But one caution is needful, in regard to another extreme. When a lady of wealth, is seen roaming about in search of cheaper articles, or trying to beat down a shopkeeper, or making a close bargain with those she employs, the impropriety is glaring to all minds. A person of wealth has no occasion to spend time in looking for extra cheap articles; her time could be more profitably employed in distributing to the wants of others. And the practice of beating down tradespeople, is vulgar and degrading, in any one. A woman, after a little inquiry, can ascertain what is the fair and common price of things; and if she is charged an exorbitant sum, she can decline taking the article. If the price be a fair one, it is not becoming in her to search for another article which is below the regular charge. If a woman finds that she is in a store where they charge high prices, expecting to be beat down, she can mention, that she wishes to know the lowest price, as it is contrary to her principles to beat down charges.
There is one inconsistency, worthy of notice, which is found among that class, who are ambitious of being ranked among the aristocracy of society. It has been remarked, that, in the real aristocracy of other lands, it is much more common, than with us, to practise systematic economy. And such do not hesitate to say so, when they cannot afford certain indulgences. This practice descends to subordinate grades; so that foreign ladies, when they come to reside among us, seldom hesitate in assigning the true reason, when they cannot afford any gratification. But in this Country, it will be found, that many, who are most fond of copying aristocratic examples, are, on this point, rather with the vulgar. Not a few of those young persons, who begin life with parlors and dresses in a style fitting only to established wealth, go into expenses, which they can ill afford; and are ashamed even to allow, that they are restrained from any expense, by motives of economy. Such a confession is never extorted, except by some call of benevolence; and then, they are very ready to declare that they cannot afford to bestow even a pittance. In such cases, it would seem as if the direct opposite of Christianity had gained possession of their tastes and opinions. They are ashamed to appear to deny themselves; but are very far from having any shame in denying the calls of benevolence.
ON HEALTH OF MIND.
There is such an intimate connection between the body and mind, that the health of one, cannot be preserved, without a proper care of the other. And it is from a neglect of this principle, that some of the most exemplary and conscientious persons in the world, suffer a thousand mental agonies, from a diseased state of body, while others ruin the health of the body, by neglecting the proper care of the mind. When the brain is excited, by stimulating drinks taken into the stomach, it produces a corresponding excitement of the mental faculties. The reason, the imagination, and all the powers, are stimulated to preternatural vigor and activity. In like manner, when the mind is excited by earnest intellectual effort, or by strong passions, the brain is equally excited, and the blood rushes to the head. Sir Astley Cooper records, that, in examining the brain of a young man who had lost a portion of his skull, whenever "he was agitated, by some opposition to his wishes," "the blood was sent, with increased force, to his brain," and the pulsations "became frequent and violent." The same effect was produced by any intellectual effort; and the flushed countenance, which attends earnest study or strong emotions of fear, shame, or anger, is an external indication of the suffused state of the brain from such causes.
In exhibiting the causes, which injure the health of the mind, they will be found to be partly physical, partly intellectual, and partly moral.
The first cause of mental disease and suffering, is not unfrequently found in the want of a proper supply of duly oxygenized blood. It has been shown, that the blood, in passing through the lungs, is purified, by the oxygen of the air combining with the superabundant hydrogen and carbon of the venous blood, thus forming carbonic acid and water, which are expired into the atmosphere. Every pair of lungs is constantly withdrawing from the surrounding atmosphere its healthful principle, and returning one, which is injurious to human life.
When, by confinement, and this process, the atmosphere is deprived of its appropriate supply of oxygen, the purification of the blood is interrupted, and it passes, without being properly prepared, into the brain, producing languor, restlessness, and inability to exercise the intellect and feelings. Whenever, therefore, persons sleep in a close apartment, or remain, for a length of time, in a crowded or ill-ventilated room, a most pernicious influence is exerted on the brain, and, through this, on the mind. A person, who is often exposed to such influences, can never enjoy that elasticity and vigor of mind, which is one of the chief indications of its health. This is the reason, why all rooms for religious meetings, and all schoolrooms, and sleeping apartments, should be so contrived, as to secure a constant supply of fresh air from without. The minister, who preaches in a crowded and ill-ventilated apartment, loses much of his power to feel and to speak, while the audience are equally reduced, in their capability of attending. The teacher, who confines children in a close apartment, diminishes their ability to study, or to attend to his instructions. And the person, who habitually sleeps in a close room, impairs his mental energies, in a similar degree. It is not unfrequently the case, that depression of spirits, and stupor of intellect, are occasioned solely by inattention to this subject.
Another cause of mental disease, is, the excessive exercise of the intellect or feelings. If the eye is taxed, beyond its strength, by protracted use, its blood-vessels become gorged, and the bloodshot appearance warns of the excess and the need of rest. The brain is affected, in a similar manner, by excessive use, though the suffering and inflamed organ cannot make its appeal to the eye. But there are some indications, which ought never to be misunderstood or disregarded. In cases of pupils, at school or at college, a diseased state, from over action, is often manifested by increased clearness of mind, and ease and vigor of mental action. In one instance, known to the writer, a most exemplary and industrious pupil, anxious to improve every hour, and ignorant or unmindful of the laws of health, first manifested the diseased state of her brain and mind, by demands for more studies, and a sudden and earnest activity in planning modes of improvement for herself and others. When warned of her danger, she protested that she never was better, in her life; that she took regular exercise, in the open air, went to bed in season, slept soundly, and felt perfectly well; that her mind was never before so bright and clear, and study never so easy and delightful. And at this time, she was on the verge of derangement, from which she was saved only by an entire cessation of all her intellectual efforts.
A similar case occurred, under the eye of the writer, from over-excited feelings. It was during a time of unusual religious interest in the community, and the mental disease was first manifested, by the pupil bringing her Hymn-book or Bible to the class-room, and making it her constant resort, in every interval of school duty. It finally became impossible to convince her, that it was her duty to attend to any thing else; her conscience became morbidly sensitive, her perceptions indistinct, her deductions unreasonable, and nothing, but entire change of scene, exercise, and amusement, saved her. When the health of the brain was restored, she found that she could attend to the "one thing needful," not only without interruption of duty, or injury of health, but rather so as to promote both. Clergymen and teachers need most carefully to notice and guard against the danger here alluded to.
Any such attention to religion, as prevents the performance of daily duties and needful relaxation, is dangerous, as tending to produce such a state of the brain, as makes it impossible to feel or judge correctly. And when any morbid and unreasonable pertinacity appears, much exercise, and engagement in other interesting pursuits, should be urged, as the only mode of securing the religious benefits aimed at. And whenever any mind is oppressed with care, anxiety, or sorrow, the amount of active exercise in the fresh air should be greatly increased, that the action of the muscles may withdraw the blood, which, in such seasons, is constantly tending too much to the brain.
There has been a most appalling amount of suffering, derangement, disease, and death, occasioned by a want of attention to this subject, in teachers and parents. Uncommon precocity in children is usually the result of an unhealthy state of the brain; and, in such cases, medical men would now direct, that the wonderful child should be deprived of all books and study, and turned to play or work in the fresh air. Instead of this, parents frequently add fuel to the fever of the brain, by supplying constant mental stimulus, until the victim finds refuge in idiocy or an early grave. Where such fatal results do not occur, the brain, in many cases, is so weakened, that the prodigy of infancy sinks below the medium of intellectual powers in afterlife. In our colleges, too, many of the most promising minds sink to an early grave, or drag out a miserable existence, from this same cause. And it is an evil, as yet little alleviated by the increase of physiological knowledge. Every college and professional school, and every seminary for young ladies, needs a medical man, not only to lecture on physiology and the laws of health, but empowered, in his official capacity, to investigate the case of every pupil, and, by authority, to restrain him to such a course of study, exercise, and repose, as his physical system requires. The writer has found, by experience, that, in a large institution, there is one class of pupils who need to be restrained, by penalties, from late hours and excessive study, as much as another class need stimulus to industry.
Under the head of excessive mental action, must be placed the indulgence of the imagination in novel reading and castle building. This kind of stimulus, unless counterbalanced by physical exercise, not only wastes time and energies, but undermines the vigor of the nervous system. The imagination was designed, by our kind Creator, as the charm and stimulus to animate to benevolent activity; and its perverted exercise seldom fails to bring the appropriate penalty.
A third cause of mental disease, is, the want of the appropriate exercise of the various faculties of the mind. On this point, Dr. Combe remarks, "We have seen, that, by disuse, muscle becomes emaciated, bone softens, blood-vessels are obliterated, and nerves lose their characteristic structure. The brain is no exception to this general rule. Of it, also, the tone is impaired by permanent inactivity, and it becomes less fit to manifest the mental powers with readiness and energy." It is "the withdrawal of the stimulus necessary for its healthy exercise, which renders solitary confinement so severe a punishment, even to the most daring minds. It is a lower degree of the same cause, which renders continuous seclusion from society so injurious, to both mental and bodily health."
