Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/776

This page has been validated.
756
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

fer entertaining employments to tedious ones. Youngsters under five years gambol instinctively like young puppies, in order to acquire the art of locomotion, but soon afterward they begin to play with a conscious purpose, and do not object to playing at something profitable; young savages and peasant-boys join in the labors of their parents with an eagerness that vindicates human nature against the charge of innate frivolity. Make your boy a Jack-of-all-out-door-trades before you make him a classic polyglot, and, if you destine him for any trade in special, let him play with the tools of that special trade. "The best plan of education," says Goethe, "is that of the Hydriotes, the Greek trading-sailors, who take their infant boys out to sea and let them sport around amid oakum and belaying-pins before they learn to handle them with a business purpose. Such a school has graduated the heroes who with their own hands could grapple the fire-boat to the flag-ship of the enemy."

Even for their children's sake, married men should never quarter their families in the heart of a great city. Not everybody can own a farm, but, wherever the suburban cottages adjoin waste building-lots and dry ravines, there will be no lack of opportunities for out-door pastimes. Let the girls make weed-brooms, and the boys construct fortifications, à la Uncle Toby, if they can do no better, and miss no chance to send them out in the country for a day or two. Our town parks are too exclusive; sauntering between inviolate grass-plots and prohibitory placards is dull work for urchins that long to commit horse-play; but there are few cities, even on the Atlantic seaboard, where the "open country"—woods, fallow fields, and hillsides—could not be reached by a two hours' walk. There let your children spend every sunny afternoon; make arrangements with your neighbors, and engage a guide if you can not afford to go yourself; teach the youngsters to collect beetles and butterflies, encourage the fern mania if your girl has outgrown the buttercup period, connive at a bird's nest or two, do anything to keep them out of the tenement dungeons. If you are blessed with a farm (or a tolerant country cousin), haymaking, apple-gathering, turkey-herding, repairing of ditches and garden-walls, will make earth an Elysium to every normal child; never mind the weather; a summer shower, a chilly morning, or a hot afternoon will not hurt a healthy boy, and the girls will take care of themselves—or rather of their dress—if the grass is wet. If you send them to school before their teens, give them at least the full benefit of their vacations and of every free Saturday. In fall and winter a day of athletic field-sports will keep a boy in tolerable health for the rest of the week, and a vacation tour of six or eight weeks may atone for many months of sedentary life.

In the preceding chapter I have pointed out the main cause of catarrhal affections. "With the exception of deep-seated breast-coughs, "colds" may be nipped in the bud by a few hours of hard, sudorific