Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/410

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the former routine of prison life, mental development was still going on; six of the number had reached the first grade in schoolwork, and two of the remaining five had every prospect of soon doing so."

Physical improvement was marked; their skins had acquired the softness and smoothness of childhood (several having had some form of skin-disease), and their biceps muscles had become worthy of the traditional blacksmith. Their former stooping attitude, slow movements, and shuffling gait had given place to an appearance of alertness and vigor; their faces also had developed an expression of comparative brightness and intelligence. In manual labor the advance was not so pronounced as in other directions, though improvement in this department was marked; but the stride in mental and moral development was almost beyond belief. Dr. Wey, in closing his account of this most interesting test of a new method in prison discipline, says, "I regard my experiment in physical culture as showing that something more than mere brawn can be accomplished by muscular exercise, properly directed."

Inquiries extending over a period of forty years, made of about three hundred members of the Cambridge and Oxford University crews, instituted by Dr. Maclaren, director of the University Gymnasium at Oxford, have elicited facts which may be accepted as experimental evidence of the value of physical training in a class of cases in which the conditions of life are most favorable, hence affording a test from which practically every element except the purely muscular one is eliminated. The benefits experienced by the members of these crews are stated to be an increase of stamina, of energy, enterprise, and executive power, and of fortitude in endurance of trials, privations, and disappointments—"a goodly list of benefits bearing on the mental and moral as conspicuously as on the physical side of the question," says Dr. Maclaren, "for, in the struggle for existence, failure is more likely to result from inability to endure trials and disappointments than from merely physical weakness—the statistics of suicide bearing out this statement."[1]

The testimony obtained from this source shows that the advantages of physical training are not limited to the idiotic, the ignorant, and the criminal classes, the conditions of whose lives have been especially unfavorable to a normal symmetrical development, but that they belong alike to all; and these widely different experiments, considered together, are calculated to convince the most skeptical mind of the soundness of the several foregoing theses based on certain facts of the development and physiology of the muscular and nervous systems, and on certain principles of

  1. See Dr. Maclaren's work on training.