Popular Science Monthly/Volume 30/April 1887/Brain-Forcing in Childhood
By WILLIAM A. HAMMOND, M. D.
NOT very long ago a lady of this city brought her little daughter, twelve years of age, to see me professionally. The child was on her way to school, and had with her a large satchel full of books. She was pale, tall, and thin. The muscles of her face twitched convulsively, and she could not keep her hands and feet still. She was suffering from chorea, or St. Vitus's dance, and, in addition, had almost constant headache and other symptoms of nervous derangement. In the course of my examination I asked her to empty her satchel of the books it contained, and which, as she informed me, she had been studying that morning and the night before. This is the list:
1. An English grammar. 2. A scholar's companion. 3. An arithmetic. 4. A geography. 5. A history of the United States. 6. An elementary guide to astronomy. 7. A temperance physiology and hygiene (whatever that may be). 8. A method of learning French. 9. A French reading-book.
Nine in all—nine different subjects of knowledge which that poor child was required to study between the hours of three in the after-noon of one day and nine in the morning of the following day! Allowing one hour for dinner, half an hour for breakfast, an hour for undressing at night and dressing in the morning, an hour for going home and returning to school, and eight hours for sleep (and less than this will not suffice for a growing boy or girl—it had better be nine or ten), and we have six hours and a half left in which to study nine different branches of learning! Now, suppose either one of you ladies and gentlemen should retire to some quiet nook, and, with your well-developed and trained brains and experienced minds, should try to study nine unfamiliar subjects of knowledge in six hours and a half, would you think it strange if at the end of that time you should somewhat mix matters, and imagine that Hong-Kong is the name of a lunar volcano, that the Continental Congress is one of the parts of speech, and that the ductus communis choledechus is situated on Passama-quoddy Bay? She showed no such confusion of ideas. She had studied her lessons well, but she had done so at the expense of her brain-substance. In a little while, and English grammar, geographies, and temperance physiologies, would have been like the "subsequent proceedings" in Bill Nye's poem; they would have "interested her no more." I say that she had learned her lessons at the expense of her brain-substance. This is no flower of speech, but a sober fact. A very simple examination enabled me to satisfy myself that she was living on her brain-capital instead of her brain-income. Her expenditures were greater than her receipts, and brain-bankruptcy was staring her in the face.
An instance like this, in which disease is directly the result of excessive use of the brain, is only one of the many that are constantly coming under the observation of physicians. It is not at all likely that any remarks of mine, or the lessons that experience is daily giving to parents, will for a long time yet do much in the way of making such cases fewer. We are living under the reign of the schoolmaster. The impulse to have children acquire learning that can never be made available for any purpose of life is so powerful that it may almost be regarded as morbid. And this is especially the case relative to girls, who are made to spend years in getting a smattering knowledge of subjects which, if they knew them well, would not enhance their loveliness or render them any happier; but which, as it is, befog their minds with a multiplicity of ideas no one of which they clearly comprehend. Do not misunderstand me. I am not underrating the advantages of learning. If a person wishes to study the differential calculus, not with a view of benefiting his fellow-man, but for the object of conducing to his own happiness, let him do so. He will be wiser and better, and, whether he intends it or not, his fellow-man will be benefited. He has a right to judge for himself, and to seek his own happiness in the way that seems best to him. But for children to be reduced to one common level, as they are in our schools almost without exception, and to have studies crowded upon them in advance of their brain-development, are crimes against Nature, which Nature in her blind way expiates by punishing the wrong person, but which those who know the right should promptly expose.
The brain of a child is larger in proportion to its body than is that of the adult. A fact which is somewhat astonishing to those not aware of it is, that the head of a boy or girl does not grow in size after the seventh year; so that the hat that is worn at that age can be worn just as well at thirty. In the mean time the rest of the body has more than doubled in magnitude. Not only is the brain larger, but it is more excitable and more impressionable in the child than in the adult. At the same time the structure is immature. What it possesses in size it lacks in organization; consequently it is not at its maximum for severe and long-continued exertion, and when subjected to a strain of this kind it is certain to suffer. We have, all of us, seen children become mentally fatigued from very slight causes, even when they have been at the same time greatly interested. How much more, therefore, "must their brains be tired when they have been forced to concentrate their attention upon subjects, the importance of which they do not appreciate!
