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S.R. Calthrop.

A Lecture on Physical Development, and its Relations to Mental and Spiritual Development, delivered before the American Institute of Instruction, at their Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting, in Norwich, Conn online

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A
Lecture
On
Physical Development, and its Relations to
Mental and Spiritual Development,

delivered before the
American Institute of Instruction,
at their
Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting,
in
Norwich, Conn., August 20, 1858.


By
S.R. Calthrop,
of Bridgeport, Conn.,
Formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge, England.


MDCCCLIX.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by Ticknor And
Fields, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
Massachusetts.

On motion of G.F. Thayer, - _Voted_, unanimously, That five thousand
copies of Mr. Calthrop's Lecture be printed at the expense of the
Institute, for gratuitous circulation.




LECTURE.


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: -

We have met together to consider the best methods of Educating, that is,
drawing out, or developing the Human Nature common to all of us. Truly a
subject not easy to be exhausted. For we all of us feel that the Human
Nature, - out of whose bosom has flowed all history, all science, all
poetry, all art, all life in short, - contains within itself far more
than that which has hitherto been manifested through all the periods of
its history, though that history dates from the creation of the world,
and has already progressed as far as the nineteenth century of the
Christian era. Yes! we all of us feel that the land of promise lies far
away in the future, that the goal of human history is yet a long way
off.

A large portion of this assembly consists of those whose business it is
to study Human Nature in all its various forms, and who have taken upon
themselves the task of developing that nature in the youth of America,
in that rising generation whose duty it will be to carry out the nascent
projects of reform in every department of human interest, and make the
thought of to-day the fact of tomorrow.

Some doubtless there are among this number, who by very nature are born
Teachers, called to this office, as by a voice from heaven! Men, who in
spite of foolish detraction, or yet more foolish patronage, understand
the dignity, the true nobility of their calling; who know that the
office of the teacher is coëval with the world; and also feel with true
prophetic foresight, that the world, fifty years hence, will be very
much what its Teachers intend, by God's blessing, to make it.

Brothers in a high calling! The speaker, proudly enrolling himself in
the number of your noble band, greets you from his heart this day, and
invites you to spend a thoughtful hour with him; and to help him, by
your best wishes, to unfold in a manner not wholly unworthy of his
theme, some small portion of the nature and method of Human Development.

Ours is the age of analysis. We begin to see that before we can
understand a substance, it is necessary to become acquainted with all
its component parts. Thus, then, with regard to Human Nature, we must
understand all at least of its grand divisions, before we can comprehend
the method of developing it as a whole.

Let us then say, that there are five grand divisions in Human
Nature, - the physical, the intellectual, the affectional, the moral, and
the devotional, - or in other words, that man has body, mind, heart,
conscience, and soul.

Concerning these great divisions, I shall assert, _first_, that they are
all mutually dependent upon each other; that if one of them suffer, all
the others suffer with it; that man is dwarfed and incomplete, unless he
is fully developed in all the five: and, _secondly_, as my special
subject, I maintain that physical well-being, health of body, is
therefore necessary not only to the complete development of Human
Nature, but that it is also essential to a happy and harmonious
development of each one of the four other great divisions of Human
Nature; or in other words, I assert the body has something to do both
with the mind, heart, conscience, and soul of man, not merely to all
these collectively, but also to each of them separately.

First, then, I shall speak on the mutual dependence of the faculties.

Now, although it is not possible that any faculty should be so
completely isolated, as to act without moving any of the rest at all;
nevertheless, since a comparative isolation and separation of the
faculties is but too common, let us glance through the history of the
past, and mark any notable instances of such isolation; and if we find
that a one-sided development has always proved a failure, we shall begin
to discern the folly of trying such disastrous experiments over again,
specially since they would have to be made upon living human beings,
upon he young children of the rising generation, who cannot resent our
folly, but whose distorted natures will be living proofs of our
incapacity, of our impotence as educators, when the experiment tried for
the thousand and first time fails yet again, as it always has done, and
always will do to the world's end, while Human Nature remains the same.

Let us then take a few examples, which are not intended to stand the
test of severe criticism, but which are only used as illustrations of
the idea which we are now considering.

