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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

102              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

slowly, and stopped when he stopped to gather some little flower,
or, when discovering the beauty of a donkey which was eating
grass in a field, he sat down, serious and thoughtful, to keep com-
pany for a moment with this humble and privileged creature:
Instead of carrying their baby, these parents had solved their
problem by learning from the baby.

Only the poets feel the fascination of a tiny rivulet of water
trickling over the pebbles as it is felt by the child, who grows,
enthusiastic over it, laughs and wants to stop and touch it with
his hand as if to caress it. No one of whom I know, except
St. Francis, has admired the modest insect and the perfume of
unattractive little plants, as does one of our little ones.

But I suggest that you take up in your arms an infant which
has not yet learned to walk; hold him on a country road from
where is there a wide magnificent view, in such a way that
his back is turned to the scene. You will see him making efforts
to turn round and look at the panorama. Stop with him! He-
enjoys that beauty even when he is not able to stand upright and
when his tongue cannot yet ask you to stop. Yes, let us say it
with a paraphraseŚ" He does not live by milk alone."

Have you never seen children standing serious and much
affected round the body of a nestling which had fallen from the
nest, or watched them moving back and forth, talking about
what has happened, asking questions, grieving very sincerely about
what has happened? Well, these are the children who, in their
next period of degeneration, might be capable of going out to rob
birds' nests.

The feeling for Nature grows with, exercise, like everything
else; it is certainly -not strengthened by us through descriptions
or exhortations made pedantically to a child who is listless and
bored by being shut within walls and who is accustomed to see-
and hear that cruelty towards animals is a necessity of life. It is
experience which brings things home to him. The death of the-
first dove killed intentionally by a member of the family is a black
spot in the heart of almost all children. We have to cure the