"Inactivity of intellect and of feeling is a very frequent predisposing cause of every form of nervous disease. For demonstrative evidence of this position, we have only to look at the numerous victims to be found, among persons who have no call to exertion in gaining the means of subsistence, and no objects of interest on which to exercise their mental faculties and who consequently sink into a state of mental sloth and nervous weakness." "If we look abroad upon society, we shall find innumerable examples of mental and nervous debility from this cause. When a person of some mental capacity is confined, for a long time, to an unvarying round of employment, which affords neither scope nor stimulus for one half of his faculties, and, from want of education or society, has no external resources; his mental powers, for want of exercise, become blunted, and his perceptions slow and dull." "The intellect and feelings, not being provided with interests external to themselves, must either become inactive and weak, or work upon themselves and become diseased."
"The most frequent victims of this kind of predisposition, are females of the middle and higher ranks, especially those of a nervous constitution and good natural abilities; but who, from an ill-directed education, possess nothing more solid than mere accomplishments, and have no materials of thought," and no "occupation to excite interest or demand attention." "The liability of such persons to melancholy, hysteria, hypochondriasis, and other varieties of mental distress, really depends on a state of irritability of brain, induced by imperfect exercise."
These remarks, of a medical man, illustrate the principles before indicated;—namely, that the demand of Christianity, that we live to promote the general happiness, and not merely for selfish indulgence, has for its aim, not only the general good, but the highest happiness, of the individual of whom it is required.
A person possessed of wealth, who has nothing more noble to engage his attention, than seeking his own personal enjoyment, subjects his mental powers and moral feelings to a degree of inactivity, utterly at war with health of mind. And the greater the capacities, the greater are the sufferings which result from this cause. Any one, who has read the misanthropic wailings of Lord Byron, has seen the necessary result of great and noble powers bereft of their appropriate exercise, and, in consequence, becoming sources of the keenest suffering.
It is this view of the subject, which has often awakened feelings of sorrow and anxiety in the mind of the writer, while aiding in the developement and education of superior female minds, in the wealthier circles. Not because there are not noble objects for interest and effort, abundant, and within reach of such minds; but because long-established custom has made it seem so Quixotic, to the majority, even of the professed followers of Christ, for a woman of wealth to practise any great self-denial, that few have independence of mind and Christian principle sufficient to overcome such an influence. The more a mind has its powers developed, the more does it aspire and pine after some object worthy of its energies and affections; and they are commonplace and phlegmatic characters, who are most free from such deep-seated wants. Many a young woman, of fine genius and elevated sentiment, finds a charm in Lord Byron's writings, because they present a glowing picture of what, to a certain extent, must be felt by every well-developed mind, which has no nobler object in life, than the pursuit of its own gratification.
If young ladies of wealth could pursue their education, under the full conviction that the increase of their powers and advantages increased their obligations to use all for the good of society, and with some plan of benevolent enterprise in view, what new motives of interest would be added to their daily pursuits! And what blessed results would follow, to our beloved Country, if all well-educated females carried out the principles of Christianity, in the exercise of their developed powers!
It is cheering to know, that there are women, among the most intelligent and wealthy, who can be presented as examples of what may be done, when there is a heart to do. A pupil of the writer is among this number, who, though a rich heiress, immediately, on the close of her school-life, commenced a course of self-denying benevolence, in the cause of education. She determined to secure a superior female institution, in her native place, which should extend the benefits of the best education to all in that vicinity, at a moderate charge. Finding no teacher on the ground, prepared to take the lead, and though herself a timid and retiring character, she began, with the aid of the governess in her mother's family, a daily school, superintending all, and teaching six hours a day. The liberal-minded and intelligent mother cooperated, and the result is a flourishing female seminary, with a large and beautiful and well-furnished building; the greater part of the means being supplied by the mother, and almost all by the members of that family connection. And both these ladies will testify, that no time or money, spent for any other object, has ever secured to them more real and abiding enjoyment, than witnessing the results of this successful and benevolent enterprise, which, for years to come, will pour forth blessings on society.
Another lady could be pointed out, who, possessing some property, went into a new western village, built and furnished her schoolhouse, and established herself there, to aid in raising a community from ignorance and gross worldliness, to intelligence and virtue. And in repeated instances, among the friends and pupils of the writer, young ladies have left wealthy homes, and affectionate friends, to find nobler enjoyments, in benevolent and active exertions to extend intelligence and virtue, where such disinterested laborers were needed. In other cases, where it was not practicable to leave home, well-educated young ladies have interested themselves in common schools in the vicinity, aiding the teachers, by their sympathy, counsel, and personal assistance.
Other ladies, of property and standing, having families to educate, and being well qualified for such duties, have relinquished a large portion of domestic labor and superintendence, which humbler minds could be hired to perform, devoted themselves to the education of their children, and received others, less fortunate, to share with their own these superior advantages. But, so long as the feeling widely exists, that the increase of God's bounties diminishes the obligations of self-denying service for the good of mankind, so long will well-educated women, in easy circumstances, shrink from such confinement and exertion.
It is believed, however, that there are many benevolent and intelligent women, in this Country, who would gladly engage in such enterprises, were there any appropriate way within their reach. And it is a question, well deserving consideration, among those who guide the public mind in benevolent enterprises, whether some organization is not demanded, which shall bring the whole community to act systematically, in voluntary associations, to extend a proper education to every child in this Nation, and to bring into activity all the female enterprise and benevolence now lying dormant, for want of proper facilities to exercise them. There are hundreds of villages, which need teachers, and that would support them, if they were on the spot, but which never will send for them. And there are hundreds of females, now unemployed, who would teach, if a proper place, and home, and support, and escort, were provided for them. And there needs to be some enlarged and systematic plan, conducted by wise and efficient men, to secure these objects.
Could such a plan, as the one suggested, be carried out, it is believed that many female minds, now suffering, from diseases occasioned by want of appropriate objects for their energies, would be relieved. The duties of a teacher exercise every intellectual faculty, to its full extent; while, in this benevolent service, all the social, moral, and benevolent, emotions, are kept in full play. The happiest persons the writer has ever known,—those who could say that they were as happy as they wished to be, in this world, (and she has seen such,)—were persons engaged in this employment.
The indications of a diseased mind, owing to a want of the proper exercise of its powers, are, apathy, discontent, a restless longing for excitement, a craving for unattainable good, a diseased and morbid action of the imagination, dissatisfaction with the world, and factitious interest in trifles which the mind feels to be unworthy of its powers. Such minds sometimes seek alleviation in exciting amusements; others resort to the grosser enjoyments of sense. Oppressed with the extremes of languor, or over-excitement, or apathy, the body fails under the wearing process, and adds new causes of suffering to the mind. Such, the compassionate Saviour calls to his service, in these appropriate terms: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me," "and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
ON THE CARE OF DOMESTICS.
There is no point, where the women of this Country need more wisdom, patience, principle, and self-control, than in relation to those whom they employ in domestic service. The subject is attended with many difficulties, which powerfully influence the happiness of families; and the following suggestions are offered, to aid in securing right opinions and practice.
One consideration, which it would be well to bear in mind, on this subject, is, that a large portion of the peculiar trials, which American women suffer from this source, are the necessary evils connected with our most valuable civil blessings. Every blessing of this life involves some attendant liability to evil, from the same source; and, in this case, while we rejoice at a state of society, which so much raises the condition and advantages of our sex, the evils involved should be regarded as more than repaid, by the compensating benefits. If we cannot secure the cringing, submissive, well-trained, servants of aristocratic lands, let us be consoled that we thus escape from the untold miseries and oppression, which always attend that state of society.
Instead, then, of complaining that we cannot have our own peculiar advantages, and those of other nations, too, or imagining how much better off we should be, if things were different from what they are, it is much wiser and more Christianlike to strive cheerfully to conform to actual circumstances; and, after remedying all that we can control, patiently to submit to what is beyond our power. If domestics are found to be incompetent, unstable, and unconformed to their station, it is Perfect Wisdom which appoints these trials, to teach us patience, fortitude, and self-control; and, if the discipline is met, in a proper spirit, it will prove a blessing, rather than an evil.
But, to judge correctly in regard to some of the evils involved in the state of domestic service, in this Country, we should endeavor to conceive ourselves placed in the situation of those, of whom complaint is made, that we may not expect, from them, any more than it would seem right should be exacted from us, in similar circumstances.
It is sometimes urged, against domestics, that they exact exorbitant wages. But what is the rule of rectitude, on this subject? Is it not the universal law of labor and of trade, that an article is to be valued, according to its scarcity and the demand? When wheat is scarce, the farmer raises his price; and when a mechanic offers services, difficult to be obtained, he makes a corresponding increase of price. And why is it not right, for domestics to act according to a rule, allowed to be correct in reference to all other trades and professions? It is a fact, that really good domestic service must continue to increase in value, just in proportion as this Country waxes rich and prosperous; thus making the proportion of those, who wish to hire labor, relatively greater, and the number of those, willing to go to service, less.
Money enables the rich to gain many advantages, which those of more limited circumstances cannot secure. One of these, is, securing good domestics, by offering high wages; and this, as the scarcity of this class increases, will serve constantly to raise the price of service. It is right for domestics to charge the market value, and this value is always decided by the scarcity of the article and the amount of demand. Right views of this subject, will sometimes serve to diminish hard feelings towards those, who would otherwise be wrongfully regarded as unreasonable and exacting.
