Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/242

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aimless dissipation of energy; if duly consorted with full knowledge of one or more subjects, it gives breadth and flexibility to the intellect, and promotes the happiness of personal and social life; it favors general progress by permitting the more rapid diffusion of the knowledge won by the few. Lastly, control is eminently a creature of education, and is perhaps the most precious gift of the individual man. Without justice, temperance, and definite industry, the most brilliant attributes of mind may be impotent for good, and without the habit of social subordination and the bond of social sympathy the most brilliant society would be but a rope of diamonds. Brain-forcing is terribly mischievous. It urges genius into precocious fruitage, it drains the springs of nervous force, it excites high tension without giving volume to fortify it, it stints the variety of mental expansion, and by enforcing control it breaks the spirit. The true purpose of education is, first of all, to teach discipline—the discipline of the body, and the higher discipline of the mind and heart; to encourage the budding faculties to break freely in natural variety; to quicken the eye and the hand, and to touch the lips with fire; to promote the gathering of the fountains of vigorous life by fresh air, simple nutritious diet, and physical exercise; and, finally, to watch for the growth, silent it may be for years, of the higher qualities of character, or even of genius, not forcing them into heated and fro ward activity, but rather restraining the temptation to early production, and waiting for the mellowness of time: remembering that the human mind is not an artificial structure, but a natural growth; irregular, nay, even inconsistent, as such growths are, wanting most often the symmetry and preciseness of artifice, but having the secret of permanence and adaptability. These words seem almost too simple—these truths too obvious for repetition; yet for lack of that which lies in them our modern schemes of education are day after day ruining the young by overstimulation and unhealthy competition. Happily, the public is awaking to its error, and is beginning to regret the days when its young dunces grew into its old heroes. What we did blindly in the past by trusting to the hidden wealth of Nature, we may now do face to face by the revelation of her secrets.


P. S.—Since this essay was prepared for the printer, I have received the February number of the Fortnightly Review, which contains an article by Prof. Huxley on "Technical Education." In that article Mr. Huxley expresses opinions which must command general attention and adhesion. Although his argument is sped with thought and word far stronger and swifter than mine, and clothed with an authority to which I can lay no claim, yet I may perhaps without presumption call myself a fellow-laborer in the same field.—Brain.