The topic of this chapter may well be prefaced by an extract from Herbert Spencer on the treatment of offspring. He first supposes that some future philosophic speculator, examining the course of education of the present period, should find nothing relating to the training of children, and that his natural inference would be that our schools were all for monastic orders, who have no charge of infancy and childhood. He then remarks, "Is it not an astonishing fact that, though on the treatment of offspring depend their lives or deaths and their moral welfare or ruin, yet that so little instruction on the treatment of offspring is ever given to those who will hereafter be parents? Is it not monstrous that the fate of a new generation should be left to the chances of unreasoning custom, or impulse, or fancy, joined with the suggestions of ignorant nurses and the prejudiced counsel of grandmothers?

"If a merchant should commence business without any knowledge of arithmetic or book-keeping, we should exclaim at his folly, and look for disastrous consequences. Or if, without studying anatomy, a man set up as a surgeon, we should wonder at his audacity, and pity his patients. But that parents should commence the difficult work of rearing children without giving earnest attention to the principles, physical, moral, or intellectual, which ought to guide them, excites neither surprise at the actors nor pity for the victims.

"To tens of thousands that are killed add hundreds of thousands that survive with feeble constitutions, and millions not so strong as they should be; and you will have some idea of the curse inflicted on their offspring by parents ignorant of the laws of life. Do but consider for a moment that the regimen to which children are subject is hourly telling upon them to their life-long injury or benefit, and that there are twenty ways of going wrong to one way of going right, and you will get some idea of the enormous mischief that is almost everywhere inflicted by the thoughtless, hap-hazard system in common use.

"When sons and daughters grow up sickly and feeble, parents commonly regard the event as a visitation of Providence. They assume that these evils come without cause, or that the cause is supernatural. Nothing of the kind. In some cases causes are inherited, but in most cases foolish management is the cause. Very generally parents themselves are responsible for this pain, this debility, this depression, this misery. They have undertaken to control the lives of their offspring, and with cruel carelessness have neglected to learn those vital processes which they are daily affecting by their commands and prohibitions. In utter ignorance of the simplest physiological laws, they have been, year by year, undermining the constitutions of their children, and so have inflicted disease and premature death, not only on them but also on their descendants.

"Equally great are the ignorance and consequent injury, when we turn from the physical to the moral training. Consider the young, untaught mother and her nursery legislation. A short time ago she was at school, where her memory was crammed with words and names and dates, and her reflective faculties scarcely in the slightest degree exercised - where not one idea was given her respecting the methods of dealing with the opening mind of childhood, and where her discipline did not in the least fit her for thinking out methods of her own. The intervening years have been spent in practicing music, fancy-work, novel-reading, and party-going, no thought having been given to the grave responsibilities of maternity, and scarcely any of that solid intellectual culture obtained which would fit her for such responsibilities; and now see her with an unfolding human character committed to her charge, see her profoundly ignorant of the phenomena with which she has to deal, undertaking to do that which can be done but imperfectly even with the aid of the profoundest knowledge!"

In view of such considerations, every young lady ought to learn how to take proper care of an infant; for, even if she is never to become the responsible guardian of a nursery, she will often be in situations where she can render benevolent aid to others in this most fatiguing and anxious duty.

The writer has known instances in which young ladies, who had been trained by their mothers properly to perform this duty, were in some cases the means of saving the lives of infants, and in others, of relieving sick mothers from intolerable care and anguish by their benevolent aid.

On this point Dr. Combe remarks: "All women are not destined, in the course of nature, to become mothers; but how very small is the number of those who are unconnected, by family ties, friendship, or sympathy, with the children of others! How very few are there who, at some time or other of their lives, would not find their usefulness and happiness increased, by the possession of a kind of knowledge intimately allied to their best feelings and affections! And how important is it to the mother herself, that her efforts should be seconded by intelligent instead of ignorant assistants!"

In order to be prepared for such benevolent ministries, every young lady should improve the opportunity, whenever it is afforded her, for learning how to wash, dress, and tend a young infant; and whenever she meets with such a work as Dr. Combe's, on the management of infants, she ought to read it, and remember its contents.

The directions that follow have been taken from standard medical writers, or have been examined and approved by the highest class of physicians, and also by judicious and experienced mothers.

Says Dr. Combe: " Nearly one half of the deaths occurring during the first two years of existence are ascribable to mismanagement, and to errors in diet. At birth, the stomach is feeble, and as yet unaccustomed to food; its cravings are consequently easily satisfied, and frequently renewed." "At that early age, there ought to be no fixed time for giving nourishment. The stomach can not be thus satisfied." "The active call of the infant is a sign, which needs never be mistaken."