Another complaint against domestics, is, that of instability and discontent, leading to perpetual change. But in reference to this, let a mother or daughter conceive of their own circumstances as so changed, that the daughter must go out to service. Suppose a place is engaged, and it is then found that she must sleep in a comfortless garret; and that, when a new domestic comes, perhaps a coarse and dirty foreigner, she must share her bed with her. Another place is offered, where she can have a comfortable room, and an agreeable room-mate; in such a case, would not both mother and daughter think it right to change?
Or, suppose, on trial, it was found that the lady of the house was fretful, or exacting, and hard to please; or, that her children were so ungoverned, as to be perpetual vexations; or, that the work was so heavy, that no time was allowed for relaxation and the care of a wardrobe;—and another place offers, where these evils can be escaped: would not mother and daughter here think it right to change? And is it not right for domestics, as well as their employers, to seek places, where they can be most comfortable?
In some cases, this instability and love of change would be remedied, if employers would take more pains to make a residence with them agreeable; and to attach domestics to the family, by feelings of gratitude and affection. There are ladies, even where well-qualified domestics are most rare, who seldom find any trouble in keeping good and steady ones. And the reason is, that their domestics know they cannot better their condition, by any change within reach. It is not merely by giving them comfortable rooms, and good food, and presents, and privileges, that the attachment of domestics is secured; it is by the manifestation of a friendly and benevolent interest in their comfort and improvement. This is exhibited, in bearing patiently with their faults; in kindly teaching them how to improve; in showing them how to make and take proper care of their clothes; in guarding their health; in teaching them to read, if necessary, and supplying them with proper books; and, in short, by endeavoring, so far as may be, to supply the place of parents. It is seldom that such a course would fail to secure steady service, and such affection and gratitude, that even higher wages would be ineffectual to tempt them away. There would probably be some cases of ungrateful returns; but there is no doubt that the course indicated, if generally pursued, would very much lessen the evil in question.
Another subject of complaint, in regard to domestics, is, their pride, insubordination, and spirit not conformed to their condition. They are not willing to be called servants; in some places, they claim a seat, at meals, with the family; they imitate a style of dress unbecoming their condition; and their manners and address are rude and disrespectful. That these evils are very common, among this class of persons, cannot be denied; the only question is, how can they best be met and remedied.
In regard to the common feeling among domestics, which is pained and offended by being called "servants," there is need of some consideration and allowance. It should be remembered, that, in this Country, children, from their earliest years, are trained to abhor slavery, in reference to themselves, as the greatest of all possible shame and degradation. They are perpetually hearing orations, songs, and compositions of all sorts, which set forth the honor and dignity of freemen, and heap scorn and contempt on all who would be so mean as to be slaves. Now the term servant, and the duties it involves, are, in the minds of many persons, nearly the same as those of slave. And there are few minds, entirely free from associations which make servitude a degradation. It is not always pride, then, which makes this term so offensive. It is a consequence of that noble and generous spirit of freedom, which every American draws from his mother's breast, and which ought to be respected, rather than despised. In order to be respected, by others, we must respect ourselves; and sometimes the ruder classes of society make claims, deemed forward and offensive, when, with their views, such a position seems indispensable to preserve a proper self-respect.
Where an excessive sensibility on this subject exists, and forward and disrespectful manners result from it, the best remedy is, a kind attempt to give correct views, such as better-educated minds are best able to attain. It should be shown to them, that, in this Country, labor has ceased to be degrading, in any class; that, in all classes, different grades of subordination must exist; and that it is no more degrading, for a domestic to regard the heads of a family as superiors in station, and treat them with becoming respect, than it is for children to do the same, or for men to treat their rulers with respect and deference. They should be taught, that domestics use a different entrance to the house, and sit at a distinct table, not because they are inferior beings, but because this is the best method of securing neatness, order, and convenience. They can be shown, if it is attempted in a proper spirit and manner, that these very regulations really tend to their own ease and comfort, as well as to that of the family.
The writer has known a case, where the lady of the family, for the sake of convincing her domestic of the truth of these views, allowed her to follow her own notions, for a short time, and join the family at meals. It was merely required, as a condition, that she should always dress her hair as the other ladies did, and appear in a clean dress, and abide by all the rules of propriety at table, which the rest were required to practise, and which were duly detailed. The experiment was tried, two or three times; and, although the domestic was treated with studious politeness and kindness, she soon felt that she should be much more comfortable in the kitchen, where she could talk, eat, and dress, as she pleased. A reasonable domestic can also be made to feel the propriety of allowing opportunity for the family to talk freely of their private affairs, when they meet at meals, as they never could do, if restrained by the constant presence of a stranger. Such views, presented in a kind and considerate manner, will often entirely change the views of a domestic, who is sensitive on such subjects.
When a domestic is forward and bold in manners, and disrespectful in address, a similar course can be pursued. It can be shown, that those, who are among the best-bred and genteel, have courteous and respectful manners and language to all they meet, while many, who have wealth, are regarded as vulgar, because they exhibit rude and disrespectful manners. The very term, gentleman, indicates the refinement and delicacy of address, which distinguishes the high-bred from the coarse and vulgar.
In regard to appropriate dress, in most cases it is difficult for an employer to interfere, directly, with comments or advice. The most successful mode, is, to offer some service in mending or making a wardrobe, and when a confidence in the kindness of feeling is thus gained, remarks and suggestions will generally be properly received, and new views of propriety and economy can be imparted. In some cases, it may be well for an employer,—who, from appearances, anticipates difficulty of this kind,—in making the agreement, to state that she wishes to have the room, person, and dress of her domestics kept neat, and in order, and that she expects to remind them of their duty, in this particular, if it is neglected. Domestics are very apt to neglect the care of their own chambers and clothing; and such habits have a most pernicious influence on their wellbeing, and on that of their children in future domestic life. An employer, then, is bound to exercise a parental care over them, in these respects.
In regard to the great deficiencies of domestics, in qualifications for their duties, much patience and benevolence are required. Multitudes have never been taught to do their work properly; and, in such cases, how unreasonable it would be to expect it of them! Most persons, of this class, depend, for their knowledge in domestic affairs, not on their parents, who are usually unqualified to instruct them, but on their employers; and if they live in a family where nothing is done neatly and properly, they have no chance to learn how to perform their duties well. When a lady finds that she must employ a domestic who is ignorant, awkward, and careless, her first effort should be, to make all proper allowance for past want of instruction, and the next, to remedy the evil, by kind and patient teaching. In doing this, it should ever be borne in mind, that nothing is more difficult, than to change old habits, and to learn to be thoughtful and considerate. And a woman must make up her mind to tell the same thing "over and over again," and yet not lose her patience. It will often save much vexation, if, on the arrival of a new domestic, the mistress of the family, or a daughter, will, for two or three days, go round with the novice, and show the exact manner in which it is expected the work will be done. And this, also, it may be well to specify in the agreement, as some domestics would otherwise resent such a supervision.
But it is often remarked, that, after a woman has taken all this pains to instruct a domestic, and make her a good one, some other person will offer higher wages, and she will leave. This, doubtless, is a sore trial; but, if such efforts were made in the true spirit of benevolence, the lady will still have her reward, in the consciousness that she has contributed to the welfare of society, by making one more good domestic, and one more comfortable family where that domestic is employed; and if the latter becomes the mother of a family, a whole circle of children will share in the benefit.
There is one great mistake, not unfrequently made, in the management both of domestics and of children; and that is, in supposing that the way to cure defects, is by finding fault as each failing occurs. But, instead of this being true, in many cases the directly opposite course is the best; while, in all instances, much good judgement is required, in order to decide when to notice faults, and when to let them pass unnoticed. There are some minds, very sensitive, easily discouraged, and infirm of purpose. Such persons, when they have formed habits of negligence, haste, and awkwardness, often need expressions of sympathy and encouragement, rather than reproof. They have usually been found fault with, so much, that they have become either hardened or desponding; and it is often the case, that a few words of commendation will awaken fresh efforts and renewed hope. In almost every case, words of kindness, confidence, and encouragement, should be mingled with the needful admonitions or reproof.
It is a good rule, in reference to this point, to forewarn, instead of finding fault. Thus, when a thing has been done wrong, let it pass unnoticed, till it is to be done again; and then, a simple request, to have it done in the right way, will secure quite as much, and probably more, willing effort, than a reproof administered for neglect. Some persons seem to take it for granted, that young and inexperienced minds are bound to have all the forethought and discretion of mature persons; and freely express wonder and disgust, when mishaps occur for want of these traits. But it would be far better to save from mistake or forgetfulness, by previous caution and care on the part of those who have gained experience and forethought; and thus many occasions of complaint and ill-humor will be avoided.
