Our article on the Education of the Hand, published on page 397,current volume, has called forth some criticism from those who seem to be ready to believe anything, provided it is printed in a book. We have been asked to remember a very absurd argument in Bell's Bridgewater Treatise, going to prove that there is a natural cause for the common prefer, ence of the right hand for ordinary purposes. This argument is based upon the fact, that the left side of the body is generally weaker than the right, both in regard to muscular strength and in its vital or constitutional qual. ities. We do not deny this fact, with reference to adults, and it is to adult opera dancers, and the measurement of adults by tailOl's and shoemakers that the author in question refers for his illustrations of the comparative weakness of the left side. We differ from him, however, in regarding this weakness as an effect, not a cause, of*the greater use of the right limhs. There are, however, some statements made in this connection by the same author, which we dissent from. We admit, that" in walking behind a person we seldom see an equalized motion of the body," but we deny, that if we look at the left foot, we shall find that the tread is less firm upon it than upon the right, in the majority of cases. We are confident that the right foot will be found by the careful ohserver to "toe in " as often as the left foot, and will shuffle quite as often. We deny that these defects are "more apparent in women than in men, because the elasticity of the female step depends more upon the ankle than the haunches." And we most emphatically deny, that "no boy hops on his left foot unless he be left handed." These assertions are not supported by facts, as we have observed them, and we do not helieve any candid person wil find himself convinced of their truth by observation. The other argument used by this author to prove a natural superiority in the right side is scarcely less absurd than the one we have stated. What does the adaptation of imple. ments to the use of the right hand prove, other than that because we have, by education and habit, acquired a preference for that hand, and increased power to use it deftly, we like to use it better, and, therefore, require our tools to be construct cd in accordance with our acgu(red prr/re;!ce We educate those who naturally prefer to use the left hand in spite of the tendency to unconsciously imitate those who surrrand them- we educate, wo say, such chiWrcn to use the right hand. Wlio believes that, if the attempt were made we could not educate all children to prefer the Mt hand ? And how would the tools be made then ? And which side would be the weaker then ? Had it been the custom to educate children thus, so illogical a reasoner as Bell would have employed the same line of argument to prove the superiority of the left side. Think of a learned writer trying to prove that God. has made man a lop-sided, unsymmetrical heing,and this for a wise and obvious purpose. Starting with the effort to prove an all-wise design in all thing's, as they exist, it is no wonder a man like Bell drew erroneous conclusions. Ho vifou!d,liad he written upon the subject, have shown that the general want of power in the human race to move the muscles of the external car was, also, the result of benevolent prevision, though " the obvious purpose " has proved a puzzle to anatomists. '1'he truth is that no reason for the peculiarity can be found in the anatomy of the human form, nor in the characteristics of the human mind, as will be amply demonstrated if physical educators ever turn their attention to the subject ; but even were it found to be natural, it could be viewed in no other light than a defect, which it is expedient to remove, not a blessing bestowed upon man for a wise purpose, as Bell would have us believe.
This article was originally published with the title "The Asserted Superiority of the Right Hand"