[10:] Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man. He forces one soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruits of another. He mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down, he disfigures everything, he loves deformities, monsters. He wants nothing as nature made it, not even man himself. For him man must be trained like a saddle- horse; he must be shaped according to the fashion, like trees in his garden.
[11:] Without this everything would be even worse; our species was not made to remain only half-finished. Under existing conditions a man left to himself from birth would be the most disfigured of all. Prejudice, authority, necessity, example -- all the social conditions in which we find ourselves submerged -- would stifle nature in him and put nothing in its place. Human nature would be like a seedling that chance had sown in the midst of the highway, bent this way and that and soon crushed by the passers-by.
[12:] It is you whom I address, tender, foresighted mother [note 1] -- you who know how to stay away from the busy highway and protect the growing seedling from the impact of human opinion! Cultivate and water the young plant before it dies; its fruit will one day be your delight. Early on, form an enclosure around your child's soul. Someone else can mark its circumference, but you alone must build the fence.[note 2]
[13:] Plants are fashioned by cultivation, man by education. If a man were born tall and strong, his size and strength would be of no good to him until he had learned to use them; they would even harm him by preventing others from wanting to assist him.[note 3] Left to himself he would die of misery before he knew his needs. We lament the helplessness of infancy; we fail to perceive that the human race would have perished had not man begun by being a child.
[14:] We are born weak, we need strength; we are born lacking everything, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. All that we lack at birth and that we need when we are grown is given by education.
[15:] This education comes to us from nature, from men, or from things. The inner growth of our organs and faculties is the education of nature, the use we learn to make of this growth is the education of men, and what we gain by our experience of our surroundings is the education of things.
[16:] Thus we are each taught by three masters. The pupil in whom their diverse lessons conflict is poorly raised and will never be in harmony with himself; he in whom they all agree on the same points and tend towards the same ends goes straight to his goal and lives consistently. The latter is well raised.
[17:] Now of these three factors in education, the education of nature is wholly beyond our control; that of things is only partly in our power; the education of men is the only one of which we are truly the master. And even here our power is largely illusory, for who can hope to direct every word and action of all those who surround a child?
[18:] As much therefore as education is an art, it is almost impossible that it succeed, since the coordination necessary to its success depends on no one person. All one can do by one's own efforts is to more or less approach the goal. One needs luck to attain it.
[19:] What is this goal? It is the goal of nature, that has just been proved. Since the coordination of the three educations is necessary to their perfection, the two that we can control must follow the lead of that which is beyond our control. Perhaps this word Nature has too vague a meaning. Let us try to define it.
[20:] Nature, we are told, is merely habit.[note 4] What does this signify? Are there not habits formed under compulsion, habits which never stifle nature? Such, for example, is the habit of plants that have had their vertical direction altered. Once given liberty, the plant keeps the shape it was forced into. And yet for all that, the sap has not changed its original direction, and any new growth the plant makes will be vertical. It is the same with the inclinations of man. As long as we stay in the same condition we will keep those inclinations that result from habit and which are the least natural to us. But as soon as the situation changes, habit ceases and nature reasserts itself. Education is certainly only a habit, for there are people who forget or lose their education and others who keep it. Whence comes this difference? If we restrict the name of nature to those habits that conform to nature, we can spare ourselves any confusion.
[21:] We are born sensitive and from our birth onwards we are affected in various ways by the objects that surround us. As soon as we have, so to speak, consciousness of our sensations, we are disposed to seek out or shun the things that cause them, at first because they are pleasant or unpleasant, then because they suit us or not, and finally because of judgments of them formed by means of the ideas of happiness and goodness which reason gives us. These tendencies gain strength and permanence as we become more sensitive and more enlightened. But once they are constrained by our habits, they become more or less corrupted by our opinions. Before this change they are what I call nature within us.
[22:] It is thus to these primitive dispositions that everything should be related, and that would be possible if our three modes of education merely differed from one another. But what can be done when they are opposed, when instead of raising a man for himself one wishes to raise him for others? Then harmony becomes impossible. Forced to combat either nature or social institutions, you must choose between making a man and making a citizen, for you cannot do both at the same time.
[23:] All partial societies, when they are tightly knit and well united, are alienated from the larger society. Every patriot acts coldly towards foreigners; they are only men, and nothing to him.[note 5] This defect is inevitable but of little importance. The essential thing is to be good to the people with whom one lives. Abroad, the Spartan was selfish, grasping, and unjust; yet unselfishness, justice, and harmony ruled within his home. Distrust those cosmopolitans who search far in their books for duties that they neglect to fulfil towards those around them. Such philosophers love the Tartars to so as to be spared from loving their neighbours.
[24:] Natural man is everything for himself. He is the numerical unit, the absolute whole, accountable only to himself or to his own kind. Civil man is only a fractional unit dependent on the denominator, whose value is in his relationship with the whole, that is, the social body. Good social institutions are those that know best how to denature man, to take away his absolute existence in order to give him a relative one, and to transport the "me" into a common unity so that each individual no longer regards himself as one but as a part of the unity and is sensitive only to the whole. A citizen of Rome was neither Caius nor Lucius, he was a Roman; he even loved his country better than his life. Regulus claimed he was a Carthaginian, as having become the property of his masters. In his status of foreigner he refused to sit in the Roman Senate; a Carthaginian had to order him to do so. He was indignant when they tried to save his life. He conquered, and returned in triumph to die by torture. There is no similarity between Regulus and the men of our own day.
[25:] The Spartan Pedaretes presented himself for admission to the council of the Three Hundred and was rejected; he went away rejoicing that there were three hundred Spartans better than himself. I suppose he was in earnest; there is no reason to doubt it. That was a citizen.
[26:] A Spartan mother had five sons in the army and awaited news of the battle. A Helot arrived; trembling she asked his news. "Your five sons have been killed." "Vile slave, was that what I asked you?" "We have won the victory." She ran to the temple to give thanks to the gods. That was a citizen.
[27:] He who in the civil order wishes to preserve the primacy of the sentiments of nature does not know what he wants. Always in contradiction with himself, always floating between his wishes and his duties, he will be neither a man nor a citizen. He will be good neither for himself nor for others. He will be a man of our day -- a Frenchman, an Englishman, a bourgeois. He will be nothing.
[28:] To be something, to be oneself, and always at one with oneself, one must act as one speaks. One must be decisive about what course to take and must follow that course with vigour and persistence. I am waiting to be shown this prodigy to decide whether he is man or citizen, or how he manages to be both.
[29:] From these necessarily opposite aims come two contrary forms of education -- one is public and common, the other individual and domestic.
[30:] Do you wish to get an idea of public education? Read Plato's Republic. Those who merely judge books by their titles take this for a treatise on politics, but it is the finest treatise on education ever written.
[31:] When people wish to go back to a land of fantasies they cite Plato's institutions. But had Lycurgus put forth his system only in writing, I would have found it to be far more impracticable than Plato's. Plato sought only to purify man's heart, whereas Lycurgus denatured it.
[32:] Public institutions do not and cannot exist, for where there is no longer a homeland there can no longer be citizens. These two words, homeland and citizen, ought to be erased from modern languages. I know very well the reason for this but I do not want to discuss it here; it has nothing to do with my subject.
[33:] I do not consider our ridiculous colleges[note 6] as public institutions. Nor do I count the education of society, for this education, facing two ways at once, achieves nothing. It is only fit to turn out double men, always seeming to relate everything to others while actually relating nothing to anyone but themselves. These forms of display are common to everybody and deceive no one. They are so much wasted effort.
[34:] From these contradictions arise the one which we experience ceaselessly within ourselves. Drawn this way by nature and that way by men, forced to divide ourselves between divergent impulses, we make a compromise and reach neither goal. Thus buffeted and floating throughout the course of our lives, we end it without having been able to be in harmony with ourselves -- and without having done anything good either for ourselves or for others.
[35:] There remains finally domestic education or the education of nature. But what will a man raised uniquely for himself become for others? If perhaps the proposed double aim could be resolved into one, then by removing man's contradictions we would remove a great obstacle to his happiness. To judge you must see this man full-grown; you must have observed his inclinations, watched his progress, followed his steps. In a word, natural man would have to be known. When you have read this work, I think you will have made some progress in this research.
[36:] What must be done to form this rare man? Without a doubt, very much: it is to prevent anything from being done. When one wishes to go against the wind one can tack; but to keep one's position in a stormy sea one must cast anchor. Beware, young pilot, lest your boat slip its cable or drag its anchor before you know it.
[37:] In the social order where each has his own place a man must be educated for it. If an individual formed for a particular social position happens to leave that position, he is fit for nothing else. His education is only useful when fate agrees with his parents' choice. If not, education harms the student, if only by the prejudices it has given him. In Egypt, where the son was compelled to adopt his father's calling, education had at least a settled aim. But with us, where only the social ranks remain and the men who form them are constantly changing, no one knows if raising one's son for his own class may actually be working against him.
[38:] In the natural order since men are all equal their common vocation is that of man. And whoever is well-raised for that calling cannot badly fulfill anything that relates to it. Whether my pupil is destined for the army, the church, or the law, is of little import. Before his parents chose a vocation for him, nature called him to human life. Life is the trade I want to teach him. Leaving my hands I grant you he will be neither a magistrate, a soldier, nor a priest; he will be first of all a man. All that a man ought to be he will learn as quickly as another. In vain can fortune change his station; he will always be in his right place. " Ocupavi te, fortuna, atque cepi; omnes-que aditus tuos interclusi, ut ad me aspirare non posses."
[39:] Our true study is that of the human condition. Those who can best endure the good and evil of life are in my view the best educated. Hence it follows that true education consists less in precept than in practice. We begin to learn when we begin to live; our education begins with ourselves. Our first teacher is our nurse. Moreover this word "educatio" had with the ancients another meaning that we no longer give it -- it meant " nurture." " Educit obstetrix," says Varro. " Educat nutrix, instituit pedagogus, docet magister." Thus, education, discipline, and instruction are three things as different in their purpose as the nurse, the preceptor, and the master. But these distinctions are undesirable and the child should only follow one guide.