Those, who fill the places of heads of families, are not very apt to think how painful it is, to be chided for neglect of duty, or for faults of character. If they would sometimes imagine themselves in the place of those whom they control, with some person daily administering reproof to them, in the same tone and style as they employ to those who are under them, it might serve as a useful check to their chidings. It is often the case, that persons, who are most strict and exacting, and least able to make allowances and receive palliations, are themselves peculiarly sensitive to any thing which implies that they are in fault. By such, the spirit implied in the Divine petition, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," needs especially to be cherished.
One other consideration, is very important. There is no duty, more binding on Christians, than that of patience and meekness under provocations and disappointment. Now, the tendency of every sensitive mind, when thwarted in its wishes, is, to complain and find fault, and that often in tones of fretfulness or anger. But there are few domestics, who have not heard enough of the Bible, to know that angry or fretful fault-finding, from the mistress of a family, when her work is not done to suit her, is not in agreement with the precepts of Christ. They notice and feel the inconsistency; and every woman, when she gives way to feelings of anger and impatience, at the faults of those around her, lowers herself in their respect, while her own conscience, unless very much blinded, cannot but suffer a wound.
There are some women, who, in the main, are amiable, who seem impressed with the idea, that it is their office and duty to find fault with their domestics, whenever any thing is not exactly right, and follow their fancied calling without the least appearance of tenderness or sympathy, as if the objects of their discipline were stocks or stones. The writer once heard a domestic, describing her situation in a family which she had left, make this remark of her past employer: "She was a very good housekeeper, allowed good wages, and gave us many privileges and presents; but if we ever did any thing wrong, she always talked to us just as if she thought we had no feelings, and I never was so unhappy in my life, as while living with her." And this was said of a kind-hearted and conscientious woman, by a very reasonable and amiable domestic.
Every woman, who has the care of domestics, should cultivate a habit of regarding them with that sympathy and forbearance, which she would wish for herself or her daughters, if deprived of parents, fortune, and home. The fewer advantages they have enjoyed, and the greater difficulties of temper or of habit they have to contend with, the more claims they have on compassionate forbearance. They ought ever to be looked upon, not as the mere ministers to our comfort and convenience, but as the humbler and more neglected children of our Heavenly Father, whom He has sent to claim our sympathy and aid.[N]
[N] The excellent little work of Miss Sedgwick, entitled 'Live, and Let Live,' contains many valuable and useful hints, conveyed in a most pleasing narrative form, which every housekeeper would do well to read. The writer also begs leave to mention a work of her own, entitled, 'Letters to Persons engaged in Domestic Service.'
ON THE CARE OF INFANTS.
Every young lady ought to learn how to take proper care of an infant; for, even if she is never to become the responsible guardian of a nursery, she will often be in situations where she can render benevolent aid to others, in this most fatiguing and anxious duty.
The writer has known instances, in which young ladies, who, having been trained, by their mothers, properly to perform this duty, were, in some cases, the means of saving the lives of infants, and in others, of relieving, by their benevolent aid, sick mothers, from intolerable care and anguish.
On this point, Dr. Combe remarks, "All women are not destined, in the course of Nature, to become mothers; but how very small is the number of those, who are unconnected, by family ties, friendship, or sympathy, with the children of others! How very few are there, who, at some time or other of their lives, would not find their usefulness and happiness increased, by the possession of a kind of knowledge, intimately allied to their best feelings and affections! And how important is it, to the mother herself, that her efforts should be seconded by intelligent, instead of ignorant, assistants!"
In order to be prepared for such benevolent ministries, every young lady should improve the opportunity, whenever it is afforded her, for learning how to wash, dress, and tend, a young infant; and whenever she meets with such a work as Dr. Combe's, on the management of infants, she ought to read it, and remember its contents.
It was the design of the author, to fill this chapter chiefly with extracts from various medical writers, giving some of the most important directions on this subject; but finding these extracts too prolix for a work of this kind, she has condensed them into a shorter compass. Some are quoted verbatim, and some are abridged, chiefly from the writings of Doctors Combe, Bell, and Eberle, who are among the most approved writers on this subject.
"Nearly one half of the deaths, occurring during the first two years of existence, are ascribable to mismanagement, and to errors in diet. At birth, the stomach is feeble, and as yet unaccustomed to food; its cravings are consequently easily satisfied, and frequently renewed." "At that early age, there ought to be no fixed time for giving nourishment. The stomach cannot be thus satisfied." "The active call of the infant, is a sign, which needs never be mistaken."
But care must be taken to determine between the crying of pain or uneasiness, and the call for food; and the practice of giving an infant food, to stop its cries, is often the means of increasing its sufferings. After a child has satisfied its hunger, from two to four hours should intervene, before another supply is given.
"At birth, the stomach and bowels, never having been used, contain a quantity of mucous secretion, which requires to be removed. To effect this, Nature has rendered the first portions of the mother's milk purposely watery and laxative. Nurses, however, distrusting Nature, often hasten to administer some active purgative; and the consequence often is, irritation in the stomach and bowels, not easily subdued." It is only where the child is deprived of its mother's milk, as the first food, that some gentle laxative should be given.
"It is a common mistake, to suppose, that, because a woman is nursing, she ought to live very fully, and to add an allowance of wine, porter, or other fermented liquor, to her usual diet. The only result of this plan, is, to cause an unnatural fulness in the system, which places the nurse on the brink of disease, and retards, rather than increases, the food of the infant. More will be gained by the observance of the ordinary laws of health, than by any foolish deviation, founded on ignorance."
There is no point, on which medical men so emphatically lift the voice of warning, as in reference to administering medicines to infants. It is so difficult to discover what is the matter with an infant, its frame is so delicate and so susceptible, and slight causes have such a powerful influence, that it requires the utmost skill and judgement to ascertain what would be proper medicines, and the proper quantity to be given.
Says Dr. Combe, "That there are cases, in which active means must be promptly used, to save the child, is perfectly true. But it is not less certain, that these are cases, of which no mother or nurse ought to attempt the treatment. As a general rule, where the child is well managed, medicine, of any kind, is very rarely required; and if disease were more generally regarded in its true light, not as something thrust into the system, which requires to be expelled by force, but as an aberration from a natural mode of action, produced by some external cause, we should be in less haste to attack it by medicine, and more watchful in its prevention. Accordingly, where a constant demand for medicine exists in a nursery, the mother may rest assured, that there is something essentially wrong in the treatment of her children.
"Much havoc is made among infants, by the abuse of calomel and other medicines, which procure momentary relief, but end by producing incurable disease; and it has often excited my astonishment, to see how recklessly remedies of this kind are had recourse to, on the most trifling occasions, by mothers and nurses, who would be horrified, if they knew the nature of the power they are wielding, and the extent of injury they are inflicting."
Instead, then, of depending on medicine, for the preservation of the health and life of an infant, the following precautions and preventives should be adopted.
Take particular care of the food of an infant. If it is nourished by the mother, her own diet should be simple, nourishing, and temperate. If the child be brought up by hand, the milk of a new-milch cow, mixed with one third water, and sweetened a little with white sugar, should be the only food given, until the teeth come. This is more suitable, than any preparations of flour or arrow-root, the nourishment of which is too highly concentrated. Never give a child bread, cake, or meat, before the teeth appear. If the food appear to distress the child, after eating, first ascertain if the milk be really from a new-milch cow, as it may otherwise be too old. Learn, also, whether the cow lives on proper food. Cows that are fed on still-slops, as is often the case in cities, furnish milk which is very unhealthful.
Be sure and keep a good supply of pure and fresh air, in the nursery. On this point, Dr. Bell remarks, respecting rooms constructed without fireplaces, and without doors or windows to let in pure air, from without, "The sufferings of children of feeble constitutions, are increased, beyond measure, by such lodgings as these. An action, brought by the Commonwealth, ought to lie against those persons, who build houses for sale or rent, in which rooms are so constructed as not to allow of free ventilation; and a writ of lunacy taken out against those, who, with the common-sense experience which all have on this head, should spend any portion of their time, still more, should sleep, in rooms thus nearly air-tight."
After it is a month or two old, take an infant out to walk, or ride, in a little wagon, every fair and warm day; but be very careful that its feet, and every part of its body, are kept warm: and be sure that its eyes are well protected from the light. Weak eyes, and sometimes blindness, are caused by neglecting this precaution. Keep the head of an infant cool, never allowing too warm bonnets, nor permitting it to sink into soft pillows, when asleep. Keeping an infant's head too warm, very much increases nervous irritability; and this is the reason why medical men forbid the use of caps for infants. But the head of an infant should, especially while sleeping, be protected from draughts of air, and from getting cold.
Be very careful of the skin of an infant, as nothing tends so effectually to prevent disease. For this end, it should be washed all over, every morning, and then gentle friction should be applied, with the hand, to the back, stomach, bowels, and limbs. The head should be thoroughly washed, every day, and then brushed with a soft hair-brush, or combed with a fine comb. If, by neglect, dirt accumulates under the hair, apply, with the finger, the yolk of an egg, and then the fine comb will remove it all, without any trouble.
