« AnkstesnisTęsti »
tion to educating the bodies of their small subjects, if they can only be as well paid for it as for educating their intellects. But, until recently, they have never been allowed to put the bodies into the bill. And as charity begins at home, even in a physiological sense,—and as their own children's bodies required bread and butter, they naturally postponed all regard for the physical education of their pupils until the thing acquired a marketable value. Now that the change is taking place, every schoolmaster in the land gladly adapts himself to it, and hastens to insert in his advertisement, "Especial attention given to physical education." But what good does this do, so long as parents are not willing that time enough should be deducted from the ordinary tasks to make the athletic apparatus available, so long as it is regarded as a merit in pupils to take time from their plays and give it to extra studies, - so long as we exult over an inactive and studious child, as Dr. Beattie did over his, that "exploits of strength, dexterity, and speed" "to him no vanity or joy could bring," and then almost die of despair, like Dr. Beattie, because such a child dies before us? With girls it is far worse. “Girls, during childhood, are liable to no diseases distinct from those of boys," says Salzmann, "except the disease of education." What mother in decent society, I ask you, who is not delighted to have her little girl devote even Wednesday and Saturday afternoons to additional tasks in drawing or music, rather than run the risk of having her make a noise somewhere, or possibly even soil her dress? Papa himself will far more readily appropriate ten dollars to this additional confinement than five to the gymnasium or the riding-school. And so, beset with snares on every hand, the poor little well-educated thing can only pray the prayer recorded of a despairing child, brought up in the best society, that she might "die and go to heaven and play with the Irish children on Saturday afternoons."
with the week-day seminaries in the pious work of destruction. Dolorosus, are all your small neighbors hard at work in committing to memory Scripture texts for I have an impression, however, that they call it a prize,-consisting of one Bible? In my circle of society the excitement runs high. At any teadrinking, you may hear the ladies discussing the comparative points and prospects of their various little Ellens and Harriets, with shrill eagerness; while their husbands, on the other side of the room, are debating the merits of Ethan Allen and Flora Temple, the famous trottinghorses, who are soon expected to try their speed on our Agricultural Ground.” Each horse, and each girl, appears to have enthusiastic backers, though the Sunday-School excitement has the advantage of lasting longer. From inquiry, I find the state of the field to be about as follows:- Fanny Hastings, who won the prize last year, is not to be entered for it again; she damaged her memory by the process, her teacher tells me, so that she can now scarcely fix the simplest lesson in her mind. Carry Blake had got up to five thousand verses, but had such terrible headaches that her mother compelled her to stop, some weeks ago; the texts have all vanished from her brain, but the headache unfortunately still lingers. Nelly Sanborn has reached six thousand, although her anxious father long since tried to buy her off by offering her a new Bible twice as handsome as the prize one: but what did she care for that? she said; she had handsome Bibles already, but she had no intention of being beaten by Ella Prentiss. Poor child, we see no chance for her; for Ella has it all her own way; she has made up a score of seven thousand one hundred texts, and it is only three days to the fatal Sunday. Between ourselves, I think Nelly does her work more fairly; for Ella has a marvellous ingenuity in picking out easy verses, like Jack Horner's plums, and valuing every sacred sentence, not by its subject, but by its And the Sunday Schools coöperate shortness. Still, she is bound to win.
"How is her health this summer?" I asked her mother, the other day.
"Well, her verses weigh on her," said the good woman, solemnly.
