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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/230

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

What you put into one period of life you want at another. If with ten tons of coal in the tender you keep your locomotive running at sixty miles an hour for the first two hours, you do not expect it to do this for long. Each period of life has its peculiar forces and energies in which it is specially rich. In adolescence the strong points, mental and bodily, are very marked. I shall specially allude to them by-and-by. It is sufficient to say here that they are not thinking or intense repression of all the general energies so as to concentrate them in mental work. This may be done, but the question is, Is it well to do it? Does it make life more complete and happy to do so, looking at life as a whole? A physician, like a philosopher, must look on life from the cradle to the grave, not on one portion of it only, as the educationalist is perforce obliged to do, having nothing to do with it afterward. Like many architects and contractors building our houses for us, they turn out an article finished up to the standard of the time, and then hand it over to you. They never see it again. Its future does not concern them much. I have often proposed that your architect and contractor should be bound to come and look at your house every five years for the first twenty, and should get certain deferred payments at these periods according as the work is standing, and no defects developing. So I would have the educator's reputation depend, not on what he has turned out at twenty-one, but on the result at forty or fifty or sixty. Education is a preparation for the work of life, not a thing that is good in itself. If it has helped life to be healthy, happy, successful, and long, then it has been good; if in any degree it has caused disease, unhappiness, non-success, then it has been bad.

There is another vital fact in the constitution of human nature that needs to be taken into account—at least I for one believe it to be a fact. It is this, that one generation may, by living at high pressure, or under specially unfavorable conditions, exhaust and use up more than its share of energy. That is, it may draw a bill on posterity, and transmit to the next generation not enough to pay it. I believe many of us are now having the benefit of the calm, unexciting, lazy lives of our forefathers of the last generation. They stored up energy for us; now we are using it. The question is, Can we begin at adolescence, work at high pressure, keep this up during our lives (which in that case will be on an average rather short), and yet transmit to our posterity enough vital energy for their needs? How often it has happened, in the history of the world, that people who for generations have exhibited no special energy, blaze out in tremendous bursts of national greatness for a time, and then almost die out! The Tartars under Genghis Khan, the Turks when they overawed Europe, the Arabs when they conquered Spain, are examples. We must take care that this does not happen to us. How often we see a quiet country family, that has for generations led quiet, humdrum lives, suddenly produce