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3. How necessary health is to our business and happiness, and how requisite a strong constitution, able to endure hardships and fatigue, is to one that will make any figure in the world, is too obvious to need any proof.
TENDERNESS. 4. The consideration I shall here have, of health, shall be, not what a physician ought to do, with a sick or crazy child; but what the parents, without the help of physic, should do for the preservation and improvement of an healthy, or, at least, not sickly constitution, in their children: and this perhaps might be all despatched in this one short rule, viz., that gentlemen should use their children as the honest farmers and substantial yeomen do theirs. But because the mothers, possibly, may think this a little too hard, and the fathers, too short, I shall explain myself more particularly; only laying down this, as a general and certain observation for the women to consider, viz., that most children's constitutions are either spoiled, or at least harmed, by cockering and tenderness.
WARMTH. 5. The first thing to be taken care of is, that children be not too warmly clad or covered, winter or summer. The face, when we are born, is no less tender than any other part of the body; it is use alone hardens it, and makes it more able to endure the cold. And therefore the Scythian philosopher gave a very significant answer to the Athenian, who wondered how he could go naked in frost and snow: "How," said the Scythian, "can you endure your face exposed to the sharp winter air ?” “My face is used to it," said the Athenian. “Think me all face," replied the Scythian. Our bodies will endure any thing that from the beginning they are accustomed to.
An eminent instance of this, though in the contrary excess of heat, being to our present purpose, to show what use can do, I shall set down in the author's words, as I met with it in a late ingenious voyage :* "The heats," says he, "are more violent in Malta than in any part of Europe: they exceed those of Rome itself, and are perfectly stifling; and so much the more, because there are seldom any cooling breezes here. This makes the common people as black as gypsies: but yet the peasants defy the sun: they work on in the hottest part of the day, without intermission, or sheltering themselves from his scorching rays. This has convinced me that nature can bring itself to many things which seem impossible, provided we accustom ourselves from our infancy. The Maltese do so, who harden the bodies of their children, and reconcile them to the heat, by making them go stark naked, without shirt, drawers, or any thing on their head, from their cradles, till they are ten years old."
Give me leave, therefore, to advise you not to fence too carefully against the cold of this our climate: there are those in England, who wear the same clothes winter and summer, and that without any inconvenience, or more sense of cold than others find. But if the mother will needs have an allowance for frost and snow, for fear of harm, and the father, for fear of censure, be sure let not his winter-clothing be too warm; and amongst other things remember, that when nature has so well covered his head with hair, and strengthened it with a year or two's age, that he can run about by day, without a cap, it is best that by night a child should also lie without one; there being nothing that more ex
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poses to headache, colds, catarrhs, coughs, and several other diseases, than keeping the head warm.
6. I have said he here, because the principal aim of my discourse is, how a young gentleman should be brought up from his infancy, which in all things will not so perfectly suit the education of daughters; though, where the difference of sex requires different treatment, it will be no hard matter to distinguish.
FEET. ALTERATIONS. 7. I would also advise his feet to be washed every day in cold water; and to have his shoes so thin, that they might leak and let in water, whenever he comes near it.* Here, I fear, I shall have the mistress, and maids too, against me. One will think it too filthy; and the other, perhaps, too much pains to make clean his stockings. But yet truth will have it, that his health is much more worth than all such considerations, and ten times as much more. And he that considers how mischievous and mortal a thing taking wet in the feet is, to those who have been bred nicely, will wish he had, with the poor people's children, gone barefoot; who, by that means, come to be so reconciled by custom, to wet their feet, that they take no more cold or harm by it than if they were wet in their hands. And what is it, I pray, that makes this great difference between the hands and the feet in others, but only custom? I doubt not, but if a man from his cradle had been always used to go barefoot, whilst his hands were constantly wrapped up in warm mittens, and covered with hand shoes, as the Dutch call gloves; I doubt not, I say, but such a custom would make taking wet in his hands as dangerous to him, as now taking wet in their feet is to a great many others. The way to prevent this, is to have his shoes made so as to leak water, and his feet washed constantly every day in cold water. It is recommendable for its cleanliness: but that, which I aim at in it, is health. And therefore I limit it not precisely to any time of the day. I have known it used every night with very good success, and that all the winter, without the omitting it so much as one night, in extreme cold weather: when thick ice covered the water, the child bathed his legs and feet in it; though he was of an age not big enough to rub and wipe them himself; and when he began this custom, was puling and very tender. But the greater end being to hardən those parts, by a frequent and familiar use of cold water, and thereby to prevent the mischiefs that usually attend accidental taking wet in the feet, in those who are bred otherwise ; I think it may be left to the prudence and convenience of the parents, to choose either night or morning. The time I deem indifferent, so the thing be effectually done. The health and hardiness procured by it, would be a good purchase at a much dearer rate. To which if I add the preventing of corns, that to some men would be a very valuable consideration. But begin first in the spring with lukewarm, and so colder and colder every time, till in a few days you come to perfectly cold water, and then continue it 80, winter and summer. For it is to be observed in this, as in all other alterations from our ordinary way of living, the changes must be made by gentle and insensible degrees; and so we may bring our bodies to any thing, without pain, and without danger.
