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hare in hearing-and by almost all other animals in taste. But when the human species began to congregate in cities, it was soon obvious that the exertion of the intellect must predominate over that of the body. As civilization advanced, intellectual labour came more into demand, and the labourers multiplied in proportion. At the present period, as was before observed, the employment of a very large class of human beings, especially in cities, consists almost entirely in mental exertion. To such an extent is intellectual labour now arrived, that a very large and influential class of society live entirely, and support themselves honourably, by “teaching the young ideas how to shoot” -while others, who have no actual occupation, rack their minds with inventions, schemes, and projects, that fade away as fast as they are engendered.
It is well known that, the more a voluntary muscle is exercised, within a reasonable limit, the stronger and more capable of exertion it becomes. It is so with the intellectual faculties. The more these faculties are brought into play, (within a certain bound of moderation) the more extensive becomes the sphere of their power. The senses of touch, smell, hearing, all acquire acuteness in proportion as they are exercised. But this extra development and sensibility of the intellectual faculties cannot take place but at the expense of some corporeal function or structure. An attentive examination of every class of society, from the prime minister down to the attorney's clerk, will convince us that, in proportion as the intellect is highly cultivated, improved, and strongly exerted, the body suffers— till a period at length arrives, when the corporeal deterioration begins to re-act on the mental powers, and then proud man finds that the elasticity, even of the immortal mind, may be impaired by pressure too long continued-and that, like springs of baser metal, it requires occasional relaxation.
Civilized, and more especially civic life, by rendering the senses more acute, makes the passions more ungovernable. In congregated masses of society, every kind of food for the passions is not only superabundant in quantity, but of the most
stimulating quality. Hence, in all the upper classes of society --in all, indeed, who work with the head rather than with the hand--and also among those who have no work at all-we find an unnatural and insalutary degree of excitement kept up in the brain and nervous system by the “play of the passions.” The extent of injury which our health sustains in this way is beyond all calculation! Plato was not very far wrong when he asserted, that “all diseases of the body proceed from the mind or soul :"-"omnia corporis mala ab anima procedêre.” Unquestionably a very great proportion of them originate in this source. In this country, where man's relations with the world around him are multiplied beyond all example in any other country, in consequence of the intensity of interest attached to politics, religion, commerce, literature, and the arts—where the temporal concerns of an immense proportion of the population are in a state of perpetual vacillation where spiritual affairs excite great anxiety in the minds of many-and where speculative risks are daily run by all classes, from the disposers of empires in Leadenhall Street down to the potatoe-merchant in Covent Garden, it is really astonishing to observe the deleterious influence of these mental perturbations on the functions of the corporeal fabric. The operation of physical causes, numerous as these are, dwindles into complete insignificance, compared with that of anxiety, tribulation, discontent--and, I may add, ENNUI, of mind.
Before concluding the subject of WEAR and Tear of civilized life, and adverting to one or two of the principal means of repair, I shall take the liberty of making a few brief remarks on modern education, and its influence on mind and body. I shall not be ranked among the “Laudatores temporis acti,” when I avow my conviction that the mode as well as the amount of modern education, as far as male youth is concerned, are as much superior to those of former times, as our carriages, machinery, and
ships excel those of our ancestors. The only objection is, that youth is forced, by competition, to an exertion injurious to health, and consequently to the ultimate and complete development of the intellectual powers. The MARCH of INTELLECT compels a competition in universities, colleges, public schools, and private seminaries of education, just as much as among individuals. Let us take, for example, the LONDON UNIVERSITY. The rigid, and I will say, the fair, honorable, and impartial system of examination into the acquisition of knowledge, as well as the adjudication of honours, leaves mediocrity of talent no chance of distinction, however assiduous may be the application. Emulation is so stimulated (encouragement is not a sufficiently strong term) that none but the higher order of spirits, in our age, can hope to bear off the prizes of merit—and then only when assisted by unremitted labour. Can this system be objected to?Certainly not. It is the necessary consequence of the unrestrained thirst after knowledge—the unshackled liberty of the press and of the people—the exuberance of population-and the universal consciousness that “ KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.” Still this tremendous competition and exertion of the intellect, at a period of life when Nature points to and demands exuberance of corporeal exercise, must have a deleterious influence on mind and body-and this injury, though acquired at first by external circumstances, will, in time, be propagated from parent to progeny hereditarily. There appears to be no remedy for the evil at present, except that of employing the holidays of youth in bodily exercise as much as possible in the open air in the country. Parents ought to look to this before the health of their offspring is undermined.
