very making of what we call sense-experience. We learn to read the visual symbol, a splash of light or color, now as a stone, now as a pool of water, just because imagination drawing from past experience supplies the interpretation, the group of qualities which composes a hard, solid mass, or a soft, yielding liquid.
Children's fanciful readings of things, as when they call the twinkling star a (blinking) eye, are but an exaggeration of what we all do. Their imagination carries them very much further. Thus they may attribute to the stone they see a sort of stone-soul, and speak of it as feeling tired.
This lively way of envisaging objects is, as we know, similar to that of primitive folk, and has something of crude Nature-poetry in it. This tendency is abundantly illustrated in the metaphors which play so large a part in children's talk. As everybody knows, a child describes what he sees or hears by analogy to something he knows already. This is called by some, rather clumsily, I think, apperceiving. For example, a small, oscillating compass needle was called by a child a bird, on the ground of a faint likeness of form and fluttering movement. M. Taine tells us of a little girl who called the eyelids prettily eye-curtains. Distant and unknown things, for example the moon, will naturally come in for much of this vivid imaginative interpretation. Thus the moon when reduced to a crescent was said by a boy of three to be broken. American children described it ingeniously as half stuck or half buttoned into the sky. Similarly with sounds. The spluttering of coals in the fire was called barking by a little girl of four and a half years. The American children already referred to described thunder variously as a throwing down of toys, a shooting in of coals, and so forth.
This play of imagination in connection with apprehending objects of sense has a strong vitalizing or personifying element. That is to say, children, in common with uncivilized peoples, see what we regard as lifeless and soulless as alive and conscious. Thus a child will say a tree rustling in a cold wind "shivers." The tree is apprehended or "apperceived" as having sensation and behaving as the child itself behaves. Moving things come in for most of this personifying impulse. A little girl of five, pleased at being aide to manage her hoop, said: "Mamma, I do b'lieve this hoop must be alive, it's so sensible; it goes where I want it to."
Children's fear of feathers, of which I have several instances, and which they have in common with uncultured folk, is proba-
- These were children entering the primary school of Boston, whose ideas are described by Dr. Stanley Hall, in an article on The Contents of Children's Minds, in the Princeton Review.