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her infant rather than meet shame. Poets and romancers have made much of such things, but the current theory of human nature is quite too narrow to take account of them. Psychology early gained an individualistic slant from its probing of the senses and the intellect and only lately has it plumbed the instincts and emotionsman's social side. Meanwhile the philosophers, being jealous for the “dignity" of human nature, have ignored our social needs as if they disclosed a shameful weakness. Until human relations were scrutinized with the appraising eye of the scientist there was none to gainsay the orator and the moralist in eloquently presenting absolute independence and self-direction as goals of personal development.

Blindness to the social demands of human nature showed itself in a great variety of ways. Prison reformers clung to the delusion that solitary confinement regenerates. Quite unconscious of their cruelty, the benevolent tolerated the almshouse with its separation of aged couples and its walling off paupers from the common life. Respectable people looked upon the saloon as nothing but a "dramshop” and not more than twenty years have elapsed since they perceived it to be “the poor man's club.” That what the poor most need is “not alms but a friend” gave thirty years ago the shock of a great discovery. The social settlement, founded in the conviction that nothing will help the slum like sympathy, good fellowship, and inspiring personal influence, has been in existence but a little over thirty years yet has succeeded so well that it is being generalized the country over as the "social center." Still nearer is the beginning of the scientific study of the social relations of boys, resulting in the discovery of the “gang” and of the “boys' club” as a means of building character. The transformation of the Young Men's Christian Association from a devotional organization into a social recreative institution with a religious background was a response to the new view of human nature.

Individualistic assumptions so governed early Americans that, giving up the compact settlement of the New England town, they practiced “homestead” settlement, which few European peoples have found to be congenial. One result of this and of the neglect to provide for social and recreative life in the open country is a loneliness which so tortures young people on the farms that they rush to the cities with a recklessness hardly to be matched in any other part of the world.


While much light has been thrown on the true nature of human beings, there are still various false notions which stand in the way of our doing justice to our social cravings. Common yet is the idea that religion is something altogether between man and his Maker and does not relate man to man. Another pitfall is the notion that the chief end of sport is physical development rather than the enjoyment of fellowship in play. “Scientific management” extremists see the workman as a mere machine, while some devotees of the efficiency cult drop every human relation and reject every claim that does not contribute to "success.” There is abroad, too, a business man's caricature of Darwinism which insists that struggle is the law of life, that every other human being is a possible rival, and that one's only option is to devour the fellow-man or be eaten by him.

Nor may we overlook certain untoward social tendencies. The growth of tenancy under a form of lease which allows the tenant no compensation for disturbance or for the unexhausted fertility he has added to the soil results in a shifting rural population unwilling to invest in the roads, schools, churches, playgrounds, and community halls which facilitate social enjoyment. The commercial spirit, which prompts people to associate on the basis of reciprocal entertainment and service, taints fellowship with calculation and inhibits that generous self-abandon which is the finest flower of friendship. Again, when worldliness is rife the wealthy have to guard their circles against the intrusion of touts, leg-pullers, notoriety-seekers, and exploiters of social connections for financial, professional, or political advantage. But the raising of the money barrier is responsible for the horrible hollowness and dulness that lies like a pall upon plutocratic society. No wonder that in the second generation the conspicuous tend to restrict their intimacies to playmates and schoolmates in order that within this closed circle they may taste the sweets of mutual confidence, geniality, ease, and the intimacy of first names!


Do people come together solely to commune with and enjoy one another ? By no means. To the shrewd eye much social life is a veiled struggle to expand one's personality at another's expense. One eats another like the beasts of the jungle. Children, whose natures lie near the surface, plainly strive to convert their playfellows into an admiring circle, to use them to intensify their feelings of self. They keenly compete for notice from companions or superiors. Boys swell up and swagger about, talk in unnatural tones, “play big,” and “show off.” They do “stunts” eagerly shouting “Looky” as they stand on their heads or hang by their toes. They thrill with superiority as they stalk about on stilts or on tin cans tied to their feet. They vie in boasting, “daring,” playing the "smart Aleck," and making up tall stories of their wonderful feats or hairbreadth escapes. It is significant that the bragging lies of boys usually relate to what they can do, while girls are more apt to lie about their possessions.

