Another young mother said, " I had heard that, if she wished her child to be intellectual and fond of music, a mother should employ herself in these direc tions. I never tried harder in my life to read and practise than I did before Will was born, and I did it faithfully, though I hated it all the time. You know yourself he bates his books. I can hardly get him to look at his lessons." " True," I answered, "you always hated books, and so does he; but you won't deny that he has a good measure of manly self-control and energy in whatever he attempts, which is one of the qualities you cultivated, one of your gifts to him." Among other results from ex cessive emotion, violent, prolonged weeping has a marked influence upon the child before birth. In visiting the asylum for idiots in a central city of New York State, I noticed a little girl with face and swollen eyes, having all the appearance of one who had been weeping violently. As she came to the blackboard to make a diagram, she at once began to cry, and the matron told me she had wept the greater part of the time during the two years she had been with them. Fatigue from play, a look or a word from her mates, a slight task or privation, often the kindest words, would cause weeping. The head was more developed than the rest of the body, which was somewhat dwarfed; her sight was dim, gait un steady, and she could not use her hands with facility. Asking for her antecedents, I learned that before she was born her mother wept very much, and the child had cried almost incessantly all her life. A little boy was born blind, whose father was killed some months before his birth, and his mother gave way to continuous weeping. He had a very delicate body and weak nerves, with no reason why he should not have been strong, except for the violent emotion of his mother. Head affections of various kinds are likely to appear in children where the mother is the subject of prolonged and intense emotion. There is no question that during the gestative period the whole nervous system of the mother is in a sensitive, impressible condition. She feels more, and fancies and ill states of feeling have double their ordinary power. Every woman should understand this ten dency, and as far as possible seek to learn self-control, patience, and quietness, in many a new and untried condition which she must expect at•this period. As far as the mother gets a victory over morbid feelings, she has gained an advantage for her child which she cannot estimate. Abundant sleep, as well as a quiet
spirit, is important if the mother would give steady and strong nerves to her child; and for a woman who is an invalid and not a good sleeper, a bed to herself and plenty of fresh air is most essential, for rest is the great re-creator and preserver of the nervous system. Many children are nervous and sleepless from the first, and carry these tendencies through life, because nervous unrest was so impressed upon them before birth.
The habits and principles going to make up good character should be in happy and measurably spon taneous activity to insure transmission, and this is especially true of acquired habits and characteristics.
A person having a talent for music which has never been improved will not so certainly transmit it as if that ability was in active exercise. The inheritance of acquired vigor of the physical, moral, and intellec tual powers is undoubtedly possible, and progress in all that is good in families and nations should be sought as the best legacy to children. A simple illus tration may not be out of place here, as showing the transmission of acquired habits in animals. The young of the fully-trained pointer mother will by nature hunt almost as well as a dog in his native state can be trained to do. Acting through the mother during the gestative period, the father bears an important share in influencing his child. A young wife asked a friend who had nearly reared two excep tionally good children, a son and daughter, to give her the secret of such unusual success as a mother. " My children have a good father," was her true and pertinent reply, "and that is my secret." The sun shine and atmosphere of love and kindness, patience and good will, with which the husband should seek to surround his wife, is most wholesome for the pros pective mother, and its influence is very perceptible in the affectionate, buoyant disposition of the child. At this time all he can do to place a barrier of pro tection about her is but meeting the simplest obliga tions of his position. In thus aiding her to do her exalted work well, seeking unitedly the well-being of their children, they will reap a rich reward in their superior moral, intellectual, and physical elevation, and consequent enduring happiness.