The disadvantages to the child of overtasking its muscular system are well understood, and wise laws have been enacted by most civilized people protecting children from the greed of those who would, if left to their own devices, work them to excess. But there are no laws for the protection of their brains from the attacks of ignorant parents and guardians, the insidious warfare of the compilers of school-books who write treatises on physiology in rhyme for infants, and the ever-ready schoolmaster, who, with the child, a victim of a pernicious system, must carry out the behests of those set over him.
Every person who has tried both knows that an hour of intense mental exertion fatigues the whole system more than does a corresponding amount of the most severe physical work. The reason for this is very evident. The brain not only furnishes the force for thought and the other elements of the mind, but it keeps in action all the other organs of the body. If, therefore, the mind takes more than its share of this force, the heart, the stomach, the lungs, the muscles, suffer, and the feeling of weariness is experienced.
It must be borne in mind, also, that the brains of children are continually engaged in acquiring a knowledge of the objects and circumstances by which they are surrounded. An adult, for instance, goes into a room, and the things it contains scarcely attract his attention. He has already learned them. But with the child it is very different. He looks at every object with inquiring eyes; if possible he takes them into his hands so that he can get fuller ideas of them, and asks a hundred questions in regard to their qualities, uses, etc. From the very earliest period after birth the infant is in pursuit of knowledge. His open eyes stare with astonishment at the things within their range, and in a little while his other senses are brought into requisition to assist in adding to his acquirements. An infant two months old will stretch out his hands toward objects held near him, and will incline his whole body with arms extended toward those that he has already learned are too far off for him to grasp. Perhaps, as Plato says, all these manifestations are due to the wonder with which the child's mind is full, but they lead to knowledge whatever may be the exciting cause, and they result directly from the action of the brain.
Undoubtedly the first faculties of the child's mind to be brought into action are the perceptions or senses; and for their exercise, certain organs, as the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the skin, are provided. Through these organs the education of the infant takes place, beginning at birth, and even, as there is good evidence for believing, before birth. Were it not for these instruments, as they may be called, no single point of knowledge could be acquired, no idea formed. The brain, no matter how perfect its organization in other respects, might as well, so far as thought, feeling, and all relations with the external world are concerned, be a block of wood.
The intellect of the infant is immature, for the reason that the part of the brain which is concerned in the process of elaborating the higher qualities of the mind, is in a far more imperfect state of development than is that part which has direct relations with the organs of the special senses. The perceptions and the ideas that are elaborated from them give all the exercise to the inchoate brain that it requires for its full development. Through the perceptions the systematic education of the child should be almost exclusively conducted during the first ten or twelve years of life, and there should be no set lessons to worry his power of attention, to spur his understanding, or to tax his memory. He should be taught how to acquire knowledge by the use of his senses, and there are facts enough surrounding him on all sides to keep him as much engaged as is proper. His own reflections, started into activity, as they will be by his perceptions and by the questions he will ask, will do the rest. He will learn to read almost imperceptibly, of his own accord, with scarcely a word of instruction. If he does not begin to look at books till he is ten years old, he will, by the time a year has elapsed, read better than the child that has begun to learn his letters at three or four. He starts in the race with an unwearied and a better developed brain, and in the long run through life will win more prizes than his precocious competitor.
It is astonishing to find how greatly the perceptions of children are neglected by those who have them in charge. I have frequently been struck with the fact that even pupils who are considered to be well advanced do not know how to use, with even moderate ability, their sense-organs. I met not long ago with a boy of ten years who had mastered, to the satisfaction of his admiring parents, several branches of knowledge; and yet, when shown a picture in a child's book, told to look at it closely for a minute, and then to tell what he had seen, could name only a man, a horse, and a tree. His little sister, seven years old, who did not know how to read, and who was regarded by the father and mother as being somewhat stupid, saw, under like circumstances, a man, a horse, a tree, two little birds on the ground, a cat crawling through the bushes and about to spring on them, a house, a woman standing in the door, and a well at the side of the house. I had the satisfaction of telling the parents that at sixteen she would know a good deal more than would the boy at that age, provided she had an equal chance. Here is the opportunity for those who have charge of children during the first ten or twelve years of their lives. All Nature is before them: the woods, the fields, the sea, the heavens, animals of all kinds, men and women, the habitations of man, factories and the various objects made in them, and a thousand other things, afford the means for educating the child without a single book being brought into use. Even very young children can be taught to employ their eyes to some purpose by having attractive pictures submitted to them for observation. Such exercises would interest the mind, and at the same time develop it. The picture-books made nowadays are generally very admirable; but there might be pictures specially designed for the purpose of teaching and not merely for amusement.
