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sede. We have already seen what an important part the mental stimulus and nervous impulse perform, in exciting, sustaining, and directing muscular activity; and how difficult and inefficient muscular contraction becomes, when the mind, which directs it, is languid, or absorbed by other employments. The playful gamboling and varied movements which are so characteristic of the young of all animals, man not excepted, and which are at once so pleasing and so beneficial, shew that, to render it beneficial in its fullest extent, Nature requires amusement and sprightliness of mind to be combined with, and be the source of muscular exercise; and that, when deprived of this healthful condition, it is a mere evasion of her law, and is not followed by a tithe of the advantages resulting from its real fulfilment. The buoyancy of spirit and comparative independence enjoyed by boys when out of school, prevent them suffering so much from this cause as girls do; but the injury inflicted on both is the more unpardonable, on account of the ease with which it might be entirely avoided.
"Facts illustrative of the influence of mental, co-operating with and aiding muscular, activity, must be familiar to every one; but as the principle on which they depend is not sufficiently attended to, I shall add a few additional remarks.
"Every body knows how wearisome and disagreeable it is to saunter along, without having some object to attain; and how listless and unprofitable a walk taken against the inclination and merely for exercise is, compared to the same exertion made in pursuit of an object on which we are intent. The difference is simply, that, in the former case, the muscles are obliged to work without that full nervous impulse which nature has decreed to be essential to their healthy and energetic action; and that, in the latter, the nervous impulse is in full and harmonious operation. The great superiority of active sports, botanical and geological excursions, gardening and turning, as means of exercise, over mere measured movements, is referable to the same principle. Every kind of youthful play and mechanical operation interests and excites the mind, as well as occupies the body; and by thus placing the muscles in the best position for wholesome and beneficial exertion, enables them to act without fatigue, for a length of time which, if occupied in mere walking for exercise, would utterly exhaust their powers.'
With respect to the evil effects of ill-ventilated appartments on the young we could offer some extraordinary illustrations; and the practice recommended of turning the children out of a crowded school once an hour for a breath of fresh air, and well ventilating the room in the meantime we know to have been attended with the very best results:
"Few of our schools are well regulated in this respect. It is now several years since, on the occasion of a visit to one of the classes of a great public seminary, my attention was first strongly attracted to the injury resulting to the mental and bodily functions from the inhalation of impure air. About 150 boys were assembled in one large room, where they had already been confined nearly an hour and a half, when I entered. The windows were partly open; but, notwithstanding this, the change from the fresh atmosphere outside to the close contaminated air within, was obvious to every sense, and most certainly was not without its effect on the mind itself, accompanied as it was with a sensation of fulness in the forehead, and slight headache. The boys, with every motive to activity that an excellent system and an enthusiastic teacher could bestow, presented an aspect of weariness and fatigue which the mental stimulus they were under could not overcome, and which recalled forcibly sensations long by gone, which I had experienced to a woful extent, when seated on the benches of the same school.
"These observations stirred up a train of reflections: and, when I called to mind the freshness and alacrity with which, when at school, our morning operations were carried on, the gradual approach to languor and yawning which took place as the day advanced, and the almost instant resuscitation of the whole energies of mind and body that ensued on our dismissal, I could not help thinking that, even after making every necessary deduction for the mental fatigue of the lessons, and the inaction of body, a great deal of the comparative listlessness and indifference was owing to the continued inhalation of an air too much vitiated to be able to afford the requisite stimulus to the blood, on which last condition the efficiency of the brain so essentially depends. This became the more probable, on recollecting the pleasing excitement occasionally experienced for a few moments, from the rush of fresh air which took place when the door was opened to admit some casual visitor*. Indeed, on referring to the symptoms induced by breathing carbonic acid gas or fixed air, it is impossible not to perceive that the headache, languor, and debility consequent on confinement in an ill-ventilated apartment, or in air vitiated by many people, are nothing but minor degrees of the same process of poisoning which ensues on immersion in fixed air. Of this latter state, 'great heaviness in the head, tingling in the ears, troubled sight, a great inclination to sleep, diminution of strength, and falling down,' are stated by Orfila as the chief symptoms, t and every one knows how closely these resemble what is felt in crowded halls."
We are sorry our limited space will not allow us to bring other parts of the work under remark in the present number, we shall, however, insert our concluding observations in our next number, which will include the nervous system, and the mental faculties, the rules for the exercise of the intellectual and moral powers, as applied to the purposes of education.
