Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/605

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
585
STUDIES OF CHILDHOOD.

dramatic spectacle, in the case of the less instructed child the illusion is apt to become more complete. I have several strikingstories about the effect of pictures on children's minds. A picture seems very much of a toy to a child. A baby of eight or nine months will talk to a picture as to a living thing; and something of this tendency to make a fetich of a drawing survives much later.

A quaint anecdote is recorded in a collection of children's thoughts recently published in America.[1] One day F——, a boy of four, called on a friend, Mrs. C——, when she had just received a picture, a scene in winter, in which persons were represented as going to church, some on foot and others in sleighs. . . . F—— wanted to know where they were going, and Mrs. C—— told him. The next day he came and noticed the picture, and looked at Mrs. C—— and then at the picture, and said, "Why, Mrs. C——, them people haven't got there yet, have they?" What, it may be asked, did the boy mean by his question? Did he in his vivid imaginative realization actually confuse the representation with the reality represented, after the manner of the sailors who, visiting a theater where the actors were representing a struggle of smugglers with a captain, took the performance to be a reality and rushed on the stage in order to protect the captain? There seems to be less excuse for confounding representation and reality in the case of the picture than in that of the stage. Perhaps, however, the boy F was less stupid than is here suggested. Did he, as the result of an intense realization of the scene pictured, excogitate the idea that the picture must at least represent something actual that is to say, going on at the moment? Here is an opportunity for the mind quick to disentangle childish thought.

However this be, the vivid realization of pictures by children is a well-certified fact. Here is a story of a little boy, aged three years and some months: "His mother had gone to the sea and L—— (the child) was staying at his grandfather's. One day he was looking at a picture of a stormy sea, and on the sea was a little boat with an old man and a girl in it. He had heard the story of Grace Darling and her father, and at once decided that the picture represented them. After talking about them for some time his thoughts turned to his mother, and he began to imagine all sorts of things about her: 'And mamma is on de tea (sea) in a ickle (little) boat, and de waves are dashing over it, and (with great excitement) it will be turned over and mamma ill be drowned, and de master (one of the names for himself) will not be dere to tave (save) her!' By this time the big tears were rolling down


  1. The Study of Children at the State Normal School at Worcester, Mass.