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Title: Spontaneous Activity in Education
Author: Montessori, Maria, 1870-1952
Language: English
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Laws of the child's psychical life paralleled by those of its physical.

  Current objections to a system of education based upon "liberty"

  Hygiene has freed the infant from straps and swaddling clothes
  and left it free to develop

  Education must leave the soul free to develop

  Principle of liberty in education not a principle of abandonment

The liberty accorded the child of to-day is purely physical.
  Civil rights of the child in the twentieth century.

  Removal of perils of disease a step toward physical liberation

  Supplying the child's physical needs is not sufficient

  Child's social rights overlooked in the administration of
  orphan asylums

  Poor child's health and property confiscated in the custom
  of wet nursing

  We recognize justice only for those who can defend themselves

How we receive the infants that come into the world.

  Home has no furnishings adapted to their small size

  Society prepares a mockery for their reception in the shape
  of useless toys

  Child not allowed to act for himself

  Constant interruption of his activities prevents psychical growth

  Bodily health suffers from spiritual neglect

With man the life of the body depends on the life of the spirit.

  Reflex action of the emotions on the body functions

  Child's body requires joy as much as food and air



The precepts which govern moral education and instruction.

  Child expected to acquire virtues by imitation, instead
  of development

  Domination of the child's will the basis of education

It is the teacher who forms the child's mind. How he teaches.

  Teacher's path beset with difficulties under the present system

  Advanced experts prepare the schemata of instruction

  Some outlines of "model lessons" used in the schools

  Comparison of a "model lesson" for sense development with
  the Montessori method

  Experimental psychology, not speculative psychology, the
  basis of Montessori teaching

  False conceptions of the "art of the teacher" illustrated
  by model lessons

Positive science makes its appearance in the schools

Discoveries of medicine: distortions and diseases

Science has not fulfilled its mission in its dealings with children.

  Diseases of school children treated, causes left undisturbed

Discoveries of experimental psychology: overwork; nervous exhaustion

Science is confronted by a mass of unsolved problems.

  Laws governing fatigue still unknown

  Toxines produced by fatigue and their antitoxins

  Joy in work the only preventative of fatigue

  Real experimental science, which shall liberate the child,
  not yet born



The organization of the psychical life begins with the
characteristic phenomenon of attention.

  Incident which led Dr. Montessori to define her method

Psychical development is organized by the aid of external stimuli,
which may be determined experimentally.

  Tendency to develop his latent powers exists in the child's nature

  Environment should contain the means of auto-education

External stimuli may be determined in quality and quantity.

  Educative material used should contain in itself the _control of error_

  Quantity of material determined by the advent of
  abstraction in pupil

  Relation of stimuli to the age of the pupil

Material of development is necessary only as a starting point.

  Corresponds to the terra firma from which the aeroplane takes
  flight and to which it returns to rest

  Establishing of internal order, or "discipline"

  Psychical growth requires constantly new and more complex material

  Difference between materials of auto-education and the didactic
  material of the schools

Psychical truths.

  "Discipline" the first external sign of a psychical reaction
  to the material

  Initial disorder in Montessori schools

  Psychical progress not systematic but "explosive in nature"

  Birth of individuality

  Intellectual crises are accompanied by emotion

  Older child beginning in system, chooses materials in
  inverse order

  Course of psychical phenomena explained by diagrams

  Tests of Binet and Simon arbitrary and superficial

  Problems of psychical measurement

  Observing the child's moral nature

  Transformation of a "violent" child and of a "spying" child
  in a Montessori school

  Polarization of the internal personality

Guide to psychological observation.






  The school is the laboratory of experimental psychology

  Qualities the new type of teacher must possess



  Physical hygiene in the school

  The requirements of psychical hygiene

Free movement.

  Misconceptions of physical freedom

  Action without an aim fatigues

  Work of "preservation" rather than "production" suitable
  to children



  Awakens in answer to an impulse of "spiritual hunger"

  Attention cannot be artificially maintained by teacher

  _Liberty_ the experimental condition necessary for
  studying phenomena of attention

  Child's perception of an internal development makes the
  exercise pleasant and induces him to prolong it

  External stimuli powerless without an answering internal force

  A natural internal force directs psychical formation

  New pedagogy provides nourishment for internal needs

  Organization of knowledge in the child's mind

  Teacher directs, but does not interrupt phenomena of attention

  Material offered should correspond to psychical needs



  Its relation to attention

  Manifested in action and inhibition

  Opposite activities of the will must combine to form
  the personality

  Powers of the will established by exercise, not by subjection

  Persistence in effort the true foundation of will

  Decision the highest function of the will

  Development of will depends on order and clarity of ideas

  Power of choice, which precedes decision, should be

  Need of exercise for the will paralleled with need of
  muscular exercise

  Fallacy of educating the child's will by "breaking it"

  "Character" the result of established will, not
  of emulation



  Liberating the child means leaving him to "his own intelligence"

  How the intelligence of the child differs from the
  instincts of animals

  Intelligence the actual means of formation of the inner life

  Hygiene of intelligence

  Intelligence awakens and sets in motion the central
  nervous mechanisms

  In an age of speed, man has not accelerated himself

  Swift reactions an external manifestation of intelligence

  Ability to _distinguish_ and _arrange_ the
  characteristic sign of intelligence

  Montessori "sensory exercises" make it possible for the
  child to distinguish and classify

  The Montessori child is sensitive to the objects of his environment

  Educational methods in use do not help the child to distinguish

  Power of _association_ depends on ability to distinguish
  dominant characteristics

  Individuality revealed in association by similarity

  By means of attention and internal will the intelligence
  accomplishes the work of association

  _Judgment_ and _reasoning_ depend on ability to distinguish

  Activities of association and selection lead to individual
  habits of thought

  Importance of acquiring ability to reason for oneself

  Genius the possession of maximum powers of association by similarity

  Genius of errors in association and reasoning which have
  impeded science

  The consciousness can only accept truths for which it
  is "expectant"

  The intelligence has its peculiar perils, from which it
  should be guarded



The creative imagination of science is based upon truth.

  Imagination based on reality differs from that based on speculation

  Speculative imagination akin to original sin

  Education should direct imagination into creative channels

Truth is also the basis of artistic imagination.

  All imagination based on sense impressions

  Non-seasonal impressions--spiritual truths

  Education in sense perception strengthens imagination

  Perfection in art dependent on approximation to truth

  Exercise of the intelligence aids imagination

Imagination in children.

  Immature and therefore concerned with unrealities

  Should be helped to overcome immaturity of thought

  False methods develop _credulity_, akin to insanity

  Period of credulity in the child prolonged for the
  amusement of the adult

  "Living among real possessions" the cure for illusions

Fable and religion.

  Religion not the product of fantasy

  Fable in schools does not prepare for religious teaching

The education of the imagination in schools for older children.

  Environment and method oppressive

  "Composition" introduced to foster imagination

  How composition is "taught"

  Imagination cannot be forced

The moral question.

  Contributions of positive science to morality

  Science raises society to level of Christian standards

  Parents' failure to teach sex morality

  Probable effects of experimental psychology in field of morals

  Experimental psychology should be directed to the schools

  Progress of medicine and its relation to new psychology

  Childish naughtiness a parental misconception

  Infant life different from the adult

  Hindering the child's development a moral question for the adult

  Need of the child "to touch and to act"

  How the adult prevents him from learning by doing

  Conceptions of good and bad conduct in the school

  Mutual aid a high crime in the school

  Surveillance for vicious habits originating in the school

  Developing the "social sentiment" in the school

  "A moral with every lesson" the teacher's aim

  Injurious system of prizes and punishments the school's mainstay

  The fallacy of "emulation"

  Necessity of reforming the school

  Good conduct dependent on satisfaction of intellectual needs

  Mere sensory education inadequate

  Love, the preservative force of life

  Christianity teaches necessity of mutual love

The education of the moral sense.

  Moral education must have basis of feeling

  Adult the stimulus by which child's feeling is exercised

  How and when the adult should offer affection

The essence of moral education.

  Importance of perfecting spiritual sensibility

  Necessity of properly organized environment

  Helping the child distinguish between right and wrong

  "Internal sense" of right and wrong

  Moral conscience capable of development

Our insensibility.

  Virtuous person and criminal not detected by contact

  The War as an example of moral insensibility

  Insensibility distinguished from death of the soul

  Spiritually, man must either ascend or die

Morality and religion.

  Conversion, the sudden establishing of moral order

  The spirit enslaved by sentiments hostile to love

The religious sentiment in children.

  Crises of conscience and spontaneous religious feeling

  Some original observations by Dr. Montessori

    *    *    *    *    *




=The general laws which govern the child's psychical health have their
parallel in those of its physical health=.--Many persons who have asked
me to continue my methods of education for very young children on
lines that would make them suitable for those over seven years of age,
have expressed a doubt whether this would be possible.

The difficulties they put forward are mainly of a moral order.

Should not the child now begin to respect the will of others rather
than his own? Should he not some day brace himself to a real effort,
compelling him to carry out a necessary, rather than a chosen, task?
Finally, should he not learn self-sacrifice, since man's life is not a
life of ease and enjoyment?

Some, taking certain practical items of elementary education, which
present themselves even at the age of six, and must be seriously
envisaged at seven, urge their objection in this form: Now we are face
to face with the ugly specter of arithmetical tables, the arid mental
gymnastics exacted by grammar. What do you propose? Would you abolish
all this, or do you admit that the child must inevitably bow to these

It is obvious that the whole of the argument revolves round the
interpretation of that "liberty" which is the avowed basis of the
system of education advocated by me.

Perhaps in a short time all these objections will provoke a smile, and
I shall be asked to suppress them, together with my commentary on
them, in future editions of this work. But at the present time they
have a right to exist, and to be dealt with, although indeed it is not
very easy to give a direct, clear and convincing answer to them,
because this entails the raising of questions on which everybody has
firmly rooted convictions.

A parallel may perhaps serve to save us a good deal of the work.
Indirectly, these questions have been answered already by the progress
made in the treatment of infants under the guidance of hygiene. How
were they treated formerly? Many, no doubt, can still remember certain
practises that were regarded as indispensable by the masses. An infant
had to be strapped and swaddled, or its legs would grow crooked; the
ligament under its tongue had to be slit, to ensure its speaking
eventually; it was important that it should always wear a cap to keep
its ears from protruding; the position of a recumbent baby was so
arranged as not to cause permanent deformity of the tender skull; and
good mothers stroked and pinched the little noses of their nurslings
to make them grow long and sharp instead of round and snub, and put
little gold earrings through the lobes of their ears very soon after
birth "to improve their eyesight." Such practises may be already
forgotten in some countries; but in others they obtain to this day.
Who does not remember the various devices for helping a baby to walk?
Even in the first months after birth, at a period of life when the
nervous system is not completely developed, and it is impossible for
the infant to coordinate its movements, mothers wasted several
half-hours of the day "teaching baby to walk." Holding the little
creature by the body, they watched the aimless movements of the tiny
feet, and deluded themselves with the belief that the child was
already making an effort to walk; and because it does actually by
degrees begin to arch its feet and move its legs more boldly, the
mother attributed its progress to her instruction. When finally the
movement had been almost established--though not the equilibrium, and
the resulting power to stand on the feet--mothers made use of certain
straps with which they held up the baby's body, and thus made it walk
on the ground with themselves; or, when they had no time to spare,
they put the baby into a kind of bell-shaped basket, the broad base of
which prevented it from turning over; they tied the infant into this,
hanging its arms outside, its body being supported by the upper edge
of the basket; thus the child, though it could not rise on its feet,
_advanced_, moving its legs, and was said to be _walking_.

Other relics of a very recent past are a species of convex crowns
which were put round the heads of babies when they were considered
capable of rising to their feet, and were accordingly emancipated from
the basket. The child, suddenly left to himself after being accustomed
hitherto to supports comparable to the crutches of the cripple, fell
perpetually, and the crown was a protection to the head, which would
otherwise have been injured.

What were the revelations of Science, when it entered upon the scene
for the salvation of the child? It certainly offered no perfected
methods for straightening the noses and the ears, nor did it enlighten
mothers as to methods of teaching babies to walk immediately after
birth. No. It proclaimed first of all that Nature itself will
determine the shape of heads, noses, and ears; that man will speak
without having the membrane of the tongue cut; and further, that legs
will grow straight and that the function of walking will come
naturally, and requires no intervention.

Hence it follows that we should leave as much as possible to Nature;
and the more the babe is left free to develop, the more rapidly and
perfectly will he achieve his proper proportions and higher functions.
Thus swaddling bands are abolished, and the "utmost tranquillity in a
restful position" is recommended. The infant, with its legs perfectly
free, will be left lying full length, and not jogged up and down to
"amuse" it, as many persons imagine they are doing by this device. It
will not be forced to walk before it is time. When this time comes, it
will raise itself and walk spontaneously.

In these days nearly all mothers are convinced of this, and vendors of
swaddling-bands, straps, and baskets have practically disappeared.

As a result, babies have straighter legs and walk better and earlier
than formerly.

This is an established fact, and a most comforting one; for what a
constant anxiety it must have been to believe that the straightness of
a child's legs, and the shape of its nose, ears, and head were the
direct results of our care! What a responsibility, to which every one
must have felt unequal! And what a relief to say: "Nature will think
of that. I will leave my baby free, and watch him grow in beauty; I
will be a quiescent spectator of the miracle."

Something analogous has been happening with regard to the inner life
of the child. We are beset by such anxieties as these: it is necessary
to form character, to develop the intelligence, to aid the unfolding
and ordering of the emotions. And we ask ourselves how we are to do
this. Here and there we touch the soul of the child, or we constrain
it by special restrictions, much as mothers used to press the noses of
their babies or strap down their ears. And we conceal our anxiety
beneath a certain mediocre success, for it is a fact that men do grow
up possessing character, intelligence and feeling. But when all these
things are lacking, we are vanquished. What are we to do then? Who
will give character to a degenerate, intelligence to an idiot, human
emotions to a moral maniac?

If it were really true that men acquired all such qualities by these
fitful manipulations of their souls, it would suffice to apply a
little more energy to the process when these souls are evidently
feeble. But this is not sufficient.

Then we are no more the creators of spiritual than of physical forms.

It is Nature, "creation," which regulates all these things. If we are
convinced of this, we must admit as a principle the necessity of "not
introducing obstacles to natural development"; and instead of having
to deal with many separate problems--such as, what are the best aids
to the development of character, intelligence and feeling?--one single
problem will present itself as the basis of all education: How are we
to give the child freedom?

In according this freedom we must take account of principles analogous
to those laid down by science for the forms and functions of the body
during its period of growth; it is a freedom in which the head, the
nose, and the ears will attain the highest beauty, and the gait the
utmost perfection possible to the congenital powers of the
individual. Thus here again liberty, the sole means, will lead to the
maximum development of character, intelligence and sentiment; and will
give to us, the educators, peace, and the possibility of contemplating
the miracle of growth.

This liberty will further deliver us from the painful weight of a
fictitious responsibility and a dangerous illusion.

Woe to us, when we believe ourselves responsible for matters that do
not concern us, and delude ourselves with the idea that we are
perfecting things that will perfect themselves quite independently of
us! For then we are like lunatics; and the profound question arises:
What, then, is our true mission, our true responsibility? If we are
deceiving ourselves, what is indeed the truth? And what sins of
omission and of commission must be laid to our charge? If, like
Chanticleer, we believe that the sun rises in the morning because the
cock has crowed, what duties shall we find when we come to our senses?
Who has been left destitute, because we ourselves have forgotten "to
eat our true bread"?

The history of the "physical redemption" of the infant has a sequel
for us which is highly instructive.

Hygiene has not been confined to the task of anthropological
demonstration, such as that which not only made generally known, but
convinced every one, that the body develops spontaneously; because, in
reality, the question of infant welfare was not concerned with the
more or less perfect forms of the body. The real infantile question
which called for the intervention of science was the alarming
mortality among infants.

It certainly seems strange in these days to consider this fact: that,
at the period when infantile diseases made the greatest ravages,
people were not nearly so much concerned with infantile mortality as
with the shape of the nose or the straightness of the legs, while the
real question--literally a question of life and death--passed
unobserved. There must be many persons who, like myself, have heard
such dialogues as this: "I have had great experience in the care of
children; I have had nine." "And how many of them are living?" "Two."
And nevertheless this mother was looked upon as an authority!

Statistics of mortality reveal figures so high that the phenomenon may
justly be called the "Slaughter of the Innocents." The famous graph of
Lexis, which is not confined to one country or another, but deals with
the general averages of human mortality, reveals the fact that this
terrible death-rate is of universal occurrence among all peoples. This
must be attributed to two different factors. One is undoubtedly the
characteristic feebleness of infancy; the other the absence of
protection for this feebleness, an absence that had become general
among all peoples. Good-will was not lacking, nor parental affection;
the fault lay hidden in an unknown cause, in a lack of protection
against a dire peril of which men were quite unconscious. It is now a
matter of common knowledge that infectious diseases, especially those
of intestinal origin, are those most destructive to infant life.
Intestinal disorders which impede nutrition, and produce toxins at an
age when the delicate tissues are most sensitive to them, were
responsible for nearly the entire death-roll. These were aggravated by
the errors habitually committed by those in charge of infants. These
errors were a lack of cleanliness which would astound us nowadays, and
a complete absence of any sort of rule concerning infant diet. The
soiled napkins which were wrapped round the baby under its swaddling
bands would be dried in the sun again and again, and replaced on the
infant without being washed. No care was taken to wash the mother's
breast or the baby's mouth, in spite of fermentation so pronounced as
to cause local disorder. Suckling of infants was carried out quite
irregularly; the cries of the child were the sole guide whereby its
feeding times, whether by night or day, were determined; and the more
it suffered from indigestion and the resulting pains, the more
frequently was it fed, to the constant aggravation of its sufferings.
Who in those days might not have seen mothers carrying in their arms
babies flushed with fever, perpetually thrusting the nipple into the
little howling mouth in the hope of quieting it? And yet those mothers
were full of self-sacrifice and of maternal anguish!

Science laid down simple rules; it enjoined the utmost possible
cleanliness, and formulated a principle so self-evident that it seems
astounding people should not have recognized it for themselves: that
the smallest infant, like ourselves, should have regular meals, and
should only take fresh nourishment when it has digested what has been
given before; and hence that it should be suckled only at intervals of
so many hours, according to the months of its age and the
modifications of physical function in its development. No infant
should ever be given crusts of bread to suck, as is often done by
mothers, especially among the lower orders, to still its crying,
because particles of bread might be swallowed, which the child is yet
incapable of digesting.

The mothers' anxiety then was: what are we to do when the baby cries?
They found to their astonishment after a time that their babies cried
a great deal less, or indeed not at all; they even saw infants only a
week old spending the two hours' intervals between successive meals
calm and rosy, with wide-open eyes, so silent that they gave no sign
of life, like Nature in her moments of solemn immobility. Why indeed
should they cry continually? Those cries were the sign of a state of
things which must be translated by these words: suffering and death.

And for these wailing little ones the world did nothing. They were
strapped up in swaddling clothes, and very often handed over to a
young child incapable of responsibility; they had neither a room nor a
bed of their own.

It was Science which came to the rescue and created nurseries,
cradles, rooms for babies, suitable clothes for them, alimentary
substances specially prepared for them by great industries devoted to
the hygienic sustenance of infants after weaning, and medical
specialists for their ailments; in short, an entirely new world,
clean, intelligent, and full of amenity. The baby has become the new
man who has conquered his own right to live, and thus has caused a
sphere to be created for him. And in direct proportion to the
diffusion of the laws of infantile hygiene, infant mortality has

So then, when we say that in like manner the baby should be left at
liberty spiritually, because creative Nature can also fashion its
spirit better than we can, we do not mean that it should be neglected
and abandoned.

Perhaps, looking around us, we shall perceive that though we cannot
directly mold its individual forms of character, intelligence, and
feeling, there is nevertheless a whole category of duties and
solicitudes which we have neglected: and that on these _the life or
death_ of the spirit depends.

The principle of _liberty_ is not therefore a principle of
_abandonment_, but rather one which, by leading us from illusions to
reality, will guide us to the most positive and efficacious "care of
the child."

    *    *    *    *    *

=The liberty accorded to the child of to-day is purely physical. Civil
rights of the child in the twentieth century=.--Hygiene has brought
liberty into the physical life of the infant. Such material facts as
the abolition of swaddling bands, open-air life, the prolongation of
sleep till the infant wakes of its own accord, etc., are the most
evident and tangible proof of this. But these are merely means for the
attainment of liberty. A far more important measure of liberation has
been the removal of the perils of disease and death which beset the
child at the outset of life's journey. Not only did infants survive in
very much greater numbers as soon as the obstacles of certain
fundamental errors were swept away, but it was at once apparent that
there was an improvement in their development. Was it really hygiene
which helped them to increase in weight, stature, and beauty, and
improved their material development? Hygiene did not accomplish quite
all this. Who, as the Gospel says, can by taking thought add one cubit
to his stature? Hygiene merely delivered the child from the obstacles
that impeded its growth. External restraints checked material
development and all the natural evolution of life; hygiene burst these
bonds. And every one felt that a liberation had been effected; every
one repeated in view of the accomplished fact: children should be
free. The direct correspondence between "conditions of physical life
fulfilled" and "liberty acquired" is now universally and intuitively
recognized. Thus the infant is treated like a young plant. Children
to-day enjoy the rights which from time immemorial have been accorded
to the vegetables of a well-kept garden. Good food, oxygen, suitable
temperature, the careful elimination of parasites that produce
disease; yes, henceforth we may say that the son of a prince will be
tended with as much care as the finest rose-tree of a villa.

The old comparison of a child to a flower is the reality to which we
now aspire; though even this is a privilege reserved for the more
fortunate children. But let us beware of so grave an error. The babe
is a man. That which suffices for a plant cannot be sufficient for
him. Consider the depth of misery into which a paralyzed man has sunk
when we say of him: "He merely vegetates; as a man, he is dead," and
lament that there is nothing but his body left.

The infant as a _man_--such is the figure we ought to keep in view. We
must behold him amidst our tumultuous human society and see how with
heroic vigor he aspires to life.

What are the rights of children? Let us consider them for a moment as
a social class, as a class of workers, for as a fact they are laboring
to produce men. They are the future generation. They work, undergoing
the fatigues of physical and spiritual growth. They continue the work
carried on for a few months by their mothers, but their task is a more
laborious, complex, and difficult one. When they are born they possess
nothing but potentialities; they have to do everything in a world
which, as even adults admit, is full of difficulties. What is done to
help these frail pilgrims in an unknown world? They are born more
fragile and helpless than an animal, and in a few years they have to
become men, to be units in a highly complicated organized society,
built up by the secular effort of innumerable generations. At a
period in which civilization, that is, the possibility of right
living, is based upon rights energetically acquired and consecrated by
laws, what rights has he who comes among us without strength and
without thought? Like the infant Moses lying in the ark of bulrushes
on the waters of the Nile he represents the future of the chosen
people; but will some princess passing by perchance see him?

To chance, to luck, to affection, to all these we entrust the child;
and it would seem that the Biblical chastisement of the Egyptian
oppressor, the death of the first-born, is to be unceasingly renewed.

Let us see how social justice receives the infant when he enters the
world. We are living in the twentieth century; in many of the
so-called civilized nations orphan asylums and wet nurses are still
recognized _institutions_. What is an orphan asylum? It is a place of
sequestration, a dark and terrible prison, where only too often the
prisoner finds death, as in those medieval dungeons whence the victim
disappeared, leaving no trace. He never sees any who are dear to him.
His family name is cancelled, his goods are confiscated. The greatest
criminal may retain memories of his mother, knows that he has had a
name, and may derive some consolation from his recollections,
comparable to the soothing reflections of one who having become blind
recalls the beauty of colors and the splendor of the sun; but the
foundling is as one born blind. Every malefactor has more rights than
he; and yet who could be more innocent? Even in the days of the most
odious tyranny, the spectacle of oppressed innocence kindled a flame
of justice that sooner or later blazed up into revolution. The
persons imprisoned by tyrants because they had happened to be
witnesses of their crimes, and who were cast into dungeons where
darkness and inaudible suffering were henceforth their unhappy
portion, at least roused the people to proclaim the principle of equal
justice for all. But who will lift up his voice for our foundlings?
Society does not perceive that they too are men; they are indeed only
the "flowers" of humanity. And to save honor and good name, what
society would not with one accord sacrifice more "flowers"?

The wet nurse is a social custom. A luxurious custom, on the one hand.
Not very long ago, a girl of the middle-and not even the upper
middle-class, who was about to marry, boasted in the following terms
of the domestic comfort promised her by her future husband: "I am to
have a cook, a housemaid, and a wet nurse." On the other hand, the
robust peasant girl who has given birth to a son, looking complacently
at her heavy breasts, thinks: "I shall be able to get a good place as
wet nurse." It is only quite recently that hygiene has cried shame
upon those mothers whose laziness makes them refuse to suckle their
own children; in our times queens and empresses who suckle their
children are still cited admiringly as examples to other mothers. The
_maternal duty_ of suckling her own children prescribed to mothers by
hygienists is based on a physiological principle: the mother's milk
nourishes an infant more perfectly than any other. In spite of this
clear indication, the duty is far from being universally accepted.
Often in our walks we still see a robust mother accompanied by a wet
nurse gorgeously attired in red or blue, with gold and silver
embroideries, carrying a baby. Wealthy mothers have untidily dressed
wet nurses who do not go out with them, who always follow the modern
nurse, an expert in infantile hygiene, who keeps the baby "like a

And what of the other child?... For every infant who has a double
supply of human milk at his disposal, there is another child who has
none. The wealth in question is not an industrial product. It is
apportioned by Nature with careful precision. For each new life, the
ration of milk. Milk cannot be produced by any means other than the
production of life. Cow-keepers know this well; their good cows are
hygienically reared, and calves are sent to the butcher. Yet what
distress is felt whenever the young of some animal is parted from its
mother! Is it not so in the case of puppies and kittens? When a pet
dog has given birth to a litter so numerous that she cannot suckle
them all, and it is necessary to destroy some of the puppies, what
sincere grief is felt by the mistress of the house, whose own baby is
being suckled by a magnificent wet nurse! Well--the thing which
excites her compassion above all is the eager, whimpering mother, who
does not understand whether she has or has not the strength to suckle
all the shapeless puppies she has borne, but who cannot lose one of
them without despair. The wet nurse is quite another affair; she came
of her own accord to offer her milk for sale. What the other--her own
child--was to do, no one cared.

Only a clearly defined _right_, a _law_, could have protected him, for
society is based on rights. These, it is true, are the rights of
property, which are absolute; steal a loaf, even if you are starving,
and you are a thief. You will be punished by the law and outlawed by
society. The rights of property constitute one of the most formidable
of the social bases. An administrator of landed estate who should
sell the property belonging to his master, make money out of it for
his own enjoyment, and leave the rightful owner in the direst poverty,
is a criminal difficult to imagine. For who would buy a property
without the signature of the owner? Society is so constituted that
certain crimes would not only be punished if committed, but are almost
impossible to commit. Yet in the case of young infants, this crime is
committed every day, and is not regarded as a crime, but as a luxury.
What can be a more sacred right than that of the baby to his mother's
milk? He might say of this in the words of the Emperor Napoleon: "God
has given it to me." There can be no doubt whatever as to the
legitimacy of his claim; his sole capital, milk, came into the world
with and for him. All his wealth is there: strength to live, to grow,
to acquire vigor are contained in that nourishment. If the defrauded
infant should become weak and rickety, what would become of him,
condemned by poverty to a hard calling? What a claim for damages, what
a question of accident during work with permanent injury resulting
therefrom might be raised if some day the infant could present himself
after the manner of a man before the tribunal of social justice!

In civilized countries rich mothers have been induced to suckle their
children because hygienists have proved that this is beneficial to the
baby's health, but not because it has been recognized that the "civil
right" of the adult extends to the infant. These mothers consider
countries where the wet nurse is still an institution as less _highly
developed_, but on the same plane of civilization as their own.

It may be asked: what if the mother is ill and _unable_ to suckle her
child? In such a case the child of the sick woman is the unfortunate
one. Why should another have to suffer for his misfortune? However
poverty-stricken individuals may be, we do not allow them to take from
others the wealth that is so urgently needed by them. If in these days
an Emperor could be cured of terrible sufferings by immersion in a
bath of human blood, he could not bleed healthy men for the purpose as
a barbarian Emperor would have done. These are the things that make up
our civilization. This it is which differentiates us from pirates and
cannibals. The rights of the adult are recognized.

But not the rights of the infant. [1] What an implication of baseness
the fact carries with it: we recognize the rights of adults indeed,
but not those of the child! We recognize justice, but only for those
who can protest and defend themselves; and for the rest, we remain
barbarians. Because to-day there may be peoples more or less highly
developed from the hygienic point of view, but they all belong to the
same civilization--a civilization based on the _right of the

When we begin seriously to examine the problem of the moral education
of the child, we ought to look around us a little, and survey the
world we have prepared for him. Are we willing that he should become
like us, unscrupulous in our dealings with the weak? that like us, his
consciousness should harbor ideas of a justice which stops short at
those who make no protests? Are we willing to make him like ourselves
half a civilized man in our dealings with our equals, and half a wild
beast when we encounter the innocent and oppressed?

[Footnote 1: Of course, should the child of the wet nurse have died,
there can be no question of an infringement of its rights. But such
cases have no relation to those in which the rich mother requires a
nurse for the child she is unable to suckle herself, owing to
pathological reasons.

I may draw attention to a precautionary measure which has become a law
in Germany: this prohibits the acceptance of a post as wet nurse by a
mother until six months after the birth of her own child. This
interval is considered sufficiently long to guarantee the health of
the infant. Moreover, the special care devoted to artificial feeding
in Germany provides a satisfactory substitute for wet nursing, in the
case of children who are deprived of maternal nourishment. Such laws
and provisions are a first step towards the recognition of the "civil
rights" of poor infants.]

If not, then before we offer moral education to the child, let us
imitate the priest who is about to ascend to the altar: he bows his
head in penitence and confesses his own sins before the whole

This outlawed child is like a dislocated arm. Humanity cannot work at
the evolution of its morality until this arm has been put into its
place; and this will also end the pains and the paralysis of the
injured muscles attached to it: women. The social question of the
child is obviously the more complete and profound; it is the question
of our present and of our future.

If we can reconcile to our conscience deeds of such grave injustice,
not to say crimes, without recognizing them as such, what minor forms
of oppression shall we not readily condone in our dealings with the

    *    *    *    *    *

=How we receive the infants that come into the world=.--Let us look
around. Only of late has any preparation been made to receive this
sublime guest. It is not very long ago that little beds for children
were first made; among all the innumerable tasteless, superfluous, and
extravagant objects of commerce, let us see what things are intended
for the child. No washstands, no sofas, no tables, no brushes. Among
all the many houses, there is not one house for him and his like, and
only rich and fortunate children have even a room of their own, more
or less a place of exile.

Let us imagine ourselves subjected for even a single day to the
miseries to which he is condemned.

Suppose that we should find ourselves among a race of giants, with
legs immensely long and bodies enormously large in comparison with
ours, and also with powers of rapid movement infinitely greater than
ours, people extraordinarily agile and intelligent compared with
ourselves. We should want to go into their houses; the steps would be
each as high as our knees, and yet we should have to try to mount them
with their owners; we should want to sit down, but the seats would be
almost as high as our shoulders; clambering painfully upon them, we
should at last succeed in perching upon them. We should want to brush
our clothes, but all the clothes-brushes would be so huge that we
could not lay hold of them nor sustain their weight; and a
clothes-brush would be handed to us if we wanted to brush our nails.
We should perhaps be glad to take a bath in one of the washstand
basins; but the weight of these would make it impossible for us to
lift them. If we knew that these giants had been expecting us, we
should be obliged to say: they have made no preparations for receiving
us, or for making our lives among them agreeable. The baby finds all
that he himself needs in the form of playthings made for dolls; rich,
varied and attractive surroundings have not been created for him, but
dolls have houses, sitting-rooms, kitchens and wardrobes; for them all
that the adult possesses is reproduced in miniature. Among all these
things, however, the child cannot live; he can only amuse himself. The
world has been given to him in jest, because no one has yet recognized
him as a living man. He discovers that society has prepared a mockery
for his reception.

That children break their toys is so well known that this act of
destruction of the only things specially manufactured for them is
taken to be a proof of their intelligence. We say: "He destroys it
because he wishes to understand [how things are made];" in reality he
is looking to see if there is anything interesting _inside_ the toys,
because externally they have no interest whatever for him; sometimes
he breaks them up violently, like an angry man. Then, according to us,
he is destroying out of naughtiness.

It is the tendency of the child actually to live by means of the
things around him; he would like to use a washstand of his own, to
dress himself, really to comb the hair on a living head, to sweep the
floor himself; he too would like to have seats, tables, sofas,
clothes-pegs, and cupboards. What he desires is to work himself, to
aim at some intelligent object, to have comfort in his own life. He
has not only to "behave like a man," but to "construct a man;" such is
the dominant tendency of his nature, of his mission.

We have seen him in the _Case dei Bambini_ happy and patient, slow and
precise like the most admirable workman, and the most scrupulous
_conservator_ of things. The smallest trifles suffice to make him
happy; it delights him to hang up his clothes on pegs fixed low down
on the walls, within reach of his hands; to open a light door, the
handle of which is proportioned to the size of his hand; to place a
chair, the weight of which is not too great for his arms, quietly and
gracefully. We offer a very simple suggestion: give the child an
environment in which everything is constructed in proportion to
himself, and let him live therein. Then there will develop within the
child that "active life" which has caused so many to marvel, because
they see in it not only a simple exercise performed with pleasure, but
the revelation of a spiritual life. In such harmonious surroundings
the young child is seen laying hold of the intellectual life like a
seed which has thrown out a root into the soil, and then growing and
developing by one sole means: long practice in each exercise.

When we see little children acting thus, intent on their work, slow in
executing it, because of the immaturity of their structure, just as
they walk slowly because their legs are still short, we feel
intuitively that life is being elaborated within them, as a chrysalis
slowly elaborates the butterfly within the cocoon. To impede their
activity would be to do violence to their lives. But what is the usual
method with young children? We all interrupt them without compunction
or consideration, in the manner of masters to slaves who have no human
rights. To show "consideration" to young children as to adults would
even seem ridiculous to many persons. And yet with what severity do we
enjoin children "not to interrupt" us! If the little one is doing
something, eating by himself, for instance, some adult comes and feeds
him; if he is trying to fasten an overall, some adult hastens to dress
him; every one substitutes an alien action to his, brutally, without
the smallest consideration. And yet we ourselves are very sensitive as
to our rights in our own work; it offends us if any one attempts to
supplant us; in the Bible the sentence, "And his place shall another
take" is among the threats to the lost.

What should we do if we were to become the slaves of a people
incapable of understanding our feelings, a gigantic people, very much
stronger than ourselves? When we were quietly eating our soup,
enjoying it at our leisure (and we know that enjoyment depends upon
being at liberty), suppose a giant appeared and snatching the spoon
from our hand, made us swallow it in such haste that we were almost
choked. Our protest: "For mercy's sake, slowly," would be accompanied
by an oppression of the heart; our digestion would suffer. If again,
thinking of something pleasant, we should be slowly putting on an
overcoat with all the sense of well-being and liberty we enjoy in our
own houses, and some giant should suddenly throw it upon us, and
having dressed us, should in the twinkling of an eye, carry us out to
some distance from the door, we should feel our dignity so wounded,
that all the expected pleasure of the walk would be lost. Our
nutrition does not depend solely on the soup we have swallowed, nor
our well-being upon the physical exercise of walking, but also upon
the liberty with which we do these things. We should feel offended and
rebellious, not at all out of hatred of these giants, but merely from
our recognition of the innate tendency to free functions in all that
pertains to life. It is something within us which man does not
recognize, which God alone knows, a something which manifests itself
imperceptibly to us to the end that we may complete it. It is this
love of freedom which nourishes and gives well-being to our life, even
in its most minute acts. Of this it was said: "Man does not live by
bread alone." How much greater this need must be in young children, in
whom creation is still in action!

With strife and rebellion they have to defend their own little
conquests of their environment. When they want to exercise their
senses, such as that of touch, for instance, every one condemns them:
"Do not touch!" If they attempt to take something from the kitchen,
some scraps to make a little dish, they are driven away, and
mercilessly sent back to their toys. How often one of those marvelous
moments when their attention is fixed, and that process of
organization which is to develop them begins in their souls, is
roughly interrupted; moments when the spontaneous efforts of the young
child are groping blindly in its surroundings after sustenance for its
intelligence. Do we not all retain an impression of something having
been forever stifled in our lives?

Without being able to give any definite reason, we feel that something
precious was lost on our life-journey, that we were defrauded and
depreciated. Perhaps at the very moments when we were about to create
ourselves, we were interrupted and persecuted, and our spiritual
organism was left rickety, weak, and inadequate.

Let us imagine to ourselves certain adults, not mature and stable like
the majority of grown men, but in a state of spiritual auto-creation,
as are men of genius. Let us take the case of a writer under the
influence of poetic inspiration, at the moment when his beneficent and
inspiring work is about to take form for the help of other men. Or
that of the mathematician who perceives the solution of a great
problem, from which will issue new principles beneficial to all
humanity. Or again, that of an artist, whose mind has just conceived
the ideal image which it is necessary to fix upon the canvas lest a
masterpiece be lost to the world. Imagine these men at such
psychological moments, broken in upon by some brutal person shouting
to them to follow him at once, taking them by the hand, or pushing
them out by the shoulders. And for what? The chess-board is set out
for a game. Ah! such men would say, "You could not have done anything
more atrocious! Our inspiration is lost; humanity will be deprived of
a poem, an artistic masterpiece, a useful discovery, by your folly."

But the child in like case does not lose some single production; he
loses himself. For his masterpiece, which he is composing in the
recesses of his creative genius, is the new man. The "caprices," the
"naughtinesses," the "mysterious vapors" of little children are
perhaps the occult cry of unhappiness uttered by the misunderstood

But it is not only the soul that suffers; the body suffers with it.
For the influence exercised by the spirit on the entire physical
existence is a characteristic of man.

In an institution for deserted children, there was one extremely ugly
little creature, who had nevertheless greatly endeared himself to a
young woman who had the care of him. This nurse one day told one of
the patronesses that the child was growing very pretty. The lady went
to look at it, but found it very ugly, and thought to herself that
daily habit soon accustoms us to the defects of others. Some time
after this the nurse made the same remark as before, and the lady
good-naturedly paid another visit; impressed by the warmth with which
the young woman spoke of the child, she was touched to think that love
had made the speaker blind. Several months elapsed, and finally the
nurse, with a triumphant air, declared that henceforth no mistake
would be possible, for the child had undoubtedly become "beautiful."
The lady, astounded, had to admit that this was true; the body of the
child had actually been transformed under the influence of a great

When we delude ourselves with the idea that we are giving _everything_
to children by giving them fresh air and food, we are not even giving
them this: air and food are not sufficient for the body of man; all
the physiological functions are subject to a higher welfare, wherein
the sole key of all life is to be found. The child's body lives also
by joyousness of soul.

Physiology itself teaches us these things. A frugal meal taken in the
open air will nourish the body far better than a sumptuous repast in a
close room, where the air is impure, because all the functions of the
body are more active in the open air, and assimilation is more
complete. In like manner a frugal meal eaten in common with beloved
and sympathetic persons is much more nutritious than the food a
humble, harassed secretary would partake at the lordly table of a
capricious master. Liberty in this case is the cry that explains all.
_Parva domus sed mea_ (a little house, but my own), has been quoted
ever since the Roman epoch to indicate which is the most healthful of
houses. Where our lives are oppressed, there can be no health for us,
even though we eat of princely banquets or in splendid buildings.

    *    *    *    *    *

=With man the life of the body depends on the life of the
spirit=.--Physiology gives an exhaustive explanation of the mechanism
of such phenomena. Moral activities have such an exact correspondence
with the functions of the body that it is possible to appreciate by
means of these the various emotional states of grief, anger,
weariness, and pleasure. In _grief_, for instance, the action of the
heart becomes feebler, as under a paralyzing influence; all the
blood-vessels contract, and the blood circulates more slowly, the
glands no longer secrete their juices normally, and these disturbances
manifest themselves in a pallor of the face, an appearance of
weariness in the drooping body, a mouth parched from lack of saliva,
indigestion caused by insufficiency of the gastric juice, and cold
hands. If prolonged, grief results in mal-nutrition and consequent
wasting, and predisposes the debilitated body to infectious diseases.
_Weariness_ is like a rapid paralysis of the heart; it may induce
fainting, as expressed in the popular phrase "dead tired"; but a
reflex action will nearly always restore the sufferer, like an
automatic safety-valve; thus a yawn, that is to say, a deep, spasmodic
inspiration, which dilates the pulmonary alveoli, causes the blood to
flow to the heart like a suction pump, and sets it in motion again. In
_anger_ there is a kind of tetanic contraction of all the capillaries,
causing extreme pallor, and the expulsion of an extra quantity of bile
from the liver. _Pleasure_ causes dilatation of the blood-vessels; the
circulation, and consequently all the functions of secretion and
assimilation are facilitated; the face is suffused with color, the
gastric juice and the saliva are perceptible as that healthy appetite
and that watering of the mouth which invite us to supply fresh
nourishment to the body; all the tissues work actively to expel their
toxins, and to assimilate fresh nourishment; the enlarged lungs store
up large quantities of oxygen, which burn up all refuse, leaving no
trace of poisonous germs. It is an injection of health.

In Italy, where after the abolition of the death penalty the
punishment of solitary confinement was substituted, we have a proof
even more eloquent of the influence of the spirit upon the functions
of the body. With our modern measures of hygiene in prisons, the
prison cell cannot be called a place of torture for the body: it is
merely a place where all spiritual sustenance is withheld. It consists
of a cell with perfectly bare gray walls, opening only into a narrow
strip of ground enclosed by high walls, where the criminal may walk
in the fresh air, because the open country is all around him, though
it is hidden from his sight. What is lacking here for the body? It is
provided with food, and a shelter from the weather, it has a bed and a
place where it can take in fresh stores of pure oxygen; the body can
rest, nay more, it can do nothing but rest. The conditions seem almost
ideal for any one who does not wish to do anything, and desires simply
to vegetate. But no sound from without, no human voice ever reaches
the ear of the being here incarcerated; he will never again see a
color or a form. No news from the outer world ever reaches him. Alone
in dense spiritual darkness, he will spend the interminable hours,
days, seasons, and years. Now, experience has shown that these
wretched persons cannot live. They go mad and die. Not only their
minds but their bodies perish after a few years. What causes death? If
such a man were a plant, he would lack nothing, but he requires other
nourishment. Emptiness of the soul is mortal even to the vilest
criminal, for this is a law of human nature. His flesh, his viscera,
his bones perish when deprived of spiritual food, just as an oak-tree
would perish without the nitrates of the earth and the oxygen of the
air. This slow death substituted for violent death was, indeed,
denounced as very great cruelty. To die of hunger in nine days like
Count Ugolino is a more cruel fate than to be burnt to death in half
an hour like Giordano Bruno; but to die of starvation of the spirit in
a term of years is the most cruel of all the punishments hitherto
devised for the castigation of man.

If a robust and brutal criminal can perish from starvation of the
soul, what will be the fate of the infant if we take no account of his
spiritual needs? His body is fragile, his bones are in process of
growth, his muscles, overloaded with sugar, cannot yet elaborate their
powers; they can only elaborate themselves; the delicate structure of
his organism requires, it is true, nutriment and oxygen; but if its
functions are to be satisfactorily performed, it requires joy. It is a
joyous spirit which causes "the bones of man to exult."



=The precepts which govern moral education and instruction=.--Although
the adult relegates the child to an existence among toys, and
inexorably denies him those exercises which would promote his internal
development, he claims that the child should imitate him in the moral
sphere. The adult says to the child: "Do as I do." The child is to
become a man, not by training and development, but by imitation. It is
as if a father were to say in the morning to his little one: "Look at
me, see how tall I am; when I return this evening, I shall expect you
to have grown a foot."

Education is greatly simplified by this method. If a tale of some
heroic deed is read to the child, and he is told to "become a hero";
if some moral action is narrated and is concluded with the
recommendation, "be thou virtuous"; if some instance of remarkable
character is noted together with the exhortation, "you too must
acquire a strong character," the child has been put in the way of
becoming a great man!

If children show themselves discontented and restless, they are told
that they want for nothing, that they are fortunate to have a father
and a mother, and to conclude, they are exhorted thus: "Children, be
happy--a child should always be joyous"; and behold! the mysterious
yearnings of the child are supposed to be satisfied!

Adults are quite content when they have acted thus. They straighten
out the character and the morals of their children as they formerly
straightened their legs by bandaging them.

True, rebellious children occasionally demonstrate the futility of
such teachings. In these cases a good instructor chooses appropriate
stories showing the baseness of such ingratitude, the dangers of
disobedience, the ugliness of bad temper, to accentuate the defects of
the pupil. It would be just as edifying to discourse to a blind man on
the dangers of blindness, and to a cripple on the difficulties of
walking. The same thing happens in material matters; a music-master
says to a beginner: "Hold your fingers properly; if you do not, you
will never be able to play." A mother will say to a son condemned to
sit bent double all day on school benches, and obliged by the usages
of society to study continually: "Hold yourself gracefully, do not be
so awkward in company, you make me feel ashamed of you."

If the child were one day to exclaim: "But it is you who prevent me
from developing will and character; when I seem naughty, it is because
I am trying to save myself; how can I help being awkward when I am
sacrificed?" To many this would be a revelation; to many others merely
a "want of respect."

There is a method by which the child may be brought to achieve the
results which the adult has laid down as desirable; it is a very
simple method. The child must be made to do whatever the adult wishes;
the adult will then be able to lead him to the heights of goodness,
self-sacrifice and strength, and the moral child will be created. To
dominate the child, to bring him into subjection, to make him
obedient--this is the basis of education. If this can be done by any
means whatever, even by violence, all the rest will follow; and
remember, it is all for the good of the child. The child could not be
molded by any other means. It is the first and principal step in what
is called "educating the will of the child," one which will henceforth
enable the adult to speak of himself as Virgil speaks of God.

After this first step the adult will examine himself to see what are
the things he finds most difficult, and these he will exact from the
child _in time_, that the child may accustom himself to the necessary
difficulties of man's life. But very often the adult also imposes
conditions which he himself _has not the fortitude to accept_ even
partially ... as, for instance, the task of listening motionless for
three or four hours every day, during a course of years, to a dull,
wearisome lecturer.

    *    *    *    *    *

=It is the teacher who forms the child's mind. How he teaches=.--The
same conception governs the school: it is the teacher who must form
the pupil; the development of the child's intelligence and culture are
in his hands. He has a truly formidable task and a tremendous
responsibility. The problems that present themselves to him are
innumerable and acute; they form as it were a hedge of thorns
separating him from his pupils. What must first of all be devised, to
win the attention of his pupils, so that he may be able to introduce
into their minds all that seems to him necessary? How is he to offer
them an idea in such a manner that they will retain it in their
memories? To this end, it is essential that he should have a knowledge
of psychology, the precise manner in which physical phenomena are
produced, the laws governing memory, the psychical mechanism by means
of which ideas are formed, the laws governing the association of
ideas, by means of which very gradually ideas proceed to the most
sublime activities, impelling the child to reason. It is he who,
knowing all these things, must build up and enrich the mind. And this
is no easy matter, because, in addition to this difficult work, there
is always the difficulty of difficulties, that of inducing the child
to lend himself to all this endeavor, and to second the master, and
not show himself recalcitrant to the efforts made on his behalf. For
this reason the _moral_ education is the point of departure; before
all things, it is necessary to _discipline_ the class. The pupils must
be induced to _second_ the master's efforts, if not by love, then by
force. Failing this point of departure, all education and instruction
would be _impossible_, and the school _useless_.

Another difficulty is that of economizing the powers of the pupils,
that is to say, utilizing them to the utmost without wasting them. How
much rest is necessary? How long should any particular work be carried
on? Perhaps ten minutes' rest may be necessary after the first
three-quarters of an hour of occupation; but after another
three-quarters of an hour, a pause of fifteen minutes may be required,
and so on throughout the day; finally, a quarter of an hour's rest may
be needed after ten minutes' occupation. But what instruction is best
adapted to the powers of a child during the various hours of the day?
Is it best to begin with mathematics or with dictation? At what hours
will the child be most inclined to exercise his powers of imagination,
at 9 in the morning or at 11?

Other anxieties must assail a perfect teacher! How should he write on
the blackboard so that the children seated at a distance may see? for
if they do not see his work is of no avail. And how much light shall
fall upon the blackboard, in order that all may see clearly the white
characters on the black surface? Of what size should be the script
specially chosen by the master to suit distant vision? This is a
serious matter, because if the child, obliged by discipline to look
and learn from a distance, should put too great a strain upon his
powers of visual accommodation, he may in time become short-sighted;
then the teacher would have manufactured a blind person. A serious
matter indeed!

    *    *    *    *    *

What consideration has ever been given to the state of anxiety of such
a teacher? To get some idea of his anxiety we may think of a young
wife about to become a mother, who should set herself such problems as
the following: how can I create an infant, if I know nothing of
anatomy; how can I form its skeleton? I must study the structure of
the bones carefully. I must then learn how the muscles are attached;
but how will it be possible to put the brain into a closed box? And
must the little heart go on beating continually until death? Is it
possible that it will not weary?

In like fashion, she might ponder thus over her new-born babe: it is
evident that he will not be able to walk if he does not first of all
understand the laws of equilibrium; if he is left to himself, he will
not be able to understand these till he is twenty; I must therefore
prepare to teach him these laws prematurely in order that he may be
able to walk as quickly as possible.

The schoolmaster is the person who builds up the intelligence of the
pupil; the intelligence of the pupil increases in direct proportion to
the efforts of the teacher; in other words, he knows just what the
master has made him know and understands neither more nor less than
the master has made him understand. When an inspector visits a school
and questions the pupils he turns to the master, and if he is
satisfied says: "Well done, teacher!" For the result is indubitably
the work of the master; the discipline by which he has fixed the
attention of his pupils, even to the psychical mechanism which has
guided him in his teaching, all is due to him. God enters the school
as a symbol in the crucifix, but the creator is the teacher.

A good deal of help is given to teachers in their superhuman task.
There is a kind of division of labor, by virtue of which more advanced
experts prepare the schemata of instruction; basing them upon
psychology, if the teaching is on a scientific plan, or on the
principles laid down by one of the great pedagogists such as Herbart,
for example; moreover, the sciences, such as hygiene and experimental
psychology, are further invoked to overcome many practical
difficulties and to help in the arrangement of schoolrooms, the
drawing up of the curriculum, time-tables, etc.

Here, for instance, are notes for lessons on a psychological basis,
that is to say, lessons which take account of the proper _order of
succession_ in which the psychical activities should develop in the
mind of the child; by exercises of this kind, the pupil will not only
learn, but will develop his intelligence in accordance with the laws
governing its formation. [2]

[Footnote 2: These two examples are taken from the well-known review,
_I Diritti della Scuola_, Year xiv.]


A Candle: _Education of the sensory and perceptive faculties_.

_Sight_.--White, solid.

_Touch_.--Greasy, smooth.

_Nomenclature_.--Parts of the candle: wick, surface, extremity, edges,
upper part, lower part, middle part. The candles we use are made of
_wax_ mixed with _stearine_. Stearine is made of the fat of oxen and
sheep and pigs. Hence they are called stearine candles. There are also
_wax_ candles. These are yellowish and less greasy. Wax is produced by
bees. There are also tallow candles; these are very greasy and have a
disgreeable smell when burning.

_Memory_.--Have you ever seen a candle-factory? Have you ever seen a
bee-hive? Of what are the cells of the honeycomb made? When do you
light a candle? Have you ever carried a lighted candle carelessly? Did
not this cause a disaster?

_Imagination_.--Draw the outline of a candle on the blackboard.

_Comparison, association, abstraction_.--Similarity and difference in
candles of stearine, wax, and tallow.

_Judgment and reasoning_.--Are candles useful? Were they more useful
formerly, or now that we have gas and electric light?

_Sentiments_.--Children are greatly pleased by a visit to a
candle-factory. It is indeed very agreeable to see how candles used by
so many people are made. When we can satisfy our desire for
instruction we feel pleasure and contentment.

_Volition_.--What should we do with the fat of pigs if we did not know
how to make it into stearine? What should we do with wax if we did not
know how to utilize it? Man is able to work and to transform many
products into useful substances and objects. Work is our life. Blessed
be the workers! Let us also love work and devote ourselves diligently

(N.B.--The children are all to listen without moving.) Any kind of
lesson may be based on the same psychical plan, even a moral lesson.
For instance:

_Moral education derived from the observation of actions_.

(N.B.--The actions are all invented and narrated.)

_Agreeable manners. Incident_.--"Is it true, Miss, that the village
church is more than a kilometer from here? My mother has ordered me to
go there. I thought I had arrived, and I was so pleased. I have come a
long way, and I am so very, very tired." "Indeed," replied the girl,
who was standing at the gate of her home, "you are still a kilometer
and a half from the church. But come through my gate, and take the
short cut I will show you through my fields. You will get to the
church in five minutes." What an amiable girl!

_Successive relations of cause and effect_.--The village girl showed
amenity to the little traveler. The latter reached the church quickly,
was saved much fatigue, and felt great relief.

_Memory_.--Have you always been pleasant to your companions? Have you
always been ready to lend a comrade anything he has asked for? Have
you always thanked those who have done you favors in an agreeable

_Comparison, association, abstraction_.--Comparison between an
agreeable child and a boorish one.

_Judgment, reasoning_.--Why is it necessary to be courteous to all? Is
it sufficient to give help solely to show oneself to be amiable?

_Sentiments_.--He who is amiable has a soul rich in sweetness and
suavity. What sympathy he evokes in all! The disagreeable person is
irritated by trifles. He excites disgust and fear in others. He who
is affable shows love to his neighbor.

_Volition_.--Children, accustom yourselves to be pleasant to every
one. You should be pleasant when you are conferring some favor,
otherwise the favor will seem irksome. When you want something, do you
ask for it arrogantly? If so, it will be easier to say no than yes to
you. On the other hand, if you ask politely for something, will it not
be difficult to refuse you?

It will perhaps be more interesting to follow a lesson actually given,
and accepted as a model for teachers in general. I therefore reproduce
one of the lessons which gained a prize at a competition of teachers
held in Italy. [3] In this, according to the subject or theme, only one
primary psychical activity was to be dealt with: viz. sensory
perception. (The compositions were distinguished not by the names of
the authors, but by mottoes.)

[Footnote 3: This was published in the review, _La Voce delle Maestre
d'Asilo_, Year viii.]

_Motto_.--Things are the first and best teachers.

I set myself the following limits:

_To give an idea of icy cold in contrast to that of heat_. [This would
be amply sufficient in itself, for these ideas are not grains to pick
up one after the other, but sublime psychical facts of great
complexity, and, consequently, very difficult to assimilate.]

_Combine with the idea to be imparted, the cultivation of a sense of
compassion and pity for the very poor_, to whom winter brings such
severe suffering; a feeling I have already tried many times to arouse.

The above is for my own guidance; what follows is for the children.

"Children, how comfortable we are here! Everything is clean;
everything is in order; I am so fond of you; you are so fond of me.
Isn't this true, children?

_Children_.--I am, I am. Me too (correct).

Tell me, Gino, are you cold? You said no at once. Well, no, you are
right; we are really very cozy here. There, in that corner (I point)
there is a thing which gives out much ...

_Children_.--Heat. It is the stove.

But outside, where there is no stove, over there, towards the horizon
(the children are to a certain extent familiar with this word), there
is no warmth.

_Children_.--It's cold there (an answer due to the clarity of the laws
of contrast).

Last night ... while we were asleep, while your mother perhaps was
mending your clothes ... dear mother, how kind she is!... well, last
night, so many, many white flakes fell softly from the sky!...

Snow, snow! exclaim the children.

Children! let us say: so many snowflakes fell. How beautiful the snow
is! Let us go and look at it closely.

_Children_.--Yes, yes, yes, yes.

It is so beautiful that I see you would all like to take a little. But
perhaps this is not allowed. To whom does the snow belong? (No
answer.) Who bought it? Who made it? You? No. I? No. Your mother? No.
Then did your father buy it? (They look at me in astonishment; these
are really very strange questions.) No, again. Well then, the snow
belongs to every one. And if this is so, we may take a little handful
of it. (Evident signs of joy.) I will hand round the boxes you made
yesterday. (These children have not desks with lockers in which they
may put their little works. Using the boxes will be a good way of
demonstrating the utility of their work.) They will do very well to
hold the beautiful snow. (I talk to them as I distribute the boxes,
that their attention may not flag.) I will take mine too, the one I
made with you. It is larger than yours; so which will hold more snow,
mine or yours?


Come then, children. Put a white handful into your boxes. How

(Going.) Just stop a moment; how comfortable we are here! Put one hand
over your face. How warm your face is, and how warm your hand is too!
We shall see whether your hands will still be so warm after you have
touched the snow.

_Children_.--They will be cold.

Yes, indeed. (Going out.) How beautiful it is! It fell down from
above. The sky has given the earth a beautiful dress, all ...


At this juncture my children, accustomed to that principle of
healthful, ordered liberty which is the main factor in the formation
of character, touch and gather up the snow; some of them break the
pure surface with little drawings. I let them. I wait a minute, then I
make as it were a sudden assault upon their attention:

Children, I too will take a little snow, but together with all of you.
Stop. Stand up. Look well at me. Let us take away a little strip of
the great cloak. Let us put it in our boxes. That's right.
(Re-entering the schoolroom.) Oh! how cold it is! The children who are
not well wrapped up are the coldest. Poor little things! And those
who haven't that thing full of burning coal in their houses!

_Children_.--The stove.

How cold they will be! Come now, quickly; all to your places. Put the
boxes on the desk. How cold the snow is! Did you notice how cold it
made your hands, which were quite warm?

_Children_.--My hand is cold! Mine too! Etc.

In the courtyard, I saw Caroline take a little snow, and then suddenly
let it fall; she was not strong enough to bear such cold. But then she
tried again, and the second time she did not drop it.

_Child_.--I didn't. I putted it (correct) quickly into my box.

Children, when the cold is as great as the cold of the snow, it is
called _frost_. Say that, Guido. What is the word? Now you, Giannina.
And the snow which is so cold is ... what? Who can guess?

_A child_.--Frozen.

Say: the snow is _frozen_.

