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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/775

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

sun, the balm of old age, as Columella calls it; and, on the summerless Isle of RĂ¼gen, Nature has taught the poor fishermen to carry their bairns to the downs of Stubbenkammer, whenever the Baltic fogs alternate with a few sunny days. Dry sand is, indeed, an excellent medium of solar caloric. Children like it instinctively; most babies are fond of rummaging in some tangible, yielding element. In-default of a sunny beach, get a car-load of river-sand, spread it and expose it to the sun for a couple of hours, then rake it together, mix it ad captandum with a bushel of pebbles (good-sized ones, lest they might be mistaken for sugar-plums), divest your bambino of all superfluous clothing, and let him wallow all afternoon, if he chooses; if the surface of the pile gets too warm, instinct will teach him to dig down to the cooler substrata. Or take him to a meadow where fresh hay has been piled up in little stacks; climbing and tumbling will do him more good than lying motionless in a narrow baby-carriage. The inventor of the Kindergarten recommends a grassy hollow with scattered playthings, piles of dry leaves, etc. (near a shade-tree in midsummer), where young squealers can take care of themselves for an hour or two, and warrants that they will not cry, unless their botanic researches should happen to acquaint them with the properties of the German horse-nettle. On mild winter days, too, self-motive babies ought to pass a few hours out of doors, even if the ground be a little wet; a sunny nook on the lee-side of a garden-wall is a healthier playground than the dusty floor of a stove-room.

From the fourth to the end of the fourteenth year children should spend the larger part of every summer in out-door exercises, Next to a total reform of our dietetic habits, a general observance of this rule would be the surest way to regain the hardiness and longevity of our forefathers. The years of growth lay the foundation of our bodily constitution, and, under favorable circumstances, the human system, during that period, seems to accumulate a surplus of physical vigor, which in after-life will become available as an annuity-fund of health and happiness. Education, like charity, ought to begin at home; in boarding-colleges, protectories, orphan asylums, etc., the rudiments should be taught in winter schools. At the price of life-long infirmities precocious erudition is too dear-bought; besides, it should not be forgotten that in the years when students can take a personal interest in their lessons they will make more progress in a single month than during years of involuntary confinement in boy-pens, as Dr. Salzmann calls our municipal baby-schools. The employment of young children in cotton-factories is a crime against society, and ought to be legally prohibited, like the trade in Italian organ-boys and Chinese slave-girls. Swiss artisans, who have passed their boyhood in the mountains, are comparatively proof against the influence of in-door occupations. And, in the mean time, out-door life need not be a life of idleness. That children are fond of play means simply that they pre-