previous next
[300] to the strong. The weakest hand may touch off the cannon whose ball shall overtake the swiftest runner, miles away. It is the virtue of gunpowder, as Carlyle has said, that it “makes all men alike tall.” There still remain among some of our troops those caps of imitation bear-skin which were once worn to intimidate a foe. The fierce head-dress of the drum-major is the reductio ad absurdum, or extreme instance, of this childish method, which still survives among the Chinese, and may be seen in Japanese pictures. In an old military text-book the Portuguese soldiers were ordered to attack their opponents “with ferocious countenances.” But civilization has set aside all this merely physical irrepressiveness and substituted invention. A monk, not a soldier, invented gunpowder. Savage strength is powerless against the needle-gun and the unseen torpedo. This does not annihilate the value of physical health and vigor, but it readapts their use. The young man even in a military school has his bodily health trained, not that he may grasp his opponent in his mighty arms and throw him to the earth, as formerly, but that he may have his head clear, his nerves in equilibrium, his action prompt. It is altogether fitting that an age whose promise is in this direction should be an age affording new training and new opportunities to women.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Savage (1)
Thomas Carlyle (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: