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Title: Concerning Children
Author: Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, 1860-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Concerning Children" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

    _By Charlotte Perkins Stetson_

    IN THIS OUR WORLD. Cloth, 16mo. 5/--
    WOMEN AND ECONOMICS. Cloth, 12mo. 6/--
    THE YELLOW WALL PAPER. Paper boards, 12mo. 2/--

    24 Bedford Street Strand
    LONDON, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *











       I. THE PRECIOUS TEN                           3


     III. TWO AND TWO TOGETHER                      46


       V. TEACHABLE ETHICS                          96

      VI. A PLACE FOR CHILDREN                     118

     VII. UNCONSCIOUS SCHOOLING                    139

    VIII. PRESUMPTUOUS AGE                         156

      IX. THE RESPECT DUE TO YOUTH                 169

       X. TOO MUCH CONSIDERATION                   183

      XI. SIX MOTHERS                              200


    XIII. CHILDREN AND SERVANTS                    233


      XV. SOCIAL PARENTAGE                         278

Concerning Children



According to our religious belief, the last best work of God is the
human race. According to the observation of biologists, the highest
product of evolution is the human race. According to our own natural
inner conviction, this twofold testimony is quite acceptable: we are
the first class.

Whatever our merits when compared with lower species, however, we vary
conspicuously when compared with one another. Humanity is superior to
equinity, felinity, caninity; but there are degrees of humanness.

Between existing nations there is marked difference in the qualities
we call human; and history shows us a long line of advance in these
qualities in the same nation. The human race is still in the making,
is by no means done; and, however noble it is to be human, it will be
nobler to be humaner. As conscious beings, able to modify our own
acts, we have power to improve the species, to promote the
development of the human race. This brings us to the children.
Individuals may improve more or less at any time, though most largely
and easily in youth; but race improvement must be made in youth, to be
transmitted. The real progress of man is born in him.

If you were buying babies, investing in young human stock as you would
in colts or calves, for the value of the beast, a sturdy English baby
would be worth more than an equally vigorous young Fuegian. With the
same training and care, you could develope higher faculties in the
English specimen than in the Fuegian specimen, because it was better
bred. The savage baby would excel in some points, but the qualities of
the modern baby are those dominant to-day. Education can do much; but
the body and brain the child is born with are all that you have to
educate. The progress of humanity must be recorded in living flesh.
Unless the child is a more advanced specimen than his father and
mother, there is no racial improvement. Virtues we still strive for
are not yet ours: it is the unconscious virtues we are born with that
measure the rise of nations.

Our mechanical products in all their rich variety serve two
purposes,--to show the measure of the brains that made them, and to
help make better ones.

The printing-press, for instance, marked a century of ability; but its
main value is to develope centuries of greater ability. Society
secretes, as it were, this mass of material wherewith to nourish its
countless young; and, as this material is so permanent and so mobile,
it is proportionately more advantageous to our posterity than the
careful preparation of some anxious insect for her swarm of progeny.
Unless the creature is born better than his creators, they do not save
him. He sinks back or is overcome by others, perhaps lingering
decadent among the traces of lost arts, like degenerate nomad savages
who wander among the ruins of ancestral temples. We see plenty of such
cases, individually, showing this arrested social development,--from
the eighteenth-century man, who is only a little behind his age and
does not hinder us much, to the dragging masses of dull peasantry and
crude savagery, which keep us back so seriously. This does not include
the reversions and degenerates, the absolutely abortive members of
society; but merely its raw stock, that heavy proportion of the people
who are not bred up to the standard of the age. To such we may apply
every advantage of education, every facile convenience of the latest
day; and, though these things do help a little, we have still the
slow-minded mass, whose limited range of faculties acts as a steady
check on the success of our best intellects. The surest, quickest way
to improve humanity is to improve the stock, the people themselves;
and all experience shows that the time to improve people is while they
are young. As in a growing cornstalk the height is to be measured from
joint to joint, not counting the length of its long, down-flowing
leaves, so in our line of ascent the height is to be measured from
birth to birth, not counting the further development of the parent
after the child is born.

The continued life of the parent counts in other ways, as it
contributes to social service; and, in especial, as it reacts to
promote the further growth of the young. But the best service to
society and the child is in the progress made by the individual before
parentage, for that progress is born into the race. Between birth and
birth is the race bred upward. Suppose we wish to improve a race of
low savages, and we carefully select the parents, subjecting them to
the most elaborate educational influences, till they are all dead.
Then we return, and take a fresh set of parents to place under these
advantageous conditions, leaving the children always to grow up in
untouched savagery. This might be done for many generations, and we
should always have the same kind of savages to labour with, what
improvement was made being buried with each set of parents. Now, on
the other hand, let us take the children of the tribe, subject them to
the most advantageous conditions, and, when they become parents,
discontinue our efforts on that generation and begin on the next. What
gain was made in this case would be incorporated in the stock; we
should have gradually improving relays of children.

So far as environment is to really develope the race, that development
must be made before the birth of the next generation.

If a young man and woman are clean, healthy, vigorous, and virtuous
before parenthood, they may become dirty, sickly, weak, and wicked
afterward with far less ill effect to the race than if they were sick
and vicious before their children were born, and thereafter became
stalwart saints. The sowing of wild oats would be far less harmful if
sowed in the autumn instead of in the spring.

Human beings are said to have a longer period of immaturity than other
animals; but it is not prolonged childhood which distinguishes us so
much as prolonged parenthood. In early forms of life the parent
promptly dies after having reproduced the species. He is of no further
use to the race, and therefore his life is discontinued. In the
evolution of species, as the parent becomes more and more able to
benefit the young, he is retained longer in office; and in humanity,
as it developes, we see an increasing prolongation of parental
usefulness. The reactive value of the adult upon the young is very
great, covering our whole range of conscious education; but the real
worth of that education is in its effects on the young before they
become parents, that the training and improvement may become ours by
birth, an inbred racial progress.

It may be well here to consider the objections raised by the Weissman
theory that "acquired traits are not transmissible." To those who
believe this it seems useless to try to improve a race by development
of the young with a view to transmission. They hold that the child
inherits a certain group of faculties, differing from the parents
perhaps through the "tendency to vary," and that, although you may
improve the individual indefinitely through education, that
improvement is not transmissible to his offspring. The original
faculties may be transmitted, but not the individual modification.
Thus they would hold that, if two brothers inherited the same kind and
amount of brain power, and one brother was submitted to the finest
educational environment, while the other was entirely neglected, yet
the children of the two brothers would inherit the same amount of
brain development: the training and exercise which so visibly improved
the brain of the educated brother would be lost to his children.

Or, if two brothers inherited the same physical constitution, and one
developed and improved it by judicious care and exercise, while the
other wasted strength and contracted disease, the children of either
would inherit the original constitutional tendencies of the parent,
unaffected by that parent's previous career.

This would mean that the whole tremendous march of race-modification
has been made under no other influence than the tendency to vary, and
that individual modification in no way affects the race.

Successive generations of individuals may be affected by the
cumulative pressure of progress, but not the race itself. Under this
view the Fuegian baby would be as valuable an investment as the
English baby, unless, indeed, successive and singularly connected
tendencies to vary had worked long upon the English stock and
peculiarly neglected the Fuegian. In proof of this claim that
"acquired traits are not transmissible," an overwhelming series of
experiments are presented, as wherein many consecutive generations of
peaceful guinea pigs are mutilated in precisely the same way, and, lo!
the last guinea pig is born as four-legged and symmetrically-featured
as the first.

If it had been so arranged that the crippled guinea pigs obtained some
advantage because of their injuries, they might have thus become
"fittest"; and the "tendency to vary" would perhaps have launched out
a cripple somewhere, and so evolved a triumphant line of three-legged
guinea pigs.

But, as proven by these carefully conducted scientific experiments, it
does not "modify the species" at all to cut off its legs,--not in a
score of generations. It modifies the immediate pig, of course, and is
doubtless unpleasant to him; but the effect is lost with his death.

It has always seemed to me that there was a large difference between a
mutilation and an acquired trait. An acquired trait is something that
one uses and developes, not something one has lost.

The children of a soldier are supposed to inherit something of his
courage and his habit of obedience, not his wooden leg.

The dwindled feet of the Chinese ladies are not transmitted; but the
Chinese habits are. The individual is most modified by what he does,
not by what is done to him; and so is the race.

Let a new experiment be performed on the long-suffering guinea pig.
Take two flourishing pair of the same family (fortunately, the
tendency to vary appears to be but slight in guinea pigs, so there is
not serious trouble from that source), and let one pair of guinea pigs
be lodged in a small but comfortable cage, and fed and fed and
fed,--not to excess, but so as to supply all guinea-piggian desires as
soon as felt,--them and their descendants in their unnumbered
generations. Let the other pair be started on a long, slow, cautious,
delicate but inexorable system of exercise, not exercise involving
any advantage, with careful mating of the most lively,--for this would
be claimed as showing only the "tendency to vary" and "survival of the
fittest,"--but exercise forced upon the unwilling piggies to no profit

A wheel, such as mitigates the captivity of the nimble squirrel,
should be applied to these reluctant victims; a well-selected,
stimulating diet given at slowly increasing intervals; and the
physical inequalities of their abode become greater, so that the
unhappy subjects of scientific research would find themselves skipping
ever faster and farther from day to day.

If, after many generations of such training, the descendants of these
cultivated guinea pigs could not outrun the descendants of the plump
and puffy cage-fed pair, the Weissman theory would be more strongly
re-enforced than by all the evidence of his suffering cripples.
Meanwhile the parent and teacher in general is not greatly concerned
about theories of pan-genesis or germ-plasm. He knows that, "as the
twig is bent, the tree's inclined," and that, if the fathers have
eaten sour grapes, the children's teeth are pretty certain to be set
on edge.

Inherit we must to some degree; and whatever comes to us by that
method must belong to the parent before he is a parent. Traits
acquired after parentage are certainly not transmissible, whatever may
be the case before. Our inherited constitution, temper, character,
tendency, is like an entailed estate. It is in the family, belongs to
the family in succession, not to the individual. It is "owned" by the
individual in usufruct, but cannot be sold, given away, or otherwise
alienated. It must be handed on to the next heir, somewhat better or
worse, perhaps, for the current ownership. When the new heir takes
possession of his estate, he confers with the steward, and becomes
thoroughly acquainted with his holdings. Here are the assets,--this
much in permanent capital, this much in income, which he may use as he
will. It would be possible for him to overspend that income, to cut
down the timber and sell it, to incur debts, impoverishing the next
heir. Perhaps this has been done; and he finds himself with neglected
lands, buildings in disrepair, restricted resources, and heavy debts.
In such case the duty of the heir is to live carefully, avoiding every
extravagance, and devote all he can save to clearing off the
encumbrances on the estate, thus handing it on to the next heir in
better shape than he received it. If this is not done, if one
generation after another of inheritors draws relentlessly on the
burdened estate and adds to its encumbrances, there comes a time when
the heavy mortgages are foreclosed, and that estate is lost.

So with the human constitution. We inherit such and such powers and
faculties; such and such weaknesses, faults, tendencies to disease.
Our income is the available strength we have to spare without drawing
on our capital. Perhaps our ancestors have overdrawn already, wasting
their nerve force, injuring their organisms, handing down to us an
impoverished physique, with scarce income enough for running expenses,
yet needing a large sinking fund for repairs.

In this case it is our plain duty to live "within our means" in nerve
force, however limited, and to devote all we can spare to building up
the constitution, that we may transmit it in an improved condition to
the next heir. If we do not do this, if successive generations
overdraw their strength, neglect necessary rest and recreation,
increase their weaknesses and diseases, then there comes a time when
the inexorable creditor called Nature forecloses the mortgage, and
that family is extinct. The heir of the entailed estate in lands and
houses has an advantage over the heir of blood and brain. He does not
transmit his property until he dies. He has a lifetime to make the
needed improvements. But the inheritor of poor eyesight, weak lungs,
and a bad temper has a shorter period for repairs. If a woman, she is
likely to become a mother by the time she is twenty-five,--perhaps
sooner; the man, a father by thirty.

Taking the very early marriages of the poor into consideration (and
they are a heavy majority of the population), we may take twenty-five
as the average beginning of parenthood. Of course there is still room
for improvement before the later children appear; but the running
expenses increase so heavily that there is but a small margin to be
given to repairs. The amount of nerve force hitherto set aside to
control the irritable temper will now be drawn upon by many new
demands: the time given to special exercises for the good of the lungs
will now be otherwise used. However good the intentions afterward, the
best period for self-improvement is before the children come. This
reduces the time in which to develope humanity's inheritance to
twenty-five years. Twenty-five years is not much at best; and that
time is further limited, as far as individual responsibility goes, by
subtracting the period of childhood. The first, say, fifteen years of
our lives are comparatively irresponsible. We have not the judgment or
the self-control to meddle with our own lives to any advantage; nor is
it desirable that we should. Unconscious growth is best; and the
desired improvement during this period should be made by the skilful
educator without the child's knowledge. But at about fifteen the
individual comes to a keen new consciousness of personal

That fresh, unwarped sense of human honour, the race-enthusiasm of the
young; and the fund of strength they bear with them; together with the
very light expenses of this period, all the heavy drains of life being
met by the parent,--these conditions make that short ten years the
most important decade of a lifetime.

It is no wonder that we worship youth. On it depends more than on the
most care-burdened age. It is one of the many follies of our
blundering progression that we have for so long supposed that the
value of this period lay merely in its enjoyableness. With fresh
sensations and new strength, with care, labour, and pain largely kept
away, youth naturally enjoys more heartily than age, and has less to
suffer; but these are only incidental conditions. Every period has its
advantage and accompanying responsibilities. This blessed time of
youth is not ours to riot through in cheerful disregard of human duty.
The biological advantage of a longer period of immaturity is in its
cumulative value to the race, the older parent having more development
to transmit.

The human animal becomes adult comparatively early,--that is, becomes
capable of reproducing the species; and in states of low social grade
he promptly sets about it.

But the human being is not only an individual animal: he is a social
constituent. He may be early ready to replace himself by another man
as good, but he is not yet able to improve upon the past and give the
world a man much better. He is not yet developed as a member of
society,--trained in those special lines which make him not only a
healthier, stronger, rounder individual, but a more highly efficient
member of society. Our people to-day are not only larger and
longer-lived than earlier races, but they are capable of social
relations immeasurably higher than those open to a never-so-healthy

The savage as an individual animal may be equal--in some ways
superior--to the modern man; but, as a social constituent, he is like
a grain of sand in a heap compared to some exquisitely fitted part of
an intricate machine,--a living machine, an organism. In this social
relation man may grow and develope all his life; and that is why
civilisation, socialisation, brings us useful and honourable age,
while savagery knocks its old folk on the head.

But while the social structure grows in beauty, refinement, and power,
and eighty years may be spent in its glorious service, that service
must be given by individuals. Unless these individuals improve from
age to age, showing a finer, subtler, stronger brain and unimpaired
physique, there can be no genuine or enduring social improvement. We
have seen repeatedly in history a social status lodged in
comparatively few individuals, a narrow fragile upper-class
civilisation; and we have seen it always fall,--fall to the level of
its main constituents, the mass of the people.

One per cent. of sane men in a society of lunatics would make but a
foolish state; one per cent. of good men in a society of criminals
would make a low grade of virtue; one per cent. of rich men in a
society of poor peasants does not make a rich community. A society is
composed of the people who compose it, strange to say,--all of them;
and, as they are, it is. The people must be steadily made better if
the world is to move. The way to make people better is to have them
born better. The way to have them born better is to make all possible
improvement in the individual before parentage. That is why youth is
holy and august: it is the fountain of human progress. Not only that
"the child is father to the man," but the child is father to the
state--and mother.

The first fifteen years of a child's life should be treated with a
view to developing the power of "judgment" and "will," that he may be
able to spend his precious ten in making the best possible growth. A
boy of fifteen is quite old enough to understand the main principles
of right living, and to follow them. A girl of fifteen is quite old
enough to see the splendid possibilities that lie before her, both in
her individual service to society and the almost limitless power of
motherhood. It is not youth which makes our boys and girls so foolish
in their behaviour. It is the kind of training we give the little
child, keeping back the most valuable faculties of the brain instead
of helping them to grow. A boy cast out upon the street to work soon
manifests both the abilities and vices of an older person. A girl
reared in a frivolous and artificial society becomes a practising
coquette while yet a child. These conditions are bad, and we do not
wish to parallel them by producing a morbidly self-conscious and
prematurely aged set of youngsters. But, if the child has been trained
in reason and self-control,--not forced, but allowed to grow in the
natural use of these qualities,--he will be used to exercising them
when he reaches the freer period of youth, and not find it so
difficult to be wise. It is natural for a child to reason, and the
power grows with encouragement and use. It is natural for a child to
delight in the exercise of his own will upon himself in learning to
"do things."

The facility and pleasure and strong self-control shown by a child in
playing some arbitrary game prove that it is quite natural for him to
govern his acts to a desired end, and enjoy it.

To a desired end, however. We have not yet succeeded in enlisting the
child's desires to help his efforts. We rather convince him that being
good is tedious and unprofitable, often poignantly disagreeable; and,
when he passes childhood, he is hampered with this unfortunate
misbelief of our instilling.

But, with a healthy brain and will, a youth of fifteen, with the
knowledge easily available at that age, should be not only able and
willing, but gloriously eager for personal development. It is an age
of soaring ambition; and that ambition, directed in lines of real
improvement, is one of Nature's loveliest and strongest forces to lift

There is a splendid wealth of aspiration in youth, a pure and haughty
desire for the very highest, which ought to be playing into the
current of our racial life and lifting it higher and higher with each
new generation.

The love of emulation, too, so hurtful in the cheap, false forms it so
often takes, is a beautiful force when turned to self-improvement. We
underrate the power of good intention of our young people. We check
and irritate them all through childhood, confusing and depressing the
upward tendencies; and then wag our aged heads pityingly over "the
follies of youth."

There is wisdom in youth, and power, if we would but let it grow. A
simple unconscious childhood, shooting upward fast and strong along
lines of rational improving growth, would give to the opening
consciousness of youth a healthy background of orderly achievement,
and a glorious foreground,--the limitless front of human progress.
Such young people, easily appreciating what could be done for
themselves and the world by right living, would pour their rich
enthusiasm and unstrained powers into real human growing,--the growing
that can be done so well in that short, wonderful ten years,--that
must be done then, if the race is to be born better. Three or four
generations of such growth would do more for man's improvement than
our present methods of humaniculture accomplish in as many centuries.



Obedience, we are told, is a virtue. This seems simple and conclusive,
but on examination further questions rise.

What is "a virtue"?

What is "obedience"?

And, if a virtue, is it always and equally so?

"There is a time when patience ceases to be a virtue." Perhaps
obedience has its limits, too.

A virtue is a specific quality of anything, as the virtue of mustard
is in its biting quality; of glass, transparency; of a sword, its edge
and temper. In moral application a virtue is a quality in mankind
whereby we are most advantaged. We make a distinction in our specific
qualities, claiming some to be good and some bad; and the virtues are
those whereby we gain the highest good. These virtues of humanity
change in relative value with time, place, and circumstance. What is
considered a virtue in primitive life becomes foolishness or even vice
in later civilisation; yet each age and place can show clear reason
for its virtues, trace their introduction, rise into high honour, and
gradual neglect.

For instance, the virtue of endurance ranks high among savages. To be
able to bear hunger and heat and cold and pain and dire fatigue,--this
power is supreme virtue to the savage, for the simple reason that it
is supremely necessary to him. He has a large chance of meeting these
afflictions all through life, and wisely prepares himself beforehand
by wilfully undergoing even worse hardships.

Chastity is a comparatively modern virtue, still but partially
accepted. Even as an ideal, it is not universally admired, being
considered mainly as a feminine distinction. This is good proof of its
gradual introduction,--first, as solely female, a demand from the man,
and then proving its value as a racial virtue, and rising slowly in
general esteem, until to-day there is a very marked movement toward a
higher standard of masculine chastity.

Courage, on the other hand, has been held almost wholly as a
masculine virtue, from the same simple causes of sociological
development; to this day one hears otherwise intelligent and
respectable women own themselves, without the slightest sense of
shame, to be cowards.

A comparative study of the virtues would reveal a mixed and changeful
throng, and always through them all the underlying force of necessity,
which makes this or that quality a virtue in its time.

We speak of "making a virtue of necessity." As a matter of fact, all
virtues are made of necessity.

A virtue, then, in the human race is that quality which is held
supremely beneficial, valuable, necessary, at that time. And what, in
close analysis, is obedience? It is a noun made from the verb "to

What is it to obey? It is to act under the impulse of another
will,--to submit one's behaviour to outside direction.

It involves the surrender of both judgment and will. Is this capacity
of submission of sufficient value to the human race to be called a
virtue? Assuredly it is--sometimes. The most familiar instance of the
uses of obedience is among soldiers and sailors, always promptly
adduced by the stanch upholders of this quality.

They do not speak of it as particularly desirable among farmers or
merchants or artists, but cling to the battlefield or the deck, as
sufficient illustrations. We may note, also, that, when our elaborate
efforts are made to inculcate its value to young children, we always
introduce a railroad accident, runaway, fire, burglar, or other
element of danger; and, equally, in the stories of young animals
designed for the same purpose, the disobedient little beast is always
exposed to dire peril, and the obedient saved.

All this clearly indicates the real basis of our respect for

Its first and greatest use is this: where concerted action is
necessary, in such instant performance that it would be impossible to
transmit the impulse through a number of varying intelligences.

That is why the soldier and sailor have to obey. Military and nautical
action is essentially collective, essentially instant, and too
intricate for that easy understanding which would allow of swift
common action on individual initiative. Under such circumstances,
obedience is, indeed, a virtue, and disobedience the unpardonable sin.

Again, with the animals, we have a case where it is essential that the
young should act instantly under stimuli perceptible to the mother and
not to the young. No explanation is possible. There is not speech for
it, even if there were time. A sudden silent danger needs a sudden
silent escape. Under this pressure of condition has been evolved a
degree of obedience absolutely instinctive and automatic, as so
beautifully shown in Mr. Thompson's story of the little partridges
flattening themselves into effacement on their mother's warning

With deadly peril at hand, with no brain to give or to receive
explanation, with no time to do more than squeak an inarticulate
command, there is indeed need for obedience; and obedience is
forthcoming. But is this so essential quality in rearing young animals
as essential in human education? So far in human history, our
absolute desideratum in child-training is that the child shall obey.
The child who "minds" promptly and unquestioningly is the ideal: the
child who refuses to mind, who, perhaps, even says, "I won't," is the
example of all evil.

Parental success is judged by ability to "make the children mind": to
be without that is failure. All this has no reference whatever to the
kind of behaviour required. The virtue in the child is simply to do
what it is told, in any extreme of folly or even danger. Witness the
immortal fame of Casabianca. Being told to "stay," this sublime infant
stayed, though every instinct and reason was against it, and he was
blown up unflinching in pursuance of duty. The effect of minding on
the mind is here shown in extreme instance. Under the pressure of the
imposed will and judgment of his father, the child restrained his own
will and judgment, and suffered the consequences. The moral to be
drawn is a very circuitous one. Although obedience was palpably
injurious in this case, it is held that such perfect surrender would
in most cases be highly beneficial.

That other popular instance, beginning

    "Old 'Ironsides' at anchor lay
       In the harbor of Mahon."

is more practical. The judicious father orders the perilously poised
son to

    "Jump! Jump, boy, far into the deep!"

and he jumps, and is hauled out by the sailors.

As usual, we see that the reason why obedience is so necessary is
because of imminent danger, which only obedience can escape. With this
for a practical background, and with the added proviso that, unless
obedience is demanded and secured when there is no danger, it will not
be forthcoming when there is, the child is "trained to obey" from the
first. No matter how capricious and unnecessary the command, he must
"mind," or be punished for not "minding." We may fall short of success
in our efforts; but this is our ideal,--that a child shall do what he
is told on the instant, and thus fulfil his whole scale of virtue as
well as meet all the advantages of safety.

Our intense reverence for the virtue of obedience is easily traceable.
In the first place there is the deep-seated animal instinct, far
outdating human history. For uncounted ages our brute mother ancestors
had reared their brute young in automatic obedience,--an obedience
bred in the bone by those who obeyed and lived, any deficiency in
which was steadily expurgated by the cutting off of the hapless
youngster who disobeyed. This had, of course, a reflex action on the
mother. When one's nerve-impulse finds expression through another
body, that expression gives the same sense of relief and pleasure as a
personal expression. When one wills another to do something which the
other promptly does, it gives one an even larger satisfaction than
doing what one wills one's self. That is the pleasure we have in a
good dog,--our will flows through his organism uninterrupted. It is a
temporary extension of self in activity that does not weary.

This is one initial reason for the parental pleasure in obedience and
displeasure in disobedience. When the parent emits an impulse calling
for expression through the child, and the child refuses to express it,
there is a distinct sense of distress in the parent, quite apart from
any ulterior advantage to either party in the desired act. Almost any
mother can recall this balked feeling, like the annoyance of an
arrested sneeze.

To this instinct our gradually enlarging humanness has added the
breadth of wider perceptions and the weight of growing ideas of
authority, with the tremendous depth of tradition and habit. Early
races lived in constant danger, military service was universal,
despotism the common government, and slavery the general condition.
The ruling despot exacted obedience from all; and it was by each grade
exacted remorselessly from its inferiors. No overseer so cruel as the
slave. Where men were slaves to despotic sovereigns, their women were
slaves to them; and the women tyrannised in turn over their slaves, if
they had any. But under every one else were always the children,
defenceless absolutely, inferior physically and mentally. Naturally,
they were expected to obey. As we built out of our clouded brains dim
and sinister gods, we predicated of them the habits so prominent in
our earthly rulers: the one thing the gods would have was obedience,
which, therefore, grew to have first place in our primitive religion.
The early Hebrew traditions of God, with which we are all so familiar,
picture him as in a continuous state of annoyance because his
"children" would not "mind." In the centuries of dominance of the
Roman Catholic Church, obedience became additionally exalted. The
power and success of that magnificent organisation depended so
absolutely on this characteristic that it was given high place in the
vows of religious societies,--highest of all by the Jesuits, who
carried it to its logical extreme, the subordinate being required to
become as will-less as a corpse, actuated solely by the commands of
his superior. Even militarism offers no better instance of the value
and power of obedience than does "the Church."

It now becomes clear why we so naturally venerate this quality: first,
the deep brute instinct; second, the years of historic necessity and
habit; third, the tremendous sanction of religion. It is only a few
centuries since the Protestant Reformation broke the power of church
dominance and successfully established the rebellion of free thought.
It is less than that since the American Revolution and the French
Revolution again triumphantly disobeyed, and established the liberty
of the individual in matters temporal. Since then the delighted brain
has spread and strengthened, thinking for itself and doing what it
thought; and we have seen some foretaste of what a full democracy will
ultimately bring to us. But this growth of individual freedom has but
just begun to penetrate that stronghold of all habit and tradition,
the Home. Men might be free, but women must still obey. Women are
beginning to be free, but still the child remains,--the under-dog
always; and he, at least, must obey. On this we are still practically
at one,--Catholic and Protestant, soldier and farmer, subject and

Let us untangle the real necessity from this vast mass of hoary
tradition, and see if obedience is really the best thing to teach a
child,--if "by obedience" is the best way to teach a child. And let
careful provision here be made for a senseless inference constantly
made when this question is raised. Dare to criticise a system of
training based on obedience, and you are instantly assumed to be
advocating no system at all, no training, merely letting the child run
wild and "have his own way." This is a most unfair assumption. Those
who know no other way of modifying a child's behaviour than through
"making him mind" suppose that, if he were not made to mind, he must
be utterly neglected. Child-training to their minds is to be
accomplished only through child-ordering; and many think the training
quite accomplished if only the subject is a model of obedience.
Others, a little more open-minded, and who have perhaps read something
on the subject, assume that, if you do not demand obedience of the
child, it means that you must "explain" everything to him, "reason"
with him from deed to deed; and this they wearily and rightly declare
to be impossible. But neither of these assumptions is correct. One may
question the efficacy of the Salisbury method without being thereby
pledged to vegetarianism. One may criticise our school system, yet not
mean that children should have no education.

The rearing of children is the most important work, and it is here
contended that, in this great educational process, obedience, as a
main factor, has a bad effect on the growing mind. A child is a human
creature. He should be reared with a view to his development and
behaviour as an adult, not solely with a view to his behaviour as a
child. He is temporarily a child, far more permanently a man; and it
is the man we are training. The work of "parenthood" is not only to
guard and nourish the young, but to develope the qualities needed in
the mature.

Obedience is defended, first, as being necessary to the protection of
the child, and, second, as developing desirable qualities in the
adult. But the child can be far better protected by removing all
danger, which our present civilisation is quite competent to do; and
"the habit of obedience" developes very undesirable qualities. On what
characteristics does our human pre-eminence rest? On our breadth and
accuracy of judgment and force of will. Because we can see widely and
judge wisely, because we have power to do what we see to be right,
therefore we are the dominant species in the animal kingdom; therefore
we are consciously the children of God.

These qualities are lodged in individuals, and must be exercised by
individuals for the best human progress. If our method of advance were
that one person alone should be wise and strong, and all other persons
prosperous through a strict subservience to his commands, then,
indeed, we could do no better for our children than to train them to
obey. Judgment would be of no use to them if they had to take
another's: will-power would be valueless if they were never to
exercise it.

But this is by no means the condition of human life. More and more is
it being recognised that progress lies in a well-developed average
intelligence rather than in a wise despot and his stupid serfs. For
every individual to have a good judgment and a strong will is far
better for the community than for a few to have these qualities and
the rest to follow them.

The "habit of obedience," forced in upon the impressible nature of a
child, does not develope judgment and will, but does develope that
fatal facility in following other people's judgment and other people's
wills which tends to make us a helpless mob, mere sheep, instead of
wise, free, strong individuals. The habit of submission to authority,
the long, deeply impressed conviction that to "be good" is to "give
up," that there is virtue in the act of surrender,--this is one of the
sources from which we continually replenish human weakness, and fill
the world with an inert mass of mind-less, will-less folk, pushed and
pulled about by those whom they obey.

Moreover, there is the opposite effect,--the injurious reaction from
obedience,--almost as common and hurtful as its full achievement;
namely, that fierce rebellious desire to do exactly the opposite of
what one is told, which is no nearer to calm judgment than the other.

In obeying another will or in resisting another will, nothing is
gained in wisdom. A human creature is a self-governing intelligence,
and the rich years of childhood should be passed in the guarded and
gradual exercise of those powers.

Now this will, no doubt, call up to the minds of many a picture of a
selfish, domineering youngster, stormily ploughing through a number of
experimental adventures, with a group of sacrificial parents and
teachers prostrate before him. Again an unwarranted assumption.
Consideration of others is one of the first laws of life, one of the
first things a child should be taught; but consideration of others is
not identical with obedience. Again, it will be imagined that the
child is to be left to laboriously work out for himself the
accumulated experiments of humanity, and deprived of the profits of
all previous experience. By no means. On the contrary, it is the
business of those who have the care of the very young to see to it
that they do benefit by that previous experience far more fully than
is now possible.

Our system of obedience cuts the child off from precisely this
advantage, and leaves him longing to do the forbidden things,
generally doing them, too, when he gets away from his tutelage. The
behaviour of the released child, in its riotous reaction against
authority as such, as shown glaringly in the action of the average
college student, tells how much judgment and self-control have been
developing behind the obedience.

The brain grows by exercise. The best time to develope it is in youth.
To obey does not develope the brain, but checks its growth. It gives
to the will a peculiar suicidal power of aborting its own impulse, not
controlling it, but giving it up. This leaves a habit of giving up
which weakens our power of continued effort.

All this is not saying that obedience is never useful in childhood.
There are occasions when it is; and on such occasions, with a child
otherwise intelligently trained, it will be forthcoming. We make a
wide mistake in assuming that, unless a child is made to obey at every
step, it will never obey. A grown person will obey under sharp instant

If there is a sudden danger, and you shriek at your friend, "Get
up--quick!" or hiss a terrified, "Sh! Sh! Be still!" your friend
promptly obeys. Of course, if you had been endeavouring to "boss" that
friend with a thousand pointless caprices, he might distrust you in
the hour of peril; but if he knew you to be a reasonable person, he
would respond promptly to a sudden command.

Much more will a child so respond where he has full reason to respect
the judgment of the commander. Children have the automatic habit of
obedience by the same animal inheritance that gives the mother the
habit of command; but we so abuse that faculty that it becomes lost in
righteous rebellion or crushed submission. The animal mother never
misuses her precious authority. She does not cry, "Wolf! Wolf!" We
talk glibly about "the best good of the child," but there are few
children who are not clearly aware that they are "minding" for the
convenience of "the grown-ups" the greater part of the time.
Therefore, they suspect self-interest in even the necessary commands,
and might very readily refuse to obey in the hour of danger.

