the skin should be kept open by washing the body, and changing the clothes and linen whenever they are unclean. In tho first instance, children may be bathed in lukewarm water, and afterwards with water of a colder temperature, as they are able to bear it. Some parts of the body, such as the interior of the legs, the folds of the neck, the arm-pits, anil the parts behind the ears, which arc liable to be inflamed, de
mand particular attention. The nusc, likewise, should be occasionally washed ar.d thoroughly cleaned; it having been found, that the unpleasant smell peculiar to some infants, is owing to the hahitual neglect of cleaning that organ. Great attention ought to be paid to children in regard to their evacuations; and every thing that may occasion dampness, and every kind of offensive matter that might adhere to the skin, should be speedily removed. As children are liable to perspire more than adults, frequent change of their linen is a matter of some consequence; and all parents who can afford it, should give them clean dry linen every Hay. It is as much the duty of parents to wash and clean their children, as it is to feed and clothe them; and children that are frequently washed and kept clean, gradually improve in health and vivacity; cleanliness becomes familiar to them, their spirits are enlivened, and they grow up virtuous, polite, and happy.
The Russians, with all their ignorance and rusticity of manners, are said to be superior to the more refined English, French, and Germans, both in a delicate sensihility of cleanliness, and in the practical use of the bath. A foreign gentleman, travelling in Russia, had hired one of tho natives as his groom or postillion. After having travelled several days together in very' sultry weather, the semi-barbarian, upon his knees, requested his employer to grant him leave of absence for two or three hours, to refresh himself with the luxury of a hath, which to him was indispensable, and the want of which he had long felt.—In Russia almost every house has its bath; and the peasants in that country possess a refinement of sense, with respect to the surface of the body, with which the moxt elegant ladies in other countries seem totally unacquainted. Even the American Indiana, who cannot change their furs so frequently as we can do our clothes, put under their children the dust of rotten wood, and renew it as often as it becomes damp.
The clothing of children likewise requires some degree' of skill and attention. This, indeed, is so simple a matter, that it is surprising that persons living in civilized countries should ever have erred so cgregiously in regard to it; and yet it is a fact, that many children have been rendered deformed, and others have lost their lives, by the pride and folly of their parents in respect to this circumstance. Tho time has not long gone by, (if it have yet passed,) since a poor child, as soon as it breathed the vital air, had as many rollers and wrappers—sometimes ten feet in length— applied to its body, as if every bone had been fractured in the hirth; and these were often drawn so tight, as to gall its tender frame, and even obstruct its vital organs—a piece of folly so repugnant to the dictates of nature, that even the most savage nations never commit it; and hence, deformed children are seldom or never found among them. By the weight and pressure of stays, bandages, heavy and tight clothes, children, who were wellproportioned at their birth, have afterwards appeared with flat breasts, high shoulders, crooked spines, and other deformities. For when a child is cramped in its clothes, it naturally shrinks from the part that is hurt, and puts its body into unnatural postures: and every part of it, even the bones themselves, being soft and flexible, deformity, of some kind or other, is the natural result. To this cause physicians have ascribed the numerous instances of children dying of convulsions soon after their birth.
The general rule which reason suggests, in regard to the clothing of children is—" That a child have no more clothes than are necessary to keep it warm, and that they be quite easy for its body." In conformity to this rule, the dress of children should be simple, clean, light, and cheap—free, wide, and open, so as neither to impede the vital functions, nor the free and easy motions of the body, nor prevent the access of fresh air, and be easily put ou or taken off. The following cut ex
hibits the simple dress of a little girl.—Fins should be used as little as possible, and the clothes chiefly fastened with strings, which would prevent the occasional scratehing of their tender skins, and those alarming cries which so frequently proceed from this cause. Such a light and simple dress would induce children to live with less restraint in the society of each other; and check that silly pride, which leads them to ape the fashions of tlieir superiors, and to value themselves on account of the finery of their clothes. During the first months, the head and breast may be slightly
covered; but as soon as the hair is sufficiently long to afford protection, there appears little necessity for cither hats or caps, unless in seasons of rain or cold. By keeping the breast and neck uncovered, they acquire more firmness, arc rendered hardier, and less susceptible of being aflccted with cold. Besides, a child has really a more interesting aspect, when arrayed in the beautiful simplicity of nature, than when adorned with all the trappings which art can devise. The following aneedote, related by Herodotus, illustrates the advantage connected with a cool regimen of the head. "After the battle fought between the Persians, under Cimbyui, and the Egyptians, the slain of both nations were separated; and upon examining the heads of the Fersians, their skulls were found to be so thin ami tender, that a small stone would immediately perforate them; while, on the other hand, the heads of the Egyptians were so firm, that they could scarcely be fractured by the largest stones." The cause of this remarkable difference was attributed to the custom of the Egyptians shaving their heads from earliest infancy, and going uncovered in all states of the weather; while the Persians always kept their heads warm by wearing heavy turbans.