And here I pledge you my word, Dolorosus, that to every one of these statements I might append, as Miss Edgeworth does to every particularly tough story,—“ N. B. This is a fact." I will only add that our Sunday-School Superintendent, who is a physician, told me that he had as strong objections to the whole thing as I could have; but that it was no use talking; all the other schools did it, and ours must; emulation was the order of the day. "Besides," he added, with that sort of cheerful hopelessness peculiar to his profession," the boys are not trying for the prize much, this year; and as for the girls, they would probably lose their health very soon, at any rate, and may as well devote it to a sacred
Do not misunderstand me. The supposed object in this case is a good one, just as the object in week-day schools is a good one, to communicate valuable knowledge and develop the powers of the mind. The defect in policy, in both cases, appears to be, that it totally defeats its own aim, renders the employments hateful that should be delightful, and sacrifices the whole powers, so far as its influence goes, without any equivalent. All excess defeats itself. As a grown man can work more in ten hours than in fifteen, taking a series of days together, so a child can make more substantial mental progress in five hours daily than in ten. Your child's mind is not an earthen jar, to be filled by pouring into it; it is a delicate plant, to be wisely and healthfully reared; and your wife might as well attempt to enrich her mignonette-bed by laying a Greek Lexicon upon it as try to cultivate that young nature by a topdressing of Encyclopædias. I use the word on high authority. "Courage, my boy!" wrote Lord Chatham to his son, "only the Encyclopædia to learn!”and the cruel diseases of a lifetime repaid Pitt for the forcing. I do not object to
the severest quality of study for boys or girls; while their brains work, let them work in earnest. But I do object to this immoderate and terrific quantity. Cut down every school, public and private, to five hours' total work per diem for the oldest children, and four for the younger ones, and they will accomplish more in the end than you ever saw them do in six or seven. Only give little enough at a time, and some freshness to do it with, and you may, if you like, send Angelina to any school, and put her through the whole programme of the last educational prospectus sent to me," Philology, Pantology, Orthology, Aristology, and Linguistics.”
For what is the end to be desired? Is it to exhibit a prodigy, or to rear a noble and symmetrical specimen of a human being? Because Socrates taught that a boy who has learned to speak is not too small for the sciences,- because Tiberius delivered his father's funeral oration at the age of nine, and Marcus Aurelius put on the philosophic gown at twelve, and Cicero wrote a treatise on the art of speaking at thirteen,--because Lipsius is said to have composed a work the day he was born, meaning, say the commentators, that he began a new life at the age of ten, because the learned Licetus, who was brought into the world so feeble as to be baked up to maturity in an oven, sent forth from that receptacle, like a loaf of bread, a treatise called "Gonopsychanthropologia,"-is it, therefore, indispensably necessary, Dolorosus, that all your pale little offspring shall imitate these? Spare these innocents! it is not their fault that they are your children, — so do not visit it upon them so severely. Turn, Angelina, ever dear, and out of a little childish recreation we will yet extract a great deal of maturer wisdom for you, if we can only bring this deluded parent to his senses.
To change the sweet privilege of childhood into weary days and restless nights,
the heaven of their infancy,-to banish those reveries of innocent fancy which even noisy boyhood knows, and which are the appointed guardians of its purity before conscience wakes,—to abolish its moments of priceless idleness, saturated with sunshine, blissful, aimless moments, when every angel is near,-to bring insanity, once the terrible prerogative of maturer life, down into the summer region of childhood, with blight and ruin; -all this is the work of our folly, Dolorosus, of our miserable ambition to have our unconscious little ones begin, in their very infancy, the race of desperate ambition, which has, we admit, exhausted prematurely the lives of their parents.
The worst danger of it is, that the moral is written at the end of the fable, not the beginning. The organization in youth is so dangerously elastic, that the result of these intellectual excesses is not seen until years after. When some young girl incurs spinal disease for life from some slight fall which she ought not to have felt for an hour, or some businessman breaks down in the prime of his years from some trifling over-anxiety which should have left no trace behind, the popular verdict may be, "Mysterious Providence"; but the wiser observer sees the retribution for the folly of those misspent days which enfeebled the childish constitution, instead of ripening it. One of the most admirable passages in the Report of Dr. Ray, already mentioned, is that in which he explains, that, though hard study at school is rarely the immediate cause of insanity, it is the most frequent of its ulterior causes, except hereditary tendencies. "It diminishes the conservative power of the animal economy to such a degree, that attacks of disease, which otherwise would have passed off safely, destroy life almost before danger is anticipated. Every intelligent physician understands, that, other things being equal, the chances of recovery are far less in the studious, highly intellectual child than in one of an opposite description. The immediate mischief may have seemed slight, but the brain is left in a
condition of peculiar impressibility, which renders it morbidly sensitive to every adverse influence."
