Page images
PDF
EPUB

overlooked in this manner, and it re- means to happiness is, at least, a quires something in the nature of a means of destroying much misery. new symptom of the tendency to call Honor-had it no higher advantages our attention to it, and induce us to than the good treatment consequent analyse it. Of this kind is the love on the good opinion of others—is conwhich children, and men and women siderably more valuable than the too, bear to their respective toys. gaudiest of soap bubbles on the sunThe photographic mania which has niest of days; and because “all is not seized some of our friends was the gold that glitters," it by no means new symptom wanting ; it is in many follows that nothing that glitters is respects analogous to the love that gold. But we urge the similarity children bear to their toys, and our rather with a view of showing that big friends play with their cameras the tendency to toying, being common much in the same way as our little to child and man, must be worthy of ones do with their drums and whistles. consideration; it is universal, it must Being therefore put upon investiga- therefore be natural-and, if natural, tion, we arrived at some results which must have been designed for some we believe to be of practical utility in purpose. Some persons may be satisthe science of education ; if so, they fied with the explanation that this cannot be unimportant, and will not, tendency was implanted with the we hope, be uninteresting to such as mere object of giving us pleasure, but will accompany us through the course others, no doubt, will desire to go of our analysis.

deeper than this; the analogy of our But first it would, perhaps, be well other pleasures, which are for the to state as nearly as possible what we most part linked by indissoluble mean by toys and toying, since with bonds with some nachinery for the out a definition of some sort it will be improvementorsupply of our naturedifficult to arrive at any clear deduc- will lead many to suppose that in this tion. If, then, we closely examine case also a like connection, though not our ideas on the subject, it will pro- immediately apparent, may still exist. bably be found that what most of us We shall endeavour to trace it out, mean by toying is the exercise of some and for this purpose we begin with pursuit, or the use of some external the toys of children, as their motives and inanimate object, for the mere are commonly less complex and pleasure derivable from the parti- more openly displayed than those of cular pursuit or use, without reference adults. to any ulterior end. The word toy, Children's toys may then in general too, though usually applied to the ex- for the purposes of analysis be divided ternal and inanimate object itself, is as follows. First come the represenalso sometimes, or at least might be not tatives of living things, as dolls, inaptly, applied to a pursuit so fol- wooden horses, &c., and this class lowed, and might thus be rendered may most strictly be termed toys, for completely correlative to the word in this case the child is found to love toying.

the individual toy, while in others he If these definitions be accepted, the loves playing with the toys only, and ordinary opinion that toys belong does not prefer one to another exactly peculiarly to children will at once similar. Next in order we may place appear to be crroneous. There is, in objects peculiarly suggestive of a parfact, very little difference in kind be- ticular character or occupation; this tween the toys of children and those class may be represented by the drum, of men, except that the former are tin sword, &c. Thirdly may be more generally the objects of natural ranked mechanical toys : and, lastly, and original tastes, while most of the those which are merely vehicles of latter are the results of tastes acquired physical pleasure, or little more, as by habits.

hoops, tops, &c. Of course no such This similarity is urged not from division can be complete, nor can the any wish to depreciate the pursuits parts be entirely distinct. There are of men ; we are not setting up those many toys which partake of the platitudes, false as they are trite, nature of two or more of the above is that gold is dross” and “honor a classes; the rocking-horse for inbubble.” Gold will exchange for stance, though in some respects allied much more than dross, and if not a to the first class in our division, comes

more properly under the last, and a child generally feels a greater love for a ride on his rocking-horse than for the horse itself. Again, the drum, though a good example of the second class, partakes in some degree of the character of a mechanical toy, and is, as we shall hereafter have occasion to remark, often treated accordingly.

These classes we have arranged in the order in which, according to ourobservation, they stand ranked for the most part in the affections of their youthful patrons : in some cases, indeed, the order may be changed, but as a general rule the first class is liked best and most widely; the second next, and so on to the fourth, which usually comes last. Upon these facts and numerous others, some of which may hereafter be mentioned, we are bold enough to ground a theory of our own; it is as follows. The love felt for toys is greater or less in proportion to the degree in which they educate and stimulate the powers, to the number of the powers so stimulated, and their sensitiveness.

