Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/370

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356
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

simply almost complete loss of time, years passed in wearing out the benches of the school. Of all that is paraded before their minds they retain nothing but a few vague and confused notions; they attend, as idlers, the excursions of their successive professors through all kinds of sciences, and what is overwork for the others is for them only intellectual vagabondage. If all children were overworked, the race would soon be lost. The idle, says M. Guyau, save it physically. On the other hand, unfortunately, they contribute to keep it in intellectual and moral mediocrity, and to give a false direction to public affairs. The advantages of their idleness might have been preserved without suffering its inconveniences if instead of requiring from all so much knowledge, most of which is useless, we had required strictly necessary knowledge and such moderate number of the finer branches as would lift up the mind while interesting it. In this way we could suppress a large number of the idlers without falling into overwork and without depreciating the race under pretense of elevating it. We need not concern ourselves about the number of things a child knows, but about the way he knows and has learned them, and about the general vigor he derives from his exercises, which alone gives a net profit to the species. How does the earth recreate itself? In the sun, the air, and the rain, by the free action of forces which work upon it incessantly. Quiet on the surface, it works and buds beneath. So with the mind. We should at certain times let Nature act, and not interrupt the unconscious and spontaneous work of organization that is going on in the depth of the brain, as we let the force which is germinating grass and oaks work in the depth of the soil, in solitude.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.

 


 
Prof. W. Flinders Petrie is quoted as having said that the Egypt of the early monuments was a mere strip a few miles wide of green, amid boundless deserts, and beneath a sky of the greatest brilliancy; a land of extreme contrasts of light and shadow, of life and death. These conditions were reflected in the art. On the one hand was the most massive and overwhelming construction, and on the other, the most delicate and detailed reliefs; on the one hand, the most sublime and solid statuary; on the other, the course and accidents of daily life freely treated; on the one hand, masses of smooth buildings that far outdo the native hills on which they stand, gaunt and bare; and on the other, the vivid and rich coloring in the interiors. In consequence of the climate also Egypt is a land of great simplicity of life, and simplicity is the characteristic of the oldest Egyptian buildings.

From the ages of persons who have died in France during the last thirty-two years, M. Turquan computes that the average length of life in that country has been about thirty-eight years for women, thirty-six years for men, and thirtyseven years for the whole. This is now exceeded, and the average has risen to more than forty years.