Indeed, here is precisely the weakness of our whole national training thus far,brilliant immediate results, instead of wise delays. The life of the average American is a very hasty breakfast, a magnificent luncheon, a dyspeptic dinner, and no supper. Our masculine energy is like our feminine beauty, bright and evanescent. As enthusiastic travellers inform us that there are in every American village a dozen girls of sixteen who are prettier than any English hamlet of the same size can produce, so the same village undoubtedly possesses a dozen very young men who, tried by the same standard, are "smarter" than their English peers. Come again fifteen years after, when the Englishmen and English women are reported to be just in their prime, and, lo! those lovely girls are sallow old women, and the boys are worn-out men,
-with fire left in them, it may be, but fuel gone,-retired from active business, very likely, and just waiting for consumption to carry them off, as one waits for the omnibus.
To say that this should be amended is to say little. Either it must be amended, or the American race fails; there is no middle ground. If we fail, (which I do not expect, I assure you,) we fail disastrously. If we succeed, if we bring up our vital and muscular developments into due proportion with our nervous energy, we shall have a race of men and women such as the world never saw. Dolorosus, when in the course of human events you are next invited to give a Fourth of July Oration, grasp at the opportunity, and take for your subject "Health." Tell your audience, when you rise to the accustomed flowers of rhetoric as the day wears on, that Health is the central luminary, of which all the stars that spangle the proud flag of our common country are but satellites; and close with a hint to the plumed emblem of our nation, (pointing to the stuffed one which will probably be exhibited on the platform,)
that she should not henceforward confine her energies to the hatching of short-lived eaglets, but endeavor rather to educate a few full-grown birds.
As I take it, Nature said, some years since, "Thus far the English is my best race; but we have had Englishmen enough; now for another turning of the globe, and a step farther. We need something with a little more buoyancy than the Englishman; let us lighten the ship, even at the risk of a little peril in the process. Put in one drop more of nervous fluid and make the American." With that drop, a new range of promise opened on the human race, and a lighter, finer, more highly organized type of man
kind was born. But the promise must be fulfilled through unequalled dangers. With the new drop came new intoxication, new ardors, passions, ambitions, hopes, reactions, and despairs,-more daring, more invention, more disease, more insanity,-forgetfulness, at first, of the old, wholesome traditions of living, recklessness of sin and saleratus, loss of refreshing sleep and of the power of play. To surmount all this, we have got to fight the good fight, I assure you, Dolorosus. Nature is yet pledged to produce that finer type, and if we miss it, she will leave us to decay, like our predecessors, the globe over once more, and choose a new place for a new experiment.
MY DOUBLE; AND HOW HE UNDID ME.
Ir is not often that I trouble the readers of the "Atlantic Monthly." I should not trouble them now, but for the importunities of my wife, who "feels to insist" that a duty to society is unfulfilled, till I have told why I had to have a double, and how he undid me. She is sure, she says, that intelligent persons cannot understand that pressure upon public servants which alone drives any man into the employment of a double. And while I fear she thinks, at the bottom of her heart, that my fortunes will never be remade, she has a faint hope, that, as another Rasselas, I may teach a lesson to future publics, from which they may profit, though we die. Owing to the behaviour of my double, or, if you please, to that public pressure which compelled me to employ him, I have plenty of leisure to write this communication.
I am, or rather was, a minister, of the Sandemanian connection. I was settled in the active, wide-awake town of Naguadavick, on one of the finest water-powers in Maine. We used to call it a Western town in the heart of the civilization of
New England. A charming place it was and is. A spirited, brave young parish had I; and it seemed as if we might have all "the joy of eventful living" to our hearts' content.