The first or representative class stimulates not only the affections but also the creative or poetic part of our nature. There never was a child who did not speak to its doll or its horse; it imagines a character for the toy, and is forced to do so for the simple reason that it never knew a man, woman, or child, or a horse, without one; and then, having endowed the object with a character, it is compelled to like or dislike it accordingly. The imagination is thus exercised in a twofold manner-first, in the creation so to speak of an external being; next, in the modification of internal character. The relations which on the creation of such an external being would necessarily arise between it and the child, are immediately supplied by the child's imagination, and the feelings or emotive parts of his nature are by the same prncess also exercised and developed. The imagination and the emotions are precisely those portions of human nature which are freshest and most vigorous in childhood; they are those which are the earliest developed ; and this may be the reason why the first class of toys gives, as a general rule, the most pleasure to children.

The double functions of the imagination above mentioned may, per

haps, be rendered more obvious by a comparison of the first with the second or characteristic class of toys, which last exercises one of these functions only to any great extent. The power of modifying internal character, which may be called the power of subjective creation, is strongly developed by the characteristic class, but that of external or objective creation far less so. A boy does indeed draw his sword, and march as he imagines to glory, but there the creation ends; he does indeed imagine himself in other circumstances, and conceives the emotions and ideas which those circumstances would naturally suggest ; but he creates no being external to himself, his own character and its modifications are the objects of his fancies, he projects no individuality other than his own.

The combination of these thingsviz., the existence of the new external creation, and the consequent modification of the child's own feelings which occurs in the first class of toys often reacts on the objective faculty, and time, place, and other accidents purely fictitious are supplied by the young romancer. In such a case you may often hear a long conversation between a child and its doll—if that can be called a conversation where you can almost understand what the silent party was supposed to have said by the retort of the speaker. We remember a curious illustration of these remarks. We once knew a doll rudely constructed of a painted block, without limbs, and with a battered nose, but a nigh favourite notwith standing, owing, we suppose, to high moral and intellectual qualities. On one occasion, in a drawingroom, in broad daylight, we heard the following remonstrance addressed to this favourite :-“Oh Bob! such a ting, Bob ! To put a gridiron in my bed and the candle out!” We do not remember the defence offered, but it was, we believe, quite satisfactory, for the friendship continued for a long time as strong to all appearance as ever.

On the whole it seems that the emotions, or, at least, the relative emotions, are far less exercised by the characteristic than by the representative toys, and a much smaller and less important part even of the imagination is stimulated or developed

by the former than by the latter : the training given by the first would tend to produce a Shakspeare or a Homer; that imparted by the second class could get no higher than a Byron.

Coming now to the third class, one can hardly fail to be struck with the very marked difference between the use which children make of mechanical toys, and the treatment experienced at their hands by toys of the other classes. The latter when broken are so generally by accident; the former are always broken, and are broken from design. It is true that a drum is often destroyed on purpose, but this is to see whence the sound proceeds ; it is in so far as it partakes of the nature of a mechanical toy that it comes under a similar treatment, and the child having broken one or two designedly, does not go on breaking more of them, but he nevertheless continues to like and play with them in the character of toys of the second class.

It is an axiom in political economy that consumption is the end and object of production, and there is a proverb about promises and piecrusts, but both these sayings, however true with regard to other things, are doubly so if applied to mechanical toys. If a child do not break up trese, he is worth little, and will, moreover, care little for them (except so far as they may partake of the nature of another class); it is, there fore, a most mistaken as well as a useless part which some parents take to give injunctions to their children not to break such toys. These injunctions—useless if disregarded, as they always are—would be positively prejudicial if they were obeyed; for the secret of the toy's attraction Sems to be the stimulus thereby given to the scientific invention, that is, the invention of means to arrive at a given end, the discovery of causes producing a given effect.