We came indoors, because it is frosty outside, and inside it is ...


But we brought with us a frozen thing which is called ...


What is it the stove gives us? _Do you remember?_ [4]


I want Maria to tell me. And now, Peppino.

[Footnote 4: The children are expected to know that the stove gives
out heat, by an effort of _memory_.]

Do you know, our mouths also give out heat. Open yours. Not too much!
Hold up one hand in front of it, the right hand. Breathe on it as I
am doing. Let us breathe again; now let us send our breath outwards,
as I am doing. Again ... again ... again. That's right. Now feel. You
see your mouth too gives out a little ...


Now let us try putting a little snow into it. A little piece like
this. Oh! the heat of the mouth is escaping, it has already gone at
the icy touch of the snow.

_Children_.--Our mouths are cold now.

Yes, that's right. They are very, very cold, so cold that they are
what we call ...


Perhaps Giuseppe doesn't know. He didn't say it with the others. Say
it again, that he may say it with you. Again. That will do. Bravo,
Giuseppe. So our mouths were ...


Let us eat another little piece of snow. The snow turns to water in
our mouths, because it is made of water only. Now bread is made of
water too, but not _only_ of water. What does the baker want to make
the dough for bread?...


And what else?


And what else?


I see Luigi is still eating snow, and Alfonso too, and Pierino. Do you
like it?

_Children_.--Yes, Signora.

Do you like it?

_Children_.--Yes, Signora. Me too, me too (correct).

Well, eat a little more, but not much, it might make you ill. It is so
freezing (I repeat this word very often, because it expresses the idea
I am trying to convey).

When it snows it is so very cold, and just think that there are many
children, many people, who are not warmly dressed and have no stoves;
they are very poor. They suffer very much, and some of them die; poor
people! How fortunate we are, on the other hand! We have so many
garments (they have learned this word) to cover ourselves with; we
have a stove at home and one at school, to warm us. How lucky we are!

_A child_.--I have no stove at home.

I know you have not, Emilio, and I am very sorry. Children, you must
be kind to Emilio and Giuseppina, because they are very ...


Have you eaten it all?

_Children_.--No, Signora.

Now let us go into the courtyard and throw away the rest of the snow.
Then we will put the boxes on this table to dry. And to-morrow I will
show you a pretty picture of country covered with snow. Come along;
bring your boxes, and when you have emptied them put them back where I
told you."

I intend to repeat this lesson in another form, combining others with
it, and referring in it to other ideas, which bear a relation to that
here set forth.

As everything in the physical and moral world is one and indivisible,
bound together in closest union, human development is gravely impeded
by the presentment of isolated educational facts in a desultory
manner, because it is impossible to disconnect things united by a
sacred and eternal law.

    *    *    *    *    *

In the above "model" lesson, it is claimed that only two perceptions
are dealt with, those of cold and heat, and that the child has been
allowed a good deal of liberty, but of a judicious kind.

Now it would be exceedingly difficult to limit the perceptions
strictly to two, especially when dealing with persons placed in an
environment abounding in stimuli, who have already stored up a whole
chaos of images. But such being the object in view, it is necessary to
eliminate as far as possible all other perceptions, to arrest those
two, and so to polarize attention on them that all other images shall
be obscured in the field of consciousness. This would be the
scientific method tending to isolate perceptions; and it is in fact
the practical method adopted by us in our education of the senses. In
the case of cold and heat, the child is "prepared" by the isolation of
the particular sense in question; he is placed blindfolded in a silent
place, to the end that thermic stimuli alone may reach him. In front
of the child are placed two objects perfectly identical in all
characteristics perceptible to the muscular tactile sense: of the same
dimensions, the same shape, the same degree of smoothness, the same
resistance to pressure; for instance, two india-rubber bags, filled
with the same quantity of water, and perfectly dry on the outside. The
sole difference is the temperature of the water in the two bags; in
the hot one, the water would be at a temperature of sixty degrees
centigrade; in the cold, at ten degrees centigrade. After directing
the child's attention to the object, his hand is drawn over the hot
bag, and then over the cold one; while his hand is on the hot bag the
teacher says: It is hot! While he feels the cold one he is told: It
is cold. And the lesson is finished. It has consisted merely of two
words, and of a long preparation designed to ensure that as far as
possible, the two sensations corresponding to these two words shall be
the only ones that reach the child. The other senses, sight and
hearing, were protected against stimuli; and there was no perceptible
difference in the objects offered to the touch save that of
temperature. Thus it becomes approximately probable that the child
will achieve the perception of two sensations exclusively.

And what about the liberty of the child, we shall be asked?

Well, we admit that every lesson infringes the liberty of the child,
and for this reason we allow it to last only for a few seconds: just
the time to pronounce the two words: hot, cold; but this is effected
under the influence of the preparation, which by first isolating the
sense makes, as it were, a darkness in the consciousness, and then
projects only two images into it. As if from the screen before a magic
lantern, the child receives his psychical acquisitions, or rather they
are like seeds falling on a fertile soil; and it is in the subsequent
free choice, and the repetition of the exercise, as in the subsequent
activity, spontaneous, associative, and reproductive, that the child
will be left "free." He receives, rather than a lesson, a determinate
impression of contact with the external world; it is the clear,
scientific, pre-determined character of this contact which
distinguishes it from the mass of indeterminate contacts which the
child is continually receiving from his surroundings. The multiplicity
of such indeterminate contacts will create chaos within the mind of
the child; pre-determined contacts will, on the other hand, initiate
order therein, because with the help of the technique of isolation,
they will begin to make him distinguish one thing from another.

The technique of our lessons is governed by experimental psychology.
And this trend, without doubt, is in contrast to that of the past,
which was governed by speculative psychology, on which the whole of
the educational methods commonly in use in schools has hitherto been

It was Herbart who used the philosophical psychology of his day as a
guiding principle to reduce pedagogic rules to a system. From his
individual experience he believed he could deduce a universal method
of developing the mind, and be made this the psychological basis of
methods of teaching. The German pedagogist, whose methods are now,
thanks to Credaro, formerly Professor of Pedagogy at the University of
Rome, and afterward Minister of Education, adopted for elementary
education throughout Italy, gave a unique type of lesson on the four
well-known periods (the formal steps): clarity, association, system,
method. These may be explained approximately as follows: presentation
of an object and its analytical examination (clarity); judgment and
comparison with other surrounding objects or with mnemonic images
(association); definition of the object deduced from preceding
judgments (system); new principles derived from the idea which is thus
deepened, and which will lead to practical application of a moral
order (method).

The teacher must guide the child's mind on these lines in every kind
of teaching; he must, however, never substitute his own intelligence
for that of the child, but rather make the child himself think, and
induce him to exercise his own activity. For instance, in the
association period, the master must not say: "Look at such and such
an object, and at such and such another; see how much alike they are,
etc...." He should ask the pupil: "What do you see when you look
around? Is there not something which is like, etc.?" Again, in the
definition period, the master should not say: "A bird is a vertebrate
animal covered with feathers; it has two limbs which have been
transformed into wings," but by rapid questions, corrections, and
analogies, he should induce the child to find the precise definition
for himself. If the mental process of Herbart's four periods is to
come naturally, it would be essential that great interest in the
object should exist; it is interest which would keep the mind amused,
or, as the famous pedagogist would say, plunged in the idea, and would
maintain it in a system nevertheless embracing multilateral ideas; and
hence it is necessary that "interest" should be awakened and should
persist in all instruction. It is well known that a pupil of Herbart's
must, to this end, supplement Herbart's four periods by a prior
period, that of interest; linking all new knowledge to the old, "going
from the known to the unknown," because what is absolutely new can
awake no interest.

"To make oneself interesting artificially," that is, interesting to
those who have no interest in us, is indeed a very difficult task; and
to arrest the attention hour after hour, and year after year, not of
one, but of a multitude of persons who have nothing in common with us,
not even years, is indeed a superhuman undertaking. Yet this is the
task of the teacher, or, as he would say, his "art": to make this
assembly of children whom he has reduced to immobility by discipline
follow him with their minds, understand what he says, and learn; an
internal action, which he cannot govern, as he governs the position
of their bodies, but which he must win by making himself interesting,
and by maintaining this interest. "The art of tuition," says Ardigo,
"consists mainly of this: to know up to what point and in what manner
one can maintain the interest of pupils. The most skilful teachers are
those who never fatigue one fraction of the pupil's brain, but act in
such a manner that his attention, turning now here, now there, may
rest itself and, gaining strength, return to the principal argument of
the discourse with renewed vigor."

A much more laborious art is that which leads the child to find by
means of its own mental processes, not what it would naturally find,
but what the teacher desires, although he does not say what he desires;
he urges on the child to associate his ideas "spontaneously"--as the
teacher associates them--and even succeeds in making the child compose
definitions with the exact words he himself has fixed upon, without
having revealed them. Such a thing would seem the result of some
occult science, a kind of conjuring trick. Nevertheless, such methods
have been and still are in use, and in some cases they form the sole
art of the teacher.

When in 1862 Tolstoy was making his tours of inspection in the schools
of Germany, he was struck by this method of tuition, and among the
pedagogic writings describing his school, Iasnaja Poliana, he
reproduces a lesson which deserves to be recorded, although perhaps it
would no longer be possible to find an example of such a lesson in any
German school.

                                   IASNAJA POLIANA, 1862.

    Calm and confident, the professor is seated in the
    class-room; the instruments are ready; little tables with the
    letters, a book with the picture of a fish. The master looks
    at his pupils; he knows beforehand all they are to
    understand; he knows of what their souls consist, and various
    other things he has learned in the seminary.

    He opens the book and shows the fish. "Dear children, what is
    this?" The poor children are delighted to see the fish,
    unless indeed they already know from other pupils with what
    sauce it is to be served up. In any case, they answer: "It is
    a fish." "No," replies the professor (all this is not an
    invention nor a satire, but an exact account of what I have
    seen without exception in all the best schools in Germany,
    and in those English schools which have adopted this method
    of teaching). "No," says the professor. "Now what is it you
    do see?" The children are silent. It must not be forgotten
    that they are obliged to remain seated and quiet, each one in
    his place, and that they are not to move. "Well, what do you
    see?" "A book," says the most stupid child in the class.
    Meanwhile, the more intelligent children have been asking
    themselves over and over again what it is they do see; they
    feel they cannot guess what the teacher wants, and that they
    will have to answer that this fish is not a fish, but
    something the name of which is unknown to them. "Yes, yes,"
    says the master, eagerly, "very good indeed, a book. And what
    else?" The intelligent ones guess, and say joyfully and
    proudly: "Letters." "No, no, not at all!" says the teacher,
    disappointed; "you must think before you speak." Again all
    the intelligent ones lapse into mournful silence; they do not
    even try to guess; they think of the teacher's spectacles,
    and wonder why he does not take them off instead of looking
    over the top of them: "Come then; what is there in the book?"
    All are silent. "Well, what is this thing?" "A fish," says a
    bold spirit "Yes, a fish. But is it a live fish?" "No, it is
    not alive." "Quite right. Then is it dead?" "No." "Right.
    Then what is this fish?" "A picture." "Just so. Very good!"
    All the children repeat: "It is a picture," and they think
    that is all. Not at all. They have to say that it is a
    picture which represents a fish. By the same method the
    master induces the children to say that it is a picture which
    represents a fish. He imagines that he is exercising the
    reasoning faculties of his pupils, and it never seems to
    enter his head that if it is his duty to teach children to
    say in these exact words, "it is a book with a picture of a
    fish," it would be much simpler to repeat this strange
    formula and make his pupils learn it by heart.

As a pendant to this old-fashioned lesson witnessed by Tolstoy in an
elementary school in Germany, we may cite the following lesson
recently set forth by a distinguished French pedagogist and
philosopher, whose text-books are classics in the schools of his own
country and in those of many foreign lands, and are also in use in the
teachers' training colleges in Italy. As the sub-title on the
title-page informs us, it is one of a series of "lessons designed to
mold teachers and citizens who shall be conscious of their duties, and
useful to families, to their fatherland, and to humanity." [5] We are
therefore in the ambit of secondary schools. The lesson we cite is a
practical application of the principle of giving lessons by means of
interrogation (Socratic method), and deals with a moral theme: rights.

[Footnote 5: F. Alengry, _Education based upon Psychology and

    "You boys have never mistaken your companion Paul for this
    table or this tree?--Oh, no!--Why?--Because the table and the
    tree are inanimate and insensible, whereas Paul lives and
    feels.--Good. If you strike the table it will feel nothing
    and you will not hurt it; but have you any right to destroy
    it?--No, we should be destroying something belonging to
    others.--Then what is it you respect in the table? the
    inanimate and insensible wood, or the property of the person
    to whom it belongs?--The property of the person to whom it
    belongs.--Have you any right to strike Paul?--No, because we
    should hurt him and he would suffer.--What is it you respect
    in him? the property of another, or Paul himself?--Paul
    himself.--Then you cannot strike him, nor shut him up, nor
    deprive him of food?--No. The police would arrest us if we
    did.--Ah! ah! you are afraid of the police. But is it only
    this which prevents you from hurting Paul?--Oh! no, Sir. It
    is because we love Paul and do not want to make him suffer,
    and because we have no right to do so.--You think then that
    you owe respect to Paul in his life and his feelings, because
    life and feeling are things to respect?--Yes, sir.

    Are these all you have to respect in Paul? Let us enquire;
    think well.--His books, his clothes, his satchel, the
    luncheon in it.--Well. What do you mean?--We must not tear
    his books, soil his clothes or his satchel, or eat his
    luncheon.--Why?--Because these things are his and we have no
    right to take things belonging to others.--What is the act of
    taking things that belong to others called?--Theft.--Why is
    theft forbidden?--Because if we steal we shall go to
    prison.--Fear of the police again! But is this the chief
    reason why we must not steal?--No, Sir, but because we ought
    to respect the property as well as the persons of
    others.--Very good. Property is an extension of human
    personality and must be respected as such.

    And is this all? Is there nothing more to respect in Paul
    than his body, his books and his copy-books? Do you not see
    anything else? Can you not think of anything more? I will
    give you a hint: Paul is an industrious pupil, an honest,
    good-natured companion; you are all fond of him, and he
    deserves your affection. What do we call the esteem we all
    feel for him, the good opinion we have of him?--Honor ...
    reputation.--Well, this honor, this reputation, Paul acquired
    by good conduct and good manners. These are things which
    belong to him.--Yes, Sir; we have no right to rob him of
    them.--Very good; but what do we call this kind of theft,
    that is, the theft of honor and reputation? And first of all,
    how can we steal them? Can we take them and put them in our
    pockets?--No, but we can speak evil of him.--How?--We could
    say that he had done harm to one of his companions ... that
    he had stolen apples from a neighboring orchard ... that he
    had spoken ill of another.--That is so. But how could you rob
    him of honor and reputation by speaking thus?--Sir, people
    would no longer believe him if they had a bad opinion of him;
    he would be beaten, scolded, and left to himself.--Then if
    you speak evil of Paul, and what you say is false, do you
    give him pleasure?--No, Sir, we should cause him pain, and do
    him a wrong, which would be very odious and wicked of
    us.--Yes, boys, this lying with intent to injure would be
    odious and wicked, and it is called calumny. I will explain
    later that evil speaking differs from calumny or slander in
    that what is said is not untrue, and I will point out the
    terrible consequences of evil speaking and slander.

    Now let us sum up what we have said: Paul is a living and
    sensitive creature. We ought not to cause him suffering, to
    rob him, or to slander him; we ought to respect him. The
    honorable things in Paul constitute rights, and make him a
    moral person. The obligation laid upon us to respect these
    rights is called _duty_. The obligation and the duty of
    respecting the rights of others is also called _justice_.
    _Justice_ is derived from two Latin words (_in jure stare_),
    meaning: to keep oneself in the right.

    The duties of justice enumerated by us are to be summed up
    thus: Not to kill ... not to cause suffering ... not to steal
    ... not to slander. Always reflect upon the words you say in
    which "Not" is followed by a verb in the imperative
    infinitive. What does that mean?

    An obligation, a command, a prohibition.--Go on, explain. The
    obligation of respect ... the command to respect rights ...
    the prohibition of stealing. How may all these things be
    summed up? _In doing no evil_."

    *    *    *    *    *

=Positive science makes its appearance in the schools=.--Positive
science was invited to enter into schools as into a chaos where it was
necessary to separate light from darkness, a place of disaster where
prompt succor was essential.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Discoveries of medicine: distortions and diseases=.--The first science,
indeed, to penetrate into the school was medicine, which organized a
special hygiene for the occasion, a kind of Red Cross service. The
most interesting part of the hygiene that penetrates into schools was
that which diagnosed and described the "diseases of school children,"
that is to say, the maladies contracted solely as a result of study in
school. The most prevalent of these maladies are spinal curvature and
myopia. The first is caused by excessive sitting, and by the injurious
position of the shoulders in writing. The second arises from the fact
that in the spot where the child has to remain seated, there is not
sufficient light for him to see clearly; or this spot is too far from
the blackboard, or from the places where the child has to read, and
the prolonged effort of accommodation induces myopia. Other minor
generalized maladies were also described: an organic debility so
widely diffused that hygiene prescribed as an ideal treatment a
gratuitous distribution of cod-liver oil or of reconstituent remedies
in general to all pupils. Anemia, liver complaints, and neurasthenia
were also studied as school diseases.

Thus a new field was opened to hygiene in connection with the most
fertile source of professional disease, and reading and writing were
carefully studied in relation to pedagogical methods, and in relation
to spinal curvature and defective refraction of the eyes.

The figure of the child, that victim of unsuitable and
disproportionate work, was not hereby brought into strong relief, as
might have been expected, by the aid of medicine, but a new branch of
"legal medicine" came into being. It was, indeed, medicine which drew
attention to the diseases and deaths of the victims in orphan asylums,
victims of artificial or irrational feeding, in conjunction with wet
nursing; it was medicine which passed in review one by one all those
individual cases which proclaim this legal fact: children have no
civil rights. Medicine now entered into another sphere where the
victims were not "cases," but the generality, the child-population in
its entirety; and now it is the law itself which imposes duties upon
them, and condemns them _en masse_ to labor for many years in a
manner which entails physical torture. If a branch of legal medicine
has arisen in connection with criminals, how is it that none should
ever have arisen in connection with the innocent?

    *    *    *    *    *

=Science has not fulfilled its mission in its dealings with
children=.--Medicine has confined itself to the treatment of diseases
artificially produced. It has diagnosed a cause of disease and left
this cause undisturbed, content merely to alleviate the resultant
evils befalling a multitude of victims. It has not taken up the
attitude proper to its great and dignified rôle of "protector" of
life; it has merely come forward, like the Red Cross Service during
war, to heal the wounded and alleviate the condition of the suffering;
it has not considered that the authority it enjoys as the guardian of
health would enable it to utter the supreme cry of peace, putting an
end to a war so dangerous, unjust, and inhuman.

As, in its struggle against microbes, it was the standard-bearer in
the most glorious of victories over death, so, fighting directly
against the causes of the impoverishment of generations, it might have
aspired to bear the banner of protector of posterity. Instead of this,
it confined itself to the elaboration of a branch of study that mimics
science: school hygiene; thus making itself the accomplice of a social

Let us glance into a recent treatise of school hygiene, which merely
sums up the ideas and the work of the world at large:

    "We will briefly indicate the conditions favorable to the
    development of spinal curvature. The age when the malady
    usually appears is that of second infancy, hence its name of
    spinal curvature of the adolescent; spinal curvature caused
    by rickets, which appears in early childhood, is rarer, and
    is of less direct interest to us here. The commonest cause,
    and that on which our attention should be primarily
    concentrated, is the vicious attitude adopted by the majority
    of our pupils during their school work; this cause is so
    universal that we may call spinal curvature the professional
    disease of the pupil. Doctor Legendre, in a formula which may
    be judged over-severe, though unhappily it is only too
    well-founded, said of our schools that they are factories for
    the production of the deformed and the myopic.

    "The main cause of myopia is to be found in the very
    conditions under which children are gathered together in
    schools: insufficiency of light, the over-small type common
    in school-books, the frequent use of the blackboard, on which
    the teacher is not always careful to make the size of the
    characters he traces proportionate to the distance at which
    they have to be read, are so many causes of ocular fatigue.
    The visual keenness of a given eye, says Doctor Leprince,
    decreases rapidly when the intensity of the light falls below
    a certain limit. The pupil, working with insufficient light,
    repairs the defective keenness of which this is the cause, by
    increasing the visual angle under which the details of the
    object he is looking at appear to him; in other words, _he
    brings that object inordinately close to him_.

    "The time necessary to recognize a given letter increases
    greatly, when the limit of visual acuteness has been reached.
    Therefore, insufficient light would tend to make work slower,
    unless the pupil increased acuteness by approaching the
    object more closely. Thus myopia constitutes a positive
    adaptation to the defective conditions of work, enabling the
    pupil to work more rapidly." [6]

[Footnote 6: Bronardet and Mosny, _Hygiène Scolaire_. Boillière,
Paris, 1914, pp. 142, 143, 430, 496.]

It would seem therefore natural to say: let the child find himself a
better lighted place; if the blackboard is at some distance from him,
let him come nearer to it; if the insufficient light retards his work,
let him go more slowly; if the questions at issue are such harmless
things as changing a place, advancing a step or two, taking a few
minutes longer over a task--what tyrant on earth would deny such a
small favor, and condemn the suppliant to blindness?

Such a tyrant is the teacher, who aspires to win the affection of his
victims by means of moral exhortations.

It would be so simple to allow children, when tired of sitting, to
rise, and when tired of writing, to desist, and then their bones would
not be twisted. Who can look on unmoved at the spectacle of children
whose vertebral column is being deformed by using desks, just as in
the Middle Ages the instep was deformed by the torture of the boot.
And on what grounds is this odious torture judged to be necessary?

Because a man has substituted himself for God, desiring to form the
minds of children in his own image and likeness; and this cannot be
done without subjecting a free creature to torture. This is the only

We will now quote the remedies by means of which a so-called science
proposes to counteract spinal curvature in school-children. It has
determined the exact position in which a child may remain seated and
at work for a long period of time without injury to the vertebrae.

    "The child, seated at the table, should have his feet planted
    flat upon the ground, or upon a foot-rest. The legs should be
    at right-angles to the thighs, as should the thighs be to the
    trunk, save for a slight inclination of the bench itself. The
    trunk should be in such a position that there will be no
    lateral inclination of the vertebral column, the arms should
    be parallel with the sides of the body, the thorax should not
    be interfered with by the front edge of the table, the pelvic
    basin should be symmetrically supported, the head slightly
    bent forward at a distance of thirty centimeters from the
    level of the table; the axis of the eyes, remaining parallel
    with the front edge of the table, should be horizontal; the
    forearms, two-thirds of which should be laid on the table,
    should rest on it, but without leaning upon it."

To realize all these conditions, it is necessary that the desk should
be _exactly fitted_ to the proportions of the child; its constituent
parts should agree with those of the body and limbs of the scholar.

The following are the measurements which Dufessel considered
indispensable in the fashioning of a desk suitable for children:

1. Height.

2. The length of the leg, taken from below the knee, when the child is
seated with the legs at right-angles to the thighs, and the feet flat
on the ground. This measurement gives the required height of the seat
from the foot-rest.

3. The diameter of the body from front to back, taken from the
sternum; this, with five centimeters added to it, gives the proper
distance from the reading-desk to the back of the seat.

4. The length of the femur, two-thirds of which represent the depth of
the seat.

5. Finally, the height of the epigastric cavity above the seat,
augmented by a few centimeters, indicates the height of the

We may add that in view of the rapid growth of the child, these
measurements should be taken twice in the course of the school year,
and children should be made to change places in accordance with these

There is a little crustacean which, coming naked into the world,
chooses an empty shell and adapts itself thereto; when it grows larger
and the shell becomes too tight, it sallies forth and takes up its
abode in a larger one. This the creature does of its own accord,
without a savant to measure it or a teacher to choose a new shell for
it. But to us and to scientists, a child is inferior to this lowly

The difficulty of keeping forty or fifty children motionless for hours
in the prescribed hygienic attitude, and of finding desks exactly
adapted to these growing bodies, makes this remedy impracticable, so
hunchbacks continue among us. The problem remains unsolved.

Hence it has been deemed more practical to establish a kind of
orthopaedic institution within the building itself in certain model
schools in Rome. It consists of a costly and elaborate apparatus, to
which the pupils come in turn to be suspended by the head after the
method adopted in medicine to combat spinal curvature in Pott's
disease (tuberculosis of the vertebral column) and rickets.

Healthy children, as well as the unsound, suffer by these
applications; but on the other hand, the results afford encouraging
statistics. If this hanging treatment be initiated regularly at the
age of six years it strikes a perfect balance with the injury caused
by prolonged deterioration induced by school desks, and children are
delivered from spinal disease.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Discoveries of experimental psychology: overwork; nervous
exhaustion=.--Hygiene, making its way into the school, discovered
scholar's spinal curvature and scholar's myopia; experimental
psychology discovered the exhaustion due to overwork, and studied the
_fatigue_ of the scholar. It followed in the beaten track of
medicine--that is to say, it sought to alleviate the ills it had
diagnosed, and instituted a branch of science the title of which is
not very clearly defined as yet, for some call it experimental
psychology applied to the school, others Scientific Pedagogy.

It is necessary to remember that experimental psychology was
established in 1860 by Fechner, who was a physicist accustomed to
experiment on _things_, not on living creatures, and who merely
adapted the methods employed in physics to psychical measurements,
thus founding psycho-physics. The instruments specially invented for
esthesiometric measurements were of extreme precision; but the results
obtained showed such variations that by mathematical law they could
not be attributed to "errors of measurement," but were obviously due
to "errors of method." Indeed, for the measurement of liquids it is
necessary to have an instrument different from that which we use in
measuring solids, although we are still in the domain of physics; we
cannot measure a stuff by the quart, nor wine by the yard; how much
more then must the methods of measuring physical substances and
spiritual energy differ?

After psycho-physics, psycho-physiology was introduced by Wundt.
Wundt, being a physiologist, applied the methods of study proper to
physiological functions to psychical study. He did not make the exact
metrical instrument his aim; but he measured nervous reactions exactly
in _time_. Fechner's primitive researches made it possible to produce
instruments so exact that they can measure the sound made by a drop of
water falling from the height of a meter, while Wundt's researches
have resulted in chronometers which can measure the thousandth part of
a second. But the spirit did not correspond to the exactness of
research--the results showed by their oscillations that nothing was
being measured--that the object to be measured escaped. It will
suffice to mention that in measuring the nervous currents in rate of
transmission of impulse along the nerves and also in the ganglion
cells of the spinal marrow, Exner arrived at a rapidity of eight
meters, and Bloch at a rapidity of 194 meters, in the same unit of

In spite of this startling contrast between the precision of the means
of research and the huge variations in the results, which were shown
by mathematical law to be absurd, experimental psychology carried on
extensive studies, under the illusion that it rested upon a
mathematical basis.

It is from this science that a branch has been detached with which to
penetrate into the school, for the purpose of giving spiritual help to
the scholar, and fresh vigor to pedagogy.

Methods of research are no longer merely those antiquated
psycho-physical and psycho-physiological methods formerly in favor;
experimental psychology, henceforth emancipated from its origins, has
developed independently. It now relies on purely psychological tests
for its researches, and although it does not exclude the methods
adopted in the laboratory, and the use of such accurate and
trustworthy instruments as the esthesiometer and the ergograph, the
school itself has become the chief field of experiment.

For example: one of the most familiar tests of attention is to give a
printed page to be read over, with directions to strike out every _a_
on the page; the time taken to complete this task is measured by

Counting aloud from one to a hundred, and at the same time carrying on
arithmetical operations in writing, is a measure of the distribution
of the attention, provided the time taken be calculated by the
chronometer, and all errors be noted. To make several persons perform
similar exercises at the same time enables us to study comparative
individual activities. In schools, exercises in dictation which have
been previously determined, may be given to a group of scholars, care
being taken to note the time occupied in performing the exercise and
to compare the errors. This is also an easy and practical means of
obtaining collective results.

These experiments all psychologists agree should be carried out
without interrupting the usual routine of the school. They are to be
regarded as an addition, an _extra_, and may be summed up as a means
of scientific research, throwing light upon the regular psychical
conditions of school studies.

The principal results of such experiments have been: the multiplicity
of mistakes made, and the difficulty of fixing attention; that is to
say, they reveal the weariness, the degree of fatigue, in children.

This gave the alarm! Old-fashioned pedagogy was concerned solely with
what children ought to do. The idea that their nervous energies might
be impaired was first called into being by the warning note of

Researches into the causes of fatigue became more and more frequent,
and coupled with such researches was the less immediate enquiry as to
how fatigue could be "combated" or "alleviated." All the factors
relating to the question were studied: age, sex, the degree of
intelligence, the type of individual, the influence of the seasons,
the influence of the various times of the day, of the various days of
the week, of habit, intervals of relaxation, interest, variety of
work, the position of the body, and, finally, position in reference to
the cardinal points.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Science is confronted by a mass of unsolved problems=.--The outcome of
all these researches is a growing mass of unsolved problems. It has
not been established whether males are more easily fatigued than
females; whether the intelligent are more subject to fatigue than the
unintelligent. With regard to the individual type, Tissié's conclusion
seems to be the most noteworthy: "Each individual becomes fatigued or
not according to his degree of will." In connection with the seasons
it appears that fatigue increases from the first to the last day of
school, but it is uncertain whether this is due to the influence of
the seasons, or whether, as Schuyten affirms, the scholar's gradual
exhaustion is due to the scholastic system. With regard to the time of
day, "it is still a question whether the fatigue produced is less when
the pupil works spontaneously, but this problem is a difficult one to
solve." The days of the week when fatigue is least evident are Monday
and Friday, but researches made in this connection are not definitive;
as to habit, intervals of rest, interest: "in connection with these
factors which are antagonistic to fatigue, it has been questioned
whether they actually diminish fatigue, or merely cloak it, but no
decision has been reached." A great variety of interesting researches
have been made into the question of change of work with identical
results--namely, that frequent change of work causes greater fatigue
than continuous work of one kind, and that a sudden interruption is
more fatiguing than persistence. The following experiment (quoted by
Claparède) was made by Schultze: one day the girls were required to
add up figures for twenty-five minutes, and then to copy out passages
for another twenty-five minutes. Another day they performed the same
work, but it was differently divided; they had to add for fifty
minutes and to copy for another fifty minutes. Now these last tests
gave results infinitely superior to the first. And yet it is well
known that, in spite of such results, constant interruption and change
of work are commonly practised in schools, as part of a scientific
plan for combating fatigue.

One of the researches directly relating to schools is that of the
ponogenic co-efficient of the various subjects of instruction, that is
to say, of the degrees of fatigue induced by these. Wagner is of
opinion _a priori_ that one hundred, the maximum co-efficient, must be
assigned to mathematics; in this case, we should get the following
ponogenic co-efficients in schools, for each subject:

     Mathematics               100
     Latin                      91
     Greek                      90
     Gymnastics                 90
     History and Geography      85
     French and German          82
     Natural History            80
     Drawing, Religion          77

We may note the arbitrary and surprising manner in which such results
are established; nevertheless, in the name of "experimental science"
it is possible to make such deductions as the following:

    "It would be interesting to enquire if the order of the
    ponogenic co-efficients varies with the age of the children,
    which would enable us to know on the one hand when the brain
    is best fitted for the study of any particular subject and
    when therefore it would be most judicious to make it
    predominate in the program; on the other hand, it would help
    us in the arrangement of the daily time-table; we should
    take, if possible, the most fatiguing subjects at the
    beginning of the day" (Claparède, _op. cit._).

Another order of recent researches is that made into the toxines
produced by fatigue; Weichardt succeeded in isolating these toxines,
and in fabricating anti-toxines with which he experimented
successfully on rats. The experiments were also repeated in a clinic.
With regard to the appearance of the toxines, it was found that they
were abundantly produced during the performance of "wearisome" work,
whereas there were only traces of them to be found when the work was

Throughout this science so packed with researches which give as their
result unsolved problems, we perceive that not one of the factors
taken into consideration can alleviate fatigue; interruption and
change of work merely aggravate it. The one means by which _surménage_
(exhaustion due to overwork) can be eliminated is to make work
pleasant and interesting, to give joy in work rather than pain.

    "The necessity of making education and instruction attractive
    has been propounded by all pedagogists worthy of the name,
    such as Fénelon, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Spencer,"
    says Claparède, "but it is still unrecognized in the everyday
    practise of the schools" (_op. cit._).

    "By common consent, the first duty of the educator is that of
    doing no harm: first do no harm, a precept also accepted in
    the practise of medicine. To obey it to the letter is,
    indeed, _impossible, because every method of scholastic
    education is in some way prejudicial to the normal
    development of the child_. But the educator will seek to
    _alleviate the injury which instruction necessarily entails_"
    (_op. cit._).

This is indeed cold comfort, after all these studies and researches! A
confession that problems have arisen at every step, and that not a
single one has been solved! Indeed, underlying all this is the
_problem of problems_: how to make that place attractive and joyous
where hitherto the body has been tortured and contorted, and the blood
poisoned by weariness! It is impossible to educate without doing harm;
but we must do harm that will give pleasure! This is truly an
embarrassing position! And this is why an interminable string of notes
of interrogation serves as the decorative motive of this new science,
which might be more appropriately styled: _ignorabimus_.

And it is for this reason that the considerations indicated by hygiene
and psychology now tend to do away altogether with the sum total of
irreparable evils, "commuting the sentence," that is to say,
abbreviating hours of study, cutting down the curriculum, avoiding
written exercises. Thus a new specter, that of ignorance, and
henceforth the abandonment of the child for the greater part of the
day, present themselves as a substitute for the specter of
destruction. Meanwhile our epoch demands an intensive care of the new
generation, and the preparation of a culture ever vaster and more

True, it would appear that to-day a way of escape may be offered by
the discovery of the anti-toxine for fatigue. "Just think!" exclaims
Claparède, "a serum against fatigue. How valuable this would be!" From
this point of view, I should say that the ponogenic co-efficients
might find a more practical and rational application than that of the
revelation of "programs"; indeed these co-efficients indicating the
production of toxines would appear destined to determine the dose of
anti-toxine necessary to nullify the evil effects resulting from each
different subject of instruction. In the not far distant future, when
these auxiliary sciences of the school and pedagogy shall have made
due progress, we shall perhaps see, side by side with the orthopaedic
ward, a physio-chemical clinic, where every evening the pupils, as
they leave the beneficent suspensory apparatus which counteracts
injury to their skeletons, may enter with a kind of ponogenic
prescription regulated by the teaching they have undergone, and
receive an injection which will deliver them from the poisonous
effects of fatigue!

This reads like an irony of the worst kind, perhaps; but this is not
the case. Where the orthopaedic institution is already an accomplished
fact, we may very soon see the chemical clinic established. If a
problem of liberty is to be solved with machines, and if a problem of
justice is to be regarded from the chemical point of view, similar
consequences will be the logical end of sciences developed upon such

It is obvious that a real experimental science, which shall guide
education and deliver the child from slavery, is not yet born; when it
appears, it will be to the so-called "sciences" that have sprung up in
connection with the diseases of martyred childhood as chemistry to
alchemy, and as positive medicine to the empirical medicine of bygone

I think it will be of interest here to record the impressions of a
person who, leaving the field of mathematics, entered upon the study
of biology and experimental psychology.

It is an account of a young English engineer, who had evidently
mistaken his vocation, and who, after studying my method for two
years, returned to the universities of his own great country as a
student of biology.

This is his opinion of experimental psychology:

    In psychology we are studying the most modern experimental
    researches. At present we are engaged upon Thought and
    Imagination. I must confess that I do not find this course
    very illuminating, though I agree that it is necessary to
    know something of these researches. In modern psychology
    there is nothing at all adequate to the subject of our
    method. These investigators seem to me like persons looking
    at a tree, and noting the most obvious of its external forms:
    the shape of a leaf, a stem, etc., doing all this with great
    gravity and using very precise language (perhaps believing
    that this constitutes science), but often confusing the
    function of _definition_ with that of _description_.

    In this manner descriptions of wonderful and fascinating
    things are reduced to arid definitions, in order to be
    clothed in their science, and thus are rendered powerless to
    inspire thought. They never meditate; they read a great deal;
    they think in mental images which no more represent facts
    than a diagram on the blackboard represents a living organ;
    and these images differ among different psychologists, but
    their language is always the same. They do all this believing
    they are making progress, and instead of training their
    pupils to observe for themselves without prejudice, they
    instil their own prejudices into the minds of the students,
    cramming them with definitions and descriptions of the
    strangest and most amorphous kind, which effectually prevent
    them from thinking for themselves.

    But within the tree there is the fundamental structure which
    they have not begun to examine, though the revelation of this
    would explain all the external data. The details would
    diminish in importance; all these details issuing from a
    single root might be classified in the simplest manner. This
    "science" reminds me of that antiquated lore which dealt
    with the constellations, when the laws of planetary motion
    were not yet known, and the so-called science confined itself
    to descriptions of the "Great Bear," the "Crab," the "Goat,"

    I detest those dryasdusts who, unaware of their own
    ignorance, write enormous arid tomes with an air of great
    majesty, as if they were revealing absolute knowledge, books
    that lie heavy on the minds of the students, making them dry
    as their teachers. But the students seem to me to care only
    about passing their examinations and to have no thought of
    discovering new knowledge; and the professors "serve" them to
    this end. Thus we are all in a state of servitude due to a
    mistaken system of education, which calls loudly for reform.



=The organization of psychical life begins with the characteristic
phenomenon of attention=.--My experimental work with little children
from three to six years old has been, in fact, a practical
contribution to research which has for its aim the discovery of the
treatment required by the soul of the child, a treatment analogous to
that which hygiene prescribes for its body.

I think, therefore, that it is essential to record the fundamental
fact which led me to define my method.

I was making my first essays in applying the principles and part of
the material I had used for many years previously in the education of
deficient children, to the normal children of the San Lorenzo quarter
in Rome, when I happened to notice a little girl of about three years
old deeply absorbed in a set of solid insets, removing the wooden
cylinders from their respective holes and replacing them. The
expression on the child's face was one of such concentrated attention
that it seemed to me an extraordinary manifestation; up to this time
none of the children had ever shown such fixity of interest in an
object; and my belief in the characteristic instability of attention
in young children, who flit incessantly from one thing to another,
made me peculiarly alive to the phenomenon.

I watched the child intently without disturbing her at first, and
began to count how many times she repeated the exercise; then, seeing
that she was continuing for a long time, I picked up the little
armchair in which she was seated, and placed chair and child upon the
table; the little creature hastily caught up her case of insets, laid
it across the arms of her chair, and gathering the cylinders into her
lap, set to work again. Then I called upon all the children to sing;
they sang, but the little girl continued undisturbed, repeating her
exercise even after the short song had come to an end. I counted
forty-four repetitions; when at last she ceased, it was quite
independently of any surrounding stimuli which might have distracted
her, and she looked round with a satisfied air, almost as if awaking
from a refreshing nap.

I think my never-to-be-forgotten impression was that experienced by
one who has made a discovery.

This phenomenon gradually became common among the children: it may
therefore be recorded as a constant reaction occurring in connection
with certain external conditions, which may be determined. And each
time that such a polarisation of attention took place, the child began
to be completely transformed, to become calmer, more intelligent, and
more expansive; it showed extraordinary spiritual qualities, recalling
the phenomena of a higher consciousness, such as those of conversion.

It was as if in a saturated solution, a point of crystallization had
formed, round which the whole chaotic and fluctuating mass united,
producing a crystal of wonderful forms. Thus, when the phenomenon of
the polarisation of attention had taken place, all that was disorderly
and fluctuating in the consciousness of the child seemed to be
organizing itself into a spiritual creation, the surprising
characteristics of which are reproduced in every individual.

It made one think of the _life of man_ which may remain diffused among
a multiplicity of things, in an inferior state of chaos, until some
special thing attracts it intensely and fixes it; and then man is
revealed unto himself, he feels that he has begun to live.

This spiritual phenomenon which may co-involve the entire
consciousness of the adult, is therefore only one of the constant
elements of the phenomena of "internal formation." It occurs as the
normal beginning of the inner life of children, and accompanies its
development in such a manner as to become accessible to research, as
an experimental fact.

It was thus that the soul of the child gave its revelations, and under
their guidance a method exemplifying spiritual liberty was evolved.

The story of this initiatory episode soon spread throughout the world,
and at first it seemed like the story of a miracle. Then by degrees,
as experiments were made among the most diverse races, the simple and
evident principles of this spiritual "treatment" were manifested.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Psychical development is organized by the aid of external stimuli,
which may be determined experimentally=.--The contribution I have made
to the education of young children tends, in fact, to _specify_ by
means of the revelations due to experiment, the form of liberty in
internal development.

It would not be possible to conceive liberty of development, if by its
very nature the child were not capable of a spontaneous organic
development, if the tendency to develop his energies (expansion of
latent powers), the conquest of the means necessary to a harmonious
innate development, did not already exist. In order to expand, the
child, left at liberty to exercise his activities, ought to find in
his surroundings something _organized_ in direct relation to his
internal organization which is developing itself by natural laws, just
as the free insect finds in the form and qualities of flowers a direct
correspondence between form and sustenance. The insect is undoubtedly
free when, seeking the nectar which nourishes it, it is in reality
helping the reproduction of the plant. There is nothing more marvelous
in nature than the correspondence between the organs of these two
orders of beings destined to such a providential cooperation.

The secret of the free development of the child consists, therefore,
in organizing for him the means necessary for his internal
nourishment, means corresponding to a primitive impulse of the child,
comparable to that which makes the new-born infant capable of sucking
milk from the breast, which by its external form and elaborated
sustenance, corresponds perfectly to the requirements of the infant.

It is in the satisfaction of this primitive impulse, this internal
hunger, that the child's personality begins to organize itself and
reveal its characteristics; just as the new-born infant, in nourishing
itself, organizes its body and its natural movements.

We must not therefore set ourselves the educational problem of seeking
means whereby to organize the internal personality of the child and
develop his characteristics; the sole problem is that of offering the
child the necessary nourishment.

It is by this means that the child develops an organized and complex
activity which, while it responds to a primitive impulse, exercises
the intelligence and develops qualities we consider lofty, and which
we supposed were foreign to the nature of the young child, such as
patience and perseverance in work, and in the moral order, obedience,
gentleness, affection, politeness, serenity; qualities we are
accustomed to divide into different categories, and as to which,
hitherto, we have cherished the illusion that it was our task to
develop them gradually by our direct interposition, although in
practise we have never known by what means to do so successfully.

In order that the phenomenon should come to pass it is _necessary_
that the spontaneous development of the child should be accorded
_perfect liberty_; that is to say, that its calm and peaceful
expansion should not be disturbed by the intervention of an untimely
and disturbing influence; just as the body of the new-born infant
should be left in peace to assimilate its nourishment and grow

In such an attitude ought we to await the _miracles_ of the inner
life, its expansions and also its unforeseen and surprising
explosions; just as the intelligent mother, only giving her baby
nourishment and rest, contemplates it, seeing it _grow_, and awaits
the manifestations of nature: the first tooth, the first word, and
finally the action by which the baby will one day rise to his feet and

But to ensure the psychical phenomena of growth, we must prepare the
"environment" in a definite manner, and from this environment offer
the child the external means directly necessary for him.

This is the _positive_ fact which my experiment has rendered concrete.
Hitherto the liberty of the child has been vaguely discussed; no
clearly defined limit has been established between liberty and
abandonment. We were told: "Liberty has its limits," "Liberty must be
properly understood." But a special method indicating "how liberty
should be interpreted, and what is the intuitive _quid_ which ought
to co-exist with it," had not been determined.

The establishment of such a method should open up a new path to all

    *    *    *    *    *

It is therefore necessary that the environment should contain the
means of auto-education. These means cannot be "taken at random"; they
represent the result of an experimental study which cannot be
undertaken by all, because a scientific preparation is necessary for
such delicate work; besides, like all experimental study, it is
laborious, prolonged, and exact. Many years of research are required,
before the means really _necessary_ for _psychical development_ can be
set forth. Those educationalists who leave the great question of the
liberty of the pupil to the good sense or to the preparation of the
master are very far from solving the problem of liberty. The greatest
scientist, or the person most fitted by nature to teach, could never
of himself discover such, because, to preparation and natural gifts,
the further factor of _time_ must be added--the long period of
preparatory experiment. Therefore a _science_ which has already
_provided the means_ for self-education must exist beforehand. To-day,
he who speaks of liberty in the schools ought at the same time to
exhibit objects--approximating to a scientific apparatus--which will
make such liberty possible.

The scientific instrument must be constructed upon a basis of
_exactitude_. Just as the lenses of the physicist are constructed in
accordance with the laws of the refraction of light, so the pedagogic
instrument should be based on the _psychical manifestations_ of the

Such an instrument may be compared to a systematized "mental test." It
is not, however, established upon a basis of external measurement, for
the purpose of estimating the amount of instantaneous psychical
reaction which it produces; it is, on the contrary, a stimulus which
is itself determined by the psychical reactions it is capable of
producing and maintaining permanently. It is the psychical reaction,
therefore, that in this case determines and establishes the systematic
"mental test." The psychical reaction which constitutes the sole basis
of comparison in the determination of the tests, is a _polarization of
the attention_, and _the repetition of the actions_ related to it.
When a stimulus corresponds in this manner to the "reflex
personality," it serves, not to _measure_ but to _maintain_ a lively
reaction; it is therefore a stimulus to the "internal formation."
Indeed, upon such activity, awakened and maintained, the accompanying
organism initiates its internal elaborations in relation to the

This does not penetrate into the ancient ambit of pedagogy as a
science that _measures_ the personality, as the experimental
psychology introduced in schools has hitherto done, but as a science
that _transforms_ the personality, and is therefore capable of taking
its stand as a true and real pedagogy. Whereas the ancient pedagogy in
all its various interpretations started from the conception of a
"receptive personality"--one, that is to say, which was to receive
instructions and to be passively formed, this scientific departure
starts from the conception of an _active_ personality--reflex and
associative--developing itself by a series of reactions induced by
systematic stimuli which have been determined by experiment. This new
pedagogy accordingly belongs to the series of modern sciences, and not
to antique speculations, although it is not directly based on the
purely metric studies of "positive psychology." But the "method,"
which informs it--namely, experiment, observation, evidence or proof,
the recognition of new phenomena, their reproduction and utilization,
undoubtedly place it among the experimental sciences.

    *    *    *    *    *

=External stimuli may be determined in quality and quantity=.--Nothing
can be more interesting than such experiments. By their means external
stimuli may be determined with the greatest precision, both as regards
quality and quantity. For instance, very small objects of various
geometric forms will only attract the fugitive attention of a child of
three years old; but by increasing the dimensions gradually, we arrive
at the limit of size when these objects will fix the attention; then
such objects excite an activity which becomes permanent, and the
resulting exercise becomes a factor of development. The experiment is
repeated with a number of children, and thus the dimensions of a
series of objects are established.

It is the same with colors and with every kind of _quality_. In order
that a quality should be felt to such a degree as to fix the
attention, a certain extension and a certain intensity of the stimulus
are necessary, which may be _determined_ by the degree of psychical
reaction shown by the child; as, for instance, the minimum chromatic
extension sufficient to attract the attention to the colored tablets,
etc. Quality, therefore, is determined by a psychical experiment
demonstrating the activity it produces in a child, who will continue
the exercise with the same object for a long time, thus elaborating a
phenomenon of internal development, of self-formation.

Among the characteristics of the objects, one must be pointed out,
which demands the highest degree of activity in the intelligence: they
contain in themselves _control of error_.

To make the process one of self-education, it is not enough that the
stimulus should call forth activity, it must also direct it. The child
should not only persist for a long time in an exercise; he must
persist without making mistakes. All the physical or intrinsic
qualities of the objects should be determined, not only by the
immediate reaction of attention they provoke in the child, but also by
their possession of this fundamental characteristic, the control of
error, that is to say the power of evoking the effective collaboration
of the highest activities (comparison, judgment). For instance, one of
the first objects which attract the attention of the child of three
years old, the solid insets (a series of cylinders of various
dimensions to be placed in or taken out of a block with corresponding
holes) contains the most mechanical control, because if a single
mistake be made in placing the cylinders, one of these must be left
out at the end of the exercise. Hence a mistake is an obstacle only to
be overcome by correction, for without it the exercise cannot be
completed. On the other hand, the correction is so easy that the child
makes it himself. The little problem suddenly presenting itself to the
child, almost like the unexpected object of a jack-in-the-box, has
"interested" him.

It is, however, noteworthy that the "problem" thus presented is not in
itself the stimulus to interest; it is not that which incites to the
repetition of the act--to the progress of the child. What interests
the child is the sensation, not only of placing the objects but of
acquiring a new power of perception, enabling him to recognize the
difference of dimension in the cylinders, a difference which he did
not at first notice. The _problem_ presents itself solely in
connection with the _error_, it does not accompany the normal process
of development. An interest stimulated merely by _curiosity_, by a
"problem," would not be that formative interest which wells up from
the needs of life itself, and therefore directs the building up of the
spiritual personality. If it were only the problem which should lead
the soul to find itself, order might be dissipated by it, as by any
other external cause which tends to _seduce_ life into false paths. I
lay, perhaps, excessive stress upon this point, in answer to very
important objections and observations that have been made to me.

Indeed in the second series of objects designed to educate the eye to
appreciate dimensions, the control of error is not mechanical, but
psychological; the child himself, whose eye has been educated to
recognize differences of dimension, will see the error, provided the
objects be of a certain size and attractively colored. It is for this
reason that the next objects contain, so to say, the control of error
in their own size and in their bright colors. A control of error of a
totally different kind, and of a much higher order, is that offered by
the material of the arithmetical frame, in which the control will
consist in the comparison of the child's own work with that of a
model, a comparison which denotes a remarkably intelligent effort of
will on the part of the child, and places him thenceforth in the true
conditions of conscious auto-education. But, however slight the
control of error may be, and in spite of the fact that this diverges
more and more from an external mechanism, to rely upon the internal
activities which are gradually developing, it always depends, like all
the qualities of the objects, upon the fundamental reaction of the
child, who accords it prolonged attention, and repeats the exercises.

On the other hand, the experimental criterion is different, in
determining the _quantity of the objects_. When the instruments have
been constructed with great precision, they provoke a spontaneous
exercise so coordinated and so harmonious with the facts of internal
development, that at a certain point a new psychical picture, a
species of higher plane in the complex development, is revealed.

The child turns away spontaneously from the material, not with any
signs of fatigue, but rather as if impelled by fresh energies, and his
mind is capable of abstractions. At this stage of development, the
child turns his attention to the external world, and observes it with
an order which is the order formed in his mind during the period of
the preceding development; he begins spontaneously to make a series of
careful and logical comparisons which represent a veritable
spontaneous acquisition of "knowledge." This is the period henceforth
to be known as the period of "discoveries," discoveries which evoke
enthusiasm and joy in the child.

This more elevated level of development is extremely fruitful in its
last ascent It is essential that the child's attention should not be
directed to the objects when the delicate phenomenon of abstraction
begins. For instance, the teacher who invites the child to continue
his operations with the material at such a moment, will retard his
spontaneous development and place an obstacle in his way. If the
enthusiasm which leads the child to rise to greater heights and
experience so many intellectual emotions be extinguished, a path of
progress has been closed. Now the same error may be committed by an
_excessive quantity_ of the educative material; this may dissipate the
attention, render the exercises with the objects mechanical, and cause
the child to pass by his psychological moment of ascent without
perceiving it and seizing it. Moreover, such objects are then futile,
and, by their futility, "the child may lose his soul."

The thing to be exactly determined is: what is _necessary_ and
_sufficient_ as a response to the internal needs of a life in process
of development, that is, of upward progression, of _ascent_? Now in
determining the "quantity" we must be guided by the expression and at
the same time by the active manifestations of the child. Those
children who have long been occupied with these determined objects,
showing every sign of absorbed attention, will, all of a sudden, begin
to rise gradually and insensibly, like an aeroplane when it completes
its short journey upon the ground. Their apparent indifference to the
objects is revealed in its true essence by the intense and radiant
expression of the face, which is animated by the liveliest joy. The
child may seem to be doing nothing, but this will only be for a
moment; very soon he will speak, and so will reveal what is happening
within him, and then his ebullient activity will carry him along in a
series of explorations and discoveries. He is saved.

Now take the case of other children in whom the same primitive
phenomenon is taking place, but who are surrounded by too great a
profusion of objects. At the moment of maturity they are seen to be
caught, obstructed, almost palpably entangled in the toils that bind
them to earth. A diminution of the absorbed attention bestowed upon
the new objects, instability, and consequently fatigue, manifest
themselves in an obvious extinction of internal activity. The child's
bearing deteriorates, he indulges in loud, empty laughter, rude
actions, and indolence. He demands "other objects," and then again
other objects, because he has remained imprisoned "in the vicious
circle of vanities," and is no longer sensible to anything but the
desire to alleviate his weariness. Like the adult who during a chaotic
life commits kindred errors, he becomes undisciplined, feeble, and "in
peril of perdition." If some one does not help him by wresting from
him the futile objects, and pointing out his heaven to him, he will
hardly have the energy to save himself.

These two extreme types will give an idea of the criteria by which we
experimentally determine the quantity of the material necessary for

Over-abundance debilitates and retards progress; this has been proved
again and again by my collaborators.

If, on the other hand, the material be insufficient, and the primary
auto-exercise incapable of leading the child on to that _maturity_
which causes him to ascend, there will be no explosion of that
spontaneous phenomenon of abstraction which is the second stage of an
auto-education advancing in infinite progression. The same fundamental
phenomenon of absorbed and prolonged attention which leads to
repetition of the acts, guides us in determining the stimuli suitable
to the _age_ of the child. A stimulus which will cause a child of
three years old to repeat an act forty times in succession, may only
be repeated ten times by a child of six; the object which arouses the
interest of a child of three no longer interests a child of six.
Nevertheless the child of six is capable of fixing his attention for a
much longer period than a child of three, when the stimulus is suited
to his activities; if, indeed, a little child of three may achieve as
his maximum the repetition of an act forty times in succession, the
child of six is capable of repeating two hundred times an act which
interests him. If the maximum period of continuous work on the same
object may be half an hour for the child of three, it may be over two
hours for the child of six.

Hence, to establish systematic tests for a certain purpose, such as
that of preparing children to write, without taking their ages into
account, is valueless. For example, my system of writing is based upon
the direct preparation of the movements which physiologically concur
to produce writing: _i.e._ manipulation of the instrument of writing
and the tracing of the letters of the alphabet. The children, filling
in the contours of the insets with innumerable parallel strokes in the
one case, and touching the sand-paper letters in the other, fix the
two muscular mechanisms so perfectly, that the final result is an
"explosion" of "spontaneous writing" extraordinarily uniform in all
the children--because, as if all molded to a common form, they have
fixed the necessary movements by touching the same alphabet, and
therefore reproduce its forms faithfully. To bring this about, to
establish a real motor-mechanism, it is essential that the exercise
should be repeated over and over again. Now the children who take most
interest in filling in the figures with parallel strokes, and, above
all, in touching the letters, are, at most, between four and five
years old. If we offer the same material to a child of six he will not
touch the letters often enough, and he will always write imperfectly,
in comparison with the child who has begun the exercise at a suitable
age. This applies also to all the other details of the system. It is
therefore possible to determine experimentally, with, I believe, a
precision not hitherto attained, what is the mental attitude of the
child at various ages, and hence, if the fitting material for
development be offered, what will be the average level of
intellectual development according to age.

Here we have an indication of the possibility of _determining_ the
means of development so exactly as to establish a true correspondence
between internal needs and external stimuli, just as actual as the
correspondence which exists between the insect and the flower.

He who has all this material ready to his hand has an easy task in
bringing about the natural development of the psychic life of the
child. With such objects at his disposal, every teacher may realize
the ideal of _liberty in the school_.

This long, occult experiment--suggested to me, as I have already said,
by Itard and Séguin--is, in fact, my initial contribution to

All this preparatory work has served for the determination of the
method now well known, but it is also the key to its continuation.

    *    *    *    *    *

=The material of development is necessary only as a starting point=.--In
the organization of the external means of development, there remains a
material impress of the internal development, and of that which the
soul needs in its progress, during its course, and in its flights. The
material part does not contain the impress of the whole soul, any more
than the impress of the foot is the impress of the whole body; the
aviation-ground is not the sphere of action proper to the aeroplane,
but it is the part of _terra-firma_ necessary for flight, and it is
also the resting-place, the refuge, the _hangar_ to which the
aeroplane must always return. Thus in psychical formation there is a
necessary material part from which the spirit rises, and where it
should find repose, refuge, and a point of support, Without this it
could not grow and rise "freely."

In order that it may be a true support it ought "to reproduce its
forms" and contain them in the part corresponding to the peculiar
functions of the material aid. Thus, for instance, in the first period
of the psychical life, the material corresponds to the primitive
exercises of the senses--it is in quality and quantity determined by
the sensory needs given by nature--and permits an exercise of the
activities sufficient to _mature_ a superior psychical state of
observation and abstraction. _Vice versa_, nothing corresponds in the
material to the subsequent career which the childish spirit
accomplishes with such delight and with so much acquisition of
knowledge. But we then see the spirit eager for higher kinds of
exercise--and now we witness the same primitive phenomenon of
attention, which will exercise itself henceforth upon the alphabet and
arithmetical material, repeating in a more complex form methodical
exercises of the intelligence by linking auditory images with the
visible and motor images of the spoken and written word; and in the
positive study of quantities, proportions, and number. The same
concomitant phenomena of "patience" and "perseverance" then manifest
themselves, together with those of vivacity, activity, and joy,
characteristic of the spirit when the internal energies have found
their _keyboard_, the gymnasium in which they exercise themselves
freely and tranquilly.

And the spirit, organized in this manner under the guidance of an
order which corresponds to its natural order, becomes _fortified_,
grows _vigorously_, and manifests itself in the _equilibrium_, the
_serenity_, the self-control which produce the wonderful _discipline_
characteristic of the behavior of our children.

