Page images
[ocr errors]

much importance as physical training. When we can show good results from physical training, it will press its own way forward. I should never employ as a teacher of physical culture one who could not in himself exemplify the good results of the work. A lady who will complain of fatigue if she has to ascend the stairs two or three times a day, certainly is out of place as a teacher of physical culture. Exercises ought to be properly adjusted to the physical condition of the pupil. They certainly ought not to be carried to excess; the safety-valve must be applied. The selection of exercises from the different systems will depend somewhat on the objects you want to attain. While I believe that there are many physical exercises which are as well adapted to the girls as to the boys, I do not believe that (o-education in this regard can be carried out to the fullest extent. The boys should take some exercises that the girls cannot—and vice versa, probably; and great care should be used in selecting exercises for the different sexes. It may be a little old-fashioned for me to say that, while welcoming women to all professions (and I think they can do good work in a great many of them), while rejoicing with them over the gaining of suffrage in this and other states, and while holding that all opportunities of education ought to be open to them that are open to men, I still believe that the spheres of women and of men are not exactly the same; that if they were to fulfill the same functions, Almighty God, in his wisdom, would have found some way of making them the same, and that, if we make, or attempt to make, men out of women, the latter will soon becomie what they are not now, the weaker sex. I believe that it would be a misfortune, if, by. physical or mental education, we should take the femininity out of woman, and neglect or extinguish that grandest, most sacred of all instincts, the instinct of motherhood, upon which not only the welfare but the very existence of the nation depends.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to give way to Mr. Schmitt, who will bring before you a class, or several classes, from the schools of Denver, to show what can be done in the schools in the way of physical culture. It will not be possible, on account of the briefness of time, to show the methods used in teaching; we can show you only the results. He will also present some members of a Turner society under his instruction, in order to show you what can be done in the way of training the body by men who are not professionals, but follow the ordinary walks of life in different callings. I hope to see the time come when every school will be furnished with a gymnasium, which will enable our boys, especially, to go through the exercises which these gentlemen will exhibit to you. I thank you for your kind attention.




The student of history is struck with the complexity of modern thought. From the dawn of philosophy to the great revival of learning, the lines of development are comparatively simple and direct. During that period one may trace, step by step, the evolution of the main problems of thought and action, and discover readily how the theories of the seers stood the test of application by the men of deeds. At Athens, during the great fifth century, the inner life was the chief part of life itself. In that age of the world life was simple; and often, because of its refinement and independence, more reflective than with us. Men's ideals were more sharply defined and more easily realized. They did not doubt that the world existed for them and their enjoyment. Even that advanced stage of human culture of which Dante is the immortal exponent, believed, as Mr. John Fiske says,* that “this earth, the fair home of man, was placed in the center of a universe wherein all things were ordained for his sole behoof; the sun to give him light and warmth, the stars in their courses to preside over his strangely checkered destinies, the winds to blow, the floods to rise, or the fiend of pestilence to stalk abroad over the landall for the blessing, or the warning, or the chiding, of the chief an ong God's creatures, Man.” With such a conception as this, theory and practice could be closely related. In the ancient world it was not usual to find the thought of the disciple guided implicitly by the maxim of the master. Ivūste geautóv and Nil admirari were preached by the early philosophers in the confident belief that they could be practiced by him who would.

In these modern days all this is changed. Man has come to doubt, not only his supremacy in the universe, but even his importance. He finds that, far from dwelling at the center of things, he is but “the denizen of an obscure and tiny speck of cosmical matter quite invisible among the innumerable throng of flaming suns that make up our galaxy.” A host of new knowledges has appealed to human sympathy and interest, and has taxed them to the utmost. Galileo with his telescope has revealed to us the infinitely great, and the compound microscope of Jansen has created, as out of nothing, the world of the infinitely small. Within a generation or two biology has been created, and physics, chemistry, and geology have been born again. The first wave of astonishment and delight at these great revelations has been succeeded by one of perplexity and doubt in the presence of the wholly new problems that they raise. The old self-assurance is lost. Men first stumble, blinded by the new and unaccustomed light, and then despair. The age of the faith and assured conviction of Aquinas was followed by the bold and cynical skepticism of Montaigne; and this in turn—for skepticism has never afforded a resting. place for the human spirit for more than a moment-has yielded to the philosophy of disenchantment and despair of a Schopenhauer and the morbidly acute and unsatisfying self-analysis of an Amiel. Already it is proclaimed by Nordau and his school that we are in an age of decadence, and that many of our contemporary interpreters of life and thought-Wagner, Tolstoi, Ibsen, Zola, the pre-Raphaelites —are fit subjects for an insane asylum. Mankind is divided into warring camps, and while electricity and steam have bound the nations of the earth together, questions of knowledge and of belief have split up every nation into sects. From all this tumult it is difficult to catch the sound of the dominant note. Each suggested interpretation seems to lead us further into the tangled maze, where we cannot see the wood for the trees. Standards of truth are more definite than ever before, but standards of worth are strangely confused, and at times even their existence is denied.

*"The Destiny of Man." (Boston, 1893, p. 12.)

