Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/603

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STUDIES OF CHILDHOOD.

announcing his brother, Felix does not say, 'Emile is come'; he says, 'The brother of the coachman is come.'"[1] Pestalozzi's little boy, aged three years and a half, was one day playing at being butcher, when his mother called him by his usual diminutive, "Jacobli." He at once replied: "No, no; you should call me butcher now."[2]

The intensity of the imaginative realizing powers in play is seen, too, in the stickling for fidelity to the original in all playful reproduction, whether of scenes observed in everyday life or of what has been narrated. The same little boy who showed his picture books to dolly was, we are told, when two years and eight months old, fond of imagining that he was Priest, his grandmamma's coachman. "He drives his toy horse from the armchair as a carriage, getting down every minute to 'let the ladies out' or to 'go shopping.' The make-believe extends to his insisting on the reins being held while he gets down, and so forth." The same thing shows itself in acting out stories. The full enjoyment of the realization depends on the faithful reproduction, the suitable outward embodiment of the vivid detailed idea in the player's mind. A delightful example of boyish exactitude in acting out a story may be found in Mark Twain's picture of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn playing at being shipwrecked on a desert island.

The following anecdote bears another kind of testimony—a most winsome kind—to the reality of children's play: One day two sisters said to one another, "Let us play being sisters." This might well sound insane enough to hasty ears, but is it not really eloquent? To me it suggests that the girls felt they were not realizing their sisterhood, not enjoying all the possible sweets of it, as they wanted to do; perhaps there had been a quarrel and a supervening childish coolness, and they felt that the way to get this vivid sense of what they were or ought to be one to the another was by playing the part, enacting a scene in which they would come close to one another in intense conjoint activity.

But there is still another and some will think a more conclusive way of satisfying ourselves of the reality of the play illusion. The child finds himself confronted by the unbelieving adult, who may even be cruel enough to laugh at his play and his day dreamings; and this frosty aloofness, this unfeeling quizzing of their little doings, is apt to cut the sensitive little nerves to the quick. I have heard of children who will cry if a stranger suddenly enters the nursery when they are hard at play and shows himself unsympathetic and critical. But here is a story which


  1. Quoted by Compayré, op. cit., p. 150.
  2. De Guimps's Life of Pestalozzi (English translation), p. 41.