Dress the infant, so that it will be always warm, but not so as to cause perspiration. Be sure and keep its feet always warm; and, for this end, often warm them at a fire, and use long dresses. Keep the neck and arms covered. For this purpose, wrappers, open in front, made high in the neck, with long sleeves, to put on over the frock, are now very fashionable.
It is better for both mother and child, that it should not sleep on the mother's arm, at night, unless the weather be extremely cold. This practice keeps the child too warm, and leads it to seek food too frequently. A child should ordinarily take nourishment but twice in the night. A crib beside the mother, with a plenty of warm and light covering, is best for the child; but the mother must be sure that it is always kept warm. Never cover a child's head, so that it will inhale the air of its own lungs. In very warm weather, especially in cities, great pains should be taken, to find fresh and cool air, by rides and sailing. Walks in a public square, in the cool of the morning, and frequent excursions in ferry or steam-boats, would often save a long bill for medical attendance. In hot nights, the windows should be kept open, and the infant laid on a mattress, or on folded blankets. A bit of straw matting, laid over a featherbed, and covered with the under sheet, makes a very cool bed for an infant.
Cool bathing, in hot weather, is very useful; but the water should be very little cooler than the skin of the child. When the constitution is delicate, the water should be slightly warmed. Simply sponging the body, freely, in a tub, answers the same purpose as a regular bath. In very warm weather, this should be done two or three times a day, always waiting two or three hours after food has been given.
"When the stomach is peculiarly irritable, (from teething,) it is of paramount necessity to withhold all the nostrums which have been so falsely lauded as 'sovereign cures for cholera infantum.' The true restoratives, to a child threatened with disease, are, cool air, cool bathing, and cool drinks of simple water, in addition to proper food, at stated intervals." Do not take the advice of mothers, who tell of this, that, and the other thing, which have proved excellent remedies in their experience. Children have different constitutions, and there are multitudes of different causes for their sickness; and what might cure one child, might kill another, which appeared to have the same complaint. A mother should go on the general rule, of giving an infant very little medicine, and then only by the direction of a discreet and experienced physician. And there are cases, when, according to the views of the most distinguished and competent practitioners, physicians themselves are much too free in using medicines, instead of adopting preventive measures.
Do not allow a child to form such habits, that it will not be quiet, unless tended and amused. A healthy child should be accustomed to lie or sit in its cradle, much of the time; but it should occasionally be taken up, and tossed, or carried about, for exercise and amusement. An infant should be encouraged to creep, as an exercise very strengthening and useful. If the mother fears the soiling of its nice dresses, she can keep a long slip or apron, which will entirely cover the dress, and can be removed, when the child is taken in the arms. A child should not be allowed, when quite young, to bear its weight on its feet, very long at a time, as this tends to weaken and distort the limbs.
Many mothers, with a little painstaking, succeed in putting their infants, while awake, into their cradle, at regular hours, for sleep, and induce regularity in other habits, which saves much trouble. In doing this, a child may cry, at first, a great deal; but for a healthy child, this use of the lungs does no harm, and tends rather to strengthen, than to injure, them. A child who is trained to lie or sit, and amuse itself, is happier than one who is carried and tended a great deal, and thus rendered restless and uneasy when not so indulged.
ON THE MANAGEMENT OF YOUNG CHILDREN.
In regard to the physical education of children, Dr. Clarke, Physician in Ordinary to the Queen of England, expresses views, on one point, in which most physicians would coincide. He says, "There is no greater error in the management of children, than that of giving them animal diet very early. By persevering in the use of an overstimulating diet, the digestive organs become irritated, and the various secretions, immediately connected with, and necessary to, digestion, are diminished, especially the biliary secretion. Children, so fed, become very liable to attacks of fever, and of inflammation, affecting, particularly, the mucous membranes; and measles, and the other diseases incident to childhood, are generally severe in their attack."
There are some popular notions on the subject of the use of animal food, which need to be corrected.
One mistake, is, in supposing that the formation of the human teeth and stomach indicate that man was designed to feed on flesh. Linnaeus says, that the organization of man, when compared with other animals, shows, that "fruits and esculent vegetables constitute his most suitable food." Baron Cuvier, the highest authority on comparative anatomy, says, "the natural food of man, judging from his structure, appears to consist of fruits, roots, and other succulent parts of vegetables."
Another common mistake, is, that the stimulus of animal food is necessary for the full developement of the physical and intellectual powers. This notion is disproved by facts. The inhabitants of Lapland and Kamtschatka, who live altogether on animal food, are among the smallest, weakest, and most timid, of races. But the Scotch Highlanders, who, in a very cold climate, live almost exclusively on milk and vegetable diet, are among the bravest, largest, and most athletic, of men. The South-Sea Islanders, who live almost exclusively on fruits and vegetables, are said to be altogether superior to English sailors, in strength and agility. An intelligent gentleman, who spent many months in Siberia, testifies, that no exiles endure the climate better than those, who have all their lives been accustomed to a vegetable diet. The stoutest and largest tribes in Africa, live solely on vegetable diet, and the bright, intelligent, and active Arabs, live entirely on milk and vegetables.
The popular notion is, that animal food is more nourishing than vegetable; but on this point, scientific men hold different opinions. Experiments, repeatedly made by some chemists, seem to prove the contrary. Tables have been prepared, showing the amount of nutriment in each kind of food, by which it would appear, that, while beef contains thirty-five per cent. of nutritious matter, wheat-bread and rice contain from eighty to ninety-five per cent. The supposed mistake is attributed to the fact, that, on account of the stimulating nature of animal food, it digests easier and more quickly than vegetables. Many physicians, however, among them, Dr. Combe,[O] are of opinion, that animal food "contains a greater quantity of nutriment in a given bulk, than either herbaceous or farinaceous food." In some diseases, too, meat is better for the stomach than vegetables.
The largest proportion of those, who have been remarkable for having lived to the greatest age, were persons, whose diet was almost exclusively vegetables; and it is a well-known fact, that the pulse of a hardy and robust man, who lives on simple vegetable diet, is from ten to twenty beats less in a minute, than that of men who live on a mixed diet.
In regard to the intellect, Dr. Franklin asserted, from experience, that an exclusively vegetable diet "promotes clearness of ideas and quickness of perception; and is to be preferred, by all who labor with the mind." The mightiest efforts of Sir Isaac Newton, were performed, while nourished only by bread and water. Many other men, distinguished by intellectual vigor, give similar testimony. These facts show that animal food is not needful, to secure the perfect developement of mind or body.[P]
The result of the treatment of the inmates of the Orphan Asylum, at Albany, is one, upon which all, who have the care of young children, should deeply ponder. During the first six years of the existence of this Institution, its average number of children was eighty. For the first three years, their diet was meat once a day, fine bread, rice, Indian puddings, vegetables, fruit, and milk. Considerable attention was given to clothing, fresh air, and exercise; and they were bathed once in three weeks. During these three years, from four to six children, and sometimes more, were continually on the sick-list; one or two assistant nurses were necessary; a physician was called, two or three times a week; and, in this time, there were between thirty and forty deaths. At the end of this period, the management was changed, in these respects:—daily ablutions of the whole body were practised; bread of unbolted flour was substituted for that of fine wheat; and all animal food was banished. More attention also was paid to clothing, bedding, fresh air, and exercise. The result was, that the nursery was vacated; the nurse and physician were no longer needed; and, for two years, not a single case of sickness or death occurred. The third year, also, there were no deaths, except those of two idiots and one other child, all of whom were new inmates, who had not been subjected to this treatment. The teachers of the children also testified, that there was a manifest increase of intellectual vigor and activity, while there was much less irritability of temper.
Let parents, nurses, and teachers, reflect on the above statement, and bear in mind, that stupidity of intellect, and irritability of temper, as well as ill health, are often caused by the mismanagement of the nursery, in regard to the physical training of children. There is probably no practice, more deleterious, than that of allowing children to eat at short intervals, through the day. As the stomach is thus kept constantly at work, with no time for repose, its functions are deranged, and a weak or disordered stomach is the frequent result. Children should be required to keep cakes, nuts, and other good things which they may have to eat, till just before a meal, and then they will form a part of their regular supply. This is better, than to wait till after their hunger is satisfied by food, when they will eat their niceties merely to gratify the palate, and thus overload the stomach.
In regard to the intellectual training of young children, some modification in the common practice is necessary, with reference to their physical wellbeing. More care is needful, in providing well-ventilated schoolrooms, and in securing more time for sports in the open air, during school hours. It is very important, to most mothers, that their young children should be removed from their care, during the six school hours; and it is very useful, to quite young children, to be subjected to the discipline of a school, and to intercourse with other children of their own age. And, with a suitable teacher, it is no matter how early children are sent to school, provided their health is not endangered, by impure air, too much confinement, and too great mental stimulus.
In regard to the formation of the moral character, it has been too much the case, that the discipline of the nursery has consisted of disconnected efforts to make children either do, or refrain from doing, certain particular acts. Do this, and be rewarded; do that, and be punished; is the ordinary routine of family government.