Amid all this confusion, however, a light has been growing steadily brighter for those who have eyes to see. In our own century two great masters of thought have come forward, offering, like Ariadne of old, to place in our hands the guiding thread that shall lead us through the labyrinth—the German Hegel and the Englishman Herbert Spencer. And as the century closes, amid the din of other and lesser voices we seem to hear the deeper tones of these two interpreters swelling forth as representative of the best and most earnest endeavors, from two totally different points of view, of our human seekers after light. Each has taken the whole of knowledge for his province, each has spread out before us a connected view of man and his environment, and each would

assert Eternal Providence
And justify the ways of God to men.

These great teachers typify the catholicity and the scientific method that are so characteristic of the best expressions of our modern civilization. Whatever of insight we have gained into history, into phi.

losophy, into art, and into nature, they have incorporated in their systematic thinking and have endeavored to illumine with the light of their controlling principles. Hegel, schooled in the teachings of Kant and Fichte, and coming early to an appreciation of the seedthought of Plato and Aristotle, Bruno and Spinoza, has taught us in unmistakable language that independent, self-active being is the father of all things. Spencer, feeling the thrill of that unity which makes the cosmos one, and receiving from Lamarck and von Baer the hint that led him to see that the life of the individual furnishes the clue to the understanding of the life of the aggregate, whether natural or social, has formulated into a single and irrefutable law of progress the terms of that development, or evolution, which has been more or less dimly before the mind of man since thought began. The German with his principle of self-activity, and the Englishman with his law of evolution, offer us a foothold for our knowledge and our faith, and assure us that it will safely support them. From the one we learn the eternal reasonableness of all that is or can be, while the other teaches us the character of the process by which the visible universe, that every day presents new wonders to our gaze, has been builded out of the primeval star-dust. At their hands the two sublime and awe-inspiring verities of Kant—the starry heavens above and the moral law within find their places in the life of the Spirit, and together testify to its eternity and its beauty.

Despite the fact that our age is one of unexampled scientific and industrial progress, yet nothing in all our modern scientific activity is more striking than the undisputed primacy of thought—thought not in antagonism to sense, but interpretative of the data of sense. Idealism, shorn of its crudities and its extravagances, and based on reason rather than on Berkeley's analysis of sense-perception, is conquering the world. What Plato saw, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel have demonstrated. The once-dreaded materialism has lost all its terrors. Science itself has analyzed matter into an aggregate of dynamical systems, and speaks of energy in terms of will. The seemingly inert stone that we grasp in our hand is in reality an aggregate of an infinite number of rapidly-moving centers of energy. Our own will is the only energy of whose direct action we are immediately conscious, and we use our experience of it to explain other manifestations of energy to ourselves. Modern mathematics, that most astounding of intellectual creations, has projected the mind's eye through infinite time and the mind's hand into boundless space. The very instants of the beginnings of the sun's eclipses are predicted for centuries and wons to come. Sirius, so distant that the light from its surface, traveling at a rate of speed that vies with the lightning, requires more than eight and one-half years to reach us, is weighed and its constituents are counted almost as accurately as are the bones of our bodies. Yet in 1842 Comte declared that it was forever impossible to hope to determine the chemical composition or the mineralogical structure of the stars. An unexpected aberration in the motions of Uranus foretold the existence of an undiscovered planet at a given spot in the sky, and the telescope of Galle, turned to that precise point, revealed to the astonished senses what was certain to thought. A discrepancy in the weight of nitrogen extracted from the air we breathe but yesterday led Lord Rayleigh, by an inexorable logic, to the discovery of a new atmospheric constituent, argon. The analytical geometry of Descartes and the calculus of Newton and Leibniz have expanded into the marvelous mathematical methodreore daring in its speculations than anything that the history of philosophy records-of Lobachevsky and Riemann, Gauss and Sylvester. Indeed, mathematics, the indispensable tool of the sciences, defying the senses to follow its splendid flights, is demonstrating to-day, as it has ever been demonstrated before, the supremacy of the Pure Reason. The great Cayley—who has been given the proud title of the Darwin of the English school of mathematicians-said a few years ago: *“I would myself say that the purely imaginary objects are the only realities, the otws ovta in regard to which the corresponding physical objects are as the shadows in the cave; and it is only by means of them that we are able to deny the existence of a corresponding physical object; and if there is no conception of straightness, then it is meaningless to deny the conception of a perfectly straight line.” The physicist, also, is coming to see that his principle of the conservation of energy in its various manifestations, is a new and startling proof of the fundamental philosophical principle of self-activity. Energy manifests itself as motion, heat, light, electricity, chemical action, sound. Each form of its manifestation is transmutable into others. The self-active cycle is complete.

But it is not from the domain of natural science alone that illustrations of the all-conquering power of thought can be drawn. The genius of Champollion has called to life the thoughts and deeds of Amenotep and Rameses, and what appeared to sense as rude decorative sketches on the walls of temple and of tomb are seen by the understanding to be the recorded history of a great civilization in the valley of the Nile. The inscrutable Sphinx, that watchdog of the Pyramids, "unchangeable in the midst of change," which sat facing the coming dawn for centuries before the storied siege of Troy, now looks down on modern men who write the very words of its builders in the language of Shakespeare and of Milton. The cries of savage

*Presidential Address, British Association for the Advancement of Science, Southport, 1883.

« PreviousContinue »