Be that as it may, however—for this is not the place for the grave discussion of so broad a question—one thing, to my mind, is perfectly clear, namely, that until physical education shall receive more attention from all those who hold the sacred office of instructors of the young, humanity can neither be much elevated nor improved. Mothers and schoolmasters especially—they who, as Dr. Rush says, plant the seeds of nearly all the good or evil in the world—must understand, most deeply and thoroughly, the laws which regulate the various provinces of the little world in which the soul resides, and which, like so many states of a great confederacy, have not only their separate interests and rights, but certain common and general ones; as well as those laws by which the human constitution is related to and connected with the objects which everywhere surround, and influence, and limit, and extend it.
This book contains little, if anything, new to those who are already familiar with anatomy and physiology. Indeed, whatever may be its claims, its merits or its demerits, it disclaims novelty. It is, indeed, in one point of view, original;—I mean in its form, manner, and arrangement. What I have written is chiefly from my own resources—the results of patient study and observation, and careful reflection; but that study and observation of human nature, and this reflection, have been greatly aided by reading the writings of others.
In the prosecution of the task which I had assigned myself, no work has been of more service to me than an octavo volume of 548 pages, by Dr. Wm. P. Dewees, of Philadelphia, entitled, “A Treatise on the Physical and Medical Treatment of Children.” It is one of the most valuable works on Physical Education in the English language, as is evident from the fact that notwithstanding its expense—three or four dollars—it has, in nine years, gone through five editions. If it were written in such a style, and published at such a price as would bring it within reach of the minds and purses of the mass of the community, its sale would have been, I think, much greater still; and the good which it has accomplished would have been increased ten-fold.
If the “YOUNG MOTHER” should be favorably received by the American community, and prove extensively useful, it will undoubtedly be owing to the fact that it presents so large a collection of facts and principles on the great subject of physical education, in a manner so practical, and at a price which is very low. To accomplish an object so desirable is by no means an easy task. It was once said by the author of a huge volume, that he wrote so large a work because he had not time to prepare a smaller one. And however unaccountable it may be to those who have not made the trial, it may be safely asserted, that to present, within limits so small, anything like a system of Physical Education for the guidance of young mothers, requires much more time, and labor, and patience, than to prepare a work on the same subject twice as large.