Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/750

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to be a fundamental type from which we can not entirely depart without risk to body and mind. The training of the muscular reflexes should go hand in hand with the cultivation of simple, natural, beneficent reactions in the higher planes. Cheerfulness, sincerity, industry, perseverance and unselfishness may be acquired by practice and constant repetition, as much as the art of correct speaking or of playing the piano, and are far more necessary to health. We must have a basis of correct fundamental physical and psychical reactions as a help toward a proper balance between feeling and will, or our subsequent building will rest on a foundation of sand. How often is a physician hampered in his efforts to help some sufferer, because the latter has never acquired the art of obedience, or because he can not tolerate a tongue-depressor, or swallow a pill or any unpalatable mixture, or take milk or some mainstay of diet; or because he can not be left alone, or sleep in the daytime, or wear flannels, or sit still, or bear pain, or use his muscles, or take in certain classes of facts or ideas! These and similar peculiarities, which are a formidable hindrance to the physician, and may be a matter of life or death to the sufferer, can usually be prevented by a little care, or overcome by proper training. They are often the result of carelessness or over-indulgence, or that kind of cowardice which instinctively avoids the disagreeable, instead of facing a difficulty fairly and conquering it.

Another way in which children are injured is by being used as playthings for the amusement of relatives and friends. There is the temptation, well-nigh irresistible, to show them off, if they are bright, or later to push them along in school or society, sacrificing wholesome symmetry to immediate showy effect. This tendency has largely molded our private schools, for girls especially, whose basis is too often sentimentality of some sort; and sentimentality is a form of narrowness, an incapacity for seeing things in their true proportions.

There is one characteristic of our metropolitan life so salient that it can hardly fail to make itself felt even in childhood. I mean the mad chase after the dollar, the cause of much of the killing tension of city life. It is curious to note that the nation that is conspicuous by the absence of this spirit—I mean the Japanese—has probably the best-behaved children in the world, and is the land of happy childhood. A crying baby is to them a curiosity. This straining of powers till they crack, this incessant fiddling at the nerves, is apt to make our city life restless, asymmetrical, and unsatisfactory; the children feel it and show it in their faces, in the sensitive structure of their bodies, and in the affections and diseases to which they are subject. And this nervous tension, as much as our tropical summer climate, has necessitated that peri-