Finally compulsory military education or at least the compulsory physical part of it, throughout the country will set up the youth of the coming race in a way hitherto unthought of. It is safe to say that the next decade will see our youth, and men up to the age of forty, in far better physical condition than is the case to-day.
The men of this country, with their forcefulness and their ambition, their stern desire to succeed quickly and to work furiously if necessary to obtain that success, are apt to forget that Nature meant man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; and that just so far as he departs from this primal method of supporting himself and his family he must pay toll. Almost before he realizes it the American youth is a staid man of business. Only yesterday he was a boy at play, and to-day he finds himself known by his first name or nickname only to a few old classmates whom he sees at his college reunions. He is Judge This or Honorable That. He has had no time to realize that somewhere he has lost fifteen or twenty years in this wild rush for fortune and fame. Now in some hour of enforced reflection during a temporary illness he begins to count the cost, to think how little he has in common with that growing boy of his. But still he does no more than wish that he might have more time for play and could see his way to longer and less interrupted vacations. Perhaps on his next period of relaxation he plunges into an orgy of physical exercise—plays to the point of exhaustion—enjoys it, too, and sleeps like a log. Oh, this is the life once more!
When he returns to town he determines to take more time for exercise; he will keep up his tennis or golf. But once back at work, he must make up for lost time. He returns with an improved appetite and he indulges it. Soon his vacation benefits have worn off, together with his vacation tan. The muscles slacken again, the waist-line increases. He feels a little remorse over the way he has broken his good resolutions, but of course he cannot neglect his business. Then, after a hard week, followed by some carelessness or exposure, he thinks that he has the grip or a cold. He is lucky if he stays at home and calls in his physician. He does not pick up. Now, for the first time, he hears from the doctor words that he has caught occasionally about men far older than himself—“blood pressure.” But he he is under fifty! The doctor says he must go slower. Now begins a dreary round indeed! He has never learned to go slow! He is an old man at fifty. If lucky, he has made money. But what is the price? He has found precious little fun in those fifteen or twenty years since he was a boy. Of course he has had his high living, his motor, his late hours. His cigars have been good, but he has never enjoyed them so much as he did the old pipe at camp. His dinners and late suppers can’t compare with the fish and bacon of the woods.