Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/239

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

subdues the passions, directs the feelings, habituates to reflection, and trains to self-denial—that which refers all actions, feelings, sentiments, tastes, and passions to the love and fear of God." If to this we add that which hardens the muscles, adds to the fat, quickens and makes graceful the movements, hardens the bones, softens the skin, enriches the blood, promotes but does not over-stimulate the bodily functions, quickens and makes accurate the observation, increases the sense of real beauty of all kinds, promotes the cheerfulness, and develops a sense of universal well-being, we should have, in my opinion, the principles on which an educational system should be founded.

George Eliot's Romola was in a sense a learned woman, brought up in the midst of books, and in the atmosphere of culture. Yet she took to love-making, marriage, self-denial, charity, and religion, and deserted her books the moment her duty in them was done. She had no innate love of book-learning; most of what she had acquired seemed to do her little good in her after-life. It was no guide to her in her difficulties, it was no solace to her in disappointments, it was no resource to her when everything else had failed. It had not taken hold of her nature, because it was not on the great lines on which her nature was constituted. She and her father were as much alike as a man and woman can be. Yet to him his books were an occupation and a delight which he loved, to her their study had been a self-denial all through.

We all know what Thackeray's women were, and yet he stands very high as a faithful student and expounder of human nature, as it exists.

When we look at the sort of women again that these great masters of the study of human character made their heroes fall down and worship, we certainly do not find that the schoolmaster had had much to do with the creation of their attractiveness. Hamlet and Ophelia, Adam Bede and Hetty, Deronda and Gwendolen, Lydgate and Rosamond, are the common types of men above the common mold taking to women of the unlearned if not quite uneducated type. The thoughtful and scientific Lydgate said about pretty, shallow Rosamond: "She is grace itself; she is perfectly lovely and accomplished; that is what a woman ought to be: she ought to produce the effect of exquisite music"; while he said about the stately, thoughtful Dorothea, "The society of such women was about as relaxing as going from your work to teach the second form, instead of reclining in a paradise, with sweet laughs for bird-notes and blue eyes for a heaven."

But it may be said all this was wrong, the result of yielding to unaided, unlearned Nature's lowest affinities, and that it turned out badly for those men. If they had mated suitably, the world would have been better, and they themselves would have been happier. But the physiologist will not readily believe that Nature's mental affinities can be wrong, any more than he can believe that the appetite is not