The Parent's Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction, in Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. Smith, Elder, and Co.
To one part, and a valuable part, of the community of rational and thinking mothers, we would say a few words on behalf of this publication. It will be a present of no ordinary value to those whose aim is to cultivate the hearts and understandings of the rising generation; and when we consider that they are destined to form the men and women of the next age, it is surely of the utmost importance what examples we place before them for imitation.
There can be no doubt that most, if not all, parents desire to see their children grow up good, useful, and happy; but how various are the means employed to produce this end; and, alas! how few, comparatively speaking, are the objects who reach it. Jealousies, ill
The accuracy of the above remarks has been strikingly confirmed since the first edition by an intelligent teacher in Edinburgh, who, in compliance with my recommendation, pays much attention to ventilation, and turns out his pupils to play in the open air for ten minutes at the end of the first hour. During this time, the door and windows are thrown open, and the air completely renewed. The effect of this pro⚫ceeding during last winter was a marked increase in the mental activity and attention of the pupils, greater pleasure and success in the exercises, and a striking diminution in the number of absentees from sickness. The latter effect was so marked, that some of the parents observed the improved health of their children, without being aware to what cause it was due. Since the publication of the second edition, an almost identical instance has been published in a very favourable review of the present volume in the Quarterly Journal of Education for October, 1834.
+Toxicologie, ii. 422.
humour, and unkindness, are too frequently found to predominate among brothers and sisters, even in early life, and the peace of a family circle is thus continually disturbed by petty broils and peevish discontent. There needs no comment to show what must be the effect of conduct like this on the community at large, when the members of such families arrive at maturity, and become scattered abroad, vested with the authority of masters and mistresses, or placed in subordinate situations, with unsubdued tempers. The present state of society is a reply to any question that may be asked on the subject. Daughters of Britain! Mothers of a rising race! to you we appeal to you is intrusted the formation of character of the many hundreds that shall succeed us. When death shall have desolated our hearths, they must stand forward and fill the places we have vacated for the silent tomb. If the wills of your children are not taught to bend while they are pliant as the osier twig, how will they submit to the compulsion of circumstances that surround mature age? If tyranny, uproar, and selfishness, reign among your offspring, instead of the spirit of love and forbearance, what are we to anticipate for society in advanced life, but war, and tumult, and oppression?
But a very different picture is exhibited, and a far brighter prospect opened to view, in those family groups where a system of discipline commences at the cradle, and Love is the law that governs. Let none imagine they either feel or shew genuine affection for their children who do not teach them self-government; the uncontrolled indulgence of selfish gratification, without regard to the feelings or convenience of others, though it be only in holiday possession of a doll, or a kite, is the rock on which thousands are ruined; and that ruin, in far too many instances, may be traced to the mistaken fondness or blind ignorance of parents, who, like a poor Scotchwoman of whom we have read,— "gave her children their own WILLS, because she had nothing else to give them." Here maternal love manifested itself, but it was gross, animal love, the mere desire of bestowing something on her offspring, without taking into consideration whether it would prove beneficial or hurtful to them. Another instance, somewhat in point, occurred the other day:—a noble, high-minded little boy, who had been placed in circumstances so as to understand and practise a little self-control, came home for the winter holidays, and received every mark of fondness from his parents. His delighted mother's first indulgence was in the shape of boiled eggs and hot buttered toast for breakfast; soon afterwards followed plum-cake and scalded wine as luncheon, with apples, nuts, and sweets, at every interval during the day. Meal-times came. as usual, but it was very strange the poor child had soon no appetite for plain food, some dainties must be brought to entice him to eat, these also failed, and it was concluded he must be ill. So indeed it proved; a heavy cough came on, from an overloaded stomach, and the mass of improper food which it had been forced to receive, and the little innocent had long to endure pain, fever, and languor of body,the victim of false indulgence. Surely these things ought not to be, among rational creatures. We will say nothing at the present moment of the claims of Christianity, binding as they are; but a proper place
shall be assigned to them, while we return to the merits of the volumes which have elicited these remarks.