It is a commonplace observation that the best children--_i.e._, the
most submissive and obedient--do not make the best men. If they are
utterly subdued, "too good to live," they swell the Sunday-school list
of infant saints, die young, and go to heaven: whereas the rebellious
and unruly boy often makes the best citizen.

The too obedient child has learned only to do what he is told. If not
told, he has no initiative; and, if told wrong, he does wrong. Life to
him is not a series of problems to be solved, but a mere book of
orders; and, instead of understanding the true imperious "force" of
natural law, which a wise man follows because he sees the wisdom of
the course, he takes every "must" in life to be like a personal
command,--a thing probably unreasonable, and to be evaded, if

The escaped child, long suppressed under obedience, is in no mood for
a cheerful acceptance of real laws, but imagines that there is more
"fun" in "having his own way." The foolish parent claims to be obeyed
as a god; and the grown-up child seeks to evade God, to treat the laws
of Nature as if she, too, were a foolish parent.

Suppose you are teaching a child arithmetic. You tell him to put down
such and such figures in such a position. He inquires, "Why?" You
explain the reason. If you do not explain the reason, he does not
understand the problem. You might continue to give orders as to what
figures to set down and in what places; and the child, obeying, could
be trotted through the arithmetic in a month's time. But the
arithmetic would not have gone through him. He would be no better
versed in the science of numbers than a type-setter is in the learned
books he "sets up." We recognise this in the teaching of arithmetic,
and go to great lengths in inventing test problems and arranging easy
stages by which the child may gradually master his task. But we do not
recognise it in teaching the child life. The small acts of infancy are
the child's first problems in living. He naturally wishes to
understand them. He says, "Why?" To which we reply inanely, "Because I
tell you to!" That is no reason. It is a force, no doubt, a pressure,
to which the child may be compelled to yield. But he is no wiser than
he was before. He has learned nothing except the lesson we imagine so
valuable,--to obey. At the very best, he may remember always, in like
case, that "mamma would wish me to do so," and do it. But, when cases
differ, he has no guide. With the best intentions in life, he can but
cast about in his mind to try to imagine what some one else might tell
him to do if present: the circumstances themselves mean nothing to
him. Docility, subservience, a quick surrender of purpose, a wavering,
untrained, easily shaken judgment,--these are the qualities developed
by much obedience.

Are they the qualities we wish to develope in American citizens?



"If not trained to obedience, what shall the child be trained to?"
naturally demands the outraged parent. To inculcate that first of
virtues has taken so much time and effort that we have overlooked the
subsequent qualities which require our help, and feel rather at sea
when this sheet anchor is taken from us.

But it is not so hard a problem, when honestly faced. A child has a
body and a mind to be nourished, sheltered, protected, allowed to
grow, and judiciously trained.

We are here considering the brain training; but that is safely
comparable to--is, indeed, part of--the body training, for the brain
as much as the lungs or liver is an organ of the body. In training the
little body, our main line of duty is to furnish proper food, to
insure proper rest, and to allow and encourage proper exercise.
Exactly this is wanted to promote right brain growth. We do not wish
to overstimulate the brain, to develope it at the expense of other
organs; but we do wish to insure its full natural growth and to
promote its natural activities by a wise selection of the highest
qualities for preferred use. And we need more knowledge of the various
brain functions than is commonly possessed by those in charge of young

The office of the brain we are here considering is to receive, retain,
and collate impressions, and, in retaining them, to hold their
original force as far as possible, so that the ultimate act, coming
from a previous impression, may have the force of the original
impulse. The human creature does not originate nervous energy; but he
does secrete it, so to speak, from the impact of natural forces. He
has a storage battery of power we call the will. By this high faculty
we see a well-developed human being working steadily for a desired
object, without any present stimulus directed to that end, even in
opposition to prevent stimulus tending to oppose that end. This width
of perception, length of retention, storage of force, and power of
steady, self-determined action distinguish the advanced human brain.

Early forms of life had no brains to speak of. They received
impressions and transmitted them in expressions without check or
discrimination. With the development of more complex organisms and
their more complex activities came the accompanying complexity of
brain, which could co-ordinate those activities to the best advantage.
Action is the main line of growth. Conditions press upon all life, but
life is modified through its own action under given conditions. And
the relative wisdom and success of different acts depend on the brain
power of the organism.

The superiority of races lies in better adaptation to condition. In
human life, in the long competition among nations, classes, and
individuals, superiority still lies in the same development. Power to
receive and retain more wide, deep, and subtle impression; power to
more accurately and judiciously collate these impressions; power to
act steadily on these stored and selected impulses rather than on
immediate impulses,--this it is which marks our line of advance.

The education of the child should be such as to develope these
distinguishing human faculties. The universe, speaking loudly, lies
around every creature. Little by little we learn to hear, to
understand, to act accordingly. And this we should teach the child, to
recognise more accurately the laws about him and to act upon them.

A very little child does this in his narrow range exactly as does the
adult in wider fields. He receives impressions, such as are allowed to
reach him. He stores and collates those impressions with increasing
vigour and accuracy from day to day; and he acts on the sum of those
impressions with growing power. Naturally, his range of impression is
limited, his power of retention is limited, his ability to relate the
impression retained is limited; and his action is at first far more
open to immediate outside stimulus, and less responsive to the inner
will-force, than that of an adult. That is the condition of childhood.
It is for us to gently, delicately, steadily surround the child with
such conditions as shall promote this orderly sequence of brain
function rather than to forcibly develope and retain his more
primitive methods.

Before going further, let us look at the average mental workings of
the human creature, and see if it seems to us in smooth running order.
We have made enormous progress in brain development, and we manifest
wide differences in brain power. But clearly discernible through all
the progress and all the difference is this large fault in our mental
machinery,--a peculiar discrepancy between the sum of our knowledge
and the sum of our behaviour. Man being conscious and intelligent, it
would seem that to teach him the desirability of a given course of
action would be sufficient. That it is not sufficient, every mother,
every teacher, every preacher, every discoverer, inventor, reformer,
knows full well.

Instruction may be poured in by the ton: it comes out in action by the
ounce. You may teach and preach and pray for two thousand years, and
very imperfectly Christianise a small portion of the human race. You
may exhort and command and reiterate; and yet the sinner, whether
infant or adult, remains obdurate. No wonder we imagined an active
Enemy striving to oppose us, so difficult was good behaviour in spite
of all our efforts. It has never occurred to us that we were pursuing
an entirely erroneous method. We uttered like parrots the pregnant
proverb, "Example is better than precept," learning nothing by it.

What does that simple saying mean? That one learns better by
observation than by instruction, especially when instruction is
coupled with command. This being a clearly established fact, why have
we not profited by it? Because our brains, all of our brains from the
beginning of time, have been blurred and blinded and weakened by the
same mistake in infant education.

What is this mistake? What is it we have done so patiently and
faithfully all these years to every one of the human race which has
injured the natural working of the brain? This: we have systematically
checked in our children acts which were the natural sequence of their
observation and inference; and enforced acts which, to the child's
mind, had no reason. Thus we have carefully trained a world of people
to the habit of acting without understanding, and also of
understanding without acting. Because we were unable even to entirely
subvert natural brain processes, because our children must needs do
some things of their own motion and not in obedience to us, therefore
some power of judgment and self-government has grown in humanity. But
because we have been so largely successful in our dealings with the
helpless little brain is there so little power of judgment and
self-government among us.

Observe, too, that our most intelligent progress is made in those
arts, trades, professions, sciences, wherein little children are not
trained; and that our most palpable deficiencies are in the morals,
manners, and general personal relations of life, wherein little
children are trained. The things we are compelled to do in obedience
we make no progress in. They are either obeyed or disobeyed, but are
not understood and improved upon: they stand like the customs of
China. The things we learn by understanding and practising are open to
further knowledge and growth.

A normal human act, as distinguished from the instinctive behaviour
of lower animals or from mere excito-motary reaction, involves always
these three stages,--impression, judgment, expression. These are not
separate, but are orderly steps in the great main fact of
life,--action. It is all a part of that transmission of energy which
appears to be the business of the universe.

The sun's heat pours upon the earth, and passes through whatever
substance it strikes, coming out transformed variously, according to
the nature of the substance. Man receives his complement of energy,
like every other creature,--physical stimulus from food and fire,
psychical stimulus from its less known sources; and these impressions
tend to flow through him into expression as naturally as, though with
more complexity than, in other creatures.

The song of the skylark and Shelley's "Skylark" show this wide
difference in the amount and quality of transmission, yet are both
expressions of the same impressions, plus those wider impressions to
which the poet's organism was open.

The distinctive power of man is that of connected action. Our immense
capacity for receiving and retaining impressions gives us that
world-stock of stored information and its arrested stimulus which we
call knowledge. But wisdom, the higher word, refers to our capacity
for considering what we know,--handling and balancing the information
in stock, and so acting judiciously from the best impression or group
of impressions, instead of indiscriminately from the latest or from
any that happens to be uppermost.

This power, in cases of immediate danger, we call "presence of mind."
Similarly, when otherwise intelligent persons do visibly foolish
things, we call it "absence of mind." The brain, as an organ, is
present in both cases; but in the former it is connected with action,
in the latter the connection is broken. The word "thoughtless," as
applied to so large a share of our walk and conversation, describes
this same absence of the mind from the place where it is wanted.

In training the brain of the child, first importance lies in
cultivating this connection between the mind and the behaviour. As
with eye or hand, we should induce frequent repetition of the desired
motions, that the habit of right action be formed. If the child is
steadily encouraged to act in this natural connection, in orderly
sequence of feeling, thought, and action, he would grow into constant
"presence of mind" in his behaviour. Habits work in all directions;
and a habit of thoughtful behaviour is as easy to form, really easier,
than a habit of obedience,--easier, because it would be the natural
function of the brain to govern behaviour if we did not so laboriously
contradict it. We have preferred submission to intelligence, and have
got neither,--not intelligence because we have so violently
discouraged it, and not submission because the healthy upward forces
of human brain growth will not submit. Those races where the children
are most absolutely subservient, as with the Chinese and Hindu, where
parents are fairly worshipped and blindly obeyed, are not races of
free and progressive thought and healthy activity.

The potential attitude of mind involved in our method is shown in that
perfect expression of "childish faith,"--"It's so because mamma says
so; and, if mamma says so, 'tis so if 'tain't so." That position makes
it very easy for mamma as long as "childish faith" endures; but how
does it help the man she has reared in this idyllic falsehood? The
painful truth is that we have used childish weaknesses to make our
government easy for us, instead of cultivating the powers that shall
make life easy to them. A child's limitless credulity is the open door
of imposition, and is ruthlessly taken advantage of by mother and
father, nurse and older companion generally.

As a feature in brain-training, this, of course, works absolute harm.
It prolongs the infant weakness of the racial brain, keeps us
credulous and open to all imposture, hinders our true growth. What we
should do is to help the child to question and find out,--teach him to
learn, not to believe. He does learn, of course. We cannot shut out
the workings of natural laws from him altogether. Gradually he
discovers that fire is hot and water wet, that stone is hard to fall
on, and that there are "pins in pussy's toes." His brain is always
being healthily acted upon by facts, his power of discrimination he
practises as best he may, and his behaviour follows inevitably.

Given such a child, with such and such an inheritance of constitution
and tendency, submit him to certain impressions, and he behaves
accordingly. He has felt. He has thought. He is about to do. Here
comes in our universal error. We concern ourselves almost wholly with
what the child does, and ignore what he feels and thinks. We check the
behaviour which is the logical result of his feeling and thinking, and
substitute another and different behaviour for his adoption.

Now it is a direct insult to the brain to try to make the body do
something which the brain does not authorise. It is a physical shock:
it causes a sort of mental nausea. There are many subconscious
activities which go on without our recognition; but to call on the
body to consciously go through certain motions, undirected by previous
mental processes, is an affront to any healthy brain. It is sharply
distasteful to us, because it is against the natural working of the
machinery. The vigorous functional activity of the young brain cries
out against it; and the child says, "Why?" "Why" is an articulate
sound to express the groping of the brain for relation, for
consistency. We have so brow-beaten and controverted this natural
tendency, so forced young growing brains to accept the inconsistent,
that consistency has become so rare in human conduct as to be called
"a jewel." Yet the desire for consistency is one of the most inherent
and essential of our mental appetites. It is the logical tendency, the
power to "put two and two together," the one great force that holds
our acts in sequence and makes human society possible.

We demand consistency in others, and scoff at the lack of it, even in
early youth. "What yer talkin' about, anyway?" we cry. "There's no
sense in that!" We expect consistency of ourselves, too. It is funny,
though painful, to see the ordinary warped brain trying to square its
own conduct with its own ideals. Square they must, somehow, however
strained and thin is our patchwork connection. We check the child's
act, the natural sequence of his feeling and thought, so incessantly
as to give plenty of basis for that pathetic tale of the little girl
who said her name was Mary. "And what is your last name?" "Don't,"
said she. "Mary Don't." By doing this, we constantly send back upon
the brain its own impulses, and accustom it to such continual
discouragement of natural initiative that it gradually ceases to
govern the individual behaviour. In highest success, this produces the
heavy child, whining, "What shall I do now?" always hanging about, fit
subject for any other will to work on; and the heavy adult, victim of
ennui, and needing constant outside stimulus to "pass away the time."

The slowness, the inertia, the opaque conservatism, and the openness
to any sort of external pressure, easiest, of course, on the down
side,--which so blocks the path of humanity,--largely come back to
that poor child's surname, Mary Don't. It is thoroughly beaten into us
when young, and for the rest of life we mostly "Don't." But beyond
the paralysing "Don't!" checking the natural movement of the organism,
comes a galvanising "Do!" shocking it into unnatural activity. We tell
the child to perform a certain action toward which his own feeling and
thought have made no stir whatever. "Why?" he demands. And we state as
reason our authority, and add an immediate heaven or hell arrangement
of our own making to facilitate his performance. He does it. Hell is
very near. He does it many, many times. He becomes habituated to a
course of behaviour which comes to its expression not through his own
previous impression and judgment, but through ours; that is, he is
acting from another person's feeling and thinking. We have asserted
our authority just before his act, between it and his thought. We have
made a cleft which widens to a chasm between what he feels and thinks
and what he does. Into that chasm pours to waste an immeasurable
amount of human energy. The struggles of the dethroned mind to get
possession of its own body again, as the young man or woman grows to
personal freedom, ought to strike remorse and shame to the parental
heart. They do not, because the devoted parent knows no more of these
simple psychic processes than the Goths knew of the priceless
manuscripts they destroyed so cheerfully. With the slow, late kindling
of the freed mind, under the stimulus perhaps of noble thoughts from
others, or just the inner force of human upgrowth, the youth tries to
take the rudder, and steer straight. But the rudder chains are
stretched to useless slackness or rusted and broken. He feels nobly.
He thinks nobly. He starts to do nobly, but his inner pressure meets
no quick response in outer act. The connection is broken. The habit of
"don't" is strong upon him. Following each upward impulse which says,
"Do!" is that automatic check, artificial, but heavily driven in,
which has so thoroughly and effectually taught the brain to stop at
thinking, not to do what it thought. What he felt and thought was not
allowed to govern his action these fifteen years past. Why should it
now? It takes years of conscientious work to re-establish this
original line of smooth connection, and the mended place is never so
strong as it would have been if it had not been broken.

Also, the work of those who seek to educate our later youth, and of
those who are forever pouring out their lives to lead the world a
little higher, is rendered million-fold more difficult by this same
gulf, this terrible line of cleavage which strikes so deep to the
roots of life, and leaves our beautiful feelings and wise thoughts to
mount sky-high in magnificent culture, while our action, which is
life's real test, grovels slowly along, scarce moved by all our fine

A more general discourager of our racial advancement than this method
of brain-training we could hardly have invented. It is universal in
its application, and grinds down steadily on all our people during the
most impressionable years of life. That we grow as we do in spite of
it is splendid proof of the beneficent forces of our unconscious life,
always stronger than our conscious efforts; and that our American
children grow more freely, and so have more power of initiative and
self-government, is the best work of our democracy.

"But what else can we do?" will ask the appalled parents. Without
authority they feel no grip upon the child, and see themselves exposed
to infant tyranny, and the infant growing up neglected and untrained.
This shows how little progress we have made in child-culture, how
little grasp we have of the real processes of education. Any parent,
no matter how ignorant, is wiser than a baby and larger. Therefore,
any parent can direct a child's action and enforce it, to some extent.
But to understand how to modify the child's action by such processes
as shall keep it still his own, to alter his act by first altering his
feeling and thought and so keeping the healthy sequence unbroken, that
is a far more subtle and difficult task. A typical instance of this
difference in method may be illustrated in that common and always
difficult task, teaching a child table manners. Here is a case in
which there is no instinct in the child to be appealed to. The noise,
clumsiness, and carelessness to which we object are not at all
unpleasant to him. In what way can we reach the child's range of
reasoning, and convince him of the desirability of this artificial
code of ours? We can, of course, state that it displeases us, and
appeal to his good will not to give us pain. This is rational enough;
but consideration for others, based on a mere statement of
distaste,--a distaste he cannot sympathise with,--is a rather weak
force with most children. It is a pity to over-strain this delicate
feeling. It should be softly tested from time to time, and used enough
to encourage a healthy growth; but to continually appeal to a sympathy
none too strong is often to strain and weaken it. In table manners it
seldom works well. The alleged distress of the parent requires too
much imagination, the desired self-control has too slight a basis.

But there is a far safer and better way. Carefully work out in your
own mind the real reason why you wish the child to conform to this
particular code of table ethics. It is not wholly on the ground of
displeasing you by the immediate acts. The main reason why they
displease you, and why you are so concerned about the matter, is that
this is the accepted standard among the people with whom you associate
and with whom you expect the child to associate; and, if he does not
conform to this code, he will be excluded from desirable society.

Reasons why table manners exist at all, or are what they are, require
further study; but the point at issue is not why it is customary to
eat with the fork instead of the knife, but why your child should do
so. When he gets to the point of analysing these details, and asks why
he should fold his napkin in one case and leave it crumpled in
another, you will of course be prepared with the real reasons.
Meanwhile the real reason why the child should learn not to do these
undesirable things is that such manners, if pursued, will deprive him
of desirable society.

We usually content ourselves with an oral statement to this effect:
"Nobody will want to eat with you if you do so!" Right here let a word
be said to those who are afraid of over-stimulating a child's brain by
a more rational method of training. Training by observation and
deduction is far easier to a young brain than training by oral
statements. To take into the mind by ear a statement of fact, and to
hold that statement in memory and preserve its force to check a
natural action, is a difficult feat for an adult. But to see that such
a thing has such a consequence, and "take warning" by that, is the
"early method," the natural method, the quickest, easiest, surest way.
So, instead of saying to the child, "If you behave so, people will not
want to eat with you," we should let him see that this is the case,
and feel the lack.

His most desirable society is usually that of his parents; and his
first entrance upon that plane should be fairly conditioned upon his
learning to play the game as they do. No compulsion, no penalties, no
thought of "naughtiness," merely that, if he wants to eat with them,
why, that is the way they eat, and he must do so, too. If he will not,
exit the desirable society. By very gradual steps,--not by long,
tiresome grown-up meals, but by a graduated series of exercises that
should recognise the physical difficulty of co-ordinating the young
faculties on this elaborate "manual of arms,"--a child could learn the
whole performance in a reasonable time, and lose neither nervous force
nor clearness of perception in the process.

As we do these things now, pulling this string and that, appealing to
feelings half developed, urging reasons which find no recognition,
using compulsion which to the child's mind is arbitrary and unjust, we
may superinduce a tolerable system of table manners, but we have more
or less injured the instrument in so doing. A typewriter could,
perhaps, be worked with a hammer; but it would not improve the
machine. We have had far more consideration for "the machinery of the
household" than for the machinery of a child's mind, and yet the real
foundation claim of the home is that it is necessary to rear children
in. If the ordinary conditions of household life are unsuitable to
convey the instruction we desire, it is for us to so arrange those
conditions as to make them suitable.

There are cases, many cases, in a child-time, where we cannot command
the conditions necessary for this method of instruction, where the
child must act from our suggestion with no previous or accompanying
reasoning. This makes it all the more necessary that such reasoning
should be open to him when we can command it. Moreover, the ordinary
events in a young life are not surprises to the parent. We know in
advance the things that are so unexpected to the child. Why should we
not be at some pains to prepare him for these experiences? The given
acts of each day are not the crucial points we make of them. What is
important is that the child shall gradually establish a rational and
connected scheme of life and method of action, his young faculties
improving as he uses them, life growing easier and plainer to him from
year to year. It is for the parent, the educator, the brain-trainer,
to study out details of method and delicate applications. The main
purpose is that the child's conduct shall be his own,--his own chosen
course of action, adopted by him through the use of his own faculties,
not forced upon him by immediate external pressure.

It is our business to make plain to him the desirability of the
behaviour we wish produced, carefully establishing from day to day his
perceptions of the use and beauty of life, and his proven confidence
in us as interpreters. The young brain should be regularly practised
in the first easy steps of sequential reasoning, arguing from the
interesting causes we so carefully provide to the pleasant or not too
painful effects we so honestly let it feel, always putting two and two
together as it advances in the art and practice of human conduct. Then
it will grow into a strong, clear, active, mature brain, capable of
relating the facts of life with a wider and juster vision than has
been ours, and acting unflinchingly from its own best judgment, as we
have striven to do in vain these many years.



The question of discipline is a serious one to every young mother; and
most mothers are young to begin with. She feels the weight of maternal
responsibility and the necessity for bringing up her child properly,
but has studied nothing whatever on the subject.

What methods of discipline are in general use in the rearing of
children? The oldest and commonest of all is that of meeting an error
in the child's behaviour with physical pain. We simply hurt the child
when he does wrong, in order that he may so learn not to do wrong. A
method so common and so old as this ought to be clearly justified or
as clearly condemned by its results.

Have we succeeded yet in simplifying and making easy the training of
children,--easy for the trainer and for the trained; and have we
developed a race of beings with plain, strong, clear perceptions of
right and wrong behaviour and an easy and accurate fulfilment of those

It must be admitted that we have not; but two claims will be made in
excuse: first, that, however unsuccessful, this method of discipline
is better than any other; and, second, that the bad behaviour of
humanity is due to our inherent depravity, and cannot be ameliorated
much even by physical punishment. Some may go further, and say that
whatever advance we have made is due to this particular system.
Unfortunately, we have almost no exact data from which to compute the
value of different methods of child-training.

In horse-training something definite is known. On one of the great
stock ranches of the West, for instance, where some phenomenal racers
have been bred, the trainers of colts not only forbid any rough
handling of the sensitive young animals, but even rough speaking to
them. It has been proven that the intelligent and affectionate horse
is trained more easily and effectually by gentleness than by severity.
But with horses the methods used are open to inspection, and also the

With children each family practises alone on its own young ones, and
no record is kept beyond the casual observation and hearsay reports of
the neighbours. Yet, even so, there is a glimmer of light. The
proverbial uncertainty as to "ministers' sons" indicates a tendency to
reaction when a child has been too severely restrained; and the almost
sure downfall of the "mamma's darling," the too-much-mothered and
over-indulged boy, shows the tendency to foolish excesses when a child
has not been restrained enough.

Again, our general uncertainty as to methods proves that even the
currently accepted "rod" system is not infallible. If it were, we
should have peace of mind and uncounted generations of good citizens.
As it is, we have the mixed and spotty world we all know so well,--a
heavy percentage of acknowledged criminals, a much larger grade of
those who just do not break the law, but whose defections from
honesty, courage, truth, and honour weigh heavily upon us all.
Following that comes the vast mass of "good people," and their
behaviour is sometimes more trying than that of the bad ones.

Humanity does gain, but not as fast as so intelligent a race should.
In penology something has been learned. Here, dealing with the extreme
criminal, we are slowly establishing the facts that arbitrary and
severe punishment does not proportionately decrease crime; that crime
has causes, which may be removed; and that the individual needs to be
treated beforehand, preventively, rather than afterward,
retributively. This would seem to throw some light on infant penology.
If retributive punishment does not proportionately decrease crime in
adult criminals, perhaps it does not decrease "naughtiness" among
little children. If there is an arrangement of conditions and a
treatment which may prevent the crime, perhaps there may be an
arrangement of conditions and a treatment which will prevent the

One point may be clearly established, to begin with; and that is the
need of an open court for our helpless little offenders. Whatever else
we think of human nature, we know it to be fallible, and that a
private individual cannot be expected to administer justice in secret
and alone.

Suppose Mr. Jones steals a cow from Mr. Smith, is Mr. Smith capable of
being himself both judge and executioner? Does not the very conception
of justice involve a third party, some one to hold the scales, to
balance, to decide? And, if circumstances compel much power to be
invested in an individual for a season, should not that individual be
previously instructed from some code of law which many have
sanctioned, and afterward be held responsible to public judgment?

A ship captain, for instance, has absolute authority for a while; but
his authority rests on law, and, if he breaks that law, he is liable
to punishment. Moreover, if he goes too far while in command, he is
liable to dangerous mutiny as well. But in domestic discipline the
child is absolutely in the power of the parent. There is no appeal.
There is no defence. There are no witnesses. The child offends against
the parent, and the offended one is both judge and executioner. A
number of children may commit exactly the same offence, as, for
instance, if six boys all go swimming when forbidden; yet they are
liable to six several punishments at the hands of their six several
mothers or fathers,--punishments bearing relation to the views,
health, and temper of the parent at the time rather than to the nature
of the misdeed. The only glimmer of protection which the child gets
from an enlightened community is in the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children,--a small, feeble body, acting in few localities,
and intervening only to save the child from the parent when gross
physical cruelty is practised. That in many cases parents are even
violently cruel to little children gives reason to believe that many
others are a little cruel; and that still more, while not cruel, are

There is no society for the prevention of over-indulgence to children,
for instance; yet this is a frequent injury to our young people.
Whatever the views of the separate parents, and whatever their
standard of justice, a great improvement would be made if there were
some publicity and community of action in their methods. A hundred men
together can decide upon and carry out a higher course of action than
they could be trusted to follow severally. Our beautiful growth in
justice and equity (for grown people) has always required this
openness and union. Many a mother, tired and cross with her housework,
does things to her child which she would be ashamed to retail to a
cool and unprejudiced circle of friends. And many another mother
consistently and conscientiously inflicts punishments which she would
learn to be ashamed of if she heard them discussed by her respected
associates with a consensus of disapproval.

In the ordinary contact of neighbourly life, some little development
of this sort goes on: a few sporadic Mothers' Clubs lead to more
concerted discussions; and to-day the Mothers' Congress, lately become
the Parents' Congress, and other bodies, together with a growing field
of literature on the subject, is leading to far wider and deeper
thought, and some experiment. But the field is as wide as the world,
and very little is yet accomplished. We have swung wide from the stern
severity of earlier times, so that American children are notoriously
"indulged"; but merely to leave off a wrong method, without
introducing a better one, is not all that can be hoped.

The discipline of life lies before us all. The more carefully and
wisely we teach and train our children, the less they and others need
suffer afterward. But there does seem to be some grave deficiency in
our method of domestic discipline. Here is little Albert being
educated. He is not going to school yet. He is "not old enough." That
is, he is not old enough to be taught anything systematically by
persons whose business it is to teach; but he is old enough to be
learning the a, b, c of life at the hands of those with whom he
chances to be. A child learns every day. That cannot be helped. What
he learns, and how, we can largely dictate; but we cannot keep his
brain shut until he gets to school, and then open it for three or four
hours a day only. What does little Albert learn? Put yourself in his
place for a little while. Here are new sensations coming to him
momently, through the eager nerves of sense. Here is a new brain,
fresh to receive impressions, store them, and act upon them. The
pleasure of perceiving is keen, the pleasure of his limited but
growing reflection is keen, and the pleasure of action is best of all.
Life is full of interest. All the innumerable facts which form our
smooth background of behaviour, in the knowledge of which we avoid the
water and the fire and go down hill circumspectly, are to him fresh
discoveries and revelations. He has to prove them and put them
together, and see how they work. The feelings with which we have
learned to associate certain facts and actions do not exist to him. He
knows nothing of "should" or "should not," except as he learns it by
personal trial or through the reaction of other persons upon him.

This open state of mind we early destroy by labelling certain acts as
good and others as bad; and, since we do not see our way to exhibiting
the goodness or badness to the baby brain in natural colours, we paint
them in sharp black and white, with no shading. He has to gather his
sense of relatively good and bad from the degree of our praise and
punishment; and strange, indeed, are his impressions.

The loving and cuddling which delight his baby soul are associated
with so many different acts, and in such varying proportion, that he
does not clearly gather whether it is more virtuous to kiss mamma or
to pull grandpa's whiskers; and it takes him some time to learn which
dress he must not hug. But, if the good things confuse him, the bad
ones are far more complex and uncertain.

Little Albert is, we will say, investigating his mother's work-basket.
A tall object stands before him. He just bumped his head against it,
and it wiggled. He felt it wiggle. He reaches forth an inquiring hand,
and finds graspable wicker legs within reach. To grasp and to pull are
natural to the human hand and arm. To shake was early taught him.
Things were put in his hands, the shaking of which produced an
agreeable noise and admiration from the beloved ones. So he shakes
this new object; and, to his delight, something rattles. He puts forth
his strength, and, lo! the tall, shakable object falls prostrate
before him, and scatters into a sprawling shower of little things
that clink and roll. Excellent! Lovely! Have not persons built up tall
creations of vari-colored blocks, and taught baby to knock them down
and rejoice in their scattering!

But mamma, to whom this group of surfaces, textures, colours,
movements, and sounds, means much besides infantile instruction,
asserts that he is "naughty," and treats him with severity. "If you do
that again," says irate mamma, "I'll whip you!" If Albert has not
already been whipped, the new word means nothing. How is an unwhipped
child to know what whipping means? She might save her breath. The
lesson is not taught by words. But if she promptly whips him, and does
so inevitably when he repeats the offence, he does learn a definite
lesson; namely, that the act of pulling over a work-basket results in
a species of physical pain, _via_ mamma.

Then the unprejudiced young brain makes its deduction,--"The pulling
over of things causes physical pain, named whipping." This much being
established, he acts on the information. Presently he learns, with
some little confusion, that going out of the gate without leave is
also productive of whipping,--dissimilar acts, but the same
result,--and lays this up with the other,--"Pulling over things and
going out of gates are two causes with the same result,--whipping."

Then comes another case. He begins to investigate that endless wonder
and attraction, the fire. If ever cause and effect were neatly and
forcibly related, it is in this useful and dangerous element. So
simple and sure is its instructive and deterrent action that we have
built a proverb on it,--"The burnt child dreads the fire."

But the mother of Albert has a better plan than mother Nature. She
interposes with her usual arbitrary consequence,--"If you play with
fire, I will whip you," and Albert learns anew that this third cause
still produces the same unpleasant result; and he makes his
record,--"Pulling things over, going out of gates, playing with fire,
result in whipping." And he acts accordingly. Then one day he makes a
new and startling discovery. Led by some special temptation, he slips
out of the gate and safely back again, unseen of any. No whipping
follows. Then his astonished but accurate brain hastily revises the
previous information, and adds a glaring new clause,--"It is not just
going out of gates that makes a whipping come: it is being seen!" This
is covertly tried on the other deeds with the same result. "Aha! Aha!"
clicks the little recording machine inside. "Now I know! Whipping does
not come from those things: it comes from mamma; and, if she doesn't
see me, it doesn't come! Whipping is the result of being seen!" Of
course, a little child does not actually say this to himself in so
many words; but he does get this impression very clearly, as may be
seen from his ensuing behaviour.

The principle in question, in considering this usual method of
discipline, is whether it is better to associate a child's idea of
consequences with the act itself or with an individual, and
conditioned upon the chance of discovery. Our general habit is to make
the result of the child's deed contingent upon the parental knowledge
and displeasure rather than upon the deed itself. As in this
hackneyed instance of the fire, instead of teaching the child by mild
and cautious experiment that fire burns, we teach him that fire whips.
The baby who is taught not to play with fire by the application of a
rearward slipper does not understand the nature of the glittering
attraction any better than before; and, as soon as he learns that
whippings are contingent upon personal observation, he fondly imagines
that, if he can play with fire without being seen, no pain will

Thus the danger we seek to avert is not averted. He is still liable to
be burned through ignorance. We have denied the true lesson as to the
nature of fire, and taught a false one of arbitrary but uncertain
punishment. Even if the child is preternaturally obedient and never
does the things we tell him not to do, he does not learn the lesson.
He is no wiser than before. We have saved him from danger and also
from knowledge. If he is disobedient, he runs the same risk as if we
had told him nothing, with the added danger of acting alone and
nervously. Whereas, if he were taught the simple lesson that fire
burns, under our careful supervision to see that the burn was not
serious, then he would know the actual nature of fire, and dread it
with sure reason, far more than he dreads the uncertain slipper.