Alas! how little we knew on the day of my ordination, and in those halcyon moments of our first housekeeping! To be the confidential friend in a hundred families in the town,-cutting the social trifle, as my friend Haliburton says, "from the top of the whipped-syllabub to the bottom of the sponge-cake, which is the foundation,"-to keep abreast of the thought of the age in one's study, and to do one's best on Sunday to interweave that thought with the active life of an active town, and to inspirit both and make both infinite by glimpses of the Eternal Glory, seemed such an exquisite forelook into one's life! Enough to do, and all so real and so grand! If this vision could only have lasted!
The truth is, that this vision was not in itself a delusion, nor, indeed, half bright enough. If one could only have been left to do his own business, the vision would
have accomplished itself and brought out new paraheliacal visions, each as bright as the original. The misery was and is, as we found out, I and Polly, before long, that, besides the vision, and besides the usual human and finite failures in life, (such as breaking the old pitcher that came over in the "Mayflower," and putting into the fire the Alpenstock with which her father climbed Mont Blanc,) -besides these, I say, (imitating the style of Robinson Crusoe,) there were pitchforked in on us a great rowen-heap of humbugs, handed down from some unknown seed-time, in which we were expected, and I chiefly, to fulfil certain public functions before the community, of the character of those fulfilled by the third row of supernumeraries who stand behind the Sepoys in the spectacle of the "Cataract of the Ganges." They were the duties, in a word, which one performs as member of one or another social class or subdivision, wholly distinct from what one does as A. by himself A. What invisible power put these functions on me, it would be very hard to tell. But such power there was and is. (And I had not been at work a year before I found I was living two lives, one real and one merely functional,-for two sets of people, one my parish, whom I loved, and the other a vague public, for whom I did not care two straws.) All this was in a vague notion, which everybody had and has, that this second life would eventually bring out some great results, unknown at present, to somebody somewhere.
Crazed by this duality of life, I first read Dr. Wigan on the "Duality of the Brain," hoping that I could train one side of my head to do these outside jobs, and the other to do my intimate and real duties. For Richard Greenough once told me, that, in studying for the statue of Franklin, he found that the left side of the great man's face was philosophic and reflective, and the right side funny and smiling. If you will go and look at the bronze statue, you will find he has repeated this observation there for pos
terity. The eastern profile is the portrait of the statesman Franklin, the western of Poor Richard. But Dr. Wigan does not go into these niceties of this subject, and I failed. It was then, that, on my wife's suggestion, I resolved to look out for a Double.
I was, at first, singularly successful. We happened to be recreating at Stafford Springs that summer. We rode out one day, for one of the relaxations of that watering-place, to the great Monsonpon House. We were passing through one of the large halls, when my destiny was fulfilled! I saw my man!
He was not shaven. He had on no spectacles. He was dressed in a green baize roundabout and faded blue overalls, worn sadly at the knee. But I saw at once that he was of my height, five feet four and a half. He had black hair, worn off by his hat. So have and have not I. He stooped in walking. So do I. His hands were large, and mine. And
choicest gift of Fate in all he had, not "a strawberry-mark on his left arm," but a cut from a juvenile brickbat over his right eye, slightly affecting the play of that eyebrow. Reader, so have I!— My fate was sealed!
A word with Mr. Holley, one of the inspectors, settled the whole thing. It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was at that moment ironing in the laundry. Before I left Stafford, I had hired both for five years. We had applied to Judge Pynchon, then the probate judge at Springfield, to change the name of Dennis Shea to Frederic Ingham. We had explained to the Judge, what was the precise truth, that an eccentric gentleman wished to adopt Dennis under this new name into his family. It never occurred to him that Dennis might be more than fourteen years old. And thus, to shorten this preface, when we returned at night to my parsonage at Naguadavick, there entered Mrs. Ingham, her new dumb laundress, myself, who am Mr. Frederic Ingham,