One of the greatest mistakes made in our present system of educating children is, that they are given too many subjects to study at once. The power of dissociation—that is, of keeping one subject entirely clear of another subject—is not great in the minds of children. They therefore have a mass of confused ideas when they have got through with their daily tasks, which it is always difficult, and sometimes impossible, for them to separate one from the other. It is true that some children are, from the beginning, able to concentrate the attention first on one subject and then on another; but these are quite exceptional instances, and the brain is very likely to be strained in the effort. It is as though a person should spend six hours in looking alternately through a telescope and a microscope, giving a few minutes to each. It would certainly be found at the end of that time that the sight had been injured for the time being, at least, and if the practice should be continued there can be no doubt that permanent impairment of vision would be the result.
The effort to form and maintain clear and forcible ideas of several subjects at once is a difficult matter, even for adults. It has been found by experience that it is advantageous to reduce the number of branches of medical science which students are required to study simultaneously. Several of the better class of medical colleges in this country a few years ago cut down the list of from eight or ten to less than half the number, and extended the period of study from two sessions of four months each to three of from six to eight months. I speak from personal experience when I say that I am aware of the most lamentable results of the "cramming" process in medical students. I have been a teacher in medical schools for nearly twenty-five years. In the course of my examinations it has often happened that I have put a question in one branch of medicine to a candidate for graduation and have received an answer in an entirely different branch. How much better it would be for the future man or woman if the boy or girl, instead of being required to learn a dozen different subjects at once, as was the poor little victim of St. Vitus's dance to whom I referred in the beginning of my remarks, should have the number reduced to two, or at most three! Geography, for instance, might easily be sufficiently learned in three months if it were taught exclusively, and so of many other subjects. As for grammar, it should be banished from all schools, except perhaps from the senior year of a university course. No child ever learned to speak good English from studying grammar. It has driven many a poor little wretch into headaches and other nervous troubles. It is the most ingenious device for forcing an immature brain into early decrepitude that the cunning of man has yet devised. The only reason why it does not do more harm is, that not one in ten of the pupils that come out of our schools know anything about it.
So far as my experience goes (and my profession has brought me many opportunities for observation), there is too much cramming in all our schools, and too much learning by rote, without there being an understanding of the subjects studied. It appears to be the main object of some teachers to develop the memory at the expense of the other mental faculties. Now the memory is one of the lowest faculties of the mind. In fact, it is not a faculty, but simply the result of the registration of impressions. It is a property of certain parts of the brain-substance, and it often exists in its highest form in persons of low intelligence, in whom it is exerted automatically, as it were, and without reason. If the perceptions and the power of mental concentration be cultivated, the memory will take care of itself.
It is generally the case that those persons who possess good memories are deficient in the capacity for giving attention. Facts and circumstances make little impression upon us all as we grow older. Hence we find that the events which occurred in childhood, and which were registered then, are easily remembered, while those that happened only a few weeks ago, not having been sufficiently noticed at the time, made little impression on the registering apparatus of the brain, and are partly or wholly forgotten.
Persons with good memories are, as a rule, indifferent students; they trust to memory rather than to understanding, and hence rarely have clear and full ideas of the subjects studied. Of course there are persons with strong memories and great intelligence and powers of application, but they do not require schools. They are competent to take care of themselves, and they do. The text-books used in schools generally take too much for granted on the part of the student. Bald statements are made without sufficient explanation; the pupil learns them by heart, and is supposed to know all about them because he can recite them without missing a word. I recollect how it was with myself in the matter of geometry. I took the first premium at school for recitations in that branch of science. I used to go up to the blackboard, draw all my lines correctly, and then, without hesitating at a word, glibly make the required demonstration; and yet of the real nature of geometry I had no idea. I did not know the use of it, nor did I acquire the knowledge till, some years subsequently, I took up the matter for myself. How often it is the case in our schools that memory passes for knowledge, leading to the belief that the possessor has mastered a subject, when in fact scarcely an inkling of it is obtained! They make admirable recitations, but so does a parrot.