The external material, then, should present itself to the psychical
requirements of the child as a staircase which helps him to ascend,
step by step, and on the steps of this staircase there will of
necessity be disposed the means of _culture_, and of the higher
_formation_. Therefore the psychical exercises require new material,
and this, if it is to fulfil its purpose, must contain new and more
complex forms of objects capable of fixing the attention, of making
the intelligence ripen in the continual exercise of its own energies,
and of producing those phenomena of persistence in application and of
patience to which will be added elasticity, psychical equilibrium, and
the capacity for abstraction and spontaneous creation. Thus, in the
subsequent development of the children, we see them applying
themselves to those exercises of the memory which seem to us most
arid, because a desire has been born in them, not only to retain the
images they encounter in the world, but also to "acquire knowledge
rapidly" by a determined effort. An example of this is seen in the
surprising yet common phenomenon of committing the multiplication
table to memory, whereas the memorizing of poems and prose extracts,
although this is sometimes a passion, causes us no surprise.

Very interesting again, is the _detachment_ the child shows at a
certain point from the aids to arithmetical calculation; at a certain
stage of maturity he desires to "reason in the abstract" and make
"abstract calculations with numbers," as if obeying an internal
impulse which seeks to liberate the soul from every material bond and
at the same time to effect an economy of time. Hereupon we see
children of eight years old become eager and precocious calculators.

Children thus launched upon the enterprises of self-education acquire
a remarkable "sensibility" as to their own internal needs. Just as the
new-born infant whose food is rationally regulated, is silent and
tranquil during the two hours of digestion and assimilation, and cries
out the moment the hour for a fresh meal has struck, so do these
children "ask for help," ask for "new materials," new "forms of work,"
as soon as they have accomplished their mysterious phenomena of
internal maturation, and ask for them _determinately_, indicating
_their most immediate need_, just as one in physical want would be
able to state distinctly whether he were hungry, thirsty, or sleepy. A
child, in like manner, asks for reading, or grammatical exercises, or
means for observing Nature. His sensibility manifests itself in a
lucid and intense desire, to which the teacher has only to respond.

It is evident that some _external_ basis is necessary in the
progressive development of such phenomena, and that the teacher, who
is to respond to the requests of the child in conscious evolution,
cannot do so adequately by haphazard means; he must be guided by
conditions previously determined by experience. In other words, those
external means already alluded to several times, that _staircase_, the
steps of which lead the soul upwards, must have been already
_established by experience_, just as all the preceding means of the
first development of the infant were established.

The construction of the ascending stairway, of the external means of
support for the soul in process of evolution, is gradually amplified,
like an inverted cone, the apex of which touches the very beginnings
of psychical life, resting upon that primitive impulse which attracts
the child of two and a half to the sensory stimuli, just as hunger
leads the new-born infant to perform the wonderful complex action of
sucking. And as these external means multiply, they are complicated
more and more by the growing psychical needs of the child, and
comprise within themselves the principles of culture.

The highest external organization is not based solely upon
psychological necessities, but also upon those factors which take into
account the cultural aspect itself. Each subject of study, as, for
instance, arithmetic, grammar, geometry, natural science, music,
literature, should be presented by means of external objects upon a
well-defined systematic plan. The essentially psychological character
of the preliminary work must now be supplemented by the collaboration
of specialists in each subject, in order to ensure the establishment
of that aggregate of means necessary and sufficient to incite to

This is the experimental preparatory work, which establishes those
means of development, those external _impressions_, necessary to
unfold the inner life, and an _exact_ correspondence to the psychical
needs of _formation_ is essential in their construction.

Up to a certain point, they might correspond with the so-called
didactic or objective material of the old methods. Their significance,
however, is profoundly different. The objective material of the old
schools was an aid to the teacher, in making his explanations
comprehensible to a collective class listening passively to him. The
objects were related solely _to the things to be explained_, and these
were chosen at random, that is to say, without any scientific
criterion of their relation to the psychical needs of the child.

Here, on the other hand, _the means of development_ are experimentally
determined with reference to the psychical evolution of the child; and
their aim is not to give mere instruction; they represent the means
which induce a spontaneous interpretation of the internal energies.

The external material is then offered, and _left freely_ to the
natural individual energies of the children. They choose the objects
they prefer; and such preference is dictated by the internal needs of
"psychical growth." Each child occupies himself with each object
chosen for as long as he wishes; and this desire corresponds to the
needs of the intimate maturation of the spirit, a process which
demands persevering and prolonged exercise. No guide, no teacher can
divine the intimate need of each pupil, and the time of maturation
necessary to each; but only leave the child _free_, and all this will
be revealed to us under the guidance of nature.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Psychical truths=.--It is necessary to adopt a scientific point of view
in order to interpret the facts that reveal themselves in children
when they are developed upon this system, and to divest oneself
completely of the old scholastic conception according to which the
progress of the child is assessed according to his proficiency in the
various subjects of study. Here, almost like the naturalist, it is
essential to observe the development of certain phenomena of life. It
is true that we prepare special "external conditions"; but the
psychical effects are directly bound up with the spontaneous
development of the internal activity of the child.

Hence there is no direct correspondence between teacher and child;
instruction is certainly not a cause of the effects observed. It is
the objects of the method which, as "re-agents," provoke special
psychical reactions; these may be summed up as an awakening, as an
organization of the personality. Discipline, as the first result of an
order establishing itself within, is the principal phenomenon to be
looked for as the "external sign" of an internal process that has been

During the first days when a new school is opened, we may consider a
certain initial disorder as characteristic, especially if the teacher
is making her first experiment, and consequently is handicapped by her
over-sanguine expectations. The immediate response of the child to the
material does not take place; the teacher is perhaps discomfited by
the fact that the children do not throw themselves, as she had hoped,
upon the objects, choosing them according to their individual taste.
If, indeed, the pupils are very poor children, this phenomenon does
nearly always happen at once; but if they are well-to-do children,
already sated by the variety of their possessions, and by the most
costly toys, they are very rarely attracted at first by the stimuli
presented to them. This naturally leads to disorder when the mistress
makes a kind of chain of that "liberty" she is to respect, and a dogma
of the correlation existing between the stimulus and the childish
soul. Experienced teachers, on the other hand, understand better that
_liberty_ begins when the _life_ that must be developed in the child
is initiated, and they possess a tact which greatly facilitates
orientation in the initial period.

However, an experience under the most difficult conditions, as between
a teacher making her first experiment, and a class of wealthy
children, is more instructive, and gives us a clearer picture of the
fundamental psychical phenomenon, which may be compared to the order
which springs up out of chaos.

I quote, in this connection, various descriptions, some of which
already have been published, among them that given by Miss George, of
her first school in the United States, and that of Mlle. Dufresne in

The initial disorder is eloquently set forth by Miss George: "They
(the children) at first snatched the objects out of each other's
hands; if I tried to show an object to any particular pupil, the
others dropped what they themselves were holding and gathered
aimlessly and noisily round us. When I had finished explaining the
nature of an object, all the children snatched at it and quarreled for
its possession. The children showed no interest in the material: they
passed from one object to another without persevering in the use of
any.... One of the children was so incapable of keeping still that he
could not remain seated long enough to run his fingers round one of
the little circular objects we give the children. In many cases, the
movements of the children were quite aimless, they ran round the room
without any apparent object. During these movements, they made no
attempt to respect the objects about them; indeed, they stumbled
against the table, upset the chairs and stepped upon the material;
sometimes they began an occupation at one spot, and then ran off in
another direction; they took up the objects and cast them aside

Miss Dufresne describes the initial disorder of her first attempt as
follows: "I must confess that the first four weeks were disheartening;
the children could not settle to a task for more than a few moments;
they showed no perseverance, no initiative; at times they followed one
another like a flock of lambs; when one child took up an object, all
the others wanted to imitate him, sometimes they rolled on the floor
and overturned the chairs."

From an experiment with rich children here in Rome, we get the
following laconic description: "The greatest difficulty was the
question of discipline. The children showed a complete lack of
attraction to their work, and seemed disinclined to begin upon it."

These persons, who were all working independently, are all agreed
later in their accounts of the initiation of order: the phenomenon is
identical; at a given moment, a child begins to show an intense
interest in one of the exercises. It is by no means necessary that it
should be that exercise pertaining to the object determined as the
first series; it may be any other object that fixes the attention of
the child so deeply; the important factor is not the external object,
but the internal action of the soul, responding to a stimulus, and
arrested by it.

Now when a child once shows this deep interest in any one of the
objects we present to him as something answering to his psychical
needs, he goes on to show a like interest in all the objects, and
begins to develop activities as by a natural phenomenon. When once the
initiation has taken place, it leads to progression which goes on
steadily, and develops of its own accord. Moreover, the phenomenon is
not that of the slow and gradual progression that might be produced by
a measured and systematic external action; rather it has the
"explosive" character of unsuspected facts that establish themselves
suddenly, and make us think of the crises of physiological life, so
characteristic in the period of growth. Thus it is from one day to
another that the baby cuts a tooth, from one day to another that he
utters his first word, from one day to another that he takes his first
step; and when the first tooth has been cut, the whole set of teeth
will come; when the first word has been uttered, language will be
developed; when the first step has been taken, the power of walking
has been established once for all.

Similar crises occur in the first achievement of psychic order, which
is the beginning of progressive evolution in the inner life.

I quote the following sentences from Miss George's description of the
advent of discipline:

    "In a few days that nebulous mass of whirling particles--the
    disorderly children--began to take definite form. The
    children seemed to begin to find their own way; in many of
    the objects they had at first despised as silly playthings,
    they began to discover a novel interest, and, as a result of
    this new interest, they began to act as independent
    individuals." Miss George's subsequent expression is: "They
    became extremely individual." "Thus it came to pass that an
    object of absorbing interest to one child had not the
    slightest attraction for another; the children were strongly
    differentiated in their manifestations of attention...." "The
    battle is only definitively won, when the child discovers
    some particular object which spontaneously excites great
    interest in him. Sometimes this enthusiasm awakens
    unexpectedly, or with curious rapidity."

    "On one occasion I had tried a child with nearly all the
    objects of the series without exciting the smallest spark of
    interest; then I casually showed him the two tablets of red
    and blue colors, and called his attention to the difference
    of tint. He seized them at once with a kind of thirstiness,
    and learned five different colors in a single lesson; during
    the following days he took nearly all the objects of the
    series which he had at first despised, and little by little
    mastered them all.

    "A child who at first had very little power of concentrating
    his attention, found an outlet from this state of chaos by
    means of one of the most complex objects of the material, the
    so-called length-rods; he played with these continually for a
    whole week and learned to count and make simple additions. He
    then began to turn to the cylinders and the insets, the
    simpler objects, and showed interest in every part of the

    "Directly the children find their objects interesting, their
    disorderliness disappears at once; their mental restlessness
    is at an end, and they amuse themselves with the blocks, the
    colors, etc."

It is very interesting to follow Miss George again in her description
of the special qualities that develop after such a phenomenon. She
illustrates the birth of individuality by a pretty anecdote:

    "There were two sisters, one of three years old, the other of
    five. The child of three could hardly be said to exist as an
    individual, so minutely did she imitate her elder sister; for
    example, the elder child had a blue pencil and the little one
    was not happy till she too had a blue pencil; when the elder
    sister ate bread and butter, whatever the little one had of a
    different kind, she would touch nothing but bread and butter,
    and so on. This child took no interest in anything in the
    school, but merely followed her sister, imitating everything
    she did. One day the little one became interested in the pink
    cubes, built up the tower with the liveliest interest,
    repeated the exercise several times, and completely forgot
    her sister. The older girl was so astonished at this, that
    she called her little sister and said to her: 'How is it
    that while I am filling in a circle you are building the
    tower?' From that day the younger child became a personality;
    she began to develop independently, and was no longer merely
    the shadow or reflection of her sister."

These interesting facts concerning the spontaneous development of
qualities which hitherto were non-existent in the individual, and
which exploded _after_ the fundamental phenomenon--of intense and
prolonged interest in a task--had manifested itself, have been
confirmed by repeated experiments in a great variety of places made by
persons who had had no sort of communication one with another.

Thus, for instance, Miss Dufresne speaks of a little girl of four
years old, who seemed quite incapable of carrying a glass of water
even only half full, without spilling it; so much so that she turned
away from such a task, knowing she could not accomplish it. One day
she became absorbed in work with one or other of the objects, and
after this, she began to carry glasses of water with the greatest
ease; and as some of her companions were now painting with
water-colors, it became her great delight to carry water to them all
without spilling a single drop.

Another most significant fact is related by Miss Barton, an Australian
teacher. Among her pupils was a little girl who had not yet developed
articulate speech, and only gave utterance to inarticulate sounds; her
parents had had her examined by a doctor to find out if she were
normal; the doctor declared the child to be perfectly normal, and
considered that though she had not as yet developed speech, she would
do so in time. This child became interested in the solid insets, and
amused herself for a long time taking the cylinders out of the
cavities and putting them back in their places; and after repeating
the work with intense interest, she ran to the teacher, saying: "Come
and see!"

A phenomenon of constant occurrence when the children begin to be
interested in the work and to develop themselves is the lively joy
which seems to possess them. Certain psychologists would say, it is
the "sentimental note" corresponding to the intellectual acquisition;
a physiologist, making an exact comparison, might affirm that joy is
the indication of internal growth, just as an increase in weight is
the indication of bodily growth.

The children themselves seem to have the "sensation" of their
spiritual growth, a consciousness of the acquisitions they are making
by thus amplifying their own personalities; they demonstrate with
joyous effusion the higher process which is beginning within them.
"All the children," says Miss George, "show that pride we ourselves
experience when we have really produced something novel. They skip
round me, and throw their arms about my neck, when they have learned
to do some simple thing, saying: 'I did it all alone, you did not
think I could have done that; I did it better to-day than yesterday,'"

It is after these manifestations that a true discipline is
established, the most obvious results of which are closely related to
what we will call "respect for the work of others and consideration
for the rights of others." Henceforward a child no longer attempts to
take away another's work; even if he covet it, he waits patiently
until the object is free; and very often a child becomes interested in
watching a companion at work on some object he would like to use
himself. Afterwards, when discipline has been established by these
internal processes, it will happen all at once that a child will work
quite independently of the others, almost as if to develop his own
personality; but no "moral isolation" results from such work; on the
contrary, there is a mutual respect and affection between the
children, a sentiment which unites instead of separating; and hence is
born that complex discipline which, moreover, contains within itself
the sentiment that must accompany the order of a community.

Miss Dufresne says: "After the Christmas holidays, when school began
again, there was a great change in the class. It seemed that
discipline was establishing itself, without any effort on my part. The
children appeared to be too much absorbed in their work to indulge in
any of the disorderly actions which had marked their conduct in the
beginning. They went spontaneously to the cupboards to choose the
objects which had bored them formerly. They took the geometrical
insets, the graduated cylinders, and began to touch the outlines of
the wooden forms with their fingers; the younger children showed a
preference for the buttoning and lacing frames; they took one after
the other without any signs of fatigue, and seemed delighted with the
new objects. An atmosphere of industry pervaded the schoolroom. The
children who had hitherto chosen objects on the impulse of the moment,
henceforth manifested a desire for some sort of rule, a personal and
internal rule; they concentrated their efforts on their task, working
accurately and methodically, and showing real satisfaction in
surmounting difficulties. This precision in work produced an immediate
effect on their characters. They became capable of controlling their

The instance which struck Miss Dufresne most was that of a little boy
of four and a half, who at first had seemed very nervous and excitable
and had disturbed the whole class: "The imagination of this child had
been developed in an extraordinary manner, so that when an object was
given to him, he took no notice of the actual form of the object, but
personified it, and further personified himself, talking perpetually,
pretending to be some one else, and seeming incapable of fixing his
attention upon the objects. While his mind was in this chaotic state
he was unable to perform any precise action; he could not, for
instance, button a single button.... All at once a miracle seemed to
take place within him. I noted the great change in him with
astonishment. He took one of the exercises as his favorite task, then
went on to choose all the others in succession, and thus calmed his

I will choose from various individual studies made by two mistresses
of a Children's House at Rome for well-to-do children, those of two
children of very different characters. One of these children came to
the school too late, when he was too old, and had already developed in
another environment. The other is a little creature of the normal age
for entrance to the Children's Houses. The older child (a boy of five)
had already been to a Froebelian Kindergarten, where he was considered
very troublesome because of his restlessness. "For the first few days
he was a torment to us, because he wanted to work, but could not
settle to any occupation. He said of everything: 'This is a game,' and
ran about the class-room, or annoyed his companions. At last he began
to take an interest in drawing." Although normally drawing comes
_after_ the sensory exercises, he was left at liberty to do what he
wished; the teachers rightly thought that it would be useless to
insist that the child should apply himself to a different task.
Indeed, this child, having passed the age when the primary materials
answer to the psychical needs of childhood, was for the first time
attracted by an exercise of a higher order, that of drawing. "Whereas
at first the child had passed from one occupation to another, and had
even taken up the letters of the alphabet, but had never settled to
work with any one of the objects, now suddenly discipline was
established. We do not know exactly at what moment the change took
place, but discipline was maintained and perfected, and reached a
higher level in proportion to the growing interest of the child in
every kind of occupation. Interest having been primarily aroused by
drawing, the child spontaneously went on to the rods used in the
teaching of length, then to placing the plane geometric insets, and so
gradually worked through all the earlier sensory stimuli which the
teacher had passed over." Thus we see that the older child chooses the
objects in inverse order, proceeding almost methodically from the most
difficult to the elementary.

The other child of three was also quite undisciplined. The teachers
were beginning to despair of producing order in this case, when the
child began to take an interest in the solid insets and in one of the
frames. Thereupon he worked steadily and ceased to disturb his

    *    *    *    *    *

In our "Children's Houses" for poor children in Rome, directed by
Signorina Maccheroni, it was possible to make more methodical
observations, and these were represented by diagrams, in order to
demonstrate the course of the phenomena more clearly.

The transverse line A B represents the quiescent state; the phenomena
of order (work) are represented above; those of disorder below. When a
child has become calm after the first strong attraction to a task, a
permanent state of order may be established in him. At this stage the
conditions most favorable to work may be studied.


This is the manner in which it develops; individual type of a morning
of disciplined work.

[Illustration: Primitive Curve of Ordered Work]

The child keeps still for a while, and then chooses some task he finds
easy, such as arranging the colors in gradation; he continues working
at this for a time, but not for very long; he passes on to some more
complicated task, such as that of composing words with the movable
letters, and perseveres with this for a long time (about half an
hour). At this stage he ceases working, walks about the room, and
appears less calm; to a superficial observer he would seem to show
signs of fatigue. But after a few minutes he undertakes some much more
difficult work, and becomes so deeply absorbed in this, that he shows
us he has reached the acme of his activity (additions and writing down
the results). When this work is finished, his activity comes to an end
in all serenity; he contemplates his handiwork for a long time, then
approaches the teacher, and begins to confide in her.

The appearance of the child is that of a person who is rested,
satisfied, and uplifted.

The apparent fatigue of the child between the first and second period
of work is interesting; at that moment the aspect of the child is not
calm and happy as at the end of the curve; indeed, he shows signs of
agitation, moves about, and walks, but does not disturb the others. It
may be said that he is in search of the maximum satisfaction for his
interest, and is preparing for his "great work."

But, on the other hand, when _the cycle is completed_, the child
detaches himself from his internal concentration; refreshed and
satisfied, he experiences the higher social impulses, such as desiring
to make confidences and to hold intimate communion with other souls.

A similar process became in time the general process in a class of
disciplined children. Signorina Maccheroni sums up this complex
phenomenon as follows:

[Illustration: Whole Class at Work]

In the first period of the morning, up to about 10 a.m., the
occupation chosen is generally an easy and familiar task.

At 10 o'clock there is a great commotion; the children are restless,
they neither work nor go in quest of materials. The onlooker gets an
impression of a _tired_ class, about to become disorderly. After a few
minutes the most perfect order reigns once more; the children are
promptly absorbed in work again; they have chosen new and more
difficult occupations.

When this work ceases, the children are gentle, calm, and happy.

If in the period of "false fatigue" at 10 a.m. an inexperienced
teacher, interpreting the phenomenon of suspension or preparation for
the culminating work as disorder, intervenes, calling the children to
her, and making them rest, etc., their restlessness persists, and the
subsequent work is not undertaken. The children do not become calm:
they remain in an abnormal state. In other words, if they are
interrupted in their cycle, they lose all the characteristics
connected with _an internal process regularly and completely carried

    *    *    *    *    *

The single curve of individual orderly work is not general, nor
strictly constant in the type described. But it may be considered as
the average type of work in the level of order achieved. It will be
interesting, first of all, to consider the curve of children in whom
_order has not yet been established_. Poor children hardly ever show
themselves to be in such a state of utter confusion as rich ones; they
are _always_ more or less attracted by the objects, and respond to
them with a certain interest from the very first moment. Such
interest, however, is at first superficial. They are attracted mainly
by curiosity, by a desire to handle "pretty things." They amuse
themselves for some time, it is true, with single objects, changing
and selecting them, but without developing any deep interest. The
characteristic of this period, which may be altogether lacking in a
class of well-to-do children, is that of _alternations of disorder_.
The following diagram represents this period.



[Illustration: _Individual curve of a poor child_]

The various curves of work are to be found below the line of
quiescence, in state of disorder. It was only when the children were
called to order collectively that this child was still, unless it was
rising towards work; in this case, however, it did not persevere, and
the curve drops suddenly below. It should be noted that in the
irregular course of this diagram we may trace a period of easy work
preceding a period of difficult work (frame, plane insets) and between
these two the maximum decline into disorder.



[Illustration: _Period of Disorder_]

The child in question (O) seemed to have a tendency to learn from
others; he ran away from work or was attracted by it only for a brief
moment; and seemed incapable of receiving direct teaching. If any
attempt was made to teach him something, he grimaced and ran away. He
wandered about, disturbing his companions, and seemed quite
intractable; but he listened attentively to the lessons the teacher
gave to the other children.

[Illustration: _Advance towards Order_]

When he began to work, after having learned how to do so, he
persevered, and the normal process is apparent in the diagram; that is
to say, preliminary work, a pause (during which the child relapsed
slightly and momentarily into his habit of disturbing his companions),
then the curve of great application, and of final repose (during
which, however, he again relapsed into his characteristic defect). The
summits of the diagram show not only interest in the work, but a
marked kindliness; the child was not only calm, but seemed full of
beatitude and gentleness; when at the height of his labors he
frequently looked round at his companions, and blew little kisses to
them on his fingers, but without relaxing his attention. It seemed as
if a fount of love were gushing up from the fulness of his internal
satisfaction, from the depths of a soul that had appeared at first so
rough and uncouth.


The diagram is made up of curves that fall upon the line of
quiescence; unity of curve is lacking, hence unity of effort. The
culminating point of work is reached after a preliminary task of an
easier kind; and the supreme task (color) is briefly resumed, after
the great impetus has been exhausted. The phase of rest is not clearly
defined; the child turns to a very easy task (solid insets). A certain
feebleness of character seems to manifest itself in the half-hearted
mental processes. The child makes many successive efforts to rise; but
he can neither make the decisive, vigorous effort, nor come to a
definite decision to cease working. The child is calm, but his state
of calm has no variations; he is neither lively, nor serene, nor does
he show strong affectionate impulses.


When the whole class is disciplined, the course of development of the
internal activities may be observed.

It must be remembered that the material of development affords
graduated exercises passing from the most rudimentary sensory
exercises to exercises in writing, calculating, and reading. The
children are free to choose the exercises they prefer; but of course,
as the teacher initiates them in each exercise, they only choose the
objects they know how to use. The teacher, observing them, sees when
the child is sufficiently matured for more advanced exercises, and
introduces them to him, or perhaps the child begins them for himself,
after watching other children more advanced.

We must bear such conditions in mind in order to follow "progress" in

[Illustration: Course of Progress]

The two curves represent stages of greatest development as compared
with the primary curve of orderly work. The stage of unrest between
the easy and the more difficult work tends to disappear; the child
seems more _sure of himself_; he goes more directly and readily to the
choice of his culminating exercise.

Consequently, two successive phases of uninterrupted work are left;
one may be called the _phase of preparation_, the other the _phase of
serious work_. The phase of preparation lasts a very short time, the
_serious work_ is of much longer duration; it is noteworthy that the
period of _rest_, with its characteristic air of _comfort_ and
_serenity_, sets in after the _maximum effort has spontaneously spent
itself_. On the other hand, it happens invariably that any external
interruption of the effort causes the child to show signs of fatigue
(restlessness), or to become inattentive.

In the first curve, the initial work consists of two easy tasks,
carried on for a short time, and from these the child passes directly
to the serious work. The finale is a spell of rest full of thought;
the child ceases to work, but contemplates his finished task for a
long time in silence; before preparing to put it away, or, after
having contemplated his own work, he goes quietly to watch that of the

In the second curve there is a very noticeable parallelism with the
line of repose; the child pursues his labors almost uniformly, and the
sole difference between the initial work and the serious work is in
their different duration. The contemplative period becomes henceforth
an obvious "period of internal work," almost a period of
"assimilation" or "internal maturation." Observation of the work of
others becomes increasingly frequent, as if it were a spontaneous
"comparative" study between the child himself and his companions; or
as if an active interest in the contemplation of the external
surroundings were developing: the period of discovery. We may say that
_the child studies himself in his own productions and puts himself
into communion with his companions and his environment_.

At this stage the completion of an entire cycle will exercise an
influence more and more far-reaching on the personality of the child.
Not only is he spurred on to a work of intimate concentration
immediately after his culminating effort; he preserves a permanent
attitude of thought, of internal equilibrium, of sustained interest in
his environment. He becomes a personality who has reached a higher
degree of evolution. This is the period when the child begins to be
"master of himself" and enters upon that characteristic phenomenon I
have called the "phenomenon of obedience." He _can obey_, that is, he
can control his actions, and therefore can direct them in accordance
with the desires of another person. He can break off a piece of work
when interrupted, without becoming disorderly or showing symptoms of
fatigue. Moreover, work has become his habitual attitude, and the
child can no longer bear to be idle. When, for instance, we call some
of the children who are in this stage to the lessons for teachers, in
which they are to serve as the "subjects of study," they lend
themselves with ready docility to that which we ask of them, they
submit to the measurements of height, heads, etc., and they perform
the exercises we suggest, responding always with _interest_, and not
merely with resignation, as if they were conscious of collaborating
with us. But when they have to _wait_, seated on one side till they
are called forward, they cannot sit idle; they work at something.
Inactivity has become intolerable to them. Very often, while I am
giving the lesson, the children take the lacing or tying frames, or
cover the floor with words made with the movable letters; and where
this is feasible, some of the children will draw or paint in these
moments of waiting.

All these things have now become expressions of intelligent activity,
which form part of their psychical organism.

But to ensure the continuance of this attitude and of the development
of personality it is essential that _some real task_ should be
performed each day; for it is from the completed cycle of an activity,
from methodical concentration, that the child develops equilibrium,
elasticity, adaptability, and the resulting power to perform the
higher actions, such as those which are termed acts of obedience. This
makes one think of the method prescribed by the Catholic religion for
the preservation of the forces of spiritual life: that is, a period of
"spiritual concentration," which opens up the possibility of acquiring
"moral powers." It is from methodical "meditation" that moral
personality must draw its powers of solidification, without which the
"inner man," incoherent and unbalanced, fails to possess itself and
dispose of itself for noble ends.

Children have always need of the period of concentration, and serious
work from which they derive the capacity for final development.

The following diagram represents a very lofty stage of childish

[Illustration: SUPERIOR STAGE _Average type_]

Even the preparatory work is now of a higher kind: as soon as the
child comes into school, he will choose, for instance, the letters of
the alphabet, or will write, then (his strenuous work) he will read.
For recreation he will choose an intelligent pastime, such as looking
at illustrated books.

All his intellectual occupations are of a higher order, as are also
his moral attributes (obedience, serenity, perseverance).

Taking the line of quiescence as a level of development, it follows
that the level has become higher.

[Illustration: _Line of work_]

In a superior stage, the line of work tends to become straight,
parallel to the line of quiescence.

Meanwhile it has been established that it is possible to determine
_degrees of development_, or _averages_ of internal development, by
means of which individual variations may be studied. In the primordial
type the characteristics are _disorderly conduct_, and _incapacity to
concentrate attention_; in such a case there is no real line of work,
and the main part of the diagram remains below the line of quiescence.
For the type in which the phenomenon of permanent concentration of
attention on a task has manifested itself, the average characteristic
diagram of normal orderly work of the first degree is now established:
_i. e. preliminary_ work followed by a period of restlessness, and
then _strenuous work_ followed by a state of repose.

Afterwards we distinguish a second degree, where the average is
characterized by the disappearance of the period of unrest, and the
strenuous work is brought to a close in contemplation; this is the
stage of discoveries, of generalized observation, of obedience; work
has become a habit.

This is followed by a general elevation, to be recognized by the
choice of higher preliminary work; disciplined behavior has become a

During this progression the diagram of work tends to become straight,
and parallel to the line of quiescence.

_Diagrams of average developments_]

The rise in the level of the plane is related to the qualities of more
advanced intellectual work; and the straightening of the line is
related to qualities of internal _construction_ and of the
_organization of the personality_; qualities which would be considered
of a _moral order_, such as serenity, discipline, self-mastery as
manifested in obedience and in the various activities of the child.

When work has become a habit, the intellectual level rises rapidly,
and organized order causes good conduct to become a _habit_. Children
then work with order, perseverance, and discipline, persistently and
naturally; the permanent, calm, and vivifying work of the physical
organism resembles the respiratory rhythm.

The pivot, the medium of this construction of the personality, is
working in freedom, in accordance with the natural wants of the inner
life; thus _freedom in intellectual work_ is found to be the _basis of
internal discipline_. The great achievement of the "Children's
Houses" (_Case dei Bambini_) is to produce _disciplined children_.

It is this internal organization which gives them a special "type," or
character, the type or character _required_ to continue the free
exercise of activities for the _conquests of culture_ in successive

The elementary school period presents itself insensibly as a
continuation of the "Children's Houses." In these, _behavior is a
habit_ superposed on and fused with the earlier _habit of work_.
Henceforth it will be sufficient to present the material of further
culture, and the child, gradually exercising himself upon it, will
pass from one intellectual stage of culture to another.

The difference shown in the successive ages arises from an
intellectual interest which is no longer merely the impulse to
exercise oneself by repetition of the exercises, but is a higher
interest directed to the work itself, and tending to complete an
external work, or to complete a branch of knowledge as a whole. Thus
the child creates and seeks for things organized in themselves; for
instance, he desires to compose a design by means of combinations of
geometrical figures with the metal insets, and devotes himself to this
work with the greatest intensity until he has completed it. Again, we
see a child occupied for seven or eight consecutive days with the same
work. Another child becomes interested in the potentialities of
numbers or in the arithmetical frame, and perseveres with the same
work for days, until his knowledge of it has matured.

Upon a basis of interior order produced by internal organization, the
mind then builds up its castle with the same leisurely calm with which
a living organism grows spontaneously after birth.

We can give but a primary idea at present of the _practical
possibility_ of determining _average levels_ of interior development
according to age. We shall further require many perfect experiments,
in which homogeneous children, completely suitable environment, and
trained teachers will afford adequate material for observation. Then
students will be able to undertake a scientific work, which will
perhaps be characterized by a precision superior even to that with
which it is at present possible to measure the body, and give the
mathematical averages of growth.

We must consider, however, that the indications available to-day
represent a long, systematic toil, and that they rest upon the still
greater labor of finding external material means for natural

This will give some idea of the difficulty of scientific researches,
which many still believe it possible to make by means of arbitrary and
superficial tests such as those of Binet and Simon!

    *    *    *    *    *

The study of the child cannot be accomplished by an "instantaneous"
process; his characteristics can only be illustrated cinematographically.

"External means," organized in accordance with the needs of psychical
life, are of fundamental importance; for how is it possible to judge
of individual differences in the acquisition of internal order, in the
ascent to abstraction, in the progressive stages of intellectual
development, in the achievement of discipline, without the existence
of pre-determined and unvarying external means which, like so many
points of support, lead the child in process of formation towards his

In order to determine _individual differences_ logically, there must
be a _constant work or aim_; and this is the external means on which
each personality builds itself up. When the external support is the
same, and corresponds in general to the psychical needs of a given
age, a difference of internal construction is _due to the individual
himself_. On the other hand, if the means were different, the
variations in reaction might be attributed to differences in the

Finally, it is obvious that in all scientific research, the
_instrument of measurement_ must be fixed. But each _thing to be
measured_ requires a special instrument, and the constant instrument
in psychical measurement should be "the method of education."

A series of formulae, such as the Binet-Simon tests, can neither
measure anything, nor give even an approximate idea of intellectual
levels of intelligence according to age; as to the children who
respond, whence is their response derived? How far is this due to the
intrinsic activity of the individual, and how far to the action of
environment? And if the portion due to environment be ignored, who can
determine what intrinsic psychical value should be given to the

In each personality we must recognize two parts: one is the
individual, natural, spontaneous activity by means of which elements
may be taken from the environment wherewith the personality may be
elaborated internally, constructed and augmented, and hence
_characterized_; another part is the external instrument with which
all this may be done. For instance, a child who at the age of four can
recognize sixty-four colors, shows that he possesses remarkable
activity in the perception of colors, and in the arrangement of them
in gradation in his mind, etc.; but he also shows that he has had the
means to accomplish this achievement; he has had, for instance,
sixty-four color-tablets, with which he has been able to practise at
his leisure and undisturbed, as long as was necessary for such

The psychical factor P is the sum of two factors, one internal, the
other external:

P = I + E

of these the unknown, non-directly measurable factor I may be
indicated by X:

P = X + E

If we were to compare two children, one of whom has had at his
disposal the sixty-four colors in the conditions described above, and
another who has been left to himself in poor surroundings, where gray
and brown tints prevail, and who seems dull and unobservant, etc., we
should find a very remarkable psychical difference. Such a difference
is not, however, intrinsic; it might well be that, subjected to the
same conditions as the first child, the second would recognize the
sixty-four colors. The judgment we should give in such a case would be
based upon an external factor, not upon internal potentialities. We
should really be appraising two different environments, not two
different individuals.

To enable us to judge of individual differences, it would be necessary
for the two children to have had _the same means of development_. In
this case, if at the same age they were not equally capable of
distinguishing the sixty-four colors, but if, for instance, one of the
two could recognize only thirty of these, a true individual psychical
difference would be apparent. One of the tests proposed by one of the
greatest authorities on experimental psychology in Italy, to determine
the intellectual level of sub-normal (backward or deficient)
children, was to make a child pick out the largest and the smallest
cube in a series. This choice, in common with nearly all the tests
proposed for the same purpose, we considered quite independently of
the influence of _culture_ and _education_; and it was appreciated as
the expression of an intimate, personal activity of the intelligence
itself. But if one of the deficient children I had educated on my
method had been subjected to the test, he would, in virtue of a long
sensory training, have chosen the largest and the smallest cube very
much more easily than the children selected by the psychologist from
his special schools; and my deficient child might even have been not
only younger, but even more backward intellectually than the other.
The test would therefore have measured the different methods of
education, whereas the psychical differences between the two children,
really existent by reason of age or of intellectual attainment, would
have remained absolutely obscure.

Man is a fusion of personality and education, and education includes
the series of experiences he undergoes during his life. The two things
cannot be separated in the individual: intelligence without
acquirement is an abstraction. That which holds good of all living
beings: that the individual cannot be divorced from his environment,
is more profoundly true in its application to psychical life, because
the content of environment, constituting the means of auto-experience
which evolves man, is an essential part of him, and, indeed, is the
individual himself. Nevertheless, we all know that the psychical
individual is not his environment, but a life in himself.

Given the formula

P = X + E

in which X is the internal and intrinsic part peculiar to the
individual life, it may be said that every individual has his X. But
in order to _approach_ to direct knowledge of X, it is essential to
know P and E.

He who carries out an examination, or supposes himself to be
performing a "psychical measurement" by dwelling on psychical results,
is in reality measuring a mixture of two unknown quantities, one of
which, being external to the individual, nullifies the results of

Hence, to study individual differences in isolated activities, such as
the perception of colors, musical sounds, the letters of the alphabet;
or the capacity for observation of surroundings and the detection of
errors; or coordination of movements, language, etc., it is essential
to have first determined a _constant_ element: the means of
development offered by environment.

Here a simple and clearly defined difference between pedagogy and
psychology manifests itself: pedagogy determines experimentally the
means of development and the method of applying them while respecting
the internal or personal liberty of the individual; psychology studies
average reactions or individual reactions in the species or the
individual. But the two things are two aspects of a single fact, which
is the development of man; the individual and the environment are the
two factors X and E of the same product: the psychical entity.

Isolated psychical researches of a moral order must also, if they are
to be of any real value, be based upon prolonged observation, _after
the internal activities have become orderly_; because it is easy to
make errors of judgment in a chaos. In clinical psychiatry or in
criminal pathology, when we speak of "keeping a subject under
observation" for purposes of diagnosis, we mean placing him in
special surroundings, under hygienic and disciplinary conditions,
etc., and observing him for some time in such an environment. Such a
process has a value still more extensive and profound in the case of
normal individuals in process of evolution. In such a case it is
necessary not only to offer orderly external surroundings, but to
reduce the chaotic internal world of the child to order, and, after
this, to observe him for a considerable time.

We may offer as an illustration the following observations made upon
two of the most interesting children who attended our schools. They
were admitted into the training school for teachers during my last
International Course in Rome.


_During the period they were retained as subjects for anthropological
observation in the class-room for teachers_

There was a considerable clamor among the students; some were talking,
some laughing. In the center of the room stood a pedometer. The
behavior of the two children was almost identical. They were sitting
apart quietly, working at the lacing frames which they had gone
spontaneously to fetch from a neighboring room; they did not look up
at the noise, nor join in the laughter. Their attitude was that of
persons at work and anxious not to lose any time. When invited by a
single gesture to come and be measured, they obeyed in a wonderful
manner, leaving off work at once, and moving with smiles, as if
fascinated; they evidently felt pleasure in obeying, and an internal
delight which came from the consciousness of being able to work, and
of being ready to leave something that they liked doing, at a summons
to something of a higher order. They arranged themselves very
carefully on the pedometer to be measured; when any modification was
necessary in the position of the body, it sufficed to murmur a word in
their ears and the almost imperceptible movement required was made
with the utmost exactitude; they could control their voluntary
movements and direct them; they were able to translate the words they
heard into actions: _this enabled them_ to obey, and this constituted
for them a fascinating internal conquest. When the measuring was over,
nothing was said; they waited expectantly for a moment, then gave an
intelligent glance and a smile, which was, as it were, their greeting;
they had understood, and they returned voluntarily to their corner to
take up their frames and resume their work. Presently they were wanted
again, and the same actions were repeated.

When we think that children of their age (about four and a half), when
left to themselves, will roam about, upsetting objects almost
unconsciously, and requiring either some one to submit to their
caprices, or to call them roughly to order, we shall recognize the
internal perfection achieved in these two little ones, who have
arrived at that stage of development in which work has become a
_habit_, and obedience a fascinating acquisition.

The anthropometric measurements had shown that one of the children,
_O_, was normal in measurement (weight, stature, length of torso) and
the other, _A_, below the normal measurements.

Here are some notes made by the teacher on the conduct of these two
children when they were in the state of disorder, or undisciplined:

_O_: violent, turbulent, spiteful to his companions, never applies to
anything, but looks on at what the others are doing and then
interrupts them; or listens to the individual lessons given by the
teacher with a scornful and cynical expression. The father of the
child says that at home he is violent, overbearing, and intractable.

_A_: is quiet. But he has almost a mania for spying on his companions,
and pointing out to the teacher every little action that might be
considered wrong or incorrect.

Both of the children are very poor. _O_ is almost entirely neglected
by his family.

    *    *    *    *    *

_Later judgment_ the teacher was enabled to form of these two children
after they had reduced themselves to order by means of work:

_O_: all the turbulence shown by _O_ in his home resolved itself into
a struggle for bread; the father, who was very poor, but also
neglectful, denied the child bread; the child did not resign himself,
did not cry, but struggled constantly, with all the means at his
disposal, in order to obtain his portion of bread. When the teacher
asked the father why he denied the child bread, he replied: "Because,
when he has eaten it, he asks for more."

In school, this child ran from group to group, from lesson to lesson,
disturbing the others and passing over everything, because he was
struggling to win his spiritual food after the same fashion.

He is a child who has an overpowering will to live: self-preservation
seems to be his most strongly developed tendency.

When his life was assured, the child became not only gentle, but
remarkable for his sweetness and delicacy of feeling. He was the child
who, in his joy when he had learned or completed some task, looked
round lovingly at his companions, and blew little kisses to them from
his fingers. Whereas for the other children who had entered into the
phase of order or discipline, the teacher's note is: "work," for _O_
the note is: "work and kindness."

Before the daily hot meal was instituted, the children used to bring
their own luncheons, which varied very much; two or three of the
children were very generously provided, and had meat, fruit, etc. _O_
was seated next to one of these. The table was set, and _O_ had
nothing to put upon his plate but the piece of bread he had so
strenuously acquired; he glanced at his neighbor as if to regulate
himself by the time the latter would take over his meal, but with no
trace of envy; on the contrary, with great dignity he tried to eat his
piece of bread very slowly, in order that he might not finish before
the other, and thus make it evident that he had nothing more to eat
while the other was still busy. He nibbled his bread slowly and

What a sense of his own dignity--subduing the desires of an appetite
exposed to temptation--existed in this child, together with his sense
of the fundamental needs of his own life, by which he was impelled to
struggle and to conquer what was "necessary." And there was further
that exquisite sensibility, which manifested itself in the
affectionate expression of his mobile face, and in the effusion of a
general tenderness which looked for no return.

A very remarkable thing was that this child, whom we might have
expected to find ill-nourished, gave normal anthropological
measurements and weight for his age. Born in poverty and neglect, he
had defended himself; the normality of his body was due to an heroic

_A_: this child was always calm and quiet; he very soon entered upon
the phase of active, ordered, willing and thorough work. He applied
himself with intense earnestness and perseverance. He would be the
type of the clever, well-behaved child of the ordinary school. Very
often he came to school without any food. His _goodness_ had a
_positive_ character which became a mortal danger to himself; he
accepted mal-nutrition without revolt; he profited greatly by the
means of psychical life that were offered him, but he would never have
been able to conquer them for himself. His goodness continued to be of
the same type after as before the period of order; he showed neither
agitation nor expansion. His anthropological measurements, which were
below the normal, already indicated that he had started on life's
pilgrimage with the gait of the victim; he belonged to the company of
those "who must be saved by others."

The characteristic moral trait was "espionage." The teacher, when
observing him, noticed that the child did not work simply like the
others, but came to her very frequently to know if what he was doing
was well or ill done. And this not only during his work with the
materials, but also in reference to every act of a moral nature he
accomplished; his great preoccupation seemed to be to know whether he
was doing right or wrong. Then he endeavored to do right with the most
scrupulous exactitude. With regard to his spying tendencies, the
teacher noted the child never showed any animosity towards his
companions; he watched them attentively, and then proceeded to say of
them as he would say of himself: So and so did this; was it right or
wrong? The child was then careful to avoid what had been pronounced
"wrong" in others.

What appeared to be his spying proclivities were, in fact, a
manifestation of the problem that dominated his childish conscience:
the problem of right and wrong. The limited experience of his own life
did not suffice him; he wanted to benefit by the experience of all the
others in order to learn what things were right and what were wrong;
almost as if the one feeling that absorbed him was the desire to do
right and avoid wrong, and as if this were his sole aspiration. The
case of this child recalls a popular superstition expressed in such
terms as "too good to live." The child _A_ seemed destined for the
fate thus suggested. The needs of the body did not greatly concern
him, and he seemed equally indifferent to those of the mind; goodness
was the mainspring of his being. If society does not note such
dispositions, and assume the special protection of such frail lives,
children of this type go forward to premature death like angels gazing

These two accounts, due to Signorina Maccheroni's observation, correct
a superficial judgment which, in an ordinary school, would have become
a permanent record of character: the one child would have been branded
as _violent_, the other as a _spy_.

If we call that science which led to the translation of these words
into _hero_ and _angel_, and touched so many hearts in the vicinity of
these two children, when they had been interpreted by their wonderful
instructress, we shall be able to assert that "the judgment of love is
the judgment of knowledge." The mercy of Christ in judging is here

    *    *    *    *    *

"Psychical action," then, starts from a principle which may be
translated thus: "that the child lives." All the rest comes as a

This action of fundamental life manifests itself as a _polarization_
of the internal personality: almost at a point of crystallization,
around which, provided there be homogeneous material and an
undisturbed environment, _the definitive form composes itself_.

This initial action is a task _repeated_ with a special intensity of

In my "biographical chart," therefore, I do not give a long formula of
analytical studies, but I give a "guide to psychological
observations," founded upon the synthetical conception which I have
sought to illustrate. Those who have not been _initiated_ into this
method of observation will gain no light from such a guide, which lies
entirely outside the conceptions of psychological study now obtaining
in connection with the observation of pupils. But those who have been
initiated will understand it without the aid of illustration.

Our teachers have also a terminology by means of which they understand
each other, without having recourse to the ordinary expressions, which
do not convey an exact idea of the action they see in process of
development. Thus they never say: The child is developing, or
progressing, the child is good or naughty, etc. The only phraseology
they use is: The child _is becoming disciplined_ or _is not becoming
disciplined_. It is internal order that they await; and on this
principle of being or not being, all or nothing depends.

This evokes a much deeper conception than that of "growth." To say
that a living creature _grows_ is to make a very superficial
statement, seeing that he grows indeed, _but in virtue of the fact_
that, within, an orderly and regular disposition of substances is in

When, for instance, the embryo of an animal is formed, it grows; but
any one who has observed it internally must have been struck by a fact
much more marvelous than that of the visible external "growth." A
wonderful internal grouping of the cells takes place; some form, as it
were, a leaf which folds over and makes the intestines, others
separate to form the nervous system, one group isolates and
specializes itself to make the liver, and thus an organization of
parts, more and more pronounced, together with a minute
differentiation of each individual arrangement of the cells, is
carried on. The future functions of the body all depend upon the
possibility of the cells so establishing themselves.

The important point is, not that the embryo _grows_, but that it
_coordinates_. "Growth" comes through and by order, which also makes
life possible. An embryo which grows without coordinating its internal
organs is not vital. Here we have not only the impulse, but the
mystery of life. The evolution of internal order is the essential
condition for the realization of vital existence in a life which
possesses the impulse to exist.

Now the sum of the phenomena indicated in the "guide to psychological
observation" actually represents the evolution of spiritual _order_ in
the child.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Guide to psychological observation=. WORK.--Note when a
child begins to occupy himself for any length of time upon a task.

What the task is and how long he continues working at it (slowness in
completing it and repetition of the same exercise).

His individual peculiarities in applying himself to particular tasks.

To what tasks he applies himself during the same day, and with how
much perseverance.

If he has periods of spontaneous industry, and for how many days these
periods continue.

How he manifests a desire to progress.

What tasks he chooses in their sequence, working at them steadily.

Persistence in a task in spite of stimuli in his environment which
would tend to distract his attention.

If after deliberate interruption he resumes the task from which his
attention was distracted.

CONDUCT.--Note the state of order or disorder in the acts of the

His disorderly actions.

Note if changes of behavior take place during the development of the
phenomena of work.

Note whether during the establishment of ordered actions there are:

    crises of joy;
    intervals of serenity;
    manifestations of affection.

The part the child takes in the development of his companions.

OBEDIENCE.--Note if the child responds to the summons when he is

Note if and when the child begins to take part in the work of others
with an intelligent effort.

Note when obedience to a summons becomes regular.

Note when obedience to orders becomes established.

Note when the child obeys eagerly and joyously.

Note the relation of the various phenomena of obedience in their

    (_a_) to the development of work;
    (_b_) to changes of conduct.



The possibility of observing the developments of the psychical life of
the child as natural phenomena and experimental reactions transforms
the _school itself in action_ into a kind of scientific laboratory for
the psycho-genetic study of man. It will become--perhaps in the near
future--the experimental field _par excellence_ of the psychologist.
To prepare such a school as perfectly as possible, is therefore not
only to prepare "a better method for the education of children," but
also to prepare the materials for a renovated science. Every one now
knows that students of natural science require in their laboratories
an organization directed to the _preparation_ of the material to be
observed. To observe a simple cell in movement, it is necessary to
have a hollow glass slide with cavity for the hanging drop; to have
ready "fresh solutions" in which the living cells may be immersed, to
ensure their continued vitality; to have ready soils for cultures,
etc. For all these ends there are special avocations, those of the
so-called "preparers," who are not the assistants or helpers of the
professor, but _employés_ who were at one time upper servants, and
then become superior workmen. At the present day they are, however,
nearly always themselves scientific graduates. For, indeed, their task
is a most delicate one; they must possess biological, physical, and
chemical knowledge, and the more thoroughly they are "prepared" by a
culture analogous to that of the masters of research themselves, the
more rapid and secure is the march of science.

It is strange to think that among all these laboratories of natural
science, only that of "experimental psychology" has judged it possible
to dispense with an organization for the preparation of the subjects
to be observed. If to-day a psychologist were told to arrange the work
of his preparer, he would take this to mean the preparation of his
"instruments," thus adopting more or less the standard of laboratories
of _physics_.

But the idea of preparing the living being which produces the
phenomenon would not enter his mind; and yet, if merely to observe a
cell, a living microbe, the scientist needs a "preparer," how much
greater must be the necessity for such an assistant when the subject
to be observed is man!

Psychologists consider that they can prepare their "subjects" by
arresting their attention with a word, and explaining to them how they
are to proceed in order to respond to the experiment; any unknown
person met by chance in the laboratory will serve their purpose. In
short, the psychologist of to-day behaves somewhat like the child who
catches a butterfly in flight, observes it for a second and then lets
it fly away again; not like the biologist who takes care that his
preparations are properly carried out in a scientific laboratory.

On the other hand, the picture of psychological development, even
though it be incomplete, which is shown to us in our experiments,
demonstrates the subtlety with which it is necessary to present to the
child the means of his development and, above all, to respect his
liberty; conditions which are essential to ensure that psychical
phenomena be revealed and may constitute a true "material for
observation"; all this demands a special environment, and the
preparation of a practical staff, forming a whole infinitely superior
in complexity and in organization to the ordinary natural science
laboratories. Such a laboratory can only be the most perfect school,
organized according to scientific methods, where the teacher is a
person answering to the "preparer" graduate.

True, all schools would not achieve this lofty scientific ideal. But
it is indisputable that schools and teachers should all be directing
their efforts towards the domain of the experimental sciences. The
psychical salvation of children is based upon the means and the
liberty to live, and these should become another of the "natural
rights" accorded to the new generations; established as a social and
philosophic conception, it should supersede the present "obligation to
provide instruction," which is a burden not only on State economy but
also on the vigor of posterity. If the psychical phenomena of the
children in the national schools do not tend to enrich psychology,
they become ends in themselves, just as the beauty of Nature is an end
in itself.

The new school, indeed, must not be created for the service of a
science, but for the service of living humanity; and teachers will be
able to rejoice in the contemplation of lives unfolding under their
eyes, without sharing the spectacle with science, wrapped in a holy
egoism which will exalt their spirits as does every intimate contact
with living souls.

It is unquestionable that with this method of education the
preparation of the teacher must be made _ex novo_, and that the
personality and social importance of the instructress will be
transformed thereby.

Even after the first desultory experiments hitherto made, a new type
of mistress has been evolved; instead of facility in speech, she has
to acquire the power of silence; instead of teaching, she has to
observe; instead of the proud dignity of one who claims to be
infallible, she assumes the vesture of humility.

    *    *    *    *    *

This transformation has a parallel in that undergone by the university
professor, when the positive sciences began to play their part in the
world. What a difference between the dignified old-world professor,
draped in a robe often ermine-trimmed, seated on his high chair as on
a throne, and speaking so authoritatively that students were not only
bound to believe all he said, but to swear _in verbo magistri_, and
the professor of to-day, who leaves the high places to the students
that they may be able to see, reserving for himself the lowest
station, on the bare floor; while the students are all seated, he
alone stands, often clad in a gray linen blouse like a workman.

The students know that they will be on the way to the highest degree
of progress when they are capable of "verifying" the theses of the
professor--nay, more, of giving a further impetus to science, and
inscribing their own names among those quoted as having contributed to
its wealth or having discovered new truths.

Dignity and hierarchy in these schools have been superseded by
interest in the chemical or physical or natural phenomena to be
produced; and in presence of this all the rest disappears. The whole
arrangement of the laboratory is subject to the same purpose; if the
phenomenon requires light, all the walls are of glass; if darkness be
necessary, the laboratory is so constructed that it may be transformed
into a _camera obscura_. The one thing of importance is the
production of the phenomenon, be this a bad smell or a perfume, an
electric spark or the colors of Geissler's tubes, a resonance with
Helmholtz's reverberators, or the geometrical arrangement of fine dust
on a metallic plate in vibration; the shape of a leaf or the
contraction of a frog's muscle; the study of the blind spot in the eye
or the rhythm of cardiac pulsation; all is equal and all is included;
the eager and absorbing quest is the quest of truth. It is this which
the new generation demands from science, not the oratorical art of the
professor, the noble gesture, the quip that lightens the weight of the
discourse, the lively peroration of the carefully elaborated harangue,
and all those expedients which were once developed by a special art
for the express purpose of capturing the attention. It is passion for
knowledge rather than attention which now animates our young people,
who often come out of university halls remembering neither the voice
nor the appearance of their professor.

But this does not connote the absence of love and respect for the
master. Only, the veneration a modern student feels in the depths of
his heart for the great scientist and benefactor of humanity, who
stands before him unassumingly dressed in a linen blouse, differs
essentially from the fear tempered by ridicule which the gown and wig
once inspired.

The transformation of schools and teachers must now proceed on the
same lines.

When in a school everything revolves around a fundamental fact, and
this fact is a natural phenomenon, the school will have entered the
orbit of science. Then the teacher must assume those "characteristics"
which are necessary in the presence of science.

Among its devotees we find "characteristics" independent of the
content of thought; in short, physicists, chemists, astronomers,
botanists, and zoologists, though their content of knowledge is
entirely different, are nevertheless all students of the positive
sciences, and have characteristics which differentiate them from the
metaphysicians of the past. These characteristics are related, not to
the content, but to the method of the sciences. If, therefore,
pedagogy is to take its place among the sciences, it must be
characterized by its method; and the teacher must prepare herself, not
by means of the content, but by means of the method.

In short, she should be distinguished by _quality_ even more than by

The fundamental quality is the capacity for "observation"; a quality
so important that the positive sciences were also called "sciences of
observation," a term which was changed into "experimental sciences"
for those in which observation is combined with experiment. Now it is
obvious that the possession of senses and of knowledge is not
sufficient to enable a person to observe; it is a habit which must be
developed by _practise_. When an attempt is made to show untrained
persons stellar phenomena by means of the telescope, or the details of
a cell under the microscope, however much the demonstrator may try to
explain by word of mouth what ought to be seen, the layman cannot see
it. When persons who are convinced of the great discovery made by De
Vries go to his laboratory to observe the mutations in the varied
minute plants of the Aenothera, he often explains in vain the
infinitesimal yet essential differences, denoting, indeed, a new
species, among seedlings which have hardly germinated. It is well
known that when a new discovery is to be explained to the public, it
is necessary to set forth the coarser details; the uninitiated cannot
take in those minute details which constituted the real essence of the
discovery. And this, because they are unable to observe.

To observe it is necessary to be "trained," and this is the true way
of approach to science. For if phenomena cannot be _seen_ it is as if
they did not exist, while, on the other hand, the _soul of the
scientist_ is entirely possessed by a passionate interest in what he
sees. He who has been "trained" to see, begins to feel interest, and
such interest is the motive-power which creates the spirit of the
scientist. As in the little child internal _coordination_ is the point
of crystallization round which the entire psychical form will
coalesce, so in the teacher interest in the phenomenon observed will
be the center round which her complete new personality will form

The quality of observation comprises various minor qualities, such as
_patience_. In comparison with the scientist, the untrained person not
only appears to be a blind man who can see neither with the naked eye
nor with the help of lenses; he appears as an "impatient" person.

If the astronomer has not already got his telescope in focus, the
layman cannot wait until he has done so; while the scientist would be
performing this task without even perceiving that he was carrying out
a long and patient process, the layman would be fuming, and thinking,
in great perturbation: "What am I doing here? I cannot waste time like
this." When microscopists expect visits from a lay public, they
prepare a long row of microscopes already in focus, because they know
that their visitors will wish to see "at once" and "quickly," and that
they will wish to see "a great deal."

We can easily imagine a scientist whose contributions to the work of
the laboratory are of the highest order, who holds chairs and
possesses civil dignities and honors of every sort, amiably consenting
to show a lady a cellular tissue under the microscope. As if it were
the most natural thing in the world, he would proceed as follows, with
solemn and serene gravity. He would cut off a minute portion of a
piece of tissue preserved in spirit, and would carefully clean the
slide on which the subject was to be placed and the slide that was to
cover it; he would clean again the lenses of the microscope, focus the
preparation, and make ready to explain. But undoubtedly the lady all
this time will have been on the point of saying a hundred times:
"Excuse me, Professor, but really ... I have an engagement ... I have
a great deal to do...." When she has looked without seeing anything,
her lamentations are bitter: "What a lot of time I have wasted!" And
yet she has nothing to do, and fritters away all her time! What she
lacks is not time but patience. He who is impatient cannot appraise
things properly; he can only appreciate his own impulses and his own
satisfactions. He reckons time solely by his own activity. That which
satisfies him may be absolutely empty, valueless, nugatory; no matter,
its value lies in the satisfaction it gives him; and if it gives him
satisfaction, it cannot be said to be a waste of time. But what he
cannot endure, and what impresses him as a loss of time is a tension
of the nerves, a moment of self-control, an interval of waiting
without an immediate result There is, indeed, a popular Italian
proverb: _aspettare e non venire è una cosa da morire_ (to wait for
what does not come is a killing business). These impatient persons
are like those busybodies who always make off when there is really
work to be done.

A thorough _education_ is indeed necessary to overcome this attitude;
we must master and control our own wills, if we would bring ourselves
into relation with the external world and appreciate its values.
Without this preparation we cannot give due weight to the minute
things from which science draws its conclusions.

The capacity for sustained and accurate application to a task the
object of which is apparently of very small importance, is indeed a
most valuable asset to him who hopes to advance in science. Let us
call to mind what a physicist does to place an instrument absolutely
level; how patiently he turns first one screw and then another, tries
again and again, slowly and carefully: and to what end? to procure an
absolutely horizontal direction for a surface. When this measure of
comparison is established in hard metal, how carefully it must be
preserved to ensure that the oscillations of temperature shall not
modify the length even in the most infinitesimal degree; for this
would be fatal to the scientific use of the instrument in measuring
horizontals. And yet how slight a thing in itself is involved! the
preservation of a measure! When the great chemist wishes to find out
whether _traces_ of a substance can give a reaction he seems to be
playing with his phials like a little boy; he takes a retort and fills
it with the substance he wishes to study, and then empties it;
afterwards he fills it with water, and watches for the reaction; the
reaction takes place; then again he empties the retort, fills it anew
with water, and sees whether there is a further reaction. Thus he
establishes the degree of dilution in which the substance will leave
traces. In this case the minimum is the important thing; it was to
find this imperceptible, negligible minimum that the great man acted
like a child.