This has been dwelt upon so fully by previous writers that there would
seem small need of further mention; but still our mothers do not read
or do not understand, and still our babies are confronted with
arbitrary punishment instead of natural consequence. The worst result
of this system is in its effect on the moral sense. We have a world
full of people who are partially restrained from evil by the fear of
arbitrary punishment, and who do evil when they imagine they can do so
without discovery. Never having been taught to attach the evil
consequence to the evil act, but instead to find it a remote
contingency hinging on another person's observation, we grow up in the
same attitude of mind, afraid not of stealing, but of the policeman.

If there is no slipper, why not tip over the work-basket: if there is
no policeman, why not steal? Back of slipper and police we hold up to
the infant mind a still more remote contingency of eternal punishment;
but this has to be wholly imagined, and is so distant, to a child's
mind, as to have little weight. It has little weight with grown
persons even, and, necessarily, less with a child.

The mental processes involved in receiving by ear an image of a thing
never seen, of visualising it by imagination and then remembering the
vision, and finally of bringing forward that remembered vision to act
as check to a present and actual temptation, are most difficult. But
where a consequence is instant and clear,--when baby tries to grab the
parrot, and the parrot bites,--that baby, without being promised a
whipping or being whipped, will thereafter religiously avoid all

A baby soon learns to shun certain things for reasons of his own. What
he dislikes and fears he will not touch. It is no effort for the young
mind to observe and remember a prompt natural consequence. We do make
some clumsy attempts in this direction, as when we tie up, in an
ill-tasting rag, the thumb too often sucked. If thumb-sucking is a
really bad habit and a general one, we should long since have invented
a neat and harmless wash, purchasable in small bottles at the drug
store, of which a few applications would sicken the unhappy suckling
of that thumb most effectually. But thumb-sucking we do not consider
as wrong, merely as undesirable. When the child does what we call
wrong, we think he should be "punished." Our ideas of domestic
discipline are still of the crudely savage era; while in social
discipline, in penology, we have become tolerably civilised.

Some will say that the child is like a savage, and is most open to the
treatment current at that time in our history. It is true that the
child passes through the same phases in personal development that the
race passed long ago, and that he is open to the kind of instruction
which would affect a primitive-minded adult. But this means (if we are
seeking to benefit the child), not the behaviour of one savage to
another, but such behaviour as would elevate the savage. One of the
most simple and useful elements in primitive discipline is
retaliation. It is Nature's law of reaction in conscious form.

To retaliate in kind is primitive justice. If we observe the code of
ethics in use among children, it resolves itself into two simple
principles: that of instant and equal retaliation; or, when that
fails, the dread ultimatum which no child can resist,--"I won't play!"
A child who is considered "mean" and disagreeable by his fellows meets
the simple and effectual treatment of snubbing, neglect, ostracism.

These two principles may be applied in domestic discipline gently,
accurately, fairly, and without ill-feeling; and their effect is
admirable. "What is the difference between this and the other method?"
will be asked. "Is not this also descending to the plane of
childishness, of savagery, to which you were just now objecting?" Here
is the difference.

To apply a brutal and arbitrary punishment to the person of the
offender is what savages do, and what we do, to the child. To receive
a just and accurate retaliation is what child and savage understand,
are restrained and instructed by. We should treat the child in methods
applicable by the savage, not with the behaviour of savages. For
instance, you are playing with a little child. The little child is
rude to you. You put him down, and go away. This is a gentle reaction,
which, being repeated, he soon learns to associate with the behaviour
you dislike. "When I do this," observes the infant mind, "the play
stops. I like to play. Therefore, I will not do the thing that stops

This is simple observation, and involves no ill-feeling. He learns to
modify his conduct to a desired end, which is the lesson of life. In
this case you treat him by a method of retaliation quite perceptible
to a savage, and appealing to the sense of justice without arousing
antagonism. But, if you are playing with the little one, he is rude to
you, and you spank him, he is conscious of a personal assault which
does arouse antagonism. It is not only what a savage could
understand, but what a savage would have done. It arouses savage
feelings, and helps keep the child a savage. Also, it helps keep the
race a savage; for the child who grows up under the treatment common
in that era finds it difficult to behave in a manner suitable to

Discipline is part of life; and, if met early and accepted, all life
becomes easier. But the discipline which the real world gives us is
based on inexorable law, not on personal whim. We make the child's
idea of right and wrong rest on some person's feeling, not on the
nature of the act. He is trained to behave on a level of primitive
despotism, and cannot successfully adjust himself to a free democracy.
This is why our American children, who get less of the old-fashioned
discipline, make better citizens than the more submissive races who
were kept severely down in youth, and are unable to keep themselves
down in later life.

There is a painful paucity of ideas on child-training in most
families, as clearly shown in the too common confession, "I'm sure I
don't know what to do with that child!" or, "What would you do with
such a child as that?"

If we may not use the ever-ready slipper, the shrill, abusive voice,
the dark closet, or threat of withheld meal, what remains to us in the
line of discipline? What is to be done to the naughty child? We need
here some knowledge of what naughtiness really is. The child is a
growing group of faculties, the comparative development of which makes
him a good or bad member of society. His behaviour has, first, the
limitations of his age, and, second, of his personality.

A child is naturally more timid than a grown person, and a given child
may be afflicted with more timidity than is natural to his age. Acts
which indicate such a condition show need of training and discipline.
A certain amount of selfishness is natural to childhood: acts
indicating unusual selfishness call for correction.

So with the whole field of childish behaviour: whatever acts show evil
tendencies need checking; but the acts natural to every child only
show that he is a child,--which is not "naughty"! If we considered the
field beforehand, asked ourselves what we expected during this day or
this year in the behaviour of such a child, and were not displeased
when he behaved within those lines, much unnecessary pain and trouble
would be saved to both parties. Then, when things really indicative of
evil were done, we should carefully examine and test the character so
manifested, and begin to apply the suitable discipline.

For example, it is natural to childhood to be inconsiderate of others.
The intense little ego, full of strong new sensations, has small
sympathy for the sensations of his associates. The baby may love the
kitten, and yet hurt it cruelly because he does not know how kittens
feel. This is not naughty, and needs only the positive training which
shall hasten his natural growth in extension of sympathy. To show him
the right methods of handling the pet, and especially of not handling
it; to teach him to enjoy watching the kitten's natural activities and
to respect its preferences,--all that is education, and needs no
"discipline." But, if the child shows a pleasure in hurting the
kitten after he knows it hurts, then you have real evil to deal with.
A character is indicated which may grow to callous indifference to the
feelings of others, and even to their actual injury. These acts are
"wrong"; and wise, strong measures are necessary.

There are two main lines on which to work. One is to take extra
measures to cultivate sympathy, using nature study, and to examine and
care for such pronounced cases of suffering as must arouse even the
most dominant interest. The too-callous child might be taken to a
children's hospital, and helped to minister to the needs of the small
sufferers. His pets, meanwhile, should be large and strong creatures,
which he would depend on more or less, and his enjoying their company
made absolutely contingent on right treatment. Special attention
should also be paid to all such acts as showed consideration of
others,--to encourage and reward them.

Again, if a child shows a too violent or sullen temper, or is
distinctly sly and untrustworthy, these are serious indications, and
need careful and thorough treatment.

But the great majority of acts for which children are punished are not
at all evil. "Carelessness," for instance, is incident to the young
brain,--essential to it. The power always to properly co-relate and
remember is an adult power, and not always strong in the adult. We
need, of course, to encourage a growing carefulness, but not to expect
it nor punish its natural lack.

Clumsiness is also incidental to the young nerve connections. The baby
drops things continually, the child frequently: the adult will hold an
object even while the mind is otherwise engaged, the habit of the
flexo-motor nerves being well established. Enterprising experiment is
not only natural to childhood, but a positive virtue. That is the
quality which leads the world onward, and the lack of it is a Chinese
wall against progress. One enormous field of what we call naughtiness
in our little ones lies in offences against things.

First and foremost, clothes. Wetting, soiling, and tearing
clothes,--what a sea of tears have been shed, what wails and sobs,
what heavy and useless punishments inflicted, because of injured
clothing! Yet almost every accident to clothing comes from the
interaction of two facts: first, the perfectly natural clumsiness and
carelessness of childhood; and, second, our interminable folly in
dressing a child in unchildish garments, and placing him in unchildish
conditions. There is no naughtiness involved except in the parent, who
shows a stupidity abnormal to her age. Children are frequently
reproached for wearing out their shoes. What does the intelligent
parent expect? Is the child to sit in a chair, lie down, or ride the
bicycle continually? If the child is seen to cut his shoes with knives
or grind them on a grindstone, that may be discouraged as malicious
mischief; but the inevitable stubbing and scuffing of the eager,
restless, ungoverned little feet should have been foreseen and allowed
for. We do strive to buy the heaviest possible mass of iron-shod
leather for our boys, and then we scold them for being noisy.

To surround a growing creature with artificial difficulties, to fail
to understand or allow for the natural difficulties of his age, and
then to punish with arbitrary retribution the behaviour which is sure
to appear, this is not the kind of discipline which makes wise,
strong, self-governing citizens.



Our general knowledge of ethics is small and unreliable, and our
practice in ethics even smaller and more unreliable. The good
intentions of mankind are prominent; but our ideas of right behaviour
are so contradictory and uncertain, our execution of such ideas as we
hold so partial and irregular, that human behaviour continues to be
most unsatisfactory. This condition we used to cheerfully attribute to
the infirmity of human nature, taking ignominious consolation from the
thought of our vicious tendencies and hopeless weakness.

The broad light of evolutionary study has removed this contemptible
excuse. We now know human nature to be quite as good as the rest of
nature, wherein everything is good after its kind; and that,
furthermore, our human kind has made great improvement in conduct so
far, and is capable of making a great deal more. We are not weak: we
are strong. We are not wicked: we earnestly desire to be good. But we
are still very ignorant of the science of ethics, and most inept in
its practice.

We learn mathematics, and apply our knowledge with marvellous results.
We learn physics, and use what we know therein to work miracles in the
material world. Ethics is as plain a science as physics, and as easy
of application. Ethics is the physics of social relation. The cause of
our slow growth in ethics is this:--

The prominent importance of right action and constant need of some
general standard to appeal to, strongly impress the human mind in its
very earliest stage of development. Incapable as yet of scientific
methods of study, ignorant, supremely credulous and timid,
conservative and superstitious to a degree, primitive man promptly
made "a religion" of his scant observations and deductions in ethics,
and forbade all further study and experiment. Where other sciences
have their recognised room for progress, a slowly accumulating and
often changing knowledge behind, and a free field of uncertainty in
front, ethics was promptly walled in with the absolute and the
super-natural. The few lines of action then recognised as "moral" or
"immoral" were defined in the most conclusive manner, and no room left
for later study. It is most interesting to note the efforts of
conscientious men in later ages to make an intelligible, consistent
scheme of ethics out of these essentially incorrect early attempts. By
these efforts a religion grew from a simple group of dogmas and rites
to the complex ramifications of many commentators; and the occasional
vigorous and progressive brain that saw more light has always had to
suffer and struggle long to introduce new truth. We have forbidden,
under awful penalties, all open-minded study in these lines; and this
especially hindering mental attitude has kept the most general and
simple of the sciences in a very backward condition, so that we go
through school and college with no real enlightenment on the subject.

Thus a young man, quite proficient in languages, physics, and the
higher mathematics, will be shamefully deficient in even the lowest
ethics (right behaviour in regard to himself), and show no
acquaintance whatever with the higher branches of the subject. We err
very commonly in right treatment of ourselves, more commonly in
treatment of one another; and our confusion of idea and behaviour
increases with the square of the distance, our behaviour to other
nations or other kinds of animals being lowest of all. We have a
common scheme of behaviour, coming from various influences and
conditions, which we cannot ourselves account for by any ethical
rules; and this every-day working ethics of ours shows how social
evolution unconsciously developes needed conduct, even where our
conscious intelligence fails to recognise or recommend such conduct as
ethical. Thus we have developed many stalwart and timely virtues in
spite of rather than because of religious approval, and many serious
vices flourish without religious opposition.

A conspicuous instance of this is in the pious contentment of a
wealthy church corporation, the income of which is derived from
tenement houses which are hotbeds of evil; and in the often observed
conduct of an irreligious man, who practises the commonplace
necessary virtues of daily business life. But this power of social
evolution developes the immediate virtues essential to close personal
intercourse more quickly than the higher range of virtue, needed in
national and international affairs. Thus we often see "a good family
man," friend, and perhaps even an honest business dealer, shamefully
negligent or corrupt in political duty.

It would seem that the same brains which have brought us forward to
such enormous knowledge in other lines might have made more progress
in this. Some special cause must have operated, and be still
operating, to prevent a normal growth in this deeply important field.

Much might be said here of the influence of religious custom; but the
still closer and more invariable cause lies not in the church, but in
the home.

Where in social relation our necessary enlargement and progress have
forced upon us nobler characteristics, in the domestic relation small
change has been made. The privacy and conservatism of the family
group have made it a nursing ground of rudimentary survivals, long
since outgrown in more open fields; and the ethical code of the family
is patently behind that of the society in which it is located. The
primitive instincts, affections, and passions are there; but justice,
liberty, courtesy, and such later social sentiments are very weak.

New truth is seen by new brains. As the organ we think with grows from
age to age, we are able to think farther and deeper; but, if the
growing brain is especially injured in any one department in early
youth, it will not grow as fast in that one line. As a general
rule,--a rule with rare exceptions,--we do thus injure the baby brain
in the line of ethical thought and action. In other sciences we teach
what we know, when we teach at all, and practise fairly; but, in
teaching a child ethics, we do not give even what we have of
knowledge, and our practice with him and the practice we demand from
him are not at all in accordance with our true views.

In glaring instance is the habit of lying to children. A woman who
would not lie to a grown friend will lie freely to her own child. A
man who would not be unjust to his brother or a stranger will be
unjust to his little son. The common courtesy given any adult is not
given to the child. That delicate consideration for another's
feelings, which is part of our common practice among friends, is
lacking in our dealings with children. From the treatment they
receive, children cannot learn any rational and consistent scheme of
ethics. Their healthy little brains make early inference from the
conduct of their elders, and incite behaviour on the same plan; but
they speedily find that these are poor rules, for they do not work
both ways. The conduct we seek to enforce from them does not accord
with our conduct, nor form any consistent whole by itself. It is not
based on any simple group of principles which a child can understand,
but rests very largely on the personal equation and the minor
variations of circumstance.

Take lying again as an instance. 1. We lie to the child. He discovers
it. No evil is apparently resultant. 2. He accuses us of it, and we
punish him for impertinence. 3. He lies to us, and meets severe
penalties. 4. We accuse him of it, rightly or wrongly, and are not
punished for impertinence. 5. He observes us lie to the visitor in the
way of politeness with no evil result. 6. He lies to the visitor less
skilfully, and is again made to suffer. 7. He lies to his more
ignorant juniors, and nothing happens. 8. Meanwhile, if he receives
any definite ethical instruction on the subject, he is probably told
that God hates a liar, that to lie is a sin!

The elastic human brain can and does accommodate itself to this
confusion, and grows up to complacently repeat the whole performance
without any consciousness of inconsistency; but progress in ethics is
hardly to be looked for under such conditions. It is pathetic to see
this waste of power in each generation. We are born with the gentler
and kinder impulses bred by long social interrelation. We have ever
broader and subtler brains; but our good impulses are checked,
twisted, tangled, weighed down with many artificial restrictions, and
our restless questionings and suggestions are snubbed or neglected. A
child is temptingly open to instruction in ethics. His primitive
mental attitude recognises the importance of the main principles as
strongly as the early savage did. His simple and guarded life makes it
easy for us to supply profuse and continuous illustrations of the
working of these principles; and his strong, keen feelings enable us
to impress with lasting power the relative rightness and wrongness of
different lines of action.

Yet this beautiful opportunity is not only neglected, but the fresh
mind and its eager powers are blurred, confused, discouraged, by our
senseless treatment. Our lack of knowledge does not excuse it. Our
lingering religious restriction does not excuse it. We know something
of ethics, and practise something, but treat the child as if he was a
lower instead of a higher being. Surely, we can reduce our ethical
knowledge into some simple and teachable shape, and take the same
pains to teach this noblest, this most indispensable of sciences that
we take to teach music or dancing. Physics is the science of
molecular relation,--how things work in relation to other things.
Ethics is the science of social relation,--how people work in relation
to other people. To the individual there is no ethics but of
self-development and reproduction. The lonely animal's behaviour goes
no farther. But gregarious animals have to relate their behaviour to
one another,--a more complex problem; and in our intricate co-relation
there is so wide a field of inter-relative behaviour that its working
principles and laws form a science.

However complex our ultimate acts, they are open to classification,
and resolve themselves into certain general principles which long
since were recognised and named. Liberty, justice, love,--we all know
these and others, and can promptly square a given act by some familiar
principle. The sense of justice developes very early, and may be used
as a basis for a large range of conduct. "To play fair" can be early
taught. "That isn't fair!" is one of a child's earliest perceptions.
"When I want to go somewhere, you say I'm too little; and, when I
cry, you say I'm too big! It isn't fair!" protests the child.

In training a child in the perception and practice of justice, we
should always remember that the standard must suit the child's mind,
not ours. What to our longer, wider sweep of vision seems quite just,
to him may seem bitterly unjust; and, if we punish a child in a way
that seems to him unjust, he is unjustly punished. So the instructor
in ethics must have an extended knowledge of the child's point of
view,--that of children in general and of the child being instructed
in particular, and the illustrations measured accordingly. It ought to
be unnecessary to remark that no more passion should be used in
teaching ethics than in teaching arithmetic. The child will make
mistakes, of course. We know that beforehand, and can largely provide
for them. It is for us to arrange his successive problems so that they
are not too rapid or too difficult, and to be no more impatient or
displeased at a natural slip in this line of development than in any

Unhappily, it is just here that we almost always err. The child's
slowly accumulating perceptions and increasing accuracy of expression
are not only confused by our erroneous teaching, but greatly shocked
and jarred by our manner, our evident excitement in cases of conduct
which we call "matters of right and wrong." All conduct is right or
wrong. A difference in praise or blame belongs to relative excellence
of intention or of performance; but the formation of a delicate and
accurate conscience is sadly interfered with by our violent feelings.
It is this which renders ethical action so sensitive and morbid. Where
in other lines we act calmly, according to our knowledge, or, if we
err, calmly rectify the error, in ethics we are nervous, vacillating,
unduly elated or depressed, because our early teachings in this field
were so overweighted with intense feeling.

Self-control is one of the first essentials in the practice of
ethics,--which is to say, in living. Self-control can be taught a
child by gently graduated exercises, so that he shall come calmly into
his first kingdom, and exercise this normal human power without
self-consciousness. We do nothing actively to develope this power. We
simply punish the lack of it when that lack happens to be disagreeable
to us. A child who has "tantrums," for instance,--those helpless,
prostrate passions of screaming and kicking,--is treated variously
during the attack; but nothing is done during the placid interval to
cultivate the desired power of control. Self-control is involved in
all conscious acts. Therefore, it should not be hard to so arrange and
relate those acts as to steadily develope the habit.

Games in varying degree require further exertion of self-control, and
games are the child's daily lessons. The natural ethical sense of
humanity is strongly and early shown in our games. It is a joy to us
to learn "the rules" and play according to them, or to a maturer
student to grasp the principles and work them out; and our quick
condemnation of the poor player or the careless player, and our rage
at him who "does not play fair," show how naturally we incline to
right conduct. Life is a large game, with so many rules that it is
very hard to learn by them; but its principles can be taught to the
youngest. When we rightly understand those principles, we can leave
off many arbitrary rules, and greatly simplify the game. The
recognition of the rights of others is justice, and comes easily to
the child. The generosity which goes beyond justice is also natural to
the child in some degree, and open to easy culture. It should,
however, always rest on its natural precursor, justice; and the child
be led on to generosity gradually, and by the visible example of the
higher pleasure involved.

To divide the fruit evenly is the first step. To show that you enjoy
giving up your share, that you take pleasure in his pleasure, and
then, when this act is imitated, to show such delight and gratitude as
shall make the baby mind feel your satisfaction,--that is a slow but
simple process. We usually neglect the foundation of justice, and then
find it hard to teach loving-kindness to the young mind. Demands on
the child's personal surrender and generosity should be made very
gradually, and always with a clearly visible cause. Where any dawning
faculty is overstrained in youth, it is hard and slow to re-establish
the growth.

One simple ethical principle most needful in child-training, and
usually most painfully lacking, is honesty. Aside from direct lying,
we almost universally use concealment and evasion; and even earlier
than that we assume an artificial manner with babies and young
children which causes the dawning ethical sense strange perturbations.

It is a very common thing to demand from little children a show of
affection without its natural prompting. Even between mother and child
this playing at loving is often seen. "Come and kiss mamma! What!
Don't you love mamma? Poor mamma! Mamma cry!" And mamma pretends to
cry, in order to make baby pretend to love her. The adult visitor
almost invariably simulates an interest and cordiality which is not
felt, and does it in a palpably artificial manner. These may seem
small matters. We pass them without notice daily, but they are
important in the foundation impressions of the young brain. Children
are usually very keen to detect the pretence. "Oh, you don't mean
that: you only say so!" they remark. We thus help to develope a loose,
straggling sense of honesty and honour, a chronic ethical inaccuracy,
like a bad "ear" for music.

The baby-educator should see to it that she show only real feelings to
the child; and show them in large letters, as it were. Do not say,
"Mamma is angry," or "Mamma is grieved," or "Mamma is ashamed," but be
angry, grieved, or ashamed visibly. Let the child observe the effect
of his act on you, not hear you say you feel thus and so, and see no
signs of it. We depend far too much on oral statements, and neglect
the simpler, stronger, surer means of conveying impressions. The
delicacy of perception of a child should be preserved and tenderly
used. We often blur and weaken it by giving false, irregular, and
disproportionate impressions, and then are forced to use more and more
violence to make any impression at all. All this sensitiveness is to
ethics what the "musical ear" is to music. In injuring it, we make it
harder for the growing soul to discriminate delicately in ethical
questions,--a difficulty but too common among us.

The basis of human ethics, being social, requires for its growth a
growing perception of collective and inter-relative rights and duties.
Our continual object with the child is to establish in his mind this
common consciousness and an accurate measure in perception. It is at
first a simple matter of arithmetic. Here is the group of little ones,
and the equal number of cookies: palpably, each should have one. Here
is one extra cookie. Who shall have it? Robby, because his is the
smallest. Jamie cries that his is as small as Robby's. Is it? The fact
is ascertained. Divide the extra cookie, then: that's fair. Or here is
one who was not well yesterday and had no cookies. Give it to him.
These things are not to be ostentatiously done nor too continually,
but always with care and accuracy, as lessons more important than any
others. The deeper and larger sense of social duty,--not the personal
balancing of rights, which is easy to even the youngest mind, but the
devotion to the service of all, the recognition that the greater
includes the less,--this must be shown by personal example long before
it can be imitated.

Parents neglect this where it would help them most, and substitute, to
meet the child's inquiries, only personal authority and compulsion. If
the parent would constantly manifest a recognition of duty and
performance of it even against desire, it would be a great help to the
child. Most children imagine that grown persons do just as they want
to; and that the stringent code of behaviour enforced upon them is
requisite only in childhood, and enforceable only because of their
weakness. Much of the parent's conduct can be used as an object-lesson
to the child; but its skilful employment needs clear ethical
perception and much educational ability. For instance, if the mother
elaborately explains that she is obliged to do something which seems
to the child absurd, or if she claims to have to do a certain thing
which the child can see that she really enjoys, the impressions made
are not correct ones. A recognition of the importance of right
teaching of ethics to the child would help adult conduct in most
cases. And, if the child were receiving proper grounding in ethics
from a special educator, he could come home and perplex his parents
with problems, as a bright child often does now in other sciences.

This, of course, points to the need of accepted text-books on ethics,
and will allow of disputes between authorities and disagreement on
many points; but these conditions exist in all sciences. There are
different authorities and "schools," much disagreement and dispute and
varying conduct based on our various scientific beliefs. But out of
the study, discussion, and ensuing behaviour comes the gradual proof
of what is really true; and we establish certain generally accepted
facts and principles, while still allowing a margin for divergence of
opinion and further knowledge.

Our dread of studying ethics as a science on account of this
divergence of opinion is a hereditary brain tendency, due to the long
association of ethical values with one infallible religious
text-book,--Koran or Bible or Talmud or Zend-Avesta.

"It is written" was the most conclusive of statements to the ancient
mind. The modern mind ought by this time to have developed a wide and
healthy distrust of that which is written. While our "written" ethics
has remained at a standstill always until the upward sweep of social
conduct demanded and produced a better religion, our unnoticed
practice of ethics has worked out many common rules.

In the fearless study of this field of practical ethics lies our way
to such simple text-books as may be used to teach children. There is
no question as to whether we should or should not teach ethics to very
little children. We do, we must, whether we will or not. The real
question is what to teach and how. They learn from our daily walk and
conversation; and they learn strange things. Most palpable of all
among the wrong impressions given to our children is that of the
pre-eminent importance of the primitive relations of life, and the
utter unimportance of the great social relations of our time. Whatever
ideas of right and wrong the child succeeds in gathering, they are
all of a closely personal nature, based on interpersonal conduct in
the family relation, or in such restricted and shallow social
relations as is covered by our code of "company manners."

The greatest need of better ethics to-day is in our true social
relation,--the economic and political field of action in which lie our
major activities, and in which we are still so grossly uncivilised.
Not until he goes to school does the child begin to appreciate any
general basis of conduct; and even there the ethics of the position
are open to much clearer treatment.

As the mother is so prominent a factor in influencing the child's
life, it is pre-eminently necessary that she should be grounded in
this larger ethics, and able to teach it by example as well as by
description. She needs a perception of the proportionate duties of
mankind,--an understanding of their true basis, and a trained skill in
imparting this knowledge to the child. If she cannot properly teach
ethics, she should provide a teacher more competent. At present the
only special ethical teaching for the child outside the family is in
the Sunday-school; and Sunday-school teachers are usually amiable
young ladies who are besought on any terms--with no preparation
whatever--to give this instruction. Once we boldly enter the field of
ethical study, and reduce its simple principles to a teachable
basis,--when we make clear to ourselves and our children the
legitimate reasons of right conduct,--the same intelligence and
ambition which carry us on so far in other sciences will lift the
standard of behaviour of our race, both in theory and practice.
Meanwhile, with such knowledge and practice as we have to-day, let us
see to it that we give to little children our best ethics by precept
and example, with hopes that they may go on to higher levels.



The one main cause of our unfairness to children is that we consider
them wholly in a personal light. Justice and equity, the rights of
humanity, require a broader basis than blood relationship. Children
are part of humanity, and the largest part. Few of us realise their
numbers, or think that they constitute the majority of human beings.
The average family, as given in the census returns, consist of five
persons,--two adults and three minors. Any population which increases
has a majority of children, our own being three-fifths. This large
proportion of human beings constitutes a permanent class,--another
fact we fail to consider because of our personal point of view. One's
own child and one's neighbour's child grow up and pass out of
childhood, and with them goes one's interest in children. Of course,
we intellectually know that there are others; but to the conscious
mind of most persons children are evanescent personal incidents.

The permanence of childhood as a human status is proven by the
survival among them of games and phrases of utmost antiquity, which
are handed down, not from father to son, but from child to child. If
an isolated family moves into a new country, and its children grow up
alone, they do not know these games. We should bear in mind in
studying children that we have before us a permanent class, larger
than the adult population. So that in question of numerical justice
they certainly have a right to at least equal attention. But, when we
remember also that this large and permanent class of human beings is
by far the most important, that on its right treatment rests the
progress of the world, then, indeed, it behooves us to consider the
attitude of the adult population toward the junior members of society.

As members of society, we find that they have received almost no
attention. They are treated as members of the family by the family,
but not even recognised as belonging to society. Only in modern
history do we find even enough perception of the child's place in the
State to provide some public education; and to-day, in some more
advanced cities, some provision for public protection and recreation.
Children's playgrounds are beginning to appear at last among people
who have long maintained public parks and gardens for adults. Also, in
the general parks a children's quarter is often now provided, with
facilities for their special care and entertainment. But except for
these rare cases of special playgrounds, except for the quite generous
array of school-houses and a few orphan asylums and kindred
institutions, there are no indications in city or country that there
are such people as children.

A visitor from another planet, examining our houses, streets,
furniture, and machinery, would not gather much evidence of childhood
as a large or an important factor in human life. The answer to this is
prompt and loud: "Children belong at home! Look there, and you will
see if they are considered or not."

Let us look there carefully. The average home is a house of, say, six
rooms. This is a liberal allowance, applicable only to America. Even
with us, in our cities, the average home is in a crowded
tenement,--only two or three rooms; and in wide stretches of country
it is a small and crowded farm-house. Six rooms is liberal
allowance,--kitchen, dining-room, and parlour, and three bedrooms.
Gazing upon the home from the outside, we see a building of dimensions
suited to adults. There is nothing to indicate children there.
Examining it from the inside, we find the same proportionate
dimensions, and nothing in the materials or arrangement of the
internal furnishings to indicate children there. The stairs are
measured to the adult tread, the windows to the adult eye, the chairs
and table to the adult seat. Hold! In a bedroom we discover a
cradle,--descended from who knows what inherited desire for swinging
boughs!--and, in some cases, a crib. In the dining-room is often a
high chair (made to accommodate the adult table), and sometimes in the
parlour a low chair for the child. If people are wealthy and careful,
there is, perhaps, a low table, too; but the utmost that can be
claimed for the average child is a cradle or crib, a high chair, and
a "little rocker." There can be no reasonable objection to this, so
long as the child is considered merely as a member of a family. The
adult family precedes and outlasts the child, and it would be absurd
to expect them to stoop and suffer in a house built and furnished for

So we build for the adult only, and small legs toil painfully up our
stairs and fall more painfully down them.

But the moment we begin to address ourselves to the needs of children
as a class, the result is different. In the school-house all the seats
are for children, except "teacher's chair"; in the kindergarten the
tiny chairs and tables are perfectly appropriate; in the playground
all the appointments are child-size. "What do you expect!" protests
the perplexed parent. "You say yourself, I cannot build my house
child-size. Do you expect me to add a child-size house in the back
yard? I cannot afford it."

No, the individual parent cannot afford to build a child-house for his
own family, nor, for that matter, a school-house. We, collectively,
whether through general taxation, as in the public school, or
combination of personal funds, as in the private school, do manage to
provide our children with school-houses, because we recognise their
need of them. Similarly, we can provide for them suitable houses for a
far more early and continuous education,--when we see the need of
them. Here the untouched brain-spaces make no response. "What do you
mean!" cries the parent. "Do you wish us to club together, and build
a--a--public nursery for our children!" This seems sufficiently
horrific to stop all further discussion. But is it? May we not gently
pursue the theme?

We can and do cheerfully admit the advantages of a public school and a
public school-teacher for our children. Some of us admit the
advantages of a public kindergarten and a public kindergartner for our
children. The step between child-garden and baby-garden is slight. Why
not a public nursery and a public nurse? That, of course, for those
classes who gladly provide and patronise the public school and
kindergarten. The swarming neglected babies of the poor, now
"underfoot" in dirty kitchen or dirtier street, part neglected and
part abused, a tax on the toiling mother and a grievous injury to the
older children who must care for them,--these would be far better off
if every crowded block had its big, bright baby-garden on the roof,
and their young lives were kept peaceful, clean, and well cared for by
special nurses who knew their business. A public nursery is safer than
the public street. One hot reply to this proposition is that
"statistics prove that babies in institutions die faster than babies
even in the poorest families." Perhaps this is so.

But consider the difference in the cases. Children in institutions are
motherless, generally orphans. No one is proposing to remove the
mothers of the babies in the baby-garden. "But they would be separated
from their mothers!" Children who go to school are separated from
their mothers. Children who go to the kindergarten are separated from
their mothers. Children who play in the street are separated from
their mothers. If the mothers of these children had nothing else to
do, they could give all their time to them. But they have other things
to do; and, while they are busy, the baby would be better off in the
baby-garden than in the street. To those who prefer to maintain the
private school and the private kindergarten, a private baby-garden
would be equally available. "But we do not want it. We prefer to care
for our children at home," they reply. This means that they prefer to
have their little ones in their own nursery, under the care of the
mother, _via_ the nurse.