Let us then first suppose that the devotional element in man acts alone.
The experiment has already been tried. Many a hermit in lonely cell or
rocky cavern, has cut himself off from the society of men, from action,
duty and love, in order that he may be devout without hindrance. How
many such men have poured out their souls upon the ground, on barren
sand or desert rock, souls which might have watered thousands with the
dew of heaven, and all because they made one fatal life-mistake; - they
thought, that to pray always meant to be always saying prayers.

Who could be more devout than Saint Simeon Stylites? who spent all his
life upon the top of a tall pillar, absorbed in contemplation, ecstasy,
remorse and prayer. Let the poet speak for him.

"Bethink thee, Lord? while Thou and all the saints
Enjoy themselves in heaven, and men on earth
House in the shade of comfortable roofs,
Sit with their wives by fires, eat wholesome food
And wear warm clothes, and even beasts have stalls,
I, 'twixt the spring and downfal of the light
Bow down one thousand and two hundred times
To Christ, the Virgin Mother and the Saints:
Or in the night, after a little sleep,
I wake, the chill stars sparkle; I am wet
With drenching dews, or stiff with crackling frost,
I wear an undressed goatskin on my neck,
And in my weak, lean arms I lift the Cross,
And strive and wrestle with Thee till I die.
O mercy, mercy, wash away my sin!"

A mournful spectacle. Devotion excited to madness, while mind, heart,
and conscience, all are dumb, and the poor weak body only bears the
heavy burdens which the tyrannous soul heaps upon it!

Devotion, then, needs _conscience_. Conscience tells a man that he must
act as well as pray. Devotion makes the great act of prayer. Conscience
works out into the actual of every-day life, the ideal of which devotion
has conceived. Will then devotion and conscience be sufficient for a
noble manhood? Devotion and conscience alone developed, have ofttimes,
in the days that are past, formed some stern old grand inquisitor,
torturing the life out of human sinews because he ought. The grand
inquisitor's devotion and conscience told him that he ought to advance
the holy faith by every engine in his power, and therefore, as he
considered that the rack, the thumbscrews, the rope, the fire and the
faggot were the best possible engines, he used the same to the utmost of
his ability; and thought, alas for humanity! that he was doing God
service.

The grand inquisitor had devotion, he had conscience, he probably
also had nerves of iron; but he could not possibly have had a
_heart_. Devotion, then, and conscience need a loving, human heart. Will
these three be sufficient? The picture grows fairer, we begin to feel
less pain when we turn away from the stern, dark portrait of the grand
inquisitor, which frowns so grimly in the picture gallery of history,
and look upon that fair and gentle upturned face, half shaded by the
veil that covers her head. That is a nun of the order of Saint Theresa.

The pale, emaciated countenance tells of many a vigil protracted through
the long hours of the night; those wild eyes once saw, or thought they
saw, the picture of the Virgin hanging in her cell smiling on her as she
prayed; yea, and have wept many a tear as she repeated her sins over to
her confessor, or as she stood by the bed-side of some poor sufferer,
while those gentle Christian hands smoothed the dying pillow. Rest in
peace, soul sainted and dear! The tears thou didst once shed, are wiped
away now forever; the sins thou didst once bewail, are all forgiven now,
for thou hast loved much!

But the day of nuns has gone forever. A higher development must be
sought for. The nun becomes impossible when we train the _intellect_;
Devotion says, Worship; the Mind adds, The Lord thy God. The Conscience
says, Do right; the Intellect shows what is right. The Heart says, Love
thy fellow-men; the Intellect tells the right way of loving them. Piety
and charity! these are glorious! these are the two angels from Heaven
which prompt us to help our brothers who need our help; but intellect
must show us the way to do it. To take a single instance. Piety and
charity cannot show us how to drain and ventilate and rebuild the hovels
of the poor in New York. No, every spade, every saw, every hammer
employed in that most righteous undertaking must be directed by
intellect, by science. Piety and charity may prompt, but intellect must
guide.