This attitude of _humility_ is an element of patience. In all things
the scientist is humble: from the external action of descending from
his professional throne to work standing at a little table, from the
taking off of his robes to don the workman's blouse, from having laid
aside the dignity of one who states an authoritative and indisputable
truth to assume the position of one who is seeking the truth together
with his pupils, and inviting them to verify it, to the end not that
they should learn a doctrine but that they should be spurred to
activity by the truth--from all this, down to the tasks he carries out
in his laboratory. He considers nothing too small to absorb all his
powers, to claim his entire attention, to occupy all his time. Even
when social honors are heaped upon him, he maintains the same
attitude, which is to him the only true honor, the real source of his
greatness. A microbe, an excretion, anything, may interest the man of
science, even though he be a senator or a Minister of State. The
example of Cincinnatus is not to be compared with that of the modern
scientist, for these workers surpass Cincinnatus immeasurably, in
their power of bringing glory and salvation to humanity.

But the highest form of humility in men of science is their ready
self-abnegation, not only in externals, but even in spiritual things,
such as a cherished ideal, convictions that have germinated in their
minds. Confronted with truth, the man of science has no
pre-conceptions; he is ready to renounce all those cherished ideas of
his own that may diverge therefrom. Thus, gradually, he purifies
himself from error, and keeps his mind always fresh, always clear,
naked as the Truth with which he desires to blend in a sublime union.

Is not this, perhaps, the reason why the specialist in infantile
diseases has at present a social dignity and authority far superior to
those of a schoolmaster? Yet the specialist merely seeks for truth
among the excretions of the child's diseased body; but the master
veils its soul with errors.

But how would it be if the master should seek the truth in the soul of
the child? What an incomparable dignity would be his! To raise himself
to this height, however, he would have to be initiated into the ways
of humility, of self-abnegation, of patience; and to destroy the pride
which is built on the void of vanity. After this he, too, might put on
the spiritual vesture of the scientist, saying to the people: What did
you see in the other true sciences? Reeds shaken by the wind? Men
clothed in soft raiment? No, you saw prophets; but I am more than a
prophet; I am he who crieth in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of
the Lord, make His paths straight.

    *    *    *    *    *

More, indeed, than the other men of science; for they must always
remain extraneous to the object of their study: electric energy,
chemical energy, the life of microbes, the stars, are all things
diverse and remote from the scientist. But the object of the
schoolmaster is man himself; the psychical manifestations of children
evoke something more in him than _interest in the phenomenon_; he
obtains from them the revelation of himself, and his emotions vibrate
at the contact of other souls like his own. All life may be his
portion, not merely a part of life. Then those _virtues_, such as
_humility_ and _patience_, which spring up in the man of science
within the limitations of the external aims he has fixed for himself,
may here enfold the entire soul. Then it will no longer be a question
of the "patience of the man of science," or the "humility of the man
of science," but of the virtues of man in all their plenitude.

That spiritual expansion of the man of science which is, as it were,
compressed into a tube, like rays of light passing through the
cylinders of the telescope, may here be diffused on the horizon like
the dazzling splendor of the sun. The so-called virtues are the
_necessary means, the methods of existence_ by which we attain to
truth; but the delight of the scientist in his work must vary in
proportion as this truth is manifested in a physical force, a
protozoan, or the soul of man. The one name seems scarcely suitable
for the two forms. We understand at once that, in comparison with the
_schoolmaster_, the scientist must be to some extent a limited and
arid being. The nobility of his spirit is lofty as man, but its
dimensions are those of a brute force or an inferior life.

The spiritual life of man may blend with the virtues of the man of
science only when the student and the subject of study can be fused
together. Then science may become a wellspring of wisdom, and true
positive science may become one with the true knowledge of the saints.
There is a real mechanism of correspondence between the virtues of the
man of science and the virtues of the saints; it is by means of
humility and patience that the scientist puts himself in contact with
material nature; and it is by means of humility and patience that the
saint puts himself in contact with the spiritual nature of things, and
as a consequence, mainly with man. The scientist is virtuous only
within the limits of his material contacts; the saint is "all
compact" of such virtue; his sacrifices and his enjoyments are alike
illimitable. The scientist is a seer within the limits of his field of
observation; the saint is a spiritual seer, but he also _sees_
material things and their laws more clearly than other men, and
invests them with spirit.

The modern scientist knows that every living thing is marvelous, and
that the simplest and most primitive most readily reveal natural laws
which help us to interpret the most complicated beings. St. Francis
indeed knew this: "Come closer, O my sister," he said to the
grasshopper chirping beneath the fig-tree near the window of his cell;
"the smaller the creature the more perfectly does it reveal the power
and goodness of the Creator."

Each tiny thing is worthy of the scientist's minute attention; he
counts the articulations which make up the claws of an insect, and
knows the veinings of its most delicate wings; he finds interesting
details where the ordinary eye would not linger for a moment. St.
Francis also observed these things, but they awoke in him a feeling of
spiritual joy and called forth a hymn of praise: "Who, who gave me
these little fairy feet, furnished with healthy and flexible little
bones, to enable me to spring swiftly from branch to branch, from twig
to twig? Who further gave me eyes, _crystal globes that revolve_ and
see before and behind, to spy out all my enemies, the predatory kite,
the black crow, the greedy goose? And he gave me wings, _delicate
tissues of gold and green and blue_, which reflect the color of the
skies and of my trees."

The vision of the teacher should be at once precise like that of the
scientist, and spiritual like that of the saint. The preparation for
science and the preparation for sanctity should form a new soul, for
the attitude of the teacher should be at once positive, scientific,
and spiritual.

Positive and scientific, because she has an _exact_ task to perform,
and it is necessary that she should put herself into immediate
relation with the truth, by means of rigorous observation, that she
should strip off all illusions, all the idle creations of the fancy,
that she should distinguish truth from falsehood unerringly, that, in
fact, she should follow the example of the scientist, who takes
account of every minute particle of matter, every elementary and
embryonic form of life, but eliminates all optical delusions, all the
confusion which impurities and foreign substances might introduce into
the search for truth. To achieve such an attitude _long practise is
necessary, and a wide observation of life_ under the guidance of the
biological sciences.

Spiritual, because it is to man that his powers of observation are to
be applied, and because the characteristics of the creature who is to
be his particular subject of observation are spiritual.

I would therefore initiate teachers into the observation of the most
simple forms of living things, with all those aids which science
gives; I would make them microscopists; I would give them a knowledge
of the cultivation of plants and train them to observe their
physiology; I would direct their observation to insects, and would
make them study the general laws of biology. And I would not have them
concerned with theory alone, but would encourage them to work
independently in laboratories and in the bosom of free Nature.

This complex program of observation must not exclude the physical
aspects of the child. Thus the direct and immediate preparation for a
higher task should be the knowledge of the physical needs of the
child, from birth to the age when psychical life is beginning to
develop in his organization and becomes susceptible to treatment. By
this I do not mean merely a theoretical course of anatomy, physiology,
and hygiene; but a "practise" among little children, which aims at
following their development closely, and foresees all their physical
needs. The teacher, in other words, should prepare herself according
to the methods of the biological sciences, entering with simplicity
and objectivity into the very domain in which students of the natural
sciences and of medicine are initiated, when they make their first
experiments in the laboratory, before penetrating into the more
profound problems of life related to their special study. In like
manner those young men, who in our universities are destined to study
vast and complex sciences, must in the beginning undertake the quiet
and restful work of preparing an infusion, or the section of a
rose-stalk, and thus experience, as they observe through the
microscope, that emotion born of wonder, which awakens the
consciousness and attracts it to the mysteries of life with a
passionate enthusiasm. It was thus that we, accustomed hitherto to
read in school only ponderous and arid printed books, felt that the
book of Nature was opening before our spirit, infinite in its
possibilities of creation and of miracle, and responding to all our
latent and uncomprehended aspirations.

This should also be the book of the new teacher, the primer that
should mold her for her mission of directing infant life. Such a
preparation should generate in her consciousness a conception of life
capable of transforming her, of calling forth in her a special
"activity," an "aptitude" which shall make her efficient for her
task. She should become a providential "force," a maternal "force."

But all this is but a part of the "preparation." The teacher must not
remain thus on the threshold of life, like those scientists who are
destined to observe plants and animals, and who are accordingly
satisfied with what morphology and physiology can offer. Nor is it her
mission to remain intent upon "derangements in the functions of the
body," like the medical specialist in infantile disease, who is
content with pathology. She must recognize that the methods of those
sciences are limited. When she chants her introit and sets foot upon
those steps which in the temple of life ascend to the spiritual
tabernacle, she should look upwards, and feel that among the adoring
host in the vast temple of science, she is a priestess.

Her sphere is to be vaster and more splendid; she is about to observe
"the inner life of man." The arid field which is limited to the
marvels of organic matter will not suffice for her; all the spiritual
fruits of the history of humanity and of religion will be necessary
for her nourishment. The lofty manifestations of art, of love, of
holiness, are the characteristic manifestations of that life which she
is not only about to observe but to serve, and which is her "own
life"; not a thing strange to her, and therefore cold and arid; but
the intimate life she has in common with all men, the true and only
real life of Man.

The scientific laboratory, the field of Nature where the teacher will
be initiated into "the observation of the phenomena of the inner life"
should be the school in which free children develop with the help of
material designed to bring about development. When she feels herself,
aflame with interest, "seeing" the spiritual phenomena of the child,
and experiences a serene joy and an insatiable eagerness in observing
them, then she will know that she is "initiated."

Then she will begin to become a "teacher."



Not only must the teacher be transformed, but the school environment
must be changed. The introduction of the "material of development"
into an ordinary school cannot constitute the entire external
renovation. The school should become the place where the child may
live in freedom, and this freedom must not be solely the intimate,
spiritual liberty of internal growth. The entire organism of the
child, from his physiological, vegetative part to his motor activity,
ought to find in school "the best conditions for development." This
includes all that physical hygiene has already put forward as aids to
the life of the child. No place would be better adapted than these
schools to establish and popularize reform in the clothing of
children, which should meet the requirements of cleanliness and of a
simplicity facilitating freedom of movement, while it should be so
made as to enable children to dress themselves. No better place could
be found to carry out and popularize infant hygiene in its relation to
nutrition. It would be a work of social regeneration to convince the
public of the economy they might effect by such practises, to show
them that elegance and propriety in themselves cost nothing--nay,
more, that they demand simplicity and moderation, and therefore
exclude all that superfluity which is so expensive.

The above applies more especially to schools which, like the original
"Children's Houses," might be instituted in the very buildings
inhabited by the parents of the pupils.

Certain special requirements must be recognized in the rooms of a free
school: psychical hygiene must play its part here as physical hygiene
has already done. The great increase in the dimensions of modern
class-rooms was dictated by physical hygiene; the ambient air space is
measured by "cubature" in relation to the physical needs of
respiration; and for the same reason, lavatories were multiplied, and
bathrooms were installed; physical hygiene further decreed the
introduction of concrete floors and washable dadoes, of central
heating, and in many cases of meals, while gardens or broad terraces
are already looked upon as essentials for the physical well-being of
the child. Wide windows already admit the light freely, and gymnasia
with spacious halls and a variety of complex and costly apparatus were
established. Finally, the most complicated desks, sometimes veritable
machines of wood and iron, with foot-rests, seats, and desks revolving
automatically, in order to preclude alike the movements of the child
and the distortions arising from immobility, are the economically
disastrous contribution of a false principle of "school-hygiene." In
the modern school, the uniform whiteness and the washable quality of
every object denote the triumph of an epoch in which the campaign
against microbes would seem to be the sole key to human life.

Psychical hygiene now presents itself on the threshold of the school
with its new precepts, precepts which economically are certainly no
more onerous than those entailed by the first triumphant entry of
physical hygiene.

They require, however, that schoolrooms be enlarged, not in deference
to the laws of respiration, for central heating, which makes it
possible to keep windows open, renders calculations based on cubic
measure negligible; but because space is necessary for the liberty of
movement which should be allowed to the child. However, as the child's
walking exercise will not be taken indoors, this increase of space
will be sufficient if it permits free movement among the furniture.
Still, if an ideal perfection is to be achieved, we may say that the
"psychical" class-room should be twice as large as the "physical"
class-room. We all know the sense of comfort of which we are conscious
when a good half of the floor space in a room is unencumbered; this
seems to offer us the agreeable possibility of _moving_ about freely.
This sensation of well-being is more intimate than the possibility of
breathing offered to us in a room of medium size crowded with

Scantiness of furniture is certainly a powerful factor in hygiene;
here physical and psychical hygiene are at one. In our schools we
recommend the use of "light" furniture, which is correspondingly
simple, and economical in the extreme. If it be washable, so much the
better, especially as the children will then "learn to wash it," thus
performing a pleasing and very instructive exercise. But what is above
all essential is, that it should be "artistically beautiful." In this
case beauty is not produced by superfluity or luxury, but by grace and
harmony of line and color, combined with that absolute simplicity
necessitated by the lightness of the furniture. Just as the modern
dress of children is more elegant than that of the past, and at the
same time infinitely simpler and more economical, so is this

In a "Children's House" in the country, at Palidano, built to
commemorate the Marchese Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, we initiated the
study of "artistic" furnishing. It is well known that every little
corner of Italy is a storehouse of local art, and there is no province
which in bygone times did not contain graceful and convenient objects,
due to a combination of practical sense and artistic instinct. Nearly
all these treasures are now being dispersed, and the very memory of
them is dying out, under the tyranny of the stupid and uniform
"hygienic" fashions of our day. It was therefore a delightful
undertaking on the part of Maria Maraini to make careful inquiries
into the rustic local art of the past, and to give it new life by
reproducing, in the furniture of the "Children's Houses," the forms
and colors of tables, chairs, sideboards, and pottery, the designs of
textiles and the characteristic decorative motives to be met with in
old country-houses. This revival of rustic art will bring back into
use objects used by the poor in ages less wealthy than ours, and
meanwhile may be a revelation in "economy." If, instead of school
benches, such simple and graceful objects were manufactured, even this
school furniture would show how beauty may be evolved from ugliness by
eliminating superfluous material; for beauty is a question, not of
material, but of inspiration. Hence we must not look to richness of
material, but to refinement of spirit for these practical reforms.

If similar studies should be made some day upon the rustic art of all
the Italian provinces, each of which has its special artistic
traditions, "types of furniture" might arise which would in themselves
do much to elevate the taste and refine the habits. They would bring
to the enlightenment of the world an "educational mode," because the
time-honored artistic feeling of a people with a very ancient
civilization would breathe new life into those moderns who seemed to
be suffocating under the obsession of physical hygiene, and to be
actuated solely by a despairing effort to combat disease.

We should witness the humanization of art, rising amidst the ugliness
and darkness of those who have accustomed themselves to think only of
death. Indeed, the "hygienic houses" of to-day, with their bare walls,
and white washable furniture, look like hospitals; while the schools
seem veritable tombs, with their desks ranged in rows like black
catafalques--black, merely because they have to be of the same color
as ink to hide the stains which are looked upon as a necessity, just
as certain sins and certain crimes are still considered to be
inevitable in the world; the alternative of avoiding them has never
occurred to any one. Class-rooms have black desks, and bare, gray
walls, more devoid of ornament than those of a mortuary chamber; this
is to the end that the starved and famishing spirit of the child may
"accept" the indigestible intellectual food which the teacher bestows
upon it. In other words, every distracting element has to be removed
from the environment, so that the teacher, by his oratorical art, and
with the help of his laborious expedients, may succeed in fixing the
rebellious attention of his pupils on himself. On the other hand, the
spiritual school puts no limits to the beauty of its environment, save
economical limits. No ornament can distract a child really absorbed in
his task; on the contrary, beauty both promotes concentration of
thought and offers refreshment to the tired spirit. Indeed, the
churches, which are _par excellence_ places of meditation and of
repose for the life of the soul, have called upon the highest
inspirations of genius to gather every beauty within their precincts.

Such words may seem strange; but if we wish to keep in touch with the
principles of science, we may say that the place best adapted to the
life of man is an artistic environment; and that, therefore, if we
want the school to become "a laboratory for the observation of human
life," we must gather within it things of _beauty_, just as the
laboratory of the bacteriologist must be furnished with stoves and
soils for the culture of bacilli.

Furniture for children, their tables and chairs, should be light, not
only that they may be easily carried about by childish arms, but
because their very fragility is of educational value. The same
consideration leads us to give children china plates and glass
drinking-vessels, for these objects become the _denouncers_ of rough,
disorderly, and undisciplined movements. Thus the child is led to
correct himself, and he accordingly trains himself not to knock
against, overturn, and break things; softening his movements more and
more, he gradually becomes their perfectly free and self-possessed
director. In the same way the child will accustom himself to do his
utmost _not to soil_ the gay and pretty things which enliven his
surroundings. Thus he makes progress in his own perfection, or, in
other words, it is thus he achieves the perfect coordination of his
voluntary movements. It is the same process by which, having enjoyed
silence and music, he will do all in his power to avoid discordant
noises, which have become unpleasant to his educated ear.

On the other hand, when a child comes into collision a hundred times
with an enormously heavy iron-bound desk, which a porter would have
difficulty in moving; when he makes thousands of invisible ink-stains
on a black bench; when he lets a metal plate fall to the ground a
hundred times without breaking it, he remains immersed in his sea of
defects without perceiving them; his environment meanwhile is so
constructed as to hide and therefore to encourage his errors, with
Mephistophelean hypocrisy.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Free movement=.--It is now a hygienic principle universally accepted
that children require movement. Thus, when we speak of "free
children," we generally imply that they are free to move, that is, to
run and jump. No mother nowadays fails to agree with the children's
doctor that her child should go into parks and meadows, and move about
freely in the open air.

When we talk of liberty for children in school, some such conception
of physical liberty as this rises at once in the mind. We imagine the
free child making perilous leaps over the desks, or dashing madly
against the walls; his "liberty of movement" seems necessarily to
imply the idea of "a wide space," and accordingly we suppose that, if
confined to the narrow limits of a room, it would inevitably become a
conflict between violence and obstacles, a disorder incompatible with
discipline and work.

But in the laws of "psychical hygiene," "liberty of movement" is not
limited to a conception so primitive as that of merely "animated
bodily liberty." We might, indeed, say of a puppy or a kitten what we
say of children: that they should be free to run and jump, and that
they should be able to do so, as in fact they often do, in a park or a
field, with and like the children. If, however, we wish to apply the
same conception of motor liberty to our treatment of a bird, we should
make certain arrangements for it; we should place within its reach the
branch of a tree, or crossed sticks which would afford foothold for
its claws, since these are not designed to be spread out on the
ground like the feet of creeping things, but are adapted to gripping a
stick. We know that a bird "left free to move" over a vast,
illimitable plain would be miserable.

How then is it that we never think thus: if it be necessary to prepare
different environments for a bird and a reptile in order to ensure
their liberty of movement, must it not be a mistake to provide the
same form of liberty for our children as that proper to cats and dogs?
Children, indeed, when left to themselves to take exercise, show
impatience, and are prone to quarrel and cry; older children feel it
necessary to invent something whereby they may conceal from themselves
the intolerable boredom and humiliation of walking for walking's sake,
and running for running's sake. They try to find some object for their
exertions; the younger children play pranks. The activity of children
thus left to themselves has rarely a good result; it does not aid
development, save as regards the physical advantage of general
nutrition, that is, of the vegetative life. Their movements become
ungraceful; they invent unseemly capers, walk with a staggering gait,
fall easily, and break things. They are evidently quite unlike the
free kitten, so full of grace, so fascinating in its movements,
tending to perfect its action by the light jumping and running which
are natural to it. In the motor instinct of the child there appears to
be no grace, no natural impulse towards perfection. Hence we must
conclude that the movement which suffices for the cat does not suffice
for the child, and that if the nature of the child is different, his
path of liberty must also be different.

If the child has no "intelligent aim" in his movements, he is without
internal guidance, thus movement tires him. Many men feel the
dreadful emptiness of being compelled to "move without an object." One
of the cruel punishments invented for the chastisement of slaves was
to make them dig deep holes in the earth and fill them up again
repeatedly, in other words, to make them work without an object.

Experiments on fatigue have shown that work with an intelligent object
is far less fatiguing than an equal quantity of aimless work. So much
so, that the psychiatrists of to-day recommend, not "exercise in the
open air," but "work in the open air," to restore the individuality of
the neurasthenic.

"Reconstructive" work--work, that is to say, which is not the product
of a "mental effort," but tends to the coordination of the
psycho-muscular organism. Such are the activities which are not
directed to the _production_ of objects, but to their _preservation_,
as, for instance, dusting or washing a little table, sweeping the
floor, laying or clearing the table, cleaning shoes, spreading out a
carpet. These are the tasks performed by a servant to _preserve_ the
objects belonging to his master, work of a very different order to
that of the artificer, who, on the other hand, _produced_ those
objects by an intelligent effort. The two classes of work are
profoundly different. The one is simple; it is a coordinated activity
scarcely higher in degree than the activity required for walking or
jumping; for it merely gives purpose to those simple movements,
whereas _productive_ work entails a preliminary intellectual work of
preparation, and comprises a series of very complicated motor
movements, together with an application of sensory exercises.

The first is the work suitable for little children, who must
"exercise themselves in order to learn to coordinate their movements."

It consists of the so-called exercises of practical life which
correspond to the psychical principle of "liberty of movement." For
this it will be sufficient to prepare "a suitable environment," just
as we should place the branch of a tree in an aviary, and then to
leave the children to follow their instincts of activity and
imitation. The surrounding objects should be proportioned to the size
and strength of the child: light furniture that he can carry about;
low dressers within reach of his arms; locks that he can easily
manipulate; chests that run on castors; light doors that he can open
and shut readily; clothes-pegs fixed on the walls at a height
convenient for him; brushes his little hand can grasp; pieces of soap
that can lie in the hollow of such a hand; basins so small that the
child is strong enough to empty them; brooms with short, smooth, light
handles; clothes he can easily put on and take off himself; these are
surroundings which invite activity, and among which the child will
gradually perfect his movements without fatigue, acquiring human grace
and dexterity, just as the little kitten acquires its graceful
movement and feline dexterity solely under the guidance of instinct.

The field thus opened to the free activity of the child will enable
him to exercise himself and to form himself as a man. It is not
movement for its own sake that he will derive from these exercises,
but a powerful co-efficient in the complex formation of his
personality. His social sentiments in the relations he forms with
other free and active children, his collaborators in a kind of
household designed to protect and aid their development; the sense of
dignity acquired by the child who learns to satisfy himself in
surroundings he himself preserves and dominates--these are the
co-efficients of humanity which accompany "liberty of movement." From
his consciousness of this development of his personality the child
derives the impulse to persist in these tasks, the industry to perform
them, the intelligent joy he shows in their completion. In such an
environment he undoubtedly _works himself_ and fortifies his spiritual
being, just as when his body is bathed in fresh air and his limbs move
freely in the meadows, he works at the growth of his physical organism
and strengthens it.



The phenomenon to be expected from the little child, when he is placed
in an environment favorable to his spiritual growth, is this: that
suddenly the child will fix his attention upon an object, will use it
for the purpose for which it was constructed, and will _continue_ to
repeat the same exercise indefinitely. One will repeat an exercise
twenty times, another forty times, and yet another two hundred times;
but this is the first phenomenon to be expected, as initiatory to
those acts with which spiritual growth is bound up.

That which moves the child to this manifestation of activity is
evidently a primitive internal impulse, almost a vague sense of
spiritual hunger; and it is the impulse to satisfy this hunger which
then actually directs the consciousness of the child to the determined
object and leads it gradually to a primordial, but complex and
repeated exercise of the intelligence in comparing, judging, deciding
upon an act, and correcting an error. When the child, occupied with
the solid insets, places and displaces the ten little cylinders in
their respective places thirty or forty times consecutively; and,
having made a mistake, sets himself a problem and solves it, he
becomes more and more interested, and tries the experiment again and
again; he prolongs a complex exercise of his psychical activities
which makes way for an internal development.

It is probably the internal perception of this development which
makes the exercise pleasing, and induces prolonged application to the
same task. To quench thirst, it is not sufficient to see or to sip
water; the thirsty man must drink his fill: that is to say, must take
in the quantity his organism requires; so, to satisfy this kind of
psychical hunger and thirst, it is not sufficient to see things
cursorily, much less "to hear them described"; it is necessary to
possess them and to use them to the full for the satisfaction of the
needs of the inner life.

This fact stands revealed as the basis of all psychical construction,
and the sole secret of education. The external object is the gymnasium
on which the spirit exercises itself, and such "internal" exercises
are primarily "in themselves" the end and aim of action. Hence the
solid insets are not intended to give the child a knowledge of
dimensions, nor are the plane insets designed to give him a conception
of forms; the purpose of these, as of all the other objects, is to
make the child exercise his activities. The fact that the child really
acquires by these means definite knowledge, the recollection of which
is vivid in proportion to the fixity and intensity of his attention,
is a necessary result; and, indeed, it is precisely the sensory
knowledge of dimensions, forms and colors, etc., thus acquired, which
makes the continuation of such internal exercises in fields
progressively vaster and higher, a possible achievement.

Hitherto, all psychologists have agreed that instability of attention
is the characteristic of little children of three or four years old;
attracted by everything they see, they pass from object to object,
unable to concentrate on any; and generally the difficulty of fixing
the attention of children is the stumbling-block of their education,
William James speaks of "that extreme mobility of the attention with
which we are all familiar in children, and which makes their first
lessons such rough affairs.... The reflex and passive character of the
attention ... which makes the child seem to belong less to himself
than to every object which happens to catch his notice, is the first
thing which the teacher must overcome.... The faculty of voluntarily
bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again is the very
root of judgment, character and will.... An education which should
improve this faculty would be _the_ education _par excellence_."

Thus man, acting by himself alone, never successfully arrests and
fixes that _inquiring_ attention which wanders from object to object.

In fact, in our experiment the attention of the little child was not
artificially maintained by a teacher; it was an object which fixed
that attention, as if it corresponded to some internal impulse; an
impulse which evidently was directed solely to the things "necessary"
for its development. In the same manner, those complex coordinated
movements achieved by a new-born infant in the act of sucking, are
limited to the first and unconscious need of nutrition; they are not a
conscious acquisition directed to a purpose.

Indeed, the conscious acquisition directed to a definite purpose would
be impossible in the movements of a new-born infant's mouth, as also
in the first movements of the child's spirit.

Therefore it is essential that the external stimulus which first
presents itself should be verily the breast and the milk of the
spirit, and then only shall we behold that surprising phenomenon of a
little face concentrated in an intensity of attention.

Behold a child of three years old capable of repeating the same
exercise fifty times in succession; many persons are moving about
beside him; some one is playing the piano; children are singing in
chorus; but nothing distracts the little child from his profound
concentration. Just so does the suckling keep hold of the mother's
breast, uninterrupted by external incidents, and desists only when he
is satisfied.

Only Nature accomplishes such miracles.

If, then, psychical manifestations have their root in Nature, it was
necessary, in order to understand and help Nature, to study it in its
initial periods, those which are the simplest, and the only ones
capable of revealing truths which would serve as guides for the
interpretation of later and more complex manifestations. This, indeed,
many psychologists have done; but, applying the analytical methods of
experimental psychology, they did not start from that point whence the
biological sciences derive their knowledge of life: that is, the
_liberty_ of the living creatures they desire to observe. If Fabre had
not made use of insects, while leaving them free to carry out their
natural manifestations, and observing them without allowing his
presence to interfere in any way with their functions; if he had
caught insects, had taken them into his study, and subjected them to
experiment, he would not have been able to reveal the marvels of
insect life.

If bacteriologists had not instituted, as a method of research, an
environment similar to that which is natural to microbes, both as
regards nutritive substances and conditions of temperature, etc., to
the end that they "might live freely" and thus manifest their
characteristics; if they had confined themselves to fixing the germs
of a disease under the microscope, the science which to-day saves the
lives of innumerable men and protects whole nations from epidemics
would not exist.

Freedom to live is the true basis for every method of observation
applied to living creatures.

_Liberty_ is the experimental condition for studying the phenomena of
the child's attention. It will be enough to remember that the stimuli
of infant attention, being mainly sensory, have a powerful
physiological concomitant of "accommodation" in the organs of sense;
an accommodation, physiologically incomplete in the young child, which
requires to develop itself according to Nature. An object not adapted
to become a useful stimulus to the powers of accommodation in process
of development would not only be incapable of sustaining attention as
a psychical fact, but would also, as a physiological fact, weary or
actually injure the organs of accommodation such as the eye and ear.
But the child who _chooses_ the objects, and perseveres in their use
with the utmost intensity of attention, as shown in the muscular
contractions which give mimetic expression to his face, evidently
experiences _pleasure_, and pleasure is an indication of healthy
functional activity; it always accompanies exercises which are useful
to the organs of the body.

Attention also requires a _preparation_ of the ideative centers in
relation to the external object for which it is to be demanded: in
other words, an internal, psychical "adaptation." The cerebral centers
should be excited in their turn by an internal process, when an
external stimulus acts. Thus, for instance, any one who is expecting a
person, sees him arriving from a considerable distance; not only
because the person presents himself to the senses, but because he was
"expected." The distant figure claimed attention because the cerebral
centers were already excited to that end. By means of similar
activities a hunter is conscious of the slightest sound made by game
in woods. In short, two forces act upon the cerebral cell, as upon a
closed door: the external sensory force which knocks, and the internal
force which says: Open. If the internal force does not open, it is in
vain that the external stimulus knocks at the door. And then the
strongest stimuli may pass unheeded. The absent-minded man may step
into a chasm. The man who is absorbed in a task may be deaf to a band
playing in the street.

The central action that constitutes attention is the factor of the
greatest psychological and philosophic value, and the one which has
always represented the maximum among the practical values in pedagogy.
The whole art of teachers has consisted, in substance, in preparing
the attention of the child to make it _expectant_ of their
instruction, and in securing the cooperation of those internal forces
which should "open the door" when they "knock." And as the thing which
is quite unknown, or that which is inaccessible to the understanding,
can awaken no interest, the fundamentals of the art of teaching were
to go gradually from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the
difficult. It is the preexistent "known" which excites expectation and
_opens the door_ to the novel "unknown"; and it is the already present
"easy work" which opens new ways for penetration, and puts the
attention into a state of expectation.

Thus, according to the conceptions of pedagogy, it should be possible
to "prepare good offices for oneself," the cooperation of the
psychical concomitants of the attention. Everything would depend on
skilful manipulation between the known and the unknown and similar
things: the clever teacher would be like the great military
strategist, who prepares the plan of a battle upon a table; and man
would be able to _direct man_, leading him wheresoever he pleases.

This, moreover, has long been the materialistic principle which
governs psychology. According to Herbert Spencer, the mind is at
first, as it were, an indifferent day, on which external impressions
"rain," leaving traces more or less profound. "Experiences" are,
according to him and the English empiricists, the constructive factors
of the mind even in its highest activities. Man is what experience has
made him; hence, in education, by preparing a suitable structure of
experiences, it is possible to _build up the man_. A conception not
less materialistic than that which presented itself for a moment
before the marvelous progress of organic chemistry, when the series of
syntheses succeeded that of analyses. It was then believed that a
species of albumen might be manufactured synthetically, and as albumen
is the organic basis of the cells, and as the human ovum is nothing
but a cell, man himself might one day be manufactured on the chemist's
table. The conception of man as the creator of man was quickly
discredited in the material domain; but the psychical _homunculus_
still persists among the practical conceptions of pedagogy.

No chemical synthesis could put into the cell, apparently nothing more
than a simple clot of nucleated protoplasm, that _activity sine
matter_, that potential vital force, that mysterious factor which
causes a cell to develop into man.

And the elusive attention of children would seem to tell us that the
psychical man is subject to analogous laws of auto-creation.

The most modern school of spiritualistic psychologists, to which
William James belonged, recognized, in the concomitant of attention, a
fact bound up with the nature of the subject, a "spiritual force," one
of the "mysterious factors of life."

     "... From whence his intellect
     Deduced its primal notices of thought,
     Man therefore knows not; or his appetites
     Their first affection; such In you as zeal
     In bees to gather honey."

     (Carey's translation, Dante's _Purgatorio_, Canto XVIII.)

There is in man a special attitude to external things, which forms
part of his nature, and determines its character. The internal
activities act as cause; they do not react and exist as the _effect_
of external factors. Our attention is not arrested by all things
indifferently, but by those which are congenial to our tastes. The
things which are useful to our inner life are those which arouse our
interest. Our internal world is created upon a selection from the
external world, acquired for and in harmony with our internal
activities. The painter will see a preponderance of colors in the
world, the musician will be attracted by sounds. It is the quality of
our attention which reveals ourselves, and we manifest ourselves
externally by our aptitudes; it is not our attention which creates us.
The individual character, the internal form, the difference between
one man and another, are also obvious among men who have lived in the
same environment, but who from that environment have taken only what
was necessary for each. The "experiences" with which each constructs
his _ego_ in relation to the external world do not form a _chaos_, but
are _directed_ by his intimate individual aptitudes.

If there were any doubt as to the natural force which directs
psychical formation, our experiences with little children would
furnish a decisive proof. No teacher could procure such phenomena of
attention by any artifices; they have evidently an internal origin.
The power of concentration shown by little children from three to four
years old have no counterpart save in the annals of genius. These
little ones seem to reproduce the infancy of men possessing an
extraordinary power of attention, such as Archimedes, who was slain
while bending over his circles, from which rumors of the taking of
Syracuse had failed to distract him; or Newton, who, absorbed in his
studies, forgot to eat; or Vittorio Alfieri, who, when writing a poem,
heard nothing of the noisy wedding procession which was passing with
shouts and clamor before his windows.

Now, these characteristics of the attention of genius could not be
evoked by an "interesting" teacher, however subtle his art; nor could
any accumulation of passive experiences become such an accumulator of
psychical energies.

If there be a spiritual force working within the child, by which he
may open the door of his attention, the problem which necessarily
presents itself is a problem of _liberty_, rather than a problem of
pedagogic art effecting the construction of his mind. The bestowal of
the nourishment suitable to psychical needs, by means of the external
objects, and readiness to respect liberty of development in the most
perfect manner possible, are the foundations which, from a logical
point of view, should be laid down for the construction of a new

It is no longer a question of attempting to create the homunculus,
like the chemists of the nineteenth century; but rather of taking the
lantern of Diogenes and going in search of the man. A science should
establish _by means of experiments_ what is necessary to the
primordial psychical requirements of the child; and then we shall
witness the development of complex vital phenomena, in which the
intelligence, the will, and the character develop together, just as
the brain, the stomach, and the muscles of the rationally nourished
child develop together.

Together with the first psychical exercises, the first coordinated
cognitions will be fixed in the child's mind, and the _known_ will
begin to exist in him, providing the first germs of an intellectual
interest, supplementing his instinctive interest. When this takes
place, a state of things begins to establish itself which has some
analogy with that mechanism of attention which the pedagogists of
to-day take as the basis of the art of teaching. The transition from
the known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex, from the
easy to the difficult, is reproduced, from a certain point of view;
but with special characteristics.

The progression _from the known to the unknown_ does not proceed from
object to object, as would be assumed by the master who does not bring
about the development of ideas from a center, but merely unites them
in a chain, without any definite object, allowing the mind to wander
aimlessly, though bound to himself. Here, on the other hand, the known
establishes itself in the child as a _complex system_ of ideas, which
system was actively constructed by the child himself during a series
of psychical processes, representing in themselves an internal
_formation_, a psychical growth.

To bring about such a progress we must offer the child a systematic,
complex material, corresponding to his natural instincts. Thus, for
instance, by means of our sensory apparatus we offer the child a
series of objects capable of drawing his instinctive attention to
colors, forms, and sounds, to tactile and baric qualities, etc., and
the child, by means of the characteristically prolonged exercises with
each object, begins to organize his psychical personality, but at the
same time acquires a clear and orderly knowledge of things.

Thenceforth all external objects, for the reason that they have forms,
dimensions, colors, qualities of smoothness, weight, hardness, etc.,
are no longer foreign to the mind. There is something in the
consciousness of the child which prepares him to _expect_ these
things, and invites him to receive them with interest.

When the child has added a cognition to the primitive impulse which
directs his attention to external things, he has acquired other
relations with the world, other forms of interest; these are no longer
merely those primitive ones which are bound up with a species of
primordial instinct, but have become a discerning interest, based upon
the conquests of the intelligence.

It is true that all these new conquests are fundamentally and
profoundly based upon the _psychical needs_ of the individual; but the
intellectual element has now been added, transforming an impulse into
a conscious and voluntary quest.

The old pedagogic conception, which assumed that to call the attention
of the child to the unknown it is necessary to connect it with the
known, because it is thus that his interest may be won for the new
knowledge to be imparted, grasped but a single detail of the complex
phenomenon we now witness after our experiments.

If the _known_ is to represent a new source of interest directed
towards the unknown, it is essential that it should itself have been
acquired in accordance with the tendency of nature; then preceding
knowledge will lend interest to objects of ever-increasing complexity
and of lofty significance. The culture thus created ensures the
possibility of an indefinite _continuation_ in the successive
evolution of such formative phenomena.

Moreover, this culture itself creates _order_ in the mind: when the
teacher, giving her plain and simple lesson, says: This is long, this
is short, this is red, this is yellow, etc., she fixes with a single
word the clearly marked order of the sensations, classifies, and
"catalogues" them. And each impression is perfectly distinct from the
other, and has its own determined place in the mind, which may be
recalled by a word; thenceforth, new acquisitions will not be thrown
aside or mixed together chaotically, but will be duly deposited in
their proper places, side by side with previous acquisitions of the
same kind, like books in a well-arranged library.

Thus the mind not only has within itself the propulsive force required
to increase its knowledge, but also an established order, which will
be steadily maintained throughout its successive and illimitable
enrichment by new material; and as it grows and gains strength, it
retains its "equilibrium." These continual exercises in _comparison_,
_judgment_, and _choice_ carried out among the objects, further tend
to place the internal acquisitions so logically into relation one with
another, that the results are a singular _facility_ and _accuracy_ of
reasoning power, and a remarkable _quickness_ of comprehension: the
law of "the minimum of effort" is truly carried out as it is
everywhere where order and activity reign.

The internal coordination, like physiological adaptation, establishes
itself as a result of the spontaneity of the exercises; the free
development of a personality which grows and organizes itself is that
which determines such an internal condition, just as in the body of
the embryo the heart, in process of development, makes a place for
itself in the space of the diastinum between the lungs, and the
diaphragm assumes its arched form as a result of pulmonary dilation.

The teacher directs these phenomena; but, in so doing, she is careful
to avoid calling the child's attention to herself, since the whole
future depends upon his concentration. Her art consists in
understanding and in avoiding interference with natural phenomena.

That which has been clearly demonstrated as regards the nutrition of
the new-born infant and the first coordinated activities of the spirit
will be repeated at every period of life, with the necessary
modifications induced by the increased complexity of the phenomena.

Continuing the parallel with physical nutrition, let us consider the
growing infant which has cut its teeth, developed its gastric juice,
and so gradually requires a more complicated diet, until we come to
the adult man, nourishing himself by means of all the complications of
modern kitchen and table; to keep himself in health, he should eat
_only_ the things which correspond to the intimate needs of his
organism; and if he introduces over-rich or unusual, unsuitable or
poisonous substances, the result will be impoverishment,
self-poisoning, a "malady." Now it was the study of the child's
nutrition during the period of suckling and during the first years of
life which created alimentary hygiene, not only for the child but for
the adult, and pointed out the perils to which all were alike exposed
during the epoch when infantile hygiene was unknown.

There is a singular parallel in psychical life: the man will have an
infinitely more complex life than the child; but for him, too, there
should always be a correspondence between the needs of his nature and
the manner in which his spirit is nourished. A _rule_ of internal life
will always promote the health of the man.

Turning to attention, the primitive fact of correspondence between
nature and stimulus which is the fundamental of life should prevail,
however modified, when dealing with older children, and should remain
the basis of education.

I am prepared for the objections of "experts." Children must be
accustomed to pay attention to everything, even to things which are
distasteful to them, because practical life demands such efforts.

The objection is based on a prejudice analogous to that which at one
time made good fathers of families say: "Children should be accustomed
to eat everything." In just the same way, moral training is put
outside its rightful sphere--a fatal confusion. When ideas of this
order, now happily obsolete, obtained, fathers would allow their
children to fast all day, if they refused a dish they disliked at the
mid-day meal, forbidding them anything but the rejected portion, which
became ever colder and more disgusting, until at last hunger weakened
the child's will and destroyed his caprice, and the plateful of cold
food was swallowed. Thus, argued such a father, in the various
circumstances in which he may be placed throughout his life, my son
will be ready to eat whatever comes to hand, and will not be greedy
and capricious. In those days also, sweets were forbidden to children
(whose organisms require sugar, because the muscles consume a great
deal of this during growth), in order to teach them to overcome
greediness, and an easy and convenient method of correcting naughty
children was to "send them to bed without any supper."

Very similar methods are now adopted by those who insist that children
should pay attention to things they dislike, in order to accustom them
to the necessities of life. But as in the case of psychical
nourishment hunger is never brought to bear upon the "cold and
distasteful viands," the indigestible and heavy food weakens and
poisons the unwilling recipient.

Not thus shall we prepare the robust spirit, ready for all the
difficult eventualities of life. The boy who swallowed the cold soup
and went fasting to bed was the one whose body developed badly, who
was too weak to resist infection when he encountered it, and fell ill;
and morally it was he who, having a store of unsatisfied appetites
within him, looked upon it as the greatest joy of his liberty, when he
became an adult, to eat and drink to excess. How unlike was he to the
boy of to-day, who, rationally fed and made robust of body, becomes
the _abstemious_ man, who eats to live in health, and combats
alcoholism and excessive and injurious feeding; the modern man, who
can defend himself by so many means against infectious diseases, and
who is so ready for effort that, without any compulsion, he braves the
arduous exertion of sport, and attempts and carries out great
enterprises, such as the discovery of the Poles and the ascent of
lofty mountains.

So, too, the man capable of braving the icy wastes of moral conflict,
of undertaking spiritual ascents, will be he whose will is strong,
whose spirit is well balanced, whose decisions are prompt and

And the more a man's inner life shall have grown _normally_,
organizing itself in accordance with the provident laws of nature, and
forming an individuality, the more richly will he be endowed with a
strong will and a well-balanced mind. To be ready for a struggle, it
is not necessary to have struggled from one's birth, but it is
necessary to be strong. He who is strong is ready; no hero was a hero
before he had performed his heroic deed. The trials life has in store
for us are unforeseen, unexpected; no one can prepare us directly to
meet them; it is only a vigorous soul that can be prepared for

When a living being is in process of evolution, it is essential to
provide for the special requirements of the moment, in order to ensure
its normal development. The foetus must be nourished with blood; the
new-born infant with milk. If during its intra-uterine life the
foetus should lack blood rich in albuminous substances and oxygen,
or if poisonous substances should be introduced into its tissues, the
living being will not develop normally, and no after-care will
strengthen the man evolved from this impoverished source. Should the
infant lack sufficient milk, the mal-nutrition of the initial stage of
life condemns him to a permanent state of inferiority. The suckling
"prepares himself to walk" by lying stretched out, and spending long,
quiet hours in sleep. It is by sucking that the babe begins his
teething. So, too, the fledgling in the nest does not prepare for
flight by flying, but remains motionless in the little warm shell
where its food is provided. The preparations for life are indirect.

The prelude to such phenomena of Nature as the majestic flight of
birds, the ferocity of wild beasts, the song of the nightingale, the
variegated beauty of the butterfly's wings, is the preparation in the
secret places of a nest or a den, or in the motionless intimacy of the
cocoon. Omnipotent Nature asks only peace for the creature in process
of formation. All the rest she gives herself.

Then the childish spirit should also find a warm nest where its
nutrition is secure, and after this we should await the revelations of
its development.

It is essential, therefore, to offer objects which correspond to its
formative tendencies, in order to obtain the result which education
makes its goal: the development of the latent forces in man with the
minimum of strain and all possible fulness.



When the child chooses from among a considerable number of objects the
one he prefers, when he moves to go and take it from the sideboard,
and then replaces it, or consents to give it up to a companion; when
he waits until one of the pieces of the apparatus he wishes to use is
laid aside by the child who has it in his hand at the moment; when he
persists for a long time and with earnest attention in the same
exercise, correcting the mistakes which the didactic material reveals
to him; when, in the silence-exercise, he retains all his impulses,
all his movements, and then, rising when his name is called, controls
these movements carefully to avoid making a noise with his feet or
knocking against the furniture, he performs so many acts of the
"will." It may be said that in him the exercise of the will is
continuous; nay, that the factor which really acts and persists among
his aptitudes is the will, which is built up on the internal
fundamental fact of a prolonged attention.

Let us analyze some of the co-efficients of will.

The whole external expression of the will is contained in _movement_:
whatever action man performs, whether he walks, works, speaks or
writes, opens his eyes to look, or closes them to shut out a scene, he
acts by "motion." An act of the will may also be directed to the
restriction of movement: to restrain the disorderly movements of
anger; not to give way to the impulse which urges us to snatch a
desirable object from the hand of another, are voluntary actions.
Therefore the will is not a simple impulse towards movement, but the
intelligent direction of movements.

There can be no manifestation of the will without completed action; he
who thinks of performing a good action, but leaves it undone; he who
desires to atone for an offense, but takes no step to do so; he who
proposes to go out, to pay a call, or to write a letter, but goes no
farther in the matter, does not accomplish an exercise of the will. To
think and to wish is not enough. It is action which counts. "The way
to Hell is paved with good intentions."

The life of volition is the life of action. Now all our actions
represent a resultant of the forces of impulse and inhibition, and by
constant repetition of actions this resultant may become almost
habitual and unconscious. Such is the case, for instance, with regard
to all those customary actions, the sum of which constitute "the
behavior of a well-bred person." Our impulse might be to pay a certain
visit, but we know that we might disturb our friend, that it is not
her day for receiving, and we refrain; we may be comfortably seated in
a corner of the drawing-room, but a venerable person enters, and we
rise to our feet; we are not much attracted by this lady, but
nevertheless we also bow or shake her hand; the sweetmeat to which our
neighbor helps herself is just the one we desired, but we are careful
to give no sign of this. All the movements of our body are not merely
those dictated by impulse or weariness; they are the correct
expression of what we consider decorous. Without impulses we could
take no part in social life; on the other hand, without inhibitions we
could not correct, direct, and utilize our impulses.

This reciprocal equilibrium between opposite motor forces is the
result of prolonged exercises, of _ancient habits_ within us; we no
longer have any sense of effort in performing these, we no longer
require the support of reason and knowledge to accomplish them; these
acts have almost become reflex. And yet the acts in question are by no
means reflex actions; it is not Nature but habit which produces all
this. We know well how the person who has not been brought up to
observe certain rules, but has been hastily instructed in the
knowledge of them, will too often be guilty of blunders and lapses,
because he is obliged to "perform" there and then all the necessary
coordination of voluntary acts, and there and then direct them under
the vigilant and immediate control of the consciousness; and such a
perpetual effort cannot certainly compete with the "habit" of
distinguished manners. The will stores up its prolonged efforts
outside the consciousness, or at its extreme margin, and leaves the
consciousness itself unencumbered to make new acquisitions and further
efforts. Thus we cease to consider as _evidences of will_ those habits
in which we nevertheless see the consciousness, as it were, hanging
over and watchful of each act, that it may accord with the perfect
rule of an external code of manners. An educated man who acts thus is
merely a man _in himself_, merely a man of "healthy mind."

It is, in fact, only disease which can disintegrate the personality
organized upon its adaptations, and induce a man of society to cease
to act in a becoming manner; it is well known that a neurasthenic
subject who begins to show the first symptoms of paranoia, may at
first seem to be merely one who fails in good breeding.

But he, on the other hand, who remains within the limits of good
breeding, is nothing more than a _normal man_. We will not venture to
call him "a man of will"; the consciousness of such a man is always
being put to the test, and the mechanisms stored up in the margin of
consciousness no longer possess a "volitive value."

But the child is making his first trial of arms, and his personality
is a very different thing from that just described. In comparison with
the adult, he is an unbalanced creature, almost invariably the prey of
his own impulses and sometimes subject to the most obstinate
inhibitions. The two opposite activities of the will have not yet
combined to form the new personality. The psychical embryo has still
the two elements separate. The great essential is that this
"combination," this "adaptation," should take place and establish
itself as a supporting girdle at the margin of consciousness. Hence it
is necessary to induce active exercise as soon as possible, since this
is essential to such a degree of development. The aim in view is not
to make the child a little precocious "gentleman," but to induce him
to exercise his powers of volition, and to bring about as soon as
possible the reciprocal contact of impulses with inhibitions. It is
this "construction" itself which is necessary, not the result which
may be achieved externally by means of this construction.

It is, in fact, merely a means to an end: and the end is that the
child should act together with other children, and practise the
gymnastics of the will in the daily habits of life. The child who is
absorbed in some task, inhibits all movements which do not conduce to
the accomplishment of this work; he makes a selection among the
muscular coordinations of which he is capable, persists in them, and
thus begins to make such coordinations permanent. This is a very
different matter to the disorderly movements of a child giving way to
uncoordinated impulses. When he begins to respect the work of others;
when he waits patiently for the object he desires instead of snatching
it from the hand of another; when he can walk about without knocking
against his companions, without stamping on their feet, without
overturning the table--then he is organizing his powers of volition,
and bringing impulses and inhibitions into equilibrium. Such an
attitude prepares the way for the habits of social life. It would be
impossible to bring about such a result by keeping children
motionless, seated side by side; under such conditions "relations
between children" cannot be established, and infantile social life
does not develop.

It is by means of free intercourse, of real practise which obliges
each one to adapt his own limits to the limits of others, that social
"habits" may be established. Dissertations on what ought to be done
will never bring about the construction of the will; to make a child
acquire graceful movements, it will not suffice to inculcate "ideas of
politeness" and of "rights and duties." If this were so, it would
suffice to give a minute description of the movements of the hand
necessary in playing the piano, to enable an attentive pupil to
execute a sonata by Beethoven. In all such matters the "formation" is
the essential factor; the powers of will are established by exercise.

In education, it is of very great value to organize all the mechanism
useful in the production of personality at an early stage. Just as
_movement_, the _gymnastics_ of children, is necessary, because, as is
well known, muscles which are not exercised become incapable of
performing the variety of movements of which the muscular system is
capable, so an analogous system of gymnastics is necessary to maintain
the activity of the psychical life.

The uneducated organism may be easily directed towards subsequent
deficiencies; he who is weak of muscle is inclined to remain
motionless, and so to perish, when an action is necessary to overcome
danger. Thus the child who is weak of will, who is "hypobulic" or
"abulic," will readily adapt himself to a school where all the
children are kept seated and motionless, listening, or pretending to
listen. Many children of this kind, however, end in the hospital for
nervous disorders and have the following notes on their school
reports: "Conduct excellent; no progress in studies." Of such children
some teachers confine themselves to such a remark as: "They are so
good," and by this they tend to protect them from any intervention,
and leave them to sink undisturbed into the weakness which threatens
to engulf them like a quicksand. Other children, whose natural
impulses are strong, are noted merely as creators of disorder, and are
set down as "naughty." If we enquire into the nature of their
naughtiness, we shall be told almost invariably that "they will never
keep still." These turbulent spirits are further stigmatized as
"aggressive to their companions," and their aggressions are nearly
always of this kind: they try by every possible means to rouse their
companions from their quiescence, and draw them into an association.
There are also children in whom the inhibitory powers are dominant;
their timidity is extreme: they sometimes seem as if they cannot make
up their minds to answer a question; they will do so after some
external stimulus, but in a very low voice, and will then burst into

The necessary gymnastic in all these three cases is free action. The
constant and interesting movement of others is the best of incitements
to the abulic; motion directed into the channel of orderly exercise
develops the inhibitory powers of the too impulsive child, and the
child who is too much in subjection to his inhibitory powers, when
liberated from the bondage of surveillance, and free to act privately
on his own initiative--in other words, when he is removed from all
external inducements to exercise inhibition, is able to find an
equilibrium between the two opposite volitional forces. This is indeed
the way of salvation for all men: that wherein the weak gain strength
that wherein the strong attain perfection.

The want of balance as between impulse and inhibition is not only a
familiar and interesting fact in pathology; it is further met with,
though in a minor degree, among _normal_ persons, just as frequently
as deficiencies of education are to be met with in the external social

Impulse leads criminals to commit evil actions against other men; but
how often normal persons have to regret thoughtless acts and nervous
outbursts which have sad consequences to themselves! For the most part
the normal impulsive person harms himself only, compromises his
career, and is unable to bring his talents to fruition; he suffers
from a conscious servitude, as from a misfortune from which he might
perhaps have been saved.

He who is pathologically the victim of his own powers of inhibition is
certainly the more unhappy sufferer; he remains immobile and silent;
but internally he longs to move. A thousand impulses which can find no
outlet torture the soul which aspires to art, to work; and eloquent
speech on his own misfortunes would fain flow from his lips to implore
help from a physician, or comfort from some lofty soul; but his lips
are sealed. He feels the horrible oppression of one buried alive. But
how many normal persons suffer from something of the same kind! On
some propitious occasion in their lives they ought to have come
forward and shown their worth, but they were unable to do so. A
thousand times they have thought that a sincere expression of feeling
might have straightened out a difficult situation; but the heart has
closed and the lips have remained mute. How passionately they have
longed to speak to some noble soul who would have understood them,
illuminated and comforted them! But when they have been face to face
with this person, they have been unable to speak a word. The
longed-for individual encouraged them, questioned them, urged them to
express themselves, but the sole response to the invitation was an
internal anguish. Speak! Speak! said impulse in the depths of their
consciousness; but inhibition was inexorable as a resistless material

It is in the education of the will by means of free exercises wherein
the impulses balance the inhibitions that the cure of such subjects
might be found, provided such a cure could be undertaken at the age
when the will is in process of formation.

    *    *    *    *    *

Such an equilibrium established as a mechanism at the margin of
consciousness, which makes a man of the world "correct" in his
conduct, is by no means that which constitutes the "person of will."
It has been said above that the consciousness remains free for other
voluntary requirements. The most refined and aristocratic lady might
nevertheless be a person "without will" and "without character,"
although she might have acquired the most rigorous mechanisms
productive of a mechanical will directed solely to external objects.

There is a voluntary fundamental quality upon which not only are the
superficial relations between man and man based, but on which the very
edifice of society is erected. This quality is known as "continuity."
The social structure is founded upon the fact that men can work
steadily and produce within certain average limits on which the
economic equilibrium of a people is constructed. The social relations
which are the basis of the reproduction of the species are founded
upon the continuous union of parents in marriage. The family and
productive work: these are the two pivots of society; they rest upon
the greatest volitive quality: constancy, or persistence.

This quality is really the exponent of the uninterrupted concord of
the inner personality. Without it, a life would be a series of
episodes, a chaos; it would be like a body disintegrated into its
cells, rather than an organism which persists throughout the mutations
of its own material. This fundamental quality, when it embraces the
sentiment of the individual and the direction of his ideation, that is
to say, his whole personality, is what we have called _character_. The
man of character is the persistent man, the man who is faithful to his
own word, his own convictions, his own affections.

Now the sum of these various manifestations of constancy has an
exponent of immense social value: persistence in work.

The degenerate, even before he gave way to criminal impulse, before he
betrayed the inconstancy of his affections, before he broke his word,
before he made havoc of all the convictions that ennoble the soul of
man, had a certain stigma which marked him as one lost and
disintegrated: this was laziness, incapacity to persist in work.
Directly an honest and well-behaved man begins to suffer from
brain-disease, before he shows any violent impulses, disorder in
conduct, or signs of delirium, he has a premonitory symptom: he can no
longer apply himself to work. Among the masses, it is justly thought
that a girl will make a good wife when she is industrious, and a man
is said to be an honest fellow and one who can offer good prospects to
the girl who is to be his wife, when he is a good workman. This
_goodness_ is not a matter of ability; it implies steadiness,
perseverance. For instance, a pseudo-artist of great skill in
producing small artistic objects, but lacking the will to work, would
not be considered a good match. Every one knows that he is not only
incapable of economic production, but that he is a suspicious and
dangerous character, that he might become a bad husband, a bad father,
a bad citizen. On the other hand, the humblest artisan who "works"
undoubtedly contains within himself all the elements which make for
happiness and security in life. This unquestionably was the meaning of
the great Roman encomium: "She stayed indoors and spun the wool," that
is to say, she was a woman of character, a worthy companion for the
conquerors of the world.

Now the little child who manifests perseverance in his work as the
first constructive act of his psychical life, and upon this act builds
up internal order, equilibrium, and the growth of personality,
demonstrates, almost as in a splendid revelation, the true manner in
which man renders himself valuable to the community. The little child
who persists in his exercises, concentrated and absorbed, is obviously
elaborating the constant man, the man of character, the man who will
find in himself all human values, crowning that unique fundamental
manifestation: persistence in work. Whatever task the child may
choose it will be all the same, provided he persists in it. For what
is valuable is not the work itself, but the work as a means for the
construction of the psychic man.

He who interrupts the children in their occupations in order to make
them learn some pre-determined thing; he who makes them cease the
study of arithmetic to pass on to that of geography and the like,
thinking it is important to direct their culture, confuses the means
with the end and destroys the man for a vanity. That which it is
necessary to direct is not the culture of man, but the man himself.

    *    *    *    *    *

If persistence be the true foundation of the will, we nevertheless
recognize _decision_ as the act of the will _par excellence_. In order
to accomplish any conscious act whatever, it is necessary that we
should decide. Now a _decision_ is always the result of a _choice_. If
we have several hats, we must decide which one we will put on when we
go out; it may not in the least matter whether it be the brown hat or
the gray, but we must choose one of them. For such a choice we must
have our motives, whether they be in favor of the gray or the brown;
but finally one of the motives will prevail and the choice will be
made. Obviously, the habit of taking a hat and going out will
facilitate our choice; we are almost unconscious which of the motives
stirred and struggled within us. It is the question of a minute and
leaves no impression of effort. Our knowledge as to which hat will be
suitable for the morning or the afternoon, for the theater or for
sport, saves us from any mental conflict.