[40:] We must therefore look at the general rather than the particular, and consider our pupil as man in the abstract, man exposed to all the accidents of human life. If men were born attached to the soil of one country, if one season lasted all the year round, if every man's fortune were so firmly grasped that he could never lose it, then the established method of education would be good in certain ways: the child raised for his own place in society would never leave it, and he would never be exposed to the difficulties of another. But given the mobility of human affairs, the restless and uneasy spirit of this century which turns everything upside down with each generation, can we conceive a more senseless plan than to raise a child as if he will never leave his room, as if he will always have his servants about him? If the poor creature takes a single step on the ground, if he descends the social ladder by a single rung, he is lost. This is not teaching him to bear pain; it is training him to feel it.
[41:] People think only of preserving their child's life; this is not enough. He must be taught to preserve himself as a man, to bear the blows of fate, to brave wealth and poverty, to live if necessary among the snows of Iceland or on the scorching rocks of Malta. In vain you guard against death: he will nevertheless have to die, and even if you do not kill him with your precautions, they are ill-conceived. It is less a question of keeping him from dying than of making him live. To live is not to breathe but to act. It is to make use of our organs, our senses, our faculties, of all the parts of ourselves which give us the sentiment of our existence. The man who has lived the most is not he who has counted the most years but he who has most felt life. A man may be buried at a hundred who has been dead since his birth. He would have gained more by dying young: at least he would have lived up until that time.
[42:] All our wisdom consists of servile prejudices; our customs consist in subjection, discomfort, constraint. Civil man is born, lives, and dies in slavery. At his birth the infant is bound up in swaddling clothes; at his death he is nailed down in his coffin. As long as he keeps a human form he is enchained by by our institutions.
[43:] It is said that many midwives profess to improve the shape of the infant's head by rubbing, and they are allowed to do this. Our heads are not good enough as God made them; they must be moulded outside by the nurse and inside by the philosophers. The Caribs are better off than we are.
[44:] "The child has hardly left the mother's womb, it has hardly begun to move and stretch its limbs, when it is given new bonds. It is wrapped in swaddling bands, laid down with its head fixed, its legs stretched out, and its arms by its sides; it is wound round with linen and bandages of all sorts so that it cannot move. The child is fortunate if it has room to breathe and if it is laid on its side so that any water which should flow from its mouth can escape; for it is not free to turn its head on one side for this purpose."
[45:] The new-born child needs to stir and stretch his limbs to free them from the stiffness resulting from being curled up so long. His limbs are stretched indeed, but he is not allowed to move them. Even the head is confined by a cap. One would think they were afraid the child should look as if he were alive.
[46:] As a result the internal impulses which should lead to growth find an insurmountable obstacle in the way of the necessary movements. The child exhausts his strength in vain struggles, or he gains strength very slowly. He was freer and less constrained in the womb; he has gained nothing by birth.
[47:] The inaction, the constraint to which the child's limbs are subjected, can only hinder the circulation of the blood and bodily fluids; it can only limit the child's growth in size and strength and injure its constitution. In places where such absurd precautions are unknown, the men are tall, strong, and well-made. The countries where children are swaddled swarm with hunch-backs, the lame, the bowlegged, the arthritic, and people with every kind of deformity. In our fear that the body should become deformed by free movement, we hasten to deform it by putting it in a press. We willfully make our children crippled by preventing them from disabling themselves.
[48:] Might not such a cruel constraint influence their humor as well as their temperament? Their first feeling is one of sadness and of pain. They are confronted by obstacles with each necessary movement. More miserable than a criminal in chains, they make vain efforts, they become angry, they cry. Their first words you say are tears. I believe it. You thwart them from birth. The first gifts they receive from you are chains, the first treatment they experience is torture. Having nothing that is free but their voice, why wouldn't they use it to complain? They cry from the pains that you give them. Thus fettered you would cry louder than they.
[49:] Whence comes this unreasonable custom? From an unnatural practice. Since mothers despise their primary duty and do not wish to nurse their own children, they have had to entrust them to mercenary women. These women thus become mothers to a stranger's children, who by nature mean so little to them that they seek only to spare themselves trouble. A child unswaddled would need constant watching; well swaddled it is cast into a corner and its cries are ignored. As long as the nurse's negligence escapes notice, as long as the nursling does not break its arms or legs, what matter if it dies or becomes a weakling for life? Its limbs are kept safe at the expense of its body, and if anything goes wrong it is not the nurse's fault.
[50:] These gentle mothers, having gotten rid of their babies, devote themselves gaily to the pleasures of the town. Do they know how their children are being treated in the villages? If the nurse is at all busy, the child is hung up on a nail like a bundle of clothes and is left crucified while the nurse goes leisurely about her business. All those who have been found in this position were purple in the face. Their tightly bandaged chest prevented the circulation of the blood, and it went to the head. The patient was considered very quiet because he had not strength to cry. How long a child might survive under such conditions I do not know, but it could not be long. That, I suppose, is one of the chief advantages of swaddling clothes.
[51:] It is claimed that infants left free would assume faulty positions and make movements which might injure the proper development of their limbs. This is one of the vain rationalizations of our false wisdom which experience has never confirmed. Out of the multitude of children who grow up with the full use of their limbs among nations wiser than ourselves, you never find one who hurts himself or maims himself; their movements are too feeble to be dangerous, and when they assume an injurious position, pain warns them to change it.
[52:] We have not yet decided to swaddle our kittens and puppies; are they any the worse for this neglect? Children are heavier, I admit, but in proportion they are also weaker. They can scarcely move, how could they hurt themselves? If you lay them on their backs, they will lie there till they die, like turtles, unable to turn itself over.
[53:] Not content with having ceased to suckle their children, women no longer even wish to do it. The consequence is natural. Once motherhood becomes a burden means are found to avoid it. They will make their work useless in order to begin it over again, and they thus distort, to the prejudice of the species, the charm which was given them for its increase. This practice, along with other causes of depopulation, forebodes the coming fate of Europe. The sciences, arts, philosophy and customs that are generated will not be long in reducing Europe to a desert. It will be the home of wild beasts, and its inhabitants will hardly have changed for the worse.
[54:] I have sometimes watched the little manipulations of young wives who pretend that they wish to nurse their own children. They take care to be dissuaded from this whim. They contrive that husbands, doctors,[note 7] and especially mothers should intervene. A man who dared to let his wife nurse her own baby would be lost; they would make him out a murderer who wanted to be rid of her. Prudent husbands, one must sacrifice paternal affection to domestic peace. Luckily there are women in the countryside who are more conscientious than your wives. You will be even more lucky if the time your wives thus gain is not intended for another than yourself!
[55:] There can be no doubt about a wife's duty, but considering the contempt in which it is held, it is doubtful whether it is not just as good for the child to be suckled by a stranger. This is a question for the doctors to settle, and in my opinion they have settled it according to the women's wishes._ For my own part, I think it is better that if the child has any new ills to fear from the same blood out of which he was formed, he should suck the breast of a healthy nurse rather than of a spoiled mother.
[56:] However, should the question be considered only from the physical side? Does not the child need a mother's care as much as her milk? Other women, or even other animals, may give him the milk she denies him, but there is no substitute for a mother's love. The woman who nurses another's child in place of her own is a bad mother; how will she be a good nurse? She could become one, though slowly. For that it would be necessary for habit to change nature, and the child poorly cared for could perish a hundred times before his nurse had developed a mother's tenderness for him.
[57:] And this affection, when developed, has its drawbacks, which should make any feeling woman afraid to put her child out to nurse. Is she prepared to divide her mother's rights, or rather to abdicate them, in favour of a stranger? to see her child loving another more than herself? to feel that the affection he retains for his own mother is a favour, while his love for his foster-mother is a duty? For is not some affection due where there has been a mother's care?
[58:] To remove this difficulty, children are taught to look down on their nurses, to treat them as mere servants. When their task is completed the child is withdrawn or the nurse is dismissed. By receiving her badly, the parents discourage her from coming to see her nurseling. After a few years the child doesn't see her and knows nothing of her. The mother who expects to take her place and to repair neglect with cruelty deceives herself. Instead of making an affectionate son out of a denatured nurseling, she is teaching him ingratitude; she is teaching him to despise at a later day the mother who bore him just as he now despises his nurse.
[59:] How I would I insist on this point if it were not so discouraging to keep hammering at useful subjects! More depends on this than one thinks. If you wish to restore all men to their primary duties, begin with the mothers. The results will surprise you. Everything follows from this first deprivation: the whole moral order is disturbed, nature is quenched in every breast, the home becomes gloomy, the spectacle of a young family no longer stirs the husband's love and the stranger's reverence. The mother whose children are out of sight is less respected; there is no home life; the ties of nature are not strengthened by those of habit; fathers, mothers, children, brothers, and sisters cease to exist. They hardly know each other. How could they love one another? Each one thinks only of himself. When the home is only a sad solitude, one must go elsewhere to be gay.
[60:] But when mothers deign to nurse their own children, then morals will reforms themselves, natural feeling will revive in every heart, the state will be repopulated. This first point, this point alone, will bring everything together. The attractions of domestic life are the best antidote for bad morals. The noisy play of children, which one assumes to be bothersome, becomes agreeable; the mother and the father become more necessary, more dear to each other; the conjugal bonds are tightened. When the family is lively and animated domestic cares become the most cherished occupation of the wife and the sweetest amusement of the husband. Thus from this one corrected abuse would result a general reform; soon nature would have regained all of its rights. Once women become mothers again, men will become husbands and fathers.
[61:] A superfluous speech! When we are sick of worldly pleasures we do not return to the pleasures of the home. Women have ceased being mothers -- they will no longer be and do not wish to be. Even if they wanted to they hardly could. Today the contrary custom is established. Each would have to overcome the opposition of those who approach her and who are leagued together against the example which some have never given and others do not desire to follow.
