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careless exposure to draughts of air, or from the effects of too glaring a light, to inflammation of the eyes, the foundation of future diseases, which may hereafter impair the vision, if not destroy it altogether. Sight, being the most delicate of our senses, and, I think, the most valuable also, cannot be too carefully guarded. The hearing also may be sacrificed to carelessness. Leaving the head damp after washing, and exposure to cold winds, with the ears not well covered, frequently cause the ear-ache, and temporary deafness, which may be the origin of that disposition to permanent deafness, which frequently shows itself, and saddens the latter periods of life. What may be the effects of such misfortunes upon the character and disposition of individuals thus afflicted, it is not possible for me to say; but generally they are such as affectionate parents would earnestly wish to avert from their offspring. From the want of cleanliness of a nurse the health of a child may be greatly affected. If the skin be not well washed, the pores will become clogged, and the insensible perspiration impeded, by which the whole system will become deranged; and this is one cause of the squalid appearance which some children present. Besides this inconvenience, that want of cleanliness and order, which is often betrayed at other seasons of life, may be attributable to such defects having prevailed in the nursery, in which I believe, that not only our bodies are cradled and nourished, but also the virtues and the vices of our minds.
As the life of the infant proceeds, the activity of the nurse is another habit of importance to it. As soon
as its strength will permit, it should be in gentle motion almost the whole of the day, except during the intervals necessary for its sleep and nourishment. A child of four months old should begin to spring in its nurse's arms; to crow at the objects which attract its attention, and to grasp, though with imperfect vision, at the things beyond its reach. But how often have I seen the reverse! and have wished to have taken from the dull and indifferent nurse the little being that has hung heavily upon her arms, while it looked around it with vacant stupidity, and whined half the day away, merely because its attention was not roused, nor that natural gratification afforded to it, which children derive from the unfolding and exercise of the perceptive faculties. A very sensible nursemaid, whom I once met with, accustomed herself, whenever she saw the little boy, of whom she had the care, looking steadfastly at any object, to suffer him to examine it well, in every direction, and to permit him, when possible, to handle it. She would also call his attention to almost every object which presented itself in their walks, even from the stately ox to the spider hidden from its unwary prey. This child was afterwards remarkable for his accurate observation, and for the power of fixing his attention, when required, upon his various studies. I have no doubt he was indebted to his nurse for the early developement of these powers, which proved most advantageous to him in acquiring knowledge, and in making just observations on his progress through life.
What great acuteness and penetration some children evince, in discovering the traits of character of those who are about them! This is a sufficient reason for caution in the selection of of their attendants.
MRS. B. And a motive for instructing them, as to the best measures to adopt towards children. In general, when a child has arrived at this age of observation, and when his reasoning powers are beginning to act, a war commences in the nursery between himself and his maid: she is resolute to continue him in that state of infantine subjection most pleasing and least troublesome to herself, while he is as determined to escape from her control. The consequence is constant altercation, she reprimanding and threatening to appeal to the higher powers; all which he opposes, if not with equal eloquence or commanding voice, with as much defiance as he can express, and by every petty and aggravating insult his fertile imagination can suggest. This state of warfare it is desirable, for the comfort of both parties, to avoid. But where there is such wilfulness on the one side, and but little good humour and judgment on the other, what can be done? It is difficult to say, unless reform could be effected on the one part so as to induce it on the other. An active and spirited child, of four or five years of age, must expend a portion of his spirits in freely ranging about his nursery, and in trying the strength of his lungs. All the reprimands which the nurse can bestow will not check him, she would, therefore, do well to yield occasionally, and only exert her authority to
obtain a quiet season, when the comfort of the other children require it. Even then she should be provided with some occupation for the little blusterer which would amuse his mind, and render the change agreeable to him. A box of bricks for building houses, a pencil and paper, or coloured pictures, I have seen afford an hour's quiet amusement to very lively children, while the younger ones were having their morning's sleep. It is an excellent art in a nurse-maid to accustom children to amuse and occupy themselves; an art equally conducive to her comfort and their benefit. If she thus preserve their good temper and her own, she will not find them often refractory. They will obey her almost without a murmur in those things which the good government of the nursery requires. The great comfort, certainly, of the nursery depends upon the temper and management of the chief attendant. Children, unless they are ill, are generally ready to be pleased, particularly if they have not been permitted, by the neglect of their comfort and for want of suitable amusement, to acquire the habit of fretful crying, which, besides being painful to hear, is most likely to end in forming a temper of confirmed fretfulness and discontent. Although we know what a variety of dispositions even one nursery may produce, and how differently each may be affected by the same treatment and management, yet I am much inclined to believe that fretfulness and discontent will seldom prevail where the nurse-maid is lively, active, forgetful of herself, and possessing the art of amusing, or, in better words, of occupying the
little volatile tenants of her domain. If occupation be not given to them, they will contrive to make it for themselves, and thence springs that incessant complaint of some nurse-maids, that they cannot keep the children out of mischief.
One mode of amusement I should, without doubt, forbid; I mean the relation of stories to children in the nursery. It would be dangerous to allow a servant to decide what narrations are or are not proper to be told; therefore I believe it is better to prevent this amusement altogether, and to supply the nursery with such books as may be suited to the ages of the children, and innocent in their effects on the imagination.
MRS. L.-I suppose you will agree with me in prohibiting the admission of the nurse's friends and visitors to the nursery?
Certainly; as productive of many
and serious inconveniences.
the children are entirely neglected, while a stream of gossip flows rapidly between the parties, and sweeps away the reputation, not only of the families they serve, but of as many more as the annals of the servants' hall can furnish; complaints are freely vented against the places they occupy, and sometimes each works up the other to such a point that nothing but leaving their places can then satisfy them. All this time the elder children may have been auditors of this colloquy, each taking in as much as his comprehension permits, and each, perhaps, having a different, and all an unfavourable, impression made on the mind.