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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/854

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

plunging into a rapid gallop, and seeing a large void space opening out in front of him, will never fail, as the saying is, "to do himself up." The mere rapidity of his motions gives him vertigo; he loses sight of danger; and when an obstacle suddenly rises against him, if he does not jump over it, he breaks himself against it. So, all rapid movements deprive us of complete possession of ourselves; we go on, we follow our impulse. It may be a foolish one; so much the better. Go on! up! quicker! What is such behavior but sheer intoxication?

To the physical pleasure of motion is added a moral and emotional pleasure. In like manner as it helps us to escape from physical suffering, muscular activity may serve as a remedy for disappointments, for moral pains. We weep and struggle when we have a great grief, as well as when we are suffering from a physical wound. The most afflicted man forgets his trouble while he is performing a vigorous exercise. Byron had his boxing-gloves brought to him, and went through his accustomed practice with a servant, while his mother was being buried; but the servant felt that his touch was stronger than usual, and all at once he threw down his gloves and fled to his room. Who has not felt the necessity of what is called throwing off his grief? When we remain quiet our mind is, as it were, bent back upon itself, and all the pains that can affect us are augmented, as it were, by the very attention which we give them. In action we forget ourselves, directing our thought to the attainment of the purpose upon which we are fixed.

Physical exercises also give us positive mental pleasures, the chief among which is the satisfaction of our self-love. When I execute any movement, or devote myself to an exercise, I try to get as much as possible out of it. I want particularly to acquit myself better than any one else, and have a feeling of pride when I have succeeded. This leads to a real increase of ardor, and a luxury of physical activity. Observe youth who are indulging themselves in any sport together; is not emulation the essential principle of their activity, which enables them to expend all they have of available energy? Tell a child to run as long as he can; he will stop in a short time, out of breath. Give him rivals, and the fear of being left behind will prevent his feeling fatigue and provide him with unaccustomed nervous resources, and he will go till his strength is exhausted. It is a recognized rule with all couriers, gymnasts, canoeists, etc., that one should not train himself alone in exercises of speed; there should be at least two, to excite one another by competition. Some persons have tried to show that the pleasure of play is disinterested. They are speaking without knowledge. When we are playing, we are entirely occupied with the result of our activity. We may not be very