The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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22                                            GOOD WORDS.
Man is strong, but his heart is not adamant. He delights in enterprise and action; but to sustain him he needs a tranquil mind and a whole heart. He needs his moral force in the conflicts of the world. To recover his equanimity and composure, home must be to him a place of repose, of peace, of cheerfulness, of comfort; and his soul renews its strength again, and goes forth with fresh vigor to encounter the labor and troubles of life. But if at home he finds no rest, and is there met with a bad temper, sullenness, or gloom, or is assailed by discontent or complaint, hope vanishes and he sinks into despair.
Mental Education.—It is far better in an excitable child with a large brain and a healthy body, to keep it back in its education than to encourage the exercise of its memory in learning verses and other showy feats of memory. A dull child may of course be allowed to go as far as it will, and may even be encouraged in every possible way, but many brains are not so early developed, that the contrary system is necessary, and all books and even music lessons must be postponed, until the strength of the body is confirmed by constant exercise and fresh air. It is the vice of the present day to attempt to force the intellect by early cultivation, and hundreds of children are yearly made more mediocre in their mind than they otherwise would be by overstraining the infantile faculties. For knowledge to be profitable, must be assimilated with the developing mind, and this may be one cause of our not having the great calibre of intellect that was found among our revolutionary ancestors, for the mind, like every other living thing, becomes dwarfed by the forcing process. In most cases a child ought to know his letters at five, but beyond this everything else may be safely left to a future day; and many first rate characters, endowed with the highest attainments are formed upon a foundation much later than this.
The simplicity of the primitive ages has been an object of par­ticular admiration, and it delights the imagination to picture men living upon such fruits as spring spontaneously from the earth, and desiring no other beverages to slake their thirst, but such as foun­tains and rivers supply. Thus we are told that the ancient inhabi­tants of Argus lived on pears principally ; that the Arcadians revelled on acorns ; and the Athenians on figs. This of course was the Gold­en Age, before ploughing began, and when mankind enjoyed all