[62:] Yet there are still a few young women of natural goodness who on this point dare brave the empire of fashion and the clamors of their sex and, with virtuous boldness, do fulfill this sweet duty that nature imposes on them. May their number increase from the attraction of the benefits destined for those who do so! Based on consequences given by simple reasoning and upon observations I have never seen disputed, I dare promise these worthy mothers the firm and steadfast affection of their husbands, the truly filial love of their children, the estime and respect of the public, easy pregnancies without accident or misfortune, firm and vigorous health, and finally the pleasure of one day seeing their daughters follow their example and being cited as an example to the daughters of others.
[63:] No mother, no child. Between them their duties are reciprocal, and if they are poorly fulfilled by the one they will be neglected by the other. The child should love his mother before he knows that he should. If the voice of instinct is not strengthened by habit and care, it will die in the early years and the heart will die, so to speak, before being born. Here we are already stepping away from nature.
[64:] One also leaves nature by an opposite route when instead of neglecting a mother's care a woman carries it to excess. This is when she makes an idol of her child, when she augments and nurtures his weakness in order to prevent him from feeling it, and when hoping to protect him from the laws of nature she removes from him any painful impact -- without thinking to what extent she is preserving him for a moment from a few inconveniences only to accumulate accidents and perils later on, and to what extent it is a barbarous precaution to add the weakness of childhood to a mature man's burdens. Thetis, according to the fable, plunged her son in the waters of Styx to make him invulnerable. This allegory is beautiful and clear. The cruel mothers I speak of do otherwise: by plunging their children into softness, they prepare them for suffering, they open their pores to every kind of ill which they will not fail to be a victim of when they grow up.
[65:] Observe nature, follow the route that it traces for you. Nature exercises children continually, it hardens their temperament by all kinds of difficulties, it teaches them early the meaning of pain and sorrow. Teething gives them fevers, sharp colics bring on convulsions, long coughing suffocates them, worms torment them, plethora corrupts their blood, various leavens ferment it and cause dangerous eruptions. Almost all of the first age is sickness and danger: one half of the children who are born die before their eighth year. The tests passed, the infant has gained strength, and as soon as he can make use of his life its principle becomes more secure.
[66:] This is the law of nature. Why would you contradict it? Do you not see that in your efforts to improve upon its work you are destroying it, that you impede the effect of its aims? To do from without what she does within is according to you to increase the danger twofold. On the contrary, it is the way to avert it. Experience shows that children delicately raised are more likely to die. Provided we do not overdo it, there is less risk in using their strength than in sparing it. Accustom them therefore to the hardships they will have to face; train them to endure extremes of temperature, climate, and condition, hunger, thirst, and weariness. Dip them in the waters of Styx. Before bodily habits are acquired you may teach what habits you will without danger. But once habits are established any change becomes perilous. A child will bear changes which a man cannot bear. The muscles of the one are soft and flexible and take whatever direction you give them without any effort. The muscles of the grown man are harder and they only change their accustomed mode of action when subjected to violence. One can thus make a child robust without risking his life or health; and even if there were some risk, one should not hesitate. Since risks are inseperable from human life, can we do better than face them at a time when they can do the least harm?
[67:] A child's worth increases with his years. To his personal value must be added the cost of the care bestowed upon him; to the loss of his life is joined in him the sentiment of death. It is therefore above all of the future that we must think in watching over his conservation; it is against the ills of childhood that he must be armed even before he gets there. For if the value of life increases until the child reaches an age when he can be useful, is it not crazy to spare some suffering in infancy only to multiply his pain when he reaches the age of reason? Are those the lessons of the master?
[68:] The fate of man is to suffer at all times. Even the effort to conserve himself is attached to pain. In infancy one is lucky to know only physical ills, ills much less cruel, much less painful, than the others and much less frequently than they to make us give up on life. One does not kill oneself over the pains of gout; it is only the pains of the soul that produce such despair. We pity the sufferings of childhood; we should pity ourselves. Our worst sorrows are of our own making.
[69:] In childbirth the infant cries; his early infancy is spent in crying. Sometimes we bustle about, we caress him in order to pacify him; at other times we threaten him, we hit him in order to make him be quiet. We do what pleases him, or we insist that he do what pleases us. Either we submit to his whims or subject him to our own. There is no middle way: he must give orders or receive them. Thus his earliest ideas are those of domination or servitude. Before knowing how to speak he commands; before knowing how to act he obeys; and sometimes we chastise him before he can know his faults or even commit them. It is thus that early on we pour into his young heart passions that we later attribute to nature, and that after having taken pains to make him evil we complain of having found him so.
[70:] A child passes six or seven years this way in the hands of women, the victim of their caprice or his own. And after having made him to learn this or that -- that is to say after having burdened his memory with words that he cannot understand or with things that are good for nothing -- after having stifled what is natural in him with passions that have been created, we give over this artificial being into the hands of a tutor. The tutor continues to develop these artificial germs that he found already formed and teaches the child everything except how to know himself, how to decide for himself, how to live and make himself happy. Finally when this child -- both a slave and a tyrant, full of knowledge but lacking all sense, equally debilitated in body and soul -- is thrown into the world, by showing his ineptitude, his pride and all his vices he makes us deplore human misery and perversity. We are wrong. This is a man based on our fantasies. One based on nature is made differently.
[71:] Do you wish, then, that he keep his original form? Watch over him from the moment he comes into the world. As soon as he is born take possession of him and do not leave him till he is a man; you will never succeed otherwise. Just as the real nurse is the mother, the real teacher is the father. Let them agree in the ordering of their functions as well as in their system; let the child pass from one to the other. He will be better educated by a sensible though limited father than by the cleverest teacher in the world. For zeal will make up for lack of knowledge better than knowledge for lack of zeal.
[72:] But business, jobs, duties. . . Duties indeed![note 8] Does a father's duty come last?_ It is not surprising that the man whose wife despises the duty of suckling her child should himself despise the child's education. There is no more charming picture than that of family life; but when one feature is lacking the whole is marred. If the mother is too delicate to nurse her child, the father will be too busy to teach him. Their children, scattered about in schools, convents, and colleges, will carry their love for their paternal home elsewhere, or rather they will form the habit of caring for nothing. Brothers and sisters will scarcely know each other; when they are together in company they will behave as strangers. When there is no confidence between relations, when the familiar society ceases to give favour to life, its place is soon usurped by bad morals. Is there any man so stupid that he cannot see how all this hangs together?
[73:] When a father begets children and provides a living for them he has done but a third of his task. He owes human beings to his species, social men to society, citizens to the state. A man who can pay this threefold debt and neglects to do so is guilty, more guilty, perhaps, if he pays it in part than when he neglects it entirely. He who cannot fulfil the duties of a father has no right to be a father. Neither poverty, work, nor human respect excuse a man from supporting his children and raising them himself. Readers, you can believe me. I predict that anyone who has visceral feelings and neglects such sacred duties will long weep bitter tears and will never be consoled.
[74:] But what does this rich man do, this father of a family, who is so busy and forced, according to him, to abandon his children? He pays another man to fulfil those duties which are his alone. Venal soul! Do you expect to purchase a second father for your child? Do not deceive yourself; it is not even a master you have hired for him, it is a flunkey. He soon will create a second one.
[75:] There is much discussion about the qualities of a good tutor. My first requirement, and it implies many more, is that he should not be a man who can be bought. There are callings so great that they cannot be undertaken for money without showing our unfitness for them; such callings are those of the soldier and the teacher. "But who must train my child?" I have just told you, you should do it yourself. "I cannot." You cannot! Then you must make a friend. I see no other resource.
[77:] The more one thinks about it the more one can see the difficulties. The tutor must have been trained for his pupil and his servants must have been trained for their master, so that all who come near him may have received the impression that they must communicate with him. Thus one must pass from education to education I know not how far. How can a child be well educated by one who has not been well educated himself?
[78:] Is this rare mortal impossible to find? I do not know. In these times of degradation who knows the height of virtue to which man's soul may attain? But let us assume that this prodigy has been found. It is in considering what he should do that we will see what he can be. What I think I see in advance is that the father who realises the value of a good tutor will contrive to do without one, for it will be harder to find one than to become such a tutor himself. Does he then want to find a friend? If he should raise his son to be one he need search no further and nature herself will have done half the work.
[79:] Someone whose rank alone is known to me suggested that I should educate his son. He did me a great honour, no doubt, but far from regretting my refusal, he ought to congratulate himself on my prudence. Had the offer been accepted and had I been mistaken in my method, there would have been an education ruined. Had I succeeded, things would have been worse-his son would have renounced his title and refused to be a prince.
[80:] I feel too deeply the importance of a tutor's duties and my own unfitness, ever to accept such a post, whoever offered it, and even the claims of friendship would be only an additional motive for my refusal. Few, I think, will be tempted to make me such an offer when they have read this book, and I beg any one who would do so to spare his pains. I have had enough experience of the task to convince myself of my own unfitness, and my circumstances would make it impossible even if my talents were such as to fit me for it. I have thought it my duty to make this public declaration to those who apparently refuse to do me the honour of believing in the sincerity of my determination.
[81:] Unable to undertake the more useful task, I will at least venture to attempt the easier one. I will follow the example of so many others and take up, not the task, but my pen; and instead of doing the right thing I will try to say it.
[82:] I know that in such an undertaking the author, always at home among systems that he is spared from putting into practice, painlessly provides nice-sounding precepts that are impossible to follow; and that lacking details and examples, even what is practicable remains unused when its application has not been demonstrated.
[83:] I have therefore decided to take an imaginary pupil, to assume on my own part the age, health, knowledge, and talents required for the work of his education, to guide him from birth to the point where, having become a man, he needs no other guide but himself. This method seems to me useful for an author who fears that he may be carried away by his visions, for as soon as he departs from common practice he has only to try his method on his pupil; he will soon know, or the reader will know for him, whether he is following the development of the child and the natural growth of the human heart.
[84:] This is what I have tried to do in all the difficulties that are presented here. Lest my book should be unduly bulky, I have been content to state principles whose truth everyone should sense. But as to the rules which call for proof, I have applied them to Emile or to others, and I have shown, in very great detail, how my theories may be put into practice. Such at least is my plan; the reader must decide whether I have succeeded.
