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Simple Dress of a Little Girl.
ber or faculty or affection suffers, all the rest suffer with it; and when one of these, in the beautiful but highly figurative language of scripture, rejoices, all the rest rejoice with it.
For the present, our remarks will be confined to dress. We are led to this part of our subject, by the return of the warm season, and by the errors which we observe around us, and which seem to be more numerous at this season than at any other.
SIMPLE DRESS OF A LITTLE GIRL. · The general rule,' says Dr Dick, which reason suggests in regard to the clothing of children, is that “a child have no more clothes than are necessary to keep it warm, and that they be quite easy for its body.” In conformity to this rule, the dress of children should be simple, clean, light and cheap-free, wide and open, so as neither to impede the vital functions, nor the free and easy motions of the body; nor to prevent the access of free air, and it should be easily put on or taken off. Pins should be used as little as possible, and the clothes fastened with strings, which would prevent the occasional scratching of their tender skins, and those alarming cries which so frequently proceed from this cause.
Such a light and simple dress would induce children to live with less restraint in the society of each other ; and check that silly pride which leads them to ape the fashions of their superiors, and to value themselves on account of the finery of their clothes.
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Covering of the Head and Breast. During the first months, the head and breast may be slightly covered; but as soon as the hair is sufficiently long to afford protection, there appears little necessity for either hats or caps, unless in seasons of rain or cold. By keeping the breast and neck uncovered, they acquire more firmness, are rendered hardier, and less susceptible of being affected with cold. Besides a child has really a more interesting aspect, when arrayed in the beautiful simplicity of nature, than when adorned with all the trappings which art can devise.
The following anecdote, related by Herodotus, illustrates the advantages, connected with a cool regimen of the head :“After the battle fought between the Persians, under Cambyses, and the Egyptians, the slain of both nations were separated ; and upon examining the heads of the Persians, their skulls were found to be so thin and tender, that a small stone would immediately perforate them ; while, on the other hand, the heads of the Egyptians were so firm, that they could scarcely be fractured with a stone.” The cause of this remarkable difference was attributed to the custom of the Egyptians shaving their heads from earliest infancy, and going uncovered in all states of the weather ; while the Persians always kept their heads warm by wearing heavy turbans.
We seem to be required, by these remarks of Dr Dick, to keep the breast and neck of infants uncovered. Now much will, in our view, depend on other circumstances. If the principle here recognized, that, of keeping the bodily movements unimpeded by dress, is the only principle which is known by a parent ; if while the dress is from the first loose, and flowing, and rather thin, the apartments which the child occupies are kept very warm, or are unventilated; if he sleeps in soft beds of feathers or down, and eats and drinks nothing but what is high seasoned or over stimulating, or smoking from the oven or stove ; and if a feeble puny frame is his lot either from inheritance, or from too much drugging, then the keeping of the neck and breast uncovered may be a source of evil rather than of good, and may expose him to throat and lung diseases. And yet, if the laws of health are obeyed in all other respects—from the very first—and if the law of hereditary descent has imposed nothing which is peculiarly unfavorable, the course advised may be the very best for health which could possibly be adopted.
As to covering the head and breast slightly during the first month, this may or may not be necessary. If we keep the nursery-as has been already said-as hot as an oven, and if the child is to be exposed, every now and then, to currents of very cold air, there will be a necessity of defending the head against
Opinions of Dr Faust.
them, until nature furnishes it with the proper covering. In general, however, any unnatural covering of the head is believed to be injurious rather than beneficial.
We are often asked, why we do not lay down, more than we are accustomed to do, specific and definite rules, instead of dealing so much in general truths or principles. Why, it is asked, do you not say plainly what every body may or may not do, with safety? But herein is the difficulty. What is true, if all the laws of health were obeyed, may be far from it-nay, it may be false-under other circumstances. Just as a combination of opium and ipecac and sundry other things, may be useful in dysentery ; and hence in reference to the compound, ipecac may be said to be useful in these cases. Yet he who should say, without qualification, that ipecac was useful in dysentery, and prescribe it for his patients, might do more of harm than of good, and perhaps be the means of destroying many lives. So it is in regard to specific rules about dress, food, drink, &c., unless people attend to and study the whole subject. Specific rules may indeed occasionally do them good, but it will be, as it were, by accident.
