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and the great anatomists of the seventeenth century,—all these are the creations of men who have abjured an easy life, and have more or less sacrificed the dilettante's love of general knowledge and become specialists with an enthusiasm not all unlike that of Simon Stylites or the Trappists, and who really deserve all the honor which Comte sought to bestow upon them by renaming every day thruout the year from such creators of science, as the Catholic calendar had made each day sacred to the name of some saint selected from the many thousands whose lives constitute that great arsenal of virtue, to the further elaboration of which one Catholic sect, the Bollandists, devotes all its work.
II. Just so nature has in all ages been the muse that has inspired every artist in every line of art. Landscapes from Claude Lorrain and Turner down can be painted in a way to bring out the whole meaning only by those who see with the heart. Architecture, which originated in the forest, from trees and the acanthus; sculpture, which still takes its canons from Greek art, which was closest to nature; poetry, which originated in description and narrative; music, which developed from the songs of birds, the noises of the waves and winds and other sounds of nature, all suggest, both by their origin and by their general directive principles, that the best art is that which comes closest to nature, and the best artist is he who remains most natural. No one waxes more eloquent than Ruskin in placing at the head of all creative geniuses those who feel the stars, sky, storms, mountains, flowers, animals, seasons, sunrises and all the varying phenomena of night, day, climate,
Professor Vachon, who has just finished the most comprehensive report, in several quarto volumes, of the condition of art in the various countries in Europe, and the unknown author of one of the most popular books of recent years, "Rembrandt als Erzieher," agree in two conclusions: first, that the best artists are those who conse: ve most completely into maturity and old age the sentiments and ideas of youth at its prime; and, secondly, that most of those who approach the top of the ladder of fame in all lines of art are those who have been inspired by the environment in which the most susceptible years of youth were passed, and who have succeeded in expressing most completely its natural responses to the experiences thus suggested.
III. The same law holds in literature, provided we consider only those lands in which it has had an indigenous origin. The contents and substance of the old Aryan literature, as Max Muller has spent his life in showing, are largely faded metaphors, describing dawn, clouds, storm, lightning, personified, and their common phenonema made into allegories of human life. Hercules and William Tell were, as the world knows, simply solar heroes, as the etymology of their names and their achievements show Diana is the moon, Ahayhu the storm, Vulcan is fire, Jove the sky, etc.
The same is true in early Teutonic literature. Brunhilde, Thor, Hagen, are also nature deities. Early French literature shows us primitive animal tales, like Reynard the fox, said to have had no less than a thousand forms and editions, and to have been wrought over in symbolic form and made into material of warfare in long controversies between Catholics and Protestants. Æsop shows another older cycle of similar origin and purport. Animals are said to reflect human life. Take any collection of totems, stories or comparative study of cosmology, and we find the same rule. Among the earliest products of the Greek mind are the Orphic hymns, some of the best of which we find addressed to night, heaven, ether, echo, earth, sun, stars, clouds, nature, Pan, etc. Read histories of national literature, or of special
departments of them, like Veitsch, Biese, Reynolds, Fischer on the influence of the sea on poetry, and the farther back we go, the more evident and all-dominating is the influence of nature.
IV. Religion. Max Muller estimates that, of three thousand Aryan deities, nearly if not every one were originally nature gods; and I venture the assertion that hardly any common or prominent object or department of nature has not somewhere by some people or person been made an object of supreme worship. The Persians and Baby tonians were star worshippers, and their only priests were astrologists. The sun and moon were highest deities for Socrates, and countless temples have been dedicated to their worship. Even Johanna Ambrosius, that amazing German peasant-poet genius, prays in one of her poems that when she dies she may spend eternity in the moon. Parsees worshipped fire, which Heraclites made the supreme principle, of which religion the Zend Avesta is the Bible. . The East Indians held clouds, storms, weather and lightning to be divine. Many savages worship wafer, which Thales thought the best of all revelations of deity. Not only savages, but half-civilized peoples, have been fetish worshippers, and bow down in religious awe before stone and other inanimate objects used as charms and amulets, as Mr. Condar has shown in his fascinating book, entitled "Heth and Moab." Flower and plant oracles in popular superstition are remnants of a wide religious cult, which associated plants and planets for both medical and sacred uses by the doctrine of signatures. The Druids, as the name indicates, were tree worshippers, and for them as for no otbers the groves were God's first temples. Nearly all the primitive population of America were totem worshippers, and held that beasts and birds were incarnations of great heroes of the past, whose souls had entered their bodies by transmigration. Serpent worship, as Mr. Ferguson bas well proven, at one time spread nearly all over the world. Confucius and the Chinese and many polytheists worship human ancestors or great men, perhaps apotheosized into de migods. Pantheism, the more or less conscious religion of many of the most cultivated minds to-day, is the deification of nature; and we are often told that the unity of mind and faith we call monotheism, the achievement of which was one of the greatest labors of the human soul, could never have been wrought out but for the influence of the allencompassing blue void of heaven, perhaps pierced by some Sinai or other sacred mountain. Həmn books of many faiths have been studied that show us how dominant patural objects and phenomena have been in shaping the religious consciousness of the world, and how inconceivably different all would have been but for the symbolism involved in the score or two of those most favorite,