I know full well that many a woman's heart, guided only by her sacred
instinct of loving, acts out the law of right without any conscious
questioning of the intellect; that a thousand tender feet carry the
gospel of Christ along the alleys of New York and London, or along the
corridors of the Crimean hospital, though even there also woman's wit
has to aid woman's heart. The noble heart, the Christian love of
Florence Nightingale took her to those eastern shores; this made the
voice tender and the hand gentle. But whoso reads the account of what
she did, will see that beside these, wit and wisdom, keen discerning of
means to ends, ability to see what ought to be done, intellect, reason
in short, was necessary in order to make a Florence Nightingale
possible, together with an exhaustless fund of bodily endurance,
fortitude and stoicism.

Thus, then, we find that devotion, conscience, heart, and intellect are
all necessary to each other in the harmonious development of Human
Nature. Will they be found sufficient for a perfect life?

Put together a strong soul, a tender conscience, a woman's heart, and a
man's intellect, and we have a Charlotte Bronté, - surely one of the best
types of the modern mind. Will she find these four noble parts of Human
Nature sufficient for the task of living?

Let Charlotte Bronté answer, walking painfully across the moor with hand
held hard to beating side, sitting now and then upon a stone to keep
herself from falling, wondering why the daylight blinds her so, obliged
to give up Villette owing to the terrible headaches which it brings on.
Let Charlotte Bronté answer, dying before her time at thirty-nine years
of age, when the path of fame was just beginning to be bright before
her, and the world was just beginning to know how much it wanted her.
Charlotte Bronté, the gifted and the feeble, the lynx-eyed and the
blind, so full of glorious strength and pitiable weakness! Charlotte
Bronté, who feels the pressure of every-day life to be as hard as a
giant's grasp upon her throat! Charlotte Bronté cannot tell why she is
so unhappy, why she feels like a prisoner in the world, - why earth, our
beautiful earth, is like a charnel house to her. And yet we think that
the most ordinary passerby could see very satisfactory reasons why
Charlotte Bronté was what she was, and felt what she felt. Hollow cheek
and faded eye, teach their wisdom to their possessor last of all. The
pale-eyed school-girl, who never played along with the other children,
never ran and laughed and shouted with the rest, little knew what days
and hours and years of dulness, of pain and agony, she was laying up for
the future, what a premature grave she was digging for herself. Peace be
with her, her toil is over; it is now three years since Heaven received
in Charlotte Bronté one angel more.

Intellect, then, needs _body_. Come, then, and see me build a Man! A
calm, silent devotion, a conscience pure and reverent, a heart manful
and true, an intellect clear and keen, a frame of iron, - with these will
we dower our hero, and call him Washington!

From me Washington needs no eulogy. Free America is at once his eulogy
and his monument! It is useless to say more. Every one here feels in his
heart a higher praise than can be uttered by the tongue. But let me ask
you, What would Washington's qualities of mind and heart have availed
his country, unless the manly strength, the frame of iron had been
added? A good man he might have been, a patriot he surely would have
been; but the Father of his Country, never! The soul that trusted in
God, the conscience that felt the omnipotence of justice and right, the
heart that beat for his country's weal alone, the mind that thought out
her freedom, was upborne by the body that knew no fatigue, by the nerves
that knew not how to tremble.

Washington had to endure physical fatigue enough to have killed three
ordinary men. And how well did his youth prepare him for a
life of protracted toil. Hear his biographer Irving. "He was a
self-disciplinarian in physical as well as mental matters, and practised
himself in all kinds of athletic exercises, such as running, leaping,
pitching quoits, and tossing bars. His frame even in infancy had been
large and powerful, and he now excelled most of his playmates in
contests of agility and strength. As a proof of his muscular power, a
place is still pointed out at Fredericksburg, near the lower ferry,
where, when a boy, he threw a stone across the river. In horsemanship,
too, he already excelled, and was ready to back, and able to manage, the
most fiery steed. Traditional anecdotes still remain of his achievements
in this respect."

Some of you have doubtless seen in Thackeray's 'Virginians,' that young
Warrington found that he was more than a match for the English jumpers,
as indeed, writes he, he ought to be, as he could jump twenty-one feet
and a half, and no one in Virginia could beat him, except Colonel G.
Washington.