Considering, then, what sort of exercise would be most likely to stimulate this faculty, it will probably occur to one that the best means for so doing will be to practise as much as possible the habit or process of thought made use of in scientific invention, and this we shall find to be the very habit or process to which nature itself points--víz., the way of analysis, proceeding from the effect to the

cause, from the end to the means This we shall see also is the rery habit of thought induced by mechanical toys. The child sees a more ment produced by turning a handle, which yet to his eyes has no conneetion with the particular motion produced : he conjectures how this is brought about, and he either arrives at some conclusion or he does not. In the first case, he breaks open the toy to test whether he is right or not In the second, he breaks it open to satisfy his curiosity; in either case it is destroyed, and it is in its destruction that it gives pleasure—it is by its destruction that it does good. The first inducement to inquiry in the child's mind, in such a case, is the wonder caused by seeing two more ments apparently unconnected and yet always concurrent. The inquiry, when commenced, is prosecuted, as far as may be, in mere thought; but when a conclusion is arrived at-if it be ever arrived at-80 surely open goes the toy to test the correctness of such conclusion ; and, if zone be arrived at, then the duration of the toy depends on the patience of the child. Some persons will remain longer than others without giving up a conundrum, and some children will puzzle longer than others without breaking open a toy.

The pleasure and the advantage arising from the fourth class of tors are both, as it would seem, purely physical, except so far as a certain amount of mental or moral cultivation--a certain degree of endurance and perseverance is required for the attainment of skill. With this it mark, we may leave this class, which is so simple as to need no further comment--for it is sufficiently ob vious that physical exercise giren physical pleasure, and that physical exercise improves physical powers

IIaving thus examined children's toys, it may be interesting to see if the theory suggested by the examination will bear the test which its ap: plication to the toys of adults will afford. Sporting, then, which is per haps the best instance of adult toying, may be first submitted to the test. Here our analysis leads us to believe that the sources of pleasure are–First, the exercise of manual skill in the use of the weapon or instrument, of mental skill in the knowledge of the habits

of the game and of the beasts used as the sportsman's allies. Next, the uncertainty of the result and the intellectual exercise in the rapid calculation of probabilities; the data varying much in different sports, and one of them being frequently your own amount of skill—and this source we may call ancipitation. Thirdly, emulation with others. Again, in some sports the sympathy felt for or with the exertion and skill of others, whether men or beasts. And lastly, the physical exercise, and the scenes which are in general incidental to sporting. We are aware that destructiveness is supposed by some to be a source of pleasure, and perhaps so far as destruction is a striking and obvious evidence of power, it may have a slight share in the pleasure of sporting ; but that such share, if any, must be very small, is manifest if we consider the source of it apart from the other sources above mentioned. It may give pleasure to break a bottle with a rifle bullet, or even with a stone hurled at it, but the amount of enjoyment afforded by taking the same bottle and throwing it on the ground, is almost infinitesimal. However, we have no objection to such a source of pleasure standing for what it is worth, especially as it in nowise invalidates our pet theory. Whoever likes may, therefore, rank it a sixth element in the pleasures of sporting.

But of the other elements, the first -viz., the exercise of skill, is so plain in most cases, that no more need be said upon it. It forms a large part of the pleasure in shooting, hunting, fishing, and many other sports; and that it does so will appear at once by considering that, in general, other things being the same, the less skill is required for any sport the less is the pleasure derived from it. For instance, there is less sport in shooting rooks than shooting snipe, and less in shooting even rooks with small shot than with bullet. In all these cases it is difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the second item of pleasure above noticed-we mean ancipitation--for in every case in which less skill is required, the chance of your having a sufficient amount is in

creased, and the odds on the result less evenly balanced; but they are, nevertheless, different items, for a sportsman can often arrive at an almost certain estimate of his own skill, and yet the more difficult sport will afford him the greater pleasure. We find also that in some pursuits which are called sports, the first item is altogether absent, and the second then shows in bold relief. Of such a kind are horse-racing, coursing, and that almost exploded brutality -cockfighting—not to speak of gambling generally at gaines of chance. Indeed, perhaps, by no examples are the existence and the distinctions of these two sources of pleasure more clearly shown, than by considering the pleasure that men take in chess and in dice.*

The educational effect of both these sources of pleasure may be easily apprehended the former obviously induces a discipline of perseverance, and excites to the habit of overcoming difficulties. The latter tends, though not so obviously, to make one judge rapidly as to a course of action on an emergency, and to act decidedly on such judgment; this would, on a mere examination, appear to be its tendency, but testing such conclusion experimentally it is found borne out in fact; the best sportsmen are, as a general rule, those who when tried in critical circumstances, turn out the most self-possessed, the most rapid in decision, and the most decided in action. It was not without reason that by almost every military people hunting was considered as the school of war.

