Page images
PDF
EPUB

A Common Parental Error.

311

A friend of mine has experienced equal or greater benefit; and I cannot doubt, Mr Editor, that many clergymen, and other professional men, who are, as I was, dragging out a miserable existence, would find morning ablutions of equal efficacy.

'l he practice should be commenced moderately, and in warm weather, with water not perfectly cold. After a few weeks, the coldest well water may be used with entire safety.'

HINTS TO PARENTS.

[The following remarks were made by the Editor, at the late annual meeting of the Physiological Society in this city, in support of a resolution which was offered and subsequently adopted, viz. That while a knowledge of the practical and organic laws would be of incalculable advantage to persons in every relation of life, it would be particularly so to parents, professional men, missionaries, teachers and legislators.')

God has given us our children, that we may train them up, not so much according to our own convenience, as with a reference to their usefulness and happiness, present and future. They are not to be educated for us and for our purposes, be the latter ever so laudable ; but for themselves, for their country, for the world, for God. We are to receive them indeed, at the hands of God as a gift-a most valuable gift, too, but we are to receive them as gems which are to be brightened and polished and improved, under our direction, to be rendered back, thus adorned, and improved to the giver.

This fact, that they are given us to train up for God and their country and the world, presupposes a susceptibility of being thus trained. It presupposes the delegation of a power from the Creator to parents, to mould their character, in no small degree, as they please—to make them more or less happy, and more or less useful. But the parent will be able to accomplish this task, in proportion as he understands the child's whole nature, physical and moral.

I am grieved to find parents, almost every where, training their children to that station of life which suits their own inclinations or their own inconvenience. Thus, if a farmer finds it more convenient or more agreeable to his own taste, to make farmers of his sons, he does so If a minister thinks favorably of his own sphere for doing good, and finds it more convenient to him

312

Eramples of the Error.

self to make ministers ofhis sons, he endeavors to do it. And so it is, generally speaking, with men of every profession. So also, to some extent, in the education even of daughters. If convenient to make housekeepers of them, they are made so; but if it is more convenient to make milliners, tailoresses, or teachers of them, they are trained accordingly. Or if they are in extreme poverty, perhaps they are content to let them become waiting maids, or go into factories. I do not mean to say there are no exceptions to the truth of these remarks, but only that this is, in general, the way in which children are disposed of-partly at haphazard, and partly at the convenience of the parents. God's convenience-in other words, his will, for I wish to speak with reverence and seriousness is seldom consulted ; first, because we do not understand, in every instance, how to ascertain what bis will is ; and secondly, because we are determined to consult our own will and convenience, in preference.

Let me not be understood as saying that the wishes of the child-his tastes and preferences-are in every instance wholly overlooked. Sometimes these are taken into the account, and sometimes they are not. But when they are, it does not greatly mend the matter. The child's taste, uncontrolled, as things usually are in families, is no safe guide to us in selecting his occupation. No child is born in New England, with a taste for the business of rice grinding, or cotton picking, or palanquin bearing. His fondness for a particular occupation, is chiefly the result of circumstances. There is no great difficulty in directing a child's inclination towards any employment we think best for him, provided we begin early, and act with discretion ; so that there will be no necessity of crossing his wishes or thwarting his inclinations.

Allow me to give one or two examples of the error in education which has led to these remarks. I have said that a farmer, if he is fond of farining and successful in it, usually wishes to have his sons farmers. If, however, there is one among them in whom the brain and nervous system preponderate, constituting what is called a nervous temperament, (whether hereditary or acquired, makes little difference as to my present purpose) and who is consequently rather fzeble in body, but apt to learn, and exceedingly fond of study, one of the two foll wing evils will ensue. The father will either fall into a habit of fretting at him perpetually, and saying that he is good for nothing. wanting perhaps in common sense,* and this, besides spoiling

* This matter, in some families, is carried very far. In many parts of New Eng. land it is so common to u lerrate the natural capacities of chilíren whose mental sacu ties are precocious, as to give rise and currency to the maxim that if t .ere is a fool in a family, he should by all means be sent to college.

Mistakes in regard to Ministers.

313

his disposition, increase the miseries of a temperament already sufficiently miserable, or he will take him wholly away from labor, and consign him over to books, schools and colleges.

Now either of these courses of conduct is exceedingly wrong, especially the latter. The very reason why the boy who takes to learning,' as it is called, and dislikes labor, is indulged in it, is the very reason why he should not be indulged in a course which his depraved habits incline him to. Or rather the possession of a constitution which naturally leads to all this, should induce the father and mother, at a very early period of his infancy, to direct his attention to those employments to which he is better adapted.

A large proportion of our ministers—to say nothing of our teachers and other professional men-are from the class of children to which I have alluded. I know there are some happy exceptions, but they are not very numerous. But this is extremely unfortunate, both for themselves and for the cause they serve. That they are exceedingly useful, as they now are, I do not undertake to deny. No class of citizens deserve more of the love and respect of their fellow men than the Protestant ministry, especially that of New England.