[85:] At first I have said little about Emile, for my earliest maxims of education, though very different from those generally accepted, are so plain that it is hard for a man of sense to refuse to accept them. But as I advance, my scholar, having been led along differently from yours, is no longer an ordinary child; he needs a regime that is special for him. Then he appears upon the scene more frequently, and towards the end I never lose sight of him for a moment, until, whatever he may say, he hasn't the slightest need for me.
[86:] I pass over the qualities required in a good tutor; I take them for granted, and assume that I am endowed with them. As you read this book you will see how generous I have been to myself.
[87:] I will only remark that, contrary to the received opinion, a child's tutor should be young, even as young as a wise man can be. Were it possible, he should become a child himself, that he may become the companion of his pupil and win his confidences by sharing his games. Childhood and ripened age have too little in common for the formation of a really firm affection. Children sometimes flatter old men, but they never love them.
[88:] People seek a tutor who has already educated one pupil. This is too much; one man can only make one other man; if two were essential to success, what right would he have to undertake the first?
[89:] With more experience you may know better what to do, but you are less capable of doing it. Whoever has fulfilled this state one time well enough to know all its difficulties does not try to start again, and if he fulfilled it badly the first time it's a bad sign for the second.
[90:] It is one thing to follow a young man about for four years, another to be his guide for twenty-five. You find a tutor for your son when he is already formed; I want one for him before he is born. Your man may change his pupil every five years, mine will never have but one pupil. You distinguish between the teacher and the tutor. Another piece of folly! Do you make any distinction between the disciple and the pupil? There is only one science to teach children: it is that of the duties of man. This science is one, and, whatever Xenophon may say of the education of the Persians, it cannot be divided. Besides, I prefer to call the man who has this knowledge tutor rather than teacher, since for him it is less a question of instruction than of guidance. He must not give precepts, he must let them be found.
[91:] If the tutor is to be so carefully chosen, so may he be allowed to choose his pupil, especially when it is a question of proposing a model. This choice cannot depend on the child's genius or character, since I adopt him before he is born, and those things are only known when the task is finished. If I had my choice I would take a child of ordinary mind, such as I assume in my pupil. It is ordinary people who have to be educated, and their education alone can serve as a pattern for the education of their fellows. The others raise themselves no matter what one does.*
[92:] One's native land is not a matter of indifference in the education of men; they are all that they can be only in temperate climates. The disadvantages of extremes are easily seen. A man is not planted in one place like a tree, to stay there the rest of his life, and to pass from one extreme to another you must travel twice as far as he who starts half-way.
[93:] If the inhabitant of a temperate climate passes in turn through both extremes his advantage is plain, for although he may be changed as much as he who goes from one extreme to the other, he only moves half-way from his natural condition. A Frenchman can live in New Guinea or in Lapland, but a negro cannot live in Tornea nor a Samoyed in Benin. It seems also as if the brain were less perfectly organised in the two extremes. Neither the negroes nor the Laps have the sense of the Europeans. So if I want my pupil to be an inhabitantof the earth I will choose him in the temperate zone, in France for example, rather than elsewhere.
[94:] In the north with its barren soil men devour much food; in the fertile south they eat little. From this arises another difference which makes the former industrious, the latter contemplative. Society shows us in a single place an image of these differences between the poor and the rich. The first live on unyielding soil, the others on fertile soil.
[95:] The poor man has no need of education. The education of his own station in life is forced upon him; he can have no other. The education received by the rich man from his own station is least fitted for himself and for society, whereas a natural education should fit a man for any position. Now it is more unreasonable to train a poor man for wealth than a rich man for poverty, for in proportion to their numbers more rich men are ruined and fewer poor men become rich. Let us choose our pupil among the rich; we will at least be sure to have made one more man, whereas the poor can become men on their own.
[96:] For the same reason I should not be sorry if Emile came of a good family. He will be another victim snatched from prejudice.
[97:] Emile is an orphan. No matter whether he has father or mother, having undertaken their duties I am invested with their rights. He must honour his parents, but he must obey only me. That is my first or rather my only only condition.
[98:] I must add that there is just one other point arising out of this; we must never be separated except by mutual consent. This clause is essential, and I would have tutor and scholar so inseparable that they should regard their fate as one. If once they perceive the time of their separation drawing near -- the time which must make them strangers to one another, they will become strangers then and there. Each will make his own little world, and both of them being busy in thought with the time when they are no longer be together, they will remain together against their will. The pupil will regard his tutor as the sign and plague of childhood, the tutor will regard his scholar as a heavy burden which he longs to be rid of. Both will be looking forward to the time when they will part, and as there was never any real affection between them, one will have very little vigilance, the other very little docility.
[99:] But when they consider they must always live together, they must love one another, and in this way they will become dear to one another. The pupil will not be ashamed to follow as a child the friend who will be with him in manhood; the tutor will an interest in the efforts whose fruits he will harvest, and the merit he is cultivating in his pupil is a fund that he will profit from in his old age.
[100:] This agreement made beforehand assumes a normal birth, a well-formed, vigorous and healthy child. A father has no choice, and should have no preference within the limits of the family God has given him; all his children are equally his children and he owes them all the same care and affection. Crippled or not, languid or robust, each of them is a trust for which he is responsible to the hand from which it has been given, and marriage is a contract made with nature as well as between spouses.
[101:] But anyone who undertakes a duty not imposed upon him by nature must secure beforehand the means for its fulfillment; otherwise he makes himself accountable even for what he could not do. If you take the care of a sickly, unhealthy child, you become a sick nurse, not a tutor. To preserve a useless life you are wasting the time which should be spent in increasing its value; you risk the sight of a despairing mother reproaching you for the death of a child who ought to have died long ago.
[102:] I would not undertake the care of a feeble, sickly child, even if he should live for eighty years. I do not want a pupil who is useless alike to himself and others, one whose sole business is to keep himself alive, one whose body is always a hindrance to the training of his mind. If I vainly lavish my care upon him, what can I do but double the loss to society by robbing it of two men instead of one? Let another tend this weakling for me; I am quite willing, I approve his charity, but I myself have no gift for such a task. I could never teach the art of living to one who needs all his strength to keep himself alive.
[103:] The body must be strong enough to obey the mind; a good servant must be strong. I know that intemperance stimulates the passions; it also destroys the body in the long run. Fasting and penance often produce the same results in an opposite way. The weaker the body, the more imperious its demands; the stronger it is, the better it obeys. All sensual passions find their home in effeminate bodies. The less satisfied they are the more irritated they feel.
[104:] A frail body weakens the soul. Hence the influence of medecine, an art which does more harm to man than all the evils it professes to cure. I do not know what the doctors cure us of, but I know this: they infect us with very deadly diseases --cowardice, timidity, credulity, the fear of death. What if they can make corpses walk? It is men that we need, and we will never see them leaving the hands of a doctor.
[105:] Medicine is fashionable among us; it has to be. It is the amusement of idle and inactive people who do not know what to do with their time and so spend it in taking care of themselves. If by ill luck they had happened to be born immortal, they would have been the most miserable of men; a life they could not lose would be of no value to them. Such men must have doctors to threaten and flatter them, to give them the only pleasure they can enjoy -- the pleasure of not being dead.
[106:] I have no intention of continuing on about the vanity of medicine. My aim is to consider its bearings on morals. Still I cannot refrain from saying that men employ the same sophism about medicine as they do about the search for truth. They assume that by treating the patient they cure him and that by seeking the truth they find it. They do not see that one must weigh the advantage of a cure that the doctor effects with the death of a hundred sick people he has killed, and the usefulness of one true discovery with the the errors which creep in with it. The science which instructs and the medicine which heals are no doubt excellent, but the science which misleads us and the medicine which kills us are evil. Teach us to tell them apart -- that is the knot of the question. If we knew how to ignore truth we would not be the dupes of falsehood; if we did not want to be cured in spite of nature, we would never die at the hand of the doctor. We should do well to steer clear of both, and we should evidently be the gainers. I do not deny that medicine is useful to some men, but I say that it is fatal to mankind.
[107:] You will tell me, as usual, that the doctors are to blame, that medicine itself is infallible. Well and good, then give us the medicine without the doctor. For when we have both, the blunders of the artist are a hundredfold greater than our hopes from the art.
[108:] This lying art, invented rather for the ills of the mind than of the body, is useless to both alike; it does less to cure us of our diseases than to fill us with alarm. It does less to ward off death than to make us dread its approach. It exhausts life rather than prolongs it. Should it even prolong life it would only be to the prejudice of the race, since it makes us set its precautions before society and our fears before our duties. It is the knowledge of danger that makes us afraid. If we thought ourselves invulnerable we should know no fear. By arming Achilles against danger the poet robbed him of the merit of courage. Anyone else in his place would have been an Achilles at the same price.
[109:] Do you wish to find men with true courage? Seek them where there are no doctors, where the results of disease are unknown, and where death is little thought of. Naturally man knows how to constantly suffer and he dies in peace. It is the doctors with their rules, the philosophers with their precepts, the priests with their exhortations, who debase the heart and make us unlearn how to die.
[110:] Give me a pupil who has no need of these people or I will have nothing to do with him. No one else shall spoil my work. I wish to raise him myself or not at all. That wise man, Locke, who had devoted part of his life to the study of medicine, advises us strongly to give no drugs to the child, either as a precaution or on account of slight ailments. I will go farther and declare that, as I never call in a doctor for myself I will never send for one for Emile, unless his life is clearly in danger. For then a doctor can do no worse than to kill him.
[111:] I know the doctor will not fail to take advantage of this delay. If the child dies, he was called in too late; if he recovers, it is his doing. So be it; let the doctor boast, but do not call him in except in extremity.
[112:] For lack of knowing how to cure himself, let the child know how to be sick. The one art takes the place of the other and is often more successful; it is the art of nature. When an animal is sick it keeps quiet and suffers in silence; we see fewer sickly animals than sick men. How many men have been slain by impatience, fear, anxiety, and above all by medicine, men whom disease would have spared and time alone have cured? I shall be told that animals, who live according to nature, are less liable to disease than ourselves. Well, that way of living is just what I mean to teach my pupil; he should profit by it in the same way.