Emulation is so eminently an educational stimulus, that it is ordinarily the feeling of our nature which is most made use of for the purposes of education : its further consideration may, therefore, be neglected here, and we may pass at once to the remaining sources of pleasure. Of the fifth, too, viz.—the physical pleasure of exercise, &c. we need say nothing more ; but the fourth requires a few words of comment. Sympathy for the skili and exertion of others, either men or beasts, is by no means common to all sports ; in some, however, it is

* From this anticipation also it happens that shooting with bullet at a bird which can fly away, is more exciting than at a mark, however sinall, which cannot.

the largest source of the pleasure de- the constitution, moral, mental, and rived from them, and, perhaps com- material, as, after labour in reek and bined with ancipitation forms the fog during the year, to abandon it whole of that properly arising from with a spring, and to enjoy clear racing or coursing. It enters largely sky, fresh air, heather, and sport. into hunting and fishing, and some. Even the artificial tastes, whose what into shooting also. In hunting, gratifications become toys, have somethe sympathy felt for the pack, and thing in them of an educational chafor individual dogs in it, is almost racter. Let us, for instance, take the the characteristic difference between one most commonly abhorred, most the sportsman and the mere horse- commonly the butt of satire-araman; a considerable sympathy is rice. A vice it is no doubt, as the also felt even for the fox if he runs well exclusive pursuit of almost anything --something akin to “ the stern joy becomes a vice; it is a vice, too, which warriors feel in foemen wor- whose ill-effects are wide spread, and thy of their steel." In shooting, the whose influence is destructive to most sympathies are less brought out; and of the loveable and estimable qualiif one shoots alone, there is no ties of the mind; but, still, a vice thing to sympathise with except one's which has at its root tendencies that, dog; for in shooting there is no well-directed, go a long way to make struggle, the trigger is drawn, and all one good and great. Perhaps we are is over; the game is either hit or going too fast—we are assuming that missed, there is no time for sym the gratification of avarice is toying. pathy; but with our dogs we do Well, we hope we can prove it. Mosympathise--with their skill, with ney is a toy to the miser. Does he their excitement, with their caution, love it for anything but itself? as they throw themselves back, their Where is his enjoyment in it? We tails stiffened, and slowly and noise answer — Itself is his enjoyment. lessly advance with neck outstretched, Thinking of it, brooding over it, nostril distended, and eye fixed, and making it, these are his enjoyments we watch them “road” up the scent in it; and what then should prevent to where the game lies, with an inte- our calling it a toy? It is a serious rest the most intense, for which, we sort of toying, but toying it is. It confess, it puzzles us to account in has been said that avarice is a phase any other way than by supposing it of the love of power. This we canis a mixture of sympathy and ancipi not concede. The desire of wealth tation. In shooting with a compa- may be caused by the desire of power; nion however, which is a much but the ambitious man is rarely avapleasanter Occupation than solitary ricious. Money with him is a means, sport, the sympathies are of course he acquires power by spending it, and more developed, and then we may gratifies his passion; but the miser say with Locksley, “ I always add never acquires power, nor does he my hollo, when I see a good shot or seek it. Money with him is the end : a gallant blow.” Fishing remains; he acquires it by saving it, and so and in that sport, as the struggle is gratifies his passion. Nay, he will more direct between the sportsman barter power for wealth, in the same and the game during the “ play," way as the ambitious barter money and is moreover a struggle of skill for power; and how then can avaagainst strength, of mind against rice and ambition be called the same matter, the sympathy, viz., the “stern passion? joy," and the ancipitation, raise the But qualities lie at the bottom of excitement higher than that of any both, many of which are similar, and other sport in our opinion, hardly most of which are good, if well apexcepting hunting itself. Now, it is plied. There is much that is educahardly worth while to stop in order tional even in avarice ; for instance, to show the value of the stimulus self-restraint is exercised and strengthgiven to the sympathies. Anything ened to a greater degree by avarice which draws us out of ourselves in and ambition, than by almost any this toiling, selfish world, is an ad- other discipline. The gratification of vantage ; and we believe, therefore, avarice is a constant series of sacrithat there is no such renovator offices of present pleasures for remote

« PreviousContinue »