V. Man is the bright consummate flower of nature. In our growth from childhood or from the earliest prenatal beginning, each of us repeats in his own individual life the entire history of life since it began upon this globe. You and I have practically been plants or protophytes, protozoan, metazoan and all the rest, recapitulating each stage. The human brain, thru which all revelations have come, is the only mouthpiece of the Divine in the world; so that man, who, on the whole, stands at the summit of nature, has not only been the chief subject of interest to himself, according to the well-known dictum of Pope, that the highest study of mankind is man, but philosophers have assured us that we cannot possibly think too highly of ourselves. Human personality is naturally, therefore, our organ of apperceiving deity; and even yet it is regarded in some localities as a little heterodox to even raise the question whether or not God may be something higher than personality, even tho.we agree that he can be nothing lower. This is the standpoint from which all the bases of anthropological studies are made; and, if the burden of the Bibles rolled out of the great heart of nature, as Emerson has told us, far more has man emerged from the same source, and is himself the highest of all revelations. We may say, to parody the old apothegm of the relations between the Old and New Testaments, that in nature man lay concealed and in man nature stands revealed. His existence and his intelligence raise all things to a higher potence, in the sepse in which Schelling was fond of using that term, because he is a microcosm, and to know all that is in man will be to know all that is in his universe.
From these rough and brief characterizations we may see that, in the larger sense of that mighty word, in nature about all human interests are involved, and that the love and study of it might almost be made the supreme duty and end of human existence.
Let us now pass to a very different part of our theme, and show how, in its early stages, the development of childhood passes thru all these stages of love and interest. We have collected many hundreds of cases where children gather stones, knots, bits of metal, pottery, wood, bone, shells, leather, rags and scores of other inanimate things, endow them with a rudimentary kind of sensation, keep smooth, bright or pretty colored stones in cotton, try to keep them warm, carry them in their pocket or otherwise about their person, and even talk or invent experiences or myths about them, and are essentially fetish worshippers in all that that term implies. We may have done thus more or less in our early years; but memory rarely preserves traces of these experiences, which, indeed, have to be scored away to make room for higher and larger mental content. This is going on often with our own children or those about us, unnoticed by even the fondest parents; and is, indeed, concealed by most children in civilized lands, who are early haunted by the dim presentiment of a future standpoint. Again, we have a large collection of spontaneous conversations with or invocations of prayers to the sun, particularly to the moon, by American children, who illustrate the once widespread astrological consciousness. Many see the faces of just dead friends, parents, God, the Virgin Mary, Christ, etc., in the moon. They often make it an external conscience, believing that it recedes further into the sky or grows either small or dim when they are bad, it is repelled, ashamed, hiding behind clouds for shame, or tearful of their wrong-doings, or comes nearer, getting larger, brighter if they are good, and in rare cases even speaking commendations of their acts. So, too, flowers have a language all their own. The rose speaks of love, the violet of modesty, the lily of kingly beauty, the poppy of sleep, the ladies' slipper, honeysuckle, dewdrop, harebell, tulip, marigold, dandelion, hollyhock, jessamine, hyacinth, clover, buttercup, daisy, -all suggest at least, if we turn to their etymologies, how warm and close about the human heart flowers have always lain. They have moral qualities, and illustrate psychological characteristics, brighten the earth and therefore the heart of man. Their fragrance suggests incense, the miracle of their relations to birds and insects, and their perfumes are the creators of special sentiments, and the best of all language of some and reflections of others. The seer who plucked the flower from the crannied wall realized that, could he but know what it was, root and all, leaf and all, he would know what God and man
While the human clodhopper is he for whom, as for Peter Bell, the cowslip
by the river's brim, a yellow cowslip is to him, and it is nothing more. The great kindergarten apostle lay one day, he knew not how long, gazing into the calyx of a yellow flower with black spots, and arose from his hypnotism by it a new man. Flower lore reflects all this childish stage, and teaches us how to begin instruction in this field, rather than, as is often done, to dull the apprehension and spontaneous childish interest by the technical methods and names of adult botany. For the child the trees literally talk, as their leaves murmur in the wind. They hear and repeat the words by which they call the birds to alight to them, eat their fruit, build their nests in them, sing, scold, invite them to climb to their branches, etc. It is painfully cruel to trim trees or shrubs, and often punishment to flowers to pluck them, and murder to pull them up. All this animism is a placenta by which nascent interest in nature is nourished and stimulated to grow toward maturity. great care to furnish abundant pabulum in this direction should be taken, interference is mutilation of the budding soul.
