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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53

Its National Consequences

Its National Consequences.

And which should at least have the following practical visible results to us as a State (or society.)

(1.) That our National Physical Form and Condition would be improved; and thereby —not only our mental and moral powers markedly developed and strengthened, but —our labouring, martial, and competitive ability increased; and our procreative virility matured. For "national physique depends upon national health, and health is as necessary to the happiness and prosperity of a nation as it is to an individual —Salus populi est suprema lex."

And this matter of physical vigour, as have already pointed out, should not only always be the pre-eminent aim of education, but should be in our city and its environs, especially so; where, the enervation caused by our warmly-humid, and therefore relaxing atmosphere, is such as tends to sap all energy, aud, therefore, all strength of body and mind.

For languor induces feebleness in all respects, and we must all admit the force of the saying of the Roman philosopher, Lucretius, viz, "We feel that the mental powers increase with those of the body, and in like manner, grow feeble with it."

Nor can—with languor-labour hope to successfully utilise the two other main factors in state prosperity-natural agents (that is the agents in the mineral and vegetable worlds which nature affords), and capital—without that vim which physical vigour alone affords.

And, moreover, the national average age and therefore the powers of wealthy—production should thereby be added to, [unclear: inas-much] as some scientists consider that it is man's own indiscretions alone which prevent his living now-a-days to at least the age of 120 years. (Vide an interesting article on "The Health and Physique of our City Population" in the Nineteenth Century for July, written by Lord Brabazon, for the special object of inducing the London School Board authorities to devote greater attention to the question of improving and promoting the physique of the children assigned to their care.)

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(2.) That the Popular Intelligence would be disciplined and supplied with, and inclined to increasingly obtain and enjoy, valuable knowledge (for "mind unemployed is mind unenjoyed"), and be thus fortified and clarified, and therefore enabled to act persistently on sound principles—uninfluenced by superficial clap-trap arguments and false issues; and to weigh errors and trifles at their proper value, the crucial test of a well-balanced mind: which would render legislative and administrative mistakes ultimately impossible. And I hope equally rectify amongst others the amusingly erratic views which Mr. Matthew Arnold humorously comments on in his essay on Culture and Anarchy in the following terms (and which views I fancy are not uncommon amongst us): "Why, I have heard people fresh from reading certain articles of the Times on the Registrar-General's returns of marriages and births in this country who would talk of large families in quite a solemn strain, as if they had something beautiful, elevating, and meritorious in them; as if the British Philistine would have only to present himself before the Great Judge with his 12 children, in order to be received among the sheep as a matter of right."

(3) That State Morale, which has invariably, from time immemorial, proved the pulse of national prosperity or decay would be elevated in tone (although see "The Education Craze" hereinafter quoted) which would cause fraud and dishonourable dealing to be—if not impossible—at least impracticable, because unprofitable. And which would practically refute the saying of Fielding, "1 look upon the two words—Virtue and Religion—to serve only as cloaks, under which hypocrisy may be the better enabled to cheat the world." And prevent any risk from Professor Blackie's pithy foreboding, that "the more knowledge a man possesses without moral culture, the more accomplished a devil he is."

So Rabelais remarks, "Even as arms are weak abroad, if there be not counsel at home; so is that study vain, and counsel unprofitable, which in a due and convenient time, is not by virtue executed and put into effect."

And here in passing, although not strictly within my text, I cannot refrain from inviting the student of history to quietly reflect how wonderfully the phases of recent English national life—with its startling contrasts of extravagant wealth (and therefore luxury) and abject poverty,

('Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand Between a splen did and a happy land.)

its depreciation of martial diplomatic and commercial prestige abroad, (for those who believe in our martial power, let them read two articles, the one on our army in the Nineteenth Century of April, 1881, entitled "The Military Impotence of England," by Captain Kirchhammer, General Staff, Austrian Army, and the other on our navy, in the same review for May, 1881, entitled "The Silver Streak," by Admiral Lord Dunsany), and its trade distress mainly caused by shoddy manufactures at home—coincide with some of those incidents which have always—long before Goldsmith wrote "The Deserted Village1'—been admitted as amongst the immediate preludes to national decay and ruin. For such phases have indeed lessons fraught with instructions for us, especially when we reflect how few we have amongst us, in our hurry-scurry colonial life, who, like Sir George Grey, quietly retire to seclusion and there in solitude—which is the only safe nursery for wise reflection—unswayed by popular superficiality and feeling, deliberately—as from a pinnacle—mentally view the situation from a broad, unbiassed, and liberal standpoint, and contrast the status quo with other similar situations in ancient and modern history. For, I venture to think, it is only such men — who have not only had large practical experience in life, but have leisure quietly to watch, study, think out, and compare—that are fitted to legislate. Thus, Plato says "Those commonwealths are happy whose rulers philosophise, and whose philosophers rule."

And no illustration can be more striking of this than the fact which so constantly occurs in our New Zealand legislature, where instead of legislating in accordance with broad and sound principles, the national redress and law-creating court only legislates for the occasion—& course which I cannot but believe is wholly unsound, and therefore can only result in troubles and errors,