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LECTURE VIII.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

BY REV. DARWIN H. RANNEY.

OF WILMINGTON, TT.

EDUCATION may be defined-the perfecting of all the attributes of human nature. It consists in the training up of a helpless immortal being from infancy to manhood; from a state of utter helplessness, dependence and ignorance, to mature physical strength, mental competence, and moral greatness. Its province is to give himn competence, and endurance for a life of labor and usefulness, into which his Maker has called him.

There are three grand divisions, into which the subject naturally divides itself: Physical, Intellectual, and Moral Education. The first treats of the perfection of man's corporeal nature, the second of that of his mental faculties, and the third of his moral powers. To secure one's highest happiness, honor and usefulness, each of those natures must be cultivated simultaneously and symmetrically. To neglect or abuse either, is to make of him a useless, deformed, and comparatively unhappy being. Give him physical power alone, and he is a mere animal ; and has his relative place with the draught-horse and the dromedary. He lives only to eat and drink, and toil and bear burdens. Or, if the depraved propensities and passions develop themselves with his strength, (as they necessarily will, he will have kindred with the wolf and the tiger, and live to destroy and to de

vour.

Give him intellectual together with , physical culture, to the neglect of moral cultivation, and he may possess ability and influence, but that ability and influence will be perverted in their application, and their possessor be qualified only to do evil, and thoroughly furnished for a life of wickedness and infamy. Cultivate the moral sentiments, to the neglect of one's physical powers and intellect, and you have a child in weakness and imbecility, although he be a prodigy in purity of thought and tender sensibility. He may be admired for his virtue, and revered for his piety. But these excellencies of character live and die in his own bosom. They are not operative upon society around him. He lacks the energy and efficiency to infuse into the bosoms of others the noble sentiments and tender ernotions which find their dwelling in his own. Neglect physical training, the full development of one's corporeal nature, and genius, intelligence and virtue alike are inert. Of what avail is mental endowment, or intellectual cultivation, or moral worth, so far as concerns the world without, (upon which we were all created to act,) to him who possesses not strength, or endurance, or health to employ his faculties for some useful purpose? How many can be found upon whom nature has lavished her gifts, and whom science has crowned as her votaries, who are dwarfed in stature, crippled in strength, and invalid in health, so as to be inefficient, useless, and absolutely dependent--and all from the neglect or abuse of their physical natures? In this view we perceive the importance of this threefold culture; the indispensableness of a simultaneous and symmetrical cultivation of all the powers and faculties of our being.

The education of a child is always progressing. From the cradle to middle life the important work is perpetually going forward. So susceptible is the child to impressions, and so imitative in his propensity, that every human being becomes a teacher. · Not only those who voluntarily, and from choice, give themselves up to this most interesting and important work, but those who would discard it, and be indifferent, are coöperators in forming the character and shaping the destiny of the rising generation. The petulant servant in the nursery, the idle playmate in the street, and the profane ostler in the stable, are daily giving lessons to our children, whose influences time can never efface. Every mechanic's shop, field of agriculture, and warehouse, is a school-room, where lessons in physical education are given and the muscular system exercised and its powers developed. Indeed, this branch of education begins in the feeblest infancy. The child's first efforts in action are the beginning of his education. The use of his hands and feet is an instinctive effort at acquiring knowledge. The rudiments of physical improvement are acquired in efforts at seizing a candle or handling

a

a toy; in attempts at creeping or walking, or uttering articulate sounds. We see this work carried on still farther in merry sports and useful labors, in the toils of the field, in domestic arts, and in the workshops and manufactories of the country. It gives that grace in movement, correctness and rapidity in action, and skill in workmanship, which excite equally our wonder and admiration. With what interest and surprise have we marked the development of muscular action in music !-its adaptation of itself to time and tune!--the wonderful facility, accuracy, and rapidity of the movements which pass upon the keys of the piano and the strings of the violin! The melody elicited strikes the uninformed observer more like the production of magic, than of the studied efforts of the performer. No less complicated and curious is the execution of vocal music, and indeed the utterance of all articulate sound, when we consider the action of the several organs of speech, of the muscles of the larynx, tongue and lips, in giving such an endless variety of tone and enunciation. All appears to be directed by studied design, and yet there seems no time for the action of the will on every particular. What can it be but the force of habit which is so controlling on all our actions, and which is nothing more than the result of physical education, the training of the muscles to systematic action ?

But the design is not entertained of dwelling on the curiosities of our animal organism, but to present some of the principles of physical culture, which demand to be considered in connection with other branches of educational instruction. The subject may afford less scope for the display of literary taste,

or talent at declamation, but it is franght with so much interest and practical importance, that it cannot fail to secure the attention of all who value utility as well as amusement.

Our subject will require an examination into the laws of our being which pertain to the preservation of health, and the perfect development of the corporeal functions. And happily we are not lest here to the arbitrary rules and regulations which physiological science has brought out, and to human theories alone. We are to be guided in a great measure by those instincts and propensities which have been implanted in our nature at the beginning; and which are a safe guide to such as heed and obey all their dictates. If the new-born infant were under the necessity of being taught the existence and use of the muscles of deglutition, and the labial operation of nursing, before he could supply the demands of appetite, he would famish ere the requisite knowledge could be obtained, and inevitable extinction would result to our race. Physiological rules may be of service to such as have forsaken the plain and safe paths which nature prescribes, and perverted alike their appetites and their judgment. But they are not necessary to such as are the pure disciples of nature; who have obeyed, in all things, the instincts which were created within them. We are favored with impulses, which prompt us to a proper selection and regulation of diet. The same laws operate in us as in the mindless brute, to direct when, and what, and how much we shall eat. And, were our mode of life in other respects such as nature dictates, we should find no danger attendant upon following the direction

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