It is needless to say that I do not mean to exalt the body at the
expense of the higher faculties. I only maintain that the rest are
incomplete without the physical element; in which indeed all the other
powers dwell, and by means of which they are more or less clearly
manifested. There may, of course, be vast physical energy without any
corresponding development of mind or soul, as any blacksmith or prize
fighter could tell us. And further, there may be a character, in which
some of the higher qualities may exist in great perfection, coupled,
too, with mighty force of body, and yet the character may be incomplete.
Take, as an instance, another of America's great men.

Daniel Webster! perhaps the most cavernous head, set upon the strongest
shoulders, which has appeared upon the planet, since the soul of
Socrates went back to God. Daniel Webster! strong mind in strong body,
leader and king of men, deep-chested, lion-voiced, whose words of power
moved men as the wind moves the sea, whose eloquence had a physical
energy, a bodily grandeur about it like to that of no other man. Daniel
Webster! pride of all Americans; to you I leave it to say where he was
weak. It belongs not to me, a stranger, to pluck one laurel from that
stately brow; his own brethren must do it, with reluctant and half
remorseful hands, pitying the errors which marred so grand a character,
but saying of him as I would say of England, Webster, with all thy
faults, I love thee still.

Our analysis of human character, necessarily one-sided and imperfect, is
now ended. It remains for us to ask, What are its bearings upon American
education? How far does American education fulfil the wants of Human
Nature, and wherein does it disregard them? The title of my Lecture
tells plainly enough, where I think that the great deficiency is found;
a deficiency which reacts upon both mind and morals, and ofttimes
utterly defeats the best efforts of clergymen and teachers. I assert,
then, that, in America, the body is almost entirely neglected. Thirty
thousand clergymen, from as many pulpits, advocate the claims of the
conscience and the soul. A hundred thousand teachers are busied
throughout the length and breadth of the land in training the intellect,
while a man could almost count on his fingers the number of those
engaged in training the body. The intellectual training which the masses
receive, is the highest glory of American education. If I wanted a
stranger to believe that the Millennium was not far off, I would take
him to some of those grand Ward Schools in New York, where able heads
are trained by the thousand. When I myself entered them, I was literally
astonished. When I looked at the teachers who instructed that throng of
young souls, I could not help saying to myself, Ah! dear friends, it
would do you good to know what I feel just now. I can feel the very
blessing of God descending on your labors, just as if I could see it
with mine eyes. What piety have been at work here, in the construction
of this colossal system of education! What inspired energy was needed to
work it out! What charity is necessary to carry it on! Many a teacher
saw I there, unknown, may-be, to all the world, carrying on her work
with noble zeal and earnestness, to whom the quick young brains around
bore abundant testimony. When I saw them, I blessed them in my heart, I
magnified mine office, and said to myself, I, too, am a teacher.

I spent four or five days doing little else than going through these
truly wonderful schools. I stayed more than three hours in one of them,
wondering at all I saw, admiring the stately order, the unbroken
discipline of the whole arrangements, and the wonderful quickness and
intelligence of the scholars. That same evening I went to see a friend,
whose daughter, a child of thirteen, was at one of the ward schools. I
examined her in algebra, and found that the little girl of thirteen
could hold her own with many of a larger growth. Did she go to school
to-day? asked I. No, was the answer, she has not been for some time, as
she was beginning to get quite a serious curvature of the spine, so now
she goes regularly to a gymnastic doctor. I almost feel ashamed to
criticize such noble institutions as the schools of New York; but truth
compels me to do this. Hitherto, nothing whatever has been done to train
the bodies of the tens of thousands who are educated there. All that is
done is excellent, is wonderful, but fearful drawbacks come into play,
in the shape of physical weakness, and positive male-formation of body.