Still, as we cannot say all things or study all things, in one and the same breath or instant, there must be more or less of this sort of quackery. Our great effort should be to have as little of it in the world as possible. In this view, the following reinarks of Dr Dick are equally valuable with the former. ..With regard to the clothing of children, in general, it is the opinion of Dr Faust, that from the beginning of the third to the end of the seventh or eighth year, " their heads and necks must be free and bare, the body clothed with a wide shirt and frock, (of linen) with short sleeves, the collar of the shirt to fall back over that of the frock, with the addition of a woollen frock to be worn between the shirt and the linen frock during the winter; and that the feet should be covered only with a pair of soles, to be worn in the shoes.”
Such a cheap and simple dress, if generally adopted, would undoubtedly be beneficial to mankind in general, and tend to promote the strength, beauty and graceful attitudes of children, and at the same time check the foolish propensity of parents to indulge their children in flimsy ornaments and finery, beyond what their means can afford. At present, children are frequently muffled up with their caps, hats, bonnets, cravats, pelisses, frills, muffles, gloves, ribbons, and other paraphernalia, as if they were to be reared, like plants, in hot beds; so that the shape and beautiful proportions which nature has given them, can hardly be distinguished.
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'I shall only add that the dress of children ought to be kept thoroughly clean, as dirty clothes not only gall and fret their tender skins, but tend to produce disagreeable smells, vermin and cutaneous diseases ; and no mother or nurse, however poor, can have any valid excuse for allowing her children to wallow in dirtiness.'
NO. 11.-DRESS OF THE FEET. In many eastern nations, of ancient and modern times, it has been customary to wear sandals rather than shoes; and for most persons, except when there is deep mud or snow, they seem to be preferable to shoes, or at least to boots. They do not impede the free action of the muscular parts of the feet, and while they keep them about equally warm, in cold weather, if proper socks are worn, they do not keep them quite so hot in warm weather. At all events, they do not so distort these parts of our frame, as fashionable boots or shoes do.- The following are some of the views of that celebrated writer, Dr Dick, on this subject; and they are as sensible as they are contrary, in some respects, to the prevailing opinion.
"It is scarcely necessary for children to use shoes before they are a year old ; or if they do, the soles should be thin and soft. The form of the human foot is such, that at the toes it is broad, at the heels narrow, and the inside of the foot is no longer than the outside-a form which is evidently intended by nature, to enable us to stand and walk with firmness and ease. It is theresore a dictate of Nature, that shoes should be made in the same forın as the feet, and be sufficiently roomy for the toes to move with ease; and in order to this, they must be formed upon two separate lasts corresponding to the right and left foot. How shoes came at first to be made tapering to a point at the toes, almost like a bodkin-how high heels became the darling fashion of the ladies--and how a small foot came to be reckoned genteel-1 pretend not to determine ; but certainly nothing can be more absurd and preposterous. Such opinions and practices along with many others which abound particularly in the fashionable world, have a direct tendency to counteract the benevolent intentions of Nature, and are nothing short of an attempt to arraign the wisdom of the Creator, in his arranging the different parts of the human frame-as if puny man, by his foolish whims, were capable of improving the workmanship of Infinite Intelligence.
• The following figures (taken from Dr Faust,) plainly show the absurdity of the shapes which have been given to shoes.
The middle figure shows the original shape of the sole of the foot. The right hand figure shows how the sole of the shoe ought to be formed ; and the other shows that shoes usually worn and made on one last, cannot correspond to the natural shape of the foot. If they taper towards a point, the larger toe and some of the small ones, must be crushed and pressed against each other, causing pain to the wearer, and producing corns. The simplest and most accurate mode of taking the true measure and form of shoes, is to place each foot upon a sheet of paper, and then draw its shape with a pencil, to which two separatę lasts should nearly correspond, after having ascertained the curve of the upper part of the foot.'
In a work, by Dr A. F. M. Willich, written about forty years ago, we find the following remarks. He had been complaining of the tyrannical custom of crippling the feet by means of shoes, which at that time prevailed in England ; but his remarks are as applicable, for aught we know, to the United States in 1838, as to England in 1798.
It is pitiable to see the young and old of both sexes, advancing into an assembly or ball room. Without consulting Lavater's Physiognomy, it is easy to discover, by their distorted features and compressed lips, from too tight, or what is still worse, from short shoes.
Our knees would be more flexible, and our toes more pliable, more useful, and better adapted to perform the various motions of the feet, if they were not continually pressed and palsied by this improper case work. Nature has designed the toe; to be as movable as the fingers. Those unfortunate beings who are born without hands, learn to perform, with the toes, the most astonishing tasks; to cut pens and write ; to sew, to draw ;-in short, to supply, almost completely, the want of their hands.