It may be said that, although at the time a subject is not understood by the child, the memorizing of the words in which the details of it are expressed helps him in after-life to comprehend it. This I am sure is erroneous. The exact language used is of no consequence; time is wasted in acquiring it—time that might be much more profitably employed in obtaining ideas. And very often it happens, from the inability of the compilers of school-books to write good English, that the words used are not such as best express the idea sought to be conveyed, and indeed are sometimes altogether wrong. Thus, for instance, in a recently published history of the United States "pyrites" is defined as "a yellowish mineral of no value, but from its likeness to gold sometimes mistaken for it." This is almost as bad as the definition of crab given by the French academicians as "a small red fish, which goes backward." As Cuvier remarked, this is correct, except in three respects—a crab is not red, it is not a fish, and it does not go backward. In the same book "knighthood" is defined as "a rank in nobility." Such errors as these, as I have ascertained by inquiring, are not corrected by the teachers.
The "cramming" process not only results in injuring the brain, but it tends to give only superficial ideas of many subjects instead of a thorough knowledge of a few. It is greatly to the detriment of society that it should contain, as it does, a large proportion of persons who have imbibed a superficial acquaintance with branches of learning that, in the ordinary courses of their lives, they are not likely to make use of. As remarked by General Fry, in his admirable address, a few days ago, before the Military Service Institution, they are often tempted to employ their acquirements in the perpetration of crimes requiring some, though perhaps very slight, scientific knowledge, and again in concealing the evidence of their unlawful acts. It is very certain that such crimes were never so common as at the present day, when almost every person has at least a smattering knowledge of physics, chemistry, and toxicology.
The men and women who have made the most of themselves are those who have begun to study hard after they have reached adult life, when the brain and nervous system have more nearly arrived at their fully developed stage. It is true that the world has seen many geniuses, who have taken their education into their own hands, regardless of schools and teachers; but mankind is not made up of geniuses. I doubt if there be a single one in any school in the city of New York, and therefore in a paper like this it is not necessary to take them into consideration.
These people who make their own way, unaided by wealth or influence, have never studied a dozen or more subjects at the village school, where at most they learned the "three R's"—reading, writing, and arithmetic—and where their physical forces were not deteriorated by want of bodily exercise. What they learned from the country schoolmaster they learned well, not because of any original superiority of their brains over the brains of the children of the present day, but because they did not go to school till they were well-grown children, and, further, for the reason that their minds were not tortured with a multiplicity of subjects to be learned, or goaded by the system of competition which prevails in almost all schools of the present day. Then, when they had arrived at that period of life at which their predilections were formed, they entered with ardor upon studies that they selected for themselves; for they knew exactly what they wanted, and governed themselves accordingly. They frequented reading-rooms and libraries, at such times as they could take from the labor necessary for their support, and they devoted their nights to the study of matters that it was necessary for them to understand. One hour of this kind of mental work, with a brain near its full development, and with the attention roused to its utmost power of exertion by the sense of necessity, the spur of ambition, the longing for success, is worth more than three times the amount with brains needing all their force for natural growth, and which are confused and painful from the alternate blandishments and lashings to which they have been subjected.
If a law were passed prohibiting the public schools teaching children under ten years of age from books, and restricting the education given therein to the elementary branches of English, I am sure that, as the ages of the pupils increased, healthy differentiations would take place. The principle of natural selection would come into action, and the result would be beneficial both to the individual and to the State. Something like this is now being attempted in a few of our colleges, and it appears to work well. It is not often the case that pupils will, of their own accord, cram themselves beyond their capacity, though cases now and then occur, through the operation of the factors of competition and an inordinately stimulated ambition, in which there is such a perversion of the natural tendencies that children eagerly overwork themselves at school. We should no more trust children with a superfluity of studies than we should place them at a table filled with toothsome edibles and tell them to eat as much as they wanted. In the one case there would be mental and in the other bodily indigestion. Montaigne speaks with no uncertain voice in regard to this matter.
"Too much learning," he says, "stifles the soul just as plants are stifled with too much moisture, and lamps by too much oil; for pedants plunder knowledge from books and carry it on the tip of their lips, just as birds carry seeds wherewith to feed their young. The care and expense that we received from our parents in our education go for nothing but to furnish our heads with knowledge, but give us nothing of judgment or virtue. We labor only to stuff the memory, but leave the conscience and the understanding empty and unfurnished."