So, too, with animals. The child's soul sees no chasm between pets and other human beings. The dog, cat, horse, and often all the rest of the animals within its ken, perceive, feel and think as the child does; are responsive to all its intentions and endeavors, and speak a language essentially different, but sometimes with plenty of human words in it; bave souls that go to the animal if not to the human heaven; are perhaps even more companionable than parents or playmates; love, hate, fear, feel revenge, are good or naughty, quick or stupid to learn or understand, tired like the doll when the child is tired, eat, sleep and walk like and sometimes with their little human owners or companions, love to be dressed, to be carried to ride, to have their toilets carefully made, to be decorated with ornaments, etc. Indeed, we might almost define the animal world as consisting of human qualities broken up and widely, scattered thruout nature, and having their highest utility in teaching the child psychology by a true pedagogical method. The pig, to a child who knows its habits and what piggishness means, is a symbol of impetuous greed and gross selfishness not only in eating, but also in other matters of filth and untidiness, which gives the child with this familiarity a better conception and a truer reaction to all that these qualities mean in the world of man. To say, of a woman, She is a butterfly or a peacock, describes traits which it would take a whole chapter to explain to one who was not familiar with these forms of animal life. In the same way, the goose, the fox, the eel, the lion, bulls and bears, the eagle, the dove, the jay, the cuckoo, the hawk, the pelican, the crow, the serpent, the gazelle, the cormorant, the badger, wolf, tiger, elephant, alligator, fish, chrysalis and its metamorphoses, the bee, ant, wasp, the sloth, insect, the ape, hibernation, migration, nest-building and scores of others are psychological categories or qualities, embodied and exaggerated so that we see them writ large and taught object-lesson-wise to those who live at a stage when character is being moulded and influenced pro or con in each of these directions.
We might add a long list of more or less mythic animals or popular misconceptions of animal traits. The leviathan, the phoenix, the albatross, the tadpole, the frog, the centaur, the children's fancy in creating impossible new animals, is almost as fecund as nature herself. Therefore we plead for menageries, for collections of animals in every public park, pets, a familiarity with stables, school museums of stuffed specimens, the flora and fauna of the neighborhood in every school-house, to say nothing of instruction in every school concerning insects, birds and animals
which are noxious, and those which are helpful to vegetation, fruit and agriculture generally. The story of the gypsy moth; the phylloxera; the caterpillar; the tobacco worm; the life-history and habits of other parasites in the bark or on the leaf, in seed or pulp; ihe marvellous habits of the botfly; the angle worm, thru whose body all our vegetable mould has so often passed; the common house fly, with its interesting and less ephemeral story than we would have thought; the grub; the wire worm; moth and bat; the food fishes; weeds; sorghum; ginseng; grasses; potato beetle; hemp; peach-tree borer; the apple aphis; the tent makers; and many other fascinating living creatures which have been so carefully studied of late in our agricultural colleges,have a moral as well as a scientific interest to childhood, and make a kind of knowledge which has an educational to say nothing of an economic value, and which must be ranked as one of the very highest.
Again, geology is one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind. It gives in outline, altho with many gaps, the development-history of the world in which we live; and its educational value, not only from the importance of its body of facts, but as logical discipline, is perhaps second to no science. But mineralogy, with its technical nomerclature and detailed study of the forms of crystals, and especially petrography, while perhaps the best method of logical approach, is the worst pedagogically. Rather the selected topics from the life of primitive and perhaps cavedwelling man; the extinct animals and plants; the landscape in the period of coral formation; emergence and subsidence; reversing the order of time and always beginning with subjects of human interest and irradiating to the vegetable and then the inanimate world, and back towards primeval nebulæ, with paleontology always preceding lithology,--would be the order of psychic evolution.
Geography is the great obstacle of to-day in the way of placing the study of nature on a sound pedagogic basis. It is an amorphous relic of pre-scientific days in education, the text-book maker's pet and the true pedagog's abomination. If we could reduce it to a fourth or a tenth of its present time and dimensions, and substitute the rudiments of the leading sciences of which it is a kind of hash, resembling life only as an unlinked sausage resembles an organic and living snake, the efficiency of our entire school system would be greatly enhanced. Such a change can of course come only slowly; strongholds of prejudice rarely capitulate at once, but are gradually worn away by the fresh currents of thought and knowledge that are now acquiring more and more momentum. Compare the scope of a full-blown modern geography, with all its canvas of maps, its photographs of cereals, mines, cars, tables of population, animals, geological scenes, barbaric costumes, fishing and hunting, fine public buildings, ships, huts, savage wagons, sculptured heads, sarage customs, happy families of beasts, birds and insects, extracts from census maps, and with chips from, as I estimate it, about seven to ten different sciences, with the modest field of work laid down by the professors of geography in the few foreign universities that enjoy that admirable luxury or the field which the Royal Geographical Society proposes to itself, and we shall realize what a fungoid, nondescript and amorphous parasite threatens the health and well-being of our school system.
As Turkey is sometimes called the sick man of Europe, so geography is the sick subject of our curriculum, and needs doctoring. Turkey is a bit of Asia and Africa which erupted into another continent. It represents a faith once so strong as to threaten to overrun the West, but is now the reduced relic of mediævalism. Just so