How fond mothers are like to receive this doctrine, is not hard to foresee.
* It is necessary, perhaps, here to remind the reader, that, to secure the advantage of a full and exact reprint of Mr. Locke's Thoughts, it was necessary to include several things which ought to be regarded rather as peculiarities of opinion, than as salutary suggestions.-ED.
What can it be less than to murder their tender babes, to use them thus ? What! put their feet in cold water in frost and snow, when all one can do is little enough to keep them warm! A little to remove their fears by examples, without which the plainest reason is seldom hearkened to; Seneca tells us of himself, ep. 53 and 83, that he used to bathe himself in cold spring-water in the midst of winter. This, if he had not thought it not only tolerable, but healthy too, he would scarce have done, in an exuberant fortune, that could well have borne the expense of a warm bath; and in an age, (for he was then old,) that would have excused greater indulgence. If we think his stoical principles led him to this severity; let it be so, that this sect reconciled cold water to his sufferance: what made it agreeable to his health? for that was not impaired by this hard usage. But what shall we say to Horace, who armed not himself with the reputation of any sect, and least of all affected stoical austerities? yet he assures us, he was wont in the winter season to bathe himself in cold water. But perhaps Italy will be thought much warmer than England, and the chillness of their waters not to come near ours in winter. If the rivers of Italy are warmer, those of Germany and Poland are much colder, than any in this our country; and yet in these the Jews, both men and women, bathe all over at all seasons of the year, without any prejudice to their health. And every one is not apt to believe it is a miracle, or any peculiar virtue of St. Winifred's well, that makes the cold waters of that famous spring do no harm to the tender bodies that bathe in it. Every one is now full of the miracles done, by cold baths, on decayed and weak constitutions, for the recovery of health and strength; and therefore they can not be impracticable, or intolerable, for the improving and hardening the bodies of those who are in better circumstances.
If these examples of grown men be not thought yet to reach the case of children, but that they may be judged still to be too tender and unable to bear such usage; let them examine what the Germans of old, and the Irish now do to them; and they will find that infants too, as tender as they are thought, may, without any danger, endure bathing, not only of their feet, but of their whole bodies in cold water. And there are, at this day, ladies in the Highlands of Scotland, who use this discipline to their children, in the midst of winter; and find that cold water does them no harm, even when there is ice in it.
SWIMMING. 8. I shall not need here to mention swimming, when he is of an age able to learn and has any one to teach him. It is that saves many a man's life: and the Romans thought it so necessary, that they ranked it with letters; and it was the common phrase to mark one ill educated, and good for nothing, that he had neither learned to read nor to swim: “Nec literas didicit, nec natare.” But besides the gaining of skill, which may serve him at need; the advantages to health, by often bathing in cold water, during the heat of summer, are so many, that I think nothing need be said to encourage it; provided this one caution be used, that he never go into the water when exercise has at all warmed him, or left any emotion in his blood or pulse.
AIR. 9. Another thing that is of great advantage to every one's health, but especially children's, is to be much in the open air
, and very little, as may be, by the fire, even in winter. By this he will accustom himself also to heat and cold,
shine and rain; all which if a man's body will not endure, it will serve him to very little purpose in this world; and when he is grown up, it is too late to begin to use him to it: it must be got early and by degrees. Thus the body may be brought to bear almost any thing. If I should advise him to play in the wind and sun without a hat, I doubt whether it could be borne. There would a thousand objections be made against it, which at last would amount to no more, in truth, than being sun-burnt. And if my young master be to be kept always in the shade, and never exposed to the sun and wind, for fear of his complexion, it may be a good way to make him a beau, but not a man of business. And although greater regard be to be had to beauty in the daughters, yet I will take the liberty to say, that the more they are in the air, without prejudice to their faces, the stronger and healthier they will be; and the nearer they come to the hardships of their brothers in their education, the greater advantage will they receive from it, all the remaining part of their lives.
