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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/427

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409
EDITOR'S TABLE.

the conditions of city life permit. The works of man, the monuments of civilization, in the end oppress us, and we turn for refreshment and expansion to the wider landscapes, the purer air, the freer life of regions as yet comparatively untamed. This is the most satisfactory view to take of the matter, and happily it is one of wide application. With many, however, there is no desire for an escape from the conventionalities of life, and no hunger for a reposeful contemplation of the beauties and grandeurs of Nature. The excitements of society may jade but do not satiate them, and, in their flight from the city to the seaside or mountain resort or to foreign lands, what they seek is still the excitement of society in new forms and under new conditions. With such we have no concern; no words of ours would be likely to reach the circles in which they move, nor, if they did, would they be in the least likely to secure a moment's attention.

Much benefit, in our opinion, is to be had from summer holidays if rightly used, and it can not but be a matter of regret to every sympathetic man and woman that so large a body of social toilers should be condemned to year-long imprisonment in the cities, varied only by such brief excursions to outlying points as the present improved conditions of local transit may place within their reach. The maximum of benefit from a holiday comes only to one who has earned it by faithful work. If, with mind and heart free, such a one can allow himself a few weeks' residence in some healthful spot where the face of Nature is beautiful with field and forest, with hillside and running water, he is a man to be envied. It is not inactivity of mind or body that a healthy man will desire on such occasions—inactivity is only for the exhausted—it is new occupation for mind and body combined with a delightful sense of not being in a hurry. The wise man cast amid natural scenery and conditions will seek in some way to enlarge his knowledge of and sympathy with Nature, not in the spirit of scientific research, but rather in that of loving contemplation. It is a time for increasing one's familiarity with natural objects, for learning a little more by direct observation of leaf and tree, of bird and insect, of cloud and mountain, for becoming more sensitive to forms of beauty and the changing harmonies of the visible world, for the unsealing of the eyes and the unstopping of the ears and the enlargement of the heart. From such intercourse with Nature, coupled with wholesome modes of life, there can not fail to flow much, benefit, mental, moral, and physical. The mind gains in elasticity and apprehensiveness, the spirit in serenity, the body in tone and vigor, and summer holidays so spent are likely to prove the most fruitful part of the whole year.

It is the custom with some when they leave the city to lay in a stock of summer reading consisting chiefly of the "lightest" novels. This simply means that they still crave excitement, and must find it in ever-renewed pictures, however lazily gazed at, of the life of society—the life they have (in theory) left behind them. It seems to us that the books to take to the country, if we take any, are not new ones but old ones—those we have read before, but which still have their message and their charm, classics whose beauties we have not exhausted, and perhaps are not likely to exhaust, which recall old associations and help us to calmer and broader views of life. We lay down no rule for others; we merely suggest that there is more rest for the mind and spirit in going over old paths than in. striking into new