Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/230

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classes are for "education!" The village grocer's son goes to a "theological college," and sits up by night over his "Evidences" with green tea in his blood, and a wet cloth about his brows. The gardener's daughter pulls roses no more, and has become a pupil-teacher; she is chlorotic at sixteen, and broken-spirited at twenty. The country parson's son goes to a civil service or a navy "coach," is plucked in his teens, and is left to begin life again with an exhausted brain and an incurable megrim; nay, even the sons of peers are putting on the armor of light, and are deserting the field for the counting-house. To meet this demand, colleges of all kinds and degrees spring up—middle class seminaries, theological colleges, colleges of science, university boards—even the old universities themselves are stirring from their scholarly ease, are sending out missionaries in partibus, and are cramming the youth of twenty counties in the art of making most show with least learning. All this, in a way, no doubt, must be and should be; but so sudden a volte-face cannot be made without a wrench, and it is my desire now to see where the strain will tell, and how to perform our social evolution with the least injury to persons.

Like the alderman of New York, who found it impossible to propose the paving of a street without allusion to the first lines of the Constitution of the United States, so I must venture to preface my essay by some reference to mental function as we find it. We may see the more clearly how to direct and combine our means of culture when we recognize its purposes. Mental philosophy is a subject in which I am little versed, but I must try in some familiar fashion to classify the aspects of nervous activity as they appear to ordinary observers. Without misleading error, and with much convenience, I may regard these activities from the following five points of view, namely, their Quality, their Quantity, their Tension, their Variety, and their Control.

By the higher quality of the brain, or of a part of it, I mean that structure of cell and fibre which corresponds more widely or more intimately with outer conditions, so that by virtue of such relation the individual more readily apprehends things and conceives them. This is genius in the stricter sense. By quantity I mean the volume of nerve force given off by the brain or its parts, without regard to quality of work done. By tension I mean the power in the nerve-action to overcome inner or outer resistance—"nervous energy," as it is colloquially called. By variety I mean the congregation of different centres, and the weaving of mediate strands which give the possessor, not higher or wider, but a greater number of relations with outer things. In common life this is usually called versatility. By control I mean that subordination of one centre to another, whether inherited or acquired, which if of the lower to the higher results in obedience to the more permanent order of the universe. Thus a man may have a lofty, an abundant, an intense, a versatile, and a well-ruled nervous system, or