On looking at the interminable catalogue of "Books for Children,” we are led to think every fresh one added to the list unnecessary and obtrusive; but let us look at the multifarious wants of society, and we shall own that variety is as delightful and needful to the mind now as it has ever been. The different kinds of instruction that these books convey may, in the hands of a judicious parent or teacher, become indeed a cabinet of enjoyment as well as of improvement. We all know that when too much good advice is given at once it produces little or no effect; that " example moves where precept fails," and here the good mother may find her hands strengthened by reading to the little flock around her knees, stories, perfectly natural, of children as they
Not such as figured away in the gilded covers of story books of the last century, where Miss Polly was a pattern of all perfection, and Master Jacky possessed every juvenile vice under the sun-monsters which it required no keener discernment than every child is possessed of, to be sensible were never in existence. The children of the Parent's Cabinet are bona fide human beings-affectionate and heedless, industrious and negligent, eager to acquire knowledge, and yet as eager to pursue frivolity and pleasure, assuming each shade of character in turn, as influenced by circumstances, and needing only the guiding hand of parental authority or persuasion, judiciously exercised, to train them into "fruit-bearing branches." The young mind is taught by the most simple means how powerful is the force of example, and is led unawares to identify itself with the young hero and heroine of each tale, merely because it is a natural portraiture. Interspersed with these juvenile histories is much valuable instruction, capable of being turned to good account, and which cannot fail to find a resting-place in every child's memory. Geography, history, biography, and the arts, are simplified in entertaining conversations, by which many an intelligent boy will be led on step by step, and become acquainted with the structure of instruments which he has hitherto regarded beyond the reach of his comprehension; and in his hours of leisure may reduce to practice what he will there learn of the mechanism of clocks, thermometers, and pumps. It would be invidious to point out any particular parts of these volumes distinct from others, where each is so excellent in its own peculiar sphere, but as we have touched upon the importance of children being taught to exercise self-controul, it may be admissible to refer to a few exhibitions of it, and whose example has produced a salutary effect in a family where this work is a cherished favorite with all the little ones. Among these are "Harry, the Shrimper;" "Ruth, the American Girl;" "George Hart;" "Robert Wilmot;" The Two Rabbits;" "Loss and Gain," and "The Long Sum;" Two or three old fables are given in a modern dress, very acceptably, but we were a little disappointed to see the story of Josephine taken, almost literally, except in name, from the "Looking-glass for the Mind." The story is good, because it is from dear old Berquin, but in the Parent's Cabinet we look upon it as a theft from that "Friend to Youth." Nor must we omit to recommend to the editor a closer
attention to grammatical accuracy than appears in the third volume especially, there are many such expressions as the following, which are certainly neither elegant nor correct: "They pounce upon the prey, springing upon it from a height, like a harck does upon a small bird.”—page 37. “Will the spider keep the young ones on her back, Mamma, like the toad does ?”—page 43. These, it is true, are but minor faults among many excellencies, but they are such as need correction. In conclusion, it may be observed, that many a lesson may be learned from these books by parents as well as children; a little discernment will point out the visible benefits arising from family confidence, and permitting young folks, whenever possible, to exercise their own understandings and judgment. Though the results may sometimes prove inconvenient, and even disastrous, experience will be gained, which, by judicious management, may prove valuable through the course of their lives.
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
The Condensed Commentary, and Family Exposition, of the Holy Bible. Ward and Co.
PERHAPS nothing requires more judgment, and a nicer balance of mind, than to select from the voluminous works of writers on the Scriptures, embracing parties of every possible shade of religious faith and difference of opinion, such notes, explanatory and illustrative, as should please all parties and offend none. We can say for this work, that at least it is done cautiously; no mean recommendation in these days, when every one thinks himself equal to lay unhallowed hands upon the ark. The reflections selected as accompaniments to the chapters breathe a spirit of rational piety, and are equally removed from visionary ideas and mere literal and worldly remarks. We should be glad to see works of this kind in a still cheaper form, as they would lead very materially to prevent erroneous notions being formed by the vulgar on spiritual matters, although we are not disposed to find fault with the price of the part before us. The scriptural teacher will find the work a valuable auxiliary in the task of religious education; and, as such, we would cordially recommend it.
The German Trésor. By Louis Philippe. R. F. De Porquet, F. De Porquet, and Cooper, London.
THE German language is becoming every day more fashionable; and, is, perhaps, in spite of its gutterals, the most energetic and copious we have. To learn a language it requires continuous application—a little every day, and that perfectly acquired. The work before us professes to be on the principle of daily lessons, and comprehends a systematic selection of words and phrases, to be read in German, in the presence of a master, having been previously prepared with the help of the lexicon. We like the book, because it is progressive, because it deals with realities, and because all that it contains will be of practical use to the traveller as well as to the student.
VOL. I.-March, 1835.