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Health, or, How to Live

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    THAT LITTLE DRAB GAITER

    I CANNOT keep out of my mind the thin gaiter on that little tiny foot, this windy March day. The little girl sat beside me in church, and I could have taken her in my arms, and pressed her to my heart with many a fond kiss, — we know what a treasure a little girl is, — the twining arms, and the sweet caresses. So quietly she sat, that little one of three years; hushed was her merry prattle, and serious her pretty face, for it was the house of God. My heart was full of pity for the child, and indignation that a woman could be so foolish as to risk the life of her child, by changing the thick, every-day shoe for a light prunella gaiter, with a sole as thin as paper, and take a long walk to church. All the child’s other clothing was suitable, from the satin hood, the delaine dress, to the lambs-wool stockings. Her mother sat beside her wrapped in cloak and furs.HHTL 308.2

    I heard a gentleman say, not many days since, that nine women in ten would run the risk of burying their children in order to have them dressed fashionably to go to church or Sabbath-school. The mother’s heart within me would not admit that; but is it not too true that mothers are really cruel to dress their children in the way they do? Will the women of this generation, with all the light and knowledge that physiological science gives them, and the good sense with which God has endowed them, thus put the little feet of their own offspring in the cold grave? Or, if the child have sufficient constitution to live through, will the mother so act as to make her offspring a puny, sickly being all the days of its life? Is there not a fearful load of guilt resting upon such mothers, — is it not her duty to be as wise and as judicious in the physical training of the little ones of her household, as of their moral training? Do not thus expose your child, and say “The Lord hath taken her away,” for it is blasphemy.HHTL 308.3

    What a blessed thing it would be if mothers would have independence enough to discard every foolish fashion, and dress their children comfortably; then might the coming generation improve upon the present, and American women not be a reproach and byword for European nations, who are continually saying we are the sickliest women on the face of the earth. Does a thin cloth shoe look as well or as suitable for the winter season, as a nice calf-skin or morocco? It seems to me that it is in as much out of place as a lace bonnet or lawn dress.HHTL 309.1

    Another little girl I saw, of perhaps five years, quite decently clad, with bare arms, and three or four inches from stockings to pantalettes. Do not wonder at the mortality of children, — let us rather wonder that so many live to mature years. Do not wonder that the young girls and women of our country are pale and delicate not able to do a quarter of the work that their mothers and grandmothers accomplished at their age; but let us rather wonder that is is no worse.HHTL 309.2

    With every mother, with every one who has charge of young children, lies the work of reform. Some are awake and alive to their duty, ready for the love they bear their children, and for the good of those that may live after them, to try and rear their children to be strong and healthy, — to bear the epithet old-fashioned; and, perhaps, remarks of ridicule, and to be laughed at by some silly people. If any part of the body should be well protected from cold and wet, it is the feet, and little girls need their feet as well covered as little boys, and what woman would think of putting such drab gaiters on her little boy? — Rural New Yorker.HHTL 309.3

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