Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/609

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

thought to require such aid. If proof were needed that boys may grow up in the perfection of health and strength without any stimulants whatever, provided they are liberally fed, I might point to the splendid physique of the little inmates of this particular school, and invite any one to see how they work and how they play. Where the food is amply sufficient and varied, a boy does not want beer, nay, is better without it; where the food is not so, beer or wine will but imperfectly supplement its shortcomings. With delicate or sickly boys, of course the case is different; they have special needs in respect of stimulants which it would be foolish to ignore.

Another noteworthy point in the arrangements of this school is the veto on all "hampers from home," and the absence of any "shop" for the sale of sweets, etc. These are far from harmless institutions; they are time-honored abominations which cannot be too strongly condemned. The evil tendencies, at any rate of the latter, are so glaring that its authorized existence is, in my opinion, a blot upon any school. Setting aside the trash eaten, the sickness caused, the morbid appetite and habit of selfish gluttony acquired, and the facilities afforded for the introduction of contraband goods—the money boys often spend at these places is grievous to think of. I can vouch for many a boy, whose parents were weak enough to supply him with almost unlimited pocket-money, having often spent at his school "shop" a weekly sum quite sufficient to feed a poor family. Now, where school-meals are abundant enough, varied enough (especially in respect of sugar, starch, and vegetable juices), and frequent enough, there the inmates will have no further craving for cakes, sweets, fruits, etc. But if there be a shortcoming in one or other of these respects, then instinct drives the boys to seek elsewhere those elements of food in which their regular diet is deficient. An authorized "tuck-shop," therefore, in connection with a school, is prima-facie evidence to an outsider, and not uncommonly a tacit admission on the part of the school-proprietor, that the diet of the inmates by no means satisfies all their legitimate cravings.

That a scale of diet such as I have here advocated is just about what boys ought to have—if they are to develop into strong, healthy men—I am satisfied from personal experience and observation. That it is at all likely to meet with the acceptance of school-masters generally, I am not simple enough to suppose. It is too violent an innovation on old routine. Nay, even paterfamilias himself will probably pooh-pooh such new-fangled notions of feeding boys like grown men (especially when he finds they cost more money), forgetting that boys need more and more varied food than men. So-and-so was good enough for his (pater's) boyhood, why won't it do for his son's? But paterfamilias should speak only for himself. The diet of his schooldays sufficed for him, thanks probably to his sound constitution, but was it enough for many of his less robust schoolmates? Did any of