The question remains open as to which the children would prefer, and
which would be better for them. Perhaps certain clear and positive
assertions should be made here, to allay the anxiety and anger about
"separating the child from the mother."

The mother of a young baby should be near enough to nurse it, as a
matter of course. She should "take care of it"; that is, see that it
has everything necessary to its health, comfort, and development. But
that is no reason why she should administer to its every need with her
own hands. The ignorant, low-class poor mother does this, and does
not preserve the lives of her children thereby. The educated,
high-class rich mother does not do this, but promptly hires a servant
to do it for her. The nursery and the nurse are essential to the baby;
but what kind of nursery and nurse are most desirable? The kind of
servant hired by the ordinary well-to-do family is often not a
suitable person to have the care of little children. A young child
needs even more intelligent care than an older one.

A group of families, each paying for its children's schooling, can
afford to give them a far higher class of teacher than each could
afford to provide separately. So a group of families, each paying for
its children's "nursing," could afford to provide a far superior class
of "nurse" than each can provide separately.

Here again rises the protest that it is not good for small
children--babies--to be "herded together,"--see infant mortality in
institutions. Again, an unfair comparison is involved. The poorest
kind of children, motherless and fatherless, are crowded in undue
numbers in "charitable" or "public" institutions, and submitted to the
perfunctory care of low-grade, ill-paid attendants, among
accommodations by no means of the best. We are asked to compare this
to small groups of healthy, well-bred children, placed for certain
hours of the day only in carefully planned apartments, in all ways
suitable, under the care of high-grade, well-paid expert attendants
and instructors.

The care of little children is not servant's work. It is not "nurses'"
work. A healthy child should have his physical needs all properly
supplied, and, for the rest, be under the most gentle and exquisite
"training." It is education, and education more valuable than that
received in college, which our little ones need; and they do not get
it from nurse-maids.

Then rises the mother. "I can teach my baby better than any teacher,
however highly trained." If the mother can, by all means let her. But
can she? We do not hear mothers protesting that they can teach their
grown-up sons and daughters better than the college professors, nor
their middle-aged children better than the school-teachers. Why,
then, are they so certain that they can teach the babies better than
trained baby-teachers? They are willing to consult a doctor if the
baby is ill, and gladly submit to his dictation. "The doctor says baby
must eat this and go there and do so." There is no wound to maternal
pride in this case. If they have "defective" children, they are only
too glad to place them under "expert care," not minding even
"separation" for the good of the child.

Any one who knows of the marvellous results obtained by using
specially trained intelligence in the care of defective children must
wonder gravely if we might not grow up better with some specially
trained intelligence used on our normal children. But this we cannot
have till we make a place for children. No woman or man, with the
intelligence and education suitable for this great task, would be
willing to be a private servant in one family. We do not expect it of
college-teacher or school-teacher. We could not expect it of
baby-teacher. The very wealthy might of course command all three; but
that has no application to mankind in general, and is also open to
grave question as to its relative value.

A private staff of college professors would not be able to give the
boy the advantages of going to college. We cannot have separately what
we can have collectively. Moreover, even if the teacher be secured, we
have not at home the material advantages open to us in the specially
prepared place for children.

A house or range of apartments for little children could be made
perfectly safe,--which is more than the home is. From the pins on the
carpet, which baby puts in his mouth, the stairs he falls down, the
windows he falls out of and the fire he falls into, to the doors to
jam the little fingers and the corners and furniture he bumps himself
upon, "the home" is full of danger to the child. Why should a baby be
surrounded with these superfluous evils? A room really designed for
babies to play in need have no "furniture" save a padded seat along
the wall for the "grown-ups" to sit on, a seat with little ropes along
the edge for the toddlers to pull up and walk by. The floor should be
smooth and even, antiseptically clean, and not hard enough to bump
severely. A baby must fall, but we need not provide cobblestones for
his first attempts. Large soft ropes, running across here and there,
within reach of the eager, strong little hands, would strengthen arms
and chest, and help in walking. A shallow pool of water, heated to
suitable temperature, with the careful trainer always at hand, would
delight, occupy, and educate for daily hours. A place of clean, warm
sand, another of clay, with a few simple tools,--these four
things--water, sand, clay, and ropes to climb on--would fill the days
of happy little children without further "toys." These are simple,
safe, primitive pleasures, all helpful to growth and a means of
gradual education. The home cannot furnish these things, nor could the
mother give her time and attention to their safe management, even if
she knew how to teach swimming, modelling, and other rudimentary arts.

The home, beside its difficulties and dangers, is full of unnecessary
limitations. It is arranged on a scale of elegance such as the adult
income can compass; and the natural activities of childhood
continually injure the household decorations and conveniences.
Perfectly natural and innocent conduct on the part of the child is
deleterious to the grown-up home, so patently so that owners of fine
houses are not willing to let them to families with children.

A nice comment this on the home as a place for children! Must a home
be shabby and bare? Or must the child be confined to his bed? Why not
develope the home to its own perfection,--a place of beauty and
comfort and peace,--and let the children have a home of their own for
part of the day, wherein the order and beauty and comfort are
child-size? The child could sleep under his mother's eye or ear, and
gradually aspire to the adult table when he had learned how to be
comfortable there, and not injure the comfort of others. He could soon
have his own room if the family could afford it, and express his
personality in its arrangement; but the general waking time of little
children could be much better passed in a special house for children
than in the parental kitchen, parlour, bedroom, or back yard. "But why
not the private nursery,--the sunny room for the child and his toys?
Is not that enough?" The private nursery means the private nurse, who
is, as a class, unfit to have the care of little children. She is a
servant; and the forming ideas of justice, courtesy, and human rights
in general, are much injured by the spectacle of an adult attendant
who is a social inferior. A servant is not a proper person to have
charge of these impressionable years.

Moreover, however perfect the private nursery and private nurse might
be, there remains its isolation to injure the child. We grow up
unnecessarily selfish, aborted in the social faculties proper to our
stage of advance, because each child is so in the focus of family
attention all the time. A number of little ones together for part of
every day, having their advantages in common, learning from infancy to
say "we" instead of "I," would grow up far better able to fill their
places as helpful and happy members of society.

Even in those rare cases where the mother does actually devote her
entire time to her children, it would still be better for them to pass
part of that time in an equally wise and more dispassionate
atmosphere. Our babies and small children ought to have the society of
the very best people instead of the society of such low-grade women as
we can hire to be nurses in our homes. And, while they need
pre-eminently the mother's tender love and watchful care, they also
need the wider justice and larger experience of the genuine

So long as we so underrate the importance of childhood,--and that in
proportion to the youth of the child,--those persons who should
benefit our babies by their presence will not do so. Very great and
learned men are proud to teach youths of eighteen and twenty in
colleges; but they would feel themselves painfully ill-placed if set
to teach the same boys at ten, five, or two years old. Why? Why should
we not be eager for an introduction to "Professor Coltonstall! He's
the first man in America in infant ethics! Marvellous success! You
can always tell the children who have been under him!" You cannot
have this professor in your nursery. But your children and those of
fifty other eager parents could be benefited by his wisdom,
experience, and exquisitely developed skill in a place in common.

The argument does not appeal to us. We see no need for "wisdom,"
"experience," "trained skill" with a baby. We have not realised that
we despised our babies; but we do. Any one is good enough to take care
of them. We even confide them to the care of distinctly lower races,
as in the South with its negro nurses. "Social equality" with the
negro is beyond imagination to the Southerner. That gross inferior
race can never be admitted to their companionship, but to the
companionship of the baby--certainly. Could anything prove more
clearly our lack of just appreciation of the importance of childhood?
The colored nurse is, of course, thought of merely as the servant of
the child; and we do not yet consider whether it is good for a child
to have a servant or whether a servant is a good educator.

The truth is we never think of education in connection with babyhood,
the term being in our minds inextricably confused with school-houses
and books. When we do honestly admit the plain fact that a child is
being educated in every waking hour by the conditions in which he is
placed and the persons who are with him, we shall be readier to see
the need of a higher class of educators than servant-girls, and a more
carefully planned environment than the accommodations of the average

The home is not materially built for the convenience of a child, nor
are its necessary workings planned that way; and, what is more
directly evil, the mother is not trained for the position of educator.
We persist in confounding mother and teacher. The mother's place is
her own, and always will be. Nothing can take it from her. She loves
the child the best; and, if not too seriously alienated, the child
will love her the best. The terror of the mother lest her child should
love some other person better than herself shows that she is afraid of
comparison,--that she visibly fears the greater gentleness and wisdom
of some teacher will appeal to the young heart more than her arbitrary
methods. If the mother expected to meet daily comparison with a born
lover of children, trained in the wisest methods of child-culture, it
would have an improving influence on the home methods. One of the
great advantages of this arrangement will be in its reactive effect on
the mother. In her free access to the home of the children, she will
see practically illustrated the better methods of treating them, and
be in frequent communication with their educators. The mother's
knowledge of and previous association with the child will make her a
necessary coadjutor with the teacher, and by intercourse with the
larger knowledge and wider experience of the teacher the mother will
acquire new points of view and wiser habits.

As the school and kindergarten react beneficially upon the home, so
this baby-school will react as beneficially, and perhaps more so, as
touching the all-important first years. The isolated mother has no
advantage of association or comparison, and falls into careless or
evil ways with the child, which contact with more thoughtful outside
influences would easily prevent. She could easily retain her
pre-eminent place in the child's affections, while not grudging to the
special teacher her helpful influence. Also, the child, with the free
atmosphere of equality around him for part of each day, with
association with his equals in their place, would return to his own
place in the home with a special affection, and submit with good will
to its necessary restrictions.

In all but isolated farm life, or on the even more primitive cattle
range, it would be possible to build a home for little children, and
engage suitable persons to take charge of them daily. It would take no
more time from the housework--if that is the mother's trade--to take
the child to its day play-school than it takes to watch and tend it at
home and to prevent or mend its "mischief."

"Children are so mischievous," we complain, regarding their ingenious
destruction of the domestic decorations. A calf in a flower-garden
would do considerable mischief, or kittens in a dairy. Why seek to
rear young creatures in a place where they must do mischief if they
behave differently from grown people? Why not provide for them a place
where their natural activities would not be injurious, but

In cities it is a still simpler question. Every block could have its
one or more child homes, according to their number of children
thereabouts. The children of the rich would be saved from the evil
effects of too much care and servants' society, and the children of
the poor from the neglect and low associations of their street-bred

The "practical" question will now arise, "Who is to pay for all this?"
There are two answers. One is, The same people who pay for the
education of our older children. The baby has as good a right to his
share of our educational funds, private and public, as the older
child; and his education is more important. The other answer is that
an able-bodied mother, relieved of her position as nursery governess,
would be able to contribute something toward better provision for her



A small boy came from an old-fashioned city,--a city where he went to
school from day to day, and sat with his fellows in rigid rectangular
rows, gazing on bare whitewashed walls adorned with a broad stripe of
blackboard; where he did interminable "sums" on a smeary little slate,
and spelled in sing-song chorus "Baker! Baker! b, a, bay; k, e, r,
ker,--Baker!" He came to a new-fashioned city, where the most
important business on earth--the training of children--was
appreciated. The small boy did not know this. He saw that the city was
clean and bright and full of wide spaces of grass and trees; and he
liked it. It pleased him, as a child: it was the kind of place that
looked as if it had been planned with some thought of pleasing
children. Soon he came to a great open gate, with shady walks and
sunny lawns inside, buildings here and there in the distance, and,
just at hand, some strange figures among the bushes.

A pleasant-looking lady sat reading in the shade, with a few children
lying in the grass near by, reading, too. Our small boy stood
irresolute; but the lady looked up, and said: "Come in, if you like.
Look around all you want to." Still he felt shy; but one of the
reading little boys rose up, and went to him. "Come on," he said
cheerfully. "I'll show you. There's lots o' things you'll like. Oh,
come on!" So he entered with uncertain steps, and made for one of the
queer figures he had seen in the shrubbery. "It's an Indian!" he said.
"Like a cigar store!" But the resident little boy resented his
comparison. "'Tisn't, either!" cried he. "It's ever so much nicer!
Look at his moccasins and his arrows, and see the scalps in his belt!
See the way he's painted? That shows he's a Sioux. They are great. One
of the best kinds. They live up in the North-west,--Minnesota and
round there; and they fight splendid! That one over there is a Yuma
Indian. Look at the difference!"

And he took the visitor about, and showed him an interesting
collection of samples of American tribes, giving off rivers of
information with evident delight. From Indians their attention was
taken by a peculiarly handsome butterfly that fluttered near them,
pursued hotly by an eager little girl with a net.

"That must be a--well, I forget the name," said the resident little
boy. "Do you like bugs?"

"What kind o' bugs?" inquired the visitor, rather suspiciously.

"Oh, tumble bugs and burying beetles and walking-sticks, and all

"Walking-sticks! What's that got to do with bugs?"

"Didn't you ever see the walking-stick one? Oh, come on in! I'll show
you! It's this way." And off they run to a big rambling building among
the shady elms. The visitor hangs back, somewhat awed by the size and
splendour of the place, and seeing grown people about; but his young
guide goes in unchecked, merely whispering, "Got to keep still in
here," and leads him down several passages into a large, quiet hall,
lined with glass cases.

Such a wealth of "bugs" as were here exhibited had never before been
seen by the astonished visitor; but, when the walking-stick insect was
pointed out to him, he stoutly denied that it was a "bug" at all. A
whispered altercation resulted in appeal to the curator, a studious
youth, who was taking notes at a large table bestrewn with specimens.
Instantly dropping his work, he took the object under discussion from
its case, focussed a magnifying glass upon it, and proceeded to
exhibit various features of insect anatomy, and talk about them most
interestingly. But, as soon as he detected the first signs of
inattention and weariness, he changed the subject,--suggested that
there was some good target practice going on in the West Field; and
the two boys, after a pleasant walk, joined a number of others who
were shooting with bows and arrows, under careful coaching and
management. "I can't shoot except Saturdays," said the guide, "because
I haven't joined a team and practised. But, if you want to, you just
put your name down; and by and by you can hit anything. There's all
kinds of old-fashioned weapons--and the new ones, too."

"What do you call this, anyhow?" demands the visitor.

"Call what? This is the West Field: they do all kinds of shooting
here. You see that long bank and wall stops everything."

"Yes,--but the whole place,--is it a park?"

"Oh, yes, kind of. It's Weybourne Garden. And that was the museum we
went to,--one of 'em."

"Is it open always?"


"And you don't have to pay for anything?"

"No. This part is for children. We learn how to do all sorts of
things. Do you know how to build with bricks? I learned that last. I
built a piece of a real wall. It's not here. It was one that was
broken on the other side, and I built a good piece in!"

A big clock struck somewhere. "Now I must go to dinner with mother,"
said the guide. "The gate you came in at is on my way. Come on!" And
he showed the wondering visitor out, and left him at his own door.

The young stranger did not know where he had been. He did not faintly
imagine it. Neither, for that matter, did the other children, who went
there every day, and with whom he presently found himself enrolled.
They went to certain places at certain hours, because they were only
"open" then with the persons present who showed them how to do
desirable things.

There were many parks in the city, with different buildings and
departments; and in them, day by day, without ever knowing it, the
children of that city "went to school."

The progressive education of a child should be, as far as possible,
unconscious. From his first eager interest in almost everything, up
along the gradually narrowing lines of personal specialisation, each
child should be led with the least possible waste of time and nervous
energy. There would be difficulties enough, as there are difficulties
in learning even desirable games; but the child would meet the
difficulties because he wanted to know the thing, and gain strength
without losing interest. So soon as a child-house is built and
education seen to begin in earliest babyhood, so soon as we begin to
plan a beautiful and delicately adjusted environment for our children,
in which line and colour and sound and touch are all made avenues of
easy unconscious learning, we shall find that there is no sharp break
between "home" and "school." In the baby-garden the baby will learn
many things, and never know it. In the kindergarten the little child
will learn many things, and never know it. He will be glad and proud
of his new powers, coming back to share the astonishing new
information or exhibit the new skill to papa and mamma; but he will
not be conscious of any task in all the time, or of special credit for
his performance. Then, as he grows, the garden grows, too; and he
finds himself a little wiser, a little stronger, a little more skilful
every day--or would if he stopped to measure. But he does not measure.
His private home is happy and easy, with a father and mother
interested in all his progress; and his larger home--the child-world
he grows up in--is so dominated by wise, subtle educational influences
that he goes on learning always, studying a good deal, yet never
"going to school."

In the wise treatment of his babyhood, all his natural faculties are
allowed to develope in order and to their full extent, so that he
comes to a larger range of experiment and more difficult examples with
a smooth-working, well-developed young mind, unwearied and unafraid.
The legitimate theories of the kindergarten carefully worked out
helped him on through the next years in the same orderly progression;
and, as a child of five or six, he was able to walk, open-eyed and
observant, into wider fields of knowledge. Always courteous and
intelligent specialists around him, his mental processes watched and
trained as wisely as his sturdy little body, and a careful record
kept, by these experienced observers, of his relative capacity and
rate of development.

So he gradually learns that common stock of human knowledge which it
is well for us all to share,--the story of the building of the earth,
the budding of the plant, the birth of the animal, the beautiful
unfolding of the human race, from savagery toward civilisation. He
learns the rudiments of the five great handicrafts, and can work a
little in wood, in metal, in clay, in cloth, and in stone. He learns
the beginnings of the sciences, with experiment and story, and finds
new wonders to lead him on, no matter how far he goes,--an unending

For his sciences he goes to the museum, the laboratory, and the field,
groups of children having about the same degree of information falling
together under the same teacher. For the necessary work with pen and
pencil there are quiet rooms provided. He has looked forward to some
of these from babyhood, seeing the older ones go there.

Each child has been under careful observation and record from the very
first. His special interests, his preferred methods, his powers and
weaknesses, are watched and worked with carefully as he grows. If
power of attention was weak at first, he is given special work to
develope it. If observation was loose and inaccurate, that was
laboured with. If the reasoning faculty worked with difficulty, it was
exercised more carefully. He has been under such training from
babyhood to twelve or fifteen years old as to give a full and
co-ordinate development of his faculties,--all of them; and such a
general grasp of the main lines of knowledge as to make possible clear
choice of the lines of study for which he is best adapted. With such a
childhood the youth will have much more power of learning, and a deep
and growing interest--an unbroken interest--in his work.

The natural desire of mankind to know, and also to teach, and the
steadily enlarging field of knowledge open to us, should make
education the most delightful of processes. With our present methods
the place of teacher is usually sought merely for its meagre salary,
by women who "have to work," instead of being eagerly aspired to as
the noblest of professions, and only open to those best fitted. The
children are so overtaxed and mishandled that only the best
intellects come out with any further desire to learn anything.
Humanity's progress is made through brain-improvement, by brain-power.
We need such schooling as shall give us better brains and uninjured
bodies. Fortunately for us, the value of education is widely felt
to-day, and new and improved methods are rapidly coming in. Our
school-houses are more beautiful, our teachers better trained and more
ambitious, and the beneficent influences of the kindergarten and of
the manual training system are felt everywhere.

But, while much is being done, much more remains for us. With such
honour and such pay as show our respect for the office of teacher, and
such required training and natural capacity as shall allow of no
incapables, we could surround our children from birth with the steady
influence of the wisest and best people. More and more to-day is the
school opening out. It connects with the public library, with art and
industry, with the open fields; and this will go on till the time is
reached when the child does not know that he is at school,--he is
always there, and yet never knows it.

Where residence was permanent, the teachers of different grades could
constantly compare their growing records, and the child's unfolding be
watched steadily, and noted with a view to still further improvement
in method. Travelling parties of children are not unknown to us. These
will become more common, until every child shall know his earth face
to face,--mountain, river, lake, and sea,--and gain some idea of
political division as well.

Two main objections to all this will arise at once: one, that of
expense; the other, that a child so trained would not have learned to
"apply himself,"--to force himself to do what he did not like,--that
it was all too easy.

The ground of too much expense cannot be held. Nothing is too
expensive that really improves education; for such improvement cuts
off all the waste product of society,--the defective and degenerate,
the cripple, thief, and fool, and saves millions upon millions now
spent in maintaining or restraining these injurious classes. Not only
that, but it as steadily developes the working value of humanity,
turning out more and more vigorous and original thinkers and doers to
multiply our wealth and pleasure. Grant the usefulness of improved
methods in education, and they can never be expensive. Even to-day the
school-children become far better class of citizens than the street
Arabs who do not go to school; and such school advantages as we have
lower our expense in handling crime and disease. When we provide for
every child the very best education,--real education of body, brain,
and soul,--with the trained hand and eye to do what the trained will
and judgment command, it is difficult to see where the "criminal
class" is to come from.

As to its being too easy, and not developing sufficiently stern stuff
in our youngsters, that has two answers. In the first place, this
proposed line of advance is not without its difficulties. Whether a
child is learning to sew or to shoot or to lay bricks, to solve
examples in fractions or to play chess, there are always difficulties.
To learn what you don't know is always a step up.

But why need we add to this the difficulty of making the child
dislike the work? "Because it is necessary in this world to do what
you don't like!" is the triumphant rejoinder.

This is an enormous mistake. It is necessary in this world to like
what you do, if you are to do anything worth while. One of the biggest
of all our troubles is that so many of us are patiently and wearily
doing what we do not like. It is a constant injury to the individual,
draining his nervous strength and leaving him more easily affected by
disease or temptation; and it is a constant injury to society, because
the work we do not like to do is not as good as it would be if we
liked it.

The kind of forcing we use in our educational processes, the
"attention" paid to what does not interest, the following of required
lines of study irrespective of inclination,--these act to blunt and
lower our natural inclinations, and leave us with this mischievous
capacity for doing what we do not like.

A healthy child, rightly surrounded with attractive opportunities, the
stimulus of association, and natural (not forced) competition, will
want to learn the things most generally necessary, just as he wants to
learn the principal games his comrades play. He has his favourite
games, and does best in them, and will have his favourite studies and
do best in them, which is no injury to any one.

In this unconscious method the child learns with personal interest and
pleasure, and not under pressure of class competition, reward, or
punishment. He knows, of course, that he is learning, as he knows when
he has learned to swim or to play golf; but he is not laboriously
"going to school" and "studying" against his will. The benefit of such
a process is that it will supply the world with young citizens of
unimpaired mental vigour, original powers and tastes, and strong
special interests, thus multiplying the value and distinction of our
products, and maintaining the health and happiness of the producer.

As a matter of practical introduction, we are already moving in this
direction, with the "laboratory method," the natural sciences now
taught so widely, and all the new impetus through the study of

But those most capable and most interested, those who see the value of
this trend and are doing all they can to promote it, are most keenly
conscious of the difficulties which still confront them. These
difficulties are not far to seek. They lie in the indifference, the
criminal indifference, of our citizens, notably the women. Sunk in the
constant contemplation of their own families, our female citizens let
the days and years pass by, utterly ignoring their civic duties. While
women are supported by men, they have more time to spare for such
broad interests than men have; and one would naturally think that even
the lowest sense of honour would lead them to some form of public
usefulness in return for this immunity. As the English nobleman--the
conscientious one--sees in his wealth and leisure, his opportunities
for study and cultivation, only a heavy obligation to serve the State
which so well serves him, so should our women of leisure--the
thousands of them--feel in their free and sheltered lives a glorious
compulsion to serve the best interests of that society which maintains

The care of children is certainly the duty of women. The best care of
children means the best education. The woman who has not done her best
to improve the educational advantages of her city, State and
country,--of the world,--has not done her duty as a citizen or as a
woman. And, as education comes through every impression received by
the child, we must improve home and street and city and all the
people, to make a clean, safe, beautiful world, in which our children
may receive the unconscious schooling to which they have a right.



The ineffable presumption of aged persons is an affliction too long
endured. Much is told us of the becoming modesty of youth. Is no
modesty becoming a period of life when experience has given some
measure to merit?

Why should youth be modest? Youth believes it can do all things, and
has had no proof to the contrary. But age,--age which has tried many
times and been met by failure; age, which has learned its limitation
by repeated blows, and become content with hard-worn compromise,--why
should age be so proud?

In itself it is no distinction, being but the common lot of man. Those
who do not attain to it are by general consent of superior merit.
"Whom the gods love die young."

Age is not desired and striven for,--not won by honourable effort. It
comes gradually upon us all, falling like rain upon the just and the
unjust. Taken simply in itself, it proves no more than that the aged
individual, if a man, has had sufficient strength and ingenuity to
keep himself alive; and, if a woman, that she has been sufficiently
pleasing and well-behaved to be kept alive by others.

In very early times, when the world was young and life more exciting
and precarious than now, perhaps the above qualities were a sufficient
distinction. The constitution which survived the rigours of a crude
and uncertain diet and of an undiluted climate was a thing to be proud
of; and the visible proof that one had survived one's enemies did
indicate some superiority.

But in a civilisation which takes special care of the infirm,--where
green young cripples grow to a ripe old age, and a bed-ridden pauper
may outlive many muscular labourers,--mere prolongation of existence
is no self-evident proof of either power or wisdom. Of two men born in
the same year, the more valuable man, doing more valuable work, is
quite as likely to die as an innocuous, futile, low-grade person,
paddling feebly with the tide. Of two women, one may smilingly repeat
herself by the dozen, and drift sweetly on from amiable juvenility to
as amiable senility; while another, working strenuously and
effectively, dies in her earnest youth or middle age.

Survival is no longer a fair test of value. The wisdom of the ancients
is not the standard of our time. We do not think that a previous
century knows more than ours, but rather less; and, if Methuselah were
with us yet,--and retained his faculties,--he would be too much
confused between the things he used to believe and what he was
learning now to be a valuable authority. When learning was but
accumulated tradition, the old had an advantage over the young, and
improved it. Now that learning is discovery, the young have an
advantage over the old.

If wisdom consisted merely in the accumulation of facts, the long-time
observer would assuredly have more of them than the new-comer. But the
wisdom that consists in a free and unbiassed judgment--a new
perception of the relation of things--comes better from a fresher
brain. This is not to say that age may not coexist with superiority,
but that age, _per se_, is not superiority.

There are many aged persons in the work-house who are quite visibly
inferior to many young persons in the House of Commons. This suggests
a painful antithesis which is better omitted. Granting the origin of
this arrogance of the aged to have had some basis in primitive time,
it is easy to see how it has descended to us by the same principle
that maintains the fag system.

Humanity has always its overlapping generations; and the child who is
crushed by the incontrovertible statement, "I am older than you are!"
waits to recoup himself on children yet to be. In his subordinate
position in youth he has no chance to escape from this injustice or to
retaliate; and he strikes a balance with fate by assuming the same
superiority over the new-comer. It is probable that we should never
outgrow the assumption until we have a generation of children taught
to respect conduct for its merits, not for simple duration, holding a
wise, strong, good person, however young, to be superior to an
ignorant or vicious one, however old. When the sense of justice and
the sense of logic of the child are not outraged in youth, we shall
find more modesty as well as more wisdom in old age.

It is always interesting to see our psychic development following the
laws of nature, like any other growth. Under the law of inertia the
human mind, starting under a given concept, continues to enlarge in
that direction, unless arrested or diverted in some other force. So
this conception of age as essential superiority, naturally enough
begun, has been followed to strange and injurious extremes. And under
the law of conservation of energy--following the line of least
resistance--the aged naturally encroached upon the young, who were
able to make no resistance whatever.

The respect and care for aged persons, which is so distinguishing a
mark of advanced civilisation, is due to two things: first, the
prolonged serviceability of parents; and, second, the social relation
which allows of usefulness to even the very old. In an early savage
tribe the elderly parent is of no special value to the newly matured
young, and the tribal service has more use for juvenile warriors than
for the ancient ones: wherefore the old folk are of small account, and
do not meet much encouragement to prolonged living. But with us,
though the child is grown quite sufficiently to hunt and fight and
reproduce his kind, he is not yet properly equipped for the social
service. He needs more years yet of parental assistance while he
accumulates knowledge in his profession or skill in his trade.

Therefore, parentage is a longer and more elaborate operation with us
than with lower races, animal or human, and the parent consequently
more appreciated. This position is fondly taken advantage of by the
designing aged, oft-times with a pious belief in their righteous
ground which is most convincing.

Because the human parent is of far more service to the young than
earlier parents, therefore our elders calmly assume that it is the
duty of the young to provide for and serve them,--not only to render
them natural assistance when real incapacity comes, but to alter the
course of their young and useful lives to suit the wishes of the old.
Among poor and degraded classes we see children early set to work for
the parents instead of parents working for the children,--a position
as unnatural as for a hen to eat eggs. Life is not a short circle, a
patent self-feeder. The business of the hen is to hatch the egg, and
of the egg to grow to another and different hen,--not to turn round
and sacrificially nourish the previous fowl.

The duty of the parent is a deep-seated, natural law. Without the
parent's care of the child, no race, no life. The duty of the child to
the parent was largely invented by parents, from motives of natural
self-interest, and has been so long sanctioned and practised that we
look on without a shudder and see a healthy middle-aged mother calmly
swallowing the life of her growing daughter. A girl is twenty-one. She
has been properly reared by her mother, whom we will suppose to be a
widow. Being twenty-one, the girl is old enough to begin to live her
own life, and naturally wishes to. I do not speak of marrying,--that
is generally allowed,--but of so studying and working as to develope
a wide, useful life of her own in case she does not marry.

"Not so," says her mother. "Your duty is to stay with me. I need you."

Now the mother is not bed-ridden. She is, we will say, an able-bodied
woman of forty-five or fifty. She could easily occupy herself in one
of several trades; but, being in possession of a house and a tiny
income, she "does not have to work." She prefers to live in that
house, on that income, and have her daughter live with her. The
daughter prefers to go to New York, and study music or art or
dressmaking, whatever she is fit for. But here is her dear mother
claiming her presence at home as a duty; and she gives it. She does
her duty, living there with her mother in the capacity of--of what? In
no capacity at all. Fancy a young man living at home in the capacity
of a "son," with no better occupation than dusting the parlour and
arranging flowers! In course of time the mother dies. The daughter has
lost her position as "a daughter," and has no other place in life.
She has never been allowed to form part of the living organism of
society, and remains a withered offshoot, weak and fruitless.

These cases are common enough. But consider from another point of view
the serene presumption of the elder woman. Because she had done--so
far--her duty by the child that was, she now claims a continuous hold
on the grown woman and a return for her services.

In still earlier days this claim was made even more strenuously. The
child awe-fully addressed the father as "author of my being," and was
supposed to "owe" him everything. The child does not owe the parent.
Parental duty is not a loan. It is the never-ending gift of
nature,--an unbroken, outpouring river of love and labour from the
earliest beginnings of life. The child, while a child, has also some
duty to the parent; but even there it is reflex, and based in last
analysis on the child's advantage.

Meanwhile it is a poor parent who cannot win the affection and command
the respect of the young creature growing up so near, so that a
beautiful relation shall be established between them for the rest of
life. This love and honest admiration, this affectionate friendliness,
and all the ties of long association would naturally prompt the child
to desire the society of the parent, and, of course, to provide for
illness and old age; but that is a very different position from the
one taken by an able-bodied, middle-aged parent demanding the
surrender of a young life.

Parentage is not a profession with a sort of mutual insurance return
to it. The claim that humanity is born saddled with this retroactive
obligation requires more convincing proof than has yet been offered.

An obligation we all have, young and old,--and to this the child
should be trained,--the vast and endless service of humanity, to which
our lives are pledged without exception. Seeing the parent devout in
this honourable discharge of duty,--realising that his own training is
with a view to that greater service when he is grown,--the child would
go onward in life with the parent, not backward to him.

But we have not yet forgotten the habits and traditions of the
patriarchate. We demand from the young respect because we are older,
not because we deserve it. Respect is a thing which is extorted
willy-nilly by those who deserve it, and which cannot be given at
will. If a parent loses his temper and talks foolishly, how can a
child respect this weakness? To demand respectful treatment shows one
cannot command it; and, if it is not commanded, it cannot be had. Any
false assumption is a block to progress. So long as the aged expect to
be looked up to on account of the length of time in which they have
not died, so long will they ignore those habits of life which should
insure reverence and love at any age.

People ought to be living with wise forethought and circumspection, in
order that they may be respected when old,--not carelessly lulled with
the comforting belief that, no matter how foolish they are, age will
bring dignity.