"Mere bookish learning," he says again, "is both troublesome and ungraceful; and, though it may serve for some kind of ornament, there is yet no foundation for any superstructure to be built upon it."
Students of mature life study the things themselves, and not the descriptions of them. How much better it would be if "object-lessons" were more common in our schools! What idea of "network," for instance, could a child possibly obtain from Dr. Johnson's definition of it, "a reticulated structure, with interstices between the intersections"? Would he not know more about a net after having seen one than he would after having learned by rote such a definition? And would not, in fact, the words used by Dr. Johnson tend to unsettle all the knowledge of a net that observation had given him?
As one mode by which a reform in our systems of educating the young can be brought about, let there be more schools for children of a larger growth. I am satisfied, from observation, that the public night-schools of this city do more good, according to their opportunities, than do those that, through the day, from nine to three o'clock are crowded with young children, tiring their poor little brains over subjects that do not interest them, for they do not appreciate their value. A child ought to see some tangible result of his efforts to acquire knowledge, and this he can only do when he is taught facts that he understands and recognizes to be facts. In this kind of instruction the mental strain is reduced to a minimum, while the mental development is carried on in accordance with Nature's laws. At the first sign of fatigue the instruction should cease. As our schools are at present conducted, all the pupils are made to conform to one uniform standard of cast-iron rigidity. Weariness counts for nothing with the feeble, so long as the robust are not tired. The exhausted child can not, like the exhausted adult, stop of his own volition. He must go on. The jaded nervous system cries out in vain, his face may look as haggard as it can, yawn follows yawn, his head may droop, his eyes may close in the drowsiness of his languor; but the goad is applied, and he must rouse himself, for another lesson is to be recited. Is it strange that headache, and nervous prostration, and insomnia, and St. Vitus's dance, and epilepsy, and utter extinction of mind should frequently result from this forcing process? Is it not much better for the child that he should occasionally play truant, and go off to some vacant lot and engage in a game of ball?
I confess to a strong sympathy with the intelligent truant, who loves the fields and the shore better than he does the overcrowded, ill-ventilated, and brain-prodding school-room.
The differential education of the sexes is a subject that can not well be omitted from an address such as this purports to be, and it may well engage a little attention before I bring these remarks to a close.
And first a few words in regard to the comparative anatomy and physiology of the male and female brain.
The skull of the male of the human species is of greater capacity than that of the female, and it is a singular fact that the difference in favor of the male increases with civilization. Thus in savage nations as the Australians and the negroes of Africa, the skulls of men and women are much more alike in size than they are in Europeans. It would appear from this fact, either that women from some cause or other have not availed themselves of the advantages of civilization as factors in brain-development to the same extent as man has; or that among savages there is not that dissimilarity in mental work that is found among civilized nations, and that hence there is not the same necessity for a difference in brain-development. For it naturally follows that, in the normal skull, there is a correspondence between its size and that of the organ contained within it.
Many observations have shown that the average male brain weighs a little over forty-nine ounces, while the average female brain is a little over forty-four ounces, or about five ounces less. The proportion existing between the two is therefore as 100: 90.
This apparently makes a good showing for man, but when we look at the matter in another, and possibly a more correct light, the advantage is rather the other way; for, relatively to the weight of the body in the two sexes, the difference, what there is, is in favor of woman. The body of the female is shorter and weighs less than that of the male. Thus, in man the weight of the brain to that of the body has been found to be an average of 1: 36-50, while in woman it is as 1: 36-46, a difference of -04 in her favor. I have said that possibly this may be a more correct way of determining the size of the brain than by absolute measurements without regard to the size of the body. The doubt arises from the fact that we do not know that very thin persons, in whom of course, other things being equal, the brain would be relatively larger, are more remarkable for mental vigor than are very stout ones, in whom the relative size of the brain would be less. Such being the case, it is difficult to believe that the proportionate size of the brain to that of the body has any important influence as a factor in the production of mind. It is the absolute rather than the relative amount of gray matter that is to be considered in determining the brain-power. It must, however, be borne in mind that the quantity of gray matter can not always be positively affirmed from a determination of the size of the brain, though in general it can. A person, for instance, may have a large head and a large brain and the layer of cortical substance be very thin; and another person with a smaller brain may have the cortex so thick as to more than compensate for its small superficies. Still, these are exceptional cases; as a rule, the larger the brain the greater the mental power of the individual.
