Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/751

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731
CHILDHOOD FROM A MEDICAL STANDPOINT.

odical return to Nature or summer outing, which is a national habit, and is the one efficient means, if properly used, of combating the disintegrating tendencies of city life.

The children of the poor, in spite of many drawbacks, fare better in some respects than those of the well-to-do. They often respond better to treatment when they are sick; they are at least not deprived of that contact with their fellows and struggle for existence which is absolutely essential to health; whereas the children of the so-called higher classes are too often educated in sensitiveness, and false and hurtful views of life, not always by precept or example, but by force of circumstances. A colleague, who is intimately acquainted with the physical condition of some eight thousand children, taken from the worst classes in New York, who have in the course of several years passed through a public institution under his care, says that they improve so much, after having enjoyed for a few months the ample diet and simple and regular life provided, that their physical condition compares favorably with that of any class of children in New York.

Much of what has been said applies to certain classes in certain restricted localities, and it may be thought that the picture is an exaggerated one, but I maintain that the physique of the children that are now growing up under our eyes is not on the whole satisfactory, and that it is a difficult matter to bring up wholesome, hearty children in New York, for example: if this is true, it is well to recognize the fact. The average conditions both within and without the family seem restricted and unnatural; fortunately, there is a large amount of sturdy stock throughout the land, brought up to individual independence in contact with Nature, and in wholesome home surroundings, upon which we can draw indefinitely.

It is true that the advantages are not all on the side of country life; that the struggle with Nature may be strenuous, and the living narrow and poor, and that on the other hand the conditions of city life may bring a better diet and a better knowledge of personal hygiene. Indeed, it is claimed that during our civil war certain city regiments stood campaigning better than the men from the country, possibly because they better understood how to take care of themselves. All this does not militate against my position that the conditions of country life are, or may be made, more favorable for children.

Just because life in our large centers puts such pressure on men and women do we get such remarkable effects in certain directions. Much of the world's best work is the direct result, but it is usually the effect of such stimulation on broad and healthy natures developed partly or wholly in the country; and ulti-