So, too, if parents did not so fatuously demand respect merely because
they are parents, but would see to it that they deserve and win
respect by such visible power and wisdom as the child must bow to, we
might look for a much quicker advance in these desirable qualities.
The power of learning things does not cease at maturity. Many a great
mind has gone on to extreme old age, open, eager, steadily adding to
its store of light and power. Such keep the freshness and the modesty
of youth. Far more numerous are the little minds which imagine that
years are equivalent to wisdom, and, because they are grown up,
decline to learn further. Yet these, far more than the wise men, sit
back complacent on their age, and talk with finality of "my

Experience is not merely keeping alive. Experience involves things
happening and things done. Many a young man of to-day has done more
and felt more than a peaceful, stationary nonagenarian of yesterday's
rural life. That very brashness and self-assumption of hot youth,
which brings so complacent and superior a smile to the cheek of age,
would not be so prominent but for previous suppression and
contemptuous treatment. A lofty and supercilious age makes a rash and
incautious youth; but youth, trained to early freedom and its rich and
instructive punishments, would grow to an agreeable age, modest with
much wisdom, tender and considerate with long power.



Since we have so carefully and thoroughly beaten back the new
brain-growth which should distinguish each successive generation, and
fostered in every way the primitive mental habits of our forefathers,
the natural consequence is a prolonged survival of very early
tendencies. Outside, in the necessary contact and freedom of the
world's life, crude ideas must change, and either become suited to the
times or lost entirely. But in the privacy of the home, under the
conditions of family life and the dominant influence of feminine
conservatism, we find a group of carefully cherished rudiments which
never could have survived without such isolation.

Among primitive races the stranger is an object of legitimate
derision. The differences in his speech and manner are held as visible
inferiorities, and his attempts to assimilate are greeted with
unchecked merriment. This attitude of mind is still common in
children, who are passing through the same stage of culture
individually. Among intelligent and well-bred grown people such an
attitude of mind is rightly despised. To them the stranger is entitled
to respectful consideration because he is a stranger; and nothing
could be ruder, in the estimation of such persons, than to laugh at
the stranger's efforts to learn our language and manners.

How great is the difference between this common good breeding in the
world at large and the barbaric crudity of our behaviour at home to
that most sacred stranger, the child! He comes to us absolutely
ignorant of our methods of living, be they wise or unwise; and he must
needs learn every step of his way in the paths we have prepared for
him. Unfortunately, we have prepared very little. A few physical
conveniences, perhaps, in the way of high chairs and cradles, or
nursing-bottles to supplement maternal deficiency; but in psychic
conveniences--in any better recognition of the childish attitude of
mind and its natural difficulties--we make small progress.

Calm, wondering, unafraid, the stranger enters the family circle. He
has no perspective, no gradations of feeling in regard to the
performances he finds going on about him. He has neither shame for the
truths of real life nor respect for the falsehoods of artificial life.
In soberness and eager interest he begins the mysterious game of

Now what is the attitude of the family toward this new-comer? How does
the intelligent adult treat the stranger within his gates? He treats
him with frequent ridicule and general gross disrespect. Not
"unkindly," perhaps,--that is, not with anger and blows or undue
deprivations,--but as if being a child was a sort of joke. A healthy
child is merry with the free good spirits of a spring-tide lamb; but
that pure mirth has nothing in common with ridicule. Who of us has not
seen a clear-eyed child struck dumb and crimson by the rude laughter
of his elders over some act which had no element of humour except that
it was new to him? We put grandpa's hat on the downy head of the baby,
and roar with laughter at his appearance. Do we put baby's cap on
grandma, and then make fun of the old lady's looks? Why should we jeer
at a baby more than at an old person? Why are we so lacking in the
respect due to youth?

Every child has to learn the language he is born to. It is certain
that he will make mistakes in the process, especially as he is not
taught it by any wise system, but blunders into what usage he can
grasp from day to day.

Now, if an adult foreigner were learning our language, and we greeted
his efforts with yells of laughter, we should think ourselves grossly
rude. And what should we think of ourselves if we further misled him
by setting absurd words and phrases before him, encouraging him to
further blunders, that we might laugh the more; and then, if we had
visitors, inciting him to make these blunders over again to entertain
the company? Yet this is common household sport, so long as there is a
little child to act as zany for the amusement of his elders. The
errors of a child are not legitimate grounds of humour, even to those
coarse enough to laugh at them, any more than a toddling baby's falls
have the same elements of the incongruous as the overthrow of a stout
old gentleman who sits down astonished in the snow.

A baby has to fall. It is natural, and not funny. So does the young
child have to make mistakes as he learns any or all of the crowding
tasks before him; but these are not fair grounds for ridicule.

I was walking in a friend's garden, and met for the first time the
daughter of the house, a tall, beautiful girl of nineteen or twenty.
Her aunt, who was with me, cried out to her in an affected tone, "Come
and meet the lady, Janey!"

The young girl, who was evidently unpleasantly impressed, looked
annoyed, and turned aside in some confusion, speaking softly to her
teacher who was with her. Then the aunt, who was a very muscular
woman, seized the young lady by her shoulders, lifted her off the
ground, and thrust her blushing, struggling, and protesting into my
arms--by way of introduction! Naturally enough, the girl was overcome
with mortification, and conceived a violent dislike for me. (This
story is exactly true, except that the daughter of the house was aged
two and a half.)

Now why,--in the name of reason, courtesy, education, justice, any
lofty and noble consideration,--why should Two-and-a-half be thus
insulted? What is the point of view of the insulter? How does she
justify her brutal behaviour? Is it on the obvious ground of physical
superiority in age and strength? It cannot be that, for we do not
gratuitously outrage the feelings of all persons younger and smaller
than ourselves. A stalwart six-foot septuagenarian does not thus
comport himself toward a small gentleman of thirty or forty. It cannot
be relationship; for such conduct does not obtain among adults, be
they never so closely allied. It has no basis except that the victim
is a child, and the child has no personal rights which we feel bound
to respect.

A baby, when "good," is considered as a first-rate plaything,--a toy
to play with or to play on or to set going like a machine-top, that we
may laugh at it. There is a legitimate frolicking with small
children, as the cat plays with her kittens; but that is not in the
least inconsistent with respect. Grown people can play together and
laugh together without jeering at each other. So we might laugh with
our children, even more than we do, and yet never laugh at them. The
pathetic side of it is that children are even more sensitive to
ridicule than grown people. They have no philosophy to fall back upon;
and,--here is the hideously unjust side,--if they lose their tempers,
being yet unlearned in self-restraint,--if they try to turn the tables
on their tormentors, then the wise "grown-up" promptly punishes them
for "disrespect." They must respect their elders even in this pitiful
attitude; but who is to demand the respect due to youth?

There is a deal of complaint among parents over the "impertinence" of
children. "How dare you speak to me like that!" cries outraged
authority. Yet "that" was only the expression used just before by the
parent to the child.

"Hold your tongue!" says the mother. "Hold yours!" answers the child,
and is promptly whipped for impertinence. "I'll teach you to answer me
like that!" says angry mamma. And she does.

In the baby's first attempt to speak we amused ourselves mightily over
his innocent handling of rude phrases,--overheard by chance or even
taught him, that we might make merry over the guileless little mouth,
uttering at our behest the words it did not understand. Then, a year
or so older, when he says the same things, he is laboriously and
painfully taught that what is proper for a parent to say to a child is
not proper for a child to say to a parent. "Why?" puzzles the child.
We can give no answer, except our large assumption that there is no
respect due to youth.

Ask any conscientious mother or father why the new human being, fresh
from God as they profess to believe, not yet tainted by sin or
weakened by folly and mistake, serene in its mighty innocence and
serious beyond measure, as its deep eyes look solemnly into life,--why
this wonderful kind of humanity is to be treated like a court fool.
What can the parent say?

From the deeper biological standpoint, seeing the foremost wave of
advancing humanity in each new generation, there is still less excuse
for such contemptuous treatment. In the child is lodged the piled up
progress of the centuries, and, as he shall live, is that progress
hastened or retarded. Quite outside of the natural affection of the
parent for the offspring stands this deep, human reverence for the
latest and best specimen of its kind. Every child should represent a
higher step in racial growth than its parents, and every parent should
reverently recognise this. For a time the parent has the advantage. He
has knowledge, skill, and power; and we feel that in the order of
nature he is set to minister to the younger generation till it shall
supplant him. To develope such a noble feeling has taken a long time,
and many steps upward through those cruder sentiments which led toward
it. Yet it is the rational, conscious feeling into which the human
being translates the whole marvellous law of parental love.

To the animal this great force expresses itself merely in instinct;
but, as such, it is accepted and fulfilled, and the good of the young
subserved unquestioningly. In low grades of human life we have still
this animal parental instinct largely predominating, coloured more or
less with some prevision of the real glory of the work in hand. Yet so
selfish is human parentage that in earlier times children have been
sold as slaves in the interests of parents, have been and still are
set to work prematurely; and in certain races the father looks forward
to having a son for various religious benefits accruing to him, the

Sentiments like these are not conducive to respect for youth. The
mother is not generally selfish, in this sense. Her error is in
viewing the child too personally, depending too much on "instinct,"
and giving very little thought to the matter. She loves much and
serves endlessly, but reasons little. The child is pre-eminently "her"
child, and is treated as such. Intense affection she gives, and such
forms of discipline and cultivation as are within her range,
unflagging care and labour also; but "respect" for the bewitching
bundle of cambric she has so elaborately decorated does not occur to

Note the behaviour of a group of admiring women around a baby on
exhibition. Its clothes are prominent, of course, in their admiration;
and its toes, fingers, and dimples generally. They kiss it and cuddle
it and play with it, and the proud mamma is pleased. When the
exhibitee is older and more conscious, it dislikes these scenes
intensely. Being "dressed up" and passed around for the observation
and remark of the grown-up visitors is an ordeal we can all remember.

Why cannot a grown person advance to make the acquaintance of a child
with the same good manners used in meeting an adult? Frankness,
naturalness, and respect, these are all the child wants. And precisely
these he is denied. We put on an assumed interest--a sort of stage
manner--in accosting the young, and for all our pretence pay no regard
to their opinions or confidence, when given. Really well-intentioned
persons, parents or otherwise, will repeat before strangers some
personal opinion, just softly whispered in their ears, with a pair of
little arms holding fast to keep the secret close; dragging it out
remorselessly before the persons implicated, while the betrayed child
squirms in wretchedness and anger.

To do this to a grown-up friend would warrant an angry dropping of
acquaintance. Such traitorous rudeness would not be tolerated by man
or woman. But the child,--the child must pocket every insult, as
belonging to a class beneath respect.

Is it not time that we summoned our wits from their
wool-gathering,--however financially profitable the wool may be,--and
gave a little honest thought to the status of childhood? Childhood is
not a pathological condition, nor a term of penal servitude, nor a
practical joke. A child is a human creature, and entitled to be
treated as such. A human body three feet long is deserving of as much
respect as a human body six feet long. Yet the bodies of children are
handled with the grossest familiarity. We pluck and pull and push
them, tweak their hair and ears, pat them on the head, chuck them
under the chin, kiss them, and hold them on our laps, entirely
regardless of their personal preferences. Why should we take liberties
with the person of a child other than those suitable to an intimate
friendship at any age?

"Because children don't care," some one will answer. But children do
care. They care enormously. They dislike certain persons always
because of disagreeable physical contact in childhood. They wriggle
down clumsily, all their clothes rubbed the wrong way, with tumbled
hair and flushed, sulky faces from the warm "lap" of some large woman
or bony, woolly-clothed man, who was holding them with one hand and
variously assaulting them with the other, and rush off in helpless
rage. No doubt they "get used to it," as do eels to skinning; but in
this process of accustoming childhood to brutal discourtesy we lose
much of the finest, most delicate development of human nature. There
is no charge of cruelty, unkindness, or neglect involved in this.

Discourtesy to children is practised by the most loving and devoted
parents, the most amiable of relatives and visitors. Neither is it a
question of knowledge on the part of the elder. These rudenesses are
practised by persons of exquisite manners, among their equals. It is
simply a case of survival of an undeveloped field of human nature,--a
dark, uncultivated, neglected spot where we have failed to grow. The
same forces which have so far civilised us will work farther when we
give them room. We have but to open our minds and widen our sphere of
action to become civilised in these domestic relations. It is the
citizenship--the humanness--of the child we need to recognise, not
merely its relative accomplishments compared to ourselves. Also the
tendencies and restraint born of power and freedom should teach us to
respect the child precisely because of its helplessness. The principle
that urges even the bullying school-boy to "take a fellow of his own
size," and which forbids torturing a captive, killing an unarmed man,
or insulting an inferior, ought to put more nobility into our conduct
in relation to the child. As so much weaker, strength should respect
him; and, as one bound to supersede us, wisdom should recognise his



The child comes to the table. He looks a little weary, knowing the
task before him.

"Now what will you have?" asks his fond mamma. "What would you like,

The child gazes at the dishes there present, and is somewhat attracted
toward one or more of them; but his brain thrusts upon him images of
other viands, and memories of triumph in securing some vaguely
remembered delicacy. He wavers in his mind, and wiggles his knife
uncertainly. "I guess--I'll have"--Mamma is all attention. "Have some
of this nice potato!" she urges. He had inclined toward the potato
previously, but rebels at its being urged upon him. Also the cooing
adjective affronts him. He has heard things called nice before,
usually when he did not want them.

"No, I don't want any potato," he says. "I want--I'll have some sweet

Unhappily there is no sweet potato, and the good mamma smilingly
excuses the lack. "We will have some to-morrow," she promises; and, to
distract him from thought of the impossible, "Won't you have a chop?"

"No--yes--I'll have one chop. On this plate, not on that plate. I
won't have it on that plate!"

"But this plate is warm, dear."

"I want it on my own plate!"

"Very well. Will you have some gravy?"

"Yes, I guess so. Not on the potato! Don't put it on the potato! I
won't eat it if you put it on the potato!"

In time he eats, though not with eagerness. In his young mind is a
vague sense of annoyance and discomfort, as if he were in some way
defrauded of his dinner. The present dinner, rather gloomily going
down, is contrasted with other possible dinners, not now to be
attained. What he has suffers by comparison with all the things he has
not, and a dim memory of previous disappointments oppresses him.

"He never did eat well," says his mother. "We have hard work to find
what he will eat." There may be some digestive disturbance, but there
is a quite needless psychological disturbance added. Choice is a
wearing thing, even to the trained scanner of _menus_.

To select a meal exactly to one's taste, and not be haunted by the
unchosen dishes, means the prompt and skilful exercise of a widely
cultivated taste. Most of us gladly prefer to have some experienced
cook and caterer set a good meal before us. A pleased anticipation at
a well-known dinner table is a more agreeable frame of mind than that
of one who must needs select, spurred by a tall darkey with a pencil.

A child has not a cultivated taste nor the calmness of experience. A
choice, even from objects before him, is uncertain enough. He is apt
to speedily regret and wish to change. To be called upon to order a
meal is a real tax upon him. While he exerts himself in this
direction, any proposition is likely to be resented; and, to one who
is on tiptoe in effort to decide, an insinuating suggestion from
without is extremely irritating.

This method of consulting a child's preferences before he has them,
introducing alternatives not present and then harassing the wavering
young mind with persuasive propositions, rapidly developes a halting,
fretful, back-stitch sort of temper, always wishing it had done the
other thing.

The old-fashioned method was to compel a child to eat "what was set
before him," all of it, quite regardless of his personal taste or
constitutional limitations. Nothing but palpable nausea convinced
these obdurate parents of earlier generations that there were some
things the little victim could not eat. This was a foolish and cruel
method. Children differ widely in digestive power and preference, and
their tastes are marked and sensitive. Eating what he does not like is
far more painful to a child than to an adult. But his tastes and
limitations can be discovered without concentrating his own attention
on them. It is bad to treat a child's tastes with less consideration
than those of older human beings; but there is no reason why they
should be treated with more. The simple lesson can be taught of
eating what he likes and leaving what he dislikes without vociferous
proclamation of these preferences; and, if he really thinks of
something else he would like to have for dinner, teach him to ask for
it for another time. He can readily understand that cooking takes
time, and extra dishes cannot be served at a moment's notice.

A family is usually composed of several persons, all of whom should be
treated with justice. If it is reduced to two only,--if there is only
mother and child to decide between,--the decision should be fairly
balanced. The practical issues of daily life are almost always open to
a child's understanding.

Mamma, we will say, is reading. Mabel is busy with doll's dressmaking.

"O mamma! will you please get me the scissors?"

"Can you not get them as easily, dear?"

"I don't know just where they are, and I've been fussing ever so long
with this yoke; and now I've got it just right, and I'm afraid, if I
put it down, I'll forget again!"

Mamma looks at the flushed, earnest little face, lays her book down,
and gets the scissors.

Again. Mamma is stuffing the turkey. "Mabel, will you please bring me
down the largest needle on my cushion?"

"Oh, but, mamma, I'm so busy with my paints!"

"Yes; but you are upstairs already, and my hands are in the stuffing.
Please hurry, dear."

Mabel brings the needle promptly. She knows that mamma is considerate
of her, and she is considerate of mamma.

It is by no means necessary to argue over every little service, but a
few test cases keep in mind the idea of justice. If what a child wants
will give more pleasure to the child than trouble to the adult, do it.
If it is more trouble to the adult than pleasure to the child, do not
do it; and let the child understand, first, last, and always, the
balance of human rights.

I knew a girl of thirteen who had not yet learned to keep herself
covered at night. She slept with her mother; and, if she wakened
chilly, she would murmur, without opening her eyes, "Mother, cover me
up!" And her mother would do it. This was unfair to the child. It
allowed her to commit a gross injustice; and her mother was
"compounding a felony," as it were, in indulging her. The child was
already awake, and quite capable of pulling up the blankets. There was
no reason why her tired mother should lose sleep for the purpose. The
practical way to exhibit this would be for the mother to waken the
child with the same demand. A few applications would be sufficient. If
verbal remonstrance was preferred (usually an inferior method), the
mother might quietly reply: "By no means. You are perfectly able to do
it. It is not fair to waken me for that. I do not get to sleep again
as quickly as you do, and am tired next day." A child already
reasonably trained would easily see the force of that argument.

A big boy is persistently late to breakfast. This annoys his mother at
the time, and delays her work afterward. She saves and keeps hot
various viands for him, taking many extra steps; and her day's work
is rendered a little more difficult. If the breakfast hour is that
most convenient to the family needs, simply explain to the boy that
breakfast is at such a time only; that he will be called in due
season; and that, if he is not down within the given time, he will
find no breakfast whatsoever. This course, firmly followed, works like
a charm. Most people dislike going without breakfast. A child should
have sufficient sleep, of course; but, if his hours are reasonable,
there is no justice in incommoding the working mother for the sake of
a little natural laziness. With very little children we ingeniously
manage to ignore some of their really important questions and actions,
and at the same time to let them trample on our ears and brains with
senseless iteration of unnecessary words.

A small boy is eating his supper, while his mother puts little sister
to bed.

"Mother!" he bawls. "Mother! Mo-o-ther!"

At last she leaves her task to come to him, he still shouting; and
this is his communication: "Mother! This is baker's bread!"

"Yes, dear," says the too tender mamma, and goes back again.

That child should have been met, not with anger or punishment, but
with very simple sarcasm and protest.

"Yes, that is baker's bread,--and that is a plate,--and that is a
spoon. I knew all these things when I arranged your supper. Do you
think it is fair to call me downstairs just to say that?"

The bubbling fluency of a child's mind, the tendency to repetition and
sometimes foolishness, is natural enough, and not to be blamed; but we
should help the child to outgrow it instead of submitting to his
wearisome reiterance.

"But, my dear, you said that before. I understand. Now do not say it

To say, "Yes, dear," a dozen times to the same question or statement
is not strengthening to the child's mental habits. Similarly, when a
child asks palpably foolish questions,--foolish by his own
standard,--he needs not consideration, but mild ridicule. And, if he
can answer his own question, let him: it is no kindness to do all his
work. Children are not benefited by a too soft and yielding
environment, nor do they always love best those who treat them with
too much consideration. Fairness, not severity nor constant
concession, is what a child appreciates. If we behave fairly to the
child (as we would to a grown person), giving to him the healthy
reaction of common justice, we help him to live easily and rightly in
the world before him.

Even love is open to measurement by results. The love we have for our
children is not developed in us as a pleasurable exercise, but is
distinctly for the child's benefit. "The maternal sacrifice" is what
our scientific friends call it. In studying early forms of life, we
find the mother sacrificing everything for the good of the young, from
which we draw the general inference that it is for the good of the
young to have the mother sacrifice everything. More discriminating
study will show us a great difference in maternal methods. Where the
mother's loss is the gain of the young, she cheerfully submits to it;
but, where the young is not benefited by her loss, we do not find it.

The eggs of the hen are carefully brooded by the mother; the eggs of
the frog are left floating on the water in suitable places. There is
no special virtue in the hen's brooding or vice in the frog's neglect;
the mother does what is necessary for the young. The mother-cat licks
her little ones elaborately, and teaches them to make their toilettes
similarly. The cow licks the calf for a while, but gives it no
instructions in washing its ears with its paws.

The mother-love is essential to the best care of the young, and
therefore it is given us. It is the main current of race preservation,
and the basis of all other love-development on the higher grades. But
it is not, therefore, an object of superstitious veneration, and in
itself invariably right. The surrender of the mother to the child is
often flatly injurious, if carried to excess. To put it in the last
extreme, suppose the mother so utterly sacrifices herself to the child
as to break down and die. She then robs the child of its mother, which
is an injury. Suppose she so sacrifices herself to the child as to
cut off her own proper rest, recreation, and development. She thus
gives the child an exhausted and inferior mother, which is an injury
to him. There are cases, perhaps, where it might be a mother's duty to
die for her child; but, in general, it is more advantageous to live
for him. The "unselfish devotion" of the mother we laud to the skies,
without stopping to consider its effect on the child. This error is
connected with our primitive religious belief in the doctrine of
sacrifice,--one of those early misconceptions of a great truth.

It is necessary for the good of humanity that the interests of the one
be subordinate to the interests of the many, but it does not follow
that an indiscriminate surrender of one's own interests always
benefits society. On the contrary, a steady insistence on the rights
of the individual is essential to the integrity of the social
structure and its right workings. So it is necessary for the good of
the child that the interests of the mother be subordinated to his
interests, but it does not follow that her indiscriminate surrender
of personal interests always benefits him. On the contrary, a too
self-sacrificing mother tends to develope a selfish, short-sighted,
low-grade personality in the growing life she seeks to benefit, where
her honest maintenance of her own individual rights would have had a
very healthy effect. Not what the child wishes, nor what the mother
wishes, is the standard of measurement, but what is really beneficial
to the child. If the mother is frankly and clearly unselfish in their
daily intercourse, and then as frankly and clearly demands her own
share of freedom and consideration, the child gets a fairer view of
human rights than if he simply absorbs his mother as a natural victim.

Little Mary has a visitor. Her mother is most polite and entertaining,
is with them when they desire it, and lets them alone when they
prefer. Then her mother has a visitor. "Mary," she says, "I am to have
company this week. I shall of course have to give a good deal of time
and attention to my friend, as you did to Hattie when she was here.
So you must not feel badly if you do not see as much of mamma as

There must be the previous polite conduct of mamma to point to. The
childish mind needs frequent and conspicuous proof that mamma is
forgetting herself for his pleasure; and then he should be rationally
called upon to forget himself for her pleasure, when it is plainly
fair and necessary.

The beautiful principles of kindergarten teaching are frequently
misapplied in the too conciliatory and self-denying methods of the
well-meaning mamma. Kindness, politeness, constant love, and all due
consideration the child should have; but justice is as important to
him as affection. It must always be remembered that the mother's love
is not an end in itself, nor the expression of it a virtue in itself.
It is to be measured, like every other natural function, by its use.

When a child is reared in an atmosphere of unreasoning devotion and
constant surrender, he grows up to expect it, and to carry a sense of
grievance if he does not get it. The natural tendency of the mother
to love her own young is strong in us,--the maternal passion; but,
like all passions, it needs conscientious and rational restraint. The
human soul has grown to such a stage of development that we are
capable of loving and serving great numbers of people. The woman, who
is still confined to the same range of interests which occupied her in
the earliest grades of human life, inherits her share of this socially
developed power of loving, and concentrates it all upon her own
immediate family.

Like an ever-enlarging burning glass, still focussed upon one spot,
the healthy, natural affection of the animal mother for its young has
grown to what is really an immense social affection, too large for one
family to profitably sustain. The child will get a far more just and
healthful idea of human relation when he finds himself lifted and led
on by a mother whose life has a purpose of its own, than when he finds
himself encompassed and overwhelmed by a mother who has no other
object or interest than himself.

The whole question has to be constantly measured by comparing it with
the rest of life. Are our methods with children those which best fit
men and women for doing their share to maintain and develope human
life? Does not the most casual survey of life to-day show people
practising much amiability and devotion at home, strenuously loving
their own immediate families and friends, and most markedly deficient
in that general love for one another which is not only the main
commandment of our religion, but the plainest necessity for social
progress? And is not this deficiency to be accounted for, not by any
inability on our part for social devotion,--for every day's list of
accidents shows the common fund of heroism and self-sacrifice to be
large,--but by the training which makes it the habit of our lives to
love and serve only those nearest to us?

The mother is the strongest formative influence in the child's life.
If he sees that she thinks only of him, lives only for him, what is he
to learn by it? To think only of himself? Or only of her? Or only of
his children? Does the best care of a child require the concentrated
and unremittent devotion of an entire mother?

A larger intelligence applied to the subject may show us that there
are better ways of serving our children than those we now follow. The
woman who grows up in the practice of considering the needs of people
in general, and of so ordering her life as to benefit them, will find
a new power and quality in her love for her own dear ones. With that
widening of the soul-range of the mother will come a capacity to judge
the child as one of the people of the world, besides being her own
especially beloved. A study of what all children need will help her to
understand what her own child needs far more accurately than when she
thinks of him as the only one. The continuous application of the
mother to the child is not so advantageous as the quality of her
companionship and influence, and her sacrificial devotion too often
weakens his sense of justice and makes him selfish.



Broad-minded mothers of this time are keenly interested in
child-study, in that all too familiar and yet unknown field of "infant
psychology." They are beginning to recognise not only the salient fact
that "all children are different," but the equally important one that
all children have points in common.

The need of union and discussion among mothers is resulting in the
mothers' clubs and parents' congresses, which form so noble an example
of the progressive thought.

But so far, with all the kindly interest and keen desire for improved
methods of child-culture, the mother has to return and grapple with
her individual problem alone.

Here are one or two simple and practical suggestions, the careful
pursuance of which, with some clear record of proceedings, would not
only be of immediate assistance to the mothers concerned, but to all
the other mothers yet to be aroused to the importance of such action.

Let us suppose six mothers, to take a very low number,--six mothers in
one town, one village, or one city, even in the open country, so that
they could reach each other easily; six mothers, who were friends and
"social equals," and who were willing to admit the deficiencies of our
general present methods of child-culture, and also willing to improve
those methods. It is permissible for each mother to imagine that her
own methods are superior to those of the other mothers, as this will
give her a beautiful sense of helpfulness in allowing these superior
methods to be observed and studied by the less able.

A conscious sense of inferiority is also no obstacle, for a mother
having that feeling would be eager to improve by study of the better

These six mothers divide the working days of the week among them,
agreeing that each shall on her chosen day take charge of the children
of the other five. This might be for a part of the day or the whole
day, as is thought best,--let us suppose it merely for the afternoon;
and it could be limited, as desired, to children of a certain age,
and still further reduced, as a mild beginning, to one child apiece
from each family.

This would give, as a minimum, five extra children on one afternoon a
week to each mother. The maximum would be of course uncertain; but, if
all the children of each mother were thus to go visiting for any part
of the day, it would give to each one day in which that larger
responsibility was undertaken, and five days free. There would remain
Sunday, in which each family, complete, would be at home.

Now let us take a hypothetical case, and suppose that our six mothers,
with considerable trepidation, have chosen one child apiece that they
were willing to intrust for the afternoon to the watchful care of
these familiar friends. The children, be it rigidly insisted, are to
know nothing whatever of the purposes or methods involved. All that
little Johnny Black knows is that Mrs. White has asked him to come
over on Monday afternoon and play with Alice and Billy White, and some
other children that he knows, too; that presently Mrs. Green has them
come to her house on Tuesday, and Mrs. Brown on Wednesday; that his
mamma lets them all come and play with him on Thursday,--in short,
that his afternoons have become full and rich and pleasantly exciting,
like some wonderful procession of parties.

"Not like regular parties, either," Johnny would explain. "You don't
have to dress up--much,--just be clean, to begin with. And they don't
have ice-cream and macaroons,--only just milk and crackers when you
get hungry; and--well, 'tisn't so much regular games and p'r'aps
dancin'--like a party,--we just play. And Mrs. White, or whichever one
'tis, she generally has some nice young lady in with her; and they
sort of keep things going,--as if 'twas a real party. It's nicer some
ways, I think."

"And which place do you like best, Johnny?"

"Oh, I do' know! Billy White has the biggest yard. But Jim Grey has
the best swing; and there's a pond at Susy Green's,--a real pond,--and
nothing but girls live there! Then it's lots of fun when they come to
our house, 'cause I can show 'em my rabbits and make Jack do all his

Yes, the children all enjoy it. It means variety, it means company, it
means a wider and closer acquaintance and all the benefits of
well-chosen association and larger environment. It fills a part of the
day. There is no more aimless asking, "What shall I do now?" with the
vague response, "Oh, run away and play!" or the suggestion of some
well-worn amusement.

It means, too, a little more sense of "company manners" and behaviour,
and, on the other hand, a better appreciation of home life.

And to the mother,--what good will this do her?

Each mother would have one day in the week in which to carefully
observe children,--_not_ her own specially beloved children, but just
children, as such. Her observation and care should be absolutely
unobtrusive: the moment the little ones knew they were being watched,
the value of the plan would be greatly impaired; and, to stop at a
minor detail, from the palpable necessity for doing this work without
the child's consciousness, mothers would learn to cover the machinery
of government at home. It is one of our grossest and most frequent
errors in the management of children that we openly discuss our
efforts and failures. They know that we are struggling to produce
certain results in their behaviour, usually in a futile manner.

With, however, a large and definite purpose resting so absolutely on
the child's unconsciousness, more wisdom in this line would soon

The mother who now says, "What would you do with a child like that?"
or "I'm sure I don't know what to do with that child!" before the
child in question, would soon perceive that such an attitude in an
educator does not produce confidence in the object of the education.
Quietly and unostentatiously, and often with the assistance of some
keen girl-friend, these mothers would soon learn to observe
accurately, to generalise carefully, to reduce cautiously, and then to
put the deduction into practice and observe the results.

As beginners, pioneers, they should make their first steps very
modestly. For the first season some one trait should be chosen for
study,--say self-control or courage or consideration of others. Having
decided on their line of observation, let each mother make a little
note of how high each child in the group stands in this line.

How much self-control has my Johnny, as measured by his age?--as
compared with others of his age? When did I first notice self-control
in Johnny? When have I seen it greatest? Does he gain in it? What
should be done to help Johnny gain in self-control? And then go over
the same questions with regard to the other children.

Then, with self-control as the characteristic, the natural development
and best education of which they wish to study, the afternoon parties
begin. At first the children might be left absolutely free to play in
ordinary lines. Then, after the first observations were recorded,
delicate experiments could be introduced, and their results added to
the record.

It is very difficult for the individual mother to rightly estimate
her own children. "Every crow thinks her babe the blackest."

Yet the character of the child is forming without regard to any fond
prejudice or too severe criticism; and his life's happiness depends on
his interaction with people in general, not simply with beloved ones
at home. The measure of Johnny's self-control may not seem important
to the parental love which covers or the parental force which compels;
but to Johnny's after-life its importance is pre-eminent. When one
sits for a portrait to a fond and familiar friend, and sees all
fondness and familiarity die out from the eyes of the artist, feels
one's personality sink into a mass of "values," it brings a strange
sense of chill remoteness. So, no doubt, to the mother heart the idea
of calmly estimating Johnny's self-control and comparing it with Jim
Grey's seems cold enough. To have Mrs. Grey estimate it,--and perhaps
(terrible thought!) to estimate it as less than Jim's,--this is hard,

Yet this is precisely what is to be obtained in such a combination as
this, and in no other way,--the value of an outside observer, through
Mrs. Grey's estimate.

Nobody's opinion alters facts. The relative virtues of Johnny and Jim
remain unchanged, no matter what their respective mothers think or
what their irrespective mothers think. But each mother will derive
invaluable side-lights from the other mother's point of view.

Each opinion must be backed with illustration. Instances of observed
behaviour must be massed before any judgment has value.

"I think your Jim is so brave, Mrs. Grey. When the children were with
me the other day, the cow got loose; and the girls all ran. Some boys
ran, too; and Jimmy drove her back into the cow-yard."

"But Jimmy was the oldest," says Mrs. White. "Perhaps, if he'd been as
young as my Billy, he wouldn't have been so brave."