But children can be very early taught, that their happiness, both now and hereafter, depends on the formation of habits of submission, self-denial, and benevolence. And all the discipline of the nursery can be conducted by the parents, not only with this general aim in their own minds, but also with the same object daily set before the minds of the children. Whenever their wishes are crossed, or their wills subdued, they can be taught, that all this is done, not merely to please the parent, or to secure some good to themselves or to others; but as a part of that merciful training, which is designed to form such a character, and such habits, that they can hereafter find their chief happiness in giving up their will to God, and in living to do good to others, instead of living merely to please themselves.
It can be pointed out to them, that they must always submit their will to the will of God, or else be continually miserable. It can be shown, how in the nursery, and in the school, and through all future days, a child must practise the giving up of his will and wishes, when they interfere with the rights and comfort of others; and how important it is, early to learn to do this, so that it will, by habit, become easy and agreeable. It can be shown, how children, who are indulged in all their wishes, and who are never accustomed to any self-denial, always find it hard to refrain from what injures themselves and others. It can be shown, also, how important it is, for every person, to form such habits of benevolence, towards others, that self-denial, in doing good, will become easy.
Parents have learned, by experience, that children can be constrained, by authority and penalties, to exercise self-denial, for their own good, till a habit is formed, which makes the duty comparatively easy. For example, well-trained children can be accustomed to deny themselves tempting articles of food, which are injurious, until the practice ceases to be painful and difficult. Whereas, an indulged child would be thrown into fits of anger or discontent, when its wishes were crossed, by restraints of this kind.
But it has not been so readily discerned, that the same method is needful, in order to form a habit of self-denial, in doing good to others. It has been supposed, that, while children must be forced, by authority, to be self-denying and prudent, in regard to their own happiness, it may properly be left to their own discretion, whether they will practise any self-denial in doing good to others. But the more difficult a duty is, the greater is the need of parental authority, in forming a habit, which will make that duty easy.
In order to secure this, some parents turn their earliest efforts to this object. They require the young child always to offer to others a part of every thing which it receives; always to comply with all reasonable requests of others for service; and often to practise little acts of self-denial, in order to secure some enjoyment for others. If one child receives a present of some nicety, he is required to share it with all his brothers and sisters. If one asks his brother to help him in some sport, and is met with a denial, the parent requires the unwilling child to act benevolently, and give up some of his time to increase his brother's enjoyment. Of course, in such an effort as this, discretion must be used, as to the frequency and extent of the exercise of authority, to induce a habit of benevolence. But, where parents deliberately aim at such an object, and wisely conduct their instructions and discipline to secure it, very much will be accomplished.
Religious influence should be brought to bear directly upon this point. In the very beginning of religious instruction, Jesus Christ should be presented to the child, as that great and good Being, who came into this world to teach children how to be happy, both here and hereafter. He, who made it His meat and drink to do the will of His Heavenly Father; who, in the humblest station, and most destitute condition, denied Himself, daily, and went about doing good; should constantly be presented as the object of their imitation. And as nothing so strongly influences the minds of children, as the sympathy and example of a present friend, all those, who believe Him to be an ever-present Saviour, should avail themselves of this powerful aid. Under such training, Jesus Christ should be constantly presented to them, as their ever-watchful, tender, and sympathizing friend. If the abstract idea of an unembodied Spirit with the majestic attributes of Deity, be difficult for the mind of infancy to grasp, the simple, the gentle, the lovely, character of Christ, is exactly adapted to the wants and comprehension of a child. In this view, how touching is the language of the Saviour, to His misjudging disciples, "Suffer the little children to come unto me!"
In regard to forming habits of obedience, there have been two extremes, both of which need to be shunned. One is, a stern and unsympathizing maintenance of parental authority, demanding perfect and constant obedience, without any attempt to convince a child of the propriety and benevolence of the requisitions, and without any manifestation of sympathy and tenderness for the pain and difficulties which are to be met. Under such discipline, children grow up to fear their parents, rather than to love and trust them; while some of the most valuable principles of character, are chilled, or forever blasted.
In shunning this danger, other parents pass to the opposite extreme. They put themselves too much on the footing of equals with their children, as if little were due to superiority of relation, age, and experience. Nothing is exacted, without the implied concession that the child is to be a judge of the propriety of the requisition; and reason and persuasion are employed, where simple command and obedience would be far better. This system produces a most pernicious influence. Children soon perceive the position, thus allowed them, and take every advantage of it. They soon learn to dispute parental requirements, acquire habits of forwardness and conceit, assume disrespectful manners and address, maintain their views with pertinacity, and yield to authority with ill-humor and resentment, as if their rights were infringed.
The medium course, is, for the parent to take the attitude of a superior, in age, knowledge, and relation, who has a perfect right to control every action of the child, and that, too, without giving any reason for the requisitions. "Obey, because your parent commands," is always a proper and sufficient reason.
But care should be taken, to convince the child that the parent is conducting a course of discipline, designed to make him happy; and in forming habits of implicit obedience, self-denial, and benevolence, the child should have the reasons for most requisitions kindly stated; never, however, on the demand of it, from the child, as a right, but as an act of kindness from the parent.
It is impossible to govern children properly, especially those of strong and sensitive feelings, without a constant effort to appreciate the value which they attach to their enjoyments and pursuits. A lady, of great strength of mind and sensibility, once told the writer, that one of the most acute periods of suffering, in her whole life, was occasioned by the burning up of some milkweed-silk, by her mother. The child had found, for the first time, some of this shining and beautiful substance; was filled with delight at her discovery; was arranging it in parcels; planning its future uses, and her pleasure in showing it to her companions,—when her mother, finding it strewed over the carpet, hastily swept it into the fire, and that, too, with so indifferent an air, that the child fled away, almost distracted with grief and disappointment. The mother little realized the pain she had inflicted, but the child felt the unkindness, so severely, that for several days her mother was an object almost of aversion.
While, therefore, the parent needs to carry on a steady course, which will oblige the child always to give up its will, whenever its own good, or the greater claims of others, require it, this should be constantly connected with the expression of a tender sympathy, for the trials and disappointments thus inflicted. Those, who will join with children, and help them along in their sports, will learn, by this mode, to understand the feelings and interests of childhood; while, at the same time, they secure a degree of confidence and affection, which cannot be gained so easily, in any other way. And it is to be regretted, that parents so often relinquish this most powerful mode of influence, to domestics and playmates, who often use it in the most pernicious manner. In joining in such sports, older persons should never relinquish the attitude of superiors, or allow disrespectful manners or address. And respectful deportment is never more cheerfully accorded, than in seasons, when young hearts are pleased, and made grateful, by having their tastes and enjoyments so efficiently promoted.
Next to the want of all government, the two most fruitful sources of evil to children, are, unsteadiness in government, and over-government. Most of the cases, in which the children of sensible and conscientious parents turn out badly, result from one or the other of these causes. In cases of unsteady government, either one parent is very strict, severe, and unbending, and the other excessively indulgent, or else the parents are sometimes very strict and decided, and at other times allow disobedience to go unpunished. In such cases, children, never knowing exactly when they can escape with impunity, are constantly tempted to make the trial.
The bad effects of this, can be better appreciated, by reference to one important principle of the mind. It is found to be universally true, that, when any object of desire is put entirely beyond the reach of hope or expectation, the mind very soon ceases to long for it, and turns to other objects of pursuit. But, so long as the mind is hoping for some good, and making efforts to obtain it, any opposition excites irritable feelings. Let the object be put entirely beyond all hope, and this irritation soon ceases. In consequence of this principle, those children, who are under the care of persons of steady and decided government, know, that whenever a thing is forbidden or denied, it is out of the reach of hope; the desire, therefore, soon ceases, and they turn to other objects. But the children of undecided, or of over-indulgent parents, never enjoy this preserving aid. When a thing is denied, they never know but either coaxing may win it, or disobedience secure it without any penalty, and so they are kept in that state of hope and anxiety, which produces irritation, and tempts to insubordination. The children of very indulgent parents, and of those who are undecided and unsteady in government, are very apt to become fretful, irritable, and fractious.
Another class of persons, in shunning this evil, go to the other extreme, and are very strict and pertinacious, in regard to every requisition. With them, fault-finding and penalties abound, until the children are either hardened into indifference of feeling, and obtuseness of conscience, or else become excessively irritable, or misanthropic.
It demands great wisdom, patience, and self-control, to escape these two extremes. In aiming at this, there are parents, who have found the following maxims of very great value. First, Avoid, as much as possible, the multiplication of rules and absolute commands. Instead of this, take the attitude of advisers. "My child, this is improper, I wish you would remember not to do it." This mode of address answers for all the little acts of heedlessness, awkwardness, or ill-manners, so frequently occurring, with children. There are cases, when direct and distinct commands are needful; and, in such cases, a penalty for disobedience should be as steady and sure as the laws of Nature. Where such steadiness, and certainty of penalty, attend disobedience, children no more think of disobeying, than they do of putting their fingers in a burning candle.
