Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/151

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139
THE AGE OF GYMNASTICS.

the moment when the νικηφορια—the shout of victory—was echoed by a million voices, and an assembled nation rose to hail the victor in the presence of his relations and friends! Men whose hearts were stirred by such scenes had no need of buying inspiration at the gin-shop. The Turnverein is yet but in its egg, and competitive gymnastics has yet to take rank again as the noblest, the happiest, and the most popular, of all our national pursuits.

We have emerged from the aphanasia of the middle ages, that fearful eclipse of reason and happiness that followed like an unnatural night upon the bright sunrise of Grecian civilization, and the spiritual lethargy of that night has been shaken off by all that deserve the name of men; how is it, then, that so much of its physical torpor still remains behind? Have we really forgotten that God is the creator of our bodies as well as of our souls? Our limbs seem to have been paralyzed by long disuse; the gates of our hierarchical Bastile have been forced, but the great majority of the prisoners seem in no hurry to leave their cells. Though freed from Jesuitical control, our educational system is still not only unnatural but anti-natural to such a degree that we think it our duty to suppress the healthiest instincts of our children and keep them in the beaten track which has led us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of dogmatism, till we have almost forgotten that there is a brighter light and purer air outside.

Yet there is hope. The spirit of our Nature-loving ancestors will assert itself before long, and the inhabitants of Greater Britain will return from the languid repose of the Hebrew heaven to the healthier pastimes of the Anglo-Saxon Walhalla. The Germans, too, are seeing the dawn of a long hoped-for morning, and the prophetic words of their philosophical Messiah are beginning to be fulfilled. "The spiritual juggler-guild," says Gotthold Lessing, "who derive their revenues from the supernatural dogmas of the three Semitic religions, have found it to their advantage to divert our attention from the natural laws of God, but those laws cannot be outraged with impunity. I foresee a physical reformation, and its advent-sermons will be preached before long."

 
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THE GIGANTIC EXTINCT ARMADILLOS AND THEIR PECULIARITIES, WITH A RESTORATION.[1]
By JOHN A. RYDER.

THE general principle that, with increased size, there is an increase in the thickness and strength of the skin and its protective appendages, is in no instance better illustrated than in the extinct and living armadillos; in the former the thickness attained by the bony armor

  1. It is but just to refer to Prof. H. Burmeister's magnificent monograph on these animals in the "Anales del Museo Público" of Buenos Ayres, for 1866-73, from which