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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

The Child

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

<< Prohibition #10 American Impressions

The Child is the eleventh article of the series American Impressions by Miss Conan Doyle written by Mary Conan Doyle, the first daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle, in the Los Angeles Evening Express on 22 june 1920.

The Child

Los Angeles Evening Express
(22 june 1920, p. 21)

[Miss Doyle, daughter of the distinguished English novelist, has consented to write a series of articles for the Evening Express, during her sojourn in Southern California. The eleventh appears herewith.]

Nothing in any nation is more significant than the child — it represents the unfolded years of the future packed tight like the petals in a rosebud. And the child unconsciously bears many characteristics of the nation.

Scotch and Danish children are prone to heaviness. The French child is a bundle of nerves and coquetry, while out here one sees the tendency of the age coming out in the child also.

Perhaps there is some risk of too rapid development — one sees the keen American instinct "short-circuit" everything! It is speed — the quickest way always, abbreviated speech, an inherent power of concentration. But personally I think an excess of this makes rather for brilliancy than strength, and that the slower development tells in the long run.

Mother Nature is the best teacher and friend youth can have, and the city-bred child forfeits its birthright. Because freedom is such a vital factor it is the start of all growth. And really one might divide the whole world up into two groups — those who are emancipated and those who aren't; the people who think their own thoughts and those who never do anything but reflect those of others. All nature is a constant incentive to thought, and education naturally begins in recognition of the beautiful things of the earth.

Another advantage about the country is that it generally goes with a more settled home life.

Two things struck me on coming here: First, the way the children's heads were cropped — not bobbed, but shorn off level with the ears all round, which seemed to me most strange, and then the late nours and grownup habits they all had!

That in much more the continental way of upbringing than the English. I think that early hours, simple food and heaps of child-companionship are the ideal conditions for a youngster's life, but the weak point of our method lies in leaving the children too much to nurse maids and governesses. It's often better for health, because there is not the temptation of the mother to grant excessive "treats," but the mental development suffers and little obstacles are allowed to grow up, such as shyness and self-consciousness. But the American child's shortcomings don't lie along those lines. They are confident and fearless and full of vitality, and they will carry the banner of their country nobly out into the future.