It is an old proverb that what " one has not in his head he must have in his heels." This proverb is applicable to those whose memories are so treacherous that they find it necessary to go many times to perform what might have been done in once going. This old saw might have been made more comprehensive, at the expense of alliterative force, by changing it to " what one does not possess in inventive forethought he must make up for by muscular strength." The intelligent, contriving workman, though his physical frame may be slight, is more than a match for the stupid, unthinking one. in any kind of work depending upon aught ex-ce;it blind strength. The former rises and the latter sinks in tb" scale of value, just as naturally as oil rises to the surface of 'vvater. A ["an may expend a vast amount of muscular energy and do little work, and 'ce vena. On one occasion we had a novel piece of work .,to get done, and took it to several shops, where its accomplishment was unsuccessfully essayed. After much trouble and expense we met a Gerian friend, who being informed of our predicament, recommended us to a shop where he assured us we could get our work performed satisfactorily. Being rendered somewhat skeptical by our previous experiences, we made some inquiries about the facilities of the shop recommended, and were told by our Teutonic adviser, that it possessed a tool not to be found in any of the shops previously tried, l-y which all sorts of difficult work impossible to the others could be quickly and excellently executed. We were curious to see this remarkable machinists' tool, which our imagination pictured as quite out of the usual run of lathes, planers, and common paraphernalia of the machine shop, but were at once informed that it would not be shown. We sent our order to this shop by the hands of our adviser, and duly received it, just the thing w@ wanted. It was so satisfactory, that seeing the same gentleman a few days after, we pressed him for some description of the machine by which such a marvel of delicate and accurate work could be performed. He avowed that he could not describe it but he could give us its name. *, Well what is the name ?" cried, we.—" Brains" was the laconic reply. Ah ! what, not essentially impossible, can not be done with this great tool which the Almighty has bestowed upon man. But to use it skillfully requires practice. The commonest cause of failure is not want of natural mental ability but want of training ; training that might have been attained through personal effort had its value been known. In fact all training, whether of brain or muscle, must be attained by personal exertion. The most that teachers can do is to direct, and give the best methods in which the process may proceed. We are of those who believe the kind of training should be adapted to the intended life-occupation of the student. To the mechanic, or to any man whose occupation is connected more or less with constructive mechanics, inventive ability is of the first consequence. Not that by its exercise all will be enabled to make great improvements upon existing methods, or to strike out entirely new and original devices ; but that all will, by its aid, be rendered more efficient mechanics, farmers, manufacturers, or cheinists, as the case may be. The farmer grubbing up the big stump in yonder field, is engineering on a small scale. The next stump he essays can not be got out in precisely the same way. He must modify his plan somewhat. He must invent a way to do it. Whether it will be the best way or the worst way, will depend upon the degree to which his inventive talent has been trained or neglected. He may break his chains and kill his team, or by skillful management uproot the unsightly stub which cumbers the ground. This training may be constantly going on during the ordinary avocations of life. Every mechanic should feel that it is not enough to simply do a thing ; it should be. done in the best way possible. 8t.udying how to do things is the best and surest way to get proper mental training. Where living teachers can not he obtained books may be. The nineteenth century in free America ofiers no excuse for ignorance.
This article was originally published with the title "Brain and Muscle" in Scientific American 21, 24, 378 (December 1869)