Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/369

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THE GOSPEL OF RECREATION.

disordered nervous system. Regarding you as representing Americans at large, I feel that the occasion is one on which arrears of thanks are due. I ought to begin with the time, some two-and-twenty years ago, when my highly-valued friend Professor Youmans, making efforts to diffuse my books here, interested on their behalf the Messrs. Appleton, who have ever treated me so honorably and so handsomely; and I ought to detail from that time onward the various marks and acts of sympathy by which I have been encouraged in a struggle which was for many years disheartening. But, intimating thus briefly my general indebtedness to my numerous friends, most of them unknown, on this side of the Atlantic, I must name more especially the many attentions and proffered hospitalities met with during my late tour, as well as, lastly and chiefly, this marked expression of the sympathies and good wishes which many of you have traveled so far to give, at great cost of that time which is so precious to the American. I believe I may truly say that the better health which you have so cordially wished me will be in a measure furthered by the wish; since all pleasurable emotion is conducive to health, and, as you will fully believe, the remembrance of this event will ever continue to be a source of pleasurable emotion, exceeded by few, if any, of my remembrances.

And now that I have thanked you, sincerely though too briefly, I am going to find fault with you. Already, in some remarks drawn from me respecting American affairs and American character, I have passed criticisms which have been accepted far more good-naturedly than I could reasonably have expected; and it seems strange that I should now again propose to transgress. However, the fault I have to comment upon is one which most will scarcely regard as a fault. It seems to me that in one respect Americans have diverged too widely from savages. I do not mean to say that they are in general unduly civilized. Throughout large parts of the population, even in long settled regions, there is no excess of those virtues needed for the maintenance of social harmony. Especially out in the West, men's dealings do not yet betray too much of the "sweetness and light" which we are told distinguish the cultured man from the barbarian. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which my assertion is true. You know that the primitive man lacks power of application. Spurred by hunger, by danger, by revenge, he can exert himself energetically for a time; but his energy is spasmodic. Monotonous daily toil is impossible to him. It is otherwise with the more developed man. The stern discipline of social life has gradually increased the aptitude for persistent industry; until, among us, and still more among you, work has become with many a passion. This contrast of nature has another aspect. The savage thinks only of present satisfactions, and leaves future satisfactions uncared for. Contrariwise, the American, eagerly pursuing a future good, almost ignores what good the passing day offers him;