"And he is afraid of the dark," says Mrs. Brown. "At my house he
wouldn't go into the back cellar after apples, even with the other
children. Isn't he afraid of the dark, Mrs. Grey?"

Mrs. Grey admits this, but cites instances to show courage in other
directions. And always five dispassionate observers to the one deeply
loving and prejudiced.

If it should happen that Jimmy is generally admitted brave beyond his
years, with the one exception of fearing darkness, and that exception
traceable to a nurse-maid's influence, the mother of Jimmy is
rejoiced; and a strong light is thrown on the nurse question. If it
prove that by general opinion there is a lack of courage such as
should belong to his years, there is cause for special study and
special action in this line. Most valuable of all, the habit of
observing a child's behaviour as an expression of character is formed.

The six mothers would of course meet to compare notes, preferably in
evenings, when children were all in bed and fathers could be present;
and the usual difficulty of leaving home in the evening could be met
in such an important case as this by engaging some suitable person to
come in for an hour or two and stay with the sleeping little ones.

All such details would have to be arranged according to personal and
local conditions; but the end to be attained is of such enormous value
that considerable effort is justified in reaching it. Even in the
beginning, a usefulness would be found in the united interest, the
mutual helpfulness of the combined women, drawn together by the
infinite and beautiful possibilities of their great work. In the light
of other eyes, they would see their own children in new lights, and,
by careful following of agreed lines of treatment, soon learn with
some finality what would and what would not be useful in a given case.

The observations and experiments of one earnest group of mothers like
this would be a stimulus and help to uncounted thousands of ungrouped
mothers who are struggling on alone.

It is by such effort as this, such interchange of view and combined
study, and the slowly accumulating record of established facts, that
humanity progresses in any line of similar work,--in floriculture or
horticulture or agriculture, or what you will; and this greatest of
all our labours, humaniculture, sadly lacks the application of the
true social law,--in union is strength.

The child needs not only love, but wisdom and justice; and these grow
best in the human soul through combination.



"The trouble with these household problems which vex women so much is
that we do not give our minds to them sufficiently," said earnest
little Mrs. Blythe. "Now I mean to give my mind to this nurse-maid
problem, and work it out."

It is high time that somebody did. And it is not only on my own
account: this is something which affects us all,--all who have
nurse-maids, that is. I suppose the mothers without nurse-maids have
their problems, too; but I must consider mine now.

Now what is the matter with the nurse-maid? She does not suit me. She
has palpable faults and deficiencies. I want a better nurse-maid. So
far I have trusted to the law of supply and demand to produce her, but
it does not seem to work. I demand her, just as I have demanded a
better housemaid for some time; but the supply is not forthcoming. So
now I mean to think it out, and see if I cannot find a way to the
invention, discovery, or manufacture of a better nurse-maid. And I
mean to be very clear and logical in my thinking about it, so as to
come out in the end with proof. I want to prove what is the matter
with the nurse-maid and how to make her better.

In the first place, what are my objections to the nurse-maid now? She
is careless and irresponsible. She is ignorant. She is ill-mannered.
She is often deceitful. I can't trust her.

Now it doesn't seem right that my child should be placed in the care
of an ignorant, ill-mannered, careless, and irresponsible
person,--even if not also untrustworthy,--does it? And it does not
relieve me of the care as it ought. I have to take care of the child
and the nurse-maid, too. What I want is a careful, responsible, wise,
well-mannered, honourable young girl. She ought to have special
training, too. It is really dreadful the way these ignorant girls
undertake to care for children. We need schools--training schools--and
diplomas. They could have practice classes on the children of the
poor--or in institutions; and yet that idea does not quite suit me,
either. My child is very individual and peculiar, and I don't believe
that practising on poor children would fit a nurse-maid to take care
of my child. But nice people would not want their children to be
practised on. They would have to take the poor ones: it would do them
good, anyway. They get no care now: their mothers are shockingly
ignorant and neglectful.

But, after all, I don't have to arrange the training schools. I only
know that she ought to have special training, and it ought to be
practical as well as theoretical; and that means practising on some
children somewhere, somehow. And they certainly would have to be poor,
because rich people would not let their children go to be practised
on. Maybe the poor people would not, either. Then it would have to be
orphans, I guess, combining nurse-training schools with orphan
asylums, and foundlings, too.

Well, now these nurse-maids would go to these training schools to
improve themselves, would they! Come to think of it, they only go to
nursing because they need the pay; and, even if the training schools
were free, they'd have to wait longer for their money. And, if they
got no more with training than without, they would not go, I'm afraid.
We should certainly have to pay them more trained than untrained. That
is perfectly logical, I'm sure. And, of course, that would be an
obstacle. If the training schools were not free, we should have to pay
them more yet,--enough to make it worth while to study the business of
caring for children. A short course might do,--six months or a year.

I've heard my mother say that she knew something about taking care of
children by the time Charley was born. But that was,--well, I was
eight, and I'm the third,--that was about twelve years. Oh, but she
wasn't in a training school! That would teach them faster. There would
be more children to practise on. Let me see: if it took my mother
twelve years to learn by practising on five children (Charley was the
fifth,--four children), how many children would it take to learn on in
one year? I'll get John to do that for me: I'm not good at figures.
Besides, it's different,--altogether different; for my mother was a
mother, so she knew how, to begin with, and nurse-maids are not.
So--to be strictly logical--it ought to take nurse-maids longer, I'm
afraid. The training schools will have to be free: I'm pretty sure of
that. And that means public or private endowment. We might as well
think it all out clearly.

Should it be added to the public-school system,--open to all
girls,--perhaps compulsory? Why not! Why wouldn't it be a good thing
for all girls to know something of the care of children? But could we
do that? Public schools are in politics; and that is awful. It would
take forever to get it that way; and my child wants a nurse-maid now!
Private endowment, I guess. So many rich people want to help the
masses. This would furnish employment, raise wages, and give us
nurse-maids. I'm sure it would appeal to any philanthropist.

Yes, some rich person must endow a training school for nurses,--that
sounds like hospitals; for child-nurses,--that sounds like
wet-nurses; for nurse-maids,--why need they be maids, though? Well, if
they were married, they would have children of their own of course,
and couldn't take care of ours. One would think, though, that
motherhood would give them more experience,--that they would know how
to care for children better. But, then, they wouldn't want to leave
their own children to take care of ours. And they couldn't take care
of them together. A mother would naturally do more for her own: she
wouldn't be fair.

A training school for nurse-maids. After all, "maid" does not mean
"unmarried" in this connection: it means simply "servant." And "nurse"
comes from the time when mere nursing was all that was required,--a
kind of a survival of old customs. How these things do open up, when
one thinks about them! Why "nurse-maid" at all! Why not have a new and
attractive name: that would help make them go to the training school,

Nurse, nursing,--it isn't nursing our children want. They are not
sick, and they don't stay babies all the time they need this person.
What is it that our children need? Of course, they do need direct,
personal care; and, when they are babies, they need real
"nursing,"--just somebody to--to--well, they have to be fed,--and that
only needs a knowledge of infant physiology and nutrition; to keep the
bottles clean, of course, and be very accurate, and follow directions.
They don't need to know so much after all: the doctor tells what to
give it to eat and what not to. And the mother understands the child's
needs! Still, even for babies, they need some kind of training,--the
nurses, I mean,--not the mothers: it is divinely implanted in the
mother. And, then, mothers are studying these things now. I know ever
so many young mothers who are taking child-study now; and about
nutrition, too.

But the trouble is they can't depend on the nurses to carry out
instructions. If they were only trustworthy! Will the training schools
make them honourable? I suppose so. They would get some sense of the
importance and dignity of their work. They would be graded and
marked, of course, in their diplomas, so that one could pick out the
dependable ones; and that would gradually elevate the standard. The
trouble is, of course, when they go out. Children must be out of
doors; and, in cities where we have no yards, they cannot be under the
mother's eye, so they must be out with the nurse-maid. That's
perfectly logical. Then there are the other nurse-maids. One cannot
keep them isolated: that's out of the question. And if they have
admirers, as they do, of course,--young girls always will have
admirers, and training schools will not alter that,--why, if they meet
their admirers, it has a tendency to make them careless. That is
natural. We must allow for such things. And it is a perfectly natural
temptation to take the baby to see their own families. We forbid it,
of course; but I admit that it is a temptation. And there are all
those awful risks of diseases and things. Now, if their families were
nicer people and lived in nicer places,--but then they wouldn't want
to be nurse-maids! But if the training school raises wages and
standards, that will have an effect on the class of people who take
up the work.

It certainly is the noblest, most beautiful, most important work in
the world,--the training of children. I wonder why our own girls do
not take it up,--our college girls. But then, of course, they wouldn't
be "nurse-maids." Perhaps, if it had another name--

Now let me think, and be fair. Would I want my sister Jessie to be a
nurse-maid? She is taking a kindergarten course, and we all approve of
that: it does help one so in all those problems that perplex a mother!
But, if she went to Mrs. MacAdoo's as a nurse-maid-- The MacAdoos are
nice people, too; and the children are as nice as any I know. They have
a Swedish nurse-maid now,--a big, hearty, wholesome-looking girl, but
stupid. Why, she cannot answer the simplest questions Harold asks,
hardly; and he's always asking them. Jessie has him in the kindergarten
where she is. I don't mean that she's the principal, but she is
training there; and she tells me what a bright child he is, and what
stupid things Christine has told him. And you see he has Jessie only
three hours a day, and Christine all the time he's awake. Jessie is
taking a special course in infant psychology, and she says Christine is
doing him a world of harm. But she is so good-natured and faithful that
they keep her. They don't realise that her being stupid is any harm to
the children, I suppose. But, if Jessie had him all the time, Harold
certainly would develope more rationally and more easily. And yet I am
sure Jessie would not take Christine's place. You see we visit the
MacAdoos, and it would be so awkward. Now, I think,--logically,--I am
approaching a--I forget the name of it, but it's a thing there's no way
out of.

We would like our nurse-maids to be ladies, but ladies are not willing
to be nurse-maids. Now will the training school make ladies--or, at
least, partial ladies--of our nurse-maids? And, if it does, will that
make them disinclined to be nurse-maids? Or can we arrange the
position of the nurse-maid, so that ladies will be willing to take it?
What is the real difference between Jessie's position and
Christine's? Why, Jessie has a lot of children come to her part of the
time; and Christine has a few children, and goes to them all the time.
And Jessie has,--or will have when she's graduated and has a
kindergarten of her own, as I daresay she will,--she has control of
the children while they are with her, and can carry out her
principles. The mothers even consult her sometimes.

But Christine has to carry out the mother's orders. She does what she
is told--or ought to. No, Jessie never would be willing to take Mrs.
MacAdoo's orders about the children. Mrs. MacAdoo is exceptionally
stupid about children, I do think. She doesn't think Christine's
telling them stories about things to frighten them is any harm,--says
they'll outgrow it. And anybody who knows anything of infant
psychology knows how dangerous it is to frighten children. And yet, of
course, to be perfectly fair, I wouldn't want a nurse-maid to dictate
to me about my child. It is out of the question--absolutely. Why, it
would destroy the mother's influence and authority altogether!
And--come to think of it--I suppose a trained nurse-maid would have
views of her own, and they might conflict with the mother's--

Now, where I have got to so far,--it is beautiful, thinking things out
clearly,--we want our children taken care of by ladies, honourable,
intelligent, educated, refined, and specially trained for the
business. I'm quite certain about that. Like Jessie, for instance. She
is just born for it,--always did love children, and knew how to manage
them from the time she was a little girl. And she's studying all the
science of it and practising in the kindergarten,--on the same kind of
children, too. Jessie is the ideal. It is really wonderful to see her
with them. They love her, and they do what she says, too; but she
never seems to be making them do anything: they just do it. Those
MacAdoos behave very much better with her than they do with their
mother. I believe most of the children do, for that matter. Except
little Cassie Wells. She has the most devoted mother I ever saw. It is
a lesson to us all. She never lets her out of her sight, I do
believe. Often comes to the kindergarten, just to be with her. And,
you see, Cassie just depends on her for everything; and nobody else
can do anything with her. It is beautiful,--such absolute dependence
and absorption. Yes, as I said, Jessie is the ideal. But, then, Jessie
is not a nurse-maid, and never would be.

Of course, if there was any way that Jessie could have the children
with her and have her way with them, as she does in the
kindergarten--But you can't do that with little children,--you cannot
separate the child from its mother! When they are older, they go to
school, of course; and, when they are older yet, they go to college,
and so on. But the little child needs its mother every hour. And, as
its mother cannot possibly give it every hour, we have to have the
nurse-maid. If mothers had no other claims, then, of course, you would
have the highest ideal relation. Cassie Wells's mother has given up
everything else. She doesn't go out with her husband at all. Says that
society has no claim beside that of the child. Of course, he stays at
home with her--mostly.

I'm sure a man ought to value his wife's society more than any other,
especially when she is such a devoted mother. She takes all the
periodicals about children, and reads all the books; and then she
modifies it all to suit her particular child. I never knew any mother
so conscientiously given up to the care of a child. She really talks
of nothing else. And, when that child is sick,--and she is extremely
delicate and always having dangerous illnesses,--her mother is simply
glued to her bedside: they can't drag her away. It is a pity that the
child is not better material; for she isn't particularly bright, nor
very well behaved, I think. But, then, her mother is doing everything
that can be done.

Jessie says that child is being mothered too much,--that she needs
more freedom and an impartial outside management. But, then, Jessie is
a good deal of a theorist; and, after all, she isn't a mother. Nothing
can really equal the mother's care for her own child! Still, we simply
can't do it,--all of us,--as families increase. We owe something to
our husbands, I am sure; and we have our social duties; and our
health is not always equal to such a strain. No, the mother must have
help; and that means the nurse-maid. It's no use talking about Jessie.
Even if she would do it, there's not enough of her to go around! We
never can expect that "faculty with children" in everybody: they
simply don't have it. Most girls don't care much for children, nor
know anything about them. Of course, after they become mothers, it is
different. Then it all comes to them.

Now, if nurse-maids could be mothers first-- But I argued that out
before. If they were, they wouldn't be mothers of our children; and
motherhood only teaches how to do what is best for one's own children.
Besides, we couldn't hire them then, because we would not separate
mothers from their own children; and, if they had their children and
ours, too, they would not treat them fairly. And we would not want
them brought up with ours, either. No, they've got to be "maids,"
that's sure.

Now the average young girl does not know or care much about children.
Therefore, she has to be trained. (What a comfort it is to be really
logical!) And, as there is no place to train them now, we have got to
make a place. It all comes round to the training school for
nurse-maids. That's the logical outcome.

Again, since we must have private nurse-maids under our
orders,--really a servant,--we cannot expect ladies to take such
positions. And--this ought to be bracketted with that last--since we
cannot, of course, pay more than so much, that is against ladies doing
it, too. Some people can, I know. Jessie told me of a very nice girl
she knew,--a classmate in college and a trained kindergartner,--who
was unable to get such a position as she wanted, and took a place with
some very rich people as a sort of lady nurse-teacher to the children.
But she said it was perfectly horrid, especially in travelling, having
to eat with servants and be treated as such. I can see that it would
take a kind of heroism, and we cannot really count on heroic
nurse-maids. No, it has to be from the lower classes that we take our
nurse-maids. I think that is proved. The average employer simply
couldn't pay them enough to attract a higher class of labour. These
are really questions of political economy in part, you see.

The ordinary young girl of the lower classes,--that is the raw
material of our nurse-maid. Naturally, she is ill-mannered or
unmannered, and careless and ignorant and all those things. Therefore,
we must train her. In order to do that, we must first provide the
training school, and, second, make her go to it. Now I wonder how we
could do that. The higher wages would be an object of course: that
would have to be insisted on. And we might "create a sentiment."
That's it! That's what we must do,--create a sentiment.

But it's no use doing anything till we've got the school. And I worked
that out as having to be done by private endowment. That involves
agitation, of course; and we must set about it. We can get teachers
plenty, there is so much interest in child-study now; and it will be a
splendid thing for the lower classes to take their young girls and
train them thoroughly in the theory of child-culture. It will make
them so much better mothers afterward, when they do marry, after
spending some years in taking care of our children,--putting their
theories in practice! But wait. That looks queer. Looks as if the rich
people were furnishing elaborate instruction free,--to young women of
the lower classes,--and then paying them good wages for practising on
the children of the upper classes, so that the poor women might be
better mothers afterward.

I must have made a mistake somewhere. I'm going to reverse that
position, and see how it would work. Suppose young girls of the upper
classes took elaborate instruction in child-culture, and then
practised on the children of the lower classes, in order to be better
mothers afterward. That seems more satisfactory, somehow; yet it means
a lot of work. It would do our girls good--I can see that--and do the
children of the lower classes good, and, no doubt, make the girls
better mothers. Besides, I'm wasting time,--"arguing in a circle,"
John would say; for that upper-class-girl hypothesis wouldn't give us
nurse-maids. Now where was I? Mothers have to have help; _i.e._,
nurse-maids. These have to be private servants at low wages:
therefore, ladies would not do it. Therefore, we must have our
children taken care of by girls from the lower classes. They are not
suitable persons to take care of children as they stand: therefore, we
must train them.

Now I mean to really work for this thing,--to create a sentiment. I'll
begin early in the autumn, as soon as we get back. And I'm so glad I'm
going to have such a lovely summer to make me fit for it. You see I'm
very much pulled down. Little John has been such a care, and the
nurse-maids I've had have been so unreliable. Why, the child has been
sick again and again just through their carelessness. I'm sure of it.
And mother said I simply must go away and build up, for the child's
own sake; and John agreed with her--for once. And there's such a
lovely arrangement for the summer: nothing ever happened more
conveniently. You see Jessie is such an enthusiast about children. And
she has planned to be at home this summer. Our home is perfectly
lovely, anyway, and very healthy,--quite in the country, and yet
within easy reach of town. They're going to have the Summer School of
Child-study there at Seabay this year, and Jessie has several of her
class visiting her. And she said, in her solemn, funny way, that they
must have specimens to work on,--first-class specimens! She insisted
on little John, of course, and she's persuaded Clara and George to let
her have their three for a while; and the little MacAdoos are to be
there, too. It will be a regular picnic for the children. It took a
long time to bring me round to it. But, then, it's my own lovely home.
I know how healthy it is. And mother will be there. And one of
Jessie's friends is a doctor, and in a children's hospital, too. She
ought to see that everything is right for their health. So, if they
are happy in that lovely old place, and healthy and well taught and
safe, why, I suppose I can leave.

Of course, I wouldn't for anything on earth but health. Mrs. Wells was
perfectly horrified when I told her. They asked Cassie, too; but she
wouldn't hear of it. She said nothing but death should ever separate
her from her child. And, dear me, Cassie looked so white that it
really seemed as if it would. She made me feel guilty again; but John
can't come to any harm with my mother's experience and Jessie's
knowledge and natural talent. That's the main thing. Jessie always
cared more for children than I did,--except little John, of course.
They've fixed the place up on purpose for children. Such arrangements
for bathing and digging and mud-pieing and gardening and so on you
never saw. There is something for those chicks to do all the blessed
time, and these nice girls--my own friends--to be with them every
minute. You see they take turns and relieve each other, so they are
always fresh for the children. And, then being so enthusiastic and
scientific, it isn't drudgery to them. They are studying all the time.
And how glad I shall be to get back in the fall! Then I can work up
that training school for nurse-maids.



In the growing discontent with our present methods of household
service, while we waver between long-held prejudice, old and dear, and
the irresistible pressure of new conditions, it is worth while to
weigh well the relation between this present method of house-service
and our present method of child-culture.

The home is the place in which we rear young children. It is also the
place in which we perform certain kinds of labour, mainly cooking,
cleaning, and sewing. In the vast majority of our homes, fully
nine-tenths of them, as shown by the United States Census Report,
giving the number of domestic servants in proportion to the number of
families, these industries are carried on by the mother. She is the
domestic servant. In the remaining one-tenth of our homes the labour
is performed by hired servants, the maid-of-all-work still greatly
predominating. The questions here suggested for consideration are:
first, is a mother, who is also a house-servant, able to supply
proper conditions and care to young children? And, second, is the
company of domestic servants, other than their mothers, and constant
association with their industries, a desirable condition for the
education of young children?

It is, of course, difficult to consider with any clearness of
perception facts which have been always familiar. The association of
child and servant is so old that it makes no impression on our
consciousness. It will, perhaps, bring out the relation more vividly
to change the sex of the servant. Suppose a man is left with boys to
educate. Suppose he engages a tutor for his boys. He is willing to pay
well for a man with the proper ability, character, and training to
come and benefit his children by instruction and association. Would
such a man be willing to engage a tutor who was also a janitor? Would
he be willing to spare the time required to fill the janitor's
position from the time required to fill the tutor's position? Or would
he be willing to engage a man who had so little fitness for the
profession of tutor as to be content to act as janitor also?

Again, in sending his boys to school to be educated, would a man be
willing to have that school also run as a restaurant, a laundry, and a
tailor shop? Would he think these industries and the society of the
persons engaged in them good educational influences? It is clear that
a man would not be willing to do these things. Yet all men cheerfully
intrust their children, during their most impressionable years, to the
society and care of domestic servants and the constant association
with domestic industries. In most cases the servant is also the
mother. In other cases the servant is not the mother. In either case
the child grows up in association with domestic servants and service.

Let us not too readily conclude that this is an evil, but examine it
carefully, in its physical and psychical effects. Physically, the
child is born into a certain kind of shop or factory. The conditions
of any labour in the home are particularly open to criticism; our
sweat-shop investigations show that in glaring instance. Intimate
associations with a trade, and especially a dirty or dangerous one,
does not seem advantageous to a child's health and progress. In nine
homes out of ten the child is directly associated with the trades of
his mother, who is a cook, a laundress, a cleaner in general; and the
baby is early accustomed to the fumes and heat of the kitchen, to
grease and ashes and dust, to all the kitchen-work, laundry-work,
chamber-work, and endless miscellaneous industries of his mother. In
the other tenth of our homes the child grows up a little removed, but
not far, from these same industries. They go on under his eyes none
the less, but with a certain ban upon them, as servant's work.

Any mother and housewife knows the complications continually arising
between children and servants. Early associations are deep and
lasting. Domestic servants are not, as a rule, either at all trained
in the right treatment of children or in such personal development of
character and manners as would make them desirable companions for the
young. Yet companions they are,--incessant, intimate, unavoidable.
The formative influence of a nurse-maid or of a maid-of-all-work is of
varying weight in different cases, but always a factor in the child's
development. The education of a child consists in every impression
received by the growing brain, not merely those received when we are
instructing it. We might give an hour a day to careful instruction in
good manners: we might ourselves be models of propriety; but, if the
child is also in the society of conspicuously ill-mannered persons
every day, an effect will surely be produced by them.

It may be suggested that an end is to be attained through exhibiting
the deficiencies of servants, and exhorting the child to despise them,
as the Spartans used the Helots for an awful example; but, even if
this were gained, there would follow with it a spirit of scorn and
contempt for fellow-creatures most injurious to true social

A little child should be surrounded with the best influences of all
sorts, and with behaviour not to avoid, but to imitate. The long
period of immaturity, which is one of our human distinctions, has its
value in the accumulated improvements which may be built into the race
in that time. It is a period of enrichment, of clear growth. To expose
the young to disadvantageous conditions, especially the very young, is
a method of education finding no precedent in nature and no
justification in reason. The adult, with developed powers, may find in
some degree of difficulty a stimulus to further effort; and, if
confronted with injurious conditions, may strive the harder to escape
or change them. But the new person, the child, has no background. He
can make no comparisons. He accepts his first environment
unquestioningly as "the world"; it is all the world he knows. For the
very reason that we were all born and reared in the domestic factory,
we find it hard to imagine any other conceivable surroundings for a
young human being to meet life in. We have accepted it without dream
of criticism.

Yet in physical conditions alone the household industries furnish a
large and constant element of danger to the child. A most casual
retrospect of the accidents common to childhood, which so shock us in
the daily press, show this with startling clearness. Children suffer
from accidents by fire, by boiling water, by sharp instruments, by
injurious substances taken into the stomach. The industry of cooking
alone involves the free use of fire, a constant succession of hot
products, many sharp instruments for cutting and stabbing, and various
food elements healthful in combination,--but often injurious when
taken separately by one ignorant of their nature. The kitchen and the
laundry are responsible for many horrible and sudden deaths among
young children, and many more painful accidents.

Given the essential ignorance and as essential experiments of
childhood, and we may well wonder how it has so long seemed good to us
to bring up our babies among such large chances of danger. If we
reared them in stables, we should expect them to be kicked
occasionally; if we placed them in saw-mills, we should look for some
deficit in fingers; and a child in a cook-shop has his steady average
risk of injury by fire, steel, or poison; in the laundry, the added
chance of drowning. Apart from these main sources of danger, he finds
in sweeping, dusting, and all the uncounted activities of household
toil much that is detrimental to health and safety.

To avoid these dangers, our first effort has been to train the child
to a prompt and instant obedience, such as conditions of imminent
danger and military rule alone can justify, and also to check his
natural and most valuable tendency to investigate and experiment. The
labours of the household must go on: economic laws are peremptory; and
the servant, who is educating the baby so unconsciously, cannot stop
work to explain or illustrate.

On the contrary, the very presence of the child is inimical to the
proper performance of these imperative industries; and the flushed and
hurried servant cries: "Run away now. Mamma's busy!" Where is the
child to run to? This is home. When is mamma not busy? To properly
perform the household labour of an average family, which is of five
persons in an average house,--say of six rooms,--takes ten hours a
day of swift, intelligent, skilled labour. During what part of this
time can the household labourer give due attention to the child? Or is
it sufficient education to watch a servant at work, and to help a
little when one is old enough?

If the industries involved were properly divided, specialized, and
developed, much that is valuable might be gathered from their
observation, and from guarded experiment, by children who are old
enough. A child can receive valuable instruction in a woollen-mill or
a blacksmith shop, but it does not follow that these places are
suitable as nurseries. The lack of any true educational value in the
position is sufficiently shown by the ceaseless centuries of ignorance
in these very trades. All women, for all time, reared in this intimate
association with domestic service and domestic servants, have failed
to work out any better grade of performance than that which still
furnishes the staple of conversation among them.

It is quite evident, from the results so painfully visible around us,
that the education of our children by house-servants developes neither
general intelligence nor special proficiency. The intellectual
progress of humanity has shown close connection with the extension of
industry in larger lines, with a growing specialisation, a wider
distribution, and, of course, with the beautiful growth in special
methods of education. But this kitchen education, though we have
enjoyed its advantages for so long, does not seem to show good

The educational value of the mother seems not to be in proportion to
her occupation as a house-servant, but the reverse. It would seem that
our children grow in intelligence and good behaviour rather in spite
of the domestic industries than because of them. Any mother who is
awake to the limitless possibilities of child-culture, and who begins
to work out some well-considered plan for its pursuance, knows the
ceaseless interruptions of her efforts, and the peremptory
monopolisation of her time, by the demands of household labour. So
far, with true womanly patience,--a patience which ceased to be a
virtue some years ago,--she has accepted the condition as inevitable,
and plodded on, consoling herself with a "day unto day" philosophy,
and with "doing the best she could"; and many moralists consoled her,
saying, "Blessed be drudgery!" Drudgery has a certain value, no doubt.
It developes certain characteristics; namely, those of a competent and
contented drudge. The question raised here is merely whether this kind
of work and the characteristics developed by it are suitable
educational associations for young children.

What are the qualities developed by house-service? Let us suppose that
we are all, fathers as well as mothers, occupied solely in household
labour. The effect may be studied from one point of view in those
countries where there are more men-servants than with us, and where
the profession is sometimes followed for generations. The typical
character of a butler or footman, a parlour-maid, cook, or general
servant, may be traced through all personal variation. Given any sort
of person, and put him or her through a lifetime of domestic service,
and certain characteristics appear, modified to a large degree by
personality, but typical none the less.

This palpable result of house-service is familiar to us all, and not
desired in ourselves or our children. Admitting all personal good
qualities in the individual servant, that in his bearing which
distinguishes it from the bearing we call "soldierly" or "gentlemanly"
or even "business-like" is the natural result of his form of
labour,--of personal domestic service. Where the purpose of action is
to serve one individual or a very few individuals,--and this not so
much in ministering to general needs as in catering to personal
tastes,--those who thus labour are checked in development by the
measure of the tastes they serve. That is the restrictive tendency,
resisted according to personal power and ability, but always producing
some result. A race of men who were one and all contented to be
butlers and footmen would not give as noble a fatherhood as the world
needs; and a race of women who are contented to be cooks and
housemaids do not give as noble a motherhood as the world needs.

Sharp exception will, no doubt, be taken to the use of the word
"servant" to designate the nine out of ten women who "do their own
work." There is a difference, we freely admit. They do the same work
in the same way, but they have different motives. They do it from a
sense of duty, oft-times, instead of a desire for wages; for they get
no wages. They do it simply because they have to, sometimes, feeling
it to be merely a disagreeable necessity. They do it from a more
direct self-interest than the servant, as well as from a greater
self-sacrifice. Few, very few women love it, and continue to do it a
day beyond the time when their husbands can afford to hire another

Whatever the "moral quality" of intention and the value of one's
"frame of mind," the reactive effect of one's daily labour is
inexorable. No matter how high and holy the purpose of the toiling
housewife, no matter whether she glories in her task or hates it, her
brain is daily modified by its kind of exercise as surely as her
fingers are greased by the dish-water, cracked by the soap-suds, and
calloused by the broom. The amount of labour and care required to run
a household comfortably is not small. It takes no mean intelligence to
administer a home. So does it require intelligence, labour, and care
to run a retail dry-goods shop or a railroad train. The point to study
is whether this particular species of labour and care is conducive to
the best child-culture. Can the average woman successfully manage the
mingled industries of her household and the education of her children?
It may be replied at once, with some triumph, "Yes, she does!" To
which we merely rejoin, "Does she?" We know that the household
industries are carried on in some fashion; and that children grow up
amid them (such of them as do not die), and are--when grown--the kind
of people we see about us.

People did live and rear children in caves, in tents, in huts, in
feudal castles. It is a question not of the bare possibility of
maintaining the race, but of the relative advantages of methods of
culture. Our rate of infant mortality is shamefully large, and due
mainly to what physicians term "preventable diseases." It is quite
open to discussion whether those diseases are not often traceable to
the insanitary conditions of household labour, and their continued
prevalence to the limitations of the kitchen-bred intellects of
nine-tenths of our mothers.

No human being, be she never so much a mother, can be in two places at
once or do full justice to several varied functions with one
distracted brain. That the mother comes so near it in many cases is a
splendid tribute to the power of love; that she fails in such degree
is no reproach to her, so long as she is unable to alter the
industrial conditions under which her motherhood is restricted.

Now that economic progress makes it possible to introduce new and wide
improvements, the mother does become responsible, if she fails to see
and take advantage of the change. Our complex and ill-developed
household labours tend to produce certain special mental capacities in
those who perform them. The housewife must hold in mind the entire
contents of the home,--all its furnishing, decorations, utensils, and
supplies. She must keep a running account of stock, and make good the
incessant and irregular deficiencies of linen-closet, wardrobe,
cupboard, and pantry, as well as the wear and tear on the machinery
and furnishings. This developes one order of brain,--the
administrative. The house-servant must exhibit skill in several
distinct trades, and a swift facility for disconnecting the mind and
readjusting it as promptly. This developes another order of
brain,--the executive,--the development seriously hindered in special
perfection by the attendant facility for disconnection. Neither of
these mental powers is that of the educator, especially the educator
of babies.

The capacity for subtle, long-continued, nicely balanced observation
in lines of psychic development; the ever-present, delicate sympathy
which knows the moment to suggest and the hour to refrain,--these
mental attributes belong neither to the administrative nor to the
executive ability. We find in the maternal dealings with children,
when conspicuously efficient, precisely what should be expected of
the expert manager and skilful servant. The children are well managed
and well served, but they are not well educated.

When the mother--the housewife-mother, the servant-mother--begins to
look into educational processes, she is appalled. It is easy to show
her, if she has a clear and at all educated mind, what conditions
would be best for babies, what kind of observation and treatment; but
she knows full well that she cannot furnish these conditions. She has
neither place, time, strength, skill, nor training for this delicate
and careful method. Her work--her daily, hourly inexorable work--fills
the place, consumes the time, exhausts the strength, does not develope
the skill, and prevents the training of the educator. Many mothers do
not even recognise the possibility of better methods, and strenuously
resent the suggestion that they are not doing all that could be done.