But this will not be the case if, for instance, we are about to spend
a certain sum of money on a present. What shall we buy among the
various objects from which it will be possible to choose? If we have
no very definite knowledge of the things, our task may become an
anxiety. We should like to choose something artistic, but we do not
know much about art, and we fear to be deceived and so to cut a sorry
figure; we know not what is customary and have no idea whether a piece
of lace or a silver bowl would be suitable. We then feel the need of
some one to enlighten us as to all these unknown details, and we go to
ask advice. It does not, however, follow that we shall take the advice
we receive. To tell the truth, the advice was to deal with our
ignorance; we required an aid to knowledge rather than an incitement
to an effort of the will. Volition is something which we jealously
reserve for ourselves, and is a very different matter from the
knowledge indispensable to a decision. The choice which we make after
the advice of one or more persons will bear our own impress, it will
be the decision of our _ego_.

The choice which the mistress of a house will make to prepare a dinner
for guests is of the same nature; but there she has a perfect
knowledge of the subject, and good taste, and the decision will be
made with pleasure and without any extraneous aid.

But who does not know that in every case this making a decision is an
_internal labor_, a genuine effort; so much so that persons of feeble
will try to avoid it, as a thing irksome to them. If possible, the
mistress of the house will leave the decisions to the cook, and to a
dressmaker all the arguments necessary to make one of the many motives
that come into play in the choice of a gown prevail over the rest; the
dressmaker, seeing that a decision will only be reached after long
hesitation, will say at a certain moment: Choose this which suits you
so well, and the lady will agree, more to evade the effort of a
decision than because the garment pleases her. Our entire life is a
continual exercise of decisions. When we go out of the house after
having locked the door, we have a clear consciousness of this act, a
certainty that the house is well protected, and we _decide_ to step
out and walk away from it.

The stronger we are in such exercises, the more independent we shall
be of others. Clarity of ideas, the mechanism of the habit of
decision, give us a sense of liberty. The heaviest chain, which may
bind us in a humiliating form of slavery, is an incapacity to make our
own decisions, and the consequent need to refer to others; the fear of
making "a mistake," the sense of groping in the dark, of having to
bear the consequences of an error we are not certain to recognize,
makes us run behind another person like a dog on a chain. Finally, we
shall fall into an extremity of dependence; we shall no longer be able
to despatch a letter or buy a pocket-handkerchief without asking

But when an actual conflict arises in such a consciousness, and the
decision has to be instantaneous, irresolution is the portion of one
whose weakness has placed him in subjection to another stronger will,
and then we behold a subjection which has almost imperceptibly become
an incubus: the victim has taken the first step towards an abyss where
the feeble in will run the risk of perdition. Thus the more the young
are placed in subjection, without power to exercise their own wills,
the more easily do they fall a prey to the perils of which the world
is full.

That which gives strength to resist is not the _moral vision_, it is
the _exercise of will-power_; and this exercise is to be found in the
routine of life itself. The mother of a family, much occupied in her
mission of domestic work, and accustomed to decide in all matters
pertaining to the daily round, is more likely to gain the victory in
the event of moral conflict than a childless woman who lives in an
enervating atmosphere of domestic idleness, and has accustomed herself
to accept her husband's will as her own. Yet both of these women might
have the same moral vision. The first-mentioned, if left a widow,
might make herself conversant with business and carry on the
undertaking managed by her husband; but the second in like
circumstances would require tutelage, and would run every risk of
disaster. To ensure moral salvation, it is primarily necessary to
_depend_ on oneself, because in the moment of peril we are _alone_.
And strength is not to be acquired instantaneously. He who knows that
he will have to fight, prepares himself for boxing and dueling by
strength and skill; he does not sit still with folded hands, because
he knows that he will then either be lost or he will have to depend,
like the shadow of a body, on some one to protect him step by step
throughout his life, which in practise is impossible.

     One single moment served to conquer us,

says Francesca, in Dante's _Inferno_.

Temptation, if it is not to conquer, must not fall like a bomb against
another bomb of instantaneous moral explosions, but against the strong
walls of an impregnable fortress strongly built up, stone by stone,
beginning at that distant day when the foundations were first laid.
Persistent work, clarity of ideas, the habit of sifting conflicting
motives in the consciousness, even in the minutest actions of life,
decisions taken every moment on the smallest things, the gradual
master over one's actions, the power of self-direction increasing by
degrees in the sum of successively repeated acts, these are the stout
little stones on which the strong structure of personality is built
up. This may then be inhabited by morality, as by a princess who lives
among the embattled towers and moats of a medieval fortress that is in
a perpetual state of defense, always under arms, but with every
probability of remaining the "lady," the "_châtelaine_." If to "build
up the house" which morality will inhabit, some mastery of the body is
also necessary, such as abstinence from alcohol, which is the chief
example of poison taken from without and tending to weaken, and
movement in the open air, which facilitates material recuperation by
freeing us from the poisons which we ourselves manufacture and which
weaken us, how much more essential must be the continual exercise of
the will as a vivifying means of psychical recuperation?

Our little children are constructing their own wills when, by a
process of self-education, they put in motion complex internal
activities of comparison and judgment, and in this wise make their
intellectual acquisitions with order and clarity; this is a kind of
"knowledge" capable of preparing children to form their own decisions,
and one which makes them independent of the suggestions of others;
they can then _decide_ in every act of their daily life; they decide
to take or not to take; they decide to accompany the rhythm of a song
with movement; they decide to check every motor impulse when they
desire silence. The _constant work_ which builds up their personality
is all set in motion by _decisions_; and this takes the place of the
primitive state of _chaos_, in which, on the other hand, _actions_
were the outcome of _impulses_. A voluntary life develops gradually
within them; and doubt and timidity disappear, together with the
darkness of the primitive mental confusion.

Such a development of the will would be impossible if, instead of
allowing order and clarity to mature in the mind, we should seek to
encumber it with chaotic ideas, or with stores of lessons learnt by
heart, and then prevent children from making decisions by deciding
everything for them. Teachers who adopt these methods are justified in
saying that "a child ought not to have a will of his own," and in
teaching him that "there is no such plant as 'I will.'" Indeed, they
prevent the infantine will from developing. Under such conditions
children are conscious of a power which inhibits all their actions;
they become timid, and have no courage to undertake anything without
the help and consent of the person on whom they depend entirely. "What
color are these cherries?" a lady once asked a child, who knew quite
well that they were red. But the timid, nervous child, doubtful as to
whether it would be right or wrong to answer, murmured: "I will ask my

The volitive mechanism which prepares for decision is one of the most
important mechanisms of the will; it is valuable in itself, and should
be established and strengthened in itself. Pathology illustrates it
for us apart from the other factor of the will, and thus places it
before our eyes as a pillar of the great vault which supports the
human personality. The so-called "mania of doubt" is one of the most
frequent phases in the degenerative forms of psychopathy, and
sometimes precedes certain obsessions, which urge the sufferer on
irresistibly to the commission of immoral or harmful acts. But there
may also be a mania of doubt simple and genuine, which is confined to
the impossibility of taking a decision, and which produces a serious
state of distress, though it induces no moral lapses, and may even
arise from a moral scruple. In a hospital for nervous disorders I once
encountered a characteristic case of the "mania of doubt" which had a
moral basis. The patient was a man whose business it was to go round
to houses collecting refuse; he was seized with misgivings lest some
useful object should have accidentally fallen into the rubbish-baskets,
and that he would be suspected of appropriating it. Hereupon the
unhappy man, just when he was about to go off with his load, climbed
all the stairs again, and knocked again at all the doors, asking
whether something valuable might not perhaps have chanced to be in the
baskets. Going away after assurances to the contrary, he would return
and knock again, and so on. In vain he applied to the doctor for some
means of strengthening his will. We told him repeatedly that there was
nothing of any value in the baskets, that he might be quite easy on
this point, and carry on his business without any preoccupations. Then
a gleam of hope shone in his eyes. "I may be quite easy!" he repeated,
going away. In a minute he was back again. "Then I may really be
easy?" In vain we reassured him. "Yes, indeed, quite easy." His wife
led him away, but from the window we saw the man stop at a certain
point in the street, struggle with her, and come back in great
agitation. Once more he appeared at the door to ask: "I may be quite
easy then?"

But how often normal persons harbor in their minds the germs of such a
mania! Here, for instance, is a person who is going out; he locks the
door and shakes it; but when he has gone a few steps he is assailed by
doubt: did he fasten the door? He knows that he did, he perfectly
remembers having shaken it, but an irresistible impulse makes him go
back to see if the door is really fastened. There are children who,
before getting into bed at night, always look under it to see if there
are any animals there--cats, for instance; they see there are none,
and quite understand there are none. Nevertheless, after a while they
get out again "to see if there is anything." These germs are carried
about enclosed like tubercular bacilli in some tiny lymphatic gland;
the whole organism is weak. But the mischief is hidden and causes no
uneasiness, just as the pallor of the face may be concealed for a time
by rouge.

If we consider that the will must manifest itself in actions which the
body must carry out effectively, we shall understand that a formative
exercise is necessary to develop it by means of its mechanisms.

There is a perfect parallel between the formation of the will and the
coordination of movement of its physiological structure, the striated
muscles. It is evident that exercise is necessary to establish
precision in our movements. We know that we cannot learn to dance
without preliminary exercises, that we cannot play the piano without
practising the movements of the hand; but prior to this, the
fundamental coordination of movements, that is to say, ambulation and
prehension, must have already been established from infancy. It is not
yet so evident to us that similar gradual preparations are necessary
to develop the will.

In the purely physiological functions of the muscular apparatus, our
voluntary muscles do not all act in the same manner, but rather in two
opposite senses; some, for instance, serve to thrust the arm out from
the body, others to draw it near; some serve to bend, others to
straighten the knee; they are, that is to say, "antagonistic" in their
action. Every movement of the body is the result of a combination
between antagonistic muscles, in which now one, now the other prevails
in a kind of collaboration by which the greatest diversity of
movements is made possible to us: movements energetic, graceful,
elegant. It is thus we are enabled to establish not only a noble
attitude of the body, but a delightful motor correspondence with
musical rhythm.

To bring about this intimate combination between antagonistic forces,
all that is necessary is exercise in movement. True, we can _educate_
movement; but this only after the natural coordination has already
taken place; then we can "provoke" special movements as in sporting
games, dances, etc., which movements must, however, be repeatedly
executed by the performer himself in order to produce in him the
possibility of new combinations of movement. Not only in the case of
movements of grace and agility, but also in those of strength, it is
necessary that the performer himself should act repeatedly. The will
certainly comes into play here: the performer wishes to devote himself
to sport, or to dancing, or to the arts of self-defense, to compete in
matches, etc.... but in order to _will_ this it is necessary that he
should have practised continually, thus making ready the apparatus on
which the volitive act will finally depend, and to which it will issue
its commands. Movement is always voluntary, both when the first
movements established by "muscular coordination" take place, and when
exercises designed to produce fresh combinations of movements (skill)
follow each other--as, in short, when the will acts like a commander
whose orders are carried out by a well organized, disciplined, and
highly skilled army. Voluntary action, in respect of its "powers,"
increases in degree as its dependent muscles perfect themselves and so
achieve the necessary conditions for seconding its efforts.

It would certainly never occur to any one that in order to educate the
voluntary motility of a child, it would be well first of all to keep
it absolutely motionless, covering its limbs with cement (I will not
say fracturing them!) until the muscles become atrophied and almost
paralyzed; and then, when this result had been attained, that it would
suffice to read to the child wonderful stories of clowns, acrobats and
champion boxers and wrestlers, to fire him by such examples, and to
inspire in him an ardent desire to emulate them. It is obvious that
such a proceeding would be an inconceivable absurdity.

And yet we do something of the same kind when, in order to educate the
child's "will," we first of all attempt to annihilate it, or, as we
say, "break" it, and thus hamper the development of every factor of
the will, substituting ourselves for the child in everything. It is by
_our_ will that we keep him motionless, or make him act; it is we who
choose and decide for him. And after all this we are content to teach
him that "to will is to do" (_volere è potere_). And we present to his
fancy, in the guise of fabulous tales, stories of heroic men, giants
of will, under the illusion that by committing their deeds to memory a
vigorous feeling of emulation will be aroused and will complete the

When I was a child, attending the first classes of the elementary
schools, there was a kind teacher who was very fond of us. Of course,
she kept us captive and motionless on our seats, and talked
incessantly herself, though she looked pale and exhausted. Her fixed
idea was to make us learn by heart the lives of famous women, and
more especially "heroines," in order to incite us to imitate them; she
made us study an immense number of biographies; in order to
demonstrate to us all the possibilities of becoming illustrious and
also to convince us that it was not beyond our powers to be heroines,
since these were so numerous. The exhortation which accompanied these
narratives was always the same: "You, too, should try to become
famous; would not you, too, like to be famous?" "Oh, no!" I answered
one day, drily; "I shall never do so. I care too much for the children
of the future to add yet another biography to the list."

    *    *    *    *    *

The unanimous reports of the educationists from all parts of the world
who attended the last pedagogic and psychological international
congresses lamented the "lack of character" in the young as
constituting a great danger to the race. But it is not that character
is lacking in the race; it is that school distorts the body and
weakens the spirit. All that is needed is an act of liberation; and
the latent forces of man will then develop.

The manner in which we are to make use of our strong will is a higher
question, which, however, can rest only upon one basis: that the will
exists--that is, has been developed, and has become strong. One of the
examples usually given to our children, to teach them to admire
strength of will, is that of Vittorio Alfieri, who began to educate
himself late in life, overcoming the drudgery of the rudiments by a
great effort. He, who had hitherto been a man of the world, set to
work to study the Latin grammar, and persevered until he became a man
of letters, and, in virtue of his ardent genius, one of our greatest
poets. The phrase by which he explained his transformation is just the
phrase every child in Italy has heard quoted by his teachers: "I
willed, perpetually I willed, with all my strength I willed."

Now, before he made the great "decision," Vittorio Alfieri was the
victim of a capricious society lady whom he loved. Alfieri felt that
he was ruining himself by remaining the slave of his passion; an
internal impulse urged him to raise himself; he felt the great man
latent within him, full of powers not yet developed, but potential and
expansive; he would fain have turned them to account, responded to
their inner call, and dedicated himself to them; but then a scented
note from the lady would summon him to join her in her box at the
play, and the evening would be wasted. The power this lady exercised
over him overcame his own will, which would gladly have resisted.
Nevertheless, the rage and weariness he endured as he sat through the
silly performances at the theater caused him such acute suffering that
at last he felt that he hated the fascinating lady.

His determination took a material form: he resolved to create an
_insurmountable_ obstacle between himself and her; he accordingly cut
off the thick plait of hair which adorned his head, the badge of
gentle birth, without which he would have been ashamed to leave the
house; then he had himself bound with ropes to his armchair, where he
spent several days in such agitation that he was unable even to read a
line; it was only the material impossibility of moving, and the
thought of cutting a ridiculous figure, which kept him there, in spite
of the impulse to hasten to the beloved one.

It was thus that he "willed, willed perpetually, with all his
strength," and so left the man within him free to expand; it was thus
he saved himself from futility and perdition and worked for his own

And it is something of the same sort that we desire to bring about in
our children by the education of the will; we wish them to learn to
save themselves from the vanities that destroy man, and concentrate on
work which causes the inner life to expand, and leads to great
undertakings; we wish them to work for their own immortality.

This loving and anxious desire inclines us to draw them along shielded
by us. But is there not within the child himself a power which enables
him to save himself? The child loves us with all his heart and follows
us with all the devotion of which his little soul is capable;
nevertheless he has something within himself which governs his inner
life: it is the force of his own expansion. It is this force, for
instance, which leads him to touch things in order to become
acquainted with them, and we say to him, "Do not touch"; he moves
about to establish his equilibrium, and we tell him to "keep still";
he questions us to acquire knowledge, and we reply, "Do not be
tiresome." We relegate him to a place at our side, vanquished and
subdued, with a few tiresome playthings, like an Alfieri in the box at
the theater. He might well think: Why does she, whom I love so dearly,
want to annihilate me? Why does she wish to oppress me with her
caprices? It is caprice which makes her prevent me from developing the
expansive forces within me, and relegate me to a place among vain and
wearisome things, merely because I love her.

Thus, to save himself, the child should be a strong spirit, like
Vittorio Alfieri; but too often he cannot.

We do not perceive that the child is a victim and that we are
annihilating him; and then we demand _everything_ from his _nullity_
by a _fiat_, by an act of our omnipotence. We want the adult man, but
without allowing him to grow.

Many will think, when they read the story of Vittorio Alfieri, that
they would have wished something more in their sons; they would have
wished it to be unnecessary to set up material obstacles against
temptation, such as the cutting off of the hair and the binding to the
armchair with ropes; and would have hoped that a spiritual force would
have sufficed to resist it. Like one of our great poets who, singing
of the Roman Lucrezia, reproves her for having killed herself; since
she ought to have died of grief at the outrage, had she been even more
virtuous than she was.

Now that father with the spiritual ideals would not, in all
probability, ask himself what he himself had done to enable his son to
become strong and rise to the level of spiritual aid. Very likely he
is a father who did his utmost to break the will of his son and make
him submissive to his own will. No earthly father can make the spirit
rise to such heights; this can only be accomplished by the mysterious
voice which speaks within the heart of the man in the silence. A voice
which is strident because it is raised against the laws of Nature,
like the voice of the father who wishes to subdue another creature to
himself, disturbs that "silence" where, in peace and liberty, the
divine works are being accomplished. Without the "strong man" all is

It is recorded that a priest once presented to Saint Teresa a young
girl who wished to become a Carmelite nun, and who, according to him,
had angelic qualities. Saint Teresa, accepting the neophyte, replied:
"See, my father, our Lord has given this maiden devotion, but she has
no judgment, and never will have any; and she will always be a burden
to us."

One of the greatest of contemporary theologians, who during the
proceedings to obtain the canonisation of Joan of Arc had made a
profound study of her personality, says, in reference to the
suggestion that she was simply the instrument of divine inspiration:
"Let no one deceive himself. Joan of Arc was no blind and passive
instrument of a supernatural power. The liberator of France _had
entire command of her personality_; she gave proof of this by her
independent action, both in decisions and in deeds."

I believe that the work of the educator consists primarily in
protecting the powers and directing them without disturbing them in
their expansion; and in the bringing of man into contact with the
spirit which is within him and which should operate through him.



Let us pause a moment to consider what is the "key" by means of which
we may bring about the realization of the liberty of the child; that
key which sets in motion the mechanisms essential to education.

The child who is "free to move about," and who perfects himself by so
doing, is he who has an "intelligent object" in his movements; the
child who is free to develop his inner personality, who perseveres in
a task for a considerable time, and organizes himself upon such a
fundamental phenomenon, is sustained and guided by an intelligent
purpose. Without this his persistence in work, his inner formation,
and his progress would not be possible. When we refrain from guiding
the subjugated child step by step, when, liberating the child from our
personal influence, we place him in an environment suited to him and
in contact with the means of development, we leave him confidently to
"his own intelligence." His motor activity will then direct itself to
definite actions: he will wash his hands and face, sweep the room,
dust the furniture, change his clothes, spread the rugs, lay the
table, cultivate plants, and take care of animals. He will choose the
tasks conducive to his development and persist in them, attracted and
guided by his interest towards a sensory material which leads him to
distinguish one thing from another, to select, to reason, to correct
himself; and the acquirements thus made are not only "a cause of
internal growth" but a strong propulsive force to further progress.
Thus, passing from simple objects to objects of ever increasing
complexity, he becomes possessed of a culture; moreover, he organizes
his character by means of the internal order which forms itself within
him, and by the skill which he acquires.

Therefore, when we leave the child to himself, we leave him to his
intelligence, not, as is commonly supposed, "to his instincts,"
meaning by the word "instincts" those designated as animal instincts.
We are so accustomed to; treat children like dogs and other domestic
animals, that a "free child" makes us think of a dog, barking,
jumping, and stealing dainties. And so accustomed are we to regard as
manifestations of evil instincts the _rebellions_ of the child treated
as a beast, his obscure protests and desperations, or the protective
devices he has to invent to save himself from such a humiliating
situation, that, by way of elevating him, we first compare him to
plants and flowers, and then actually try to keep him as far as
possible in the state of physical immobility of vegetables, subjecting
him to the same sensations, reducing him to slavery. But he never
becomes the "plant with angelic perfume" we would fain believe him to
be; rather do signs of corruption gradually manifest themselves as his
"human substance" mortifies and dies.

But when we leave the child "free as a man" in the palestra of his own
intelligence, his type changes entirely. It is of this type we must
form new conceptions in discussing the question of "liberty."

That of intelligence should also, I believe, be the key to the problem
of the social liberty of man. We have heard much talk of late years,
of a very superficial kind, concerning "liberty of thought." The issue
being obscured by prejudices akin to those prevalent concerning
children, it has been supposed that man would be "liberated" were he
"abandoned" to his own thoughts. But was he capable of "thinking"? Was
not the epoch of such "freedom" also that of cerebral neurasthenia?
Was it not also that epoch when laws for extending social rights to
illiterates were under discussion?

Now let us take an example: if we told a sick person to choose between
disease and health, would this make him free to do so? If we offer an
uneducated peasant good and bad paper money, leaving him "free to
choose" which he will take, and he chooses the bad notes, he is not
free, he is cheated; if he chooses the good, he is not free, he is
lucky. He will be free when he has sufficient knowledge not only to
distinguish the good from the bad, but to understand the social
utility of each. It is the giving of this "internal formation" which
makes a man free, irrespective of a "social sanction" which is merely
an external conquest of liberty. If the liberty of man were such a
simple problem, we should only need to pass a law, enabling the blind
to see and the deaf to hear, in order to restore "poor humanity" to

Our honesty ought to make us recognize one day that the fundamental
rights of man are those of his own "formation," free from obstacles,
free from slavery, and free to draw from his environment the means
required for his development. In short, it is in education that we
shall find the fundamental solution of the social problems connected
with "personality."

Deeply instructive is the revelation made to us by the children, that
"the intelligence" is the key which reveals the secrets of their
formation, and is the actual means of their internal construction.

The hygiene of the intelligence thus assumes cardinal importance. When
intelligence is recognized as the means of formation, the pivot of
life itself, it can no longer be exhausted for dubious ends, or
oppressed and suffocated without discernment.

At a not-far-distant day, the intelligence of children must become the
object of treatment much wiser and more elaborate than that which we
now bestow on their bodies, to adjuncts of which, such as teeth,
nails, and hair, we devote costly and laborious processes. When we
reflect that a mother who is perfectly conscious of the dangers and
remedies connected with the hair of her child, can oppress and enslave
his intelligence quite unknowingly, we are at once obliged to admit
that the new road leading to civilization must needs be a long one, if
such contrasts in our attitude to the superfluities and the essentials
of life are still possible at the present day.

    *    *    *    *    *

What is intelligence? Without rising to the heights of the definitions
given by the philosophers, we may, for the moment, consider the sum of
those reflex and associative or reproductive activities which enable
the mind to construct itself, putting it into relation with the
environment. According to Bain, the consciousness of difference is the
beginning of every intellectual exercise; the first step of the mind
is appreciation of "distinction." The bases of its perceptive
functions towards the external world are the "sensations." To collect
facts and distinguish between them is the initial process in
intellectual construction.

Let us try to infuse a little more precision and clarity into the
analysis of intelligence.

The first characteristic which presents itself to us as an indication
of intellectual development is related to _time_. The masses are so
much alive to this primitive characteristic, that the popular
expression "quick" is synonymous with intelligent. To be rapid in
reacting to a stimulus, in the association of ideas, in the capacity
of formulating a judgment--this is the most obvious external
manifestation of intelligence. This "quickness" is certainly related
to the capacity for receiving impressions from the environment,
elaborating images, and externalizing the internal results. All these
activities may be developed by means of an exercise comparable to a
system of mental "gymnastics" to collect numerous sensations, to put
them constantly in relation one with another, to deduce judgments
therefrom, to acquire the habit of manifesting these freely, all this
ought, as the psychologists would say, to render the conductive
channels and the associative channels more and more permeable, and the
"period of reaction" ever briefer. As in intelligent muscular
movement, the repetition of the act not only renders it more perfect
in itself, but more rapid in execution. An intelligent child at school
is not only one who understands, but one who understands quickly. On
the other hand, one who learns the same things, but who takes a longer
time in so doing, say two years instead of one, is _slow_. Of a
"quick" child, the people say that "nothing escapes him"; his
attention is always on the alert, and he is ready to receive every
kind of stimulus: as a sensitive scale will show the slightest
variation in weight, so the sensitive brain will respond to the
slightest appeal. It is Equally rapid in its associative processes:
"He understands in a flash" is a familiar saying to indicate accurate

Now an exercise which "puts in motion" the intellectual mechanisms
can only be an "auto-exercise." It is impossible that another person,
exercising himself in our stead, should make us acquire skill.

The sensory exercises arouse and intensify the central activities in
our children. When, sense and stimulus duly isolated, the child has
clear perceptions in his consciousness; when sensations of heat, cold,
roughness, smoothness, weight, and lightness, when a sound, an
isolated noise, are perceived by him, when, in almost complete
silence, he closes his eyes and waits for a voice to murmur a word, it
is as if the external world had knocked at the door of his soul,
awakening its activities. And further, when the multitudinous
sensations are all contained in the richness of the environment, the
two react harmoniously one upon the other, intensifying the activities
that have been awakened: this is exemplified in the case of the child
absorbed in coloring his designs, who will choose the most beautiful
tints while music is being played, or in that of another who,
contemplating the gay and gracious environment of the school and the
flowering plants, will sing his song to perfection.

The first characteristic which manifests itself in our children, after
their process of auto-education has been initiated, is that their
reactions become ever more ready and more rapid: a sensory stimulus
which might before have passed unobserved or might have roused a
languid interest, is vividly perceived. The relation between things is
easily recognized, and thus errors in their use are quickly detected,
judged, and corrected. By means of the sensory gymnastics the child
carries out just this primordial and fundamental exercise of the
intelligence, which _awakens and sets in motion_ the central nervous

When we see these external manifestations of our quick and active
children--sensitive to the slightest call, ready to run swiftly
towards us without relaxing the attention they give to their own
movements and to all the external objects they encounter--and compare
them with the torpid children in the ordinary schools--clumsy in their
movements, indifferent to stimuli, incapable of spontaneous
association of ideas--we are led to think of the civilization of our
own days as compared with that of olden times. The civil environment
of bygone years, as compared with our own, was more leisurely: we have
learnt how to save time. The stage-coach was once the means of
transport, whereas now we travel in motor-cars and even in aeroplanes;
the voice was the medium of speech from a distance, whereas now we
speak through the telephone; men killed each other one by one, whereas
now they kill each other _en masse_. All this makes us realize that
our civilization is not based upon "respect for life" and "respect for
the soul," but rather is it based upon "respect for time." It is
solely in an external sense that civilization has pursued its course.
It has become more rapid, it has set in motion _machinery_.

But man has not had the same preparation to keep up with it:
individuals have not _accelerated_ themselves methodically; the
children of this bewildering environment are not new men, more active,
readier, more intelligent. The transformed human personality has not
yet arisen ready to meet all eventualities and to utilize for his own
benefit the external conquests of his environment. Torpid man saves
time and money in this civilization; but his soul remains defrauded
and oppressed.

If he does not rise to the task of reforming himself in harmony with
the new world he has created, he runs the risk of being some day
overthrown and crushed by it.

    *    *    *    *    *

The swift reactions occurring among our children are not merely an
external manifestation of the intelligence. They are related not only
to the _exercise_, but also to the _order_ which has been established
within: and it is this intimate work of rearrangement which is in
itself a more exact indication of intellectual formation.

Order is, in short, the true key to rapidity of reaction. In a chaotic
mind, the recognition of a sensation is no less difficult than the
elaboration of a reasoned discourse. In all things, social as well as
others, it is organization and order which make it possible to proceed

"To be able to distinguish" is the characteristic sign of
intelligence: to _distinguish_ is to arrange and also, in life, it is
to prepare for "creation."

Creation finds its expansion in _order_. We find this conception in
the Genesis of Scripture. God did not begin to create without
preparation; and this preparation was the introduction of order into
chaos. "And God divided the light from the darkness. And he said: Let
the waters be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land
appear." The consciousness may possess a rich and varied content; but
when there is _mental confusion_, the intelligence does not appear.
Its appearance is exactly like the kindling of a light which makes it
possible to distinguish things clearly: "Let there be light."

Thus we may justly say that to help the development of the
intelligence is to help to put the images of the consciousness in

We ought to think of the mental state of the little child of three
years old, who has already looked upon a world. How often he has
fallen asleep utterly weary from having seen so many things. It has
not occurred to any one that for him to walk is, in fact, to work;
that seeing and hearing, when the organs are not as yet accommodated,
so that he is obliged to be perpetually correcting the errors of his
senses, and verifying with his hand what he cannot as yet appraise
correctly with his eye, is a great exertion. Hence the little one who
is over-taxed by stimuli, in places where these abound, cries or falls

The little child of three years old carries within him a heavy

He is like a man who has accumulated an immense quantity of books,
piled up without any order, and who asks himself "What shall I do with
them?" When will he be able to arrange them in such fashion as to
enable him to say: "I possess a library"?

By means of our so-called "sensory exercises" we make it possible for
the child to _distinguish_ and to _classify_. Our sensory material, in
fact, analyses and represents the attributes of things: dimensions,
forms, colors, smoothness or roughness of surface, weight,
temperature, flavor, noise, sounds. It is the qualities of the
objects, not the objects themselves which are important; although
these qualities, isolated one from the other, are themselves
represented by objects. For the attributes long, short, thick, thin,
large, small, red, yellow, green, hot, cold, heavy, light, rough,
smooth, scented, noisy, resonant, we have a like number of
corresponding "objects" arranged in graduated series. This gradation
is important for the establishment of order; indeed, the attributes of
the objects differ not only in quality, but also in quantity. They may
be more or less high or more or less low, more or less thick or more
or less thin; the sounds have various tones; the colors have various
degrees of intensity; the shapes may resemble each other in varying
degrees; the states of roughness and smoothness are by no means

The material for the education of the senses lends itself to the
purpose of distinguishing between these things. First of all it
enables the child to ascertain the _identity_ of two stimuli by means
of numerous exercises in matching and fitting. Afterwards _difference_
is appreciated when the lessons direct the child's attention to the
external objects of a series: light, dark, long, short.

At last he begins to distinguish the _degrees of the various
attributes_, arranging a series of objects in gradation, such as the
tablets which show the various degrees of intensity of the same
chromatic tone; the bells which produce the notes of an octave, the
objects which represent length in decimal proportions, or thickness in
centimetric proportions, etc.

These exercises, which are so attractive to children, are, as we have
seen, repeated by them indefinitely. The teacher puts the seal upon
each acquisition with a word; thus the classification is complete, and
finally has its schedule: that is, it becomes possible to recall the
attribute and its _image_ by a name.

Now as we have no possible means of distinguishing things other than
by their attributes, the classification of these entails a fundamental
order of arrangement comprehending everything. Henceforth the world is
no longer a chaos for the child; his mind bears some resemblance to
the orderly shelves of a library or a rich museum; each object is in
its place, in its proper category. And each acquisition he makes will
be no longer merely "stored," but duly "allocated." This primitive
order will never be disturbed, but only enriched by fresh material.

Thus the child, having acquired the power of distinguishing one thing
from another, has laid the foundations of the intelligence. It is
unnecessary to repeat what an internal impulse the acquired order
contributes towards the seeking after objects in the environment;
henceforth the child "recognizes" the objects which surround him. When
he discovers with so much emotion that the sky is blue, that his hand
is smooth, that the window is rectangular, he does not in reality
discover sky, nor hand, nor window, but he discovers their position in
the order of his mind by arrangement of his ideas. And this determines
a stable equilibrium in the internal personality, which produces calm,
strength, and the possibility of fresh conquests, just as the muscles
which have coordinated their functions enable the body to maintain its
equilibrium, and to acquire that stability and security which
facilitate all movements. This order conduces to an economy of time
and strength; like a well-arranged museum, it saves the time and
strength of inquirers. The child can therefore perform a greater
quantity of work without fatigue, and can react to stimuli in a
briefer space of time.

    *    *    *    *    *

To be able to distinguish, classify, and catalogue external things on
the basis of a secure order already established in the mind--this is
at once intelligence and culture. This is, indeed, the popular
conception; when an educated person can recognize an author by his
style, or the characteristics of the literary compositions of a
period, he is pronounced "versed (_intelligente_) in literature." In
the same way we say of one who can recognize a painter by the manner
in which he lays his colors on the canvas, or fix the period of a
sculptor from the fragment of a bas-relief, that he is "versed
(_intelligente_) in art." The scientist is of the same type. He is
able to observe things, and to give due value even to their minutest
details; hence the differences between the characteristics of things
are clearly perceived and classified. The scientist distinguishes
objects in accordance with the orderly content of his mind. A
seedling, a microbe, an animal or the remains of an animal, are not
enigmas to him, though in themselves they may be strange to him. We
may say the same of the chemist, the physicist, the geologist, the

It is not the accumulation of a direct knowledge of things which forms
the man of letters, the scientist, and the connoisseur; it is the
prepared order established in the mind which is to receive such
knowledge. On the other hand, the uncultivated person has only the
direct knowledge of objects; such a person may be a lady who spends a
great part of the night reading books, or a gardener who spends his
life making material distinctions between the plants in his garden.
The knowledge of such uncultured minds is not only disorderly, but it
is confined to the objects with which it comes into direct contact,
whereas the knowledge of the scientist is infinite, because,
possessing the power of classifying the attributes of things, he can
recognize them all, and determine now the class, now the
relationships, now the origins of each; facts much more profound than
the actual things could of themselves reveal.

Now our children, after the manner of the connoisseur of art and the
man of science, recognize objects in the external world by means of
their attributes and classify them; hence they are sensitive to all
objects; everything possesses a value for them. Uncultured children,
on the other hand, pass blind and deaf close to things, just as an
ignorant man passes by a work of art or listens to a performance of
classical music without recognition or enjoyment.

The educational methods now in use proceed on lines exactly the
reverse of ours; having first abolished spontaneous activity, they
present objects with their accumulation of attributes directly to the
child, calling attention to each attribute, and hoping that from all
this mass the mind of the child will be able to abstract the
attributes themselves, without any guidance or order. Thus they create
in a passive being an artificial chaos, more limited than that which
the natural world would offer.

The "objective" method now in use, which consists in presenting an
object and noting all its attributes--that is, describing it, is
nothing but a "sensory" variation on the customary mnemonic method;
instead of describing an absent object, a present object is described;
instead of the imagination alone working to effect its reconstruction,
the senses intervene; this is done so that the distinctive qualities
of the object itself should be better remembered. The passive mind
receives images, which are limited to the objects presented; and which
are "stored up" without any order. As a fact, every object may have
infinite attributes; and if, as often happens in object-lessons, the
origins and ultimate ends of the object itself are included among
these attributes, the mind has literally to range throughout the
universe. If, for instance, in an object lesson on coffee, which I
heard given in a Kindergarten school, the object is described and the
attention of the children directed to its size, its color, its shape,
its aroma, its flavor, its temperature; and then if the teacher goes
on to describe the plant and the manner in which the substance was
brought to Europe across the ocean, and, finally, lighting a
spirit-lamp, boils the water, grinds the berries and prepares the
beverage, the mind has been led to wander in infinite spaces, but the
subject has not been exhausted. For it would be possible to go on to
describe the exciting effects of coffee, caffeine, which is extracted
from the berry, and many other things. Such an analysis would spread
like spilt oil until finally dispersed, and the outcome would be of no
use in any way. If, indeed, we should ask a child so instructed: "What
is coffee, then?" he might well reply: "It is such a long story that I
cannot remember it." A notion so vague (I cannot certainly say so
complete!) fatigues and encumbers the mind and can never transform
itself into a dynamic excitation of similar associations. The efforts
the child makes will be, at the most, efforts of memory to recall the
history of coffee. If associations are formed in his mind, they will
be inferior associations of contiguity: his mind will wander from the
teacher who is speaking to the ocean that was traversed, to the
dining-table at home on which coffee appears in cups every day; in
other words, it will stray aimlessly as does the idle mind when it
"allows itself" to wander from the continuity of its passive

In this kind of _reverie_ to which the minds of children give
themselves up, there is no sign of internal activity, far less of any
individual difference. Children subjected to the object-lesson system
always remain purely receptive beings; or, if we prefer to put it so,
storehouses in which new objects are continually deposited.

No activity is thus aroused and directed towards the object, in order
to recognize its qualities in such a manner that the child himself
forms an idea of it; nor can the possibility of connecting other
objects with the first by their common characteristics arise in his
mind. For in what particular does any object resemble the others? In
its use?

When we associate the images of different objects by similarity, we
should extract from the whole the qualities which the objects
themselves have in common. If, for instance, we say that two
rectangular tablets are alike, we have first extracted from the
numerous qualities of these tablets such facts as that they are of
wood, that they are polished, smooth, colored, of the same
temperature, etc., the quality relating to their _shape_. They are
alike in _shape_. This may suggest a long series of objects: the top
of the table, the window, etc.; but before such a result as this can
be achieved, it is necessary that the mind should first be capable of
abstracting from the numerous attributes of these objects the quality
of _rectangular shape_. The work of the mind in this quest must
necessarily be _active_; it analyzes the object, extracts a determined
attribute therefrom, and under the guidance of this determined
attribute makes a synthesis associating many objects by the same
medium of connection. If this capacity for the selecting of single
attributes among all those proper to the object be not acquired,
association by means of similarity, synthesis, and all the higher work
of the intelligence becomes impossible. Moreover, this is intellectual
work in reality, because the essential quality of the intelligence is
not to "photograph" objects, and "keep them one upon the other" like
the pages of an album, or juxtaposed like the stones in a pavement.
Such a labor of mere "deposit" is an outrage on the intellectual
nature. The intelligence, with its characteristic orderliness and
power of discrimination, is capable of distinguishing and extracting
the dominant characteristics of objects, and it is upon these that it
proceeds to build up its internal structures.

Now our children, whose minds are thus ordered in relation to the
classification of attributes by the pedagogic aid they have received,
are led, not only to observe objects according to all the attributes
they have analyzed, but also to distinguish identities, differences,
and resemblances; and this work renders the extraction of one of the
qualities corresponding to one of the sensory groups which have been
considered apart, easy and spontaneous. That is to say, it will be
easy for the child thus to recognize the various qualities of an
object, to note, for instance, that certain objects are alike in form,
or alike in color; because "forms" and "colors" have already been
grouped into very distinctive categories, and they therefore recall
series of objects by similarity. This classification of attributes is
a kind of loadstone; it is an attractive force of a determined group
of qualities; and the objects which have this quality are attracted
thereto and united one with another; this is association by
similitude, almost of a mechanical kind. Books are of the shape of
prisms, one of our children might say; and such a pronouncement would
be the conclusion arrived at by a very complex mental process, were it
not that prismatic forms already existed as a well-defined series in
his mind, attracting to itself all the surrounding objects which
possess the same character. Thus the whiteness of sheets of paper,
interrupted by dark signs, may be attracted, by the colors
systematized in the mind, into a synthetic whole, which might make
the child say: Books are sheets of white printed paper.

It is in this _active_ work that individual differences may manifest
themselves. What will be the group of attributes which will attract
similar objects? And what will be the prevailing characteristic chosen
for the purpose of association by similarity? One child will note that
a curtain is light green; another that the same curtain is light in
weight; one will be struck by the whiteness of a hand, another by the
smoothness of its skin. For one child the window will be a rectangle;
to another it is something through which the blue of the sky may be
seen. The choice of prevailing characteristics made by children
becomes a "natural selection" harmonizing with their own innate

In like manner, a scientist will choose the characters _most useful_
to his associations. An anthropologist may choose the shape of the
head to distinguish the human races, and another might choose the
cutaneous pigment--either will serve the purpose. Each anthropologist
may have the most accurate knowledge of the external characteristics
of men; but the important matter consists in finding a characteristic
which will serve as a basis for classification: that is to say, a
characteristic on which it will be possible to group numerous
characteristics in the order of similitude. Purely practical persons
would consider man from the utilitarian rather than from the
scientific point of view; a maker of hats would single out the
dimensions of the head from among other human characteristics; an
orator would consider man from the point of view of his susceptibility
to the spoken word. But _selection_ is the fundamental necessity which
enables us to realize things; to emerge from the vague into the
practical, from aimless contemplation into the sphere of action.

Every created thing in existence is characterized by the fact that it
has _limitations_. Our own psycho-sensory organization is founded upon
a selection. What are the functions of the senses, but to respond to a
determined series of vibrations and to no others? Thus the eye limits
light and the ear sounds. In forming the contents of the mind the
first step is, therefore, a selection, necessarily and materially
limited. Nevertheless, the mind imposes still further limits on the
selection possible to the senses, fashioning it upon the activity of
internal choice. Thus attention is fixed upon determined objects and
not upon all objects; and the volition _chooses_ the actions which are
really to be performed from among a multitude of possible actions.

It is in like fashion that the lofty work of the intelligence is
accomplished; by an analogous action of attention and internal will,
it abstracts the dominant characteristics of things, and thus succeeds
in associating their images, and keeping them in the foreground of
consciousness. It ceases to consider an immense amount of ballast
which would render its context formless and confused. Every superior
mind distinguishes the essential form from the superfluous, rejecting
the latter, and thus it is enabled to achieve its characteristic,
clear, delicate, and vital activities. It is capable of extracting
that which is useful to its creative life, and thus finds in the
cosmos the means of salvation. Without this characteristic activity,
the intelligence cannot construct itself; it would be like an
attention that wanders from thing to thing without ever fixing upon
any one of them, and like a will that can never decide upon any
definite action.

"It is possible to suppose," says James, "that a God could, without
impairing his activity, simultaneously behold all the minutest
portions of the world. But if our human attention should be thus
dissipated, we should merely contemplate all things vacuously, without
ever finding occasion to do any particular act."

It is one of the marvelous phenomena of life that it is impossible to
realize anything, without determining limits; that mysterious law
which ordains that every living being has its "form" and "stature,"
unlike the minerals, which are indefinite in form and dimensions, is
repeated in the psychical life. Its development, its auto-creation, is
nothing but a determination even more precise, a progressive
"concentration"; it is thus that from the primitive chaos our internal
characteristic form is gradually shaped and chiselled.

The capacity for forming a conception of a thing, for judging and
reasoning, has always this foundation. When, after having noted the
usual qualities of a column, we abstract the general truth that the
column is a support, this synthetic idea is based upon a selected
quality. Thus in the judgment we may pronounce: columns are
cylindrical, we have abstracted one quality from among the many others
we could have adduced, as, columns are cold, they are hard, they are a
composition of carbonate of lime, etc. It is only the capacity for
such a selection which makes reasoning possible. When, for example, in
the demonstration of the theorem of Pythagoras, children handle the
various pieces of the metal insets, they should start from the point
at which they become aware that a rectangle is equal to the rhomb, and
a square is equal to the same rhomb. It is the perception of this
truth which makes it possible to go on to the following reasoning:
therefore the square and the rectangle are equal to each other. If it
had not been possible to determine this attribute, the mind could not
have arrived at any conclusion. The mind has succeeded in discovering
an attribute common to two dissimilar figures; and it is this
discovery which may lead to a series of conclusions by means of which
the theorem of Pythagoras will be finally demonstrated.

    *    *    *    *    *

Now, as in the case of will, decision presupposes a methodical
exercise of the impulsive and inhibitory forces, only to be performed
by the individual himself, until habits have been established, so in
case of the intelligence, the individual must exercise himself in his
activities of association and selection, guided and aided by external
means, until he has developed, by the definitive elimination of
certain ideas and the choice of others, "mental habits" characteristic
of the individual, characteristic of the "type." Because, underlying
all the internal activities the mind can construct, there is, as the
phenomena of attention show us, the individual tendency, the "nature."

There is, undoubtedly, a fundamental difference between understanding
and learning the reasoning of others, and being able "to reason,"
between learning how an artist may see the external world according to
his prevailing interest in color, harmony, and form, and actually
seeing the external world about a fulcrum which sustains one's own
æsthetical creation. In the mind of one who "learns the things of
others" we may find, as in a sack of old clothes hanging over the
shoulders of a hawker, solutions of the problems of Euclid, together
with the images of Raphael's works, ideas of history and geography,
and rules of style, huddled together with a like indifference and a
like sensation of "weight." While, on the other hand, he who uses all
these things for his own life, is like the person who is assisted in
attaining his own welfare, his own relief, his own comfort by those
same objects which are merely burdens when in the sack of the hawker.
Such objects are, however, no longer huddled together without order
and without purpose in a closed bag, but set out in the spacious rooms
of a well-ordered house. The mind which constructs may contain a great
deal more than that mind in which pieces of knowledge are heaped up as
in the bag; and in that mind, as in the house, the objects are clearly
divided one from another, harmoniously arranged, and distinctive in
their uses.

Between "understanding" because another person seeks to impress upon
us the explanation of a thing by speech, and "understanding" the thing
of ourselves, there is an immeasurable distance; the two are
comparable to the impression made in soft wax, which will subsequently
be effaced and replaced by other impressions, and the form chiselled
in the marble by an artist, as his creation. He who understands of
himself has an unforeseen impression; he feels that his consciousness
has been liberated, and something luminous shines forth within him.
Understanding, then, is not a matter of indifference; it is the
beginning of _something_; sometimes it is the beginning of a life
which renews itself within us. Perhaps no emotion is more fruitful for
man than the intellectual emotion. He who makes a discovery rich in
results certainly enjoys the greatest of human felicities; but even he
who merely "understands" gets a lofty enjoyment which will rise
superior to and overcome the most acute suffering. Indeed, he who is
oppressed by a misfortune, if he can be brought to differentiate his
own case from that of another, or to see a reason for his affliction,
experiences relief, and a "sense of salvation." Amidst the confused
darkness in which he was plunged, a consoling ray of intellectual
light has reached him. The difficult matter, indeed, is to find the
way of escape in the hour of darkness. When we reflect that a dog may
die of grief on the grave of his master, and that a mother can survive
on the grave of her only son, we see at once that it is the light of
_reason_ which makes the difference between the two. The dog _cannot
reason on the matter_; it may die because no light can penetrate the
darkness of its intelligence to overcome the depression of its grief.

But the thought of a universal justice, the living memory of the lost
one which remains to us, saves the human being. And by degrees, not
forgetfulness, which alone can save the animal, but the connection
which the intelligence establishes with the universe, restores calm to
the suffering soul. Such comfort could never be derived from the dry
lesson of a professor, from memorizing the theory of a savant who is
not in sympathy with the state of our soul. When we say, "to give
ourselves a reason," "to derive strength from a principle," we imply
that the ever-inquiring intelligence should be left at liberty to
perform its work of reconstruction and salvation.

Now if intelligence in "comprehending" may actually prove our
salvation when in danger of death, what a source of enjoyment it
should prove to man!

When we talk of "the opening of the mind," we mean a creative
phenomenon, which is not the weak result of an impression violently
made from without. The opening of the mind is the _active
comprehension_ which accompanies great emotions, and which is
therefore felt as a spiritual event.

I once knew a motherless girl, who was so much depressed by the arid
teaching of her school, that she had become almost incapable of study
and even of understanding the things which were taught her. Her life
of solitude, lacking in natural affection, was a further aggravation
of her mental fatigue. Her father decided that she should live for a
year or two in the open country like a little savage; he then brought
her back to town, and placed her under the private direction of a
number of "professors." The girl studied and learned, but remained
passive and weary. Every now and then her father would say: "Is your
mind opening again?" and the girl always replied: "I do not know. What
do you mean?" Owing to a curious coincidence in my life, this girl was
confided to my sole care; and it was thus that I, when I was still a
medical student, made my first pedagogic experiment, upon which I
cannot linger now, though it would be worthy of interest. One day we
were together and when she was at work on organic chemistry, she broke
off, and looking at me with beaming eyes, said: "Here it is now! I
_do_ understand!" She then got up and went away, calling out aloud:
"Father, father! My mind has opened!" I, not then knowing the girl's
history, was astonished and agitated. She had taken her father's hand,
and was saying: "Now I can tell you, yes, yes; I did not know what it
meant before; my mind has opened." The joy of father and daughter and
their union at that moment made me think of the joys and wellsprings
of life which we destroy by enslaving the intelligence.

Indeed, every intellectual conquest is a wellspring of joy to our free
children. This is the "pleasure" to which they are now most
susceptible, and which makes them scorn lower pleasures; it is after
having tasted of this that; our little ones despise sweetmeats, toys,
and vanities.

It is this which makes them sublime to the eyes of those who
contemplate them.

Their pleasure is that lofty pleasure which distinguish man from the
brute, and can save us even from the desolation of grief and darkness.

When it is made a reproach to our method that it seeks to promote the
"pleasure" of the child, and that this is immoral, it is the child and
not the method which is insulted. For the essence of this reproach is
the calumny against the child, who is considered by all as on a level
with the beasts, and whose "pleasure" is supposed to lie solely in
gluttony and idleness, and worse. But none of these could keep the
child's "pleasure" alive for hours and days and years. It is only when
he has laid hold on "humane pleasure" that he persists in it, and
lives with a joy which is comparable to that of the young girl who ran
to her father to proclaim the end of the darkness in which she had
languished for years.

May it not perhaps be that those "crises," which are to-day but the
intellectual illuminations of genius when it discovers a truth,
represent a natural phenomenon of psychical life? May not the
manifestation of the genius be but the manifestation of a "vigorous
life," saved from perils by its exceptional individuality, and
therefore itself alone capable of revealing the true nature of man?
His type would then be the common one, and all men, in a greater or
less degree, would seem to be of the same "species." The paths the
child follows in the active "construction" of his individuality are
indeed identical with those followed by the genius. His
characteristics are absorbed attention, a profound concentration which
isolates him from all the stimuli of his environment, and corresponds
in intensity and duration to the development of spiritual activities.
As in genius, this concentration is not without results, but is the
source of intellectual crises, of rapid internal developments, and,
above all, of an "external activity" which expresses itself in work.

We may say, then, that the genius is the man who has burst his bonds
asunder, who has maintained his liberty, and who has upheld before the
eyes of the multitude the standard of the humanity conquered by him.

Nearly all the manifestations of those men who liberated themselves
from the external bondage of their times are to be noted in our
children. Such, for instance, is that sublime "spiritual obedience,"
at present still unknown to the majority of mankind, with the
exception of monks, who, however, often recognize it only in theory,
and contemplate it only in the examples given by the saints; such
again are those means necessary to the construction of a strong
internal life which form part of the preparation for the cloistered
life in the methodical "meditations" of those about to enter upon it.
No persons, with the exception of monks, practise meditation. We can
hardly distinguish meditation from methods for "learning"
intellectually. We know, for example, that to read a great number of
books consecutively, dissipates our powers and our capacity for
thought; and that to learn a piece of poetry by heart means to repeat
it until it is engraven on our minds: and that all this is not

He who commits a verse of Dante to memory and he who meditates upon a
verse of the gospel, performs a totally different task. The canto
will "adorn" the mind on which it is impressed for a certain time,
without leaving any lasting trace upon it. The verse which has been
the subject of meditation will have a transforming and edifying
effect. He who meditates clears his mind as far as possible of every
other image, and tries to concentrate upon the subject of meditation
in such a manner that all the internal activities will be polarised
thereby: or, as the monks say, "all the powers of the mind."

The expected result of the meditation is "an internal fruit of
strength"; the soul is strengthened and unified, it becomes active; it
can then act upon the seed around which it has concentrated and cause
it to become fruitful.

Now the method chosen by our children in following their natural
development is "meditation," for in no other way would they be led to
linger so long over each individual task, and so to derive a gradual
internal maturation therefrom. The aim of the children who persevere
in their work with an object, is certainly not to "learn"; they are
drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be organized
and developed by its means. In this manner they imitate and carry on
their "growth." This is the habit by which they gradually coordinate
and enrich their intelligence. As they meditate, they enter upon that
path of progress which will continue without end.

It is after an exercise of meditation on the objects that our children
become capable of enjoying "the silence exercise"; and then, having
been rendered delicately susceptible to impressions, they try to make
no noise when they move, to refrain from awkward actions, because they
are enjoying the fruit of the "concentration" of the spirit.

It is thus that their personality is unified and strengthened. The
exercise which serves as the means to this end is designed gradually
to perfect the accuracy with which they perceive the external world,
observing, reasoning, and correcting the errors of the senses in a
sustained and spontaneous activity. It is they who act, they who
choose the objects, they who persevere in their work, they who seek to
win from their environment the possibility of concentrating their
minds upon it. Each one of them moves in obedience to the motor power
within him. They are not disturbed by a teacher, by a being obviously
superior to themselves, who intimidates the shrinking poverty of those
who are beginning life by her lofty intellectual riches, who darkens
rather than illuminates, who wearies rather than refreshes; but they
live in peace with her who, almost a priestess, is yet a servant. As
in some ideal convent, humility, simplicity, and work make up the
environment where he who meditates will some day feel within himself
the clearness of vision, the intuition, almost the sensibility, which
make one ready to receive the truth.

To a different end, but by the same road, amidst the silence, the
simplicity, and the humility of the monastery, the spirit prepares
itself to receive the faith at the outset of life.

Many years ago, when I first received the impression that our children
revealed general principles of life which in practise we are only
privileged to encounter among the intellectual and spiritual _élite_
of society, and that for this reason they were at the same time the
revealers of a form of unconscious oppression which weighed down
humanity, deforming the inner life, I spoke at length upon the matter
to an intellectual lady, who was much interested in my "theories,"
and very anxious that I should make them the subject of an elaborate
philosophical treatise; but she could not bring herself to accept the
idea that it was a question of an experimental process. When I spoke
of the children, she showed some impatience: "Oh, yes, I quite
understand all about these children; in intelligence they are so many
geniuses, and in goodness so many angels." But when, after some
persuasion, I succeeded in making her come and _see_ for herself, she
took my hands and looked earnestly in my face: "Have you never
thought," she asked, "that you may die at any moment?... Write at
once, anyhow, in all haste, as you would write a will, a simple
description of the facts, that you may not carry away this secret with
you to the grave."

Nevertheless, I was in excellent health.

    *    *    *    *    *

If we examine the mental labors of men of genius to whom we owe
discoveries which have opened new paths to thought, and have given us
new sources of well-being and social progress, we shall have to admit
that in themselves they cannot be described as extraordinary
processes, inaccessible to mediocrity. "Genius coincides with the
possession in a very high degree of the power of association by
similarity. This is the essential quality of genius," says Bain. Even
at the "central point" of discovery, it is only by accurate
observation and a very simple process of reasoning, of which most
persons would consider themselves capable, that the discovery is made.
At most it is due to a marshalling of "evidences" which, however,
passed unnoticed by all but the discoverer.

We may say that genius has the faculty of isolating a fact in the
consciousness, and of so distinguishing it from all others that it is
as if a single ray of light should fall upon a diamond in a dark room.
This single idea, then, causes a complete revolution in the
consciousness, and is capable of constructing something infinitely
great and precious for all humanity.

But it is the intense significance of ordinary things, and not the
abnormal, which is the main factor; it is the isolation in a
homogeneous field, not the intrinsic value of the thing, which
determines the marvelous phenomenon. Perhaps within countless
thousands of chaotic perceptions the gem had existed, stored up amidst
a multitude of useless and cumbrous objects, and had never succeeded
in arresting attention; meanwhile inertia continued to allow new
objects to penetrate continually within the distended and impotent
walls. After a discovery, many will perceive that they themselves held
the same truth within them; but in this case it is not the truth
itself that has value, but the man who is capable of appreciating it
and bringing it into relation with action.

But very often it is not the case that the newly discovered truth
already exists in the chaos of obscure consciousness; and then the new
light, simple though it be, can find no way by which to penetrate into
the mind.

It is rejected as something strange and fallacious; and a certain
lapse of time is necessary, a certain coordination of the
intelligence, to enable the "novelty" to enter. Yet some day it will
be considered clear as crystal. It was not the "nature" of man which
shrank from it, but his "errors." These errors not only make man
incapable of production, but are in themselves hostile to receptivity.
Thus it often happens that the pioneers of salvation are persecuted by
a sort of unconscious ingratitude, which is the fruit of spiritual

What was the argument of Christopher Columbus? He thought: "If the
earth is really round, he who starts from a certain point and advances
steadily, will return to the point of departure." This was the _sum_
of the intellectual work which enriched mankind with a new world.

That a great continent should have lain in the track of Columbus, and
that he should have encountered this and not death, was the destiny
due to the chance of environment. The environment sometimes rewards
"small reasonings" of this kind in a surprising manner.

It was certainly not a great labor of human intelligence which brought
about these great results; it was the triumph of this idea over the
whole consciousness, and the heroic courage of the man, which gave it
its value. The great difficulty, for the man who had conceived the
idea, was to persevere until he could persuade others to help him in
his enterprise, to give him ships and followers. It was the _faith_
and not the _idea_ of Columbus which triumphed.

That simple and logical reasoning kindled within him something
infinitely more precious than intelligence, and enabled a single man
of humble origin, and almost uneducated, to present a world to a

We are told that Alessandro Volta's wife was ill with fever, and that
he, in accordance with the practise of his day, was preparing the
usual febrifuge, a broth of skinned frogs; it was a rainy day, and
when he hung up the dead frogs on the iron bar of the window, he
noticed that their legs contracted. "If dead muscles contract, it must
mean that some external force has penetrated them." This was the
simple argument of the "genius," the "great discoverer." And seeking
this force, Volta, by means of his piles, was able to wrest from the
earth electricity, which is, literally as well as figuratively, the
"gleam" of an immense progress. Laying due weight upon a little fact,
such as that of a dead being having moved, considering it soberly
without any fanciful additions, and fixing the mind upon the resulting
problem: Why does it move?--such was the lengthy process by which one
of the greatest conquests of civilization was achieved.

Akin to this was Galileo's discovery, when, standing in Pisa
Cathedral, he watched the oscillations of a hanging lamp. He observed
that the oscillations were all completed in the same space of time,
and the isochronism of the pendulum was the beginning of the
measurement of time for all men, and of the measurement of worlds for
the astronomer.

How simple, too, is the story of Newton, who felt an apple fall upon
him as he lay under a tree, and thought to himself: "Why did that
apple fall?" Such was the simple origin of the theory of the gravity
of bodies, and that of universal gravitation.