Another difference between the brain of man and that of woman is found in the conformation of the organ. In man the frontal region is more developed than it is in woman. There is a certain fissure called the fissure of Rolando, which divides the brain into two unequal parts. Now, if we take the entire length of the brain as = 100, there will be found in woman 31-3 parts in front of the upper end of this fissure, while in man there will be 43-9 parts.
Again the specific gravity of the male brain, both of the white and the gray substance, is greater in man than it is in woman.
Bearing in view these differences, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that there must also be some points of dissimilarity in the minds of the two sexes. Not necessarily that one is superior to the other, but that they are different. This is an assertion that will probably not be questioned by any one who will take the trouble to give a little reflection to the matter. We see the diversities every day—diversities of perception, of emotion, of intellect, of will. In some respects the mind of man excels; in others, that of woman is superior. It would be a bad state of things for mankind if the mind in the two primary divisions of the human race were the same. In barbarous nations, as we have seen, the difference in size is less than it is with civilized people, and as one consequence of this fact there is not so great a difference in the mental development. The work of a woman is with them almost the same as that of a man. Her mode of life, her dress are not essentially different except in so far as they must be different on account of her sex. But with civilized nations there is variety in modes of thought, in likes and dislikes, and in other mental characteristics; in occupation, in manner, in clothes, even in food, so that the differentiation between the sexes is far more distinctly marked than it is with nations low in the scale of progress. Who can doubt that this is the direct result of differences not only in the brain but in other parts of the nervous system?
It appears to me, therefore, that while the education of a woman should be just as thorough as that of a man, it ought not to be the same. The two sexes move through paths that approach parallelism at some points of their course; but they can never travel exactly the same road till they have nervous systems presenting exactly the same anatomical configuration and situation.
Such being the case, it is the height of absurdity to attempt, what is so often attempted at the present day, the education of girls according to the same method as that pursued for boys, and giving them almost identical studies. The effort to cram mathematics, for instance, into the female mind almost always results in failure. It is true that there have been a few women distinguished as mathematicians, but they have been so from natural predilection, and are exceptions to the general rule. I have seen many cases of girls whose nervous systems have been wofully disturbed in the endeavor to master algebra, geometry, spherical trigonometry, and other mathematical branches of knowledge that could not by any possibility be of use to them. And how many women, notwithstanding all the efforts made, have even a smattering of these subjects? Their minds revolt at the idea. Nevertheless, not only are the higher branches of mathematics kept in the curricula of many of our schools for girls, but even civil-engineering and other applied mathematical studies are pursued. I do not think that absurdity can go much further than this. They might as well include navigation; and as a woman was a short time ago licensed as captain of a Mississippi steamboat, I shall expect to hear the fact used as an argument in favor of this extension of the educational facilities for girls.
Doubtless in time the evils that I have endeavored to point out this evening will be done away with. The craze for giving every child a smattering of every branch of knowledge will disappear, but it will probably not be in our day. All the world professes to be opposed to cramming, but the system nevertheless goes on, not only unchecked, but to a greater extent year after year. The days when children really knew something well will doubtless come back, and the future teachers in medical schools will not be disgusted as I have been with the badly trained minds of many medical students who sit with gaping mouths scarcely comprehending a word of a lecture, though put in the simplest diction of the language. Pupils will then be taught to think, and not as at present to absorb without understanding.
One word more, and I have done. For the teachers, men and women, in our public and private schools, I have the most profound respect. They simply follow the system that is laid down for them, and they do it, I verily believe, with a consciousness that it is faulty in the extreme. They are, however, powerless to effect a change. At the least suggestion toward a deviation from the beaten track, school committees and commissioners of education, and, above all, blind and ignorant parents, would insist upon "the pound of flesh," "the worth of their money," and the cramming process would have to go on. To these latter our efforts at reform must be addressed. A body such as is the Nineteenth Century Club can do much toward the spread of proper ideas in regard to this important matter, and, if it sees things as I have endeavored to set them forth to-night, a mighty impulse will be brought to bear in support of a righteous cause.