The next maxim, is, Govern by rewards, more than by penalties. Such faults as wilful disobedience, lying, dishonesty, and indecent or profane language, should be punished with severe penalties, after a child has been fully instructed in the evil of such practices. But all the constantly-recurring faults of the nursery, such as ill-humor, quarrelling, carelessness, and ill-manners, may, in a great many cases, be regulated by gentle and kind remonstrances, and by the offer of some reward for persevering efforts to form a good habit. It is very injurious and degrading to any mind, to be kept under the constant fear of penalties. Love and hope are the principles that should be mainly relied on, in forming the habits of childhood.
Another maxim, and perhaps the most difficult, is, Do not govern by the aid of severe and angry tones. A single example will be given to illustrate this maxim. A child is disposed to talk and amuse itself, at table. The mother requests it to be silent, except when needing to ask for food, or when spoken to by its older friends. It constantly forgets. The mother, instead of rebuking, in an impatient tone, says, "My child, you must remember not to talk. I will remind you of it four times more, and after that, whenever you forget, you must leave the table, and wait till we are done." If the mother is steady in her government, it is not probable that she will have to apply this slight penalty more than once or twice. This method is far more effectual, than the use of sharp and severe tones, to secure attention and recollection, and often answers the purpose, as well as offering some reward.
The writer has been in some families, where the most efficient and steady government has been sustained, without the use of a cross or angry tone; and in others, where a far less efficient discipline was kept up, by frequent severe rebukes and angry remonstrances. In the first case, the children followed the example set them, and seldom used severe tones to each other; in the latter, the method employed by the parents, was imitated by the children; and cross words and angry tones resounded from morning till night, in every portion of the household.
Another important maxim, is, Try to keep children in a happy state of mind. Every one knows, by experience, that it is easier to do right, and submit to rule, when cheerful and happy, than when irritated. This is peculiarly true of children; and a wise mother, when she finds her child fretful and impatient, and thus constantly doing wrong, will often remedy the whole difficulty, by telling some amusing story, or by getting the child engaged in some amusing sport. This strongly shows the importance of learning to govern children without the employment of angry tones, which always produce irritation.
Children of active, heedless temperament, or those who are odd, awkward, or unsuitable, in their remarks and deportment, are often essentially injured, by a want of patience and self-control in those who govern them. Such children, often possess a morbid sensibility, which they strive to conceal, or a desire of love and approbation, which preys like a famine on the soul. And yet, they become objects of ridicule and rebuke, to almost every member of the family, until their sensibilities are tortured into obtuseness or misanthropy. Such children, above all others, need tenderness and sympathy. A thousand instances of mistake or forgetfulness should be passed over, in silence, while opportunities for commendation and encouragement should be diligently sought.
In regard to the formation of habits of self-denial, in childhood, it is astonishing to see how parents, who are very sensible, often seem to regard this matter. Instead of inuring their children to this duty, in early life, so that by habit it may be made easy in after-days, they seem to be studiously seeking to cut them off, from every chance to secure such a preparation. Every wish of the child is studiously gratified; and, where a necessity exists, of crossing its wishes, some compensating pleasure is offered, in return. Such parents, often maintain that nothing shall be put on their table, which their children may not join them in eating. But where, so easily and surely as at the daily meal, can that habit of self-denial be formed, which is so needful in governing the appetites, and which children must acquire, or be ruined? The food which is proper for grown persons, is often unsuitable for children; and this is a sufficient reason for accustoming them to see others partake of delicacies, which they must not share. Requiring children to wait till others are helped, and to refrain from conversation at table, except when addressed by their elders, is another mode of forming habits of self-denial and self-control. Requiring them to help others, first, and to offer the best to others, has a similar influence.
In forming the moral habits of children, it is wise to take into account the peculiar temptations to which they are to be exposed. The people of this Nation are eminently a trafficking people; and the present standard of honesty, as to trade and debts, is very low, and every year seems sinking still lower. It is, therefore, pre-eminently important, that children should be trained to strict honesty, both in word and deed. It is not merely teaching children to avoid absolute lying, which is needed. All kinds of deceit should be guarded against; and all kinds of little dishonest practices be strenuously opposed. A child should be brought up with the determined principle, never to run in debt, but to be content to live in an humbler way, in order to secure that true independence, which should be the noblest distinction of an American citizen.
There is no more important duty, devolving upon a mother, than the cultivation of habits of modesty and propriety in young children. All indecorous words or deportment, should be carefully restrained; and delicacy and reserve studiously cherished. It is a common notion, that it is important to secure these virtues to one sex, more than to the other; and, by a strange inconsistency, the sex most exposed to danger, is the one selected as least needing care. But a wise mother will be especially careful, that her sons are trained to modesty and purity of mind.
But few mothers are sufficiently aware of the dreadful penalties which often result from indulged impurity of thought. If children, in future life, can be preserved from licentious associates, it is supposed that their safety is secured. But the records of our insane retreats, and the pages of medical writers, teach, that even in solitude, and without being aware of the sin or the danger, children may inflict evils on themselves, which not unfrequently terminate in disease, delirium, and death. Every mother and every teacher, therefore, carefully avoiding all explanation of the mystery, should teach the young, that the indulgence of impure thoughts and actions, is visited by the most awful and terrific penalties. Disclosing the details of vice, in order to awaken dread of its penalties, is a most dangerous experiment, and often leads to the very evils feared. The attempts made, in late years, to guard children from future dangers, by circulating papers, and books of warning and information, have led to such frightful results, that it is hoped the experiment will never again be pursued. The safest course, is, to cultivate habits of modesty and delicacy, and to teach, that all impure thoughts, words, and actions, are forbidden by God, and are often visited by the most dreadful punishment. At the same time, it is important for mothers to protect the young mind from false notions of delicacy. It should be shown, that whatever is necessary, to save from suffering or danger, must be met, without shame or aversion; and that all, which God has instituted, is wise, and right, and pure.
It is in reference to these dangers, that mothers and teachers should carefully guard the young from those highly-wrought fictions, which lead the imagination astray; and especially from that class of licentious works, made interesting by genius and taste, which have flooded this Country, and which are often found on the parlor table, even of moral and Christian people. Of this class, the writings of Bulwer stand conspicuous. The only difference, between some of his works and the obscene prints, for vending which men suffer the penalties of the law, is, that the last are so gross, as to revolt the taste and startle the mind to resistance, while Bulwer presents the same ideas, so clothed in the fascinations of taste and genius, as most insidiously to seduce the unwary. It seems to be the chief aim of this licentious writer, to make thieves, murderers, and adulterers, appear beautiful, refined, and interesting. It is time that all virtuous persons in the community should rise in indignation, not only against the writers, but the venders of such poison.
[O] See his 'Physiology of Digestion considered with relation to the Principles of Dietetics,' issued by the Publishers of this work.
[P] The writer is not an advocate for total abstinence from animal food. She coincides with the best authorities, in thinking that adults eat too much; that children, while growing, should eat very little, and quite young children, none at all.
ON THE CARE OF THE SICK.
Every woman who has the care of young children, or of a large family, is frequently called upon, to advise what shall be done, for some one who is indisposed; and often, in circumstances where she must trust solely to her own judgement. In such cases, some err, by neglecting to do any thing at all, till the patient is quite sick; but a still greater number err, from excessive and injurious dosing.
The two great causes of the ordinary slight attacks of illness, in a family, are, sudden chills, which close the pores of the skin, and thus affect the throat, lungs, or bowels; and the excessive or improper use of food. In most cases, of illness from the first cause, bathing the feet, and some aperient drink to induce perspiration, are suitable remedies. A slight cathartic, also, is often serviceable. In case of illness from improper food, or excess in eating, fasting, for one or two meals, to give the system time and chance to relieve itself, is the safest remedy. Sometimes, a gentle cathartic may be needful; but it is best first to try fasting.
The following extract from a discourse of Dr. Burne, before the London Medical Society, contains important information. "In civilized life, the causes, which are most generally and continually operating in the production of diseases, are, affections of the mind, improper diet, and retention of the intestinal excretions. The undue retention of excrementitious matter, allows of the absorption of its more liquid parts, which is a cause of great impurity to the blood, and the excretions, thus rendered hard and knotty, act more or less as extraneous substances, and, by their irritation, produce a determination of blood to the intestines and to the neighboring viscera, which ultimately ends in inflammation. It also has a great effect on the whole system; causes a determination of blood to the head, which oppresses the brain and dejects the mind; deranges the functions of the stomach; causes flatulency; and produces a general state of discomfort."