When we study of the life of Papin, we marvel at the culture which
placed him on a level with the most learned men of his times: as
physician, physiologist, and mathematician, he was distinguished and
honored by the universities of England and Germany. Nevertheless, what
gave him his value to humanity, and hence his greatness, was the fact
that his attention had been arrested by the sight of the lid of a
saucepan of boiling water raised by the steam. "Steam is a force which
could lift a piston as it lifts the cover of a saucepan, and become
the motor power of a machine." Papin's famous saucepan is a kind of
magic wand in the history of mankind, which thenceforth began to work
and travel without fatigue. How wonderful are such stories of great
discoveries arising from humble beginnings, and working miracles
throughout the world!

These, in their origins, resemble those living creatures, born of two
imperceptible microscopic cells, the fusion of which inevitably tends
to the creation of complex lives. To perceive exactly and to connect
the things perceived logically is the work of the highest
intelligence. But this work is characterized by a peculiar power of
attention, which causes the mind to dwell upon a subject in a species
of meditation, the characteristic mark of genius; the outcome is an
internal life _rich in activities_, just as the germinative cells are
the fruit of internal existences. It would seem that such mentalities
are distinguished from those of the ordinary type, not by their form,
but by their "force." It is the vigorous life from which those two
small intellectual sparks arise, which makes them so marvelous. If
they had not sprung from strong, independent personalities, capable of
persistent effort and heroic self-sacrifice, those little intellectual
works would have remained as things inert and negligible. Hence all
that strengthens the spiritual man may lead him in the footsteps of
the genius.

Thus, as regards the intelligence in itself, the work it has to
accomplish is a small matter, but it is clearly defined, and stripped
of superfluous complications. Simplicity is the guide to discovery;
simplicity which, like truth, should be naked. Very little is
necessary; but this little must constitute a powerful unity; the rest
is vanity.

And the greater this vanity, that is to say, the futile encumbrance of
the mind, the more will the light of the spirit be darkened and its
forces dissipated, making it difficult or impossible not only to
reason and act, but even to perceive reality, to see.

    *    *    *    *    *

It would be interesting to make a rapid survey of those collective
individual errors by which the progress of a new discovery of a simple
kind, offering relief to suffering humanity, has been impeded; errors
which have even caused persistent denial of the existence of obvious
facts, merely because these were not generally known.

Let us consider for a moment the discovery of the cause of malaria.
This discovery, due to the Englishman, Ross, in connection with birds,
and to the Italian, Grassi, in connection with man, consists in having
found out that the plasmodium of malaria, which produces the malady,
is inoculated in man and in the various animals subject to it, by a
special kind of mosquito. Let us inquire what was the state of science
prior to this discovery. In 1880 Laveran had described an animal
micro-organism, which preyed upon the red corpuscles of the blood,
producing an attack of fever with the cycle of its existence.
Subsequent studies confirmed and elucidated this fact, and the
_plasmodium malariae_ became a matter of common knowledge. It was
known that animal micro-organisms, unlike vegetable micro-organisms,
after a cycle of life in which reproduction takes place by
scission--that is, by subdivision of a single body into several other
bodies equal to the first, give place to _sexual forms_, masculine and
feminine, which are separate, and incapable of scission, but are
designed for _fusion into one another_, after which the organism
recommences its cycle of scissions until it again reaches the sexual

Laveran had found that in the blood of sufferers who recover
spontaneously from malarial fever there are a great number of
corpuscles which have no longer the rounded forms of the plasmodia,
but are crescent-shaped and rayed. He took these to be transformations
of the plasmodia, "modified in form" and "incapable of producing
disease," and pronounced them to be "degenerate" organisms, almost as
if they had been deformed and exhausted by the "excess of work" they
had previously performed. These organisms were described as "Laveran's
degenerative forms." After the discovery of the transmission of
malaria in 1900, Laveran's "degenerative forms" were recognized as the
sexual individuals of the reproductive cycle: individuals which were
incapable of conjugation in the blood of man, and could only produce
new organisms in the body of the mosquito. We may well wonder: Why did
not Laveran simply recognize those sexual forms, and why did he not
seek for the period of conjugation in the plasmodia, which were animal
micro-organisms? If he had borne in mind the complete cycle of the
protozoa, he would have recognized them. But evidently Morel's
theories of the degeneration of man had made a much livelier
impression on his imagination; and his leap from these remote theories
to his interpretation of the plasmodia seemed an achievement of
"genius." It may be said that this "feat of genius," this visionary
generalization, prevented Laveran from seeing the truth. A form of
_arrogance_ and _levity_ is apparent in such errors.

Moreover, we are astonished by something still more serious: how came
it that hundreds and thousands of students throughout the world
accepted Laveran's error with their eyes shut, that not one among so
many took into consideration on his own account the cycle of the
protozoa, and that not one was sufficiently independent to set about
studying the phenomenon for himself? What is this mental form of
inertia? and why does it produce itself in man? All these disciples,
heedless of the problem presented to their minds by the sexual form of
the plasmodium, left it alone, although it had not yet been solved,
and certainly had no intuition of the fame, the progress in science,
and the benefit to humanity which would have been the outcome, had the
problem constituted an obstacle which had arrested their attention,
saying: "Solve me."

They passed on indifferently, commending Laveran's "effort of genius,"
repeating with him: They are degenerate forms. A futile effort, which
only increased a crowd of persons who had resigned their own
individuality all unconsciously.

Another biological acquisition was the assurance that the circulatory
system of the blood is a closed system of vessels, and that the
enclosing epithelium is not permeable by non-incisive solid bodies
such as vegetable microbes, and still less by rounded protozoa, which
are much larger than microbes and soft in substance. This well-known
and clearly demonstrated fact ought to have suggested a problem to the
minds of students: How do the protozoa of malaria enter the
circulatory current of the blood? But ever since the days of
Hippocrates, Pliny, Celsius and Galen it had been held that this fever
was caused by the "poisonous atmosphere" of marsh lands, the bad air
of the morning and the evening, so much so that even a few years
before the discovery of the real cause of malaria, eucalyptus trees
were planted in the belief that they would filter and disinfect the
air. How was it that no one asked himself how it was possible that the
plasmodia could enter the _current of the blood_ from the _air_? What
was the species of torpor which took possession of the intelligence of
persons who had specialized in intellectual work? Here was a colossal
_sum_ of intelligence, without any individuality.

Until Ross discovered that birds are inoculated with malaria by a
particular kind of mosquito.

And then, behold! we have at last the fundamental argument from which
the knowledge of the truth sprang forth: "If birds are inoculated with
malaria by mosquitoes, then the same thing must happen to man."

A simple argument, which sped like an arrow to the final discovery.
Nothing seemed more _incredible_ than the fact that in the malarial
regions good air and fertile soil were to be found, that it was
possible to breathe that air morning and evening and remain in perfect
health, so long as one was not bitten by mosquitoes, and that the
innumerable peasants who were wasted by malarial anemia would be saved
and restored if they protected themselves by mosquito-netting. But
after the first stupefaction, when men were convinced of the facts,
there was an outcry from all the intelligent: How was it possible that
we did not find it out before? Was not the cycle of the protozoa a
well-known fact? Did not every one declare that the system of
circulation was closed and impervious to micro-organisms? Was it not
natural to think that only a blood-sucking insect could innoculate it?

How many students _felt_ that glory had passed close to them, and were
amazed and saddened by the knowledge, like the disciples of Emmäus,
who said to each other when the Master disappeared before they
recognized Him: "Did not our hearts burn within us when He spoke and
expounded the Scriptures to us?"

Many must have thought: We worked so laboriously only to encumber our
minds, and yet but one thing was needful: we should have been humble
and simple, but independent. Instead, we filled our souls with
darkness, and the ray that would have made us see, could not penetrate
to us.

Let us take some grosser errors. As far back as the days of the Greek
civilization it was known empirically that "stones can fall from the
sky." Falls of aërolites are recorded in the most ancient Chinese
chronicles. In the Middle Ages and in modern times intimations of the
fall of aërolites have increased in frequency. Remarkable facts are
indeed recorded in history in connection with similar phenomena: the
meteorite which fell in 1492 served the Emperor Maximilian I of
Germany as a pretext to excite Christendom to a war against the Turks.
Nevertheless, the phenomenon was not admitted by men of science until
the eighteenth century. One of the largest meteorites on record was
that which fell near Agram in 1751; it weighed about forty
kilogrammes, and was deposited and catalogued in the court
mineralogical museum at Vienna. This is what Stütz, a German savant,
had to say on the subject in 1790: "Those ignorant of natural history
may believe that iron has fallen from the sky, and even educated men
in Germany may have believed this in 1751, taking into account the
universal ignorance then prevalent as to natural history and physics;
but in our times it would be unpardonable to admit even the
plausibility of such fables."

In the same year 1790, an aërolite weighing ten kilogrammes fell in
Gascony. It was observed by a large number of persons, and an official
report, signed by three hundred witnesses, was sent to the Academy of
Paris. The reply was that "it had been very amusing to receive a legal
document dealing with such an absurdity." [7]

[Footnote 7: But a great physicist, unable to share _amusement_,
wrote: "It is sad to see a municipality giving credence to the babble
of the vulgar in a protocol, and to see authentic testimonies to an
occurrence which is obviously impossible."]

When, a few years later, Chladni of Wittenberg, the founder of
scientific acoustics, began to admit the phenomenon and to believe in
the existence of aërolites, he was stigmatized as "a man who was
ignorant of every law and who did not consider the damage he was doing
in the moral world"; and one savant declared that "if he had himself
seen iron fall from the sky at his own feet, he would not have
believed it."

This was incredulity greater than that of St Thomas, who said: "Unless
I can touch I will not believe." Here were pieces of iron weighing ten
and forty kilogrammes, which could be touched, but the savant said:
"Even if I touch them, I will not believe."

It is, therefore, not enough _to see in order to believe_; we must
_believe in order to see_. It is faith which leads to sight, not sight
which produces faith. When the blind man in the gospel uttered the
anxious cry: "Make me to see," he asked for "faith," because he knew
that it is possible to have eyes and not to see.

The fact of being insensible to evidence is little considered in
psychology, much less is it taken into account in pedagogic laws. And
yet many similar facts, though of an inferior psychological order, are
notorious, as, for instance, that stimuli will appeal in vain to the
senses, if the internal cooperation of attention be lacking. A
thousand experiences of this kind enter in to make up the sum of
common knowledge. It is not enough that an object should be before our
eyes to make us see it; it is necessary that we should fix our
attention upon it; an internal process, preparing us to receive the
impression of the stimulus, is essential.

In a loftier and purely spiritual sphere something of the same kind
takes place: an idea cannot enter triumphantly into the consciousness,
if it is not accompanied by a preparation of faith. Lacking this, it
may knock violently and brutally, with clamorous insistence, without
being able to penetrate. It is necessary that the field of
consciousness should be not only free, but "expectant." He who is
bewildered by a chaos of ideas cannot accept a truth which arrives
unexpectedly in the unprepared field.

This fact is not only analogous to other psychical facts of less
importance, such as that of sensory perception in relation to
attention; it is also analogous to the spiritual facts which are so
well known in the field of religion. In vain will a fact, however
remarkable, be explained or even _demonstrated_ where there is no
_faith_; it is not evidence but faith which opens the mind to truth.
The very senses are useless as a medium if the internal activity does
not open the doors to receive it. When the most striking miracles of
Christ are related in the gospel, the narrative always concludes with:
"And _many_ of those who saw, believed." The parable of the invitation
to the feast, to which those who were absorbed in their own affairs
could not respond, seems to indicate a fact similar to this
intellectual fact, that the "preoccupations" of complicated
pre-existing ideas prevent the new and obvious truth that presents
itself, from entering in. It is for this reason that we need the
Precursor to make ready for the Messiah. And for this reason the
Messiah, and also new ideas, are readily received by the "simple," by
those who are not "laden with heavy preoccupations," but have
preserved the natural characteristics of the spirit: to be pure and
always "expectant."

When in 1628 Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood,
physiology was almost unknown, and medicine was in the full tide of
empiricism. It is well known that the Faculty of Medicine of Paris
refused to believe in circulation, in _spite of_ experiments, and that
it persecuted and calumniated Harvey. "That which pleases me in my
son," said Diafoirus, "and in which he follows my example, is, that he
remains faithful to the opinions of our ancient teachers, and that he
has always refused either to _understand_ or to _listen_ to the
arguments and experiments of the pretended discoveries of our century,
especially as regards the circulation of the blood."

    *    *    *    *    *

The history of the discovery of germinative foliations in the
embryonic development of vertebrates forms one of the most impressive
of human documents. In 1700 the theory of _pre-formation_ was
vigorously upheld amongst the many ideas relating to generation: that
is to say, it was believed that the germs contained little organisms
completely formed which would eventually unfold and increase the parts
of infinitesimal dimensions which were packed one within the other.
This theory applied to every living creature, animal, vegetable, and
human. It had led, by its own logical development, to the more
far-reaching theory of "mutual inclusion"--that is, the doctrine that,
as all living organisms are _pre-formed_, they must of necessity all
have existed from the Creation, the one included, or wrapped up, in
the other. All humanity must have lain in the ovaries of Eve. When in
1690 Leuwenhoek discovered spermatozoa by the aid of the microscope,
the idea was evolved that each male cell contained a complete
microscopic man, the _homunculus_; and then it was announced that not
Eve, but Adam had contained all humanity within himself. Hence the
two contradictory theories which in the eighteenth century kept their
adherents sharply divided, the theories of the ovulists and those of
the animalculists, and the dispute seemed to offer little hope of a
possible decision. The names of famous scientists and philosophers
were associated with these dissensions, those, for instance, of
Spallanzani and of Liebnitz, who applied the principles of generation
even to the soul. "Thus I should think," said Liebnitz, "that the
souls which will one day become human souls, were present in the germ;
that they have always existed as organized bodies in their progenitors
from Adam onwards--that is, from the beginning of things." [8]

Haller, the ovulist, who had great authority as a physiologist, in a
famous work, _Elementa physiologiae_, upheld the principle vigorously:
"_Nulla est epigenesis. Nulla in corpore animale pars ante aliam facta
est et omnes simul creatae existunt_" (nothing is created anew, no
part of the human body is made before any other part, all are created
at the same time). Making a calculation based on Biblical cosmogony of
the number of human beings who were packed in the ovaries of Eve, he
reckons them at two hundred thousand millions. Such was the state of
thought when in 1759 K. F. Wolff published some of his studies in the
work _Theoria generationis_, where he maintained, on the strength of
experiments and microscopic observations made on the embryos of fowls,
that new organisms are not pre-formed, but that they create themselves
entirely, starting from nothing--that is, from a microscopic cell,
simple as are all primitive cells. He described the simple process by
which the real evolution of individuals is brought about: from a
single cell, by division, two, and then four and then eight, are
formed, and so on. And the cells thus germinated divide themselves
into two or three tiny folds of "primitive folioles" from which all
the organs are evolved, beginning with the alimentary canal. "This
assertion," says Wolff "is not a fanciful theory; it is a description
of facts collected by means of the most trustworthy observations."

[Footnote 8: From Haeckel's _Anthropogenie_.]

All the scientists of his day knew and made use of the microscope; all
might have taken an egg, that is, the embryo of a fowl, as a subject
for observation; they were not indifferent to the problem of
individual genesis, but in their case it had merely excited the most
complex efforts of the imagination, and had divided them into
factions, as adversaries in a battle of thought. Could any one of them
attempt to experiment and observe save at the risk of destroying
himself together with his adversaries, as Samson destroyed himself
with the Philistines? The possibility that there might be some truth
in what had been seen and described, and that it might recur, should
indeed have induced some one to venture upon a road which, if it
proved to be the right one, would have been a glorious path to a
future of discoveries and distinctions. But no. A dense fog obscured
all minds, and the dazzling truth could not pierce it; thus all
progress in embryology was precluded.

Fifty years had passed, and Wolff, poor and persecuted, had died at
Petrograd, an exile from his native land, when Pander and Ernest von
Baer grappled anew with the theory of "blastodermic foliation." Then
the scientific world _perceived_ the truth and accepted the evidence,
inaugurating those studies in embryology which shed so much luster on
the nineteenth century.

Why was it necessary that fifty years should elapse before men could
see what was evident? What had happened in these fifty years? The work
of Wolff, dead and forgotten, can have had no influence whatever. The
fact was merely that men saw _subsequently_ what it had been
previously _impossible for them to see_. A kind of internal maturity
must have come about in them, by virtue of which their spiritual eyes
were opened, and they saw. When _those eyes were closed_, evidence was
useless. Fifty years earlier, a direct attack would have spent itself
on insuperable obstacles; but with the lapse of time the subject
presented itself, and was simply and universally accepted, not only
without a struggle, but without any excitement.

This fact might be arguable in relation to the internal maturation of
the masses; but it is beyond question in its relation to the
individual. When an obvious truth cannot be seen, we must retire, and
leave the individual to mature. A struggle "to bring about perception
of evidence" would be bitter and exhausting. But when maturity comes,
we shall find the seer filled with enthusiasm, and bearing fruit like
the vines of the Land of Promise.

When in 1859 Charles Darwin expounded the theory of evolution in his
book, "The Origin of Species," he recognized the great influence it
had had upon the thought of his day, for he wrote in his note-book:
"My theory will lead to a philosophy." His conception of the struggle
for life and of the natural selection of characteristics, so widely
adopted by the thinkers of his day, popularized the principles of
Lamarck as to the casual formation of new characteristics in a species
by adaptation to environment; Darwin's conception carried these
principles along with it--and almost fused them in its own content.
These principles, excluding both creation and its finalities,
implicitly denied the immortality of the soul. The effect of such a
revolution may be imagined; for many centuries the soul had been the
_object of life_, and when the fundamental faith of existence was
shaken, the life of the conscience itself was convulsed. It may be
supposed that there was an anxious search for contradictions in the
destructive theory, if on no other grounds than that of the instinct
to preserve ancient beliefs, which lies deeply rooted in the human

But let us take into consideration the two revolutionary principles
which so greatly impressed and fired the consciousness of the
university students of several generations. One principle was: "There
can be no function without an organ." The other principle which
created much enthusiasm among studious youths was: "The function
creates the organ." What! There is no function without an organ, nor
can the function even _exist without_ the organ; and yet, on the other
hand, the function without the organ can exist so vigorously as to
_create_? No such glaring and tangible contradiction had ever existed
in any theory.

And it cannot be said that Darwinism and the principles of Lamarck
were hastily studied and confused in a varied series of philosophical
theories, for Darwinism had isolated itself as a victorious idea which
drives out all other ideas, as the light of day disperses the darkness
of night. And students dwelt upon it, anxious to construct a new
morality and a new conscience; therefore these two principles were not
studied coldly and languidly. Moreover, they _penetrated together_
into the consciousness and excited enthusiasm _each on its own
account_; on such a triumphant contradiction it was proposed to
destroy a world and create another.

The final conclusion of thought, then, was this: "We are mere beasts,
there is no substantial difference between the animals and ourselves;
we are apes, but our more remote ancestors were earthworms." With what
ardor did professors from their chairs analyze the psychology of men,
to prove that, try as we may, we can find nothing in ourselves which
we do not share with animals, and with what enthusiasm did their
pupils applaud them! When professors of psychiatry removed the brains
of pigeons and monkeys by vivisection, and, after curing the
creatures, exhibited them at international psychological congresses,
devoting the most sincere attention to the study of their psychical
reactions, observing the attitudes of their bodies, their activity of
perception, and similar things--all really believed that an animal
without a brain could throw light upon the psychology of man!

When we think that this was the epoch of _positivism_--that is to say,
of those who could not believe without touching, we are profoundly
impressed by this reflection: The intelligence, then, is threatened by
dangers, like the spirit. It may be obscured, it may contain a
contradiction, an "error," without perceiving it, and as a result of a
single unnoticed error it may rush into a species of delirium, a
mortal aberration. Like the spirit, then, it has its way of salvation,
and it _needs to be sustained_ lest it should perish. The support it
requires is _not that of the senses_. Like the spirit, it needs a
continual purification, which, like the fish of Tobias, heals the eyes
of their blindness. That "self-care" which the hygiene of to-day
prescribes for the body, and which makes us spend so much time even on
cleaning and polishing our nails, should be extended to the inner man,
that this may preserve its health and its integrity.

This should be the object of "the education of the intelligence." To
educate the intelligence is to save it from its peculiar perils of
disease and death; it is to "purge it of its offenses." We shall not
educate the intelligence if we weary it by making it learn things.
This is patent in these days of ours, when the victims of nervous
disorders and lunacy abound, and when, even among those who are
considered healthy, the material consequences of madness may explode,
threatening the whole of humanity with ruin.

Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire "to make
him learn things," but by the endeavor always to keep burning within
him that light which is called the intelligence. If to this end we
must consecrate ourselves as did the vestals of old, it will be a work
worthy of so great a result.



=The creative imagination of science is based upon truth=.--If, a
century ago, some one had told the men who were traveling in
stage-coaches and using oil-lamps that some day New York would blaze
with light at midnight; that men would ask for succor in mid-ocean and
that their message would be understood on land, that their flight in
the air would surpass that of the eagle--our good forefathers would
have smiled incredulously. Their imaginations would never have been
able to conceive these things. To them, modern men would have seemed
almost like men of another species.

This is because the imagination of modern men is based upon the
positive researches of science, whereas the men of past ages allowed
their minds to wander in the world of unreality.

This single fact has changed the face of the world.

When man loses himself in mere speculations, his environment will
remain unchanged, but when imagination starts from contact with
reality, thought begins to construct works by means of which the
external world becomes transformed; almost as if the thought of man
had assumed a marvelous power: the power to create.

It is thus we imagine the thought of God; all creation is the divine
thought, which has the property of realizing itself. God thought: and
behold! light, the order of creation, living things, appeared.

Modern man by the method of positive science seems to have found the
secret trace of thought which puts him in the divine path, which gives
him the revelation of his true nature, as indicated in the words of
Scripture: "Let us make man in our image and likeness."

Thus human intelligence said: "Let there be light"--and there was a
magic effulgence which comes and goes at a touch. "Let man fly in the
air and rise far above all the birds of creation"--and it was so. "Let
the voices of shipwrecked mariners travel mysteriously and without
sound, and reach distant places"--and it was so. "Let things multiply,
plants in their varieties, so that all men may have the means of life
more abundantly"--and it was so.

The imagination has created when it has started from creation: that
is, when it has first taken in existing truth. Only then has it
accomplished marvelous things.

Like the tiny bird which hid under the wing of an eagle about to soar,
and when it had been thus borne up to an immense height, disengaged
itself from the eagle and began to fly still higher by its own
efforts--so too is man, who at first holds fast to Nature, attaches
himself to her by means of the most severe speculations, and with her
soars aloft in search of truth; then he disengages himself from her,
and his imagination creates over and above Nature herself. In this
manner man seems to reflect divine attributes; the marvelous and
miraculous issue from him in such grandiose form that the man of the
past, the wren without the eagle, could not even have conceived it.

Original sin is an allegory of this eternal story, of the man _who
wished to act for himself_, to substitute himself for God, to
emancipate himself from Him, and to create. Whereupon he fell into
impotence, slavery and misery.

The mind that works by itself, independently of truth, works in a
void. Its creative power is a _means_ for working upon _reality_. But
it confuses the means with the end, it is lost.

This kind of _sin_ of the intelligence, so akin to original sin, the
sin of confounding the means with the end, recurs in every form as a
"force of inertia" which pervades the psychical life. Thus man
confounds the means, which is simpler, easier and more comprehensible,
with the end in many of his functions. Thus, for example, when
nutrition is made a pretext for gluttony, and the appetite an end in
itself, the body, instead of renewing itself in health and purity, is
poisoned. Again, when in the reproduction of species the sexual
emotion becomes an end in itself rather than a means for the renewal
of life, degeneration and sterility result. Man is guilty of a like
sin against the intelligence when he employs his creative activity of
thought for its own sake, without basing it upon truth; by so doing he
creates an unreal world, full of error, and destroys the possibility
of creating in reality, like a god, producing external works.

Thus positive science represents to us the "redemption" of thought;
its purification from original sin, a return to the _natural laws_ of
psychical energy. Scientists are like those men of the Bible story
who, after Israel had come out of Egypt, were permitted to explore the
Land of Promise, and who came back with such a huge cluster of grapes
that it took two men to carry it, and the people saw it with

So have the scientists of to-day penetrated into the Promised Land of
truth, where lies the secret which enables man to scrutinize Nature;
and they have come out therefrom, bearing marvelous fruits for all men
to see. The secret is a simple one: it consists of an exact method
based on observation, prudence, and patience. All men might be
allowed to share the secret, for indeed such virtues correspond to the
"occult," intimate needs of their spiritual life.

It may be asked: Why should only explorers enter in, while the people
remain outside, passively enjoying the fruits of their labors?

Is it because the method of positive science, which puts man in the
way of knowing the truth, of gathering up realities--and hence of
building up his own imagination thereupon--is a monopoly, the
privilege of the chosen few?

That method which denotes the redemption of the intelligence ought to
be the method by which all new humanity is molded--the formative
method of the new generation.

In the Bible story, the explorers were the messengers, and the
witnesses to the existence of the Promised Land, into which the whole
people was to enter. And so it is here: all men should come under the
influence of the scientific method; and every child should be able to
experiment at first hand, to observe, and to put himself in contact
with reality. Thus the flights of the imagination will start from a
higher plane henceforth, and the intelligence will be directed into
its natural channels of creation.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Truth is also the basis of artistic imagination=.--The work of the
intelligence is not limited to the exact observation and the simple,
logical reasoning upon which great scientific discoveries may be
founded. There is a more exalted work, confronting which none can say,
as in the presence of certain scientific discoveries; "I also might
have been able to do this."

Dante, Milton, Goethe, Raphael, Wagner, are mighty mysteries, miracles
of intelligence, which cannot be classed with the simple processes of
observation and reasoning. Nevertheless, every man has his share of
artistic imagination, he has the instinct to create the beautiful with
his mind; and from this instinct duly developed come all the vast
treasures of art, scattered almost like crumbs of gold wherever there
was an intensity of civil life, wherever the intelligence had time to
mature in peace. In every province which has preserved traces of
ancient peoples we find local artistic types of work, of furniture, of
poetic songs and popular music. This multiform creation of the inner
man, then, enfolds him and protects his spirit in its intellectual
needs, just as the iridescent shell encloses the mollusc.

In addition to the work of observing material reality, there is a
creative work which lifts man up from earth and transports him into a
higher world which every soul may attain, within its individual

Yet no one can say that man _creates_ artistic products out of
nothing. What is called _creation_ is in reality a composition, a
construction raised upon a _primitive material_ of the mind, which
must be collected from the environment by means of the senses. This is
the general principle summed up in the ancient axiom: _Nihil est in
intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensa_ (There is nothing in the
intellect which was not first in the senses). We are unable to
"imagine" things which do not actually present themselves to our
senses; even language would be lacking to us to explain things lying
beyond those customary limits by which our consciousness is bounded.
The imagination of Michelangelo was unable to picture God otherwise
than as a venerable old man with a white beard. When we try to imagine
the eternal torments of hell, we talk of fire; we think of Paradise as
a place of light. Those born blind and deaf can form no definite idea
of sensations they have never been able to perceive. It is well known
that persons blind from their birth imagine colors by comparing them
to sounds: for instance, they imagine red as the sound of a trumpet,
blue as the sweet music of the violin. The deaf, when they read
descriptions of delicious music, imagine the classic beauty of a
painted picture. The temperaments of poets and artists are
pre-eminently sensorial. And all the senses do not contribute in equal
measure to give a type to the individual imagination; but certain
senses are often predominant. Musicians are auditive, and are inclined
to describe the world from the sounds it conveys to them; the warbling
of the nightingale in the silence of a wood; the patter of the rain in
the solitude of the country-side, may be as springs of inspiration for
great musical composers; and some of them, describing a tract of
country, will dwell only on its silences and noises. Others again,
whose susceptibilities are predominantly visual, are impressed by the
forms and colors of things. Or it may be the motion, the flexuosity,
the impetus of things; the tactile impressions of softness and
harshness, which make up the descriptive content of imaginative types
in whom the tactile and muscular sensations predominate.

There are persons who have had non-sensorial impressions, and they are
persons whose spiritual life was of very great intensity. They have
_internal impressions_ which cannot be accounted fruits of the
imagination, but must be accepted as realities simply perceived. That
they are realities is affirmed not only by the introspection of normal
subjects, but by the effect upon their internal personality. "The
revelations vouchsafed by God," says Saint Teresa, "are distinguished
by the great spiritual benefits with which they enrich the soul; they
are accompanied by light, discernment, and wisdom." But if such
persons wish to describe these impressions which do not penetrate by
means of the senses, they are obliged to borrow the language of
sensorial impression. "I heard a voice," says the Blessed Raymond of
Capua, "which was not in the air, and which pronounced words that
reached my spirit, but not my ear; nevertheless I understood it more
distinctly than if it had come to me from an external voice. I could
not reproduce this voice, if I can call that a voice which had no
sound. This voice formed words and presented them to my spirit." The
Life of Saint Teresa abounds in similar descriptions, in which she
tries to convey, by the inappropriate language of the senses, what she
saw, not with her eyes, but with her soul.

The difference between these internal impressions, which occur in
others as well as in saints (and certainly do not constitute
saintliness), and the hallucinations of the insane, is clearly marked.
In the madman, an excitement of the cerebral cortex reproduces old
images deposited by the sensorial memory, which project themselves
into the external world whence they were taken, with external
sensorial characteristics; so that the sufferer really believes that
he sees his phantasms with his actual eyes, and that he hears the
voices which persecute him; he is the victim of a pathological
condition; the whole personality reveals signs of his organic
decadence, the concomitants of his psychical disintegration.

Setting aside, then, direct spiritual impressions of very rare
occurrence, not to be looked upon even as aids to sanctity,
impressions which may form suitable subjects of study for specialists
such as teleologists or the members of the English Society of
Psychical Research, but which do not enter into educational
conceptions, there remains for our consideration but a single material
of construction for intellectual activities: that of the senses.

Imagination can have only a sensory basis.

The sensory education which prepares for the accurate perception of
all the differential details in the qualities of things, is therefore
the foundation of the observation of things and of phenomena which
present themselves to our senses; and with this it helps us to collect
from the external world the material for the imagination.

Imaginative creation has no mere vague sensory support; that is to
say, it is not the unbridled divagation of the fancy among images of
light, color, sounds and impressions; but it is a construction firmly
allied to reality; and the more it holds fast to the forms of the
external created world, the loftier will the value of its internal
creations be. Even in imagining an unreal and superhuman world, the
imagination must be contained within limits which recall those of
reality. Man creates, but on the model of that divine creation in
which he is materially and spiritually immersed.

In literary works of the highest order, such as the _Divina Commedia_,
we admire the continual recurrence to the mind of the supreme poet of
material and tangible things which illustrate by comparison the things

                               As doves
     By fond desire invited, on wide wings
     And firm to their sweet nest returning home,
     Cleave the air, wafted by their will along;
     Thus issued from that troop where Dido ranks,
     They, through the ill air speeding.
       (Carey's translation of Dante's _Inferno_, Canto V.)

     And as a man with difficult short breath
     Forespent with toiling, 'scaped from sea to shore,
     Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands
     At gaze; e'en so my spirit, that yet fail'd
     Struggling with terror, turn'd to view the straits
     That none hath passed and lived.
       (Carey's translation of Dante's _Inferno_, Canto I.)

     As sheep that step from forth their fold by one
     Or pairs, or three at once; meanwhile the rest
     Stand fearfully, bending the eye and nose
     To ground, and what the foremost does, that do.
     The others, gathering round her if she stops,
     Simple and quiet, nor the cause discern;
     So saw I moving to advance the first
     Who of that fortunate crew were at the head,
     Of modest mien, and graceful in their gait.
       (Carey's translation of Dante's _Purgatorio_, Canto III.)

     As though translucent and smooth glass or wave
     Clear and unmoved, and flowing not so deep
     As that its bed is dark, the shape returns
     So faint of our impictured lineaments
     That on white forehead set, a pearl as strong
     Comes to the eye; such saw I many a face
     All stretch'd to speak.
       (Carey's translation of Dante's _Paradiso_, Canto III.)

Dante's metaphors are profuse and marvelous, but every lofty writer
and every great orator perpetually links the fruits of the imagination
with the observation of fact; and then we say that he is a genius,
full of imagination and knowledge, and that his thought is clear and

"As a pack of hounds, after vainly pursuing a hare, returns in
mortification to the master with hanging heads and drooping tails, so
on that tumultuous night did the mercenaries return to Don Rodrigo's
stronghold" (Manzoni, _I promessi Sposi_).

Imagery is confined to actual figures; and it is this measure and this
_form_ which give power to the creations of the mind. The imaginative
writer should possess a rich store of perceptive observations, and the
more accurate and perfect these are, the more vigorous will be the
form he creates. The insane talk of fantastic things, but we do not
therefore say that they have a great deal of "imagination"; there is a
vast gulf between the delirious confusion of thought and the
metaphorical eloquence of the imagination. In the first case there is
a total incapacity to perceive actual things correctly, and also to
construct organically with the intelligence; in the second, the two
things are co-existent as forms closely bound up one with the other.

The value of imaginative speech is determined by these conditions:
that the images used should be _original_, that their author should
himself link together the actual and the created images, his own skill
making him susceptible to their just and harmonious association. If he
repeats or imitates the images of others, he achieves nothing. Hence
it is necessary that every artist should be an observer; and so,
speaking of the generality of intelligences, it may be said that in
order to develop the imagination it is necessary for every one first
of all to put himself in contact with reality.

The same thing holds good in art. The artist "imagines" his figure; he
does not copy it, he "creates" it. But this creation is in fact the
_fruit_ of the mind which is rooted in the observation of reality. The
painter and the sculptor are, _par excellence_, types of visual
susceptibility to the forms and colors of their environment, capable
of perceiving its harmonies and contrasts; and it is by refining his
powers of observation that the artist finally perfects himself and
succeeds in creating a masterpiece. The immortal art of Greece was
above all an art based on observation; the scanty clothing which was
the fashion of his day enabled the Greek artist to contemplate the
human form freely; and the exquisite sensibility of his eye enabled
him to distinguish the beautiful body from that which lacked harmony,
until under the impulse of genius, he was able to create the ideal
figure, conceived by the fusion of individual beauties chosen from
details in the sensorial storehouse of the mind. The artist, when he
creates certainly does not compose by putting together the parts which
are to form the whole as in a mosaic; in the ardor of inspiration he
sees the complete _new figure_, born of his genius; but details he has
accumulated have served to nourish it, as the blood nourishes the new
man in the bosom of his mother.

Raphael continually visited the Trastevere, a popular quarter where
the most beautiful women in Rome were to be found, in order to seek
the type of a Madonna. It was here he became acquainted with the
Fornarina and his models. But when he painted the Madonna he
reproduced "the image of his soul." We are told that Michelangelo
would spend entire evenings gazing into space; and when they asked him
at what he was gazing, he replied: "I see a dome." It was after this
form, so marvelously created within him, that the famous cupola of St.
Peter's in Rome was fashioned. But it could never have been born, even
in the mind of Michelangelo, if his architectural studies had not
prepared the material for it.

No genius has ever been able to create the absolutely new. We have
only to think of certain forms much used in art, and heavy and
grotesque as the human fancy which is incapable of rising above the
earth. It seems to me amazing that the figure of the winged angel
should still persist, and that no artist should have yet improved upon
it. To represent a being more diaphanous than man, and without
corporeal weight, we have robust beings whose backs are furnished with
colossal wings covered with heavy feathers. Strange indeed is this
fusion in a single creature of such incompatible natural features as
hair and feathers, and this attribution to a human being of six
limbs--arms, legs and wings, as to an insect. This "strange
conception" continues to be so materialized, not certainly as an
artistic idea, but as the result of poverty of language. Indeed, we
talk of angels "flying" because our language is human and earthly, and
we cannot imagine the attributes of angels. Few indeed are the artists
who in pictures of the Annunciation represent the Angel as a luminous,
delicate, and evanescent figure.

The more perfect the approximation to truth, the more perfect is art.

When, for instance, in a drawing-room, some one pays us a compliment,
if this is founded upon one of our real qualities, and touches it
closely, we feel legitimate satisfaction, because what has been said
is relevant, and we may conclude that the person _has observed us_ and
feels a sincere admiration for us. We accordingly think of such a
person: He is subtle and intellectual; and we feel disposed to
reciprocate his friendliness. But if the compliment praises us for
qualities we do not possess, or distorts or exaggerates our true
attributes, we think with disgust: What a coarse creature! and feel
even more coldly to him than before.

Dante's sublime sonnet must certainly have touched the heart of
Beatrice profoundly:

     My lady looks so gentle and so pure
     When yielding salutation by the way,
     That the tongue trembles and has nought to say,
     And the eyes, which fain would see, may not endure.
     And still, amid the praise she hears secure,
     She walks with humbleness for her array;
     Seeming a creature sent from Heaven, to stay
     On earth, and show a miracle made sure.
     She is so pleasant in the eyes of men
     That through the sight the inmost heart doth gain
     A sweetness which needs proof to know it by;
     And from between her lips there seems to move
     A soothing essence that is full of love,
     Saying for ever to the spirit: "Sigh!"
       (Rossetti's translation, Dante's _Vita nuova_, section XXVI.)

A very different impression must have been made on the self-respect
and delicate sensibility of a feminine soul by this other sonnet,
which is clumsy and bombastic because it is full of inappropriate and
exaggerated metaphors:

     Your salutation and your glances bright
     Deal death to him who greets you on your way;
     Love my assailant, heedless of my plight,
     Cares nought if what he does shall heal or slay.

     Straight to the mark his arrow flew apace
     Piercing my heart and cleaving it in twain;
     I was as one who sees Death face to face;
     No word I spake--so great my burning pain.

     As through the window of the lordly tower
     The missile hurtles, shattering all within,
     So did the arrow enter through my eye;

     Bereft of life and spirit in that hour
     I stood there, to a man of brass akin,
     That mocks with semblance of humanity.
                                   (Guinizelli, 1300.)

If, then, the true basis of the imagination is reality, and its
perception is related to exactness of observation, it is necessary to
prepare children to perceive the things in their environment exactly,
in order to secure for them the material required by the imagination.
Further, the exercise of the intelligence, reasoning within sharply
defined limits, and distinguishing one thing from another, prepares a
cement for imaginative constructions; because these are the more
beautiful the more closely they are united to a form, and the more
logical they are in the association of individual images. The fancy
which exaggerates and invents coarsely does not put the child on the
right road.

A true preparation digs the beds where the waters which well up from
intellectual creation will flow in smiling or majestic rivers, without
overflowing and so destroying the beauty of internal order.

In the matter of causing the springing up of these rushing waters of
internal creation we are powerless. "Never to obstruct the spontaneous
outburst of an activity, even though it springs forth like the humble
trickle of some almost invisible source," and "to wait"--this is our
task. Why should we delude ourselves with the idea that we can "create
an intelligence," we who can do nothing but "observe and await" the
blade of grass which is sprouting, the microbe which is dividing

We must consider that creative imagination must rise like an
illuminated palace, on dark foundations deeply imbedded in the rock,
if it is to be anything but a house of cards, an illusion, an error;
and the salvation of the intelligence is "to be able to plant the feet
on firm ground."

    *    *    *    *    *

=Imagination in children=.--It is a very common belief that the young
child is characterized by a vivid imagination, and therefore a special
education should be adopted to cultivate this special gift of nature.

His mentality differs from ours; he escapes from our strongly marked
and restricted limits, and loves to wander in the fascinating worlds
of unreality, a tendency which is also characteristic of savage

This childish characteristic, however, gave rise to the generalization
of a materialistic idea now discredited: "Ontogenesis sums up
philogenesis": that is, the life of the individual reproduces the life
of the species; just as the life of man reproduces the life of
civilization, so in young children we find the psychical
characteristics of savages. Hence the child, like the savage, is
attracted by the fantastic, the supernatural, and the unreal.

Instead of indulging in such flights of scientific fancy as these, it
would be much simpler to declare that an organism as yet immature,
like that of the child, has remote affinities with mentalities less
mature than our own, like those of savages. But even if we refrain
from interfering with the belief of those who interpret childish
mentality as "a savage state," we may point out that as, in any case,
this savage state is transient, and must be superseded, education
_should help the child_ to overcome it; it should not _develop the
savage state_, nor _keep_ the child therein.

All the forms of imperfect development we encounter in the child have
some resemblance to corresponding characteristics in the savage; for
instance, in language, poverty of expression, the existence only of
concrete terms, and the generalization of words, by means of which a
single word serves several purposes and indicates several objects, the
absence of inflections in verbs, causing the child to use only the
infinitive. But no one would maintain that "for this reason" we ought
to restrict the child artificially to such primitive language, to
enable him to pass through his prehistoric period easily.

And if some peoples remain permanently in a state of imagination in
which unrealities predominate, our child, on the contrary, belongs to
a people for whom the delights of the mind are to be found in the
great works of art, and the civilizing constructions of science, and
in those products of the higher imagination which represent the
environment in which the intelligence of our child is destined to form
itself. It is natural that in the hazy period of his mental
development the child should be attracted by fantastic ideas; but this
must not make us forget that he is to be our continuator, and for that
reason should be superior to us; and the least we ought to give him to
this end is the maximum at our disposal.

A form of imagination supposed to be "proper" to childhood, and almost
universally recognized as creative imagination, is that spontaneous
work of the infant mind by which children attribute desirable
characteristics to objects which do not possess them.

Who has not seen a child riding upon and whipping his father's
walking-stick, as if he were mounted upon a real horse? There we have
a proof of "imagination" in the child! What pleasure it gives to
children to construct a splendid coach with chairs and armchairs; and
while some recline inside, looking out with delight at an imaginary
landscape, or bowing to an applauding crowd, other children, perched
on the backs of chairs, beat the air as if they were whipping fiery
horses. Here is another proof of "imagination."

But if we observe rich children, who own quiet ponies, and drive out
habitually in carriages and motor-cars, we shall find that they look
with a touch of contempt at the child who is running about whipping a
stick in great excitement; they would be astonished to see the delight
of children who imagine themselves to be drawn along by stationary
armchairs. They would say of such children: "They are very poor; they
act thus because they have no horses or carriages." An adult resigns
himself to his lot; a child creates an illusion. But this is not a
proof of imagination, it is a proof of an unsatisfied desire; it is
not an activity bound up with gifts of nature; it is a manifestation
of conscious, sensitive poverty. No one, we may be sure, will say that
in order to educate a rich child we should take away his pony and give
him a stick. Nor is it necessary to prevent the poor child from being
content with his stick. If a poor man, a beggar, had nothing but dry
bread to eat, and if he placed himself by the grated window of a rich
underground kitchen because when he smelt its savory odors he imagined
himself to be eating excellent dishes together with his bread, who
could prevent him? But no one would say that in order to develop the
imaginative activity of the fortunate persons for whom the actual
dishes were destined, it would be well to take away their meat and
give them bread and fragrance.

A poor mother who was devoted to her little child offered him the
piece of bread which was all she had to give in this manner: she
divided it into two portions, and gave them to him in succession,
saying: "This is the bread, this is the meat." The child was quite
content. But no mother would deprive her child of food in order to
develop his imagination in this way.

And yet I was once seriously asked by some one if it would be
injurious to give a piano to a child who was continually practising
with his fingers upon the table, as if he were playing the piano.
"And why should it be injurious?" I asked. "Because, if I do so, he
will learn music, it is true, but his imagination will no longer be
exercised, and I do not know which would be best for him."

Some of Froebel's games are based upon similar beliefs. A wooden brick
is given to a child with the words: "This is a horse." Bricks are then
arranged in a certain order, and he is told: "This is the stable; now
let us put the horse into the stable." Then the bricks are differently
arranged: "This is a tower, this is the village church, etc." In such
exercises the objects (bricks) lend themselves to illusion less
readily than a stick used as a horse, which the child can at least
bestride and beat, moving along the while. The building of towers and
churches with horses brings the mental confusion of the child to its
culmination. Moreover, in this case it is not the child who "imagines
spontaneously" and works with his brains, for at the moment he is
required to see that which the teacher suggests. And it is impossible
to know whether the child really thinks that the stable has become a
church, or whether his attention has wandered elsewhere. He would, of
course, like to move, but he cannot, because he is obliged to
contemplate the kind of cinematograph of which the teacher speaks in
the series of images she suggests, though they exist only in the shape
of pieces of wood all of the same size.

What is it that is thus being cultivated in these immature minds? What
do we find akin to this in the adult world which will enable us to
understand for what definitive forms we prepare the mind by such a
method of education? There are, indeed, men who really take a tree for
a throne, and issue royal commands: some believe themselves to be God,
for "false perceptions," or the graver form, "illusions," are the
beginning of false reasoning, and the concomitants of delirium. The
insane produce nothing, nor can those children, condemned to the
immobility of an education which tends to _develop_ their innocent
manifestations of unsatisfied desires into mania, produce anything
either for themselves or others.

We, however, suppose that we are developing the imagination of
children by making them accept fantastic things as realities. Thus,
for instance, in Latin countries, Christmas is personified by an ugly
woman, the _Befana_, who comes through the walls and down the
chimneys, bringing toys for the good children, and leaving only lumps
of coal for the naughty ones. In Anglo-Saxon countries, on the other
hand, Christmas is an old man covered with snow who carries a huge
basket containing toys for children, and who really enters their
houses by night. But how can the _imagination_ of children be
developed by what is, on the contrary, the fruit of _our_ imagination?
It is we who imagine, not they; they _believe_, they do not imagine.
Credulity is, indeed, a characteristic of immature minds which lack
experience and knowledge of realities, and are as yet devoid of that
intelligence which distinguishes the true from the false, the
beautiful from the ugly, the possible from the impossible.

Is it, then, _credulity_ we wish to develop in our children, merely
because they show themselves to be credulous at an age when they are
naturally ignorant and immature? Of course, credulity may exist in
adults; but it exists in _contrast_ with _intelligence_, and is
neither its foundation nor its fruit. It is in periods of intellectual
darkness that credulity germinates; and we are proud to have outlived
these epochs. We speak of credulity as a mark of the uncivilized.

Here is a piquant anecdote of the seventeenth century. The Pont Neuf
in Paris was the main highway for foot-passengers, and a meeting-place
for loungers. Many mountebanks and charlatans mingled with the crowd.
There was one of these charlatans who was making a fortune; he sold an
ointment from China which enlarged the eyes, decreased the size of the
mouth, lengthened noses that were too short, and shortened those that
were too long, De Sartine, Chief of the Police, called up this
charlatan to have him imprisoned, and said to him:

"Mariolo, how do you manage to attract so many people and gain so much

"Sir," replied the other, "how many persons, do you suppose, cross the
bridge in one day?"

"From ten to twelve thousand," replied de Sartine.

"Well, sir, how many intelligent persons do you suppose there are
among them?"

"A hundred," replied the official.

"That's a liberal allowance," said the charlatan, "but let us leave it
at that. I will rely on the other nine thousand nine hundred for my

The situation has so far changed between those days and our own that
there are now more intelligent and fewer credulous persons. Education,
therefore, should not be directed to credulity but to intelligence. He
who bases education on credulity builds upon sand.

I know of an incident which is perhaps reproduced in our society
thousands of times. Two girls of noble family had been educated in a
convent, where, to safeguard them from the seductions and vanities of
the life for which they were destined, the nuns had persuaded them
that the world is full of deceit, and that if, when people praise us,
we could conceal ourselves and listen to what they say when we have
disappeared, we should hear very chastening things. When they were of
an age to be presented in Society, the two youthful princesses made
their first appearance at an evening reception, to which their mother
had invited a great many guests. All lavished praises on the charming
young girls. In the drawing-room there was an alcove concealed by a
large curtain. Curious to hear what would be said of them when they
disappeared, the two agreed to slip out and hide behind the curtain.
Scarcely had the attractive objects of the general admiration vanished
when the praises which had been kept within due bounds in their
presence, were redoubled. The two girls told me that they experienced
an indescribable revulsion of feeling at the moment; they thought that
everything the nuns had made them believe was false; they renounced
religion there and then, and made up their minds to throw themselves
into the pleasures of society. "We afterwards had to reconstruct our
lives ourselves, embrace the truths of religion afresh, and understand
for ourselves the emptiness of social brilliance."

Credulity gradually disappears with experience, and as the mind
matures: _instruction_ helps towards this end. In nations as in
persons, the evolution of civilization and of souls tends to diminish
credulity; _knowledge_, as is commonly said, dispels the _darkness_ of
ignorance. In the void which is ignorance, the fancy easily wanders,
just because it lacks the support which would enable it to rise to a
higher level. Thus the Pillars of Hercules disappeared when the
Straits of Gibraltar became the gates of the oceans; and no Columbus
could now persuade the Red Indians, whom the great American spirit of
democracy receives into its civilizing schools, that the heavens are
obedient to him, darkening the sun at his command; for eclipses are
phenomena as well known to them as to the white races.

Is this illusory imagination, based upon credulity, a thing we ought
to "develop" in children? We certainly have no wish to see it persist;
in fact, where we are told that a child "no longer believes in
fairy-tales," we rejoice. We say then: "He is no longer a baby." This
is what _should_ happen and we await it: the day will come when he
will no longer believe these stories. But if this maturation takes
place, we ought to ask ourselves: "What have _we_ done to help it?
What support did we offer to this frail mind to enable it to grow
straight and strong?" The child overcomes his difficulties _in spite_
of our endeavor to keep him in ignorance and illusion. The child
overcomes himself and us. He goes where his internal force of
development and maturation lead him. He might, however, say to us:
"How much you have made us suffer! The work of raising ourselves was
hard enough already, and you oppressed us." Would not such conduct be
much as if we compressed the gums to prevent the teeth from coming,
because it is characteristic of babies to be toothless, or prevented
the little body from standing erect, because at first the
characteristic of the infant is that it does not rise to its feet?
Indeed, we do something of the same sort when we deliberately prolong
the poverty and inaccuracy of childish speech; instead of helping the
child by making him listen intently to the distinct enunciation of
speech sounds, and watch the movements of the mouth, we adopt _his_
rudimentary language, and repeat the primordial sounds he utters,
lisping and perverting the consonants in the manner habitual to those
making first efforts to articulate words. Thus we prolong a formative
period full of difficulty and exertion for the child, thrusting him
back into the fatiguing infant state.

And we are behaving in exactly the same manner to-day with regard to
the so-called education of the imagination.

We are amused by the illusions, the ignorance, and the errors of the
immature mind, just as at no very remote date we were amused to see an
infant _laugh_ when it was tossed up and down, a proceeding now
condemned by infantile hygiene as wrong and dangerous in the extreme.
In short, it is _we_ who are amused by the Christmas festivities and
the credulity of the child. If we confess the truth, we must admit
that we are somewhat like the fine lady who took a superficial
interest in a hospital for poor children, but who kept on declaring:
"If there were to be no more sick children, I should be quite
unhappy." We, too, might say: "If the credulity of children were to
cease, a great pleasure would be taken from our lives."

It is one of the careless errors of our day to arrest artificially a
stage of development for our amusement; as in the ancient courts the
bodily growth of certain victims was arrested to make them dwarfs and
the pastime of the king. Such a statement may seem severe, but it
rests on an actual fact. We are unconscious of it, it is true; yet we
speak of it continually when we say among ourselves with lofty scorn
of the age of immaturity: "Really, we are not children." If we would
refrain from prolonging the child's immaturity in order to be able to
contemplate his inferior state in immobility, and would, on the
contrary, allow free growth admiring the marvels of his progression
ever on the road of higher conquests, we should say of him, with
Christ: "He who would be perfect must become as a little child."

If what is called infant imagination is the product of "immaturity" of
the mind, combined with the poverty in which we leave the child and
the ignorance in which he finds himself, the first thing to do is to
enrich his life by an environment in which he will become the owner of
something, and to enrich his mind by knowledge and experience based on
reality. And having given him these, we must allow him to _mature_ in
_liberty_. It is from freedom of development that we may expect the
manifestations of his imagination.

To enrich the child, who is the poorest among us, because he has
nothing and is the slave of all--this is our first duty towards him.
It will be said: Must we, then, give horses, carriages, and pianos to
all children? By no means. Remedies are never direct when a complex
life is in question. The child who has nothing is the one who dreams
of things the most impossible of attainment. The destitute dream of
millions, the oppressed of a throne. But he who possesses something
attaches himself to that which he possesses to preserve and increase
it reasonably.

A person without employment will dream of becoming a prince; but a
teacher in a school dreams of becoming a head master. Thus the child
who has a "house" of his own, who possesses brooms, rubbers, pottery,
soap, dressing-tables and furniture, is happy in the care of all these
things. His desires are moderated, and the peace he derives from them
opens up a life of expansion to his internal creative activities.

    *    *    *    *    *

It is "living among real possessions of his own" which calms the
child, and assuages those desires which consume his precious powers in
the vanity of illusion. Such a result is not to be achieved by
_imagining_ that he is living among possessions of his own. Some
teachers in charge of a model orphanage once said to me: "We too make
our children perform the exercises of practical life which you
describe; come and see." I went. Some of the authorities were also
present, and a university professor of pedagogy.

Some children seated at a little table with playthings were laying the
table for a doll's meal; their faces were quite without expression. I
looked in amazement at the persons who had invited me; they seemed
quite satisfied; they evidently thought that there was no difference
between laying a table in play and laying it for an actual meal; for
them imaginary life and real life were the same thing. May not this
subtle form of error be instilled in infancy and afterwards persist as
a mental attitude? It was perhaps this error which caused a famous
Italian pedagogist to say to me: "Liberty a new thing? Pray read
Comenius--you will find that it was already discussed in his times." I
replied: "Yes, many talk of it, but the liberty I mean is a form of
liberty actually realized." He seemed not to understand the
difference. I ought to have asked: "Do you not believe that there is
any difference between him who talks of millions and him who possesses

To be contented with the imaginary, and to live as if what we imagine
actually existed; to run after illusion, and "not to recognize"
reality, is a thing so common that scarcely is it apprehended, and the
cry of alarm raised: "Awake to truth, O man!" when the consciousness
becomes aware of a kind of gnawing parasite which has wormed itself
subtly into our intelligence.

The power to imagine always exists, whether or not it has a solid
basis on which to rest and materials with which to build; but when it
does not elaborate from reality and truth, instead of raising a divine
structure it forms incrustations which compress the intelligence and
prevent the light from penetrating thereto.

How much time and strength man has lost and is losing by this error!
Just as vice, which is an exercise of function without purpose, wastes
the body until it becomes diseased, so imagination unsustained by
truth consumes the intelligence until it assumes characteristics akin
to the mental characteristics of the insane.

    *    *    *    *    *

=Fable and religion=.--I have frequently heard it said that the
education of the imagination on a basis of fancy prepares the soul of
the child for religious education; and that an education based on
"reality," as in this method we would adopt, is too arid, and tends to
dry up the founts of spiritual life. Such reasoning, however, will not
be accepted by religious persons. They know well that faith and fable
are "as the poles apart," since fable is in itself a thing without
faith, and faith is the very sentiment of truth, which should
accompany man even unto death. Religion is not a product of fantastic
imagination, it is the greatest of realities, the one truth to the
religious man. It is the fount and basis of his life. The man without
religion is not, certainly, a person without imagination, but rather
one who lacks internal equilibrium; compared with the religious man he
is less calm, less strong in adversity; not only this, but he is more
unsettled in his own ideas. He is weaker and more unhappy; and it is
in vain that he catches at imagination to create a world for himself
outside reality. Something within him cries aloud in the words of
David: "My soul is a-thirst for God." And if he hopes to reach the
goal of his real life by the help of imagination alone, he may feel
his feet giving way among quicksands at a supreme moment of effort.

When an apostle seeks to win a soul to religion, where man may plant
his faltering feet on a rock, he appeals to understanding, not to
imagination, for he knows that his task is not to create something,
but to call aloud to that which is slumbering in the depths of the
heart. He knows that he must shake off the torpor from a feeble life
as he would shake the snow from a living body buried in a drift, not
build up a puppet of ice which will melt under the rays of the sun.

It is true that fantastic imagination penetrates religion, but in the
guise of error. In the Middle Ages, for instance, epidemics were
ascribed with great simplicity, to a direct act of divine
chastisement; to-day they are attributed to the direct action of
microbes. Papin's steam machines suggested diabolical intervention.
But these are precisely the kind of prejudices which, like all
fantasies, swarm in the void of ignorance.

All religion is not thus constructed like a fantastic castle erected
on a basis of ignorance. Otherwise we should see savage peoples
religious and civilized peoples without religion; whereas savages have
a frail and fantastic religion, mainly constructed upon the terror
inspired by the mysterious activities of Nature, and civilized peoples
have a positive religion, which becomes stronger as it becomes purer,
while the science of truth, penetrating into Nature, serves to exalt
and illustrate its mysteries.

And, above all, to-day, when there is a movement in favor of
eliminating religion altogether from the school, can we propose to
introduce it by cultivating _fable_? It is such a simple matter to
open the door directly to religion itself and allow its radiance to
penetrate, warming and invigorating life.

But it should enter like the sun into creation, not like the Befana
from the chimney-top.

Fable could prepare to some extent for pagan religion, which split up
the divinity into innumerable minor gods, symbolizing the external
world; this, being apprehended by the senses, may lend itself to
illusion; but fable could certainly never prepare for Christianity,
which brings God into contact with the inner life of man, "one and
indivisible," and teaches the laws of a life which is "felt" by men.
If the positive sciences be extraneous to religion, it cannot be said
that it is the study of reality in itself which alienates us
therefrom. Hitherto the positive sciences have studied the "external
world" in its analytical details, and if they could have made a
"sympathetic," religion that religion might be the pagan creed.
Indeed, so far science has brought a very perceptive breath of
paganism among us. But when it shall have succeeded in _penetrating
the inner man_, and there making manifest the laws of life and the
realities of existence, a great Christian light will surely shine upon
men; and maybe children, like the angels over Bethlehem, will sing the
hymn invoking peace between science and faith.

Saint John in the desert "made straight the way of the Lord" and
purged men of the grossest errors. And thus a method which gives
internal equilibrium and disperses the grossest errors which suffocate
the spiritual energies, makes ready for the reception of truth and the
recognition of the "way of life."

    *    *    *    *    *

=The education of the imagination in schools for older children=.--What
is the method adopted in the ordinary elementary schools for the
education of the imagination?

