Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/232

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220 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to the growth of the whole organism, and therefore without too many- hours of mental work, with plenty of play and rest, and in well-ven- tilated school-rooms. During the period of childhood few girls will overwork themselves. If it is done, it is by outside pressure, and any bad effects are usually temporary, and easily got over by a little rest, and a good holiday in the country.

The era of adolescence is one of the greatest importance from a bodily and mental point of view in young men and women, but espe- cially in the latter. Bodily, the child eats, sleeps, grows, plays, and does what she is told. Life has no seriousness. Everything in the body and mind is inchoate and unformed. Nothing indicates perma- nence. There are great and constant muscular energy, noise, sound sleep, quick digestion. The delights of life consist in sweets and games, the imagination is shallow, the affections are instinctive, " char- acter " is nascent ; there is no morality in any correct sense, and no real religious sentiment. There is little liability to nervous diseases ex- cept those affecting the muscular system ; there are no neuralgias, no liability to mental diseases, and most other diseases are sharp and soon over. It is very different with the girl when adolescence commences. Then bodily energies of a new kind begin to arise, vast tracts of brain quite unused before are brought into active exercise. The growth assumes a different direction and type, awkwardness of movement be- comes possible, and on the other hand a grace never before attainable can be acquired. The bones begin to cohere and solidify at their ends, and the soft cartilage joinings to get firmer. The tastes for food and drink often change. Bread and butter and sweets no longer satisfy entirely. Stronger and more stimulating foods are craved. The car- riage and walk change. The lines of beauty begin to develop. But the mental changes are even more striking. All that is specially char- acteristic of woman begins to appear ; childish things are put away ; dolls no longer give pleasure. For the first time distinct individual mental peculiarities show themselves. The effective portion of the mental nature begins to assume altogether new forms, and to acquire a new power. Literature and poetry begin to be understood in a vague way, and the latter often becomes a passion. The imagination becomes strengthened, and is directed into different channels from before. The sense of right and wrong and of duty becomes then more active. Morality in a real sense is possible. A sense of the seriousness and responsibility of life may be said then to awaken for the first time. The knowledge of good and evil is acquired. The religious instinct arises then for the first time in any power. Modesty and diffidence in certain circumstances are for the first time seen. The emotional nature acquires depth, and tenderness appears. The real events and possi- bilities of the future are reflected in vague and dream-like emotions and longings that have much bliss in them, but not a little too of seriousness and difficulty. The adolescent feels instinctively that she

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