Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/714

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684
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

confess to a strong bias in its favor; we may recollect that discerning men, when the great literary preeminence of Germany is talked of in their presence, have been wont to point with pride to the broad diffusion of pure literary interest through the upper strata of our society, quite independent of any profession or hope of emolument, and challenge one to find the like in foreign lands; and we may judge from such indications as I have spoken of, and doubt if this superiority is as noticeable as ever. Again, we may feel, besides this, that to bring up a boy in ignorance or contempt of reading is, from many points of view, a deplorable error. Non-reading parents, we may think, do not know what it is they are keeping from their son; how they are depriving him of a great safeguard against temptation in his youth, and a lasting resource against weariness in his maturer age. They can not know what it is for harassed minds to be able to turn to literature and find there a refreshment that never fails in the midst of petty worries or heavy affliction, and, not knowing this, they tell him that he can do without reading, as if it were a thing of little worth. All this we may feel, but it is only a matter of opinion; our point of view just now may be thought peculiar; anyhow, we readily admit numberless other methods of awakening in a boy a genuine interest in one, at least, of the multitudinous forms of intellectual life which expand daily around him. There is no excuse for sending a boy to school with a disposition framed for frivolity, with idle instincts to be freshly infused by every holiday-time; whenever it so happens, something has gone wrong which need not have done so, and yet. so it happens in thousands of cases every year. Parents do not do this designedly. It is not easy to realize at once that a boy requires incessant support if he is to overcome his natural antipathy to learning anything, and certainly they have very little idea what are the dangers attendant on an idle school career. Anyhow, the result is an influx into so many schools of boys bred up to a spirit of inertia, and encouraged hence to nourish it. From this unwise preparatory training the unruly growth of athleticism has sprung.

 
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THE MATAMATA.
By E. SAUVAGE.

PIERRE BARRÈRE, in an essay on the natural history of the equatorial possessions of France, written in 1741, described a tortoise of a singular form which the Indians of Guiana called the raparara. It had, he said, a long, wrinkled neck, from which hung small membranes, ragged or slashed like a fringe; its head was flattened and triangular, and ended in a kind of trunk shaped like a quill--