Attention ought likewise to be paid to the proper covering of the feet. It is scarcely necessary for children to use shoes before they are a year old; or if they do, the soles should be thin and soft. The form of the human foot is such, thai, at the toes it is broad, at the heel narrow, and the inside of the foot is longer than the outside—a form which is evidently intended by Nature to enable us to stand and walk with firmness and ease. It is therefore a dictate of nature, that shoes should be made in the same form as the feet, and be sufficiently roomy for the toes to move with case; and in order to this, they must be formed upon two separate lasts, corresponding to the right and the left foot How shoes came at first to be made tapering to a point at the toes, almost like a bodkin—how highheels became the darling fashion of the ladies —and how a small foot came to be reckoned genteel—I pretend not to determine; but certainly nothing can be more absurd and preposterous. Such opinions and practices, along with many others which abound, particularly in the fashionable world, have a direct tendency to counteract the benevolent intentions of Nature, and are nothing short of an attempt to arraign the wisdom of the Creator, in his arranging and proportionating the diflerent parts of the human frame—as if puny man, by his foolish whims, were capable of improving the workmanship of Infinite Intelligence.—Tbc following figures (taken from Dr. Faust) plainly show the absurdity of the shapes which have been given to shoes. Fig. 1. shows the original shape of the sole of the left foot . Fig. 3. shows how the sole of the left shoe ought to be formed,—and Fig. 2. shows clearly that the shoes usually worn, and made on one last, cannot correspond to the natural shape of the foot. If they tapei towards a point, the large toe, and some of the small ones, must be crushed and pressed against each other, causing pain to the wearer, and producing corns. The simplest and most accurate mode of taking the true measure and form of shoes, is, to place each foot upon a sheet of paper, and then draw its shape with a pencil, to which two separate lasts should nearly correspond, after having ascertained the curve of the upper part of the foot . 3 1 2
With regard to the clothing of children, In general, it is the opinion of Dr. Faust, that, from the beginning of the third, to the end of the seventh or eighth year, "their heads and necks must be free and bare, the body clothed with a white shirt, and frock with short sleeves, the collar of the shirt to fall back over that of the frock, with the addition of a woollen frock, to be wom between the shirt and the linen frock, during winter, and that the feet be covered only with a pair of socks, to be wom in the shoes." Such a cheap and simple dress, if generally adopted, would undoubtedly be beneficial to mankind in general, and tend to promote the strength, beauty, and graceful attitudes of children,—and, at the same time, check the foolish propensity of parents to indulge their children in flimsy ornaments and finery, beyond what their means can afford. At present, children are frequently muffled up with caps, hats, bonnets, cravats, pelisses, frills, muffles, gloves, ribbons, and other paraphernalia, as if they were to be reared like plants in hotheds,—so that the shape and beautiful proportions which Nature has given them can scarcely be distinguished. I shall only add, that the dress of children ought to be kept thoroughly dean; as dirty clothes not only gall and fret their tender skins, but tend to produce disagreeable smells, vermin, and cutaneous diseases; and no mother or nurse, however poor, can have any valid
excuse for allowing her children to wallow in dirtiness.
We may next offer a remark or two on the sleep and exercite of children. The exercise of the corporeal faculties is essentially necessary to the health, the growth, and the vigour of the young. The desire of exercise is indeed coeval with our existence, which is plainly indicated in the delight which children take in beating with a stick, crawling along a floor, or climhing a stair, as soon as they are able to make use of their hands and feet . It is, therefore, the duty of parents to regulate this natural propensity, and direct it to its proper end. When children are very young, they may be exercised by carrying them about, giving them a gentle swing, encouraging them to move their hands and feet, talking to them, alluring them to smile, and pointing out every thing that may please and delight their fancy. When they first begin to walk, the safest method of leading them about, is by taking hold of both their hands; and when they fall, they should never be lifted up by one part only, such as by one hand or one arm, as luxations, or loosening of the joints, may be occasioned by this practice. The practice of swinging them in leading-strings, is sometimes attended with hurtful consequences. It induces them to throw their bodies forward, and press their whole weight upon their stomach and breast, by which their breathing is obstructed, and their stomach compressed. When they are able to walk with ease, they should be encouraged to run about in places where they are not exposed to danger, to exert their hands and limbs, and to amuse themselves in the company of their associates. When they cannot go abroad, they may be exercised in running along a room or passage, or in leaping and dancing. A certain eminent physician used to say, "that he made his children dance, instead of giving them physic." When children fall, or get into any difficulty in the course of their movements, if they are in no danger, we should never be forward to express our condolence, or to run to their assistance; but leave them to exert their powers, and to scramble the best way they can, in order to extricate themselves from any painful situations in which they may have been involved. By being too attentive to them, and appearing too anxious, in such cases, we teach them to be careless of themselves;—by seeming to regard every trifling accident which befalls them as a dreadful calamity, we inspire them with timidity, and prevent them from acquiring manly fortitude.
With regard to the rhep of children, it is universally admitted, that they require far more than persons of adult age; and the younger the child, the more sleep he requires.