[113:] Hygiene is the only useful part of medicine, and hygiene is a virtue rather than a science. Temperance and industry are man's true remedies; work sharpens his appetite and temperance teaches him to control it.
[114:] To learn what regimen is most useful to life and to health, you have only to study the regimen followed by the peoples who are the healthiest, the most robust, and live the longest. If common observation shows us that medicine neither increases health nor prolongs life, it follows that this useless art is worse than useless, since it wastes time, men, and things on what is a pure loss. Not only must we deduct the time spent preserving life rather than using it, but if this time is spent in tormenting ourselves it is worse than wasted; it is adding to the bad; and to reckon fairly a corresponding share must be deducted from what remains to us. A man who lives ten years without doctors lives more for himself and others than one who spends thirty years as their victim. Having done a test of both ways I think I have a better right than most to draw my own conclusions.
[115:] For these reasons I decline to take any but a strong and healthy pupil, and these are my principles for keeping him in health. I will not stop to prove at length the value of manual labour and bodily exercise for strengthening the health and constitution; no one denies it. Nearly all the instances of long life are to be found among the men who have taken most exercise, who have endured fatigue and labour.[note 9] Neither will I enter into details as to the care I shall take for this alone. It will be clear that it forms such an essential part of my practice that it is enough to get hold of the idea without further explanation.
[116:] When our life begins our needs begin too. The new-born infant must have a nurse. If his mother will do her duty, so much the better; her instructions will be given her in writing. This advantage has its drawbacks -- it removes the tutor from his charge. But it is to be hoped that the child's own interests, and her respect for the person to whom she is about to confide so precious a treasure will induce the mother to follow the tutor's wishes, and whatever she does you may be sure she will do better than another. If we must have a stranger for a nurse, let us begin by choosing her well.
[117:] One of the misfortunes of the rich is to be deceived in everything. If they judge people poorly, should one be surprised? It is riches that corrupt men, and the rich are rightly the first to feel the defects of the only tool they know. Everything is done poorly for them, except what they do themselves, and they do next to nothing. Is it a question of selecting a nurse? She is chosen by the doctor. What happens? The best nurse is the one who offers the highest bribe. I will not consult the doctor about Emile's nurse; I will take care to choose her myself. I may not argue about it so elegantly as the surgeon, but for sure I will be more reliable, and my zeal will deceive me less than his greed.
[118:] There is no mystery about this choice; its rules are well known. But I think we ought probably to pay as much attention to the age of the milk as to its quality. The first milk is watery, it must be almost a laxative in order to purge the remains of the meconium curdled in the bowels of the new-born child. Little by little the milk thickens and supplies more solid food as the child is able to digest it. It is surely not without cause that nature changes the milk in the female of every species according to the age of the offspring.
[119:] Thus a new-born child requires a nurse who has recently become a mother. There is, I know, a difficulty here, but as soon as we leave the path of nature every attempt to do things well has its difficulties. The wrong course is the only right one under the circumstances, so we take it.
[120:] The nurse must be as healthy in her heart as in her body. The storms of the passions as well as the humors may spoil her milk. Moreover, to focus on the physical is to see only half of the object. The milk may be good and the nurse bad; a good character is as necessary as a good constitution. If you choose a vicious person, I do not say her foster-child will acquire her vices, but he will suffer for them. Should she not to bestow on him day by day, along with her milk, a care which calls for zeal, patience, gentleness, and cleanliness? If she is greedy and intemperate her milk will soon be spoiled; if she is careless and hasty what will become of a poor little thing left to her mercy, and unable either to protect himself or to complain? The wicked are never good for anything.
[121:] The choice is all the more important because her foster-child should have no other guardian, just as he should have no teacher but his tutor. This was the custom of the ancients, who talked less but acted more wisely than we. After having nursed female children their nurses never left them; this is why the nurse is the confidante in most of their plays. A child who passes through many hands in succession can never be well raised. At every change he makes a secret comparison, which continually tends to lessen his respect for those who control him and with it their authority over him. If once he thinks there are grown-up people with no more sense than children the authority of age is destroyed and his education is ruined. A child should know no superiors other than his father and mother, or failing them his foster-mother and his tutor, and even this is one too many, but this division is inevitable, and the best that can be done in the way of remedy is that the man and woman who control him shall be so well agreed with regard to him that they seem like one.
[122:] The nurse must live rather more comfortably. She must have rather more substantial food, but her whole way of living must not be altered, for a sudden change, even a change for the better, is dangerous to health, and since her usual way of life has made her healthy and strong, why change it?
[123:] Peasant women eat less meat and more vegetables than towns-women, and this vegetarian diet seems favourable rather than otherwise to themselves and their children. When they take nurslings from the upper classes they eat meat and broth with the idea that they will form better chyle and supply more milk. I am not at all of this sentiment and experience is on my side, for we do not find children fed in this way less liable to colic and worms.
[124:] That need not surprise us, for decaying animal matter swarms with worms, but this is not the case with vegetable matter._ Milk, although manufactured in the body of an animal, is a vegetable substance.[note 10] This is shown by analysis; it readily turns acid, and far from showing traces of any volatile alkali like animal matter, it gives a neutral salt like plants.
[125:] The milk of herbivorous creatures is sweeter and more wholesome than the milk of the carnivorous. Formed of a substance similar to its own, it keeps its goodness and becomes less liable to putrifaction. If quantity is considered, it is well known that farinaceous foods produce more blood than meat, so they ought to yield more milk. If a child were not weaned too soon, and if it were fed on vegetarian food, and its foster-mother were a vegetarian, I do not think it would be troubled with worms.
[126:] Milk derived from vegetable foods may perhaps be more liable to go sour, but I am far from considering sour milk an unwholesome food; whole nations have no other food and are none the worse, and all the array of absorbents seems to me mere humbug. There are constitutions which do not thrive on milk, others can take it without absorbents. People are afraid of the milk separating or curdling. That is absurd, for we know that milk always curdles in the stomach. This is how it becomes sufficiently solid to nourish children and young animals. If it did not curdle it would merely pass away without feeding them.[note 11] In vain you dilute milk and use absorbents; whoever swallows milk digests cheese, this rule is without exception; rennet is made from calf's stomach.
[127:] Instead of changing the nurse's usual diet I think it would be enough to give food in larger quantities and better of its kind. It is not the nature of the food that makes a vegetable diet indigestible, but the flavoring that makes it unwholesome. Reform your cookery, use neither butter nor oil for frying. Butter, salt, and milk should never be cooked. Let your vegetables be cooked in water and only seasoned when they come to table. The vegetable diet, far from disturbing the nurse, will give her a plentiful supply of milk.[note 12] If a vegetable diet is best for the child, how can meat food be best for his nurse? The things are contradictory.
[128:] Fresh air affects children's constitutions, particularly in early years. It enters every pore of a soft and tender skin; it has a powerful effect on their young bodies. Its effects can never be destroyed. So I should not agree with those who take a country woman from her village and shut her up in one room in a town and her nursling with her. I would rather send him to breathe the fresh air of the country than the foul air of the town. He will take his new mother's position, will live in her cottage, where his tutor will follow him. The reader will bear in mind that this tutor is not a paid servant but the father's friend. If this friend cannot be found, if this transfer is not easy, if none of my advice can be followed, you will say to me, "What shall I do instead?" I have told you already-" Do what you are doing;" no advice is needed there.
[129:] Men are not made to be crowded together in ant-hills, but scattered over the earth to till it. The more they are massed together, the more corrupt they become. Disease and vice are the sure results of over-crowded cities. Of all creatures man is least fitted to live in herds. Huddled together like sheep, men would very soon die. Man's breath is fatal to his fellows. This is literally as well as figuratively true.
[130:] Cities are the abysse of the human species. In a few generations the race dies out or becomes degenerate; it needs renewal, and it is always renewed from the country. Send your children to renew themselves, so to speak; send them to regain in the open fields the strength lost in the foul air of our crowded cities. Women hurry home that their children may be born in the town. They ought to do just the opposite, especially those who mean to nurse their own children. They would lose less than they think, and in more natural surroundings the pleasures associated by nature with maternal duties would soon destroy the taste for those that are not.
[131:] The new-born infant is first bathed in warm water to which a little wine is usually added. I think the wine might be dispensed with. As nature does not produce fermented liquors, it is not likely that they are of much value to her creatures.
[132:] In the same way it is unnecessary to take the precaution of heating the water. In fact among many races the new-born infants are bathed with no more ado in rivers or in the sea. Our children, made tender before birth by the softness of their parents, come into the world with a constitution already enfeebled, which cannot be at once exposed to all the trials required to restore it to health. By degrees they must be restored to their natural vigour. Begin then by following this custom, and depart from it little by little. Wash your children often, their dirty ways show the need of this. If they are only wiped their skin is injured; but as they grow stronger gradually reduce the heat of the water, till at last you bathe them winter and summer in cold, even in ice-cold water. To avoid risk this change must be slow, gradual, and imperceptible, so you may use the thermometer for exact measurements.
[133:] This habit of the bath, once established, should never be broken off; it must be kept up all through life. I value it not only on grounds of cleanliness and present health, but also as a wholesome means of making the muscles supple, and accustoming them to bear without risk or effort extremes of heat and cold. As he gets older I would have the child trained to bathe occasionally in hot water of every bearable degree, and often in every degree of cold water. Now water being a denser fluid touches us at more points than air, so that, having learnt to bear all the variations of temperature in water, we shall scarcely feel those of the air._
[134:] At the moment that the child first breathes when leaving its envelope do not allow anyone to give him other constraints that will hold him even tighter. No cap, no bandages, nor swaddling clothes. Instead, loose and flowing flannel wrappers, which heave his limbs free and are not too heavy to check his movements, not too warm to prevent his feeling the air.[note 13] Put him in a big cradle[note 14], well padded, where he can move easily and safely. As he begins to grow stronger, let him crawl about the room; let him develop and stretch his tiny limbs. You will see him gain strength from day to day. Compare him with a well swaddled child of the same age and you will be surprised at the difference in their progress.[note 15]
[135:] You must expect great opposition from the nurses, who find that a half strangled baby needs much less watching. Besides, his dirtyness is more perceptible in an open garment; he must be attended to more frequently. In the end, custom is an argument that will never be refuted in some lands and among all classes of people.