Modern refinement appears to be doing more injury through the medium of female than of male education. In the latter, the study of ancient literature and modern science, must tend, if not carried to excess, to elevate the mind and strengthen the
intellectual faculties. But surely this cannot be expected from a system which constantly aims at the cultivation and indulgence of certain senses-as, for instance, those concerned in music. From ample observation, I am satisfied that the degree of attention bestowed on this acquirement or accomplishment, is incompatible with an adequate study of the more useful, not to say dignified branches of education, and a proper amount of bodily exercise. I am, indeed, prepared to maintain, and I do not hesitate to assert, that the present system of female education is a system of SENSUALITY, rather than of intellectuality. Few are acquainted, or capable of becoming acquainted with the baneful consequences of this system ; but many are doomed to feel them. The poisoned arrow, in this case, leaves no wound; but the venom meanders slowly through the veins, and often effects its destructive work unseen and unknown! What but evil can be expected from a system of education which enervates the mind and enfeebles the body-which polishes the external senses, and leaves the intellect a prey to rust and moth—which excites the imagination and obtunds the judgment—which, to speak out plainly, fosters mere ANIMAL FEELING rather than MORAL SENSE!
I speak of the abuse and not the use of music. If the “ cord of sweet sounds” were made a rational and moderate recreation and relaxation from abstruser and severer studies, it would be all well. But music is now esteemed the prime accomplishment, and to make any figure in this, the young female must spend four or five hours of the day, and as many of the night, in thrumming the piano and straining her lungs. But this is not all. The musical mania engenders the desire, and indeed creates the necessity, for a constant round of concerts, operas, and festivals, by which the health of the body is enfeebled—the energies of the soul paralyzed-and, in too many stances, the moral principle itself relaxed.
The foregoing observations (in the first edition) have got me into some disgrace with many of the fair sex, and even brought forth discordant notes from throats most musical. One learned young lady read aloud in my hearing, and with marked emphasis, the
celebrated lines of the immortal bard, who tells us that
The man that hath no music in his soul,
Is fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils. I suspect that I am rather misrepresented than misunderstood by those who say that I condemn Music, and bear it a mortal antipathy. This is the fate of all censors. When they condemn the abuse of any thing, they are represented as prohibiting the use of it. Thus, if drunkenness be reprobated—they forbid wine. If extravagance be censured--they recommend the example of the miser. If gambling be stigmatized-an innocent game at cards is denounced as criminal! So, because I have hinted at some of the evils which flow from inordinate application to music, as compared with the study of other branches of education, I am set down as a hater of music—as being insensible to the delights of that CELESTIAL ART, which drew harmony from Heaven, and which was capable of charming the ears of the previously inexorable monarch of the nether world ! How, say the worshippers of Apollo, can music be injurious to the FAIR SEX, when it was the only key that could unlock the portals of gloomy Tartarus, and set one of that sex at liberty to return to the regions of light! I am really to grant that ORPHEUS played to some purpose, when he charmed the court of Pluto and Proserpine, arrested the revolutions of Ixion's wheel, appeased the vultures of Tityus, quenched the thirst of Tantalus, and drew. EURYDICE, half-way, from a place which cannot be named. Orpheus was far more skilful, as well as more disinterested than his great descendant PAGANINI, who seems more inclined to address his notes to the ear of Plutus than of Pluto, aware that the former deity, though blind, is not deaf. Whether the illustrious Italian may ever imitate the example of Orpheus, and “touch his string.” before a NETHERland audience, I presume not to guess; but I venture to prophesy, that he will never go thither, like his magnanimous predecessor, for the redemption of a lost wife.