HABITS. 10. Playing in the open air has but this one danger in it, that I know; and that is, that when he is hot with running up and down, he should sit or lie down on the cold or moist earth. This, I grant, and drinking cold drink, when they are hot with labor or exercise, brings more people to the grave, or to the brink of it, by fevers and other diseases, than any thing I know. These mischiefs are easily enough prevented, whilst he is little; being then seldom out of sight. And if during his childhood he be constantly and rigorously kept from sitting on the ground, or drinking any cold liquor, whilst he is hot, the custom of forbearing, grown into a habit, will help much to preserve him, when he is no longer under his maid's or tutor's eye. This is all I think can be done in the case. For, as years increase, liberty must come with them; and, in a great many things, he must be trusted to his own conduct, since there can not always be a guard upon him; except what you put into his own mind, by good principles and established habits, which is the best and surest, and therefore most to be taken care of. For, from repeated cautions and rules, ever so often inculcated, you are not to expect any thing, either in this or any other case, farther than practice has established them into habit.
CLOTHES. 11. One thing the mention of the girls brings into my mind, which must not be forgot; and that is, that your son's clothes be never made strait, especially about the breast. Let nature have scope to fashion the body as she thinks best. She works of herself a great deal better and exacter than we can direct her. And if women were themselves to frame the bodies of their children in their wombs, as they often endeavor to mend their shapes when they are out, we should as certainly have no perfect children born, as we have few wellshaped, that are strait-laced, or much tampered with. This consideration should, methinks, keep busy people, (I will not say ignorant nurses and boddicemakers) from meddling in a matter they understand not; and they should be afraid to put nature out of her way, in fashioning the parts, when they know not how the least and meanest is made. And yet I have seen so many instances of children receiving great harm from strait lacing, that I can not but conclude, there are other creatures, as well as monkeys, who, little wiser than they, destroy their young ones by senseless fondness, and too much embracing.
12. Narrow breasts, short and fetid breath, ill lungs, and crookedness, are the natural and almost constant effects of hard boddice, and clothes that pinch. That way of making slender waists, and fine shapes, serves but the more effectually to spoil them. Nor can there, indeed, but be disproportion in the parts, when the nourishment prepared in the several offices of the body, can not be distributed, as nature designs. And therefore, what wonder is it, if
, it being laid where it can, or some part not so braced, it often makes a shoulder, or a hip, higher or bigger than its just proportion? It is generally known, that the women of China, (imagining I know not what kind of beauty in it,) by bracing and binding them bard from their infancy, have very little feet. I saw lately a pair of Chinese shoes, which I was told were for a grown woman; they were so exceedingly disproportioned to the feet of one of the same age amongst us, that they would scarce have been big enough for one of our little girls. Besides this, it is observed, that their women are also very little, and short-lived; whereas the men are of the ordinary stature of other men, and live to a proportionable age. These defects in the female sex of that country are by some imputed to the unreasonable binding of their feet; whereby the free circulation of the blood is hindered, and the growth and health of the whole body suffers. And how often do we see, that some small part of the foot being injured, by a wrench or a blow, the whole leg or thigh thereby loses its strength and nourishment, and dwindles away! How much greater inconveniences may we expect, when the thorax, wherein is placed the heart and seat of life, is unnaturally compressed, and hindered from its due expansion !
DIET. 13. As for his diet, it ought to be very plain and simple; and if I might advise, flesh should be forborne as long as he is in coats, or at least, till he is two or three years old. But whatever advantage this may be, to his present and future health and strength, I fear it will hardly be consented to, by parents, misled by the custom of eating too much flesh themselves; who will be apt to think their children, as they do themselves, in danger to be starved, if they have not flesh, at least twice a day. This I am sure, children would breed their teeth with much less danger, be freer from diseases, whilst they were little, and lay the foundations of an healthy and strong constitution much surer, if they were not crammed so much as they are, by fond mothers and foolish servants, and were kept wholly from flesh, the first three or four years of their lives.
But if my young master must needs have flesh, let it be but once a day, and of one sort at a meal. Plain beef, mutton, veal, &c., without other sauce than hunger, is best; and great care should be used, that he eat bread plentifully both alone and with every thing else. And whatever he eats, that is solid, make him chew it well. We English are often negligent herein; from whence follows indigestion, and other great inconveniences.
14. For breakfast and supper, milk, milk-pottage, water-gruel, flummery, and twenty other things, that we are wont to make in England, are very fit for children: only in all these let care be taken that they be plain, and without much mixture, and very sparingly seasoned with sugar, or rather none at all; especially allspice, and other things that may heat the blood, are carefully to be avoided. Be sparing also of salt, in the seasoning of all his victuals, and use him not to high-seasoned meats. Our palates grow into a relish and liking of