[136:] Do not argue with the nurses; give your orders, see them carried out, and spare no pains to make the attention you prescribe easy in practice. Why not take your share in it? With ordinary nurslings, where the body alone is thought of, nothing matters so long as the child lives and does not actually die. But with us, when education begins with life, the new-born child is already a pupil, not of his tutor, but of nature. The tutor merely studies under this master, and sees that his orders are not evaded. He watches over the infant, he observes it, he looks for the first feeble glimmering of intelligence, as the Moslem looks for the moment of the moon's rising in her first quarter.
[137:] We are born capable of learning, but knowing nothing, perceiving nothing. The mind, bound up within imperfect and half grown organs, is not even aware of its own existence. The movements and cries of the new-born child are purely reflex, without knowledge or will.
[138:] Suppose that a child had at its birth the stature and strength of a man, that he had entered life full grown like Pallas from the brain of Jupiter. Such a child-man would be a perfect idiot, an automaton, a statue without motion and almost without feeling. He would see and hear nothing, he would recognise no one, he could not turn his eyes towards what he wanted to see. Not only would he perceive no external object, he would not even be aware of sensation through the several sense-organs. His eye would not perceive colour, his ear sounds, his body would be unaware of contact with neighbouring bodies, he would not even know he had a body. What his hands handled would be in his brain alone; all his sensations would be united in one place, they would exist only in the common "sensorium." He would have only one idea, that of self, to which he would refer all his sensations; and this idea, or rather this sentiment, would be the only thing he had more of than an ordinary child.
[139:] This man, full grown at birth, would also be unable to stand on his feet. He would need a long time to learn how to keep his balance; perhaps he would not even be able to try to do it, and you would see the big strong body left in one place like a stone, or creeping and crawling like a young puppy.
[140:] He would feel the discomfort of bodily needs without knowing what was the matter and without knowing how to provide for these needs. There is no immediate connection between the muscles of the stomach and those of the arms and legs to make him take a step towards food or stretch a hand to seize it even were he surrounded with it. And as his body would be full grown and his limbs well developed he would be without the perpetual restlessness and movement of childhood, so that he might die of hunger without stirring to seek food. However little you may have thought about the order and development of our knowledge, you cannot deny that such a one would be in the state of almost primitive ignorance and stupidity natural to man before he has learnt anything from experience or from his fellows.
[141:] We know then, or we may know, the point of departure from which we each start towards the usual level of understanding; but who knows the other extreme? Each progresses more or less according to his genius, his taste, his needs, his talents, his zeal, and his opportunities for using them. No philosopher, so far as I know, has dared to say to man, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further." We know not what nature allows us to be, but none of us has measured the possible difference between man and man. Is there a mind so dead that this thought has never kindled it, that has never said in his pride, "How much have I already done, how much more may I achieve? Why should I lag behind my fellows?"
[142:] I repeat: man's education begins at birth; before he can speak or understand he is learning. Experience precedes instruction; when he recognises his nurse he has learnt much. The knowledge of the most ignorant man would surprise us if we had followed his course from birth to the present time. If all human knowledge were divided into two parts, one common to all, the other peculiar to the learned, the latter would seem very small compared with the former. But we scarcely reflect on these general acquisitions because they happen without us thinking about them and even before the age of reason. Moreover, knowledge only attracts attention by its differences; as in algebraic equations common factors count for nothing.
[143:] Even animals learn much. They have senses and must learn to use them; they have needs, they must learn to satisfy them; they must learn to eat, walk, or fly. Quadrupeds which can stand on their feet from the first cannot walk for all that; from their first attempts it is clear that they lack confidence. Canaries who escape from their cage are unable to fly, having never used their wings. Living and feeling creatures are always learning. If plants could walk they would need senses and knowledge, else their species would die out.
[144:] Children's first sensations are purely affective. They are only aware of pleasure and pain. Being unable to walk nor to grasp they need much time to form little by little the representative sensations that show them objects beyond themselves. But while waiting for these objects to become extended, become distanced, so to speak, from their eyes and take on for them dimension and shape, the recurrence of affective sensations begins to subject the child to the rule of habit. You see his eyes constantly follow the light, and if the light comes from the side the eyes turn towards it, so that one must be careful to turn his head towards the light lest he should squint. He must also be accustomed from the first to the dark, or he will cry if he misses the light. Food and sleep, too exactly measured, become necessary at regular intervals, and soon desire is no longer the effect of need, but of habit, or rather habit adds a fresh need to those of nature. This is what must be prevented.
[145:] The only habit the child should be allowed is that of contracting none. Let him be carried on either arm, let him be accustomed to offer either hand, to use one or other indifferently; let him not want to eat, sleep, or do anything at fixed hours, nor be unable to be left alone by day or night. Prepare from afar the reign of his liberty and the use of his own forces by letting his body keep its natural habit, by putting him in a condition of being always master of himself, of following his will in everything as soon as he has one.
[146:] From the moment that the child begins to take notice, what is shown him must be carefully chosen. Naturally all new objects interest man. He feels so feeble that he fears the unknown: the habit of seeing fresh things without ill effects destroys this fear. Children brought up in clean houses where there are no spiders are afraid of spiders, and this fear often lasts through life. I never saw peasants, man, woman, or child, afraid of spiders.
[147:] Since the mere choice of things shown him may make the child timid or brave, why should not his education begin before he can speak or understand? I would have him accustomed to see fresh things, ugly, repulsive, and strange animals, but little by little, and at a distance, until he is used to them, and until having seen others handle them he handles them himself. If in childhood he sees toads, snakes, and crayfish, he will not be afraid of any animal when he is grown up. Those who are continually seeing terrible things think nothing of them.
[148:] All children are afraid of masks. I begin by showing Emile a mask with a pleasant face. Then some one puts this mask before his face; I begin to laugh, they all laugh too, and the child with them. By degrees I accustom him to less pleasing masks, and at last to hideous ones. If I have arranged my stages skilfully, far from being afraid of the last mask, he will laugh at it as he did at the first. After that I am not afraid of people frightening him with masks.
[149:] When Hector bids farewell to Andromache, the young Astyanax, startled by the nodding plumes on the helmet, does not know his father; he flings himself weeping upon his nurse's bosom and wins from his mother a smile mingled with tears. What must be done to cure him of this terror? Just what Hector did: put the helmet on the ground and caress the child. In a calmer moment one would do more; one would go up to the helmet, play with the plumes, let the child feel them; at last the nurse would take the helmet and place it laughingly on her own head, if indeed a woman's hand dare touch the armour of Hector.
[150:] What if we need to get Emile used to the noise of a firearm? I first fire a pistol with a small charge. He is delighted with this sudden flash, this sort of lightning; I repeat the process with more powder; gradually I add a small charge without a wad, then a larger; in the end I accustom him to the sound of a gun, to fireworks, cannon, and the most terrible explosions.
[151:] I have observed that children are rarely afraid of thunder unless the claps are really terrible and actually hurt the ear. Otherwise this fear only comes to them when they know that thunder sometimes hurts or kills. When reason begins to cause fear, let use reassure them. By slow and careful stages man and child learn to fear nothing.
[152:] At the beginning of life, when memory and imagination have not begun to function, the child only attends to what affects its senses. His sense experiences are the raw material of thought. They should, therefore, be presented to him in fitting order, so that memory may at a future time present them in the same order to his understanding. But since he only attends to his sensations it is enough, at first, to show him clearly the connection between these sensations and the things which cause them. He wants to touch and handle everything. Do not oppose this restlessness; it suggests to him a very necessary learning. It is thus that he will learn to feel heat, cold, hardness, softness, weight, or lightness of bodies; to judge their size and shape and all their physical properties by looking, feeling,[note 16] listening, and, above all, by comparing sight and touch, by judging with the eye what sensation they would cause to his hand.
[153:] It is only by movement that we learn that there are things which are not us; it is only by our own movements that we gain the idea of extension. It is because the child does not have this idea that he indifferently reaches out to grasp the object that touches him or the object that is a hundred feet away. You take this as a sign of tyranny, an attempt to make the thing come near him or to make you bring him to it; but it is not that. It is merely that the object first seen in his brain, then before his eyes, now seems close to his arms, and he has no idea of space beyond his reach. Be careful, therefore, to take him about, to move him from place to place, and to let him perceive the change in his surroundings so as to teach him to judge of distances. When he begins to perceive distances then you must change your method, and only carry him when you please, not when he pleases. For as soon as he is no longer deceived by his senses, the cause of his effort changes. This change is important and calls for explanation.
[154:] The discomfort of real needs expresses itself by signs when the help of others is necessary for us to provide for them. Hence the cries of children. They often cry; it must be so. Since all their feelings are affective, when those feelings are pleasant they enjoy them in silence; when they are painful they say so in their own way and demand relief. Now when they are awake they can scarcely be in a state of indifference; either they are asleep or else they are feeling something.
[155:] All our languages are the work of art. People have long searched whether there ever was a natural language common to all; no doubt there is, and it is the language of children before they begin to speak. This language is inarticulate, but it is accentuated, sonorous, intelligible. The use of our own language has led us to neglect it so far as to forget it altogether. Let us study children and we shall soon learn it afresh from them. Nurses are masters of this language; they understand all their nurslings say to them, they answer them, and keep up long conversations with them; and though they use words, these words are quite useless. It is not the hearing of the word, but its accompanying intonation that is understood.
[156:] To the language of the voice is added the no less forcible language of gesture. Such gestures are not in the child's weak hands, but in its face. It is astonishing how much expression is in such underdeveloped physionomies; their features change from one moment to another with incredible speed. You see smiles, desires, terror, come and go like lightning; every time the face seems different. The muscles of the face are undoubtedly more mobile than our own. On the other hand the eyes are almost expressionless. Such must be the sort of signs they use at an age when their only needs are those of the body. Grimaces are the sign of sensation, the glance expresses sentiment.
