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Childhood in Rostock, on the Baltic Coast, as seen through the Lens of the Enlightenment and Rationalist Medical Science (1807)

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Even though physical punishment may not be avoided under all circumstances in the course of children’s upbringing, one can probably not deny that these are frequently overdone. Many local families have methods to bring the children to obey and keep order without blows, and who would not be convinced of the fact that it is possible by friendly conduct, patience and reasonable treatment, from which I would not exclude sharp seriousness and other remedies leading to humanity, to gain the children’s trust much more reliably and achieve far more than by beating? [ . . . ] However, in this respect, too, I have, almost always, seen the fact confirmed that blows only cause embitterment or at the most, forced obedience, while not actually improving and promoting humanity among people. [ . . . ]

Source: A.F. Nolde, Medicinisch-anthropologische Bemerkungen über Rostock und seine Bewohner [Medical-Anthropological Observations about Rostock and its Inhabitants]. Volume 1. Erfurt, 1807, pp. 92-126.

Reprinted in Jürgen Schlumbohm, ed., Kinderstuben, Wie Kinder zu Bauern, Bürgern, Aristokraten wurden 1700-1850 [Upbringing, How Children Became Farmers, Middle-Class Citizens, and Aristocrats 1700-1850]. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1983, pp. 227-41.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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