The preacher would be surprised if he knew how many costumes had been planned, how many business ventures had been outlined, all because of the soothing influence of his words.
_This relaxation of the body not only gives freedom to the intellect, but it is the necessary preliminary condition for the greatest physical exertion and for the most perfect execution of any series of skillful acts_.
Mr. H. L. Doherty not only held the world's championship in tennis, but he was the despair of his opponents, because of the apparent lack of exertion which he put forth to meet their volleys. So far as an observer could judge, Mr. Doherty kept only those muscles tense that were used in the game. The muscles
especially necessary for tennis were also, so far as possible, kept lax except at the instant for making the stroke. Partly because of this relaxation, his muscles were free from exhaustion and under such perfect control that at the critical moment he was able to exert a strength that was tremendous and a skill that was amazing.
In a very striking paragraph Professor James has shown the reason why poise and efficiency of mind are incompatible with tenseness of muscles:--
``By the sensations that so incessantly pour in from the overtense excited body the overtense and excited habit of mind is kept up; and the sultry, threatening, exhausting, thunderous inner atmosphere never quite clears away. If you never give yourself up wholly to the chair you sit in, but always keep your leg and body muscles half contracted for a rise; if you breathe eighteen or nineteen instead of sixteen times a minute, and never quite breathe out at that,--what mental mood can you be in but one of inner panting and expectancy, and how
can the future and its worries possibly forsake your mind? On the other hand, how can they gain admission to your mind if your brow be unruffled, your respiration calm and complete, and your muscles all relaxed?''--``Talks to Teachers,'' p. 211.
In ancient Greece, one of the chief functions of the school was to prepare citizens to profit by the hours of freedom from toil. Herbert Spencer, in his great work on Education, gives a prominent place to training for leisure hours. Such training is attracting the attention of the American educator to-day as never before. A few decades ago the majority of the American population lived on farms, spent long hours of the day in toil, and scarcely thought of recreation. We have now become an urban population, the hours of labor have been greatly reduced during the days of the week, and Sunday is a day in which the laborer is found in neither the factory nor the church.
The employer of laborers fears the effect of long hours of freedom from toil. He has prophesied that such hours would be spent
in dissipations. He feared that as a result his laborers would enter their shops with unsteady hands and sleepy brains. That such results are all too often due to freedom from toil, no one would deny. That they are not necessary will also be admitted. One of the problems of the American people as a whole, and of employers of labor in particular, is to train up the rising generations so that they may make the best use of the increasing hours of freedom from labor.
To this end the schools are doing much. Settlement workers are contributing their part. Welfare work is becoming popular in certain places. Local clubs are being organized to develop interest in local improvement, literature, politics, ethics, religion, music, athletics. These agencies are so beneficial in results that they are being generously encouraged by business men.
_Upon entering business every young man should select some form of endeavor or activity apart from business to which he shall devote a part of his attention. This interest should be so_
_absorbing that when he is thus engaged, business is banished from mind_.
This interest may be a home and a family; it may be some form of athletics; it may be club life; it may be art, literature, philanthropy, or religion.