Health is a great treasure. It is the richest possession we can have. Wealth, honor, or learning, is dearly purchased, if it be at the loss of the vigor of health. None of these attainments can secure happiness if health is wanting. It is a terrible sin to abuse the health God has given us. Every abuse of health enfeebles for life, and makes us losers, even if we gain any amount of education.
Parents who are wealthy, in many cases do not feel the importance of giving their children an education in the practical duties of life, as well as in the sciences. They do not see the necessity, for the good of their children’s minds and morals, and for their future usefulness, of giving them a thorough understanding in useful labor. This is due their children, that, if misfortune should come, they could maintain noble independence, having a knowledge how to use their hands. If they have a capital of strength, they can not be poor, even if they have not a dollar. Many, who in youth are in affluent circumstances, may be robbed of all their riches, with parents and brothers and sisters dependent upon them for sustenance. Then how important that the youth be educated to labor, that they may be prepared for any emergency. Riches are indeed a curse when the possessors let them stand in the way of their sons’ and daughters’ obtaining a knowledge of useful labor, that they may be qualified for practical life.
Those who are not compelled to labor, frequently do not have active exercise sufficient for physical health. Young men, for want of having their minds and hands employed in active labor, will acquire habits of indolence, and will frequently be obtaining, what is to be most dreaded, a street education, lounging about stores, smoking, drinking, and playing cards.
The young ladies will read and excuse themselves from active labor, because they are in delicate health. Their feebleness is generally the result of their lack of exercising the muscles. They may think they are too feeble to do housework, but will work at crochet and tatting, and preserve the delicate paleness of their hands and faces, while their care-burdened mothers toil hard in washing and ironing their garments. These ladies transgress the fifth commandment. They do not honor their parents. But the mother is most to blame. She has indulged and excused her daughters from bearing their share of household duties, until work becomes distasteful to them, and they love, and enjoy, delicate idleness. They will eat, and sleep, and read novels, and talk of the fashions. Their lives are useless.
Teach Children to Work
Poverty, in many cases, is a blessing; for it prevents youth and children from being ruined by inaction. The physical should be cultivated and properly developed, as well as the mental. The first and constant care of parents should be that their children may have firm constitutions, that they may be sound men and women. It is impossible to attain this object without physical exercise. Children, for their own physical health and moral good, should be taught to work, even if there is no necessity as far as want is concerned. If they would have virtuous and pure characters, they must have the discipline of well-regulated labor, which will bring into exercise all the muscles. The satisfaction children will have in being useful, of denying themselves to help others, will be the most healthful pleasure they ever enjoyed. Why should the wealthy rob themselves and their dear children of this great blessing?
Parents, inaction is the greatest curse that ever came upon you. Your daughters should not be allowed to lie late in bed in the morning, sleeping away the precious hours lent them of God to be used for the best purpose, and for which they will have to give an account to God. The mother is doing her daughters great injury in bearing the burdens the daughters should share with her for their own present good and future benefit. The course many parents have pursued in allowing their children to be indolent, and to gratify a desire for reading romance, is unfitting them for real life. Novel and story-book reading are the greatest evils that youth can indulge in. Novel and love-story readers always fail to make good, practical mothers. They live in an unreal world. They are air-castle builders, living in an imaginary world. They become sentimental, and have sick fancies. Their artificial life spoils them for anything useful. They are dwarfed in intellect, although they may flatter themselves that they are superior in mind and manners. Exercise in household labor will be of the greatest advantage to young girls.
Advantages of Physical Labor
Physical labor will not prevent the cultivation of the intellect. Far from this. The advantages gained by physical labor will balance them, that the mind shall not be overworked. The toil will then come upon the muscles, and relieve the wearied brain. There are many listless, useless girls who consider it unlady-like to engage in active labor. But their characters are too transparent to deceive sensible persons in regard to their real worthlessness. They will simper and giggle, and are all affectation. They appear as though they could not speak their words fairly and squarely, but torture all they say with lisping and simpering. Are these ladies? They were not born fools, but were educated such. It does not require a frail, helpless, overdressed, simpering thing to make a lady. A sound body is required for a sound intellect. Physical soundness and a practical knowledge in all the necessary household duties, are never a hindrance to a well-developed intellect, but highly important for a lady.
All the powers of the mind should be called into use, and developed, in order for men and women to have well-balanced minds. The world is full of one-sided men and women, because one set of the faculties are cultivated, while others are dwarfed from inaction. The education of most youth is a failure. They over-study, while they neglect that which pertains to practical business life. Men and women become parents without considering their responsibilities, and their offspring sink lower in the scale of human deficiency than they themselves. Thus we are fast degenerating. The constant application to study, as the schools are now conducted, is unfitting youth for practical life. The human mind will have action. If it is not active in the right direction, it will be active in the wrong. And in order to preserve the balance of the mind, labor and study should be united in the schools.
There should have been in past generations provisions made for education upon a larger scale. In connection with the schools should have been agricultural and manufacturing establishments. There should have been teachers also of household labor. There should have been a portion of the time each day devoted to labor, that the physical and mental might be equally exercised. If schools had been established upon the plan we have mentioned, there would not now be so many unbalanced minds.
The Health Reformer, April 1, 1873.