[ocr errors]

able 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 propor tionating the different parts of the human frame-as if puny man, by his foolish whims, were capable of improving the workmanship of Infinite Intelligence. The 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 taper 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.




[graphic][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors]

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 wide 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 worn between the shirt and the linen frock, during winter, and that the feet be covered only with a pair of socks, to be worn 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, ls, muffles, gloves, ribbons, and other paraphernalia, as if they were to be reared like plants in hotbeds, so that the shape and beau tiful proportions which Nature has given them can scarcely be distinguished. I shall only add, that the dress of children ought to be kept thoroughly clean; 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 exercise 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 climbing 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 leadingstrings, 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 a 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 sleep 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. An adult requires only about seven hours in the twenty-four; but very young chil dren require double that number. However long they may happen to sleep, they should never be suddenly awakened. It is dangerous in the extreme to lull them asleep by doses of laudanum, or other soporific medicines, as is frequently done by mercenary and indolent nurses. In order to induce children to repose, they are generally rocked in cradles; but there is no abso lute necessity for resorting to this expedient. If they are constantly kept dry and clean, and accustomed to fresh air, and not frequently disturbed, they will sleep comfortably and soundly without any violent agitation. Some of my own children were never in a cradle, and yet they were far more easily managed, in respect to sleeping, and watching, and other circumstances, than those of them who were accustomed to it; and many similar instances, were it expedient, could be brought forward. But if they are to be rocked in cradles, it ought to be with the greatest gentleness. The violence with which children are sometimes rocked, jumbles their brain, and makes them uneasy, giddy, and stupid, and is consequently injurious, both to body and mind. If the practice of rocking, however, were altogether laid aside, it would be a great relief to mothers and nurses, and afford them more uninterrupted leisure for the performance of other domestic employments. As it is viewed by some to be hurtful and dangerous for mothers to take their infants with them to bed,-in Italy, mothers who do so, use a machine, which protects them from all injury and danger. It is called arcuccio, and is 3 feet 2 inches long, and the head-board 14 inches broad, and 13 inches high.

I shall only observe further, on the subject of physical educaton,-that, when children begin to lisp out a few words, or sylla

bles, great care ought to be taken to give them an accurate and distinct pronunciation. Every sound we wish them to pronounce, should be slowly and distinctly uttered before them, beginning with single sounds, and proceeding to easy words; and they should never be taught any pronunciation which they will afterwards be under the necessity of unlearning. The pleasure we feel at first hearing them aim at the use of language, is apt to dispose us to listen with such attention, as to relieve them from the necessity of acquiring a distinct and open articulation. The consequence is, that they get into a rapid, indistinct, and hesitating mode of speaking, which is afterwards very difficult, and sometimes impossible to correct. Would we teach them a plain and distinct articulation, we should uniformly speak with distinctness and accuracy in their presence; and refuse to answer their requests, unless they are expressed with the greatest precision and accuracy which their organs of articulation will permit. Attention to this circumstance would smooth the way to accurate and early reading, and prevent much trouble both to teacher and scholar, when the child commences a regular train of instruction.

I have been induced to offer these few hints on this subject, from a strong conviction, that the physical education of children is intimately connected with the development of mind-and that whatever tends to promote health, and to strengthen the animal frame, will also tend to invigorate the soul, and call forth into exercise its energies and powers.

2. On the Moral Instruction of Infants.

This is a subject of peculiar importance, to which the attention of every parent ought to be early and thoroughly directed. No duties are generally more trifled with than those which relate to the moral tuition of infants; and even sensible and pious parents too frequently err on this point, and lay the foundation of many bitter regrets and perplexities in after life, both to themselves and to their offspring. On the mode in which a child is trained, during the two or three first years of its existence, will, in a great measure, depend the comfort of its parents, and its own happiness during the succeeding periods of its existence.

The first and most important rule on this subject, and which may be considered as the foundation of all the rest, is-that an absolute and entire authority over the child, should as early as possible, be established. By authority I mean, a certain air and ascendant, or such a mode of conducting ourselves towards children, as shall infallibly secure obedience. This authority is to be

obtained neither by age nor stature-by the tone of the voice, nor by threatening language; but by an even, firm, moderate dispos.tion of mind-which is always master of itself-which is guided only by reason-and never acts under the impulse of mere fancy or angry passions. If we wish such authority to be absolute and complete and nothing short of this ought to be our aim-we must endeavour to acquire this ascendancy over the young at a very early period of their lives. Children at a very early age are capable of reasoning, of comparing different objects with each other, and of drawing conclusions from them. I have seen a child of eight months turn round and point at a portrait, when the name of the individual whom it represented was announced; and another, not much older, point first to the orginal and then to the painting, indicating its perception of the resemblance of the one to the other. And as the rational and perceptive powers soon begin to operate, so we find that stubbornness, obstinacy, anger, and a spirit of independence, display themselves at a very early period, even when the child is sucking its mother's breast. "What mean those cries, (says Augustine,) those tears, the threatening gesture of the eyes, sparkling with rage, in an infant, when resolved to gain his point with all his force, or inflamed with jealousy against one another? Though its infantine members are weak and imbecile, its passions are sometimes strong and furious. I have seen a child burning with jealousy. He could not yet utter a word, but, with a pale countenance, could cast a furious look at another child who was sucking with him at the same breast."

These circumstances clearly point out the period for subduing the bad inclinations of children, and training them to submission and obedience. From the age of ten or twelve months, and earlier if possible, every parent ought to commence the establishment of authority over his children; for the longer it is delayed after this period, the more difficult it will be to bring them under complete control. This authority is to be acquired-not by passionately chiding and beating children at an early agebut by accustoming them to perceive that our will must always prevail over theirs, and in no instance allowing them to gain an ascendancy, or to counteract a command when it has once been given. Dr. Witherspoon recommends the following plan to accustorn children to obedience :-"As soon as they begin to show their inclination by desire or aversion, let single instances be chosen, now and then, (not too frequently,) to contradict them. For example, if a child shows a desire to have any thing in his hand that he sees, or has any thing in his hand with which he is

« VorigeDoorgaan »