The school is, in most cases, a bare, naked place where the gray color
of the walls and the white muslin curtains over the windows preclude
any alleviation for the senses. The object of this depressing
environment is to prevent the distraction of the scholar's attention
by stimuli, and concentrate it upon the teacher who speaks. The
children, seated, listen motionless hour after hour. When they draw,
they have to reproduce another drawing exactly. When they move, it is
in obedience to an order given by another person. Their personalities
are appraised solely by the standard of passive obedience; the
education of their wills consists of the methodical renunciation of

"Our usual pedagogy," said Claparède, "oppresses children with a mass
of information which can never help them to direct their conduct; we
make them listen when they have no desire to hear; speak, write,
narrate, compose and discourse when they have nothing to say; we make
them observe when they have no curiosity, reason when they have no
desire to discover anything. We incite them to efforts which are
supposed to be voluntary without the preliminary acquiescence of their
_ego_ in the task imposed, that inner consensus which alone gives
moral value to submission to duty."

The children thus reduced to slavery use their eyes to read, their
hands to write, their ears to hear what the teacher says. Their
bodies, indeed, are stationary; but their minds are unable to dwell
upon anything. They must be continually exerting themselves to run
after the mind of the teacher, who, in his turn, is urged on by a
program drawn up at random, and which is certainly regardless of
childish tendencies. The mind has to pass from thing to thing. Images
fugitive and uncertain as dreams appear from time to time before the
eyes of the child. The teacher draws a triangle on the blackboard and
then erases it; it was a momentary vision represented as an
abstraction; those children have never held a concrete triangle in
their hands; they have to remember, by an effort, a contour around
which abstract geometrical calculations will presently gather thickly;
such a figure will never achieve anything within them; it will not be
_felt_, combined with others, it will never be an inspiration. It is
the same with everything else. The object would seem to be fatigue for
its own sake, that fatigue which has engrossed almost the sum of
effort of experimental psychology.

In this environment, where free exercise is prohibited, as also the
choice of work, and meditation, where every sentiment is oppressed,
and from which every external stimulus which might enrich the
intelligence with spontaneous acquisitions is eliminated, an attempt
is made to excite the imagination by giving "compositions" to be
written. This means that the child has to _produce_ without having the
necessary material; to give, without possessing; achieve internal
activities which he is prevented from developing. And _production_ is
to come from the _exercise of production_; "constant practise in
composition" is to develop the imagination; from the sterility of the
void the most complex products of the intelligence are to be evolved!

It is well known that "composition" represents the great difficulty of
our schools. All teachers have declared that children are "poor in
ideas," that they have "disorderly minds," that they are "absolutely
without originality." The examination in written composition has
always been the most painful of all; every one knows the expression of
the child who hears the title of an obligatory theme dictated; and who
in a few hours must hand in a written composition, a product of the
imagination; it is with anguish, with oppression of the heart, with
cold hands and eyes anxiously interrogating the clock in terror of the
fleeting hour, under the distrustful surveillance of a teacher who for
the occasion is transformed into a spy-warder like those in penal
prisons, that he undergoes his torture to the end. Woe to him if he
does not hand in his composition! He will be ruined, for this is the
principal test, the one in which he is _free_ to manifest his own
worth, to give the true individual fruit by which others will measure
his intelligence. It is in this way that our young generations often
find neurasthenia and even suicide. Scholars cannot answer as did the
greatest poet of our times, Carducci, when he was requested to write
an ode on the occasion of the death of a personage: "It is
inspiration, not an occasion, which would make me write an ode."

It is interesting to study the methods by which, in "modern schools,"
where some elements of psychical hygiene have penetrated, attempts are
made to help the pupils by diminishing their exhausting effort and
leading them on gradually to composition. Composition (we must pass
over the contradiction in terms for the moment) is "taught." The
teacher gives collective lessons in composition, just as she would
explain arithmetic: this is called "collective oral composition."

We will allow specialists in this method to speak, giving a passage
containing a preparation of teachers for such lessons:


    "Let us take, by way of illustration, the following brief
    narrative, which consists of three phases: 1. Ernesto did not
    know his lesson; 2. The teacher scolded the child severely;
    3. Ernesto wept and promised to do better. If we indicate the
    narrative by the words: 'Ernesto did not know his lesson'
    (first fact, cause), the pupil will go on easily to the
    effect, consisting of the two other phases which, logically
    and in chronological order, follow the cause. If, on the
    other hand, we give as the theme the indication corresponding
    to the second phase: 'The teacher scolded the child,' we
    oblige the pupil to go back to the cause and to make the
    third phase follow upon the second. We place the pupil in a
    more difficult position if we give as the theme: 'Ernesto
    wept and promised to do better,' since he will then be
    obliged to go back to the second and thence to the first

    "Hence the first phase in every brief narrative ought to
    serve to indicate the theme.

    "_Method_. The teacher should write the theme on the
    blackboard, and invite the pupils to think of (not to say) a
    possible consequence of the fact indicated in the theme. The
    teacher must let it be understood that the pupils are to work
    independently, without the help of suggestion. Let us see:

    "_Luisa threw a piece of wool into the fire_ (theme). Think
    of a possible consequence, say what happened in consequence.

    "_The wool caused a bad smell_. Very good. You repeat the

    "_Luisa threw a piece of wool into the fire. The wool caused
    a bad smell_. Can any one add another little thought, another
    possible consequence?

    "_The teacher reproved Luisa. A pupil opened the window_. The
    teacher repeats the exercise using the themes A. B. C. and
    causing the result arrived at with the collaboration of the
    scholars to be written in their copy-books.

    "A theme may be proposed and the pupils may be left free to
    develop it without any further explanations.

    Theme A.--_Luisa threw a piece of wool into the fire_. (The
    wool caused a bad smell. The teacher reproved Luisa. A
    companion opened the window to allow the bad odor to escape.)

    Theme B.--_Ernesto upset the ink on the floor_. (The floor
    was stained. The teacher reproved the child. Ernesto promised
    to be more careful.)

    Theme C.--_Elisa read the story well_. (The teacher praised
    her and gave her a good mark. Elisa was very much pleased.)

    Theme D.--_Mario made a blot on his copy-book_. (The teacher
    did not correct his exercise; she scolded him. The boy went
    home crying.)

    "After all this collective practise the teacher gives a free
    theme such as the following: 'Maria knew her lesson well.' In
    developing it, the children are expected to follow the above
    examples: that is to say, they are to indicate in two
    sentences the logical effects of such a cause (the teacher
    gave her ten marks and praised her; then she told her to
    persevere in her industry)."

    *    *    *    *    *

Sometimes the teaching has a psychological purport rather than a
logical one. In such a case the "little thoughts" are not linked
together as cause and effect, but by the display of psychical
activities in three spheres: "knowing, feeling, and willing."

    Amelia made me smell some ammonia (fact perceived).--

    What a horrible smell! (sentiment).--I will not smell it
    again (volition).

    Gigi pulled my hair (fact perceived).--It hurt me
    (sentiment). I pulled my companion's hand away quickly
    (volition) (_I Diritti della Scuola_, Year xiv, No. 16, p.

With methods such as these it is obvious that every possibility of
inspiration and creation will be destroyed. The child has to follow
phrase by phrase what the teacher indicates; thus every spark of
aptitude for original composition is quenched. Not only does the child
remain _empty of material_ wherewith to create, as in the past, but
the very capacity for creation disappears, so that if, to-morrow,
material should be formed in his mind, he would no longer have the
impulse to utilize it, and his thought would be fettered by his school

Intellectual education carried on by the teacher on such a system
makes one think of a chauffeur who should shut up the motor of an
automobile and try to propel it by the strength of his arms. He would
in this case be a porter, and the automobile a useless machine. When,
on the other hand, the motor is open, the internal force moves the car
and the chauffeur only has to guide it that it may go safely along the
street, not run into obstacles or rush into ditches, and not injure
any one upon its course.

This _guidance_ is the only thing necessary; but the real progression
is due solely to the internal impulse, which no one can create.

It was thus that the first Italian literary Renascence came about,
when the "new sweet style" arose with Dante as the spontaneous
expression of feeling:

         "Count of me but as one
     Who am the scribe of Love, that when he breathes
     Take up my pen and as he dictates, write."
          (Carey's translation, _Purgatorio_, Canto XXIV.)

The child must create his interior life before he can express
anything; he must take spontaneously from the external world
constructive material in order to "compose"; he must exercise his
intelligence freely before he can be ready to find the logical
connection between things. We ought to offer the child that which is
necessary for his internal life, and leave him free to produce.
Perhaps it would not then be impossible to meet a child running with
sparkling eyes to write a letter, or walking and meditating as he
cultivates a nascent inspiration.

We ought to tend and nourish the internal child, and _await_ his
manifestations. If imaginative creation comes late, it will be because
the intelligence is not sufficiently mature to create until late; and
we should no more force it with a fiction than we would put a false
mustache on a child because otherwise he will not have one till he is


When we said, to begin with, that positive science had only given the
"reform" of physical life, together with the modern rules of hygiene,
as its contribution to society, we were unjust to positive science. It
has considered not only physical life, but moral life.

It is enough to think of those studies in bacteriology which refer to
the vehicles of infectious maladies in the environment, in order to
recognize therefrom a primary token of the important place which is
assigned to the community of human interests, and this is now affirmed
with an emphasis never before displayed. Microbes multiply chiefly in
damp and dirty places; underfed people are more prone to illness than
others, and so are those who are overtired. Therefore illness and
early death must be the heritage of the poor who, underfed and
overtired, live in damp and dirty places? No. It is a question of
vehicles. Microbes spread in all directions from the sources of
infection, by means of dust, insects and all the usual objects of
life, in fact by all the means of transport. They exist in
inconceivable and fabulous numbers; and every sick person is an almost
incredible source of illness and death. One single person would
suffice to contaminate the whole of Europe.

The means of transport allow microbes to cross oceans and continents
in every sense. We need only observe the transatlantic lines, and
those of the railways of the world, in order to realize the lines of
communication between the maladies which afflict humanity in all the
places of the earth. We need only study the industrial changes of
matter in order to follow in detail the daily path of the microbes,
which put all classes of society into intimate communication. The rich
lady wears linen on her person which comes from the hands of the poor,
and is constantly in their keeping; she cannot put food into her mouth
unless it is offered to her by the poor who have handled it over and
over again.

The air which is breathed by the rich may contain in its dust the
desiccated germs which a consumptive workman has scattered on the
ground. There is no way of escape. Statistics prove this: the death
rate from infectious diseases is tremendously high in all countries,
among both rich and poor, although the poor die in a double proportion
to the rich. How can we deliver ourselves from this scourge? Only on
condition that there be no more sources of infection, that is to say,
that there be no longer unhealthful places in the world, and no
underfed people constrained to work beyond their strength. The only
way by which the individual may escape is that by which all humanity
may be saved. This is a great principle, which seems to ring like a
trumpet call: Men, help one another, or you will die.

It is a fact that science has inaugurated "works of sanitation" as its
practical contribution to the fight against mortality; towns have been
opened out, water has been laid on, houses have been built for the
poor, and labor has been protected. All the environment tends to
ameliorate the "conditions of life" of the population. No works of
charity, no expression of love or of pity, has ever been able to do so
much. Science has shown us that those works which were called
"charitable," and were looked upon merely as a moral virtue,
represented the first step, although a restricted and insufficient
one, towards the real salvation of the health of humanity. It was that
which had to be done in order to fight against death. But, in order to
reach the goal, such work should be universal, and should constitute a
"reformation" of society. Then it becomes "social progress," when
there will be no benefactors or benefited, but merely humanity which
has increased its own well-being. This principle: All men are
brothers; let them love and help one another, and let not the right
hand know what the left hand doeth, will have been translated into

In sentimental times, poverty was a stimulus to which the rich man
reacted. The poor did not really tend to educate the rich man's
feelings. If, in those times, the poor man had said, "Give me
necessities, or thou shalt die," the rich man would have been
indignant. He was very far from realizing that the poor man was his
brother, with whom he shared his rights, as well as the danger of

To-day science has put things on a different footing. It has
"realized" that charity benefits both rich and poor, and has
constituted a principle of civilization that which formerly was a
"moral principle" entrusted to sentiment.

In the case of morals, too, hygiene has penetrated, and has given
individual rules of life. It is through hygiene that debauchery has
become less common, that those epicurean feasts which were celebrated
in ancient times are replaced to-day by hygienic meals, the value of
which consists in the wise proportion between the needs of the body
and the food which is prepared. Wine and alcohol are rejected by the
rich more than by the poor. We eat in order to keep ourselves in good
health, and therefore without excess and without poison. This is what
the ancient morality preached when it fought against the vice of
gluttony and proclaimed fasting and abstinence to be virtues. No one
in those times could have imagined that the day would come when
millionaires would voluntarily substitute lemonade for wine, and that
great banquets would disappear entirely, leaving only the accounts of
them as a "curiosity" of the past. Nay, more: none of these modern
ascetics are proud of their virtue, they seem to respond with
simplicity to the gospel precept:

"When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance ... but
anoint thine head, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy
Father which seeth in secret."

If one of the ancient preachers could talk to these ascetics, he would
also be much edified by their conversation. What has become of those
pleasantries which formed "life" and "delight" and "gaiety" in the
time of Marguerite of Valois? The tales of Boccaccio could not now be
discussed in English society, or in any modern aristocratic society
even of much lower social rank than that which surrounded Marguerite
of Valois. Nowadays people are afraid of uttering an incorrect word,
even of hinting at the most innocent functions of the body, or of
naming those parts of their clothing which come in contact with the
skin. They only talk about elevated things, and only those people who
instruct us are looked upon as brilliant conversationalists; those
who, in speaking of their travels, tell us about the customs of the
people, or who, speaking of politics, tell us of the current
situation. Excessive laughter, jokes, and violent gestures are not
permitted. Every one keeps his limbs quiet, even avoiding those
vivacious and inoffensive gestures which are the natural accompaniment
of conversation; the tone of voice is so modulated as to be scarcely
audible. The ancient preacher would say, "These people have carried
out St. Paul's exhortation to an exaggerated degree: 'But fornication
and all uncleanness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh
saints; neither filthiness nor foolish talking nor jesting which are
not convenient.'"

    *    *    *    *    *

And among these evolutions of manners we find that it is once more
hygiene which, making itself the guide of fashion, has by degrees
simplified clothes, done away with pomatum and rouge, abolished
crinolines, modified stays and shoes, caused long-trained dresses to
disappear from the streets, and has introduced uniformity in clothing.
If a man who lived in ancient times were to appear among us, he would
ask: "Why are the people doing penance? I see men without any
ornaments and with their hair cut short; and women who, with an
edifying renunciation of vanity, go along the street without wigs and
without patches on their faces, with their hair simply knotted up; I
see countesses dressed in inexpensive costumes, in simple, dark,
monastic dresses, almost like those of the poor. The carriages are
dark, like funeral cars, and the servants wear mourning livery.
Carnival no longer enlivens the streets. Every one goes about silently
and gravely."

Who could ever have persuaded the people of old times, who used to
preach against excessive vanity, that such a picture as this does not
represent a time of penance, but ordinary daily life?

These modern people, on their side, are far from thinking that they
are condemned to a life of suffering; on the contrary, they look back
with horror on the society of the past; they would never go back to
those days when men were enslaved by grand dresses and by rouge,
poisoning themselves with debauchery and dying of infectious diseases.
They have freed themselves from a great many useless bonds and have
realized a higher enjoyment of life. All the comfort which makes life
so delicious to-day would have been an incomprehensible secret to the
nobility of past centuries. It is the secret of life.

Possibly, at one time, monks and those who were living in the world
thought of each other in a similar way. Those who had renounced the
bondage of the world and all its vanities possessed a secret of life
which was full of hitherto unknown delights, and they looked with
horror upon the so-called pleasure of their century; while those
unconscious men who were slaves from the tops of their be-wigged heads
to their feet compressed in narrow boots, called the ways of death
"life and enjoyment."

Positive science has made yet another contribution penetrating
directly into the sphere of morality. By statistic methods of
sociology the social problems of immorality and crime have been opened
up, and external facts have been studied; and criminal anthropology
has revealed the "inferior types" who by hereditary taint are those
who have a predisposition to all the moral infection of their
surroundings. Morel's theories concerning degeneration and the
resulting theories of Lombroso concerning criminals have undoubtedly
brought light into this chaos, wherein opinion as to human goodness
and wickedness was divided. Forms of "degeneration" are chiefly rooted
in the nervous system, and all the abnormal personalities produced
thereby "deviate" from the ordinary type. They have a different
intelligence and different morality. False perceptions, false
reasoning, illusions, anomalies of the will such as impulses,
irresolutions, and crazes, the deficient moral sense on which the
abnormal intelligence builds up systematic delusions, which are
interpreted as philosophical principles, place these persons in a
category apart as extra-social beings.

The general nervous weakness and the wandering intelligence which
preclude an interest in work make of these persons individuals
incapable of production, who therefore try to live upon the
productions of others. This fundamental fact, which tends to unite a
dislike of productive labor with impulses towards rapine, causes them
to make use of all those surrounding causes which prepare the external
means for crime. These men are "bad." But if we observe more closely
we see that it is not wickedness with which we have to deal but morbid
conditions and social errors. If such be the case, these bad men, who
from no fault of their own were born in these unhappy conditions, and
who are driven to perdition by society, are really "victims." Their
whole history, when closely investigated, reveals this fact. They are
hunted and neglected from babyhood. Incapable of making themselves
beloved owing to mental deficiency, volitive disorders, to the
anomaly of the affections and also to lack of physical attraction,
they pass from maternal persecution to that of the school, and finally
to that of society, bringing on themselves every kind of punishment.

The first picture which Morel drew of these "dead ones of the race"
was an impressive one. According to his original theory, containing a
synthesis which, if not very exact, yet sums up the phenomenon with
comprehensive clearness, when a cause of degeneration acts upon a man,
he may have defective children, whose deficiency increases in the two
or three following generations, until it is extinguished in the final
sterility of exceedingly debased individuals. According to Morel,
madmen, criminals, epileptics and idiots form the sad series in this
extinction of man. The man who dies leaving strong descendants, does
not really die, but is renewed in them, youth succeeding to age. It is
only the degenerate who dies, for his kind is "extinguished," the few
miserable generations whom he produces represent a "living agony."
This "dying species," which lives among the healthy, exhibiting its
weakness, its delusions, its convulsions, irritability and egoism, is
finally driven into those tombs of the living, lunatic asylums and

What a living picture, and what a warning to man! One "fault" may be a
mortal one to him, for, like the Biblical curse, it transmits itself
to generations, and leads to eternal perdition.

How terrible it is to think of punishment falling on the innocent head
of a child! and how evident it is that our present life is not
everything, but that it has a continuation, when we shall reap the
true rewards or the true punishments of our existence. The choice lies
to a great extent in our own hands. Shall we have a beautiful,
healthy, prolific son, or a deformed, unhealthy, barren son, incapable
of loving and understanding us? The hygiene of generation is the most
important part of moral hygiene. If the salvation of the individual
life can only be obtained by caring for the hygienic life of the whole
of humanity, it is only by rigorously following the laws of health and
the laws of life that the salvation of the species can be obtained.
Alcoholism, all poisons, overwork, constitutional maladies,
dissipation of nervous force, vice, and idleness, are all _causes_ of
degeneration. It was science which went on preaching these things for
the salvation of mankind, and by these means propagating virtue. But
above all, it inculcated the great principle of "pardon," which
hitherto had been one of the mysteries of religious morality.

A few years ago, no one, however pitiful and generous, could have
looked upon the delinquent with the same justice and pity as science
has done. It has pointed out that we are _all_ responsible for this
victim of social causes, that we must all accuse ourselves of the sins
committed by the inferior individual, and exert ourselves for his
regeneration by all the means in our power. It was only the saints who
had an intuition of this truth, when they offered their merits for all
men in common and accepted responsibility for the offenses of all.
"You will hold yourselves accountable," said St. John Chrysostom, "not
only for your own salvation, but for universal salvation; he who prays
must take upon himself the burden of the interests of the whole human

It is certain that if a Tages had cleansed our whole race of its
deformities, and if an analogous morality had rendered us indifferent
to the illnesses, weaknesses, and sufferings of humanity,
regenerative science would not have been able to arise. It is only by
recognizing the effects that we can go back to the unhealthy causes,
and save humanity from danger. The _causes_ of death are as invisible
and intangible as microbes; man may drink poison when he thinks he is
drinking nectar. Woe to us if the diseased and degenerate did not
exhibit themselves to us as an advance guard, to testify to the
unconscious errors which threaten us with perdition. Science does not
exactly limit itself to tending the sick, like the _personnel_ of a
hospital, but it penetrated by that goodly door, and made its way in a
contrary direction towards a normal humanity, unconscious of its
danger. The ultimate result of science is not the care of the sick but
universal health. We owe the hygienic "comfort" which ensures our
health, and diminishes general mortality to so great an extent, to the
fact that sick people were collected together and tended.

The promise of regeneration given us by eugenics, which offers us the
universal hope of a more flourishing and happier generation than that
of the past has been made possible because we mercifully collect all
the feeble-minded, the epileptics and the unhealthy. It was to this we
had to look in order to find the roads which lead to health, and
arrive at the gates of a better world.

When Christ showed the way of salvation to men He pointed to those who
were rejected by society, in whom the obvious effects of evil could be
seen, because the causes of evil are too subtle, and are not always
directly visible: "You hear with your ears and do not understand; you
behold with your eyes and do not see."

But, on the other hand, the extreme consequences are obvious, and it
is enough that the "will" of man should agree to gather them in
charitably and without repugnance in order to obtain salvation. St.
Matthew says that at the Last Judgment those who are lost will be
separated from those who are saved, and that the King will call the
latter to his right hand, saying, "Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was an-hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave
me drink ... I was naked and ye clothed me.... I was in prison, and ye
came unto me." "And when," replied the just, "saw we thee, O Lord,
an-hungered or thirsty or naked? When saw we thee sick or in prison
and came unto thee?" and the King shall answer and say unto them,
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye
have done it unto me." Then shall he say also unto them on the left
hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire ... for I was
an-hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no
drink ... sick and in prison and ye visited me not." Then shall they
answer him, saying, "When saw we thee an-hungered, or a-thirst, or a
stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto
thee?" Then shall he answer them, saying, "Inasmuch as ye did it not
to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

This is the fundamental difference between heathen and Christian
morality; between intellectual Greek philosophy and practical modern
science; between the æsthetic ideal and the ideal of "life."

    *    *    *    *    *

Positive science, therefore, has made us realize a part of
Christianity. We might almost say that the monastic orders practically
represented, throughout the centuries and the different civilizations,
the only form of life which is really life--that which science has
revealed to-day.

They alone, at a period of disorderly excess, had a dietary which
begins to be generally recognized as hygienic; they ate coarse bread,
fresh fruit, milk fresh from the cow, many vegetables, little meat, at
frugal but regular repasts. Withdrawing from the polluted air of
crowded cities, they chose large, spacious houses in the open country
or, at any rate, rather isolated--if possible, standing on a height.
Their luxury was not heavy, padded furniture but large grounds where
it was possible to live in the open air. Loose clothing, comfortable
sandals, or bare feet, woolen gowns, physical exercise, agricultural
work, traveling, made them almost the precursors of the modern life of
sport. Every convent spread benefactions all around--received the
poor, tended the sick, as if to show that this freer and more
privileged life was but a phase, which must necessarily be accompanied
by help to humanity. They represented the social and intellectual
_élite_; it was the Benedictines who preserved manuscripts and
treasured the arts; it was the followers of Saint Bernard who
practised agriculture, and it was the sons of Saint Francis who
preached peace.

Or it might be said that modern society, guided by positive study of
the laws of life and of the means of saving it, has encountered the
religious laws which reveal the paths of life; and realizes a form of
civilization which recalls and, in some ways, reproduces the ancient
oases of the spirit.

If, however, we were to risk a parallel between modern society and a
convent, what kind of convent would the former be?

Here is a monastery where the brethren eat according to rule, wear
hygienic clothing, are correct in their language, never indulge in
noisy quarrels, have all their interests in life in common, and
dispense their charities coldly, as if they were a custom or an
obligation of their order; they meditate on eternal life, on
salvation, and rewards and punishments in a future life, but without
being touched by these thoughts. The real truth is that they have lost
their faith, and that they do not love one another; ambition, anger,
envy and even hatred, drive away internal peace; and corruption begins
to filter in under these other sins; a sign of a deeper decadence now
begins to show itself, for chastity has been lost. That which is, _par
excellence_, the standard of Christianity, the sign of respect for
life, the consecration of the purity which leads to eternal life, has
been overthrown together with faith. The love of man is not compatible
with the excesses of the beast. It is through purity that an ardent
love to all mankind, and comprehension of others, and intuition of
truth, arise like a perfume. It is that ardent fire called charity or
love, which keeps life kindled, and gives value to all things. "Though
I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to
be burned," says St Paul, "and have not charity, it profiteth me
nothing. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all
mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not
charity, I am became as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal" (1 Cor.

In "degenerate" convents the greatest and most elevated acquirements,
and the highest level of perfection reached, are lost; just as a
person punished by degradation first loses the last and highest
acquisitions, and only keeps the lower.

In social convents, on the other hand, the ultimate attainment has not
yet been reached; that is the difference and the contrast. The social
elevation towards Christianity is only on its first steps. Love is
lacking, and thence chastity; and all this is absent owing to the arid
void left by the absence of faith, and the oppression of spiritual
life. Positive science has not yet touched the inner man, and the
social environment does not therefore realize, in its "force of
universal civilization," the loftier human acquisitions.

When we occupy ourselves with the "moral education" of our children,
we ought to ask ourselves if we really love them and if we are sincere
in our wishes for their "morality."

Let us be practical. Fathers and mothers, what can you hope for from
your children? The European war is far less dangerous to their bodies
than the spiritual risks which they run. We must imagine a much
greater war, a universal one, to which all young men are called, and
where the survivors are pointed out as absolutely exceptional.
Therefore you are educating your sons for death. What, then, is the
use of troubling so much about them? Is it not useless to take care of
their soft hair, and their rosy nails, and the fresh and bewitching
beauty of their vigorous little bodies, if they are to die before

Ah! all those who love children must fight in this deadly war, and
struggle for peace:

The creed which Mme. de Héricourt sets forth in her book, "_La Femme
Affranchie_," about the time of the French Revolution, is very

    "Mothers, you admonish your children, saying, 'Do not tell
    lies, because this is unworthy of a person who respects
    himself. Do not steal: would you like it if people stole
    your things? It is a dishonest thing to do. Do not oppress
    those of your companions who are weaker than yourself, and do
    not be rude to them, for that would be a cowardly act.' These
    are excellent principles. But when the child has become a
    young man his mother says, 'He must sow his wild oats.' And
    sowing his wild oats means that he must perforce be a
    seducer, an adulterer, and a frequenter of brothels. What? Is
    this mother, who told her boy not to tell lies, the same
    person who permits him now that he is a man, to betray a
    woman like herself? And, although she taught her child not to
    steal another child's toy, she thinks it lawful for her son
    to rob a woman like herself of her life and her honor. And
    she who advised him never to oppress the weak, now permits
    him to range himself among the oppressors of a human being
    whom society has made into a slave."

    *    *    *    *    *

These mothers acquiesce in the degrading fact which perverts all
humanity. There is a strong social movement to-day against the white
slave traffic; and at the same time the science of eugenics has arisen
which tends to protect the health of posterity.

These are excellent things. But the question which lies at the root of
all these questions is a spiritual question. It is not the white
slaves who are the "lost" human beings; they are the victims of a
universal act of perdition and slavery. If such a grave spiritual
danger is hanging over us, what external hygiene can save us, unless
it is preceded by a direct struggle against this danger? The really
"lost" are those who persist in a state of death, without perceiving

If any one perceives the danger, he may by this mere fact find himself
in the way of salvation. The so-called white slaves, held in scorn by
society and oppressed by punishment, cry vengeance in the sight of the
universe, and cover mankind with shame; but they are not the really
lost--they are not the only slaves. He who is lost is the innocent,
well-educated young man who, without remorse, unconscious of his own
degradation, takes advantage of a human being who is made a slave for
him, and, moreover, covers her with contempt, without hearing the
voice of conscience which admonishes him: "Why beholdest thou the mote
which is in thy brother's eye? Cast out the beam which is in thine own
eye." This man, who seeks, perhaps, to protect his own body from
disastrous consequences, although very often it is not possible to
escape them, and therefore risks, for nothing, suicide of his own
person and of his species; and who only cares to seek a social
position for himself and an honored family--this is the man who is
really lost in darkness, and reduced to slavery.

And his mother is also a slave, for she cannot follow her son, whom
she brought up with so much care for his body, and who cared for his
moral good with all the passionate love of her heart; she is a slave,
when her son is forced away from her, to go perhaps to death or to the
ruin of his physical health, and to descend into moral degradation,
while she can do nothing but watch him, silent and immovable. She
excuses herself sadly, saying that her dignity and purity forbid her
to follow her son in these paths. It is as if she were to say, "There
is my son, wounded and bleeding; but I cannot follow him, because the
road is muddy, and I might dirty my boots." Where is the heart of a
true mother? How can maternal sentiment fall so low? "She only is
dignified and pure," cries Madame de Héricourt, "who is capable of
bringing up her son in such a way that he will never have anything
shameful to confess to his mother."

The mother who has lost all her authority is herself lost.

Maternal dignity, on the other hand, is great and powerful. Behold in
ancient times the Roman matron, Veturia, the mother of Coriolanus!
Having heard that her son, a traitor to his country, was coming to
attack Rome at the head of an alien army, she went bravely out from
the protecting walls of the city, advanced towards the powerful leader
through the hostile host, and asked him, "Art thou my son, or art thou
a traitor?" At those words Coriolanus renounced his unworthy

In the same way, in these days, the true mother should pass beyond the
walls of prejudice and the frontiers of slavery, and have sufficient
dignity to be able to confront her son, saying to him: "Thou wilt not
be a traitor to humanity!"

What pressure can have been brought to bear on a woman to have made
her lose the sacred right of saving her son? and what can have so
weakened affection as to lead a youth to despise the maternal
authority in order to make himself a young man?

It is this death of the soul and not external facts which pronounce
our sentence.

    *    *    *    *    *

If positive science, which has limited itself to the study of the
external causes of maladies, or the causes of degeneration, and has
confined itself to the inculcation of physical hygiene--that is to
say, the protection of material life--has contributed so largely to
morality, how much more may we hope for moral elevation from a
positive science which concentrates upon the protection of the "inner
life" of man?

And if the first part, scrupulously following the truth by exact
research, has arrived at the social realization of Christian
principles, we may presume that its continuation, conducted with the
same loyalty and exactitude of research, will in like manner succeed
in filling up the voids which still exist in modern civilization.

This is, I believe, the clearest and most direct reply to those who
ask what can be hoped for in the morality and religion of the new
generations, from our "pover-ositive" method of education.

If experimental medicine, by going back to the causes of diseases, has
succeeded in solving the problems which concern health, an
experimental science which concentrates upon the study of normal man's
psychical activities should lead to the discovery of the superior laws
of life and of the health of mankind.

This science has not yet been established, and awaits its
investigators; but we may foresee that if universal hygiene, which
gives humanity a guide to physical life, has come from medical
research, then this new science should produce a hygiene which will
give to all men practical guidance in moral life.

And if positive medicine arose in the hospitals, where sick people
were collected by private and public generosity, with charitable
intentions and under the guidance of empiricism, this science should,
above all, concentrate and find its experiences in schools: that is to
say, in the places where all children are gathered together for their
social elevation, and with the empirical guidance of education.

What was the elevated note of scientific medicine which gradually
superseded the empirical method? While empirical medicine believed in
blood-letting and blistering, scientific medicine elevated and
illustrated the ancient principle which had been forgotten, and which
contained all the new wisdom in a synthesis: the medicinal force of
nature, _vis medicatrix naturae_. A natural power of fighting and
conquering illness exists in the living organism, and it is to this
that we must look in order to construct rational medicine; he who
believes that the doctor and the medicine cure the sick is an
empiricist; but he who knows that it is "only the organism" that can
produce the cure, and that therefore we must protect and assist the
force which nature gives for our salvation, is a scientist.

Now the sum of treatments necessary to protect the natural forces of
defense and reorganization in positive medicine, are much more minute
and are diffused in much vaster fields than the old empiricism.

The great number of specialists who replace the single type of doctor
of the last century, is sufficient to emphasize the enormous
difference in practise which the new tendency involves.

It is interesting also to give a glance at the progress which has been
made in medicine; it has begun to cure diseases; and thence it has
gone on to discover the laws of normal physical life, and to show the
healthy how to preserve their health. When it reached this point it
found that the same measures which are necessary for preserving health
are the best for curing disease; because it is the same source of life
which gives health and the _vis medicatrix naturae_. Thus, for example,
the rational diet of to-day is not only a hygienic measure which all
should adopt in order to keep themselves in health, but the most
important factor in the cure of illness. Dietetics, whether for the
victims of gout, pellagra, fever, tuberculosis, or diabetes, is of
primary importance; lithia salts, caffeine, and creosote are useless
in comparison. The modern tendency is to reject these poisonous
remedies altogether, and to substitute the natural remedies of rest,
medical gymnastics, hydropathic treatment, and, above all, climatic
treatment. Psychiatry and neuropathology have introduced the treatment
of work: that is, a course of orderly intelligent activity, to give
occupation to individuals who begin to show signs of mental failure.
By degrees, as progress is made in this direction, the conception of
"natural healing" will triumph--the ever clearer conception, that is
to say, of the forces which sustain life.

It is only Nature which can do everything, and if the doctor is to
become useful he must follow in her footsteps and serve her with
increasing fidelity.

It is natural that investigation should lead to attempts at
interpreting these forces upon which health depends, and these studies
of "immunity" have been the most brilliant, widely diffused and
scientific of all medical studies.

When Metchnikoff believed he had discovered that the leucocytes in the
blood absorb and digest microbes and thus save man from infection, it
seemed as if a ray of clear and simple light had illuminated all the
mystery. But no sooner was his theory promulgated than it was
demolished by the successive studies in which it was subjected to a
destructive criticism, because the leucocytes are not always able to
absorb living microbes; certain "conditions" of the organism are
requisite in order that they may have this power, and so the knotty
point was merely shifted. Moreover, it is not the actual microbes
which cause disease, but their toxines. Thus the theories of toxines
seemed to be the true guide for researches; but then we entered into a
sea of complications, and it is obvious that only "aspects" and
"attributes" of immunity are accessible to us, but that the substance,
the last word, underlying all those aspects which research has
revealed is: mystery.

For this reason, there is silence to-day as to questions of immunity;
that which was once familiar as a popular idea remains among the
obscure studies which not even the students of the university should

Nevertheless, it is "impossible" that the medical science founded upon
natural forces should develop, unless the imperative necessity be
recognized of studying the mystery of life which conceals its source,
but continually expands its forces.

The invisible but real source of health and healing is always there,
at the climax of all efforts; and the palpitating energy which springs
inexhaustibly therefrom is the only reality which makes evident this
revival of the living. This medical science and this mystery cannot
but form a unity.

It is probable that this will be brought about by that science which
studies the health and the maladies of the soul. If this should
discover that the soul, too, is corruptible, subject to disease and
death, that it has its laws of health and its _vis medicatrix naturae_,
treatments tending to respect and aid this precious force of life
should multiply immeasurably; and at the same time the mysterious
source whence it gushes should impose itself on modern medicine, as
the question of immunity has done. Then life, morality and religion
will be indissolubly united.

    *    *    *    *    *

Let us now turn to children of two and a half and three years old, who
touch everything, but especially those objects which they evidently
prefer, the most simple objects, as, for example, a square block of
paper, a square inkstand, or a round, shiny bell. All things which
"are not meant for them."

Then the mother comes and takes them away; half caressing, and at the
same time tapping the little hands, she calls out, "Don't touch!
naughty!" I once was present at one of these many family scenes, which
pass unnoticed. The father, who was a doctor, was sitting at the
writing-table; the mother was holding in her arms a very small child,
who was stretching out its little hands to the various objects upon
the table. The doctor said, "That child is incorrigibly naughty,
although it is so young. However much its mother and I try to cure it
of this fault of touching my things, we never succeed." "Naughty!
naughty!" repeated the mother, holding its little hands tightly, while
the child threw itself back, howling, and throwing its feet about as
if it wished to kick.

When children are three or four years older, the struggle becomes more
severe: they want to _do_ things. Those who observe them carefully
discover that they have some "tendency." They wish to imitate what
their mother does, if their mother is a housewife. They willingly
follow her into the kitchen, they wish to share her work, to touch her
things, and they try furtively to knead and cook and wash clothes, and
sweep the floor. The mother feels wearied by them; she keeps on
repeating, "Be quiet; leave it alone. Don't tease me. Go away." Then
the child makes a great noise, throws himself on the ground, and
kicks; but then he begins again to do as much as he can without being
seen, as quickly as possible; and by trying to wash things in a hurry,
gives himself a bath; trying to conceal some contraband ragout, he
makes the floor dirty. The mother's anger, cries, and reproofs
increase; and the child reacts with naughtiness and tears; but begins
again almost at once.

Where the mother does not do her own work, the child, if intelligent,
is still more unfortunate. He looks for something which he cannot
find, and cries for no reason, he flies into a passion for which no
one can account; some fathers lament this, almost with despair. "My
child is very intelligent, but so naughty! nothing will satisfy him.
It is no use to buy toys for him, he is really overdone with them;
nothing is of any use."

The mother asks anxiously, "What do you advise me to do when the child
is naughty? and when he gets into passions? He is so naughty, he never
keeps still; I cannot contend with him any more."

It is rare to hear a mother say, "My baby is good--it is always
asleep." Who has not heard some poor mother shout in a threatening
voice to the crying babe in her arms, "Be quiet, be quiet, I tell
you!" and then, naturally the child is frightened, and redoubles its

This is the first contest of the man who enters the world: he has to
struggle with his parents, with those who have given him life. And
this occurs because his infant life is "different" from that of his
parents; the child has to form himself, whereas his parents are
already formed. The child must move about a great deal, to coordinate
his movements, which are not yet under control; the parents, on the
other hand, have their voluntary mobility organized, and can control
their movements; perhaps also they are often tired after their work.
The child's senses are not yet fully developed; his powers of
accommodation are insufficient, and need help from touching and
feeling, in order to take account of objects as well as of spaces;
and his eyes are rectified by the experience of his hands. The
parents, on the contrary, have developed senses, and have already
corrected the primitive illusions of these; their powers of
accommodation are perfect, if they have not spoilt them by abuse; in
every way cerebral activity leads the senses to receive an exact
impression; they have no need to touch. Children are anxious to get
knowledge of the external world; their parents know it too well

Therefore they do not understand each other.

Parents want their children to do as they do, and any diversity is
called "naughtiness." Think of the mother who drags her child along
with her; he has to run while she walks; his legs are short, while
hers are long; weak, while hers are strong, he has to bear the weight
of his body and his disproportionately large head, while the mother
has a head and body which are proportionally lighter and smaller. The
child is tired and stands and cries, and the mother exclaims, "Come
on, you naughty little thing! I won't have any nonsense. Do you want
me to carry you, lazybones? No, I won't give in to you."

Or again, we see mothers who, when their children sit down on the
ground--or lay themselves flat on their stomachs with their feet in
the air, and support themselves on their elbows, while they look round
them, call out, "Off the ground! You are making yourself dirty,
naughty child."

All this may be translated in this way: "The child is different from
the adult. The formation of his body is such that his head and his
body are enormously large in comparison with his small, slender legs,
because they are the part which will grow most. Hence the child cannot
endure walking, and prefers to lie at full length, which is the most
healthy position for him. He has a wonderful tendency towards
development; he gets his first ideas of external life and assists his
senses of sight and hearing by touching, in order to realize the forms
of objects and distance. He moves continually, because he must
coordinate and adapt his mobility. Hence he moves a great deal, walks
very little, throws himself on the ground, and touches everything, and
these are signs that he is alive, and that he is growing." No--all
this is looked upon as naughtiness.

This is evidently not a moral question. We do not seek for means to
correct these depraved tendencies of the man who is but just born. No,
it is not a moral question. It is, however, a question of life.

The child seeks to live and we want to hinder him. In that sense it
does become a moral question, as regards ourselves, since we have
begun to examine those errors on our part which do harm, and infringe
the rights of others. Moreover, our own egotism is concealed beneath
our errors of treatment; what we really resent in the child is that he
gives us trouble; we struggle against him in order to protect our own
comfort, our own liberty. How often at the bottom of our hearts we
have felt that we have been unjust, but have stifled this impression.
The little rebel does not accuse us or bear us malice. On the
contrary; just as he persists in his "naughtinesses" which are forms
of life, so does he persist in loving us, in forgiving us everything,
in forgetting our offenses, in longing to be with us, to embrace us,
to sit upon our knees, to fall asleep on our bosom. This, too, is a
form of life. And we, if we are tired or satiated, repulse him,
masking this excess of selfishness under a hypocritical pretense of
concern for the child himself: "Don't be so silly!" Insult and
calumny are always on our lips in the eternal refrain: "Naughty,
naughty." And yet the figure of the child might stand for that of
perfect goodness, which "thinketh no evil, delighteth not in iniquity,
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things." As to
us--no, we cannot always say as much of ourselves.

If the struggle between the adult and the child could be brought to an
end in "peace," and the adult, accepting the conditions of infant
life, would seek to help the child, the former would be able to
advance towards one of the most sublime enjoyments which Nature can
bestow: that of following the natural development of the child, and
seeing the man evolved. If the opening rosebud has become a
commonplace of poetry, how much greater is the poetry of the infant
soul in its manifestations? Now this ineffable gift which was placed
beside us, in order that the miracle might accompany us and comfort
us, we trample under foot in our wrath, blaspheming as if demented.

    *    *    *    *    *

When the child desires to touch and to act, in spite of "punishments
of every kind," he persists in exercises necessary "to his
development," and displays a strength of will in the matter against
which we are often powerless; he shows the same persistence as in
breathing, in crying when he is hungry, and in raising himself when he
wants to walk. Thus the child turns to external objects which respond
to his needs: if he finds them, he displays his powers in muscular or
sensory exercises, and then he is joyous; and if he does not find
them, he is restless as when his desires are unsatisfied. Toys are too
light to satisfy arms which require to make the efforts necessary in
lifting and moving objects; they are too complex to satisfy senses
which need to analyze a single sensation. They are vanity, and in
themselves they represent simulacra and parodies of actual life. And
yet they form the world of our children, in which they are constrained
to "consume" their potential powers in a continuous exasperation,
which incites them to destroy things.

Happily, children do not hear the pronouncement of the common formula,
that children have an "instinct" for destruction. Nor are they
familiar with the other axiom which contradicts this: That the
instinct of "property," in other words, selfishness, is strongly
developed in them. On the contrary, the child has merely the
overpowering instinct to "grow," and therefore to raise and to perfect
himself; in every period of life he seeks instinctively to prepare
himself for the next period. This fact is very much more
comprehensible than the strange instincts we calumniously attribute to

Just try the experiment of allowing children to act for themselves;
they are at once "transformed." In the Guerrieri Gonzaga Children's
House, it sufficed to provide a comb, to transform the naughtiest,
most rebellious of the children, the one whom the teacher designated
as in need of "taming," into a lively and attractive little girl, who
combed the hair of her companions most carefully, with evident
delight. We had only to say to an awkward, lethargic child, who came
forward holding out her arms to have her sleeves pulled down for her:
"Do it yourself," and there was a flash of intelligence in her eyes,
her weary face was lighted up by an expression of satisfied pride and
amazement, and she began to pull down her sleeves with positive
delight. When these children were given a little basin and a piece of
soap, how carefully they emptied and replaced the receptacle, fearing
to break it, and how caressingly they handled the soap, laying it
down very gently! It seemed as if the task had been confided to a
mechanism of moving figures, with an accompaniment of music: the
figures were the children, the music was their own joy.

These children, occupied in dressing, cleaning, washing, combing,
cleansing, and arranging their environment, work _themselves_. As a
result, they love useful objects so much that they will preserve a
piece of paper for years, and instead of knocking against furniture,
and breaking objects, they perfect their movements.

But we place ourselves beside these lives which are hastening
triumphantly to their salvation, and seek to bind them to ourselves,
in spite of the struggle which has begun and the fear we have already
provoked. We approach them gently and seductively; and because when a
child breaks things he is obviously grieved, and therefore would
endeavor to correct and perfect his movements, we spare him this
grief, which would be in the nature of "an act of repentance on the
part of the muscles which have transgressed," and give him unbreakable
objects: plates, basins, and drinking vessels made of metal, toys made
of stuff, woolly bears, india-rubber dolls. Henceforth his "errors"
will be concealed. Every error of the muscles will pass unnoticed by
the child: he will no longer feel the pain of evil-doing, repentance,
an effort to perfect himself. He will be able to sink into error;
behold him, clumsy, heavy, without expression in his face, a stuffed
bear in his arms! He is now bound fast to vanity and error, and has
lost all consciousness thereof.

The adult hems him in ever more closely: he does everything for the
child, dresses him, even feeds him. But the child's desire is not to
be dressed and materially nourished: his deep desire is to "do," to
exercise his own powers intelligently, and thus to rise to his higher
level. With what subtle insinuations does the adult seek to confound
him! You are exerting yourself and why? That you may be washed? That
you may put on your pinafore? You can have all this done for you
without any effort. You will find it all done with greater perfection
and ease. Without moving a finger you shall have a hundred times more
done for you than you could accomplish for yourself, even with all the
exertion of which you are capable. You need not even put the bread
into your mouth, you shall be spared even this trouble, and you will
take in nourishment all the more copiously.

The devil was less cruel when he tempted Christ in the wilderness,
showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. "All
these things will I give Thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me."
But the child has not the power to answer like Christ: "Get thee
hence, Satan; for it is written: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,
and Him only shalt thou serve." The child ought to obey God, who has
prescribed that his nature shall demand action; and that he should
conquer his world as he has conquered life, to the end that he may
elevate himself and not to the end that he may acquire external
splendor and comfort. When tempted, however, he cannot resist. He ends
by possessing the objects, the pretty, ready-made things; his soul
makes no progress; he loses sight of the goal. Behold the child
clumsy, unsteady, inept, enslaved! Those incapable muscles encase a
captive soul. He is oppressed far more by this fatal inertia than by
the physical contests which initiated his relations with the adult.
Often he has fits of rage like the sinner; he bites the bear that he
cannot break, cries desperately when he is washed and has his hair
combed, rebels and struggles when he is dressed. The only movements
allowed by the devil are those of anger. But gradually he sinks into
the depression of impotence. Adults say: "Children are ungrateful;
they have none of the higher feelings as yet; they care only for their
own pleasure."

Who has not seen patient mothers and nurses, "bearing" from morning
till night the humors of four or five discontented children, who are
screaming and playing pranks with their metal plates and rag dolls?
They seem to say: "Children are like this," and a benevolent
compassion takes the place of the natural reaction of impatience. Of
such persons we say: "How good they are! how patient they are!"

But the devil, too, is patient after this fashion: he too can
contemplate the agonies and impotent rebellions of the souls which are
in his power, which are prostrate among vanities, oppressed by a great
quantity of means, the ends of which they have lost, souls in which
the consciousness of sin is extinguished, and which are gradually
sinking into an abyss of mortal error. He is patient in contemplating
them, in supporting their cries--and he too offers them bears and
rubber dolls, and feeds them, stuffing them, that is to say, with new
vanities which mask their errors, and nourish their bodies.

He who, seized with doubt, should ask concerning these mothers and
nurses: "Are they really good?" might get an idea from the reply of
Christ: "None is good save God," that is, the Creator. Goodness is the
attribute of God. He who creates is good, only creation is good. Hence
he only is good who helps creation to achieve its ends.

    *    *    *    *    *

Now we come to the school. Conceptions of goodness and naughtiness
must be very definite here, for when a teacher has to leave the
class-room, she calls one of the children, who, during her absence, is
charged to write the names of the "Good" and the "Naughty" in two
columns on the blackboard under these headings. The child, however,
who is called out is quite capable of judging, for nothing is easier
than to distinguish between goodness and naughtiness in schools. The
good are those who are quiet and motionless; the naughty are those who
talk and move. The results of the classification are not very serious.
The teacher gives good or bad "conduct marks." The consequences are
not disastrous; they are, so to speak, akin to the social judgments
passed upon men whose conduct is appraised as good or bad. This does
not affect society, and the judgment entails neither honors nor
imprisonment. It is merely a pronouncement. But "esteem" and even
"honor" depend upon it, things which have a high moral value. In
school "good conduct" means inertia, and "bad conduct" means activity.
The "esteem" of the head mistress, of the teacher and of
schoolfellows, the whole "moral" part, in fact, of the system of
rewards and punishments, depend upon these appreciations. As in
society, they require no "judicial qualifications," no "authority" in
those who form them; they are based on something that "all" can see
and judge; they are the true moral judgment of the environment;
indeed, any one of the children themselves, or even the class-room
attendant, may write the list on the blackboard. There is, in fact,
nothing mysterious or philosophical in conduct; it is the sum of acts
committed, the facts of life itself, accessible to all, which
determine it. And all can see it and pronounce upon it.

On the other hand, there are much more serious acts, the consequences
of which affect the community and touch those principles of justice on
which all are entitled to rely; they therefore require "authoritative
judgments" against which there is no appeal; a kind of Supreme Court
hastily convoked.

When in an examination the children, seated side by side, have there
and then to give samples of what they have learnt, that is, to hand in
that veritable legal document, an evidence visible and accessible to
all judgments, the written task, be it dictation, composition or
problem; if then one child helps another, he is not merely naughty,
but wicked, for he has not only displayed activity, but activity for
the benefit of another. The punishment may be very serious: the
annulment of the examination, which may sometimes mean the loss of a
whole year's schooling, the repetition of that year's course. A child
who can help another is kind; well, he may be punished by having to
pass the examination again, several months later, or even by having to
go back for a whole year of his life and begin over again. There are
many cases of this kind: the family of this kind-hearted child may
have been very poor, and the child may have been making a great effort
to come out well, and so to be able soon to help his family by his own
childish work; who knows how his comprehension of this family
condition may touch the heart of a child? He may have seen in his
bewildered schoolfellow another poor boy in like circumstances. How
often some quarrel in his home, or insufficient food, may have caused
him to lie in bed, sleepless and excited, for hours? In the morning
his mind was confused. Perhaps his unfortunate schoolfellow had been
in like case just on the eve of the examinations.

It is essential to understand certain situations: the mother at home
counts the days of each school year that passes, because to her these
are so many days sacrificed; she is certainly following her boy at the
examination with a heart full of anxiety; her face at the window when
the child comes in sight asks, when he is yet afar: "How did it go?"
This picture was perhaps present in the heart of the good-natured
child when he helped his comrade.

He might, of course, keep all this to himself, perfect his own work,
or hand it in first. For justice decrees that the time spent on the
work should be counted by the minute, almost as by the chronometers of
psychological experiment. Justice is rigorous. On the paper handed in
by the child the teacher writes the hour: handed in at 10.32, handed
in at 11.5. If two papers are about equal in merit, so that it can
hardly be said from the contents which is the better of the two,
though both are superior to all the rest, a difficult case arises: it
must be decided which is to be the first. It is a matter of great
weight, because the prize is in question. When there is a doubt, the
hour decides. One paper was handed in at 10.30, the other at 10.35.
The one handed in at 10.30 is pronounced the first, because the writer
was able to do work of equal merit in five minutes less than his
rival. On what may not a prize sometimes depend! Hence a diligent
child must be very careful in his preparations for an examination; the
two in question were equally clever and equally quick; but one had
taken care to have good pens and flowing ink, and the other had not.
Thus his negligence cost him the prize. It is true that the parents
and not the children provide the pens. In strict justice all should
have the same pens, but here we enter into a sea of scruples which
might obscure justice. No, justice must be rigorous, but without
scruples. Now the clever child who helped his companion lost time,
and so by this alone he lost part of his merit; he therefore
"sacrificed" himself for a comrade.

No considerations, no extenuating circumstances will be allowed to
mitigate the punishment. Family conditions, the mother ... nothing can
avail against the canceling of an examination. Even in the case of
great criminals extenuating circumstances are admitted in mitigation
of punishment. But school is another matter; here we have to deal with
definite facts: there has been an infiltration of one mind into
another, and we are no longer able to judge the children individually
by their work. Moreover, the examination is the individual test. If
the canceling occurs at the final examination, the culprit must go
through the year again, and when a year is repeated it is the entire
year. It is not as with convicts, where months and weeks are taken
into account. Here the unit of measurement is the school year. And
then there is another point to consider in the case of convicts: their
crimes may have been induced by irresistible forces and conditions,
driving them to do evil.... But who is there who cannot refrain from
doing good? To do good is certainly not an irresistible impulse!

However, to obviate such inconvenient impulses, school educates
children to refrain from mutual aid throughout the year. It goes even
farther: it directly prevents the children from communicating one with
another. What a chase it is! The clever, practical teacher adopts
regular strategic tactics, and is familiar with all the child's
devices in this covert and deceitful contest. Children are "capable of
anything" to support one another and communicate one with another. If
"prompting" when one child is repeating a lesson might reach the
teacher's ear, we find a companion sitting in front of him with the
open book fastened to his shoulders, where the other is able to read
it. Or if the wily teacher makes the patient come out from among the
desks in order to prevent him from receiving any help, his companions
may make signs to him, perhaps by means of the deaf-and-dumb alphabet.
Then we find the teacher using the blackboard as a pretext for turning
the pupil with his face to the wall, the while she keeps her burning
eyes fixed on the class. Thus the patient is isolated. "Nothing
escapes" a clever teacher; she is capable of surprising a rolled-up
note slipped by one child under the desk of another; and of
confiscating a piece of blotting-paper which two children interchange
on the pretext of using it, when they have written upon it.

For this reason properly constructed desks should be open in front,
because otherwise it is so easy to pass things under them; whereas
with desks which are not only hygienic but "moral," such subterfuges
would be difficult to carry out.

    "Indeed, these desks which are open in front also facilitate
    surveillance of the scholars from the moral point of view;
    because, always seated, placed side by side without any
    possibility of spiritual communion, their heads dazed by the
    continuous vociferation of the teacher, these children very
    often contract vicious habits, such as onanism, which
    originate in the school itself. These are less openly
    discussed than spinal curvature, myopia, and exhaustion from
    overwork, but the evil has long been recognized, even before
    science entered upon the scene to make a study of the
    maladies engendered by school conditions. The sedentary habit
    impedes circulation in the pelvic basin, and induces
    stagnation of the blood; moreover, what other outlet is
    provided for the nervous energies? And the evil spreads in an
    alarming manner.

    "But open desks make subterfuges impossible. All moral
    devices for combating abuses flourish in the school. In the
    schools in Rome, for example, order and surveillance are so
    perfect that children are not even allowed to go to the
    lavatory. It is well known what disorder was caused by this
    'question of the lavatory.' If a child became tired of
    sitting still or listening to the teacher, he asked leave to
    go out: he was capable of remaining shut up in the lavatory
    for a considerable time, in order to raise his spirits a
    little in a place he preferred to that he had just left, for
    pupils are not allowed to linger in the corridors; the
    attendants are always on the watch. But these visits to the
    lavatory had become such an abuse that it was decided to take
    remedial measures. To-day the physiological time is reckoned
    more or less exactly, and at a stated hour the whole of the
    pupils, accompanied by the teacher, marching in line two by
    two, like soldiers drilling, proceed to the lavatories. The
    children of the first file enter in succession and the others
    halt, but continue to mark time; as by degrees the children
    come out of the lavatory, they form in file again, and begin
    once more to mark time together with their companions. The
    movement seems, indeed, appropriate to the occasion. We will
    say nothing of the state in which the last children in the
    file of forty or fifty (who did not go in as a pretence,
    since the 'physiological time' had been reckoned) will find
    the lavatory; nor will we ask what has become of hygiene. Let
    us look at the exterior of the lavatories; they have little
    doors with a large space above and a large space below; thus
    modesty, and at the same time morality, are safeguarded;
    within, nothing but the proper duty can be performed. The
    more modern lavatories in schools, however, are made without
    seats; with an aperture in the ground to obviate contact and
    ensure hygiene: the uncomfortable position prevents a longer
    sojourn than is necessary. It appears that this is the best
    practical method for installations of this kind in common
    lodging-houses, casual wards, and schools."

    *    *    *    *    *

School is the place where the "social sentiment" is developed; it is
the child's society. As a fact, it is not the school in itself, nor
the intercourse of the scholars, but the education given in the manner
described above which is designed to develop this sentiment. Hence
when my method became known, although I had spoken therein of places
where children live together agreeably and work, I was asked in a
critical tone: "And how will the social sentiment be developed if each
child works independently?" We must therefore conclude that this
system of regimentation in which the children do everything at the
same moment, even to visiting the lavatory, is supposed to develop the
social sentiment. The society of the child is therefore the antithesis
of adult society, where sociability implies a free and well-bred
interchange of courtesies and mutual aid, although each individual
attends to his own business; in the society of the child it implies
identity of physical attitudes and uniformity of collective actions,
together with a total disregard of all pleasant and courteous
relations; mutual help which is a virtue in adult society, is here
considered the gravest fault, the worst offense against discipline.

Modern methods of instruction recommend the teacher to conclude every
lesson with a moral, like the classic fables. Whether the lesson
treats of birds, butter, or triangles, it must always end by pointing
a moral. "The teacher must miss no opportunity," says the pedagogist;
"moralization is the true aim of the school."

"Mutual aid" is the burden of the pedagogistic refrain, for the
_leitmotif_ of all moralities, not excepting that of the school, is
"to love one another." To exhort children to help one another and show
mutual affection the teacher perhaps adopts a psychological method in
three periods distinguishing perception, association, and volition; or
she may adopt the method of cause in its relation to effect; this is
left to her discretion; but she must always keep her class in a state
of "discipline" and "goodness," for these are its essential

But the factor which affords the most substantial support to the
educative organism of the school is the system of prizes and

Pedagogists make this the main feature of their treatment. All admit
more or less the need of some external stimulus to induce
school-children to study and behave well, although some are of opinion
that it would be well to instil into the child the love of good for
its own sake, and that a sense of duty rather than the fear of
punishment should deter from evil. This opinion is generally
recognized as lofty, but impracticable. To imagine that the child
could be stimulated to work merely by a desire to do his duty is a
"pedagogic absurdity"; nor is it credible that a child could persevere
in the paths of industry and good conduct merely with a view to a
distant end, such as the fine social position he might some day win
for himself in the world by means of study. Some direct stimulus, some
immediate token of approval, is necessary. True, it has been deemed
advisable to make punishments less rigorous and the bestowal of prizes
less ostentatious, and such modifications have now become general.
Indeed, those fustigations and corporal punishments which not very
long ago were usual in prisons, lunatic asylums, and schools have been
abandoned in schools; the penalties of to-day are slight: bad marks,
reproofs, unfavorable reports to the family, suspension of attendance.
The ceremonial prize-giving is also a thing of the past, the solemn
function at which the scholars mounted the platform as in triumph to
receive their prizes from the hands of the noblest and most
distinguished persons of the neighborhood, who accompanied the
presentation with amiable words of encouragement while the public,
consisting mainly of proud and agitated parents, murmured their
approval and admiration. All these superfluities have been abolished;
the prize, the object, is simply handed to the winner in an ante-room
of the school.