Still ministers are by no means what they should be. How many of them break down in early life, under the burden of their numerous and weighty responsibilities! No one expects them to improve in health-nor do they even expect it themselves--after they enter the ministry. If they are settled at the age of twenty, and if they can retain their health, so as not to be broken down by the time they are thirty or thirtyfive, or at most by forty, they are supposed to be fortunate. The truth is that multitudes begin to fall off before they are thirty, and are obliged to go to the springs, or to the West Indies, or to Europe ; or what is worse still, to take medicine. "Whereas, they ought to be gaining in activity and health, both of body and mind, till they are thirty five, at least, if not till they are forty. At this latter age, instead of being good for nothing, (unless it be by their miserable appearance to frighten people away from the church instead of inviting them thither by their buoyant spirits and active cheerfulness) they ought to be just fitted, in body and mind, to commence a career of forty years of such usefulness as the world at present seldom knows anything of.

Instead of being selected from the feeblest of a family of children, the candidate for the sacred desk should rather be selected from the most robust and healthy. It is those alone who already possess vigorous bodies, who are fit to go through with that course of preparatory study which should be required of a minister.

314

Mistakes in regard to Daughters.

If, however, the custom is to be continued of introducing the feebler and more puny into the pulpit, let study be combined with labor. I am aware that something has been done, and is doing already, by means of manual labor schools; but nothing in comparison with what should be done. To that class of the young who incline to study—the mentally precocious, as I have called them-regular and cheerful labor three or four hours a day is indispensable ; nor should it be discontinued with the discontinuance of school and college exercises; it should be carried through life.

The other example of parental error in education to which I shall allude, is the case of the factory girl. I have visited our factories. I have been at Lowell. I have seen a hundred girls in one room there, and have been pained to look around and see fifty at least, of that hundred, suffering from the bad state of the air, the nature of their occupation, and the want of due exercise. There are those who may work in our factories, at least a few hours of each day, with comparative safety. But it is death to the majority of females, to employ them indiscriminately in factories ; and it is death to all to employ them there, as they are now usually employed. Of course I mean not a sudden, but a lingering death ; a death not the less sure, though it is slow. Diseases are implanted which hurry them prematurely out of the world, and make them less happy and useful while they live in it; to say nothing of the consequences to those who come after them. But I am grieved, more than all, to see a young girl, of slender form, light complexion, light eyes, light or sandy hair, with a long neck, narrow chest, and shoulders projecting like wings, plunged into these confined rooms with their poisoned air, and subjected for ten, twelve or fourteen hours a day, to its influence. I wonder not that they are soon compelled to leave. I wonder not that a galloping consumption soon carries off many of such youth, and that a lingering one, fixes its not less deadly grasp on a much larger number. The wonder is that so many survive to transmit debility and disease-of body and mind-to numerous rising families.

I know of no remedy for these mistakes of parents and others—for if a part of our factory inmates are orphans or servants, the mistake is still made by somebody-but the diffusion of a knowledge of the laws of animal life. Parents must study Physiology and Hygiene, or they are unfit, in the present artificial condition of society, to educate children. They must understand, at a very early period, for what etnployments and modes of life, each child entrusted by the Creator to their care is, by his constitution of body and mind, best adapted. Some, as I have al

Clothing of Children.

315

ready said, may go into the factory with comparative safety, but to others, house work—the broom and the spinning wheel-are equally indispensable. Some boys may study, a part of the day, with safety; and in due time may become useful teachers, ministers, physicians, &c.; but to many, confinement to study without agricultural or horticultural exercise, would destroy them. It is the business of the parents, with the help of a knowledge of Physiology and all the light they can get from their family physician and others, to decide for what employment or trade or mode of life they are best adapted. The question should not be, In what way can they get the most money? but; In what way can they do the most good? We should take them as the gift of God, just as they are—and make the most of them; and we should endeavor to form their taste in conformity to our own judgment respecting them. No matter how or where they are employed, so the cause of God and man can be best subserved by their labors--whether in America or in Asia-whether in raising corn and wheat, in making mechanical instruments, in teaching A. B. C., or in proclaiming the doctrines of the cross. Let them be educated and employed according to the will of God; and then the world will receive the full benefit of their labors, and the Science of Life will have accomplished its full purpose respecting them.

ESSAYS ON PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

NO. I.-CLOTHING.

The subject of physical education, so long neglected in our families and schools, is beginning at length to receive a measure of the attention it deserves. The importance of the best and purest air, the best and most appropriate clothing, the best food and drink; of attention to the quantity, quality and circumstances of sleep, to cleanliness, to exercise, to ventilation, to temperature, and a thousand other things, is beginning to be recognized To have sound minds, we must, as a general rule, have sound bodies. Nor are we sure that the heart is less affected by the condition of the body than the head. We have sometimes said that our love and our hatred, our hopes and our fears, our sorrows and our joys, were as much modified by the state of the internal organs, as the mere thinking part of our being. But be this as it may, of one thing we may be certain, that there is a close connection between all these; and that when one mem

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »