Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/391

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

vermin among them; and thirdly, the disappearance from among them of inherent and natural modesty." It is a terrible indictment of the clothes-culture. When shall we be educated enough to know that clothing and decency are not synonymous terms, and that a fig leaf is a greater outrage on good taste than is absolute nudity?

It is remarkable how much unnecessary suffering is inflicted on infants and children because parents fail to recognize the ancestry from "animals,"[1] and consequently the instincts, different from those of adults, which children have inherited. Thus Dr. Louis Robinson has pointed out that as soon as children are able to shift for themselves in bed, they go to sleep on their stomachs with their limbs curled up under them; and he has rightly traced this to quadrupedal ancestors. Experience shows that if mothers would only recognize this ancestry, and would put their children to bed less enveloped in clothes and less tightly tucked up, so that these children might easily shift into the position which inherited instinct tells them to assume, they (the mothers) would have far more comfortable nights and better-tempered, healthier children.

Even the very manner in which babies are got off to sleep—by rocking in the arms or in a cradle—is an inheritance of arboreal or monkey like ancestors, because the rocking is an imitation of the to-and-fro swaying of the branches, and such swaying would be the natural accompaniment of sleep with arboreal dwellers. Any rhythmic motion seems to leave a very marked impression on organisms. Thus, sailors after a long voyage complain of their inability to sleep upon land; because the sleep has been too long associated with the rocking of the vessel. More remarkable still, however, is the result of some experiments made by Mr. Francis Darwin and Miss D. Pertz[2] on The Curvature of Plants. They used an intermittent klinostat, arranged so as to reverse the influence of gravity on a growing shoot or stalk every half hour. When the clock was stopped they found that the rhythmic movement still continued, that the shoot or stalk actually curved in opposition to gravity for the half-hourly interval before finally obeying the impulse to grow downward. In the case of heliotrophic curvature the effect was even more marked. "After the clock was stopped the seedlings curved away from the light for two half-hourly intervals separated by one of curvature toward the light, so strongly were they imbued with the artificially induced rhythm." What is remarkable in these cases is

  1. "Christians" and "animals" is the popular classification. See, too, Ibsen, An Enemy of the People, interruption in Dr. Stockmann's speech, "We are not animals, doctor" (Act iv).
  2. Journal of Botany, cit. Natural Science, vol. ii, p. 9.