Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/408

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

lowing the eye in its wanderings till it has captured and captivated the regard, . . . keeping the eye at bay, or leading it away from its empty fixedness."

At the end of the second year of training, "the vibrations of the eyes have diminished, his voluntary look has become more steady, and his automatic one less riveted." From the study of objects and movements this no longer idiotic boy was led on to the acquirement of language. At the beginning of training he could repeat only the last word of what was said to him; at the end of the second year he had acquired an accurate though limited vocabulary. Five portraits of the child accompany the reports of this experiment—the first (Fig. 1) taken at six months of age, showing normal development; the second (Fig. 2) at eighteen months (after convulsions), in which idiocy is apparent;[1] the third (Fig. 3) at seven years, in which the characteristics of idiocy are well marked; the fourth (Fig. 4) at the end of a year's training of the hands, and the fifth (Fig. 5) after a year's training of the eyes. These portraits testify, in a language far more forcible than that of words, to the efficiency of Dr. Séguin's method. The improvement—physical, mental, and moral—as reflected in the last portrait, is most remarkable.[2] The entire history of this experiment is a history of the triumph of the physiological method of education[3]—the only rational method, and as applicable to the sound as to the unsound body and brain. To the physiologist, at least, it must have the value of a complete demonstration of the supreme importance of physical culture in both mental and moral development.

Corroborative testimony of equal or even greater importance may be found in a recent report of the New York State Reformatory at Elmira, to whose resident physician. Dr. Hamilton D. Wey, belongs the distinction of having proposed and carried out the details of an experiment[4] for testing the effects of physical culture on the mental and moral capacities of an inferior order of adult criminals. Dr. Wey selected for this experiment twelve men ranging from nineteen to twenty-nine years of age, five of whom had been convicted of burglary, four of grand larceny, and three of crimes against the person.

  1. The fact that idiocy often follows convulsions has a significant bearing on the subject of this paper, since the convulsions of childhood are generally the result of reflex over stimulation of the motor centers of the brain from excessive irritation of the sensory centers brought about by some severe disturbance at the periphery, as in the convulsions of teething.
  2. We are indebted to the kindness of the Messrs. Putnam for permission to reproduce these portraits.
  3. This includes all that comes under the head of manual training.
  4. See Annual Report of Board of Managers of the New York State Reformatory, January, 1887.