The only remedy which can be devised, I think, in a crowded city like
New York, where it is impossible to get open ground, is to have large
gymnasiums attached to every ward school, and daily exercise therein
should form an essential part of the education there. The importance of
this to New York cannot be estimated, and I heard with joy, that a
gymnasium was established in at least one of the ward schools, and I
found out that the teachers of others were alive to this most crying
need. I read too, with very great pleasure, that a Mr. Sedgwick of New
York was appointed to deliver a lecture on the importance of physical
education, at the next meeting of the Teachers Association, in that
State; and indeed every one begins to feel that something must be done,
and that quickly. Miss Beecher's book enlightened most people on this
subject, and reform is already inaugurated. It is well that it is so, or
the race would dwindle away before our very eyes. Listen to some
serio-comic verse upon this subject, taken out of your Lecturer's
portfolio. It is an address to America, dictated by an ancient sage: -

'Oh! latest born of time, the wise man said,
A mighty destiny surrounds thy head;
Great is thy mission, but the puny son
Lacks strength to finish what the sires begun;
Thy hapless daughters breathe the poison'd air,
Fair they may be, but fragile more than fair;
They know not, doom'd ones, that the air of heaven,
For breathing purposes to man was given;
They know not half the things which life requires,
But melt their lives away where stoves and fires,
And furnace issuing from the realms beneath,
Distils through parlor floors its poisonous breath.
Sooner or later must the slighted air
And exercise take vengeance on the fair.
Ah! one by one I see them fade and fall,
Both old and young, fair, dark or short or tall,
Till one stupendous ruin wraps them all.'

One can sometimes, in a smiling way, give utterance to truths which seem
hard and stern when spoken in grim earnest. Let us see whether we cannot
find some allegory to represent what we mean.

Some time ago, I read a tale which related that a certain gentleman was,
once on a time, digging a deep hole in his garden. He had, as I myself
had in my younger days, a perfect passion for digging holes, for the
mere pleasure of doing it; but the hole which he was now digging was by
far the deepest which he had ever attempted. At last he became perfectly
fascinated, carried away by his pursuit, and actually had his dinner let
down to him by a bucket. Well, he dug on late and early, when just as he
was plunging in his spade with great energy for a new dig, he penetrated
right through, and fell down, down to the centre of the earth.

To his astonishment he landed upon the top of a coach which was passing
at the time, and soon found himself perfectly at home, and began to
enter into conversation with the passenger opposite to him, a very
gentlemanly looking man enveloped entirely in a black cloak. He soon
found out that the country into which his lot had fallen was a very
strange one. Its peculiarities were thus stated by his gentlemanly
fellow-passenger. "Ours, Sir," said he, "is called the country of
Skitzland. All the Skitzlanders are born with all their limbs and
features perfect; but when they arrive at a certain age, all their limbs
and features which have not been used drop off, leaving only the bones
behind. It is rather dark this evening, or you would have seen this more
plainly. Look forward there at our coachman, he consists simply of a
stomach and hands, these being the only things he has ever used. Those
two whom you see chatting together are brothers in misfortune; one is a
clergyman, the other a lawyer; they have neither of them got any legs at
all, though each of them possess a finely developed understanding; and
you cannot help remarking what a massive jaw the lawyer has got. Yonder
is Mr. - - , the celebrated millionaire, he is just raising his hat; you
see he has lost all the top part of his head, indeed he has little of
his head left, except the bump of acquisitiveness and the faculty of
arithmetical calculation. There are two ladies, members of the
fashionable world, their case is very pitiable, they consist of nothing
whatever but a pair of eyes and a bundle of nerves. There are two
members of the mercantile world, they are munching some sandwiches, you
see, but it is merely for the sake of keeping up appearances; as I can
assure you, from my own personal knowledge, that they have no digestive
organs whatever. As for myself, I am a schoolmaster. I have been a hard
student all my life, at school and at college, and moreover I have had a
natural sympathy with my fellow-men, and so I am blessed with a brain
and heart entire. But see here." And he lifted up his cloak, and lo!
underneath, a skeleton, save just here! "See, here are the limbs I never
used, and therefore they have deserted me. All the solace I now have
consists in teaching the young children to avoid a similar doom. I
sometimes show them what I have shown you. I labor hard to convince them
that most assuredly the same misfortune will befall them which has
happened to me and to all the grown-up inhabitants; but even then, I
grieve to say, I cannot always succeed. Many believe that they will be
lucky enough to escape, and some of the grown-up inhabitants pad


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Online LibraryS.R. CalthropA Lecture on Physical Development, and its Relations to Mental and Spiritual Development, delivered before the American Institute of Instruction, at their Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting, in Norwich, Conn → online text (page 1 of 3)