Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/592

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age, we are admiring physical superiorities and those superiorities of mental faculty which give fitness for dealing with emergencies, we are also taught that, unless we rank highest the bodily powers and those powers which directly conduce to self-preservation, we cannot say that courage is the highest attribute, and that the degree of it should be our standard of honor.

That an over-estimate of courage is appropriate to our phase of civilization may be very true. It is beyond doubt that, during the struggle for existence among nations, it is needful that men should admire extremely the quality without which there can be no success in the struggle. While, among neighboring nations, we have one in which all the males are trained for war—while the sentiment of this nation is such that students slash one another's faces in duels about trifles, and are admired for their scars, especially by women—while the military ascendency it tolerates is such that, for ill-usage by soldiers, ordinary citizens have no adequate redress—while the government is such that, though the monarch as head of the Church condemns duelling as irreligious, and as head of the Law forbids it as a crime, yet as head of the army he insists on it to the extent of expelling officers who will not fight duels—while, I say, we have a neighboring nation thus characterized, something of a kindred character in appliances, sentiments, and beliefs, has to be maintained among ourselves. When we find another neighboring nation believing that no motive is so high as the love of glory, and no glory so great as that gained by successful war—when we perceive the military spirit so pervading this nation that it loves to clothe its children in quasi-military costume—when we find one of its historians writing that the French army is the great civilizer, and one of its generals lately saying that the army is the soul of France—when we see that the vital energies of this nation run mainly to teeth and claws, and that it quickly grows new sets of teeth and claws in place of those pulled out; it is needful that we, too, should keep our teeth and claws in order, and should maintain ideas and feelings adapted to the effectual use of them. There is no gainsaying the truth that, while the predatory instincts continue prompting nations to rob one another, destructive agencies must be met by antagonist destructive agencies; and, that this may be done, honor must be given to the men who act as destructive agents, and there must be an exaggerated estimate of the attributes which make them efficient.

It may be very needful, therefore, that our boys should be accustomed to harsh treatment, giving and receiving brutal punishments without too nice a consideration of their justice. It may be that, as the Spartans and as the North-American Indians, in preparation for warfare, subjected their young men to tortures, so should we; and thus, perhaps, the "education of a gentleman" may properly include giving and receiving "hacking" of the shins at football: boot-toes