Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/158

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146
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

use of its squealing apparatus, and consequently squealing violently from morning till night. Out-doors, in the baby-carriage, "cold draughts" have to be guarded against, and a load of extra wrappers completely counteract the benefit of the fresh air; faint with nausea and suffocating heat the little mummy lies motionless on its back, resplendent in its white surplice, a fit candidate for the honors of a life whose every movement of a natural impulse will be suppressed as a revival of barbarism and an insurrection against the statutes of an orthodox community. Hence, in a great degree, the disproportionate mortality, in all northern countries of Christendom, among infants under two years. In Spanish America, where infantile diseases are as rare as in Hindostan, babies of all classes and all sizes toddle about naked, nearly the year round; and the Indians of Tamaulipas, between Tampico and Matamoras, raise an astonishing number of brown bantlings who are never troubled with clothes till they are big enough to carry garden-stuff to a city where the police enforces the apron regulation.

But Mrs. Grundy—a person's pinafore—and the carpet? Well, get a lot of short linen hose, rather loose about the hips and tied around the waist or buttoned to the skirts of a short frock. Change them as often as you like. Wholesale they could be made for a dollar and washed for a quarter a dozen. Out-doors add a pair of stockings with canvas soles, and perhaps little rubber boots on wet days, but no cap or shawl before October, and under no circumstances any swaddles or baby night-gowns. Let us get rid of the "draught" superstition; catarrhs are not taken by any creature of the open air, not by the fisherman's boy, paddling around in the surf and sitting barefooted in a wet canoe or bareheaded on the windward cliffs, but by the cachectic cadets of the tenement-barracks, where the same air is breathed and rebreathed by the diseased lungs of a regiment of voluntary prisoners.[1]

After the first frost, a cap with ear-flaps, double stockings, and mittens out-doors can do no harm. A warm shirt and two quilt-blankets will be enough in all but the coldest nights, and (if I had not seen the thing done I should commit an outrage on common-sense by thinking it necessary to mention it) the face of a sleeping child should never be covered with a shawl, nor—when flies are very troublesome—with anything thicker than the lightest gauze handkerchief. "A great store of clothes," says Lord Bacon, "either upon the bed or the back, relaxes the body"; and every observant parent must have noticed that school-children complain a hundred times of being overdressed for once that they ask for additional or warmer clothing. Indeed, only dire habit can reconcile us to the mass of trappings and wrappings

  1. "I shall not attempt to explain why 'damp clothes' occasion colds rather than wet ones, because I doubt the fact. I imagine that neither the one nor the other contributes to this effect, and that the causes of colds are totally independent of wet and even of cold."—(Ben Franklin's "Essays," p. 216.)