Dr. Bolton says:

The use of secrets by children is full of interest. Small boys put their arms around one another's necks and whisper in the ear, pretending to tell something that the others shall not know. This exalts the selves of those that hear the secrets and at the same time shrinks up the onlooker and flushes him with envy. Such an act calls for a countermove in the same direction. The other boys get together and tell secrets among themselves and make extravagant claims that their secrets are much more worthy of knowing. Girls do this, too, but it does not seem to bear the same marks of genuineness and naïveté. It has always seemed as if it were more fun to be a boy than to be a girl, just for the reason that the conduct of boys is less conventional and their activity is more varied. To tell another a secret is a way of coming en rapport with him de novo and telling a secret serves very well as a fresh beginning after a miff has been declared off. The secret serves to re-establish the relation of friendship. The suspicion lies close that where the fraternity boys of the university do not feel sure of their girls, they tell the girls the fraternity secrets as a way of strengthening the desired relationship. To tell one a secret is a mark of confidence and respect. Young people of the lower classes of society who associate much together give up a large part of their conversation to noisy claims about secrets or what they know that someone else does not; they make veiled references to past good times and to other times in which things transpired that would be a terrible humiliation if told. Each one tries to get a secret with every other and then to make noisy claims about keeping it from all the rest. Servant girls with their company at the back door indulge in this kind of conversation, making veiled references to secrets most of the time. With them social life is always a sharp contest among personalities in which severe thrusts are given and countered just as severely."

To the same end young people invent “dog-Latin” and other lingoes. They are prized less as a vehicle for secrets than as a means of triumphing over the puzzled listener.

Many of the games of childhood, such as “Needle's Eye,” “Drop the Handkerchief," and "Virginia Reel," owe their charm to their giving each in turn an opportunity to be the chief actor. In the flushed cheeks and glistening eyes of the child that is "it,” one remarks the intoxication of feeling the “I” glorified. While it revels in its golden moment of initiative and self-display, the rest find their compensation in the pleasure of marching, dancing, or singing in concert.

To shrink or put down the selves of others gives much the same satisfaction as to exalt one's own self. It is, after all, the margin of superiority between one's self and another's self which feeds one's sense of importance. In the teasing, badgering, and hectoring of small children, red-haired girls, cross-eyed or hare-lipped boys, peddlers, outlanders, and Chinamen, the object is not always the infliction of pain; it may be the exalting one's self-importance by mortifying and depreciating another. The delight of “taking down” one who is throwing us into the shade is very evident. Schoolboys on the playground “take it out” of “teacher's pet," bespatter the best-dressed child, and pursue the prize pupil, chanting some incantation rhyme built about his name. Girls try to take down the girl all the boys are fond of and the uncouth lads join to humiliate the boy that the girls favor. In the same way young men who are boon companions are on the watch to get something" on one of their number. Playing tricks and “practical” jokes is a favorite means of “getting the laugh on” another, i.e., shrinking him. Hazing and fagging pleasantly enliven the self-feeling of older schoolboys. The ordeals of initiation imposed by some fraternal orders give the lodge members the pleasure of making a worthy fellow-citizen a laughingstock, while the victim later salves

* Thaddeus L. Bolton, The Journal of Pedagogy, XIX, 35-36.


his wounded pride in watching other initiates "ride the goat.” Games like “Prisoners' Base," "Blindman's Buff,” “I Spy,” are built on the plan of shrinking the players one at a time. The child who is "it" feels smalled and wins back his self-respect only by catching another, who in turn becomes “it.”

Then there are the tactics of self-protection designed to prevent or turn aside a thrust at one's self, and the tactics of self-recovery aiming to expand the self after a humiliating experience. Thus the savage, who mainly identifies his personality with his name, is careful to keep secret his true name. The child called a name wards off the blow with the incantation:

Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But names can never hurt me.

There is the same caution about one's image. Once I tried in vain to find a Bedouin who would let himself be sketched; each feared lest in some mysterious way I should gain a hold on him. Catlin had to use all the arts of diplomacy in order to get his Indian chiefs to sit for their portrait. Nature peoples have a like horror of being photographed.

For fear of a rebuff one refrains from the direct question, but supposes,” or “wonders,” queries to the ceiling, or ends a statement with a rising inflection. An invitation is couched in the negative statement: “You wouldn't care to ....?" or is conveyed by a lifting of the eyebrow or a pointing of the thumb. A request takes the form of a hint. One answers an embarrassing question with a shrug or grimace which, while expressing enough, cannot be quoted. Refusal is met with “I don't care," or "Like as not I'm better off without it.” Repartee parries gibe and the innuendo is turned by irony. The use of that double-edged weapon, the apology, gives scope for great dexterity for exalting one's self or putting the other in the wrong. Some adults in associating with children assume an affected speech in order to keep their personalities from being sucked down to the child's level. The children soon see through this and will have nothing to do with one who “talks down” to them.

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