Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/52

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42
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

mind in the pavilion de l'enfant. Here is, in a few words, a résumé of them: Paucity of the material upon which the inexperienced yet inquisitive baby can exercise, with interest and profit, his sense of touch; profusion, bad taste, and dangerous disposition of the objects which speak to the eye, if not always with the intention, at least with the almost uniform result, of giving wrong or dangerous impressions.

Attention was next called to what had been done, and to what had been left undone, for the cultivation or the satisfaction of the other senses of the infant. But here it was soon perceived that our inquiries went beyond the sphere of what was exhibited. There were plenty of Farina's and Rimmel's volatilities, some of Alexander's, Debain's, or Smith's sighing accordeons, but no means of cheering and educating the nascent yet already inquisitive senses. Further examination showed that the perfumes were there as an attenuation and the music as a distraction, and both intended for other senses than the infant's. From these and other omissions it was concluded that nursery arrangements are as yet intended rather for the mother's and nurse's comfort than for the baby's improvement.

2. The Crèche.—This pavilion de l'enfant ought to contain at least one model crèche.

Crèche is the French name of the public nursery where workingwomen leave their little ones in the morning, and whence they bring them home at night. The crèche! Horrid necessity! Beginning of the communistic inclined plane upon which those who pay and do not receive rents slide with a fearful rapidity; yet a kind institution for those already fallen into the gulf. Since, therefore, crèches must be, their latest improvements should have been represented at the Vienna Exhibition next to the appliances of the most luxurious nursing. There could have been tested the action of colors, of light, and its various attributes, on the organ of vision; the influence of varied sounds, of harmonies and melodies on the virgin audition, the mind, and the sympathetic centres; the power of primary perceptions to awaken first ideas, to impel to determinations of the will, and to raise or calm the various passions; the effects of diet upon those passions; the effect of modification of food and digestion; the influence of rest and sleep on the body's temperature, on the pulse and respiration; the influence of the artificial, the moist, or the dry heat of the nursery on the too precocious development of the nervous centres, and, subsequently, on the prevalence of chronic or acute meningitis, diphtheria, and croup; besides many other problems whose solution depends on the early study of phenomena which can be found in the crèche as surely as the flower in the bud. There, better than anywhere else, they may be studied with profit to all parties. Let us bear in mind that the rich man can never flatter himself that he does a gratuitous charity, since from its poor recipient comes many