Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/381

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
367
ANIMAL AND PLANT LORE OF CHILDREN.

The influence of gases and vapors upon climate was to some extent considered by its eminent discoverer, Professor Tyndall, and I presume by every one that has read his account of his experiments on the passage of heat through these bodies. Theorizers on climate have been fond of changing the earth's axis, confining themselves, however, for the most part to altering the geographical position of the poles—i. e., increasing one set of latitudes and decreasing another, to suit their needs; and a few have invoked an increased or a decreased obliquity.

The present explanation differs widely from all that have preceded it, and in its entirety has the merit of novelty, whatever that may be.

 

ANIMAL AND PLANT LORE OF CHILDREN.
By Mrs. FANNY D. BERGEN.

OUR modern scientific methods of education are slowly correcting hosts of popular errors regarding every-day subjects of observation, and doubtless a succeeding generation will have outgrown many queer conceits and myths now held as facts by the great majority of country children. It will hereafter be interesting to have preserved a full record of such misapprehensions. The wish to add a trifle to such a record has led me to note some common superstitions concerning animals and plants, which have come under my own knowledge. Children have quick perceptions, and therefore are good observers or seers. The observations they make, however, regarding the animals and plants about them, while often in themselves quite accurate, lead to very incorrect conclusions. This is because children do not reason deeply. It takes a long time for them to learn that not once or twice, but a great many times, must one phenomenon follow certain other preceding phenomena to warrant the use of the logical terms effect and cause. Caution in forming deductions comes only with experience and education. Children have keen eyes for any strange peculiarities as well as for real or fancied resemblances, and are quick to appreciate the qualities of plants. An enthusiastic botanist and teacher, speaking of children, said, "They bow as to some fetich before poisonous plants." Monstrosities in Nature fascinate them. Double apples, strangely shaped knots from trees, grotesque roots, curious lichens adorn many "play-houses." Their readiness to get hold of the properties of plants explains how it is that children (boys particularly, because they are more in the out-door world) find so many things to eat in the woods and fields. A boy accustomed to tramp about will seldom go a hundred rods afield before he begins to nibble or chew something that he finds growing in his path. Can you not recall a dozen wild things of which you were fond in childhood