Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/421

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WORK AND REST: GENIUS AND STUPIDITY.

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WORK AND REST: GENIUS AND STUPIDITY.

CLARK UNIVERSITY, WORCESTER, MASS.

OLDER far than the Tennysonian line, 'Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay,' is the Chinese proverb, 'One day is as good as three,' i. e., if you know how and when to do the thing necessary. Scott has given the warrior's version:

Pope speaks for the statesman:

Through the Mohammedan saying the goddess Artemis expresses herself, 'One hour in the execution of justice is worth seventy years of prayer.' The faith of the religious votary is voiced by the Hebrew psalmist, 'A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand.' The folk and the poet, the two anticipators of science, have in all ages seen the accomplishments of great things in brief periods of intense activity. There is an aristocracy of the moment, as well as of blood or brain.

It is an interesting subject for inquiry how far the history of the individual and of the race justifies the belief that one day is as good as three, one hour outweighs whole years. In this brief paper, no exhaustive study can be entered upon, and the intention is simply to outline a theory based upon the phenomena thus recognized, and to defend the view that intense activity for comparatively brief periods alternating with longer periods of greater or less quiescence is, whatever incidents of environment, artificialities of civilization, exaggerated sex influences, etc., have at times interfered to disturb it, the normal phenomenon of work in so far as it is best and most genially productive and profitable racially and individually.

The Animal.—From the earliest times some of the lower animals have passed for models of industry, others as examples of utter sloth and idleness. But we may be sure that man has read into his observations of animal activity a good deal of his own passing reflections, for exact scientific investigation hardly justifies some of his familiar sayings. Young animals (kittens, for example) do not play so many hours of their day as is commonly supposed, and the busy bee is far