Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/411

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psycho-physics and psychology, to which reference has been made. This experimental evidence, having been drawn from observations on the extremes of human capacity and character (exemplified in the young idiot, the adult criminal, and the university student, during the intermediate developmental period), may be accepted as virtually covering the entire ground of human nature in its various phases, and therefore as conclusive of the universal applicability of systematic physical culture in education. The cases cited show that in the processes of mental and moral development the muscles, as well as the purely sensory mechanisms, play a conspicuous part; and, while the period of growth is undoubtedly most favorable to this work. Dr. Wey's experiment shows that even the adult brain and mind may be improved by the various procedures included under the head of physical culture.

That health has an important bearing upon morals is undoubted.[1] Count Tolstoï, through the lips of one of his dramatic impersonations, says, "I must have some physical exercise or my character will entirely spoil";[2] and it is probable that not even the finest examples of human development have attained a height so great, either intellectual or moral, as to be beyond betterment by these means. Descartes testified to the importance of attention to the physical nature in saying, "If it be possible to perfect the human race, it is in medicine that we must seek the means"—employing the term "medicine" in its broad sense as a science devoted to the care of the body. The curative value of physical exercise has long been recognized. Boerhaave said that most of our fashionable diseases might be cured mechanically instead of chemically, by climbing a bitter-wood tree or by chopping it down, rather than by swallowing a disgusting decoction of its leaves and bark, Asclepiades was accustomed to prescribing a course of gymnastics for nearly every form of bodily ailment, Tolstoï also proposes to enrich medicine with a new term, "labor-cure," as a sovereign specific for nervous affections.Loc. cit.

We have found that activity is in itself an end. The excitement which attends voluntary muscular exercise is a natural stimulant in which all can afford to indulge, since, unlike the artificial stimulants, it adds to the stock by promoting the nutrition of the entire body. Voluntary exercise also tends to develop the general power of volition (including that of self-restraint), which, as we have seen, first appears on the stage of animal life in connection with movements.

But emotions and thoughts as well as movements may be inhibited and brought under control; and it is in this region of

  1. See author's article, "Hygiene as a Basis of Morals," "Popular Science Monthly," May, 1887.
  2. See "Anna Karenina."