Dr. Combe remarks, on this subject, "In the natural and healthy state, under a proper system of diet, and with sufficient exercise, the bowels are relieved regularly, once every day." Habit "is powerful in modifying the result, and in sustaining healthy action when once fairly established. Hence the obvious advantage of observing as much regularity, in relieving the system, as in taking our meals." It is often the case that soliciting Nature at a regular period, once a day, will remedy constipation, without medicine, and induce a regular and healthy state of the bowels. "When, however, as most frequently happens, the constipation arises from the absence of all assistance from the abdominal and respiratory muscles, the first step to be taken, is, again to solicit their aid; first, by removing all impediments to free respiration, such as stays, waistbands and belts; secondly, by resorting to such active exercises, as shall call the muscles into full and regular action; and, lastly, by proportioning the quantity of food to the wants of the system, and the condition of the digestive organs. If we employ these means, systematically and perseveringly, we shall rarely fail in at last restoring the healthy action of the bowels, with little aid from medicine. But if we neglect these modes, we may go on, for years, adding pill to pill, and dose to dose, without ever attaining the end at which we aim." There is no point, in which a woman needs more knowledge and discretion, than in administering remedies for what seem slight attacks, which are not supposed to require the attention of a physician. It is little realized, that purgative drugs are unnatural modes of stimulating the internal organs, tending to exhaust them of their secretions, and to debilitate and disturb the animal economy. For this reason, they should be used as little as possible; and fasting, and perspiration, and the other methods pointed out, should always be first resorted to. When medicine must be given, it should be borne in mind, that there are various classes of purgatives, which produce very diverse effects. Some, like salts, operate to thin the blood, and reduce the system; others are stimulating; and others have a peculiar operation on certain organs. Of course, great discrimination and knowledge is needed, in order to select the kind, which is suitable to the particular disease, or to the particular constitution of the invalid. This shows the folly of using the many kinds of pills, and other quack medicines, where no knowledge can be had of their composition. Pills which are good for one kind of disease, might operate as poison in another state of the system. It is wise to keep always on hand some simple cathartic, for family use, in slight attacks; and always to resort to medical advice, whenever powerful remedies seem to be demanded.[Q] It is very common, in cases of colds which affect the lungs or throat, to continue to try one dose after another, for relief. It will be well to bear in mind, at such times, that all which goes into the stomach, must be first absorbed into the blood, before it can reach the diseased part; and that there is some danger of injuring the stomach, or other parts of the system, by such a variety of doses, many of which, it is probable, will be directly contradictory in their nature, and thus neutralize any supposed benefit they might separately impart.
It is very unwise, to tempt the appetite of a person who is indisposed. The cessation of appetite is the warning of Nature, that the system is in such a state, that food cannot be digested.
The following suggestions may be found useful, in regard to nursing the sick. As nothing contributes more to the restoration of health, than pure air, it should be a primary object, to keep a sick-room well ventilated. At least twice in the twenty-four hours, the patient should be well covered, and fresh air freely admitted from out of doors. After this, if need be, the room should be restored to a proper temperature, by the aid of a fire. Bedding and clothing should also be well aired, and frequently changed; as the exhalations from the body, in sickness, are peculiarly deleterious. Frequent ablutions, of the whole body, if possible, are very useful; and for these, warm water may be employed.
The following, are useful directions for dressing a blister. Spread thinly, on a linen cloth, an ointment, composed of one third of beeswax to two thirds of tallow; lay this upon a linen cloth, folded many times. With a sharp pair of scissors, make an aperture in the lower part of the bag of water, with a little hole, above, to give it vent. Break the raised skin as little as possible. Lay on the cloth, spread as directed. The blister, at first, should be dressed as often as three times in a day, and the dressing renewed each time.
A sick-room should always be kept very neat, and in perfect order; and all haste, noise, and bustle, should be avoided. In order to secure neatness, order, and quiet, in case of long illness, the following arrangements should be made. Keep a large box for fuel, which will need to be filled only twice in twenty-four hours. Provide, also, and keep in the room, or an adjacent closet, a small teakettle, a saucepan, a pail of water, for drinks and ablutions, a pitcher, a covered porringer, two pint bowls, two tumblers, two cups and saucers, two wine glasses, two large and two small spoons; also, a dish in which to wash these articles; a good supply of towels, and a broom. Keep a slop-bucket, near by, to receive the wash of the room. Procuring all these articles at once, will save much noise and confusion.
Whenever medicine or food is given, spread a clean towel over the person or bedclothing, and get a clean handkerchief, as nothing is more annoying to a weak stomach, than the stickiness and soiling produced by medicine and food. Keep the fireplace neat, and always wash all articles, and put them in order, as soon as they are out of use.
A sick person has nothing to do, but look about the room; and when every thing is neat and in order, a feeling of comfort is induced, while disorder, filth, and neglect, are constant objects of annoyance, which, if not complained of, are yet felt.
Always prepare food for the sick, in the neatest and most careful manner. It is in sickness, that the senses of smell and taste are most susceptible of annoyance; and often, little mistakes or negligences, in preparing food, will take away all appetite.
Food for the sick, should be cooked on coals, that no smoke may have access to it; and great care must be taken, to prevent any adherence to the bottom, as this always gives a disagreeable taste.
Keeping clean handkerchiefs and towels at hand, cooling the pillows, sponging the hands with water, swabbing the mouth with a clean linen rag, on the end of a stick, are modes of increasing the comfort of the sick. Always throw a shawl over a sick person, when raised up.
Be careful to understand a physician's directions, and to obey them implicitly. If it be supposed that any other person knows better about the case, than the physician, dismiss the physician, and employ that person in his stead.
In nursing the sick, always speak gently and cheeringly; and, while you express sympathy for their pain and trials, stimulate them to bear all with fortitude, and with resignation to Him who has appointed the trial. Offer to read the Bible, or other devotional books, whenever it is suitable, and will not be deemed obtrusive.
It is always best to consult the physician, as to where medicines shall be purchased, and to show the articles to him before using them, as great impositions are practised in selling old, useless, and adulterated drugs. Always put labels on vials of medicine, and keep them out of the reach of children.
Be careful to label all powders, and particularly all white powders; as many poisonous medicines, in this form, are easily mistaken for others which are harmless.
[Q] The following electuary, by a distinguished physician, is used by many friends of the writer, as a standing resort, in cases of constipation, or where a gentle cathartic is needed. One recommendation of it, is, that children always love it, and eat the pills as "good plums."
Two ounces of powdered Senna; one ounce of Cream of Tartar; one ounce of Sulphur; mixed with sufficient Confection of Senna, to form an electuary. Make this into pills, of the size of peas, and give a young child two or three, as the case may be. Taking three pills, every night, will generally relieve constipation in an adult.
ON ACCIDENTS AND ANTIDOTES.
When serious accidents occur, medical aid should be immediately procured. Till that can be done, the following directions may be useful.
When a child has any thing in its throat, first try, with the finger, to get the article up. If this cannot be done, push it down into the stomach, with a smooth elastic stick. If the article be a pin, sharp bone, glass, or other cutting substance, give an emetic which will immediately operate.
In the case of a common cut, bind the lips of the wound together, with a rag, and put nothing else on. If the cut be large, and so situated that rags will not bind it together, use sticking plaster, cut in strips and laid obliquely across the cut. Sometimes it is needful to take a stitch, with a needle and thread, on each lip of the wound, and draw the two sides together.
If an artery be cut, it must be immediately tied up, or the person will bleed to death. The blood from an artery is of a bright red color, and spirts out, in regular jets, at each beat of the heart. Take up the bleeding end of the artery, and hold it, or tie it up, till a surgeon comes. When the artery cannot be found, and in all cases of bad cuts on any of the limbs, apply compression; when it can be done, tie a very tight bandage above the wound, if it be below the heart, and below if the wound be above the heart. Put a stick into the band, and twist it as tight as can be borne, till surgical aid be obtained.
Bathe bad bruises in hot water, or hot spirits, or a decoction of bitter herbs. Entire rest, is the remedy for sprains. Bathing in warm water, or warm whiskey is very useful. A sprained leg should be kept in a horizontal position, on a bed or sofa.
When a leg is broken, tie it to the other leg, to keep it still; and, if possible, get a surgeon, before the limb swells. Bind a broken arm to a piece of shingle, and keep it still, till it is set.
In case of a blow on the head, or a fall, causing insensibility, use a mustard paste on the back of the neck and pit of the stomach, and rub the body with spirits. After the circulation is restored, bleeding is often necessary; but it is very dangerous to attempt it before.
In cases of bad burns, where the skin is taken off, the great aim should be, to keep the injured part from the air. For this purpose, sprinkle on flour, or apply a liniment, made of linseed oil and lime-water, in equal quantities. Sweet-oil, on cotton, is good, and with laudanum, alleviates pain: but many skins cannot bear the application of raw cotton, which is sometimes very good. When a dressing is put on, do not remove it, as it will be sure to protract the cure, by admitting the air.
In case of drowning, lay the person in a warm bed, or on blankets, on the right side, with the head raised, and a little inclined forward. Clear the mouth with the fingers, and cautiously apply hartshorn to the nose. Raise the heat of the body, by bottles of warm water, applied to the pit of the stomach, armpits, groins, and soles of the feet. Apply friction to the whole body, with warm hands and cloths dipped in warm spirits of camphor. Endeavor to produce the natural action of the lungs, by introducing the nose of a bellows into one nostril and closing the other, at the same time pressing on the throat, to close the gullet. When the lungs are thus inflated, press gently on the breast and belly, and continue the process, for a long time. Cases have been known, where efforts have been protracted eight or ten hours, without effect, and then have proved successful. Rolling the body on a barrel, suspending it by the heels, giving injections of tobacco, and many other practices, which have been common, are highly injurious. After signs of life appear, give small quantities of wine, or spirits and water.