They resent even the kindergarten, many of them. The relatively slow
progress of the kindergarten method is as good a proof as could be
offered of the lack of educational perception among mothers. They are
willing to "serve" their children endlessly,--wait on them, wash,
sweep, and cook for them. They are willing to "manage" their children
carefully and conscientiously, and do not recognise the need of better
educational treatment for babies. This attitude is a perfectly natural
result of the reaction of the absorbing household industries on the
mind of the mother. Her interest is eager and alert in all that
concerns the material management of the family, from wall-paper and
carpets to some new variety of hose-supporter,--down to the least
detail of decoration on an embroidered muslin cap for the baby.

In any matter of greater beauty or economy, or in some cases of
sanitary improvement, the housewife-mother's mind is open. In
indefatigable zeal in direct service--no task too difficult, too long,
too tedious--the servant-mother's hand is ever-ready. But the same
devoted, loving, conscientious mother will fail appallingly to keep in
touch with the mind-growth of the baby; will often neglect and even
seriously injure its development in what is, after all, the main
field of human life. The young human being needs far more than to be
fed and clothed and waited on, however lovingly; or even than to be
taught in schools in a few set lines of study.

We have made splendid progress in external things, in material forms
and methods of production and distribution. We have travelled far and
deep in scientific study, climbed high in art, and grown through grand
religions. Our one great need--a need that grows daily greater in the
vivid light of these swift-moving years--is for a better kind of
people. The progress in human character does not keep pace with our
external improvement. We are not trained in the right management of
our own faculties; and come out of "the home" into "the world" well
fed enough, well dressed enough, but with such unkempt, unbuttoned,
dangling strings of neglected character as bespeaks the orphan soul.

Ask any mother to describe her children's complexion, costume, and
tastes in eating. She will do it glibly, profusely, and with feeling.
Johnny would never touch meat till he was ten; Maud would eat nothing
else; Jessie could never bear potatoes. Maud was very near-sighted.
She had early taken her to an oculist. She would probably have to wear
glasses always. Jessie was so hard on shoes. She used two pairs to
Maud's one,--even worse than Johnny. Now ask her to describe the
distinctive mental characteristics of each, at what age they
developed, and what measures she has taken from year to year to check
Jessie's personal vanity, to increase Maud's courage, to develope
patience in Johnny. Ask her what she has tried for croup, and she will
discourse freely. Ask her what she has tried for the gradual reduction
of self-consciousness, and she looks puzzled.

The human race is capable of beautiful development in character, as we
see in occasional instances. That such beautiful development is
largely assisted by right education, especially in the very first
years, is proven by a thousand experiments. That most of us grow up
without any intelligent psychic training, without wise attention and
skilful care in soul-growth, is but too evident. Better education for
the young of the human race, that education which the child never
knows of, but which surrounds him with helpful influences from his
first consciousness, is an imperative need.

Some attempt at this work is made by all conscientious mothers, and
wonderful success is sometimes attained by a mother of special genius
for child-culture (and who, by the way, is seldom distinguished as a
housekeeper); but our general average in humaniculture is low. Nothing
in the range of human effort is more important than the right
education of children, which means the improvement of the race. The
first years are of special value, the first influences and
associations of pre-eminent importance.

If the household industries are incompatible with the best
child-culture, they should be withdrawn from the household,
specialised and professionalised like all the other industries once
considered essentially domestic. When a broader intelligence is
brought to bear on our infancy, when we do not grow up under the
unavoidable assumption that the principal business of life is to "keep
house," there will be a better chance for the growth of those civic
virtues so pitifully lacking in us now. So many marks of progress in
these lines are now evident that any intelligent woman can see the way
open before her. The public laundry is sapping the foundations of our
domestic industry; the "Domestic Service Bureau" is beginning to
furnish skilled labour by the hour; the "Prepared Food Association" is
solving another problem. The way out of these household difficulties
is opening fast. It needs only a fuller recognition among women of the
value of this change to bring it in with greater rapidity and success.
For the sake of our children let us free the home from its archaic



We use the word "natural" in many senses,--sometimes with warm
approval, as indicating that which is best; sometimes with
disapproval, as low and discreditable.

"Natural affection" is one familiar phrase, and "unnatural monster"
another, which show a firm belief in the rightness of the working laws
of the universe.

On the other hand, the whole story of human development lies in
changing those conditions and habits which were once natural to the
slow, laborious, hard-won advantages of civilisation. "The natural
man" or man "in a state of nature" is a remote ancestor; and we do not
allow unchecked freedom to animal passions and appetites among us on
the ground that they are "natural."

It is natural to take revenge for injuries; it is natural to eat too
much; it is natural to be too careless in youth and too cautious in
old age. "Natural" means according to the laws of nature; and the laws
of nature have a wide and long range.

In applying the word to any one creature, we have to limit it by time
and circumstance. It is natural for an absolutely wild creature, which
has never seen man, not to be afraid of him. It is natural for the
same creature, when hunted, to fear man, and shun him. If long tamed,
like the cat and dog, it is natural to come trustfully to the
well-known friend.

Nature is essentially changeful. Its laws remain the same, but the
interaction of those laws produces ever-varying results. "The nature"
of any given creature varies with its circumstances,--give it
time,--as in the above case of the dog and cat; but the whole scale of
behaviour is "natural" in its place and time. "A state of nature" is
not a period with an exact date, nor any one grade of conduct. That
conduct which is most advantageous to a creature under given
circumstances is natural. The only conduct which is "unnatural" would
be that which was exhibited in contradiction to the laws of nature, if
such were possible.

In this sense an ascetic life is unnatural, as meaning destruction to
the individual and race; but, in the sense that the ascetic fondly
believes he is acting for his ultimate benefit, his conduct is
"natural," after all.

A wild rose is "natural," a garden rose or hot-house rose is
"cultivated," a velvet rose on a bonnet is "artificial." Yet it is as
natural for man to cultivate and imitate for his own good pleasure as
for a bee to store honey. When we were in what we usually call "a
state of nature," we did not keep clean, wear clothes, go to school or
to church. Yet cleanliness and clothing, education and religion, are
natural products of "human nature."

When we apply the word to human conduct, we ought to be clear in our
own minds as to whether we mean "natural"--_i.e._, primitive,
uncivilised, savage--or natural,--suited to man's present character
and conditions. Primitive man did not send his children to school, but
we do not consider it unnatural that we do send ours. Primitive woman
carried her naked baby in her arms; modern woman pushes her
much-dressed infant in a perambulator. But there is nothing unnatural
in preferring the perambulator. It is natural to do what is easiest
for the mother and best for the baby; and our modern skill and
intelligence, our knowledge and experience, are as natural to us as
ignorance, superstition, and ferocity were to our primal ancestors.

With this in mind, let us look at the use of the term "natural" as
applied to mothers. What sort of mother do we praise as natural, and
what sort do we blame as "unnatural"? Is our term used with reference
to a period of development, "natural" motherhood, meaning primitive,
savage motherhood? or is it used with reference to the exercise of
that intelligence, acquired knowledge and skill, and array of
conveniences, which are natural to civilised man to-day? I think it
will be found that in most cases we unconsciously use it in the first
sense, natural meaning merely primitive or even animal, and with but
too good reason, if we study the behaviour we are describing.

Motherhood is pre-eminently a "natural" function in both senses. It might
almost be called _the_ natural function, as reproduction seems to be more
important in the evolution of species than even self-preservation. It
would seem as if the instinct of self-preservation were given merely to
keep the creatures alive for purposes of reproduction; for, when the two
forces come into conflict, the reproductive instinct is the stronger.

The reproductive functions are performed by both male and female; but,
as species developes and more conscious effort is applied to the great
task, the female has the larger share.

In furnishing nutrition to the young, order mammalia gives the entire
task to the mother; and their care, protection, and defence are mainly

With the human species, in proportion to its development, the scales
have turned the other way. With us the father furnishes food, shelter,
and protection, save for the first period of suckling. In many cases
the mother fails even to provide this assuredly "natural" contribution
to the child's nourishment. This would be a good opportunity to call
her "unnatural"; but, if she is sufficiently assiduous with the bottle
or wet-nurse, we do not. Beyond that period the human mother merely
waits upon and watches her children in the shelter provided by the
father, and administers to them such food, clothing, and other
supplies as he furnishes.

Her educational office, too, has largely passed from her, owing to the
encroachments of the school and kindergarten. She still moulds their
morals and manners as far as she is able, and has command of their
education during the earliest and most important years.

Now is it "natural" for a mother to take no part in getting food for
children? If ever there was a natural function pertaining to
motherhood, that seems to be one. If we use the word in its primitive
sense, she certainly is "an unnatural mother" for relinquishing this
primal duty. But, if we use it in the other sense, she is quite
natural in accepting the conditions of civilised life as far as they
are advantageous to the child. Is it "natural" for a mother to submit
her children to the instruction of other extra-maternal persons? or to
call the doctor when they are sick, engage the dentist to fill their
teeth, and hire persons to help take care of them? These things are
not primitive surely, but neither are they "unnatural." The "nature"
of motherhood is to provide what is best for the child; and the
multiplied services and facilities of our socially developed lives are
as natural to us as our smooth white skins, once "naturally" brown and

In all fair thinking, speaking, and writing, we should decide clearly
upon our meaning, and see that it would be very unnatural for modern
women to behave as was natural to primitive women.

The main duty remains the same,--to benefit the child. Methods and
materials are open to choice and change. Motherhood is as open to
criticism as any other human labour or animal function. Free study,
honest criticism and suggestion, conscientious experiment in new
lines,--by these we make progress. Why not apply study, criticism,
suggestion, and experiment to motherhood, and make some progress

"Progress in motherhood" is a strange phrase to most of us. We would
as soon speak of progress in digestion.

That shows how we persist in confounding the physical functions of
reproduction with the elaborate processes that follow; and yet we do
not apply our scornful term of "unnatural mother" to the weak,
unhealthy woman who cannot compete with a cow in this stage of
motherhood. We should think fairly one way or the other. Success in
the physical functions of maternity we shall do well to keep up to a
level with the performance of the "lower animals." The ensuing
processes are the ones open to progress.

No bottle is as good as the breast. "You cannot improve on nature!"
But you can improve in methods of clothing, feeding in later years,
house and school building, teaching, and every other distinctly human

If the human mother does not compare favourably with other animals in
the physical processes of reproduction, she is therein "unnatural." If
she does not keep up with the opportunities of her race and time in
all the ensuing care of the child, she is therein unnatural. Such care
and culture as was natural to give a cave-baby would be unnatural
to-day. Is not the average mother of to-day too prone to content
herself with a very low-grade performance of a modern mother's
duties, on the plea that her methods are "natural,"--namely,

The grade of "care" given by the mother of to-day is too often exactly
that of the mother of many thousand years ago. We depend almost
altogether on what is known as "the maternal instinct," which is a
"natural instinct," to be sure, just as it is a natural instinct for
the male to fight. The right education of a child to-day requires more
than instinct to produce the best results. Because we have not used
the helpful influences of association, study, and experience in this
most important labour of life, we keep our progress as a living
species far below the level of our progress in material improvements.

When anything is said of improving the human stock, we instantly think
of the methods of breeders of cattle, and are at once convinced of the
undesirability and impossibility of applying any such means to

But there remain open to us two immense avenues of improvement, both
free to mothers. One is the mother's modifying influence upon the
race through selection,--that duty of wise choice of a superior father
for her children, which is "natural" enough to the lower animals, but
which we agree to ignore in the bringing up of our young women.
Careful and conscientious training to this end would have a great
effect upon the race.

This does not mean the self-conscious forcing of a young heart to
marry a "superior" man without the blessed leading of true love; but
such open knowledge of what constituted an inferior or positively
injurious man as would lower the likelihood of nice girls loving the

The other and far more practical road of racial advance is in
improving the environment of our young children, both materially and
psychically, by the intelligent co-ordinate action of mothers. If we
improve the individual as far as possible, it is better not to meddle
too much with the subtle forces which lead to mating. These processes
are not cerebral, and ought not to be made self-conscious. But
educational processes are conscious, and should be studied.

The "natural" mother gives no thought to her approaching duties during
youth. The animals do not, the savages do not, and our charming young
girls do not. Is it not time for us to show a generation of mothers
sufficiently "unnatural" to give honest thought and study to the great
duty which lies before them? Clear-headed, intelligent girls, as yet
unhampered by the blind brute instinct of maternal passion, might be
able to plan together for the good of the child, as they never would
be able to plan separately for the good of their own individual

A year or two of thorough study and practice in the arts and sciences
of child-culture would soon convince the girl as to whether she was
adapted to be an educator of little children or merely a mother. I say
"merely a mother" in this rather derogatory way, alluding to the
process of bearing young and perhaps suckling them. This is an
essential physical function, common to all the higher animals, and
usually fulfilled by them much better than by us. The continuous and
subtle processes of education which come after, and the wise care
required for the physical health and comfort of the child, do not
come "naturally" to every mother. It is here that the skill and
training are needed. Maternity is one thing, and education another.

It cannot be too strongly reiterated that maternal love does not
necessarily include wisdom. It is "natural" for every mother to love
her children, but it does not follow that she knows what is best for
them. The animal mother does know by instinct; and we, content to take
our pattern of motherhood from the beasts, have imagined that we
needed nothing more.

The individual animal has the necessary knowledge of its kind lodged
in each specimen. One bear, lion, or sheep, can teach its young all
that any of them know, and care for them one as well as another.

There is an immense difference between this "natural" condition and
ours, where individuals differ so widely in wisdom, and where the
material conditions essential to the good of the child are not open to
every mother to select from as instinct dictates and procure according
to her individual skill, but are produced by us collectively, and only
to be secured by combined intelligence. For our mothers to insure
good conditions for their children requires more than maternal

The "natural" mother of to-day is reared without an inkling of what
lies before her; and no preacting instinct warns her of the effect of
her girlhood's wasted opportunities. She marries still by "instinct,"
which often leads her astray; or, when she uses her conscious reason,
it is generally in lines of financial advantage, irrespective of the
to-be-father's health or character. She fulfils the physical functions
of maternity rather reluctantly and with poor success, being
frequently much the worse for the performance, and then rather
boasting of her enfeebled condition, as if it was in some mysterious
way a credit to her.

Then she brings to the care and education of her children merely her
rudiments of maternal instinct,--an instinct so far painfully lacking
in wise prevision of the event and preparation for it.

Where failing health or "social duties" or any other causes prevent
her constant attendance on the child, the rich mother hires a
low-class woman to take care of him; and, if the poor woman has too
much work to be able to constantly attend upon the child, she gets
along as she individually can without taking much care of him. Or, if
she is of that small class who do really "take care of" their children
personally, the care she gives is the mere chance outcome of her
personal character and conditions, and may or may not be beneficial.

All this conduct we call "natural," and see no blame in it. We assume
that every mother knows how to care for her children; and, if we only
see her keeping at it incessantly, we never criticise the methods or
results. That is not, in general, a charge against motherhood. We do
criticise individual cases very freely, yet make no deduction from our
own wide observations.

Now let us picture an "unnatural" mother. As a young girl, she
thoughtfully considers her approaching duties. She says to herself: "I
am to be a mother; to contribute my personal share to the improvement
of humanity by bringing into the world some one better than I am. I
must do all I can to be better personally, in character and physique,
for the child's sake. Whatever I may be able to do for it afterward, I
will give it good endowment at birth." And then this unnatural young
girl proceeds to train herself in all right living, avoiding anything
in dress or food or late hours that might injure her health, because
she hopes to be a mother some day. She studies child-culture eagerly,
hoping that she may be fit for the splendid work, but is disappointed
here perhaps, having a strong musical temperament, or a good head for
business, or capacity for prompt and skilful manual labour, but not
the faculties that go to make the good educator.

This is a blow, for she considers the training of little children as
the highest work on earth, but she recognises that only about one in
twenty has the requisite capacity; and the knowledge gained in her
careful study in these lines shows her the importance of giving
children the _best_ conditions, which involves association with those
specially endowed with the teacher's power. So she studies her own
profession cheerfully, resolved to make good progress there, to be a
mother her children can be proud of, and to be able to guarantee them
all they need. She loves and marries, led by the deepest force in
organic life, but governed by a clear and conscious wisdom even here.
If she has the misfortune to be attracted to a man diseased or immoral
or defective, she will not accept him, for the sake of her children.
But marry she will, for this is the law of life; and the exceptions go
to extinction. This fair woman, vigorous and beautiful, with her
well-trained body, clear mind, and tender spirit of mother-love
waiting within her, would not go unloved. She marries. She bears
healthy, beautiful children, and nourishes them at her proud and
loving breast. She has provided beforehand for their care and
training, knowing from the study and experience she has given the
subject, and the reading she has kept up, what are now the best
obtainable conditions. Her home has been chosen with a view to its
proximity to the best baby-garden and child-home she knew, where some
of the teachers were old friends of hers, and all were known by

Having chosen a profession with a view to the physical limitations of
motherhood, and prepared during her plentiful time of waiting such
arrangement of hours and substitutes as shall enable her to meet the
mother's duties properly, she takes a complete vacation for the months
that need it; and then gradually resumes her work for part of the day,
as her hours between nursing the child lengthen. She goes gladly to
her work because she loves it, is well trained for it, and by doing it
she serves her child. She comes more gladly to the child, the deep
primal instinct coming out strongly; and at night the healthy little
one sleeps near her in the quiet home.

Between the hours of nursing, the baby sleeps peacefully or wakes
happily, in the beautiful home that his mother--working with the other
mothers--have made for their children; and is watched and cared for by
the wise and tender women who have proved their fitness for this
precious work.

His mother is not worried about him. She knows that in that home there
is no possible danger, in that trained care no least neglect; and
that, if any sudden illness smote him, the visiting physician is there
daily, and others in instant call. This place was made for babies, and
is not in charge of servants. She is at ease about the child. Eagerly
she goes to him when work is done. No weariness, no anxious
uncertainty, only the glad triumphant mother-love which is content in
knowing that the best possible conditions are secured to the child,
and a constantly renewed delight in its health and beauty and good
progress. Owing to her previous study, she knows enough not to undo
the good effects by foolishness at home. She is in daily communication
with the teachers,--and nurses and doctors, if necessary. She does not
lose touch with the little life. Her untired affection surrounds him
always, and to the child she is probably the most agreeable of the
several agreeable persons in whose society he finds himself. Unless
she falls terribly below the common standard, he will love her the
best; for the beautiful background of nursing won and held his dawning
affection, and the sweet home-coming every night is a constantly
strengthening tie. Any clean, comfortable, human home should be
suitable for a healthy child to sleep in; but it is in his
impressionable day-time hours that he needs more appropriate

It will be seen that this unnatural mother has her child in her own
care for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, and during the eight
hours of a working day she herself places him in what she knows to be
better conditions than her own home could offer. If she does chance to
possess that degree of educational genius essential to the best care
of young children, her eight hours of work will be spent in taking
care of them, and the remaining sixteen in still taking care of her
own. Thus the exceptional mother, who is also an educator, will have
her own all the time; and her unusual ability will benefit many other
little ones for part of the time.

The "natural" mother, of course, believes that her own care of her own
child is better than any one's else. She can give no proof of this,
and would be very unwilling to submit to any examination or
competition. She simply thinks she is the best educator because she
is a "mother." The sickness and death of her children, or the
accidents which happen to them, or their inferior development and
disagreeable behaviour, she never takes as proof of her incompetence.
Where an experienced teacher could remove half a dozen bad habits in
as many months without the child's knowing it, the mother scolds and
spanks along the years, or resignedly lets the small people trample
upon the rights of their elders, in serene conviction that her methods
must be right; for is she not their mother?

The unnatural mother, who is possessed of enough intelligence and
knowledge to recognise her own deficiencies, gladly intrusts her
children to superior care for part of the time, and constantly learns
by it herself.

The mother-love, which is so far strained by the difficulties of
rearing children in the home as to frequently give way to
irritability, weariness, and even bad temper, would be kept fresh and
unworn by the eight-hour rest; and the child would never learn to
despise his mother's irascibility and lack of self-control, as,
unfortunately, so many children do. To the child, happy and busy in
his day hours of education, the home-coming would be an ever new
delight, and the home--"papa and mamma's house"--a lovely place to
respect and enjoy.

Many will wonder why the mother is described as "working" during eight
hours. The able-bodied and able-minded human being who does not work
is a contemptible object. To take from the labour of others so large a
share of human products as is necessary to our comfort to-day, and
contribute nothing in return, is the position of a devouring parasite.

Most women do work, hard and long, at house-service. The "natural"
mother is content to mingle her "sacred duties" of child-care with the
miscellaneous duties of a house-servant; but the "unnatural mother,"
for the sake of her children, refuses to be the kitchen-maid,
parlour-maid, and chamber-maid of the world any longer. She recognises
that her real duties are too important to be hindered in their
performance any longer by these primitive inconveniences; and, with
combined intelligence, she and the others arrange their households on
a basis of organised professional service, with skilled labour by the
hour, and so each has time to perform some professional service
herself, and pay well for the better performance of the "domestic"

This subject is treated in a special volume on "Women and Economics,"
but here it is sufficient to present the position of the mother, the
"unnatural" mother, who would refuse to maintain any longer our
grossly defective system of household service (either by herself or by
a hired woman), on the ground that it was not conducive to the best
development of her children.

To those who for any reason prefer, or are compelled by circumstances,
to pursue the profession of private house-servant, it will, however,
be of inestimable advantage to have their children taken out of the
dirt and danger, and placed in proper conditions, while the mother
follows her profession at home. The natural mother cares only for her
own children. She loves and labours without knowledge, and what
experience she gains by practising on her own children is buried with
her. The unnatural mother cares for Children,--all of them,--and knows
that she can best serve her own by lifting the standard of
child-culture for all.

We have urgent need of the unnatural mother,--the mother who has added
a trained intellect to a warm heart; and, when we have enough of them,
the rarest sound on earth will be that now so pitifully common,--the
crying of a little child.



The mother does her duty by her children as best she can. The father
does his duty by his children. But we do not do our duty by our
children. The relation of the State to the child is little thought of,
much less understood. We have discussed it only as an alternative to
the parental relation, involving the removal of the child from the
home and family, and the substitution of civic for domestic care. Such
a proposal naturally excites the hot opposition of parental love and
instinct, and cannot stand. It has been tried more or less thoroughly,
as in Sparta, but does not appeal to the human heart or head, and is
not in the least what is here under discussion. The true relation of
the State to the child includes the parental relation, and in no way
controverts the love and instinct of those invaluable public

It is not necessary, or in any way desirable, for the State to remove
the child from the parent. Parents are evolved for the purpose of
rearing children, and possess highly specialised and urgent impulses
in that direction,--far too useful forces to be ignored.

But the civilised human parent lives as part of an elaborate
society,--a State; and, as a member of the State, he holds a new
relation to his child--she holds a new relation to her child:
they--and they are the State--hold a new relation to their children.
This is what we so generally ignore.

The individual parents do their individual duty fairly well; but the
collective parents, who constitute society, fail shamefully in their
collective duties. What is a society? It is an organisation of human
beings, alive, complex, exquisitely developed in co-ordinate
inter-service. What is it for? It is for development, growth,
progress, like any other living thing. How does a society improve? By
combinations of individuals evolving social processes which react
favourably upon the individual constituents, and develope in them
better social faculties. For instance, early combinations of
individuals evolve low forms of legal protection for the citizens of
the early State. Under those protective enactments, citizens grow up
in comparative peace, and become capable of enacting further and
superior laws.

In recent and particular instance, our American forefathers
established a system of public education under which many citizens
were developed to a degree of intelligence sufficient to see the need
and the means of extending and improving that education. Education is
a social process, impossible--in any human degree--among detached

The education of children is a distinctly social process. Much of it
may be carried on by the parents, but it is for social improvement and
as a member of society that they do this. Here is where our parents,
who constitute society, fail to see the nature and extent of their
work. They have an exaggerated idea of "parental responsibility" to
the child, and no idea at all of social responsibility to the child.
That social development which has enlarged the mind and soul of the
beast-savage to our present capacity for love and service we still
imagine to be purely parental, and endeavour to concentrate it all on
our own children, failing utterly in our duty to each other's

No such gross error can work good results. This disproportionate
concentration of feeling on the individual child, and neglect of the
child in general, produces a world full of people with a congested
family life, full of morbid sensitiveness and potential difficulty and
suffering, and a weak, anæmic social life, full of mutual neglect and
dereliction of duty.

The well-known illustration of education can be used again still
farther to show this. Suppose a small community, wherein the parents
are all very anxious for the education of their own children and
profoundly indifferent to the education of anybody's else children.
Suppose these parents all labour religiously to buy books, pictures,
statues, music, and to have the best of tutors for their own children.

It can be seen without much mathematical effort how inferior would be
the supplies purchasable by the individual parent's funds compared to
those purchasable by their collective funds. Separately, they could
not compass a good teacher to each family, nor good pictures, nor
many books and instruments, nor any statuary and music to speak of.
Collectively and for less money, they could have all these things in
far higher degree of excellence.

It is social parentage, such as we have, which gives us the school as
we have it. It is the weakness and irresponsibility of our social
parentage which leaves the school as it is, and fails to push on to
something far fuller and better. What thought, what care, what
service, does the average mother give to other people's children?
None. She does not imagine it to be her duty. She imagines that her
duty lies only toward her own children, and that it is no faintest
fault of hers if other children suffer. If she sees little ones
visibly neglected and injured, she merely blames their individual
parents, and gives no further thought to the matter.

Now, once for all, what is the advantage of living in a society
instead of living alone? It is that we do not have to spend all our
time and strength in very imperfectly taking care of ourselves, as the
separate individual would be obliged to do, but are more and more
perfectly taken care of by one another. We all share in the advantages
of living together,--the protection not only of numbers, but of our
specialised defenders, civil and military; the vast accumulations of
knowledge and skill acquired by many and transmitted to all; the
increasing measure of mutual love, in which we thrive and grow. The
more perfectly a society can distribute these advantages to all its
citizens, the more swiftly and healthfully does it advance and

Public peace and safety, public justice, public education, the public
hall, the public road, the public library and gallery and museum and
bath,--these are what react so favourably upon the individual, and
make better homes and citizens. The father is, to some extent, awake
to the duties of social parentage; the mother, hardly at all. The
difference is this: the father serves his children by means of serving
other people; the mother serves her children personally, with her own
hands. Suppose a number of families (we cannot call it a community,
because it would not be one), wherein the fathers endeavoured to
serve their children personally with their own hands only, each man
building, weaving, farming, fishing, blacksmithing, making dishes and
tools and instruments, and trying in all ways to meet the family needs
_himself_ personally.

It will readily be seen how little the families of these men would
have. The time, strength, and skill of one man do not go far, if he
tries to do all things himself. Why do women imagine that their time,
strength, and skill severally will serve better than in combination?
Why are they content to give their children only what they can do
themselves alone, thus depriving them of the rich possibilities of
civilised motherhood, combined, collective, mutually helpful?

The term "city fathers," and its painful lack of companionship in city
mothers, shows the wide gulf between the development of social
parentage in men and women. The accidents to little children from
electric and cable cars are pitifully numerous. What mother has taken
any steps to prevent these accidents? Individually, each tries to
protect her own, as does the animal or savage. Collectively, they do
nothing; yet it is the lack of this collective motherhood which makes
our cities so unsafe for children. The idea that, if each takes care
of her own, all will be cared for, is as false for women as it is for
men. If each man took care of his own, and not of the others, we
should have no soldiers, no policemen, no government, no society, only
that social chaos called anarchy.

Social health and progress demand collective action, the largest
mutuality, the care and service of _all_, which is the only guarantee
of safety and prosperity to each. Our fatherhood is to a considerable
degree socialised. Our motherhood is flatly anarchistic, refusing all

An earnest--hotly earnest--woman once disputed this suggestion of
mutual service in motherhood, thus: "When I make the bed for my child,
I put some of my _personality_ between the sheets. My child sleeps
better if I make his bed for him." I gazed at her calmly.

"Does your child walk better if you make his shoes for him?" I asked.

It is a pretty sentiment that the mother's love in some mysterious
way makes all she does for the child superior to what another could
do. But apply the test of fact. Can she, with all her love, make as
good a shoe as the shoemaker? as good a hair-brush, tooth-brush,
tumbler, teacup, pie-plate, spoon, fork, or knife, as the professional
manufacturers of these things? Does mother-love teach her to be a good
barber? Can she cut her darling's hair so as to make him happy? Can
she make a good chair or table or book or window? How silly it is to
imagine that this "personality" inserted between the sheets makes the
bed more conducive to healthy sleep than any other clean, well-aired,
well-made bed!

Let the mother put the child to bed by all means, if she wishes. In
the last sweet words and the good-night kiss is truly the place for
personality. That is a mother's place, and not a tradesman's. But
there is no more need for maternal personality between the sheets of a
bed than between the leaves of a book or the bricks of a wall.

In our narrow-mindedness we have assumed that to care for any other
children would mean to neglect our own. As if the human heart, the
mother-heart, could love but one or six, and not more! As a matter of
fact, we neglect our own by not caring for others. That is, we fail to
take those general measures for the protection and development of all
children which would so greatly benefit our particular children. Only
to-day, at last, we see in some few advanced communities the mothers'
club and congress, the women's civic associations, and other forms of
union for the improvement of social conditions, all helping to enlarge
the application of mother-love, and set that great force free to bring
on the better day for children. These clubs and societies are jeered
at by the majority of mothers, who proudly say that they are too busy
taking care of their children to go to a mothers' congress and learn

Imagine, again, a majority of men, each saying he was too busy
teaching his children to go to a school meeting and plan for the
education of them all! It is not a shifting of duty that is
required,--to cease to take care of one's own in order to take care of
others instead. So ingrained are our primitive habits, so unable are
we to conceive of anything but the one-woman method, that our only
idea of change is a simple exchange of responsibility. It is not
exchanging that is needed, but an enlarging, an embracing of the less
in the greater.

The mothers of the world are responsible for the children of the
world; the mothers of a nation, for the children of a nation; the
mothers of a city, for the children of a city. We may ignore and deny
this claim; but it is there none the less, and, because we do not do
our duty as social parents, a corrupt society injures our children
continually. The diseases of other children infect ours. What have the
mothers ever done to prevent these diseases? They nurse their own sick
little ones religiously, and bury them with tears; but what do they do
before or after to learn the cause and prevention of these "family
afflictions," to spread their information, and enforce measures to put
a stop to them? The bad habits of other children affect ours,--their
ignorance, their ill manners, their sins. Our children suffer
individually from bad social conditions, but cannot be saved

When the Philadelphia water supply is so foul as to poison young and
old, mothers are responsible for not doing their share to make the
city water fit for their families to drink. It is not a private filter
on a private faucet that will do it, but public purity in the public

In Boston in 1899 the Society of Collegiate Alumnæ exposed a
disgracefully insanitary condition in the public schools,--undisturbed
filth in cellar and vault, unwashed floors, a slovenly neglect of the
commonest sanitary decency worthy of an Oriental slum. Any mother in
Boston would have been filled with shame to have such an exposure of
her own private housekeeping. There is room for shame at this exposure
of their public housekeeping, school-house-keeping, city-keeping.

Like an ostrich with his head in the sand, the mother shuts herself up
in the home and imagines that she is safe and hidden, acting as if
"the home" was isolated in space. That the home is not isolated we are
made painfully conscious through its material connections,--gas-pipes,
water-pipes, sewer-pipes, and electric wires,--all serving us well or
ill according to their general management. Milk, food, clothing, and
all supplies brought in bring health or disease according to their
general management. The mere physical comfort of the home needs
collective action, to say nothing of the psychic connection in which
we all live, and where none is safe and clean till all are safe and

How far does the duty of the State extend, and how much should be left
to individual responsibility? This is the working point to which this
discussion tends. A more serious sociological question could hardly be

Seeing that progress is the law of nature, that the human race is
under pressure of every force--conscious and unconscious--to go on, to
improve, to grow better, and that we, as social beings, move forward
through social improvement, the main weight of care seems to rest on
society rather than the individual. It is astonishing to see how far
this has gone already. Whereas once the beast father and mother were
the only ones to protect or serve the young, now society does far
more for the child than the parents. The father does more than the
mother, and that by means of his social relation. He provides for his
child by being a carpenter, lawyer, mason, or other social
functionary. In this social relation he is able to provide for it the
comfort and safety of a modern society. Out of that relation he would
be able to provide for it only with his bare hands alone, and less
competent than the hardy savage.

We need not be alarmed at some new overtures on the part of society,
if we but look at what society is doing now. That we do not think of
this is due to our tradition that we "take care of ourselves." We do
not. No civilised man "takes care of himself." We take care of each
other. But, granting this to some degree, we have heretofore supposed
that the benefits of civilisation belonged only to adults,--for that
matter only to adult males!--and were to be distributed to children
through the individual parent. Thus, if the parent was inferior, the
child was expected not only to inherit his inferiority, but to suffer
from it always through inferior maintenance, breeding, and education.

