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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/598

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ranged nursery I ever saw was the Findel-zimmer ("foundling-ward") in the convent of the Ursuline nuns near Würzburg, Germany. The landed estate of the convent having been sequestrated, their department of charitable institutions had been reorganized on a more economical basis, and the poor nuns thought it necessary to apologize for the ingenious simplicity of their Zimmer, whose plan had been suggested chiefly by the necessity of dispensing with hired help. The room was about forty feet square, facing south and west, with three large windows on each side. These windows and the fireplace were barred with net screens, soft to the touch, but securely fastened, and strong enough to stop anything from a football to a forty-pound baby. The floor was carpeted with rugs, covered with a sort of coarse sheeting to prevent dust. From the floor to the height of the window-sills the walls were padded all round with old blankets, secured with muffled nails, and stuffed with something that felt like moss or cow's hair. The only piece of furniture was a cushioned divan in the corner next to the fireplace; but the floor was covered with playthings and movable nondescripts, balls of all sizes, and a big Walze, a sort of wooden cylinder, muffled up with quilts and cotton. From the center of the ceiling depended a hand-swing, two rings just low enough to be within reach of a youngster standing on tiptoe, the original sitting swing having been removed as liable to be used as a catapult in a general row. Above the windows, out of reach of the boldest climber, were shelves with flower-pots, reseda, gillyflowers, and wintergreen. In this in-door Kindergarten, fourteen playmates—twelve babies, namely, and two puppies—had been turned loose, and seemed to celebrate existence as a perpetual circus-game. They could run races, pelt each other with cotton balls, swing in a circle, roll on the floor, and ride the Walze; but the attempt to hurt themselves would have baffled their combined ingenuity. There were no nurslings, of course, but all mischief-ages from three to eleven, wrestling and quarreling now and then, but, as the nuns solemnly averred, never crying except for causes that would make the puppies cry—a squeeze or an inadvertent kick—all disputes being referred to the umpire, a flaxen-haired girl of eight, who often took charge of the Zimmer from morning till night.

The squalling of new-born children can not be helped; puppies will whine, and young monkeys whimper for the first three or four days—it is the novelty of existence that bewilders them—but, if babies of two or three years scream violently for hours together, it generally means that there is something wrong about the management. Indian babies never cry; they are neither swaddled nor cradled, but crawl around freely, and sleep in the dry grass or on the fur-covered floor of the wigwam. Continual rocking would make the toughest sailor seasick. Tight swaddling is downright torture; it would try the patience of a Stoic to keep all his limbs in a constrained position for such a length of time; a young ape subjected to the same treatment would