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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/20

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ited to the invention of new instruments of torture, when the neglect of husbandry changed so many Elysian fields into hopeless deserts. To these doctrines the Latin peoples owe the sickliness and effeminacy which contrast their present generation with the hero-race of antiquity. It is a favorite subterfuge of the Jesuitical apologists to ascribe that degeneracy to climatic influences. A cold climate has not saved the North-China votaries of Buddhism, and would not have saved the North-Europeans against a prolonged influence of Hebrew Buddhism. We must not forget that in Northern Europe the rule of the anti-naturalists did not begin before the end of the seventh century, and never overcame the latent protestantism of the Teuton races. In a warmer country than Italy the votaries of the manlier prophet of El Medina have always preserved their physical vigor, and the representative North-African of the present day is the physical superior of his South European contemporary, while the forefathers of the same African were mere children in the hands of the palæstra-trained Roman warrior.

The physical corruption of the non-Mohammedan inhabitants of Southern Europe and Southern Asia has reached the incurable stage of complacent effeminacy: their indifference to the vices of indolence precludes the possibility of reform. Indifference to physical degradation is, indeed, a symptom of a deep-seated disease. Mental inertness is often but a dormant state of the intellect, a state from which the sleeper may be roused at any moment by the din of war, by the light of a great discovery, by the voice of an inspired poet. Physical indolence is the torpor which precedes the sleep that knows no waking. The civilization of Greece, Dutch art, the science of Bagdad and Cordova, sprang up, like water from the rock of Moses. Can historians point out a single instance of an unmanned people regaining their manhood? The bodily degeneracy of a whole nation dooms it to a hopeless retrogression in prosperity and political power.

The first use we should make of our regained liberty is, therefore, the reëstablishment of those institutions to whose influence the happiest nations of antiquity owed their energy and their physical prowess, their martial and moral heroism, their fortitude in adversity. The physical constitution of man was never intended for the sluggish inactivity of our sedentary and sabbatarian mode of life. In a state of nature, the faculty of voluntary motion distinguishes animals from plants, and our next relatives in the great family of the animal kingdom are the most restlessly active of all warm-blooded creatures. The children of Nature—hunters, shepherds, and nomads—pass their days in out-door labor and out-door sports; physical exercise affords them at once the necessaries of life and the means of recreation, and secures them against all physical ills but wounds and the infirmities of extreme old age. Civilization, i. e., life on the coöperative plan, exempts many individuals from the necessity of supplying their daily wants by daily