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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/350

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

milk. After weathering an attack of croup, children often lie motionless on their backs with a peculiar glassy stare of their wide-open eyes. Leave them alone; instinct teaches them to assuage the distress of their lungs by slow and deep respirations; rest and a half-open window will do them more good than medicine.

Healthful infants—i. e., under rational management the great plurality—can soon be taught to transact their public business at seasonable hours, or at least to abstain from midnight serenades. If mothers would make it a rule to do all their nursing and fondling in the daytime, their little revivalists would soon learn to associate darkness with the idea of silence and slumber. Habit will do wonders in such things. Captain Barclay and several American pedestrians learned to take their half-hour naps as a traveler snatches a hasty lunch, and many old soldiers develop a faculty of going off to sleep, as it were, at the word of command, the moment their shoulders touch the guardhouse bunk. The two drowsiest years of my life I passed at an old style boarding-school, where teachers and pupils were limited to seven hours of sleep, after nine hours of study, besides written exercises and special recitations, and where sixty or seventy of us had to sleep in a large hall; and I do not believe that the last flickering of our five-minutes candle was ever witnessed by a pair of more than half-open eyes.

But that same faculty of sleeping and waking at short notice may be utilized for the purpose of taking little naps whenever opportunity offers—in the last half-hour of the noontide recess, or during the Buncombe interacts of a protracted session. The inhabitants of all intertropical countries make the time of repose a movable festival, and during the dog-days of our torrid summers it would clearly be the best plan to imitate their example. "Children must not sleep in the daytime," says a by-law of our time-dishonored Koran of domestic superstitions; and, not satisfied with keeping our little ones at school during the drowsy afternoons of the summer solstice, we increase their misery by stuffing them at the very noon of the hottest hours with a mass of greasy (i. e., heat-producing and soporific) food. An hour after the end of a long, sultry day comes the cool night-wind, heaven's own blessing for all who hunger and thirst after fresh air; but no, "Night air is injurious"; besides, Mrs. Grundy objects to promenades after dark, so the children are driven to their suffocating, unventilated bedrooms, not to sleep but to swelter, till toward midnight, when drowsiness subsides into a sort of lethargy which yields only to broad daylight, three or four hours after sunrise; "So much the better," says the fashionable mother, who has passed the night at an ice-cream ridotto, "and morning air isn't healthy, either; most dangerous to leave the house before the dew is off the grass."

Only the curse of pessimism, our woful distrust of our natural instincts, can explain such absurdities. The parched palate's petition