Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/69

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
59
PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

to have eschewed animal food for sanitary reasons. Children with a phthisical taint are certainly better off without it. Give them eggs and all the available vegetable fat they can digest, but no flesh nor milk of anyways doubtful origin. Two or three families of moderate means might rent a bit of pasture-land, and divide the milk of a healthy country cow. The sanitary condition of a single animal could be ascertained by any competent farrier, but the control of a wholesale meat-market will always be more or less perfunctory.

Principiis obsta is probably the wisest maxim ever expressed in two words, and I believe that the poison-problem will be ultimately solved on that principle. The work of reform must begin in the nursery; and, under circumstances where we can not keep temptations from our door, we must make our children temptation-proof, inspire them with an indelible abhorrence of drunkenness and poison-slavery of every kind.

"I still find the Laconic method the shortest," writes a friend of mine, alluding to the Spartan plan of warning boys by the example of a drunken Helot. He used to interest his boy in the modus operandi of alcohol, opium, etc., and then take him out, and, under some pretext or other, drop into a slum-saloon on Saturday night, or a police-court on Monday morning, to give him a practical illustration of his theory. Whenever they saw the poison displayed in an attractive form, on ornamental sign-boards or in the gorgeous bottles of druggists and hotel-keepers, they would study the well-baited trap with a peculiar interest, and go their way rejoicing, as in the possession of an invaluable secret. The result was that the boy became "aggressively virtuous," and used to button-hole visitors in order to lecture them on the causes and consequences of the popular delusion.

Even city boys do not often contract the nicotine habit till after their twelfth year, and a fit of tobacco-nausea before that time generally induces a forbidding reaction not easy to outgrow. I remember the case of a brutal tavern-keeper who tried to accustom his son to the fumes of Alsatian leaf-tobacco (vulgo Stinkewitz), and the unexpected result of his last experiment. He took the lad on a stage-coach trip from Colmar to Metz, and induced the postillion to take in a few extra passengers, whom he treated to clay pipes and Stinkewitz. He then closed the windows, and in less than twenty minutes his son turned deadly pale, and would have fainted if he had not found relief in a violent fit of retching. If he had loathed Stinkewitz before, he now dreaded it, and six years after, when he was apprenticed to a tanner, he surprised his master by asking, as for a special favor, that they would not force him to smoke leaf-tobacco. Frederick the Great, too, ascribed his abhorrence of the weed to the choking tobacco-fumes of the Wusterhauser club-room, where the boon companions of his awful parent used to indulge from 5 to 12 p. m. It is not necessary to suffocate a child with nicotine-fumes, but it can do no harm to take him