The gradual reaching out of society to protect and care for the child
is one of the most interesting lines of historic development. The
parent had power to kill a child. The State denied the right, and
protected the child against the parent. The parent had power to sell
the child. The State denied that. The parent might cast off and
neglect the child. The State compels him to maintain it, if he can;
and, if not, the State supports the child. The parent might teach the
child, have it taught, or leave it untaught. Now the State orders that
the child must be taught, either at home or at school, and furnishes
the school free. So far the line of advance has been from absolute
parental control to a steadily enlarging State control, from absolute
parental support to more and more of State support. The question of
more or less in present details may be debated indefinitely to no
conclusion. The principle is what we should study.

The condition of childhood in our human sense, the long period of
immaturity, is a social condition. As we advance in social relation,
becoming more and more highly specialised, the gulf between infancy
and maturity increases. The young animal and the adult animal are far
more alike than a Gladstone and his baby.

It does not take very long to mature the group of faculties required
for maintaining individual life. It does take long to mature the group
of faculties required to maintain social life. To rear a man--_i.e._,
an adult male of _genus homo_--is no very difficult task. It is
accomplished by Bushmen, Hottentots, Eskimo, every living kind of
human creature. To rear a physician, an engineer, a chemist,--this
takes longer. Incidentally, this is one reason why a girl's "majority"
is placed at eighteen, a boy's at twenty-one. She is supposed to need
only individual maturity,--physical maturity. He is supposed to take
more time to become a man because he is a member of society, and so
has to learn more things. It is not a question of adolescence, of
physiological change. The boy of eighteen could be a father as well as
the girl a mother; but he is not as well able to take his social
position, to serve mankind in his craft, art, trade, or profession.
Note here the early maturity and marriage of the less developed
grades of society, filling those simpler social functions which
require less specialisation, and the proportionate postponement of
this period in the more highly specialised. Our long period of
immaturity is a social condition, and not an individual one. That we
may reach the full growth needed in the advanced member of society, we
must be minors longer than would be necessary if we were not members
of society. The exceeding childishness of the civilised child is also
a social condition.

The nearer we are to the animals, the more capable and bright the very
little ones. In the South it was common to set a little black child to
take care of an older white one: the pickaninny matures much more
rapidly. So, again, in our own lower social grades the little children
of the poor are sharper, better able to care for themselves, than
children of the same age in more developed classes. It is no proof of
greater intelligence in the adult. It is retrogression,--a mark of bad
social conditions.

Civilised society is responsible for civilised childhood, and should
meet its responsibilities. The sweet confidence of a modern child, as
compared to the alert suspicion of a baby savage, shows what ages of
social safe-guarding have done. In the beautiful union of our
civilised growth, even so far, we have made possible the Child; and it
is for us still further to protect and develope this most exquisite
social product,--this greatest social hope and power. Society's
relation to the child is impersonal. It is not limited by parenthood.
The parental relation is lower, more limited. Parentally, we care only
for our own: socially, we care for all. Parentally, we are animals:
socially, we learn to love one another. We become, approximately,

Christianity is a social condition. In our present degree of social
progress, we produce by our specialised co-ordinate activities that
safe and comfortable material environment, those comparatively
developed virtues which we call "civilisation." But, in applying this
common product to the advancement of the child,--which is our best and
quickest way to incorporate progress in the race itself,--we allow
the incapacity of the individual parent to limit the child's
advantages. We deny to the child the conditions necessary to his best
development, unless his particular father is able to provide them. Our
theory here is that the father would not work so hard if the State
provided for his child; some thinkers combating even the public school
and public library on this ground. This is an outworn economic
fallacy. The inferior father cannot work beyond a certain grade
because he has not the capacity; and, if the child has only the
advantages the inferior father can provide for him, he grows up to be
another inferior father and low-grade worker. The most deadly result
of this foolish neglect of the young citizen is seen in the ensuing
action of the biological law, "Reproduction is in inverse proportion
to specialisation." Because we leave the child to grow up
unspecialised, untrained, save for the puny efforts of his single
low-grade parent, therefore he, in turn, helps fill the world with
very numerous and very inferior progeny.

We are hampered by the rapid reproduction of the very lowest classes
of society, weighted down by their defects and limitations, forced to
wait--the most advanced of us--for the great rear-guard of the
population. We must wait because a society is alive, and includes all
its members. It cannot outstrip its own inferior parts, however
neglected and behindhand they may be. And their numbers--_numbers
resultant from their low condition_--complicate the problem
hopelessly. That is, hopelessly on this old fallacious notion that the
child can have no help from all the strong, rich world, save what his
father and mother can filter through their personal limitations. We
are beginning to change this by our efforts at free public education.
We shall change it more and more as we grow consciously awake to our
true social responsibility to the child.

We cannot afford to have one citizen grow up below the standards of
common comfort, health, and general education. To the scared cry,
"But, if you take the responsibility off these people, they will
simply flood the world with wretched babies!" comes the answer of
natural law, "Improve the individual, and you check this crude
fecundity." It is because they are neglected and inferior that they
have so many children. Make higher-class people of the children, and
you check this constant influx of low-grade life, and gradually
introduce a better-born population.

When the wise, beneficent parental love of Human Society for its young
really does its duty, tenderly removing obstructions from the path of
all our little ones, we shall give to them those common human
advantages without which they cannot grow to the happiness which is
their right, the usefulness which is their duty. All parents who are
able to do more for their children would be free to do so, as those
who can afford private schools, or educate their little ones at home,
are not compelled to send them to the public schools.

As now society provides the school for the young citizen, on the
ground of public advantage, without regard to the inability of the
parent, so we must learn to provide a far richer and more complete
education, and all else that the parent falls short in, because it is
necessary for the good of society, and because we love our children.


  Absence of mind, 54.

  "Acquired traits not transmissible," 9.
      experiments with guinea-pigs, 11.

  Action, bodily, directed by mental processes, 57.

  Adult, our houses built only for the, 121.

  Age, the presumption of, 156.
      not necessarily superiority, 159.

  Aged persons, cause of the respect and care for, 160.

  Ambition of youth a force to lift mankind, the, 23.

  American Revolution, the, mentioned, 35.

  Animal mother, the authority of the, 42.

  Animals, obedience in, 29.

  Arbitrary punishment, effect on the moral sense of, 84.

  Authority of the animal mother, the, 42.
      effect of, coming between the mind and action of the child, 60.

  Babies confided to the care of lower races, 134.

  Baby, impressions of a, 49.
      considered as a plaything, 175.
      our disrespectful treatment of the, 171.
      often neglected mind-growth of the, 250.

  Baby-garden, a public, 124.
      example of the advantages of a, 139.
      a private, 125.

  Babyhood, education not thought of in connection with, 135.

  Bible, the, 114.

  Biological advantage of a longer period of immaturity, the, 18.
      law of reproduction, 296.

  Bodily action directed by mental processes, 57.

  Boston, 289.

  Brain, effect of obedience on the, 41.
      training of children, the, 46.
      the office of the, 47.
      in early forms of life, 48.
      function of the child, 49.
      improvement, progress of humanity made through, 149.

  Breakfast, unpunctuality at, 149.

  Bushmen, the, 293.

  Callous child, treatment of the, 92.

  Casabianca, 30.

  Census Report, United States, 233.

  Character, comparatively small progress in the human, 251.
      development of, assisted by right education, 252.

  Chastity, the virtue of, 26.

  Child, importance of the first fifteen years of the life of the, 21.
      exercise of the will of the, in games, 22.
      trained to obey, 31.
      reasons why obedience is demanded from the, 37.
      brain function of the, 49.
      the, should be trained to presence of mind, 55.
      advantage taken of the credulity of the, 56.
      what the, feels and thinks ignored, 57.
      the mind of the, 57.
      effect of authority coming between the mind and action of the, 60.
      culture of the, 63.
      table manners, teaching the, 63.
      early impressions of a, 77.
      result of the deed of a, dependent upon parental knowledge, 82.
      the naughty, 90.
      a group of growing faculties, 90.
      treatment of the callous, 92.
      games, the daily lessons of the, 108.
      teaching generosity to the, 109.
      delicacy of perception of the, weakened by false impressions, 111.
      perception in the place of the State of the, 119.
      mother and, no separation of, 125.
      treatment of the, at home, 170.
      attitude of the family towards the, 171.
      personal rights of the, 174.
      no excuse for contemptuous treatment of the, 177.
      necessity for recognising the citizenship of the, 182.
      treatment at table of the, 183.
      teaching a, consideration, 187.
      the need for consideration between mother and, 187.
      tendency to repetition of a, 191.
      excessive sacrifice of the mother injurious to the, 193.
      harmful effect of the mother's sacrificial devotion to the, 197.
      effect of association with domestic servants on the, 235.
      influence of surroundings on the, 237.
      physical conditions of the household a danger to the, 238.
      duty of the mother to benefit the, 261.
      relation of the State to the, 278.
      social responsibility of parents to the, 280.
      gradual protection by society of the, 292.

  Child-culture and house service, the relation between, 233.
      the study of, 265.

  Child-training, obedience in, 36.
      honesty lacking in, 109.

  Childhood, the condition of the brain in, 49.
      naturally inconsiderate, 91.
          careless, 93.
          clumsy, 93.
      permanence of, as a human status, 119.
      the status of, 180.

  Childish faith, an expression of, 56.

  Children, importance of the work of rearing, 37.
      the most submissive, not the best men, 43.
      trained to act without understanding, 51.
      present brain-training of, discouraging to racial advancement, 62.
      should be practised in reasoning, 68.
      the punishment of, 74.
      parents and the punishment of, 75.
      over-indulgence of, 75.
      learn before school-age, what, 77.
      code of ethics among, 87.
      the injured clothing of, 94.
      lying to, 102.
      ethics of, formed from the treatment they receive, 102.
      open to instruction in ethics, 104.
      sense of justice in, 105.
      instruction of, in ethics, 106.
      the teaching of ethics to, 115.
      a permanent class, 118.
      houses not built for, 120.
      playgrounds for, beginning to appear, 120.
      in institutions, 124.
      mortality of, in institutions, 126.
      expert care for, 127.
      the care of, not servant's work, 127.
      trained care for defective, 128.
      a place for, to play in, 129.
      a special house for little, 129.
      the home as a place for, 180.
      the private nurse not the proper person to have the care of, 132.
      the mischievousness of, 137.
      orderly development of the faculties of, 146.
      travelling parties of, 150.
      the demands of parents on their, 162.
      errors of little, not grounds for humour, 172.
      "impertinence" of, 175.
      mother's lack of respect for her, 178.
      the confidence of, not regarded, 179.
      behaviour of women to, 179.
      grown people and, 179.
      discourtesy to, 181.
      the balance of human rights should be understood by, 188.
      the questions of, 191.
      our love for our, 192.
      benefit of mothers observing other peoples', 204.
      method of observation of, 206.
      the effect of the education of, by house-servants, 240.
      improved environment of, a road to racial improvement, 264.
      maternal instinct not sufficient to ensure good conditions for,
      the duty of the State to, 290.

  Chinese, the, 12.

  Christianity a social condition, 295.

  Citizenship of the child, necessity for recognising the, 182.

  Civic duties, ignoring of, by women, 154.

  Class, children a permanent, 118.

  Clothing, children's injured, 94.

  Collegiate Alumnæ, the Society of, 289.

  Combined motherhood, the possibilities of, 284.

  Conduct, all, right or wrong, 107.

  Confidence of children not regarded, the, 179.

  Conservatism, feminine, 169.

  Consideration between mother and child, the need for, 187.

  Consideration of others not identical with obedience, 40.
      teaching a child, 187.

  Consistency, the desire for, 58.

  Constitution, our inheritance of, 15.

  Courage, the virtue of, 27.

  Credulity of the child taken advantage of, 56.

  Crime, retributive punishment of, 73.

  Cruelty to Children, Society for the Prevention of, 75.

  Defective children, trained care for, 128.

  Development, arrested social, 5.
      race, and environment, 7.
      of character assisted by right education, 252.

  Discipline, the question of, 70.
      domestic, 77.

  Discourtesy to children, 181.

  Discussion between mothers, benefits of, 207.

  Doctrine of sacrifice, the, 194.

  Domestic discipline, 77.
      relation, the small change in, 100.
      Service Bureau, 254.

  "Don't Mary," 59.

  Education, obedience in human, 29.
      not thought of in connection with babyhood, 135.
      advantages of unconscious, 144.
      nothing too expensive that improves, 150.
      of children by house-servants, the, 240.
      development of character assisted by right, 252.
      better, for the young an imperative need, 253.
      a social process, 280.

  Educational perception, lack of, among mothers, 249.

  Emulation, the love of, 23.

  Endurance, the virtue of, 26.

  Environment and race development, 7.

  Eskimo, the, 293.

  Ethics, code of, among children, 87.
      our knowledge of, 97.
      the cause of our small growth in, 97.
      and social evolution, 99.
      influence of religious custom on, 100.
      children cannot learn, from the treatment they receive, 102.
      a child open to instruction in, 104.
      the science of social relation, 105.
      the instruction of children in, 106.
      sense of, shown in games, the, 108.
      self-control one of the first essentials in the practice of, 107.
      values, long association of, with religious text-books, 114.
      the teaching of, to children, 115.
      necessity for the study of practical, 114.
      necessity for mothers to be grounded in, 116.

  Example better than precept, 51.

  Experience, 167.

  Faith, a childish expression of, 56.

  Father, the, awake to the duties of social parentage, 283.
      the choice of a, 264.

  Family, attitude towards the little child of the, 171.
      -life, primitive mental habits fostered in, 169.

  Feminine conservatism, 169.

  Foolishness of youth due to our training, 21.

  French Revolution, the, 53.

  Games, the child's daily lessons, 108.
      ethical sense shown in, 108.

  Generosity, teaching the child, 109.

  Girl, reason for the majority of a, at eighteen, 293.

  God, Hebrew traditions of, 34.

  Goths, the, 61.

  Grown people and children, 179.

  Habit and tradition, the home the stronghold of, 35.

  Hebrew traditions of God, 34.

  Home, the, the stronghold of habit and tradition, 35.
      as a place for children, 130.

  Homes, the mother the domestic servant in the majority of, 233.

  Honesty lacking in child-training, 110.

  Horse-training, 71.

  Hottentots, the, 293.

  Household, physical conditions of the, a danger to the child, 238.
      labour, mental capacities developed by, 247.
          employment of skilled labour for, 276.

  Houses not built for children, 120.
      built for the adult only, 121.

  House-service and child-culture, the relation between, 233.
      qualities developed by, 243.

  Housework, few women like, 245.

  Human behaviour, the whole scale of, is natural, 256.
      character, comparatively small progress in the, 251.
      conduct, the word natural applied to, 257.
      creature, mental workings of the, 50.
          a self-governing intelligence, 40.
      parentage, selfishness of, 178.
      -parenthood, prolonged, 8.
      progress, youth the fountain of, 21.
      rights, children to understand the balance of, 188.
      status, permanence of childhood as a, 119.
      stock, improving the, 263.
      being, the, a social constituent, 19.
          who does not work contemptible, the, 275.

  Humanity, degrees of, 3.
      to improve, 6.
      the time to develop the inheritance of, 17.
      progress of, made through brain improvement, 149.

  Humour, errors of the child not grounds for, 172.

  Impertinence of children, the, 175.

  Immaturity, biological advantage of a longer period of, 18.

  Impressions of a baby, the, 49.
      of a child, early, 77.

  Improve, humanity to, 6.

  Improvement, race, transmitted, 4.
      all possible, in the individual to be made before parentage, 21.
      of the human stock, the, 263.

  Individual rights, maintenance of, by the mother, 195.

  Individuals, social service must be given by, 20.

  Infant mortality shamefully large, 246.

  Inheritance of constitution, our, 15.

  Intelligence, the human being a self-governing, 40.

  Instinct, parental, 177.
      our dependence on the maternal, 263.
      maternal, not sufficient to ensure good conditions to children,

  Institutions, children in, 124.
      mortality of children in, 126.

  Jesuits, obedience of the, 34.

  Justice, sense of, in children, 105.

  Knowledge and wisdom, the difference between, 54.

  Koran, the, 114.

  Labour, the employment of skilled, for household, 276.
      household, mental capacities developed by, 247.

  Law of parental love, the, 177.

  Life, the brain in early forms of, 48.

  Lifetime, the most important decade of a, 18.

  Love for our children, our, 192.
      the law of parental, 177.
      open to measurement by results, 192.
      mother, 193, 197.

  Lying to children, 102.

  Majority of a girl at eighteen, reason for the, 293.

  Man, the distinctive power of, 53.

  "Mary Don't," 59.

  Maternal instinct, our dependence on the, 263.
      not sufficient to ensure good conditions for children, 267.

  Maternal passion, need for restraint of the, 197.

  Maturity, early, a sign of bad social conditions, 294.

  Mental capacities developed by household labours, 247.
      habits, primitive, fostered in family life, 169.
      workings of the human creature, 50.

  Methuselah, 158.

  Modification, race, and individual modification, 10.

  Moral sense, effect on the, of arbitrary punishment, 84.

  Mortality, infant, shamefully large, 246.

  Mind, effect of obedience on the growing, 37.
      absence of, 54.
      presence of, 54.
      connection between the, and behaviour, 54.
      of a child, the, 57.
      effect of authority coming between the child's, and his action,

  Mind-growth of the baby, the often neglected, 280.
      failure of the mother to keep in touch with the, 250.

  Mother, the authority of the animal, 42.
      necessity for the, to be grounded in ethics, 116.
      and child, no separation of, 125.
      the, not trained as an educator, 135.
      and child, the need for consideration between, 187.
      excessive sacrifice of the, injurious to the child, 193.
      maintenance of individual rights by the, 195.
      the domestic servant in the majority of homes, the, 233.
      the natural, 258.
      duty of the, to benefit the child, 261.
      the "unnatural," 265.

  Mother's lack of respect for her little children, 179.
      sacrificial devotion to the child, harmful effect of, the, 197.
      personality, the place for a, 286.

  Mothers, the need for union among, 201.
      benefits of discussion between, 207.
      benefit of, observing other people's children, 204.
      lack of educational perception among, 249.
      the term natural as applied to, 258.
      necessity for enlarging the responsibility of, 287.
      public duty of, 288.

  Mother's Congress, the, 76.

  Mother-love, 193, 197.

  Motherhood, progress in, 261.
      preparation for, 268.
      work during, 271.
      possibilities of combined, 284.

  Natural law, the wisdom of following, 43.

  Natural, the use of the word, 255.
      the word, applied to human conduct, 257.
      the whole scale of human behaviour is, 256.
      the term, as applied to mothers, 258.

  Nature, a state of, 256.

  Nurse, the private, not a proper person to have the care of children,

  Nursery, a public, suggested, 123.
      isolation of the private, injurious to the child, 132.

  Nursemaids, difficulty of getting suitable, 212.

  Obedience, 27.
      the use of, 28.
      in animals, 29.
      in human education, 29.
      the reason for, 31.
      our reverence for, easily traced, 32.
      in child training, 36.
      of the Jesuits, 34.
      is demanded from the child, reasons why, 37.
      effect of, on the growing mind, 37.
      the injurious reaction from, 39.
      consideration of others not identical with, 40.
      effect of, on the brain, 41.
      qualities developed by, 45.

  Observation of children, method of, 206.

  Old, the advantage of the young over the, 158.

  Over-indulgence of children, the, 75.

  Parent, continued life of the, 6.

  Parentage, traits acquired before, transmissible, 14.
      all possible improvement in the individual should be made before,
      not a profession, 165.
      selfishness of human, 178.

  Parental knowledge, result of the child's deed made dependent upon,
      duty the gift of nature, 164.
      instinct, 177.
      love, the law of, 177.

  Parenthood, prolonged human, 8.
      the work of, 37.

  Parents, want of publicity and community in the action of, 75.
      the punishment of children by, 75.
      duty of, to children, 161.
      demands of, on their children, 162.

  Parents' Congress, the, 70.
      social responsibility to the child, 280.

  Penology, the advance in, 73.

  People, need for a better kind of, 251.

  Perception, delicacy of a child's, weakened by false impressions, 111.

  Personal example, social duty shown by, 112.

  Personal rights of the child, the, 174.

  Personality, the place for a mother's, 286.

  Philadelphia water supply, the, 289.

  Playgrounds, childrens', beginning to appear, 120.

  Plaything, a baby considered a, 175.

  Precept, example better than, 51.

  Prepared Food Association, the, 254.

  Presence of mind, 54.
      the child trained to constant, 55.

  Printing press, main value of the, 5.

  Profession, parentage not a, 165.

  Progress born into the race, 7.

  Protestant Reformation, the, 35.

  Public nursery, a, suggested, 123.
      baby garden, a, 124.
      duty of mothers, 288.

  Punishment, retributive, 73.
      of children, the, 74.
          by parents, 75.
      arbitrary, effect of, on the moral sense, 84.

  Qualities developed by obedience, 45.
      house-service, 243.

  Question of discipline, the, 71.

  Questions of children, the, 191.

  Race improvement transmitted, 4.
      development and environment, 7.
      progress born into the, 7.
      modification and individual modification, 10.

  Racial advance, improvement in the environment of children a road to,

  Reaction from obedience, the injurious, 39.

  Rearing children, importance of the work of, 37.

  Reasoning, children should be practised in, 68.

  Repetition, a child's tendency to, 191.

  Reproduction, biological law of, 296.
      rapid, of the lowest classes resultant from their condition, 297.

  Respect to be commanded, not demanded, 166.

  Results, love open to measurement by, 192.

  Roman Catholic Church, obedience in the, 34.

  Sacrifice, the doctrine of, 194.

  Salisbury method, the, 37.

  Savage, the, as a social constituent, 19.

  Schools, the improvement of, 149.

  School age, what children learn before, 77.

  Self-control one of the first essentials in the practice of ethics,

  Servants, domestic, effect of association with, on the child, 235.

  Shelley's "Skylark" mentioned, 53.

  "Skylark," Shelley's, mentioned, 53.

  Skilled labour, employment of, for household work, 271.

  Social conditions, early maturity the sign of bad, 284.
      constituent, the human being a, 19.
          the savage as a, 19.
      development, arrested, 5.
      duty shown by personal example, 112.
      evolution and ethics, 99.
      parentage, the father awake to the duties of, 283.
      relation, ethics the science of, 105.
      service given by individuals, 20.
      status, a, at the level of its main constituents, 20.

  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 75.

  Society of Collegiate Alumnæ, the, 289.

  Society, gradual protection of the child by, 292.

  Species, our power to improve the, 3.

  State of nature, a, 256.

  State, perception of the child's place in the, 119.
      relation of the, to the child, 278.
      the duty of the, to children, 290.

  Sunday-school, the, 117.

  Surroundings, influence of, on the child, 237.

  Table manners, teaching a child, 63.

  Table, treatment of the child at, 183.

  Talmud, the, 114.

  Teaching taken up only by women obliged to work, 148.

  Thompson's, Mr., story, 29.

  Thought and action, connection between, 56.

  Traits acquired before parentage transmissible, 14.

  "Traits, acquired, not transmissible," 9.

  Travelling parties of children, 150.

  Treatment of the baby, our disrespectful, 171.
      the child, no excuse for contemptuous, 177.

  Unconscious education, advantages of, 144.

  United States Census Report, the, 233.

  Union among mothers, the need of, 201.

  "Unnatural" mother, the, 265.

  Unpunctuality at breakfast, 189.

  Virtue, all, made of necessity, 27.
      of chastity, 27.
      of courage, the, 27.
      of endurance, the, 26.
      of obedience, the, 27.
      what is a, 25.

  Weissman, theory, the, 9.

  Will, power of the, 47.

  Wisdom and knowledge, 54.
      of following natural law, 43.

  Woman's brain modified by its kind of exercise, 245.

  Women, ignoring of civic duties by, 154.
      the care of children the duty of, 155.
      behaviour of, to children, 179.
      few, like housework, 245.

  Work, the, of parenthood, 37.
      during motherhood, 271.
      the human being who does not, contemptible, 275.

  Young, advantage of the, over the old, 158.
      better education of the, an imperative need, 253.
      ambition of the, a force to lift mankind, 23.
      respect due to the, 172.

  Youth, the foolishness of, due to our training, 21.
      the fountain of human progress, 21.

  Zend-Avesta, the, 114.


       *       *       *       *       *

              THE BOOKS OF

           (Mrs. G. H. GILMAN)



    _358 pages, crown 8vo, cloth, 6s._

In writing this book it has been Mrs. Stetson's purpose to point out,
explain, and justify the changes now going on in the relations of
women to society. The subject is one which must inevitably come home
to every household in the country. No woman, whatever her position or
the conditions surrounding her, can read the book and not feel that
the whole argument applies to herself and her concerns almost like a
personal appeal.

In brief, the position taken is that women have for centuries been
economically dependent on men; that as a result women have been
tending to become more and more feminine and less and less normal
human beings. Even this bald statement of Mrs. Stetson's thesis will
serve to show the scope and importance of her book. The argument is
extended to every branch of social activity with remarkable
originality. It may safely be said that hardly any volume of recent
years has treated a confused subject with so much real intelligence
and in an attitude so singularly fair and high-minded.

It has been no part of Mrs. Stetson's purpose to write a dull book. On
the contrary, one of the surprising qualities of _Women and Economics_
is its readableness throughout--the really absorbing interest of its
argument even to the least scientific reader. It is a book hard to lay
down. One hardly knows which to admire the more,--its clearness,
earnestness, and courage, or the keen wit and shrewd satire which keep
its pages fresh and sparkling to the end.

Whether one finally agrees with Mrs. Stetson's position or not, _Women
and Economics_ is distinctly a book one cannot afford to miss. It is
worth reading if only for its high ideals of a finer marriage, a
family better nourished and better bred, a fuller life and opportunity
for childhood, and a more complete and better rounded womanhood in the
house as well as in society.


"Mrs. Stetson's polemical poetry has a force and vigour of its own,
which may perhaps serve to drive home the arguments lucidly stated in
'Women and Economics.' She differs from other advocates of women's
rights, chiefly in her estimate of women as they are."--_Athenæum._

"There have been heard now and again whispers of feminine discontent,
hints that the relations of the sexes are on a not entirely
satisfactory footing, and suggestions that marriage from a woman's
point of view, comes near being a failure.... In her book Mrs. Stetson
goes to the very root of the matter, and turns hints, as it were, into

"The charm of the book lies in its evident sincerity, its eloquent
appeals to the higher side of human nature, and its wholesale
optimism. These qualities will make the book a power for good among
those who have hitherto given little thought to the position of women
in society, and the fearless exposure of many social evils will
stimulate such readers to serious thought."--_Fabian News._

"When we pass to the book of the lady whose inspiration is derived
from the expansive temperament of the great Republic of the West ...
we recognise at once how much more hopeful one can be when one is not
a citizen of a played-out European nation.... Mrs. Stetson's intention
is to show that what she calls the 'excessive sex development' of
women is responsible for some of the worst evils under which we
suffer.... With a great deal of what she says on this matter it is
impossible not to agree."--_Saturday Review._

"'Women and Economics' is a book to be read and a book to be thought
about, whether you may agree with it or not. If all the literature of
the feminist movement had been half so cogent, so accurately based on
fact, so sincere, and withal so pure and modest as this, the feminist
movement of to-day would have been a great deal farther advanced than
it is."--_Hearth and Home._

"Here is a book that, whether we look on its teaching as wholesome or
dangerous, we are bound to acknowledge to be of exceptional ability.
It is the book of a woman of a clear and of a trained intellect, and
of great courage. As such it demands attention and very likely will
get it--of the hostile kind--from many quarters."--_Bookman._

"To-day it will meet with opposition and dispute--more or less great as
we appreciate more or less truly the conditions of human progress. Ten
years hence--perhaps five years hence--it will be accepted eagerly.
Twenty years hence it will be a mere milestone of history. These are the
stages through which books must pass which contain true analyses of
transient societies. But the literary historian who somewhere towards the
latter half of the twentieth century looks up Mrs. Stetson's volume, will
find amid phrases grown old-fashioned, and arguments long since admitted,
a sparkle of wit, a lucidity of statement and an admirable spirit of
justice and allowance, likely even in those improved days to be still
rare among controversialists."--_Academy._

"There is one thing at all events that may be predicated of this book.
It is admirably devised for the purpose of making a dust.... There are
some who will read Mrs. Stetson's book with anger or will turn from it
with repulsion. I cannot put myself in their place. To me it seems
that the courageous and clear-headed American woman speaks as a rule
the language of reason and sense. I read her with pleasure and
gratitude.... It is an honest and stimulating book. Perfect in temper,
noble in intention, and therefore it is to be cordially
welcomed."--_Sunday Sun._

"Mrs. Stetson is such a specimen of the modern woman as it does one
good to encounter. She is strong and clear; as free from noise as from
flippancy.... 'Women and Economics' is a book to read."--_Echo._

"Mrs. Stetson's contribution to the woman question is a notable one,
but it is notable chiefly because of its logical conclusions, its
constructive ability, its art of putting things in an arranging



    _16mo, cloth, ornamental, gilt top, with a photogravure frontispiece
    from a recent photograph, 5s._

This new Edition, following the little pamphlet volumes issued on the
Pacific Coast, should give her book a popularity as wide as the
country. Certainly the vigour, the _verve_, the deep moral
earnestness, and the delightful humour and extraordinary talent for
satire which she displays in these poems, have hardly been surpassed.
The volume is divided into three parts. The first, entitled _The
World_, ranges in subject from _Similar Cases_ and _An Obstacle_ (to
name only two of those satirical pieces by which Mrs. Stetson has
hitherto been best known), to lyrics of nature remarkable for their
tender sympathy and loving observation. While the third part, called
_The March_, deals with the "forward movement" of human brotherhood
which has always been so dear to Mrs. Stetson's heart.


"Mrs. Stetson's civic satire is of a form which she has herself
invented; it recalls the work of no one else; you can say of it that
since the Biglow Papers there has been no satire approaching it in the
wit flashing from profound conviction."--W. D. HOWELLS in the _North
American Review_.

"Mrs. Stetson has plenty to say, especially when her theme is

"She puts things in a new way and succeeds by sheer intensity of
insight and directness of personal consciousness. The book is too
exclusively occupied with morals, no doubt; but this is an Anglo-Saxon
weakness--or strength, and, like everything else, it is justified when
it succeeds.... We do not say that this is a volume of great poetry,
but we do say that it is an original and interesting book, one of the
best kind, the kind that makes us stop and think."--_Literature._

"On the whole Mrs. Stetson's little book is a refreshing proof of the
spread of culture in California."--_Manchester Guardian._

"The gospel which C. P. Stetson preaches in her delightful verses, 'In
this our World,' is as original as it is well expressed. It is not
only in the novelty of the theme, but also in the freshness and vigour
of her diction, that her charm lies.... She is really a very
remarkable writer, and possesses a power of thought and expression
seldom met with."--_Gentlewoman._


    _12mo, paper boards, 2s._

"Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson's 'The Yellow Wall Paper' is a conceit
fantastical and gruesome enough to have emanated from the brain of
Edgar Poe. It is written with remarkable vividness, as if the writer
had experienced something very like the misery which she describes.
There is nothing extravagant or unreal in the narration. Wall-papers,
yellow and other coloured, have had often a pernicious influence on
people of defective nervous poise, and quite unbalanced them. Mrs.
Stetson's story has a purely literary justification, but is none the
worse for teaching a lesson which some loving husbands and parents
would do well to heed."--_Christian Register._


    Being an Informal and Experimental Discussion, from the Point
    of View of a Young Woman of To-morrow, of certain of the
    Complexities of Life, particularly in regard to the Relations
    of Men and Women



    _Crown 8vo, cloth extra, 6s._

Miss Tompkins sets forth in this volume certain striking opinions in
regard to the problems which confront young men and young women of
to-day. She has drawn a bright and energetic girl, whose breezy talks
with her masculine friend include many bits of protest against the
restrictions at present imposed by Mrs. Grundy.




    _12mo, cloth, 3s. 6d._

In her well-known graphic style, Miss Tompkins has made a strong and
vivid study of a character hitherto not delineated in American
fiction. Her heroine is an indolent young woman of small means, who
lives by visiting the houses of wealthy friends. The story of her
regeneration, through her affection for a man of strong character, is
cleverly told.





    _8vo, cloth extra, gilt tops, 6s._


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

A few obvious printer errors were repaired, but otherwise spelling and
punctuation were retained as in the original, including variant
spellings on the same words (for example: "color" and "colour").

The index is not listed in the original Contents page.

In the original, index entries for "Humanity, degrees of," and
"Species, power to improve the," erroneously referred to page 1. These
entries have been corrected to page 3.

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