This is an exercise that delights children, and may be endlessly varied, carried on in the spirit of a game, and yet with the exactness and carefulness of a lesson. Let him notice how each of the windows of his schoolroom faces, or the windows of each of the rooms in his home; the rows of houses he passes in his walks, and which are north, south, east and west sides of the churches he knows. We have a few of them left still——to be heard at Sunday-school treats and other gatherings of the children,——and they are well worth preserving: At the same time, here is the mother's opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers. He would speak of the departure and return of the birds with the season, describe their haunts, and, more wonderful than all, their change of livery, thus exciting me to study them, and to raise my mind towards their great Creator. Even boating and swimming are not without the reach of town-bred children, in days when everybody goes for a summer outing to the neighbourhood of the sea or of inland waters; and then, there are swimming baths in most towns. We set the child to learn in the same way, and find him dull and slow. By-and-by, as the spring advances, behold a general stiffening and look of life in the still bare branches; life stirs in the beautiful mystery of the leaf-buds, a nest of delicate baby leaves lying in downy warmth within many waterproof wrappings; oak and elm, beech and birch, each has its own way of folding and packing its leaflets; observe the 'ruby budded lime' and the ash, with its pretty stag's foot of a bud, not green but black—— "More black than ash-buds in the front of March. The famous conjurer, Robert Houdin, relates in his autobiography, that he and his son would pass rapidly before a shop window, that of a toy shop, for instance, and each cast an attentive glance upon it. This 'nest' will last for years. On fine days when it is warm enough to sit out with wraps, why should not tea and breakfast, everything but a hot dinner, be served out of doors? Mental Training of a Child Naturalist. I have seen the young London beauty, amid all the excitement and temptation of luxury and flattery, with her heart pure, and her mind occupied in a boudoir full of shells and fossils, flowers and seaweeds, keeping herself unspotted from the world, by considering the lilies of the fields of the field, how they grow. Many birds come into view the more freely in the cold weather that they are driven forth in search of food. Suppose they had just come into the world, a sweet reward for some new goodness And, pari passu with his knowledge of things, his vocabulary grows; for it is a law of the mind that what we know, we struggle to express. But surely there is a pond within reach——by road or rail——where tadpoles may be caught, and carried home in a bottle, fed, and watched through all their changes——fins disappearing, tails getting shorter and shorter, until at last there is no tail at all, and a pretty pert little frog looks you in the face.
Now, consider what a culpable waste of intellectual energy it is to shut up a child, blessed with this inordinate capacity for seeing and knowing, within the four walls of a house, or the dreary streets of a town. The ideas of distance and direction may now be combined. You must not only be 'most mousy-quiet,' but you must not even let a thought whisper, for if you let yourself think about anything else, the entirely delightful play of bird-life passes by you unobserved; nay, the very bird notes are unheard. At the time, there was no more than a hazy impression that such and such objects were present, and naturally, after a lapse of years those features can rarely be recalled of which the child was not cognisant when he saw them before him. The boy who can tell you off-hand where to find each of the half-dozen most graceful birches, the three or four finest ash trees in the neighbourhood of his home, has chances in a life a dozen to one compared with the lower, slower intelligence that does not know an elm from an oak——not merely chances of success, but chances of a larger, happier life, for it is curious how certain feelings are linked with the mere observation of Nature and natural objects. These will afford him the names for directions that he has found it difficult to describe. Field Flowers and the Life-History of Plants. We waited, and traced him to his next station by his light touch on the branches. Little David Copperfield was "a very observant child, though," says he, "I think the memory of most of us can go farther back into such times than many of us suppose; just as I believe the power of observation in numbers of very young children to be quite wonderful for its closeness and accuracy. Get from an ant-hill about twelve ants the yellow ants are best, as the red are inclined to be quarrelsome , a few eggs, and one queen. There might be a wood under the water. The child who spends an hour in watching the ways of some new 'grub' he has come upon will be a man of mark yet. They must be spent with some method, or the mother will be taxed and the children bored. You pick up a pebble. Clement's'; 'Here we come gathering nuts in May'; 'What has my poor prisoner done? Only a few can say with Wordsworth, of scenes they have visited "Though absent long, These forms of beauty have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind mans eye; But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration. At the same time, here is the mother's opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers. When he is prepared by a little observation in the course of the sun, he is ready to take in the idea of direction, which depends entirely upon the sun. She shall be mine, and I will make A lady of my own 2. All the skill of a good scout comes into play. For we are an overwrought generation, running to nerves as a cabbage runs to seed; and every hour spent in the open is a clear gain, tending to the increase of brain power and bodily vigour, and to the lengthening of life itself. If the children are to have what is quite the best thing for them, they should be two or three hours every day in the open air all through winter, say an hour and a half in the morning and as long in the afternoon. The child has truly a great deal to do before he is in a condition to 'believe his own eyes'; but Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. Woollen has many advantages over cotton, and more over linen, as a clothing material; chiefly, that it is a bad conductor; that is to say, it does not allow the heat of the body too free an exit, nor the heat of the sun too free an entrance. In this respect French children are better off than English; they dance and sing through a hundred roundelays——just such games, no doubt, mimic marryings and buryings, as the children played at long ago in the market place of Jerusalem. To be wet to the skin may do a child no more harm than a bath would do him, if the wet clothes do not dry upon him——that is, if the water does not evaporate, carrying off much heat from his body in the process.
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