Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/203

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STUDIES OF CHILDHOOD.

from this last that the child thought everything in the world had been broken and mended. He probably had no words for expressing the ideas "make whole" and "keep whole," and so made an analogical use of the familiar word "mend."

So far I have spoken for the most part of children's ideas about near and accessible objects. Their notions of what is distant and inaccessible are, as remarked, wont to be formed on the model of the first. Here, however, their knowledge of things will be largely dependent on others' information, so that the naive impulse of childish intelligence has, as best it may, to work under the limitations of others' words.

It is perhaps hardly necessary to remind the reader that children's ideas of distance before they begin to travel far are necessarily very inadequate. They are disposed to localize the distant objects they see, as the sun, moon, and stars, and the places they hear about on the earth's surface, as near as possible. The tendency to approximate things, as seen in the infant's stretching out of the hand to touch the moon, lives on in the later impulse to localize the sky and heavenly bodies just beyond the furthest terrestrial object seen, as when a child thought they were just above the church spire; another, that they could be reached by tying a number of ladders together; another, that the setting sun went just behind the ridge of hills, and so forth. The stars, as so much smaller looking, seem to be located further off than the sun and moon. Similarly, when a little Londoner hears of distant places, as Calcutta, he tends to project them just beyond the furthest point known to him, say St. Paul's, to which he was once taken on a long journey from the West End. A child's standard of size and distance is, as all know who have revisited the home of their childhood after many years, very dilferent from the adult's. To the little legs unused as yet to more than short spells of locomotion a mile seems stupendous; and then the small brain can not yet pile up the units of measurement well enough to conceive of hundreds and thousands of miles.

As all who have talked with children know and as inquiries into the contents of the little Boston minds confirm, the child thinks of the world as a circular plain, and of the sky as a sort of inverted bowl upon it—that is to say, he takes them to be what they look. In a similar manner C—— took the sun to be a great disk which could be put on the round globe to make seesaw. Heaven is localized agreeably to what has been said about the tendency to bring things as near as possible, just above the sky, which forms its floor. Some genuine thought-work is shown in the effort to adjust the various things seen and heard of respecting the celestial region into something like a connected whole. Thus the sky is apt to be thought of as thin, this idea being probably formed for