[157:] As man's first state is one of misery and weakness, his first sounds are cries and tears. The child feels his needs and cannot satisfy them; he begs for help by his cries. If he is hungry or thirsty he cries; if is he is too cold or too hot he cries; if he needs movement and is kept quiet he cries; if he wants to sleep and is disturbed he cries. The less comfortable he is the more he demands change. He has only one language because he has, so to say, only one kind of discomfort. In the imperfect state of his sense organs he does not distinguish their several impressions; all ills produce one feeling of sorrow.
[158:] From these tears that we might think so little worthy of attention, arise man's first relation to all that surrounds him; here is forged the first link in the long chain that forms the social order.
[159:] When the child cries he is uncomfortable, he feels some need which he cannot satisfy. We examine him, we search out this need, find it, and provide for it. When we cannot find it or provide for it, the tears continue and become tiresome. We stroke the child to make him keep quiet, we rock him, we sing to him to make him fall asleep. If he persists, we get impatient, we threaten him; cruel nurses sometimes strike him. What strange lessons for him at his first entrance into life!
[160:] I shall never forget seeing one of these troublesome crying children thus beaten by his nurse. He was silent at once. I thought he was frightened, and said to myself, "This will be a servile being from whom nothing can be got but by harshness." I was wrong. The poor thing was choking with rage, he could not breathe, I saw him becoming blue in the face. A moment later there were bitter cries, every sign of the anger, rage, and the despair of this age was in his tones. I thought he would die from such agitation. Had I doubted the innate sense of justice and injustice in man's heart, this one instance would have convinced me. I am sure that a drop of boiling liquid falling by chance on that child's hand would have hurt him less than that blow, slight in itself, but clearly given with the intention of hurting him.
[161:] This disposition of children to fury, spite, and anger needs great care. Boerhaave thinks that most of the diseases of children are of the nature of convulsions, because the head being proportionally larger and the nervous system more extensive than in adults, they are more liable to nervous irritation. Take the greatest care to remove from them any servants who agitate them, irritate them, annoy them. They are a hundredfold more dangerous and more fatal than fresh air and changing seasons. As long as children find resistance only in things and never in wills, they will become neither rebellious nor angry and they will conserve their health better. This is one reason why the children of the people, who are freer and more independent, are generally less infirm, less delicate, and more vigorous than those who claim to raise them better by ceaselessly thwarting them. But one must always be aware that there is a big difference between obeying them and not thwarting them.
[162:] Children's first tears are prayers; if you are not careful they soon become commands. They begin by asking for help, they end by making themselves served. Thus from his own weakness, the source of his first sentiment of dependence, springs the later idea of empire and domination. But this idea being less aroused by his needs than by our service, we begin to see moral results whose immediate cause is not in nature, and we see how important it is, even at the earliest age, to discern the secret meaning of the gesture or cry.
[163:] When the child tries to seize something without speaking, he thinks he can reach the object, for he does not rightly judge its distance. When he cries and stretches out his hands he no longer misjudges the distance; he bids the object approach, or orders you to bring it to him. In the first case bring it to him slowly; in the second do not even seem to hear his cries. The more he cries the less you should heed him. He must learn in good time not to give commands to men, for he is not their master, nor to things, for they cannot hear him. Thus when the child wants something you mean to give him, it is better to carry him to it rather than to bring the thing to him. From this he will draw a conclusion suited to his age, and there is no other way of suggesting it to him.
[164:] The Abbé de Saint-Pierre calls men big children; one might also call children little men. These statements contain truth as sentences; as principles they require explanation. But when Hobbes calls the wicked man a strong child, he says something absolutely contradictory. All wickedness comes from weakness. The child is only wicked because he is weak; make him strong and he will be good. He who could do everything would never do wrong. Of all the attributes of the allpowerful divinity, goodness is the one without which we could least conceive him. All peoples who have recognized two principles have always regarded the evil as inferior to the good; otherwise their opinion would have been absurd. See below the creed of the Savoyard Vicar.
[165:] Reason alone teaches us to know good and evil. Therefore conscience, which makes us love the one and hate the other, although independent of reason, cannot develop without it. Before the age of reason we do good and bad without knowing it, and there is no morality in our actions, although there sometimes is in the sentiment of others' actions which relate to us. A child wants to overturn everything he sees. He breaks and smashes everything he can reach; he seizes a bird as he seizes a stone, and strangles it without knowing what he is doing.
[166:] Why is this? First of all philosophy will find a reason for this in the natural vices: pride, the spirit of domination, amour-propre, the wickedness of man. The sentiment of his own weakness, one could add, makes the child eager to act forcefully, to prove his own power to himself. But observe that broken old man reduced in the downward course of life to the weakness of a child; not only is he quiet and peaceful, he wants to have everything around him quiet and peaceful too; the least change disturbs and bothers him, he would like to see universal calm. How is it that similar feebleness and similar passions should produce such different effects in age and in infancy if the original cause were not different? And where can we find this difference in cause except in the bodily condition of the two? The active principle common to both is growing in one case and fading in the other; it is being formed in the one and destroyed in the other; one is moving towards life, the other towards death. The failing activity of the old man is centred in his heart, the child's is overflowing and spreads everywhere. He feels, if we may say so, strong enough to give life to everything around him. To make or to destroy, it is all one to him. Change is what he seeks, and all change involves action. If he seems to have more of a tendency to destroy it is only that it takes time to make things and very little time to break them, so that the work of destruction agrees more with his eagerness.
[167:] At the same time that the the Author of nature has given children this active principle, he takes care that it shall do little harm by giving them small power to use it. But as soon as they can think of people as instruments that depend on them to be set in action, they use them to carry out their wishes and to supplement their own weakness. This is how they become bothersome, tyranical, imperious, evil, and unmanageable -- a development which does not spring from a natural spirit of domination but which is given them. For one does not need much experience to realise how agreeable it is to act with the hands of others and to need only to move one's tongue in order to make the universe move.
[168:] As the child grows it gains strength and becomes less restless and unquiet and turns more towards oneself. Soul and body become better balanced and nature no longer asks for more movement than is required for self-preservation. But the desire to command is not extinguished with the need that aroused it; domination arouses and flatters amour-propre, and habit strengthens it. Thus whim succeeds need; thus prejudice and opinion take their first roots.
[169:] The principle once known we see clearly the point where one leaves the path of nature. Let us see what must be done to stay on it.
[170:] First maxim: Far from having superfluous strength, children do not have enough enough for all that nature demands of them. One must, therefore, let them have the use of all the strength that they are given and which they cannot abuse.
[171:] Second Maxim. One must help them and supplement what is lacking either in intelligence or in strength regarding everything that has to do with physical need.
[172:] Third Maxim. The help that one gives them should be limited to what is real utility, without granting anything to whim or to desire without reason; for whim will not torment them as long as it has not been aroused, since it is no part of nature.
[173:] Fourth Maxim. One must study carefully their language and their signs, so that at an age when they are incapable of deception one may discriminate between those desires which come immediately from nature and those which spring from opinion.
[174:] The spirit of these rules is to give children more real freedom and less imperiousness, to let them do more for themselves and demand less of others. Thus accustoming them from the first to limiting their desires to their stengths, they will scarcely feel the deprivation of whatever is not in their power.
[175:] This is another very important reason for leaving children's limbs and bodies perfectly free, the only precaution being to keep them away from the danger of falls and to keep out of their hands everything that could hurt them.
[176:] Certainly the child whose body and arms are free will cry much less than a child tied up in swaddling clothes. He who knows only bodily needs only cries when in pain; and this is a great advantage, for then we know exactly when he needs help, and if possible we should not delay our help for an instant. But if you cannot relieve his pain, stay where you are and do not flatter him by way of soothing him. Your caresses will not cure his colic, but he will remember what he must do to win them; and if he once finds out how to gain your attention at will, he is your master; everything is lost.
[177:] Less constrained in their movements, children will cry less; less wearied with their tears, people will not take so much trouble to keep them quiet. With fewer threats and promises, children will be less timid and less obstinate, and will remain more nearly in their natural state. It is less in letting them cry than in rushing to appease them that makes them get hernias, and my proof for this is that the most neglected children are less subject to them than others. I am very far from wishing that they should be neglected; on the contrary, it is of the utmost importance that their wants should be anticipated, so that one need not be warned of their needs by their cries. But neither would I have unwise care bestowed on them. Why should they think it wrong to cry when they find that their cries are good for so many things? When they have learned the value of their silence they take good care not to waste it. In the end they will so exaggerate its importance that no one will be able to pay its price; then worn out with crying they become exhausted, and are at length silent.
[178:] Prolonged crying on the part of a child neither swaddled nor out of health, a child who lacks nothing, is merely the result of habit or obstinacy. Such tears are no longer the work of nature, but the work of the child's caretaker, who could not resist its importunity and so has increased it, without considering that while she quiets the child to-day she is teaching him to cry louder to-morrow.
[179:] The only way to cure or prevent this habit is to pay it no attention. No one likes to take useless pains, not even infants. They are obstinate in their attempts; but if you have more constancy than they have hardheadedness, they will give up and not try again. Thus one spares them tears and accustoms them to shed them only when pain forces them to do so.
[180:] Moreover, when whim or obstinacy is the cause of their tears, there is a sure way of stopping them by distracting their attention by some pleasant or conspicuous object which makes them forget that they want to cry. Most nurses excel in this art, and rightly used it is very useful. But it is of the utmost importance that the child should not perceive that you mean to distract his attention, and that he should be amused without suspecting you are thinking about him; now this is what most nurses cannot do.
[181:] Most children are weaned too soon. The time to wean them is when they cut their teeth. This generally causes pain and suffering. At this time the child instinctively carries everything he gets hold of to his mouth to chew it. To help forward this process he is given as a plaything some hard object such as ivory or a wolf's tooth. I think this is a mistake. Hard bodies applied to the gums do not soften them; far from it, they make the process of cutting the teeth more difficult and painful. Let us always take instinct as our guide; we never see puppies practising their budding teeth on pebbles, iron, or bones, but on wood, leather, rags, soft materials which yield to their jaws, and on which the tooth leaves its mark.
