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about the iniquity of letting boys exhaust themselves on the running path. It is folly of course to let them attempt too much and run themselves off their legs, or permit those of questionable physique to engage in long and punishing races. That is where abuses may creep in to neutralise the good effect of fine exercise leading up to the cultivation of stamina and endurance. But undue exertion is not the fault of schoolboys only; men and women of mature age occasionally overtax their strength and come down badly. Yet we do not condemn the whole social system because Mrs. A., age sixty, exhausted herself with a long day in town, or Mr. B., after an extra round of golf, caught chills and succumbed. They are object lessons for us to study. The problem for each one is to preserve a sense of proportion by subordinating the will to physical powers, remembering that what some may do with impunity others may find most injurious.
Now, what I desire to emphasise is that for inculcation of the discipline which human nature stands in need of, all these games and pastimes referred to are sound and are a healthy supplement to intellectual training. They afford relief during the period of mental strain, and wholesome occupation; they enforce the practical lessons of obedience which must be learnt as part of the equipment for future command; they bring out the qualities that make successful leaders and tend to the formation of character; they foster some of the characteristics we like to think are truly British, viz. calmness in excitement or danger, resolution in difficulties, resource and judgment in action. There is, in fact, little doubt that, but for the ambitions they kindle, the stimulus to exertion required by healthy individuals would as a rule fall short of the mark. A final point in their favour is that they call into being a form of comradeship leading to enduring friendship memorable and useful in after life. Enmities there must be also; but they are comparatively trifling, for the whole spirit of true sport is to take defeat in good part, to be modest in victory and generous to the vanquished. So that, weighing it all up, it is not hard to realise, apart from the material benefit of games, how great a moral influence for good they exercise upon the minds of youthful generations who are bound by the best traditions of school honour and ethics.
Whilst holding strongly to these views, I must admit that they are controversial and raise other issues. There are, for instance, those who contend that games have the effect of making boys hold in contempt their fellows who aim at distinction in scholarship. The writer ventures the opinion that as a rule this is quite incorrect. He believes that the great majority to-day are ambitious to gain the coveted position which distinction in form alone can give them, and that in any case they are loyal to
scholarly merit wherever it is found. There are others, again, who go so far as to urge that the grit of our forefathers,' if not a lost quality, is waning badly. In a contribution to this Review of September 1908, Lord Meath supports that opinion. He does not allude to schoolboys in particular, but to the British race as a whole, defining the word 'grit' as 'that virile spirit which makes light of pain and physical discomfort and rejoices in the consciousness of victory over adverse circumstances, and which regards the performance of duty, however difficult and distasteful, as one of the supreme virtues of all true men and women.' Then he proceeds to give reasons for doubt whether grit permeates the entire mass of the population in anything like the proportion it did a hundred years ago.
Amongst his arguments are:
(1) That in the late South African war there were, compared to other campaigns, questionable British surrenders to the enemy.
(2) That whilst the Englishman's head is filled with thoughts of sport, the German is gaining knowledge which will avail to advance him in his profession.
(3) That the waste places of the earth used formerly to be colonised by the Briton; now he finds the labour of subduing nature too severe for his enfeebled energies, and settles in the towns, leaving the health-giving tillage of the virgin soil of new countries to the hardier races.
I will refer to these arguments in the order they are quoted. (1) It is unfair to pass sentence on British surrenders in South Africa without careful examination of all the circumstances connected with them. This is not the place to consider that matter. It must be borne in mind, however, that in these days a commanding officer has to make up his mind rapidly whether those committed to his charge can possibly retain a post under the fierce fire of machine guns and magazine rifles; whether he should allow them to be wiped out in the hopeless attempt or save them from utter destruction. That alternative in modern warfare is presented to every commandant who for strategic reasons may be forced into a desperate position not of his own choosing. It is wounding to our susceptibilities to think even of loss of honour and betrayal of traditions; but we must recognise the changed conditions, and not condemn men for lack of valour who exercise military discretion in avoiding wholesale slaughter which the science of war to-day makes inevitable if heroism is not tempered with reason.
(2) Lord Meath, in making his comparison between British and Germans, describes pluck and quick-wittedness as invaluable national assets which cannot be maintained without frequent daily
Yet surely those attributes are more likely to be developed in the sporting man than in the mere bookworm.
(3) At no time probably has emigration been more clamoured for or more vigorously pushed and carried out than now. What numerous agencies from almost all the self-governing Colonies and from many emigration societies are promoting it freely! the only striking change of conditions being that the Colonies will no longer permit paupers, lunatics and criminals to land on their shores. And, modern emigrants are beyond doubt adapting themselves admirably to their new life.
In seeking explanation for the inclination of our rural population to settle in towns instead of remaining in the country for agricultural pursuits, we have to look not so much to a change of national temperament as to other causes. The primary cause is the class of education now given at State-aided schools. It was the sturdy old fisherman in the North Sea trade who lamented, alluding to the School Board kids, ' They an't got the heart, they an't got the guts.' No doubt he was right. Those youngsters who are to take up occupations of danger and hardship such as sea-fishing and the like need not only to be trained but to be bred to them. Yet their education unfits them for it, in that, instead of cultivating a taste for work on the land or for honest trades demanding long apprenticeship, muscle and endurance, they become seized of a craze for clerkships and sedentary employment under the fallacy that a little learning makes it dishonouring to labour in the sense formerly understood.
In the education of the masses according to the existing programme the whole point seems to be missed. They do not need to be fitted up with knowledge required for the passing of examinations. That is necessary for the classes but useless as a rule for the masses, whose time is wasted as they muddle along through many books, instead of laying up that kind of information suitable to the technical occupations which the bulk will find open to them. The policy might with more advantage be to teach and develop the children according to their different types of mind, not classifying them all in one mould, nor assuming that the aims and characteristics of one class of the community are bound to be in keeping with the standard of others. Handicrafts, manufactures, and agriculture must all have their votaries if the country is to hold its own in worldwide competition. The common judgment of the nation is in favour of universal education of the masses so long as it is not carried to an unpractical length. While, therefore, allowing every scope for genius, no matter in what social layer it is found, our educational system may usefully be to familiarise the minds of the multitude with the idea that there are various kinds of employment of a healthy and paying character
VOL. LXXI-No. 421
which the many may go for, and that mere clerical work is neither much in request nor so lucrative or independent as some of the occupations, despised as they appear to be, requiring manual labour.
If, then, our boys and girls are, to the minds of some people, not of the grit they used to be, the cause is not to be attributed to any spontaneous degeneration of physique, but to a system of education which favours the production of penmen rather than workmen a passing phase, let us hope. But it is not too late to stay the rot before permanent mischief is done. We have abundant evidence that there is still plenty of stamina in the country. The personnel of our navy is the finest in the world. The late war in South Africa proved beyond question, in spite of regrettable incidents, what stuff our young soldiers and colonial cousins were made of. No other nation has yet shown itself capable of such an effort as we then made. Even our Territorials, recruited largely from classes engaged in sedentary work, few as they unfortunately are, have shown what a reserve of vigour they possess during prolonged field operations.
But if, as I think, there is reason to believe the British are still gritty,' it is due, in respect of the masses as well as the classes, more to national pastimes than to books or learning, or to the grinding 'German' study which is held up as a pattern. Our soldiers and sailors revel in games; every Board school has an ample playground, every institution its athletic club, and every street (except the likes of Oxford Street and the Strand) its swarms of players. It is urged by some that there is now a visible defect in the lack of keenness to follow manly pursuits as of old. May not that, however, be ascribed more than anything else to the many diversions, healthy enough attractions in their way, which win attendance the cricket field used to claim in our village life? The facts we have to guide us in a comparative study of national mettle are that Victoria Crosses are as well and frequently earned as formerly, and there is no dearth of heroic men, ever ready to face death in releasing entombed miners, in saving life at sea or rescuing from fire in desperate cases.
It is well to know the opinion of others. In that entertaining book by Price Collier, England and the English, from an American point of view, the author says, in reference to the successful breeding of human beings :
Nature beats Socialism hollow at her own game. The English commonsense comes to the fore again in an attempt to solve this problem. She is old enough to know from experience that the world is still ruled by men and in all probability will be for a long time to come. She breeds men, therefore, as strong and simple as she can. In these islands sport is not a dissipation for idlers, it is a philosophy of life. They believe in it as a bulwark against effeminacy and decay.
But if sporting instincts are answerable for much that goes to make robust men, there are many other things at our great public schools that contribute to the formation and enrichment of character. The masters know well how keenly alive their boys. are to the tradition that the Anglo-Saxon people prefer to conduct, or at any rate to share in, the management of their own affairs. Can anyone acquainted with the system doubt the salutary effect of appointing and recognising young men of 'good report' as prefects, heads of houses, and leaders of thought? These positions are not won or maintained by muscular prowess, but by a combination of qualities making for general fitness as regards capacity and integrity. They are held by those who, after trial, have proved themselves good citizens, who have gained the confidence of the authorities and are found worthy to be endowed with responsibility for assisting in the maintenance of order and the direction of activities in the corporate life of the school. What a power for good in the government of a school this partnership in responsibility can become!
One invaluable course of discipline which most of them pass through is that of the rifle corps. If not necessary to cultivate a martial spirit in our boys, it is of the highest importance, in these days when the position of Great Britain is challenged, to train the able-bodied sufficiently in drill and the use of arms, so that each may be competent to stand as an effective in the ranks for defence of his country in case of need. Apart from that, the physical exercise sets them up and makes them, as they should be, proud of wearing the King's uniform. Would that the entire. manhood of this country were compelled to go through their course before they could claim the full right of citizenship. Were that so we might hear less of German bogies and foreign invasion.
There are many practical questions which cannot here be dealt with; but one in particular demands attention, viz. that which relates to the duty of bringing up boys with a definite aim, and not allowing them to drift along in a purposeless manner to the end of an academic career. In these thrusting days, when the struggle for existence is getting so acute, we cannot ignore the fact that the great majority go to school with the certain prospect of having eventually to earn their own living. The timely choice. of professions is therefore a matter of grave consequence. Many boys from want of enlightenment or experience are utterly incapable of choosing for themselves. It is no fault of theirs; it is simply their misfortune. Some round ones are fitted into square holes and fail; others succeed by force of character in spite of the misfit. But it is a lottery, and a great burden lies upon parents and guardians to diagnose not only the capacity but the temperament of their charges, before committing them