Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/235

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ON BRAIN-FORCING.

Europe is a long display of the successive triumphs of the men of colder over the men of warmer regions; of the hardy, lusty, and hungry races over the softer, more indolent, and more abstemious. Northern drunkenness is a survival of northern feasting and northern prowess; and the hearty Bishop of Peterborough touched a deep truth when he said he had liefer Englishmen to be drunkards than slaves. It is quantity, then, rather than other conditions of nerve-power, which is favored by "physical education," quantity without which quality may flag; but quality is also indirectly increased, for quality is born, doubtless, out of the fountains of quantity.

If it be true that the sons of genius are often fools, the explanation may be that the parent has spent his great fortune of intellect and passion, and transmitted to his offspring a sapless and atonic brain. It may be true, also, that as from the lesser robustness of women the streams of vitality in them are more slender and less perennial, so the buddings of higher genius in them are fewer and less fertile. The weaving of the higher thought and emotion is found in our experience, even of individuals, to be especially exhausting, and apt, therefore, to alternate in its function with hours of indolence, and even of depression. The greatest master cannot be unconscious of these tides in his creative work; and the lesser, seeking relief and distraction between whiles, drifts into the "Bohemian." To secure, then, quantity of nerve-force directly, and quality indirectly, the encouragement of bodily vigor and sturdy gain is fundamentally necessary. Without wealth of bone and blood, volume of nerve-force will dwindle, and the rarest quality may fail of proof, or lose its splendor. Before women can hope to do hard and high work, sense must expel sensibility, and school-girls must cease to walk out in a row, to veil their faces, to wear stays, and to eat delicately.[1] Nay, if a certain ruggedness be not foreign to mental strength and growth, it may be that women, as a class, if they will excel in originality and endurance, must cease, as a class, to seek after the charms of daintiness and sentiment.

I am not, therefore, of those who think that the love of athletics is as yet in excess. Here and there men may expend in the hunting-field or on the river that which should have been given to their tripos, to their profession, or to their country; yet this at worst is but an individual loss, far outweighed by the impulse given to the hardy, hungry vitality by which the nation thrives, and its general volume of nervous force is augmented. Again, it is an old truth that in youth production and growth or development are in a measure opponent. The gardener, the stock-breeder, the trainer, all know this and act upon the rule. The spontaneous and equable play of all sides of life favors growth and

  1. In the Girls' High-School at Leeds, a well-managed school in many respects, the girls are at work from breakfast to dinner and after dinner, with no interval for digestion, till four—for much of the year, that is, during all the daytime. Their cheeks know not wind nor sunshine.