I am persuaded that it is impossible to banish suffering from the world. All we have so far accomplished is to exchange one form of suffering for another.

Take the case of women, for example, and the 부천오피 ailments to which they are subject. Primitive woman was virtually free from these. She suffered little at childbirth. To-day the operation of even the normal female functions has become a serious matter. Science with all its strides has not been able to cope successfully with the increasing burden which the conditions of modern life impose on woman’s physique.

I have chosen women as an illustration because they themselves would be the first to insist that they had profited more than men from the advance of thought and the perfecting of a social system that is largely their own creation. Well, compare this 44Flower of the Ages, as we see her in shops, offices, ball-rooms or even colleges, with an Australian bush-woman, and we will find that neither in health, strength nor endurance can she rival her savage sister. The woman of the bush is capable of following her master all day with a baby on her back; of stopping for a brief period to produce another and of resuming her progress, unimpeded by her additional burden.

It is well to realize that civilization, which has bestowed such incalculable benefits upon mankind, has done so largely at the expense of its physical welfare. Moreover, as men, and more particularly women, rise in the intellectual scale, they risk the sacrifice not only of a robust, but of a normal, body. But what of it? “Wisdom is better than strength; and a wise man is better than a strong man.” Nor must we forget that while civilization has undoubtedly undermined our physique, it has also abolished the circumstances which made strength and endurance the supreme necessities of the battle of life. To be able to follow her male with a child on her back—to say nothing of the interesting interlude—is not a quality that 45would add either to the allurement or efficiency of the woman of to-day.

Let me here cite four celebrated women who, differing from each other in every other particular, suffered in common from ill health.

The first in order of time is Madame du Deffand who was for many years the center of one of the most brilliant of the Eighteenth Century salons. Her correspondence with Voltaire, La Duchesse Choiseul and Horace Walpole is immortal and has been frequently republished. Many of her letters to Voltaire and all of those to Mme. de Choiseul and Horace Walpole were dictated when she was over sixty-seven years of age, broken in health and totally blind.

Rachel was the daughter of a poor Jew pedlar, and from the age of four she roamed the streets singing patriotic songs. A famous singing teacher heard her and, impressed by the crude power of the little creature, offered to teach her gratuitously. It is almost unbelievable to read of the excitement this small, plain Jewess created. She still lives in hundreds of books and is an integral part of the history of her period. If we can judge from contemporary 46praises, Rachel is the greatest actress of whom there is any record. She suffered from continual ill health and died of consumption in her thirty-seventh year.

Grace Darling was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, and with her father braved almost certain death in attempting to save the survivors of the wreck of the Forfarshire. By well-nigh superhuman efforts they succeeded in rescuing a great number. This gallant exploit made them both famous. Grace Darling had always been delicate and died of consumption four years later.

Florence Nightingale, immortal nurse and one of the most influential women in history, had at the time of her greatest activity a body so weak that it was a wonder how a woman in such delicate health was able to perform so much of what Sidney Herbert called “a man’s work.” During many years of important achievement she was altogether bed-ridden. Working incessantly, writing, organizing, she was a power throughout the British Empire. Her influence has spread over the world; to her we owe the first idea of training nurses.

It is really curious that physical fitness 47should have become an ideal only after it had ceased to be the indispensable requirement of our environment. Piano-moving is perhaps the sole occupation to-day where strength is the only qualification, and intelligence of no account whatsoever; yet few of us aspire to become piano-movers!

The body is a most delicate machine and only in exceptional cases can it be kept through life in perfect condition, without an immense expenditure of time and trouble. Now, a perfect body should only be considered desirable, if it enables us to rise to greater heights of achievement. Countless people, however, regard health and vigor not merely as the means but as the goal itself. They tend and exercise their bodies at the expense of every other form of activity. The disproportionate amount of time, energy and aspiration that is wasted in attempting to perfect and preserve that which is inevitably doomed to destruction is incredible. A child building a castle on the sand is engaged in a more durable occupation. For the child, while erecting its tunnelled and turreted fortress, is at least attempting to realize some haunting dream of the heights, the depths, the mystery and magnificence of 48life. What matter the tide?—the vision is indestructible.

The Greeks regarded a beautiful body as an end in itself, because their civilization, by permitting its unveiling, allowed it to act as an inspiration to others. The nude, however, has no recognized place among us, and although it still serves to create beauty, it does so under restricted and abnormal conditions. To be a model is not a title to fame, nor the ideal of our most enlightened contemporaries.

I hope that I have proved conclusively that a splendid body is no longer a necessary means of enabling us to rise to the greatest heights either of ambition or of service. Why, therefore, should we so morbidly covet physical perfection?

49
VII
THE PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED PHILOSOPHERS
Τὸν φρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώσαντα τὸν πάθει μάθος θέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.

—Aeschylus, Agememnon, line 186.
Among the British philosophers who were physical sufferers we find the great Francis Bacon, who from childhood was always weak and delicate.

John Locke became world-famous by reason of his still celebrated “Essay concerning Human Understanding.” He was also of political importance, having occupied for years the position of confidential adviser to the great Earl of Shaftesbury. Professor Campbell says of him: “Locke is apt to be forgotten now, because in his own generation he so well discharged the intellectual mission of initiating criticism of human knowledge, and of diffusing the spirit of free enquiry and universal toleration which has since 50profoundly affected the civilized world. He has not bequeathed an imposing system, hardly even a striking discovery in metaphysics, but he is a signal example in the Anglo-Saxon world of the love of attainable truth for the sake of truth and goodness. If Locke made few discoveries, Socrates made none. But both are memorable in the record of human progress.”

Robert Boyle, the natural philosopher, was the seventh son and fourteenth child of the great Earl of Cork. His scientific work procured him extraordinary reputation among his contemporaries. It was he who “first enunciated the law that the volume of gas varies inversely as the pressure, which among English-speaking people is still called by his name.” Great as were his attainments they were almost over-shadowed by the saintliness of his character, the liveliness of his wit and the incomparable charm of his manner. Boyle was a man of the most feeble health. This is what Evelyn says of him: “The contexture of his body seemed to me so delicate that I have frequently compared him to Venice glass, ... [which] though wrought never so fine, being carefully set 51up, would outlast harder metals of daily use.”

Robert Hooke, the experimental philosopher, was both deformed and diseased. He was not a great man and his scientific achievements would have been “more striking if they had been less varied.” Nevertheless he was renowned in his day, and his contribution of real importance for, although “he perfected little he originated much.” I mention him, and shall mention several others, who have been forgotten by all but scholars, because I wish to show how large an army stands behind its illustrious chiefs. Besides, if we contemplate only the giant luminaries of the firmament of fame, we shall become discouraged. They paralyze us by the very intensity of the admiration they evoke. Lesser men, on the contrary, for the reason that they are nearer our own orbit, are more likely to stir us into emulation.