[182:] We can do nothing simply, not even for our children. Toys of silver, gold, coral, cut crystal, rattles of every price and kind; what vain and useless appliances! Nothing of all that. No bells, no rattles. A small branch of a tree with its leaves and fruit, a little poppy flower in which one can hear the seeds shake, a stick of liquorice which he may suck and chew, will amuse him as well as all those magnificent knick-knacks, and they will not have the disadvantage of accustoming him to luxury from his birth.
[183:] It has been recognized that porridge is not a very wholesome food. Boiled milk and uncooked flour cause gravel and do not suit the stomach. In porridge the flour is less thoroughly cooked than in bread and it has not fermented. I think bread and milk or rice-cream are better. If you absolutely must have porridge, the flour should be lightly cooked beforehand. In my own country they make a very pleasant and wholesome soup from flour thus heated. Meat-broth or soup is not a very suitable food and should be used as little as possible. The child must first get used to chewing his food; this is the right way to bring the teeth through, and when the child begins to swallow, the saliva mixed with the food helps digestion.
[184:] I would have them first chew dried fruit or crusts. I would give them as playthings little bits of dry bread or biscuits, like the Piedmont bread, known in the country as " grisses." By dint of softening this bread in the mouth some of it is eventually swallowed, the teeth come through of themselves, and the child is weaned almost imperceptibly. Peasants have usually very good digestions, and they are weaned with very little trouble.
[185:] Children hear people speak from their birth. We speak to them not only before they can understand what is being said to them but before they can imitate the voices that they hear. The vocal organs are still stiff, and only gradually lend themselves to the reproduction of the sounds heard. It is even doubtful whether these sounds are heard distinctly as we hear them. I don't disapprove of the nurse amusing the child with songs and with very merry and varied intonation, but I object to her bewildering the child with a multitude of vain words of which he understands nothing but her tone of voice. I would have the first words he hears be few in number, distinct, and often repeated, while the words themselves be related to things which can first be shown to the child. That unfortunate facility in the use of words we do not understand begins earlier than we think. In the schoolroom the student listens to the verbiage of his master as he listened in the cradle to the babble of his nurse. I think it would be a very useful instruction to leave him in ignoranoc of both.
[186:] All sorts of ideas crowd in upon us when we try to consider the development of language and the child's first discourses. Whatever we do they all learn to talk in the same way, and all philosophical speculations are completely useless.
[187:] To begin with, children have, so to say, a grammar of their age whose syntax has more general rules than ours. And if one pays close attention one will be surprised to find how exactly they follow certain analogies, very much mistaken if you like, but very regular. These forms are grating only because of their crudeness or because they are not recognised by custom. I have just heard a child severely scolded by his father for saying, "Mon père, irai-je-t-y?" Now we see that this child was following the analogy more closely than our grammarians, for as they say to him, "Vas-y," why should he not say, "Irai-je-t-y? " Notice too the skilful way in which he avoids the hiatus in irai-je-y or y-irai-je? Is it the poor child's fault that we have so unskilfully deprived the phrase of this determinative adverb "y," because we did not know what to do with it? It is an intolerable piece of pedantry and most superfluous attention to detail to make a point of correcting all children's little sins against the customary expression, for they always cure themselves with time. Always speak correctly before them, let them never be so happy with any one as with you, and be sure that their speech will be imperceptibly modelled upon yours without any correction on your part.
[188:] But a much greater abuse, and one much less easy to prevent, is that they are urged to speak too much, as if people were afraid they would not learn to talk by themselves. This indiscreet pressure produces an effect directly opposite to what is meant. They speak later and more confusedly. The extreme attention paid to every-thing they say makes it unnecessary for them to speak distinctly, and as they will scarcely open their mouths, many of them contract bad pronunciation and a confused speech, which last all their life and make them almost unintelligible.
[189:] I have lived much among peasants, and I never knew one of them to lisp, man or woman, boy or girl. Why is this? Are their speech organs differently made from our own? No, but they are differently used. There is a little hill facing my window on which the children of the place assemble for their games. Although they are far enough away, I can distinguish perfectly what they say, and often get good notes for this book. Every day my ear deceives me as to their age. I hear the voices of children of ten; I look and see the height and features of children of three or four. This experience is not confined to me; the townspeople who come to see me, and whom I consult on this point, all fall into the same mistake.
[190:] This results from the fact that, up to five or six, children in town, brought up in a room and under the care of a nursery governess, do not need to speak above a whisper to make themselves heard. As soon as their lips move people take pains to make out what they mean. They are taught words which they repeat inaccurately, and by paying great attention to them the people who are always with them guess what they meant to say rather than what they said.
[191:] It is quite a different matter in the country. A peasant woman is not always with her child; he is obliged to learn to say very clearly and loudly what he wants if he is to make himself understood. Children scattered about the fields at a distance from their fathers, mothers and other children, gain practice in making themselves heard at a distance, and in adapting the loudness of the voice to the distance which separates them from those to whom they want to speak. This is the real way to learn pronunciation, not by stammering out a few vowels into the ear of an attentive governess. So when you question a peasant child, he may be too shy to answer, but what he says he says distinctly; while the nurse must serve as interpreter for the town child: without her one can understand nothing of what he is muttering between his teeth.[note 17]
[192:] As they grow older, the boys are supposed to be cured of this fault at college, the girls in the convent schools; and indeed both usually speak more clearly than children brought up entirely at home. But what prevents them from acquiring as clear a pronunciation as the peasants in this way is the necessity of learning all sorts of things by heart and repeating aloud what they have learned. For when they are studying they get to babbling and pronouncing carelessly and wrong. In reciting their lessons it is even worse: they cannot find the right words, they drag out their syllables. It is impossible that when the memory vacillates the tongue will not stammer also. Thus they acquire or continue habits of bad pronunciation. You will see later on that Emile will not acquire such habits, or at least not from this cause.
[193:] I grant you that uneducated people and villagers often fall into the opposite extreme. They almost always speak too loud; their pronunciation is too exact and leads to rough and coarse articulation; their accent is too pronounced, they choose their expressions badly, etc.
[194:] But, to begin with, this extreme strikes me as much less dangerous than the other, for the first law of speech is to make oneself understood, and the chief fault is to fail to be understood. To pride ourselves on having no accent is to pride ourselves on ridding our phrases of strength and elegance. Emphasis is the soul of speech, it gives it its feeling and truth. Emphasis deceives less than words; perhaps that is why well-educated people are so afraid of it. From the custom of saying everything in the same tone has arisen that of poking fun at people without their knowing it. When emphasis is proscribed, its place is taken by all sorts of ridiculous, affected, and ephemeral pronunciations, such as those heard especially among the young people of the court. It is this affectation of speech and manner which makes Frenchmen disagreeable and repulsive to other nations on first acquaintance. Emphasis is found, not in their speech, but in their bearing. That is not the way to make themselves attractive.
[195:] All these little faults of speech, which you are so afraid the children will acquire, are nothing. They may be prevented or corrected with the greatest ease, but the faults that are taught them when you make them speak in a low, indistinct, and timid voice, when you are always criticising their tone and finding fault with their words, are never cured. A man who has only learned to speak from his side of a bed could never make himself heard at the head of his troops and would make little impression on the people during an uprising. First teach the child to speak to men; he will be able to speak to the women when required.
[196:] Nurtured in the country with all its pastoral rusticity, your children will gain a more sonorous voice; they will not acquire the hesitating stammer of town children, neither will they acquire the expressions nor the tone of the villagers. Or if they do they will easily lose them. Their tutor being with them from their earliest years and living with them from day to day ever more exclusively, will be able to prevent or efface, by speaking correctly himself, the impression of the peasants' talk. Emile will speak the purest French I know, but he will speak it more distinctly and with a better articulation than myself.
[197:] The child who is trying to speak should hear nothing but words he can understand, nor should he say words he cannot articulate. His efforts lead him to repeat the same syllable as if he were practising its clear pronunciation. When he begins to stammer, do not try to understand him. To expect to be always listened to is a form of tyranny which is not good for the child. See carefully to his real needs, and let him try to make you understand the rest. Still less should you hurry him into speech; he will learn to talk when he feels the usefulness of it.
[198:] It has indeed been remarked that those who begin to speak very late never speak so distinctly as others; but it is not because they talked late that they are hesitating. On the contrary, they began to talk late because they hesitate; if not, why did they begin to talk so late? Have they less need of speech, have they been less urged to it? On the contrary, the anxiety aroused with the first suspicion of this backwardness leads people to tease them much more to begin to talk than those who articulated earlier. This mistaken zeal may do much to make their speech confused, when with less haste they might have had time to bring it to greater perfection.
[199:] Children who are forced to speak too soon have no time to learn either to pronounce correctly or to understand what they are made to say. While left to themselves they first practise the easiest syllables, and then, adding to them little by little some meaning which their gestures explain, they teach you their own words before they learn yours. By this means they do not acquire your words till they have understood them. Being in no hurry to use them, they begin by carefully observing the sense in which you use them, and when they are sure of them they will adopt them.
[200:] The worst evil resulting from the precocious use of speech by young children is that we not only fail to understand the first words they use, we misunderstand them without knowing it. So that while they seem to answer us correctly, they fail to understand us and we them. This is the most frequent cause of our surprise at children's sayings; we attribute to them ideas which they did not attach to their words. This lack of attention on our part to the real meaning which words have for children seems to me the cause of their earliest misconceptions; and these misconceptions, even when corrected, colour their whole course of thought for the rest of their life. I will have several opportunities of illustrating these by examples later on.
[201:] Let the child's vocabulary, therefore, be limited. It is very undesirable that he should have more words than ideas, that he should be able to say more than he thinks. One of the reasons why peasants are generally shrewder than townsfolk is, I think, that their vocabulary is smaller. They have few ideas, but those few are thoroughly grasped.
[202:] The infant is progressing in several ways at once; he is learning to talk, eat, and walk about the same time. This is really the first epoque of his life. Formerly he was nothing more than what he was in the womb of his mother: he had no sentiments, no ideas, he scarcely had sensations; he could not even feel his own existence.
" Vivit, et est vitæ nescius ipse suæ " -- Ovid.