The important matter is that the child shall receive the object he has
deserved. The medals, too, with which pupils were formerly able to
adorn their breasts, are now abolished; the prize is a book, a useful
object. A sense of the practical has found its way even into our
schools. Perhaps the good children will presently be rewarded by the
presentation of a piece of soap, or the material for an apron, in a
_tête-a-tête_ between giver and recipient.

But a prize there must needs be.

However, throughout all the discussions of the pedagogists and the
evolutions of punishments and prizes, no one has dreamt of asking
himself what is the good which is rewarded, and what the evil which is
punished, or whether, before urging children on to an undertaking, it
would not be well to cast a glance at the undertaking itself, and
judge of its value.

At last positive studies on the school question have shed sufficient
light to enable us to construct a new base for the old question. Is it
well to allure children by a prize, to incite them to exhaust their
nervous systems and injure their eyesight? And is it well to check
them by means of punishments, when, urged by an overpowering instinct
of self-preservation, they seek to avoid these perils? At last we all
know that the prize-winners of the elementary schools are the mediocre
pupils of the high school; that the prize-winners of the high school
are the exhausted students of the academies; and that those who gain
prizes throughout their school career are those who are most easily
vanquished in the battle of life.

Knowing this, is it well to stimulate on the one hand and to repress
on the other, to the end that children may remain in this ruinous
condition? Are not the perils of school life already serious enough,
without adding stimuli to induce them to throw themselves into these
perils with all their energies? A number of deeply interesting
comparative studies have been made of late on clever and stupid
school-children, those who gain prizes and those who incur punishment.
Certain anthropologists, somewhat ingenious in matters of science,
have studied the question in such good faith that they have even
proposed to inquire whether the more brilliant prize-winners show
evidences of morphological superiority, congenital marks of a natural
privilege, a brain more highly developed than that of mediocrity. On
the contrary, anthropological notes reveal their physical inferiority,
i.e. their low stature and their remarkably narrow chest measurements.
Their heads are in no way distinguished from those of less clever
scholars; many of them wear spectacles.

Thus we get a clearer picture of the life of a child who diligently
performs all his tasks with a dread of making mistakes which may
become positive anguish; who learns all his lessons, thus of necessity
depriving himself of a walk, a saunter, an hour of rest. Obsessed by
anxiety to be the first, or even stimulated by illusions of a future
more brilliant than that of his companions, exhilarated by the praises
and prizes which make him believe himself to be "one of the hopes of
his country," and the "solace of his parents," he rushes forward to
future impotence, as if dazed by a fairy vision. His careless
companions, on the other hand, have well-developed chests, and are the
merriest boys in the class.

Other types of clever pupils are those who are helped at home by
tutors, or educated mothers who devote themselves to their
advancement; while other types of dull pupils, often punished, are
poor children who are not made welcome in their homes, but are left to
themselves, sometimes in the streets; or who are already working for
their bread in the early hours of the morning, before coming to
school. In an inquiry I made, the children who were praised and passed
without examination were in the category of those who brought a good
luncheon with them; the children at the bottom of the class, who
incurred punishments, were those who brought no provisions, or only a
piece of bread.

It must not be supposed that the above is an exhaustive enumeration of
the causes which contribute to the deceptive phenomenon connected with
prizes and punishments; but it is obvious that a clearly defined road
has been marked out which should lead us to comprehension of the

Prizes and punishments are not merely final episodes, they are
exponents of the moral organization of the school. Just as the
annulment of the examination of a pupil who has helped a companion is
but the extreme instance of "an education" which tends to isolate the
individual in his egotism; so the prize and the punishment are the
extreme incidents of the constant principle on which the organism of
the school is based: emulation. The principle is that children, seeing
others cleverer than themselves, who get high marks, praises and
prizes, will be stimulated to imitate these, to do better, to overtake
their companions. Thus what may be described as a kind of mechanism is
evolved, which uplifts the whole school, not merely towards work, but
towards effort. It is the moral purpose to accustom children to

Let us take an example of such emulation. When the observant doctor
entered the school, his attention was directed to the organs of sense,
and he found many slightly deaf children among the pupils. Hearing
less than the others, they appeared less intelligent, and as a
"punishment" they had been relegated to the desks at the very back of
the schoolroom. They were often set to repeat because they had never
learnt to write "from dictation," and made incredible and unpardonable
mistakes. Emulation and punishment had alike proved powerless; not
even when they were placed as far as possible from the teacher did
these deaf children improve! There were also lively children, who were
repeatedly punished to induce them to keep still, and who were vainly
exhorted to imitate companions whose conduct was exemplary. A large
number of children suffering from adenoids, who consequently breathed
through their mouths, and were incapable of fixing their attention,
got bad marks and punishments because they were never attentive;
meanwhile this defect of the open mouth was vainly combated by the
kind and careful teacher, who multiplied moral tales concerning the
ugliness of children who keep their mouths open, and, terrible to
relate, even sit with their fingers in their mouths!

Many of the lazy children, who would not do the gymnastic exercises
like the rest, who made pretexts for stopping and thus set a bad
example, were found to be suffering from heart affections, anemia, or
liver complaints. Yet one of the most brilliant examples of emulation
is that of the gymnastic competitions, competitions in endurance and
competitions in speed. The children are encouraged to continue the
exercise as long as possible; or to cover the ground in the shortest
possible time; here effort is the basis of the exercise. Now
anthropological study has revealed the fact that there are two
principal types of constitution: one in which the chest predominates,
the other in which the legs predominate. When the chest is well
developed and the lungs and heart strong, endurance is more natural
than agility; the opposite holds good of the other type, in which, by
reason of the length of the legs and the slightness of the chest,
agility prevails. No emulation can change one type into the other.
Morphological study of the child, whose body is transformed in
successive ages, should be the basis for the organization of gymnastic
exercises, and not emulation. That which has its origin in the body,
as constitution or disease, should be considered in the body. No
miracle can be performed by the sentiment of emulation.

This prejudice in favor of emulation is so deeply rooted that when, in
1898, I began my campaign in Italy to procure the formation of
separate classes for deficient children in connection with the
elementary schools, the principle of emulation was urged against me:
the deficient children would no longer be helped by the example of the
clever, industrious children; and when these weaklings had been
deprived of the stimulus of emulation, they would accomplish
absolutely nothing.

But emulation can only avail among equals. When "competitions" take
place, "champions" are chosen. To a deficient child, the example of a
clever companion is merely humiliating; his inferiority, his impotence
are perpetually cast in his teeth by the victorious career of his
comrade. He becomes more and more discouraged as the zealous teacher
scolds and punishes him for his weakness and points out the radiant
example offered by the strong. What would give him a ray of light, a
glimpse of hope, would be for him to see the possibility of doing
something within the limits of his own powers which might nevertheless
have a value of its own; to penetrate into some sphere where he too
might compete with some one and be encouraged. Then he would be like
others, he would be exhilarated and comforted; and the feeble flower
within him might expand. He has infinitely greater need of
encouragement, solace, and external stimuli to excite him to activity
than the normal child.

And what happens to the normal child, the clever boy, who serves as an
example to his inferiors? Whom does he emulate? Who carries him along
that he may ascend? If all need to be drawn upwards in order to climb,
who is to draw him who stands above all? This time the question is out
of place. In his case, the impulse will be retrograde. Here we have
the thrice happy type of him who competes with his inferiors! This
makes me think of a description given by Voisin of a competition
arranged by one of the idiots in his asylum. This boy, who was very
tall, selected all the shortest and youngest of the idiots, and
challenged them to a race; he always came in first and was delighted.
Such an example is not, however, peculiar to Voisin's asylum; it is
the _moral attitude_ of all who are ambitious, but idle, and are
anxious to outshine others without too much fatigue, without
perfecting themselves, counting much on the phenomena of contrast.
Thus we find a fluent orator seeking to be preceded by an unskilful
speaker; and pretty girls who have not the means to adorn themselves
and thus set off their beauty, are fond of going about with their
plainer friends.

I have read an amusing fable, which was evidently a parody of this
phenomenon. There was once a king who had such a long nose that it was
positively ridiculous. When a neighboring king proposed to visit him,
he was much perturbed, being ashamed to exhibit his defect to a
neighboring people. Then the prime minister thought of an expedient,
and propounded this practical plan to the king: "Your Majesty, on this
occasion let your noble court retire; I will search throughout the
kingdom for the men with the most prominent noses, and for the time
they shall constitute your court." This was done; and such noses
appeared on the scene that that of the king seemed quite normal in
comparison. Thus the august colleague noticed that the court was
remarkable for its noses, but did not perceive that the king had a
nose of abnormal length.

These stories of the competition between idiots and the court of noses
make us smile; but the normal competitions between our children are
not matters for mirth. The healthy children who, when side by side
with the deaf, the sickly, and the deficient are only conscious of
their superiority; the fortunate children who have the help of
educated mothers and are brought into contact with poor, unhappy,
neglected children, merely feel that they are examples to these;
well-fed children refreshed by a long sleep in comfortable beds,
placed side by side with little busy workers who get up before sunrise
to sell newspapers, or deliver milk, and arrive at school already
tired, imagine themselves to be superior to these, and to serve as a
"stimulus" to them "to do better"--all these normal children are on
the wrong moral track. They are being misled into an unconscious
acceptance of injustice. They are being deceived. They are not better,
they are only more fortunate than their companions; their kindly
hearts should be led to recognize the truth; to pity the, sickly, to
console the unfortunate, to admire the heroes. It is not their fault
if, instead of all this, vanity, ambition, and error spring up in
their hearts.

It is true that the teacher makes an attempt to educate their hearts
aright, reminding them of ailing, unfortunate, and heroic children by
means of moral stories which all learn without distinction in the same
manner. She lays stress upon incidents illustrating the good feeling
of mankind. Yet no one ever considers that the ailing, the
unfortunate, and the heroic are all there among them, since all
children go to school; but they cannot communicate with each other and
recognize each other; and thus these subjects who are actually present
are distinguished only as the ones who receive all the scoldings,
punishments, and humiliations while their more fortunate companions
lord it over them arrogantly as their examples, gaining prizes and
praise, but losing their own souls in the process.

In this moral confusion, where man "loses sight of God," as in hell,
what strong spirit is stimulated to develop all his precious
activities and cultivate his own heart? All are lost, the strong as
well as the weak; few indeed are those who possess an individual
instinct capable of saving them, who do not succumb to the temptations
of prizes, threats of punishment, to the continual suggestions of
emulation and of fraudulent rivalry, and who come out with their
powers still intact and their hearts pure, sensible of the great facts
of humanity. Those who pass through the ordeal untouched by its empty
glories and persecutions, and set forth on the path of a productive
life which attains to beauty and goodness by internal energy and is
susceptible to truth--these are they whom we hail as men of genius, as
benefactors of the human race.

    *    *    *    *    *

When we come to analyze good and evil positively, we feel that in
_reality_ much of the "evil" we theoretically deplore in individuals
may be resolved into external causes. The depravity of the masses
resolves itself into the combined effects of pauperism and
drunkenness; crime into degeneration; the faults of children and
scholars arise from the darkness of prejudice. But as these causes are
not absolute and immutable, but are related to transitory states which
may be altered, the ancient philosophic conception of evil resolves
itself partially into so many social questions and actions. To give
work and combat the drink habit--this it is which contributes largely
to morality by removing so many causes of evil. To undertake the
regeneration and education of the degenerate, is to combat crime, and
therefore to promote morality.

Thus, if in schools the dense darkness of prejudice is the cause of
innumerable moral ills, to reform the school by the help of natural
principles will be the first step towards its moralization.

It is in this direction, then, that we must face the great question,
not by analytical examination of the system of prizes and punishments,
of the principle of emulation, of the most opportune and practical
manner of inculcating moral principles, nor by the creation of new
decalogues. That which we have hitherto regarded so lightly as a
didactic problem is, on the contrary, a great and veritable social

When a moral problem is limited to the _effects_ of preventable
causes, it is merely apparent. Thus, for instance, let us imagine for
a moment a populous quarter, where pauperism is rampant and the poor
will fight for a piece of bread; where dirt, drinking-shops and civic
neglect degrade the inhabitants; where all, men and women alike, give
way readily to vice. Our sole impression of such people at the moment
is: "What wicked people!" On the other hand, let us take the modern
quarter of an industrious city, where the houses of the people are
hygienic, where the workpeople receive a fair remuneration for their
labor, where popular theaters, conducted with a true sense of art,
have taken the place of public-houses, and let us enter one of the
restaurants where workpeople are enjoying their food in a quiet,
civilized fashion; we should be inclined to say: "What good people!"
But have they really become good? Those who ameliorated their social
conditions were the good people. But the individuals who have
benefited by their exertions "live better"; they are not, strictly
speaking, "more meritorious" in the moral sense.

If they were, we should only need to imagine a society in which the
economic problem had been solved, to behold men who have become
"moral" solely in virtue of having been born in a different age. It is
obvious that the moral question is a very different one; it is a
question of life, a question of "nature," and one which cannot be
solved by external eventualities. Men may be more or less fortunate,
they may be born in more or less civilized surroundings, but they will
always be men confronted by a "moral question," which goes down deeper
than fortune or civilization.

It is very easy to be convinced that the so-called "naughtiness" of
children is the expression of a "struggle for spiritual existence";
they want to make the men within them live, and we try to hinder them;
we offer them the poisons of darkness and error. They fight for their
spiritual bread as the poor fight for material bread; and degrade
themselves by falling victims to our seductions just as the poor
degrade themselves by succumbing to the fascination of alcohol; and in
this struggle and this degradation children have revealed themselves
as the "poor" and "needy," neglected and destitute. None has ever
demonstrated more clearly than they that "man does not live by bread
alone," and that the "question of bread" is not the real "question of
man." All the suffering, all the struggles, all the claims of society
in the past with regard to bodily needs are repeated here with amazing
clarity in connection with spiritual needs. Children want to grow, to
perfect themselves, to nourish their intelligence, to develop their
internal energies, to form their characters and to these ends they
need to be liberated from slavery, and to conquer "the means of life."
It is not enough to nourish their bodies: they are hungry for
intellectual food; the clothes which protect their limbs from the cold
are not enough for children: they demand the garments of strength and
the ornaments of grace to protect and adorn the spirit. Why have we
adults stifled these wants till we have almost come to believe that
the economic question is the true solution of the problem of human
life? And why have we never imagined that, even after such a solution,
strife, anger, despair, and degradation might reappear as a result of
higher desires left unsatisfied? Such strife, anger, despair and
degradation we encounter continually in the children of to-day, who
are nevertheless well fed, well clothed and well warmed, in accordance
with the standards of perfected physical hygiene.

To respond to the intellectual needs of man in such a manner as to
satisfy them is to make an important contribution to morality. Indeed
our children, when they have been able to occupy themselves freely
with intelligent work, and have also been free to respond to their
internal wants, to occupy themselves for a long time with chosen
stimuli, to perform abstract operations when they were sufficiently
mature, to concentrate their minds in meditation, have shown that
order and serenity have been evolved within them; and after this,
grace of movement, the capacity for enjoyment of the beautiful,
sensibility to music, and finally, amenity in their relations to each
other, have sprung up like a jet of water from an internal fount.

All this has been a work of "liberation." We have not made our
children moral by any special means; we have not taught them to
"overcome their caprices" and to sit quietly at work; we have not
inculcated calm and order by exhorting them to follow the examples of
others, and explaining how necessary order is to man; we have not
lectured them on mutual courtesy, to instil the respect due to the
work of others, and the patience with which they should wait in order
not to infringe the rights of others. There has been none of all this;
we have merely set the child free, and helped him to "live." It is
_he_ who has taught _us_ "how" the child lives, and what other needs
he has besides his material wants.

Thereupon an activity formerly unknown among little children, together
with the virtues of industry, perseverance and patience, manifested
themselves amidst crises of joy, in an atmosphere of habitual
serenity. These children had entered upon the paths of peace. An
obstacle hitherto opposed to nature had been removed.

And just as men satisfied by nourishing food and removed from the
dangers of poisons, have grown calmer, and have shown themselves
capable of preferring the higher pleasures to base and degrading
indulgence, so the child, his internal needs satisfied, has entered
the sphere of serenity and has shown his tendency to ascend.

All this, however, has not touched the roots of the moral question;
but it has stripped and purged it of all the dross that encumbered it.
The more fully a man's wants are satisfied, the happier he is; but he
is not already "full of merit," as we divine that a man gifted with a
lofty moral sense ought really to be. Rather have we deprived man of
his merits; "goodness" has disappeared as well as "wickedness" at the
advent of social reform. When we discovered that many forms of
goodness were forms of good fortune, and many forms of evil-doing were
forms of misfortune, we left man absolutely naked, stripped bare by
truth. He must then take up his real life at its roots and "acquire
merit." At this point he will begin to be born anew morally, emerging
from the pure and essential chrysalis of the "hygienically" living

    *    *    *    *    *

If the whole structure of our educative method starts from an act of
concentrated attention to a sensory stimulus, and builds itself up on
the education of the senses, limiting itself to this, it would
evidently not take the whole man into consideration. For if man does
not live by material bread alone, neither does he live solely by
intellectual bread.

The stimuli of the environment are not only the objects, but also the
persons, with whom our relations are not merely sensory. In fact, we
are not content to admire in them that beauty to which the Greeks were
so sensitive, or to listen to their speech or their song. The true
relations between man and man, though they are initiated by means of
the senses, are established in sympathy.

The "moral sense" of which positive science speaks is to a great
extent the sense of sympathy with our fellows, the comprehension of
their sorrows, the sentiment of justice: the lack of these sentiments
convulses normal life. We cannot become moral by committing codes and
their applications to memory, for memory might fail us a thousand
times, and the slightest passion might overcome us; criminals, in
fact, even when they are most astute and wary students of codes, often
violate them; while normal persons, although entirely ignorant of the
laws, never transgress them, owing to "an internal sense which guides

Positive science includes in the term "moral sense" something complex
which is, at the same time, sensibility to public opinion, to law, and
to religion; and multiplying it thus, it does not clearly define in
what "moral sense" consists. We talk of it intuitively; each one has
within himself something that "responds" to the appellation; and by
this internal response he must understand and decide in what this
"moral sense" consists. But religion is simple and precise: it calls
this internal sense which lies at the root of life, Love. Social laws
do not enter into this any more than does the entire universe. Love is
the contact between the soul and God; and when this exists, all the
rest is vanity. Good springs therefrom naturally, as sunbeams radiate
from the sun. Creation itself has been given in charge of this
wellspring of love, and it is love which maintains it, as the
contribution of the creature to the provident forces of nature.

Those biological studies which seek to probe the secrets of nature
have also recognized love as the key of life. Scientists have at last
perceived, after much research, this most evident fact: that it is
love which preserves the animal species, and not the "struggle for
existence." In fact, the struggle for existence tends to destroy; and
as regards survival, this is not the exclusive privilege of the
"fittest," as was at first supposed. But existence is indeed bound up
with love. Indeed, the individuals who struggle and conquer are
adults; but who is it that protects the new-born creature and infant
life in process of formation? If a hard and horny covering is the
natural protection of his species, he does not possess it; if it is
strength of muscle, he is weak; if it is tusks, he is without them; if
it is agility, he cannot yet move; if it is fecundity, he is not yet
mature. Therefore, all species should have become extinct, for there
is none so strong but that he once was weak; and there is no infancy
which is not more feeble than any adult life. It is love which
protects all this weakness, and explains "survival." Maternal love,
indeed, is studied to-day with the deepest attention by our scientists
as a natural phenomenon. If the struggle for existence presented to us
a uniform picture of destruction, the phenomena of maternal love are
to-day revealed to us in the richest and most fascinating forms, which
almost represent the occult and sentimental aspect of the marvelous
varieties of forms in nature. It is seen at last to be one of the
"fundamental characteristics of the species," which should be
recognized by all students.

Even insects, which Fabre has described with such a wealth of detail,
small and remote as they are from ourselves, exhibit wonderful
phenomena of maternal love. One of the first articles published by a
naturalist on these phenomena, _La Psychologie d'une Araignée_ (The
Psychology of a Spider) might serve as the motive of a drama. The
spider, as is well known, makes a bag of threads, which she generally
attaches to the backs of leaves, and in it she deposits and preserves
her eggs; she gets into it herself together with the eggs, to protect
the treasure of the species. If the bag should be broken at any point,
the spider promptly repairs it. By way of experiment, a spider was
taken out of the bag, and kept at a distance for twenty days. What is
a spider? A few cubic millimetres of a dark, flabby substance without
brain or heart, whose life is so short that twenty days constitute a
very long interval for it; but this small creature never relaxed her
efforts to escape, and her agitation never abated; finally, when she
was liberated at the end of the twenty days, she fled to the bag, hid
herself in it, and repaired the walls. Where was all this love and
memory concentrated? This mother-spider was then removed from the
nest, and another spider was introduced, which at once adopted the
offspring, acted the mother, defended the nest from attack, and
repaired the walls if they were damaged. There must therefore be a
maternal instinct in the species, independent of actual maternity. But
when the real mother approached the adopted bag, not only did the
foster-mother make no attempt to defend it, but she fled and gave up
her place. By what phenomenon of telepathy did the visitor concealed
in the bag feel the maternal power approaching? The following was the
end of the experiment: the little spiders were hatched, and remained
in the bag together with their mother; the experimenter tore the bag
to see what would happen; the little spiders fled in every direction,
but the mother remained crouching on the tattered fragments of the
nest, and died, almost violently, killed by the destruction of her
offspring. Maternal love, therefore, does not require complicated
organs; it needs neither brain, heart, nor senses, and seems almost to
exist without matter; it is the force which life assumes to protect
and preserve itself, a force which seems to exist before and to
accompany creation, like that wisdom of which Solomon speaks: "The
Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of
old.... When there were no depths, I was brought forth.... Then I was
by him as a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing
always before him.... Whoso findeth me findeth life."

    *    *    *    *    *

But long before biologists perceived that love is the powerful force
which protects the species, and explains its survival, religion had
pointed to love as the force which preserves life. In order to live,
it is not enough to be created; the creature must also be loved. This
is the law of nature. "He who loveth not ... abideth in death." When
Moses gave the decalogue which was to guide the Hebrews to salvation,
he preceded it by the law: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all
thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." When the Pharisees came to
Christ, asking Him to declare the Law, He answered: "Do you not know?
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"; as if to say: the law is
evident and unique, it is the law of life, and for this reason must
always have existed, from the very beginning of the world. But to St.
Peter, who was to be the head of the new religion, love the transition
from the old to the new order was more fully explained: "Love," said
Christ, "even as I have loved you," that is to say, not as you are
capable of loving, but as I am capable of loving. There is a deep gulf
between the manner in which men are able to love themselves and that
in which Christ can love men. Men often rush headlong to their own
perdition; they are capable of confounding good with evil, life with
death, food with poison. Little confidence can therefore be felt in
the injunction: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." And it was in truth a
new commandment that Jesus gave, when He said: "Love even as I have
loved you."

Moses, indeed, had been obliged to supplement the law of love by a
decalogue of practical injunctions: "Honor thy father and mother, Thou
shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false
witness, Thou shalt not covet." Christ, on the other hand taught that
it will be enough if we do not demand measure for measure in love, and
that there will no longer be any need of the support of rules. We must
let the measure overflow; and behold! this in itself opens to man the
door of salvation. "If ye love them which love you, what thank have
ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to
them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do
even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what
thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners to receive as much
again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for
nothing again, and ye shall be the children of the Highest" (St. Luke
vi, 32-35).

Set yourselves free from all bonds and all measurements and lay hold
of the one thing needful: to be alive, to feel; this was the
revelation made by Christ when, like Moses, He went up into the
mountain, but without hiding Himself from the people, calling the
crowd indeed to follow Him, and openly expounding all the secrets of
truth: Blessed are those who feel, even if they suffer, for to suffer
is to feel, to live. Blessed are those who weep, blessed are those who
hunger for righteousness, blessed are the persecuted, blessed are
those whose hearts are pure and free from darkness. For he who feels
shall be satisfied; but he who cannot feel is lost; woe to those who
lie down in comfort, woe to those who are full, woe to those who
laugh--they have lost their "sensibility." And then all is vanity.
What is the use of knowing all the moral laws, and even practising
them, if the heart be dead? It is as if we should whiten the tomb of a
corpse. The moral, self-satisfied man, without a heart, is a tomb.

    *    *    *    *    *

=The education of the moral sense=.--Thus the conception of moral
education, like that of intellectual education, must include a basis
of feeling, and be built up thereupon, if we are not to lead the child
towards illusion, falsity and darkness. The education of the senses,
and liberty to raise the intelligence according to its own laws on the
one hand; the education of feeling, and spiritual liberty to raise
oneself, on the other--these are two analogous conceptions and two
parallel roads.

Consider our position in relation to children. We are their "stimuli,"
by which their feeling, which is developing so delicately, should be

For the intellect, we have the various objects, colors, forms, etc.;
but for the spirit, the objects are ourselves. The pure souls of
children must derive nourishment from us; they should fix themselves
on us with their hearts, as their attention is fixed upon some
favorite stimulus; and by loving us they should exalt themselves in
their intimate spiritual creation.

When interest leads the child to take the box of colors, and keeps him
absorbed in them, the objects lend themselves passively to his
manipulation, but the colors reflect the luminous rays of the sun,
which then strike the virgin retinae of eyes not as yet completely
matured and adapted. So, too, when the child's heart turns to us, and
fixes itself, asking nourishment from our souls, we ought to be
always ready, like passive objects, inasmuch as we should never,
through our egotism, fail to respond to the child's needs; we should
respond with all our intimate energies, to reflect upon him the
luminous rays required by his pure soul, as yet unadapted to life.

We ought not to call him by name, and offer him our affection,
inviting him to accept our help; but, like the material objects which
attract him by their smoothness, their luster, and their varied and
interesting forms, and by ocular demonstration of the means of lofty
intellectual exercise, as in the colored alphabets and the rods which
contain the first secrets of numeration--we, too, should wait; not
coldly, but rather making the child feel that we contain a rich
material which is at his disposal, ready to be taken as soon as he
stretches out his hand to grasp it. Our "response" to the child should
be as full, as prompt and as complete as that of the objects which he
may manipulate, but which at every touch give an upward impetus to the
intellectual life of the child.

How many persons must have noted that on some occasion when they have
caressed children, the little ones have retreated, as if repelled and
offended; and many must also have remarked that when the affectionate
impulse of a child has been checked, he shrinks into himself,
humiliated, like the mimosa when touched. Now the respect we owe to
the spiritual liberty of the child should manifest itself as follows:
we must never force our caresses on him, greatly as we may be
attracted by his fascinating graces; nor must we ever repel his
outbursts of affection, even when we are not disposed to receive them,
but must respond with sincere and delicate devotion. We are the
"objects" of his love, the objects by means of which he is organizing
his life. The most perfect teachers and mothers will be those who will
take the didactic material for their model, and imitate this by
filling themselves in every sense with moral riches and being full of
response in every detail; passive in abnegation, yet active as
wellsprings of affection. And if all the sensorial objects combine all
possible vibrations accessible to man--the vibrations of light and
color, as also those of sound and heat, so too should they combine in
themselves all the vibrations of internal sensibility, waiting for the
thirsty soul to choose among them.

It may be asked: And how shall we make the child love us; how shall we
make the child "feel"?

If a child could not see colors he would be blind; and no one could
give him sight. And so if the child could not feel, no one could give
him sensibility; but since Nature has united mother and child not only
by the flesh, but even more closely by love, it is indubitable that at
birth the child brings with him not only flesh but love. Now he who
loves, even though it be only a single object, has in himself a sense
which is capable of receiving impressions _ad infinitum_; he who sees
an object possesses sight, therefore he who sees an object will see.
He who loves a mother or a son, "loves"; that internal sense vibrates,
and certainly not only to the object present to it at the moment.

Even that poor spider, artificially deposited in the bag of another
mother, adopted and defended the alien eggs, because the spider is
capable of maternal love.

Therefore the child whom his mother has loved and who was helped by
that love, has that "internal sense" by means of which he is capable
of love. The "human objects" which present themselves to that sense
have reflections from it.

We should "wait to be seen" by him; the day will come when, among all
the intellectual objects, the child will perceive our spirit, and will
come to us to take his ease within us. It will be to him a new birth,
akin to that other awakening, when some one of the objects first
attracted him and held him. It is impossible that that day, that
moment, should not arrive. We have performed a delicate work of love
towards the child, presenting to him the means which satisfy his
intellectual needs, without making ourselves felt, keeping ourselves
in the background, but always present and ready to help. We have given
great satisfaction to the child by succoring him; when he needed to
clarify the order of his mind still further by language, we offered
him the names of things, but only these, retiring at once without
asking anything from him, without putting forward anything from
ourselves. We have revealed to him the sounds of the alphabet, the
secret of numbers, we have put him into relation with things but
restricting ourselves to what was useful to him, almost concealing our
body, our breathing, our person.

When he felt a desire to choose, he never found an obstacle in us;
when he occupied himself for a long time with an exercise, we were
careful to protect the tranquillity of his work, as a mother protects
the refreshing sleep of her babe.

When he made his first plunge into abstraction, he felt nothing in us
but the echo of his joy.

The child found us always indefatigable when he called upon us, almost
as if our mission to him were to offer him what he requires, just as
it is the mission of the flower to give perfume without limit or

He found with us a new life, no less sweet than the milk he drew from
his mother's breast, with which his first love was born. Therefore he
will one day become sensitive to this being who lives to make him
live, from whose self-sacrifice his freedom to live and expand is

And undoubtedly the day will come when his spirit will become
sensitive to our spirit; and then he will begin to taste that supreme
delight which lies in the intimate contact of soul with soul, and our
voice will no longer be heard by his ear alone. The power to obey us,
to communicate his conquests to us, to share his joys with us, will be
the new element in his life. We shall see the child who suddenly
becomes aware of his companions, and is almost as deeply interested as
we are in their progress and their work. It will be delightful to
witness such a scene as that of four or five children sitting with
spoons arrested over the smoking bowl, and no longer sensible to the
stimulus of hunger because they are absorbed in contemplation of the
efforts of a very little companion who is trying to tuck his napkin
under his chin, and finally succeeds in doing so; and then we shall
see these spectators assume an expression of relief and pride, almost
like that of a father who is present at the triumph of his son.
Children will recompense us in the most amazing manner by their
progress, their spiritual effusions, and their sweet obedience. The
fruit they will cause us to gather will be abundant beyond anything we
can imagine. Thus it comes to pass when the secrets of life are
interpreted. "Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure,
pressed down and shaken together, and running over shall men give into
your bosom."

    *    *    *    *    *

=The essence of moral education=.--To keep alive and to perfect
psychical sensibility is the essence of moral education. Around it,
as in the intellectual education which proceeds from the exercise of
the senses, _order_ establishes itself: the distinction between right
and wrong is perceived. No one can _teach_ this distinction in all its
details to one who cannot see it. But to see the difference and to
know it are not the same thing.

But in order that "the child may be helped" it is essential that the
environment should be rightly organized, and that good and evil should
be duly differentiated. An environment where the two things are
confused, where good is confounded with apathy and evil with activity,
good with prosperity and evil with misfortune, is not one adapted to
assist the establishment of order in the moral consciousness, much
less is one where acts of flagrant injustice and persecutions occur.
Under such conditions the childish consciousness will become like
water which has been made turbid, and more poisonous than is alcohol
to the life of the foetus. Order may perhaps be banished for ever,
together with the clarity of the consciousness; and we cannot tell
what may be the consequences to the "moral man." "Whoever shall offend
one of these little ones, it were better for him ... that he were
drowned in the depth of the sea." "If thy hand or thy foot offend
thee, cut it off and cast it from thee."

However, the properly organized environment is not everything. Even in
intellectual education it was not the spontaneous exercise alone which
refreshed the intelligence; but further, the lessons of the teacher
which confirmed and illuminated the internal order in process of
development. On these occasions she said: "This is red, this is
green." Now she will say: "This is right, this is wrong." And it will
not be unusual to find children like the one described above, who make
good and evil the center of consciousness, and, placing it above
material bread and intellectual nourishment, will propound the
question more vital to them than any other: "What is good? and what is
evil?" But we must not forget that moral lessons should be brief; and
that Moses, the father of the sages, in order to inculcate morality,
not in a child, but in a race, gave ten simple commandments, which to
Christ seemed superfluous. It is true, however, that at the head of
these was the "law" of love; and that Christ substituted for the
Decalogue an amplification of that law, which comprises within itself
all legislations and moral codes.

    *    *    *    *    *

It is possible that good and evil may be distinguished by means of an
"internal sense," apart from cognitions of morality; and in such a
case, of course, the good and evil in question would be absolute; that
is to say, they would be bound up with life itself and not with
acquired social habits. We always speak of a "voice of conscience"
which teaches us from within to distinguish the two things: good
confers serenity, which is order; enthusiasm, which is strength; evil
is signalized as an anguish which is at times unbearable: remorse,
which is not only darkness and disorder, but fever, a malady of the
soul. It is certain that the laws of society, public opinion, material
well-being, and threats of peril would all be powerless to produce
these various sensations. Often serenity is to be found among the
unfortunate, whereas the remorse of Lady Macbeth, who saw the spot of
blood upon her hand, gnawed at the heart of one who had acquired a

It is not surprising that there should be an internal sensation which
warns us of perils, and causes us to recognize the circumstances
favorable to life. If science in these days demonstrates that the
means for preserving even material life correspond to the moral
"virtues," we may conclude that we shall be able to divine what is
necessary to life by means of the internal sensibility. Have not the
biological sciences demonstrated an analogous fact? The biometer
applied to man has made it possible to reconstruct the absolutely
average man, that is to say, the man whose body gives average
measurements in every part; and these average measurements have been
found, by means of the statistical and morphological studies of
medicine, to correspond to "normality." Thus the average man would be
a man so perfectly constructed that he has no morphological
predisposition to disease of the organs. When the figure of a man was
reconstructed in accordance with average biometrical proportions, it
was found to correspond in a remarkable manner to the proportions of
Greek statues. This fact helped to give a new interpretation to
"æsthetic sentiment." It was evidently by means of æsthetic feeling
that the eye of the Greek artist was able to extract the average
measurement of every organ, and to construct a marvelous and exact
whole therewith. The "enjoyment" of the artist was his enjoyment of
the "beautiful"; but he felt even more profoundly that which contained
the triumph of life, and distinguished it from the errors of nature,
which predispose to illness. The triumph of creation can give an
intimate pleasure to him who can "feel it"; errors, even slight, will
then be perceived as discords. Aesthetic education is, in short, akin
to the mathematical approximation towards the absolute average; the
more it is possible to approach to the true measure in its extreme
limits, and the closer we can get to this, the more possible does it
become to have an absolute means of comparison for the consideration
of deviations. The great artist is thus able to recognize the
beautiful in a detail even in the midst of other discordant details;
and the more capable he is of possessing an absolute sense of the
beautiful, the more readily will he perceive any disproportion of

Something of the same sort may happen in the conscience in relation to
the distinction between good and evil; the more so as the good stands
for real utility in life far more directly than the beautiful, and the
evil may be roughly said to represent danger. Have not animals,
perhaps, an acute instinct of self-preservation, which dictates
infinite details of conduct to them, both for the maintenance of life
and for its protection? Dogs, horses, and cats, and generally
speaking, all domestic animals, do not await the imminent earthquake
quietly and unconsciously, as does man, but become agitated. When the
ice is about to crack, the Esquimaux dogs which draw the sleighs
detach themselves one from the other, as if to avoid falling in; while
man can only observe their amazing instinct with stupefaction. Man has
not by nature these intense instincts; it is by means of intelligence
and the sensibility of his conscience to good and evil that he
constructs his defenses and recognizes his perils. And if this
intelligence of his, which is actually capable of transforming the
world, raises him to such a supreme height above animals, to what a
lofty eminence might he raise himself by developing his moral

But on the contrary, man to-day is reduced to the point of asking
himself seriously whether animals are not better than he. When man
wishes to exalt himself, he says: "I am faithful as a dog, pure as a
dove, strong as a lion."

Indeed, animals have always that instinct which is admirable, for it
confers on them a mysterious power; but if man lacks sensibility of
conscience he is inferior to the animals; nothing can then save him
from excesses; he may rush upon his own ruin, upon havoc and
destruction in a manner that might fill animals with stupefaction and
terror; and if it were in their power they might set themselves to
teach man, that he might become equal to themselves. Men without
conscience are like animals without the instinct of self-preservation;
madmen rushing on destruction.

What shall it profit man to discover by means of science the law of
physical self-preservation in its most minute details, if he has no
care for that which corresponds in man to the "instinct" of his own
salvation? If an individual has a perfect knowledge of hygienic
feeding, of the manner in which to weigh himself in order to follow
the course of his own health, of bathing and of massage, but should
lose the instinct of humanity and kill a fellow-creature, or take his
own life, what would be the use of all his care? And if he feels
nothing more in his heart? if the void draws him to it, plunging him
into melancholy, what does his well-nourished and well washed body
avail him?

Good is life; evil is death; the real distinction is as clear as the

Our moral conscience is, like our intelligence, capable of perfection,
of elevation; this is one of the most fundamental of its differences
from the instincts of animals.

The sensibility of the conscience may be perfected, like the æsthetic
sense, till it can recognize and at last enjoy "good," up to the very
limits of the absolute, and also until it becomes sensitive to the
very slightest deviations towards evil. He who feels thus is "saved";
he who feels less must be more vigilant, and do his utmost to preserve
and develop that mysterious and precious sensibility which guides us
in distinguishing good from evil. It is one of the most important acts
of life to examine our own consciences methodically, having as our
source of illumination not only a knowledge of moral codes, but of
love. It is only through love that this sensibility can be perfected.
He whose sense has not been educated cannot judge himself. A doctor,
for example, may be perfectly informed as to the symptoms of a
disease, and may know exactly how cardiac sounds and the resistance of
the pulse are affected in diseases of the heart; but if his ear cannot
perceive the sounds, if his hand cannot appreciate the tactile
sensations which give the pulse, of what use is his science to him?
His power of understanding diseases is derived from his senses; and if
this power is lacking, his knowledge in relation to the sick man is
vanity. The same holds good of the diagnosis of our own conscience; if
we are blind and deaf, innumerable symptoms will pass unobserved, and
we shall not know on what to found our judgment. The tedium of futile
undertakings will oppress us from the first moment.

On the other hand, it is "feeling" which spurs us on towards

There have been persons with an extraordinary power of recognizing
good and evil, just as the Greek artists showed extraordinary powers
of recognizing the normal forms of the body under the guidance of the
æsthetic sense. Saint Teresa tells us that when some worldly person
who was not good approached her, she suffered as if she were inhaling
a bad smell. She explained that of course she did not smell anything
at all, in the material sense; but that she actually suffered, not
merely in imagination; her suffering was a real spiritual distress
which she could not tolerate.

More interesting still is the following story which refers to the
early Fathers of the Church, who lived in the desert. "We were seated
at the feet of our Bishop," says one of the monks, "listening to and
admiring his holy and salutary teaching. Suddenly there appeared on
the scene the leading 'mime,' the most beautiful of the public dancers
of Antioch, covered with jewels; her bare legs were almost concealed
by pearls and gold; her head and shoulders were uncovered. A throng of
persons accompanied her; the men of the period never wearied of
devouring her with their eyes. An exquisite perfume which exhaled from
her person scented the air we breathed. When she had passed, our
Father, who had looked steadfastly at her, said to us: 'Were you not
fascinated by so much beauty?' We were all silent. 'I,' continued the
Bishop, 'experienced great pleasure in looking at her, for God has
appointed that some day she shall judge us. I see her,' he added, 'as
a soiled and blackened dove; but this dove shall be washed and shall
fly heavenwards, white as snow.' As a fact, this woman returned and
asked to be baptized. 'My name is Pelagia,' she said, 'or such is the
name my parents gave me, but the people of Antioch call me The Pearl,
because of the quantities of jewels with which my sins have adorned
me.' Two days later she gave all her goods to the poor, put on a hair
shirt, and took up her abode in a cell on Monte Oliveto, which she
never left until her death." (Montalembert, _Les Moines d'Occident_,
vol. 1, p. 86.)

    *    *    *    *    *

=Our insensibility=.--How remote are we from that delicate sensibility
which responds to evil by suffering and to the good perceived in
others as it were miraculously, by a feeling of pleasure! In our
society it is possible for us to live for a long time with a criminal,
to esteem him, press his hand, etc., until he is at last exposed by
the scandalous discovery of his misdeeds. Then we say: "Who would have
thought it? He always seemed an excellent person."

And yet it is impossible that the criminal showed no signs, no
perversities of feeling, no heartlessness which should have revealed
him to us from the outset. No one will say that we ought all to become
wonderful aesthetes like the Greek sculptors, or as sensitive as the
saints; but if we admit that it is a barbarous thing to pass by the
beauties of art without perceiving them; that it is the mark of
defective civilization to confound horrible coarseness and monstrosity
with ideal beauty, to be unable to distinguish the strident noise of
the tram-car wheels, or the deafening crash of ill-tuned instruments
from the harmonies of Bellini or Wagner; that each of us would blush
for such insensibility, and would conceal it--how is it we do not
perceive that such obtuseness is habitual to us in moral matters? We
see that we are capable of confusing virtuous persons and criminals,
without any foreboding. How is it that so often in the case of
judicial errors, the voice of the innocent did not resound in our
ears, although his trial was a public one, and we allowed him to
languish in prison for years? How is it that goodness should be so
obscure a thing that we confound it with prosperity? How is it that
those rich men of whom the gospel says "Woe unto you, rich men, for ye
have your reward," can think of "improving the morals" of the poor,
without any examination of their own moral lives or the lives of those
belonging to them? almost as if they believed that the rich are
essentially good and the poor essentially bad.

If such darkness as this reigned in the intellectual field, we should
be unable to conceive the form of madness which would present itself
to our eyes. There are confusions in the moral field which it is
impossible to imagine in any other domain of life. If some day the
youth of the nations, more clear-sighted than those of to-day, hear
that the Christmas feast was kept on the battlefields of the European
war, they will understand the origins of the war itself. In such a
situation, David (to whom indeed it would have been inconceivable)
would have accepted the taunt of his enemies as well deserved, when
they asked him: "Where is now thy God?" "We have lost God" would have
been a fitting lamentation. But to celebrate His festival
indifferently under such conditions is to be unconscious of having
lost Him. How long ago did the soul die, and when did the building up
on death begin? What a terrible episode of madness is this monstrous
slaughter, upon which the tree of peace was planted in honor of the

Far indeed are we from the delicate sensibility to evil of Santa
Teresa, or the keenness of spiritual vision which enabled the man of
God to see the white dove beneath the soiled feathers of the sinful
woman. The difference is not as that between the taste of a peasant
and that of an artist, but as that between a corpse and a living man.
It is evident that we have suffered death, albeit we are unconscious
of having died.

Here, then, and not in hygiene, must we find the secret of our life.
We have something more corruptible than our bodies, a life more
fragile than our physical life; and the peril of darkness hangs over
us. This is the secret of man.

If man loses the light that leads him on towards a better world, he
falls into an abyss far below all created animals.

He who loves, therefore, will bestow all his care on these
wellsprings of life; how frail are the lungs of a new-born infant, how
easily can an unnatural mother deprive him of air and so suffocate
him! Yet what is this easily accomplished act, which nevertheless
destroys a life, in comparison with the infinitely easier and more
deadly act by which we may procure the death of the soul?

The death of the soul, like that of the body, may be readily
distinguished from a state of insensibility; in vain do we apply a
red-hot iron to a corpse; there is no response.

He who is alive, however, is not only capable of reacting to a
stimulus very much less intense than a red-hot iron; he who lives and
feels may perfect himself--and this is life.

It is enough that souls should "feel." How, then, could they live
quietly amidst evil? If under the windows of our house people were
piling up refuse until we felt that the air was being vitiated, could
we bear this without protesting, and insisting on the removal of that
which was causing us to suffer? If, moreover, we had a child, we
should clamor still more loudly, and should even set to work to clear
away the nuisance with our own hands, in our solicitude for his
health. But if the bodies of mother and child lay dead, they would no
longer be conscious of the pestilential air.

It is characteristic of "life" to purge the environment and the soul
of substances injurious to health. Christ was called "the Lamb that
taketh away the sins of the world," not the Master who preaches, but
He who purifies. And this is the morality that springs from
sensibility: the _action_ of purifying the world, of removing the
obstacles that beset life, of liberating the spirit from the darkness
of death.

The merits of which every man feels he owes an account to his
conscience are not such things as having enjoyed music or made a
discovery; he must be able to say what he has done to save and
maintain life.

These purifying merits, like progress, have no limits.

"Leave all ties and follow _Me_," said Christ to those who asked Him
what they should do.

For man can reinforce his own strength by other powers which will urge
him on upwards towards the infinite; before him who sleeps is the
invisible ladder of Jacob, trodden by angels who call him heavenwards,
that is, towards the supernatural life. Yes, to be _more_ than man.
This is a _dream_ to him who lacks faith; but it is the realizable
goal, the aim of life, to him who has faith.

To Friedrich Nietzsche, the superman was an idea without practical
consequence, strange and erroneous even when tested by the very
theories of evolution which inspired him. His conception offered no
help in overcoming the ills of humanity; rather was it as a chain
binding man to earth, there to seek means to create of himself the man
superior to himself; and thus leading him astray into egotism, cruelty
and folly.

But innumerable saints have felt and acted in accordance with their
profession of faith: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

If, as our poet says, man is "the chrysalis destined to become the
angelic butterfly," there is no doubt as to the road he must take:
spiritually, he must either _ascend_ or _die_.

Hence it is not the whole of life to obey the laws of hygiene,
physical and psychical; but it is only life which can draw from its
environment the means of its own purification and salvation; that
life, however, which is supernatural, asks of love and divine light
the strength necessary for its transformation.

Of a truth, it is not _ecstasy_ which characterizes the saints; it is
the real and victorious struggle of the higher against the lower

    *    *    *    *    *

=Morality and religion=.--It is well known that in strong religious
impressions, such as the crises of what is called conversion, the
phenomenon is characterized by "an inner light," an "order" which
suddenly establishes itself, and by means of which that which was
before unseen becomes manifest: the distinction between good and evil,
and hence the revelation of oneself. Indeed, the converted, at the
moment when the revelation takes place, seem little concerned with
divinity, or dogmas, or rites; they are persons given over to a
violent commotion, who seem forgetful of all their physical and
intellectual life, and who are absorbed in contemplation of themselves
in relation to a central point of their consciousness, which seems to
be illuminated by some prodigious radiance. The cry of the convert in
the majority of cases is: "I am a sinner!" It seems as if darkness had
fallen away from him, together with all the evil which was corroding,
weakening, and suffocating him, and which at length he saw, when it
was separated from him, terrible, obscure, and full of hideous
dangers. It is this which agitates him, and makes him weep; it is this
which urges him to seek some one who can understand, comfort, and help
him. The converted want help, as do the newly born; they weep and
struggle like men who are born to a new life, and who are restrained
by no human respect, by no restriction. It is their own life they
feel; and the value of their own life seems to them greater than the
riches and convenience of the whole world. They feel an ecstasy of
relief at having escaped from a great peril; their chief anxiety is
that they may be liberated from the evil that oppresses them. Before
they can take another step forward they are obliged to reconsider the
terrible time when evil was rooted within them, and they felt nothing
of it.

     "And as a man with difficult short breath
     Forespent with toiling, 'scaped from sea to shore,
     Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands
     At gaze; e'en so my spirit that yet fail'd
     Struggling with terror, turn'd to view the straits
     That none hath past and lived."
       (Carey's translation of Dante's _Inferno_, Canto I.)

This evil had held captive all the treasures of the spirit, which, set
free at last, seem to refresh and reanimate the whole world before
their eyes:

     "And what I saw seemed even as a smile.
     Irradiating all the universe...."
       (Dante's _Paradiso_, Canto XXVII.)

One of the most singular cases of conversion I ever heard described
was the following: A monk, famous for his oratorical gifts, was
preaching in a crowded church to a congregation which was listening to
him with devout admiration. Suddenly he was interrupted by a loud sob,
and a man in the crowd cried aloud, stretching out his hands towards
the pulpit: "I am a great sinner!" The monk, as is usual in such
cases, came to the help of the convert, and received all the
outpourings of that soul, as it stripped itself of the evil which had
been corroding it. Then, curious to know what argument had touched the
heart of this man, he asked him what part of the sermon had specially
borne upon the prodigy. "Ah!" answered the convert, "I never heard a
single word of what you were saying; I entered the church without
knowing why; at that moment you pointed your finger at me
emphatically. Yes, it is true, I cried, I am a sinner, and I felt as
if a heavy cloak of lead which had been oppressing me had fallen from
my shoulders; then an uncontrollable flood of tears rose from my
heart." Thus no intellectual element played any part in this
conversion; it was not a "conviction," nor even new "knowledge," which
had acted; what had happened was purely a spontaneous phenomenon of
the conscience, which, perhaps after an unconscious preparation,
divided the light from the darkness and initiated the creation of the
new man.

The convert feels more clearly than any other that evil is an
"obstacle" to a form of enjoyment higher than the loftiest enjoyments
man can taste. He has not only been purified, but his purification has
transformed him. He is like a diamond embedded in dross and mire which
is suddenly separated from the overlying substances, and brought to
the surface, clear and brilliant; it is not only a purified and
magnificent stone; what really transforms it is the sun, which can now
be reflected in it and make it sparkle. This is the unsuspected
splendor which is added to it naturally, and has nothing to do either
with the dross that has been removed, or with the intrinsic qualities
of the gem. The dross not only defiled it, but prevented it from
encountering the rays which should give it its characteristic beauty.

All devout persons know that evil is a "chain" for us, holding us down
beneath the earth as in a tomb, and that sentiments hostile to love
are so many obstacles which impede our expansion and our free contact
with the divine essence which is within us. The slightest alloy, the
most minute infiltration, suffices to impair our brilliance and to
cause our ejection from the casket of the elect: a single glance which
judges our brother instead of absolving him, a feeling which hardens
our heart against him, or, finally, the envy which generates devouring
hatred and fury.

"The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: ... hatred,
variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings,
witchcraft, murders." To approach the altar with a heart suffering, be
it ever so slightly, from some seductive stimulus against charity is
vain; it is as if a wounded hare should rush to her form, bearing the
arrow that has pierced her through and through; she goes, not to save
herself, but to die in her form. "Likewise thou, if thou bring thy
gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught
against thee ... go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and
then come and offer thy gift."

He who forgives an offense does not perform a logical act of justice,
nor does he benefit the person he forgives; hence it is waste of time
to consider whether the offense deserves pardon or not, and whether
the person who committed it needs absolution from us or not. We must
pardon, not from a sense of justice nor for the benefit of the
offender, but for our own sakes; he who forgives has divested himself
of envy and resentment, of all that oppressed and fettered the spirit,
making it powerless to rise. This is why we must forgive: that so we
may burst the bonds which impede our free movement, our ascent. When
we cut the cable of a balloon, we do not consider whether this is just
towards the earth, and whether the cable deserves it; we do it because
it is necessary, to enable the balloon to rise. He who ascends,
moreover, enjoys the marvels of a spectacle which cannot be enjoyed
on earth. Who would strike a balance between this gain and the
sacrifice of the cable?

Forgive, and you will feel universal absolution rising to you from the
whole world, in token of your ascent _Haec est vera fraternitas, quae
vicit mundi crimina_.

    *    *    *    *    *

=The religious sentiment in children=.--But few researches have been
made into the crises of conscience and the spontaneous religious
sentiment of children. It is true that of late years, during the
remarkable religious movement which took place in England, most
surprising instances of religiosity in children occurred; it was after
the little Nelly, aged five, asked for the Eucharist on her death-bed
that Pius X allowed it to be administered to children, irrespective of
their age. But the subject forms a very inconsiderable part of the
positive studies of to-day.

The solitary study of this kind which has been brought forward in
public congresses on psychology was that which was considered during
the Premier Congrès International de Pédologie, Bruxelles, août, 1911:
_Quelques observations sur le développement de l'émotion morale et
religieuse chez un enfant_, Ghidionescu, Doct. en Philosophie
(Bucharest). The child who was the subject of observation had received
no religious education whatever. One day he was seen to burst into a
sudden fit of weeping, for no apparent reason. When his mother asked
why he was crying, the child replied: "Because I remember how I saw a
puppy ill-treated two months ago, and at this moment I _feel_ it." A
year and a half later a similar crisis took place. He was looking at
the moon one evening from the window, when he suddenly burst into
tears. "Do not scold me," said the child in great agitation; "while I
was looking at the moon I felt how often I had grieved you, and I
understood that I had offended God."

This interesting study reveals successive phases of a spontaneous
phenomenon of moral consciousness: the first was the revelation of the
lively feeling which provoked a fit of weeping two months after the
event which distressed the child: he _felt_ the sufferings of the
cruelly treated puppy. And a long time after this activity of the
conscience had been initiated comes the establishment of order: the
child distinguishes between good and evil actions, and recognizes the
fact that he has incurred the displeasure of his parents; this
displeasure was probably not very serious, indeed it was so slight
that the child had been unconscious of it at the time; but at the
moment when he is purging himself of these trivial impurities he feels
God: "I understood that I had offended God," he said, and he knew well
that he had not offended his parents. Now, no one had ever talked to
him about God, or trained him to examine his conscience.

During my experience I have had no opportunity of witnessing a similar
cycle of spiritual development. My experiences in religious education
have necessarily been limited hitherto; indeed, in the Children's
House kept by the Franciscan Sisters of the Via Giusti the religious
education was given by the ordinary methods, and it was not possible
to make original studies or observations. On the other hand, the
dominant political party in the municipalities has abolished religion
from the public schools with a sectarian rigor which causes the word
"God" to be feared as bigots fear the word "devil."

My experience has, therefore, been limited to some of the children I
have received privately in my own house, children belonging to
non-religious families, who had consequently undergone no religious
influence. [9]

One of my little pupils was just over seven years old, when a friend
of his family, noticing his intelligence, and knowing that he had been
educated in "freedom," thought he would test him by describing to him
briefly animal evolution according to the principles of Lamarck and
Darwin. The child followed his explanation very attentively and then
asked: "Well, then, man comes from the monkey, and the monkey from
some other animal, and so on; but from whom did the first creature
come?" "The first," answered his friend, "was formed by chance." The
child laughed aloud, and, calling his mother, said excitedly: "Just
listen; what nonsense! Life was formed by chance! That is impossible."
"Then how was life formed?" "It is God," replied the child, with

[Footnote 9: At present some very interesting experiments in religious
education are being carried out in the "Escola Montessori" at
Barcelona, under the direction of the Provincial Deputies of that

This same child was prepared, with his mother's consent, for Holy
Communion, together with his sister; a highly educated young priest of
much æsthetic knowledge undertook the task. I was curious to hear what
objections the child had raised; but I was not admitted to his
lessons. I was only present on one occasion, when the course of
instruction was almost at an end. The priest spoke of the reservation
of the wine and of the practical situations in which the celebrant may
find himself during the holy office. I thought such a dissertation
entirely unsuitable for children, and one which was likely to distract
their attention from the end in view; but I saw with amazement that
their faces were turned intently to the altar; they were evidently
unfamiliar with such minute explanations, but they were penetrated by
a sentiment which attracted them; the chalice with the divine blood
appealed to these souls ready to receive it, as it did to the innocent
Parsifal. When they made their first Communion, I was convinced that
their souls received the mysteries with the sweetest faith and with
absolute simplicity, as if all that is of God were comprehensible to
them, and only that which denies Him an absurdity. Their spiritual
conquest accompanied them in life.

A little cousin of these children, who was prepared to receive the
Communion a long time after them, and who had had no religious
training in her own home, said one day, when she was working
enthusiastically in class: "How beautiful the anatomy of a flower is!
I like arithmetic and geometry so much! But religion is the most
beautiful thing of all."

There was an older child in the school, whose parents, both father and
mother, were positively hostile to religion. This child, although she
showed great interest in the school exercises, was always restless.
Later, when some wonderful children's parties were given in the villa
where she lived, which were arranged with great skill and were
veritable works of art, she became still more restless and cynical,
almost as if she were suffering from some disillusionment. One day she
called an orphan child from Messina, who was one of our children who
had come from the school in the Via Giusti, and took her away into a
quiet corner, asking her to repeat the Lord's Prayer. The orphan
recited it, while the rich child gazed at her eagerly. Then, as if in
obedience to an inspiration, she went to the piano to play; but her
hands trembled; she threw herself on one side, with her elbow on the
keyboard and her head hanging, unable to conceal her agitation any
longer. Her soul was seeking to satisfy its yearning; nothing could
give her peace but the one thing those who loved her wished to
withhold from her. Her heart was still alive and eager: "Like as the
heart desireth the water brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O

As yet the coarse scoria evolved from darkness, which makes it so
difficult for the adult to embrace the mysteries of the spirit like a
little child, had not formed around her. Later, such mysteries become
incomprehensible; as to Nicodemus, who replied to Christ: "How can a
man be born again? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb?"

But this rapid survey will suffice to make us understand that the
little child has other needs, in addition to his intellectual wants,
and that long before his intelligence is developed and satisfied, his
pure and open spirit reflects the divine light. He is perhaps the
Parsifal for whom we are waiting, depressed and sick at heart, while
because of the impurity of our hands the dove can no longer descend in
the Holy Grail towards the chalice filled with the blood of Peace. [10]

[Footnote 10: The moral question is barely indicated and is not even
comprehensively indicated. Such a work, indeed, represents an
experimental contribution to the education of the intelligence. At
present an experimental study of the moral and religious education of
children has only just been initiated at Barcelona (Spain). A book on
this subject should form a sequel to this volume.

I cannot foresee whether I and my colleagues will be able to bring
such a heavy task to a successful conclusion.]

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