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exercises," and which if judiciously applied, and perseveringly followed out, will not only reward its votaries with power, grace, and confidence far beyond their most sanguine expectations, but in a great majority of cases will remedy the actual deformities of Nature herself.
For many years there was a strong prejudice against the practice of all such feats of strength and agility as our neighbours term “ tours de force ;” and this I attribute chiefly to the ill-advised, and not sufficiently progressive training, resorted to formerly by the performers of such tricks. A stout middle-aged gentleman, anatomically constructed to weigh eleven stone, but bearing about with him a superinduced load of old port and Southdown mutton, which runs him up to four teen, walks into a gymnasium, where he beholds a lathy, wiry lad, only half his size, and consequently, as he thinks, only half his strength, lifting weights over his head which to the purple efforts of the neophyte seem rivetted to the floor ; or hanging from a bar head downwards with as much carelessness and comfort as if he lived there (the latter feat the stout gentleman, if ambitious, is safe to emulate); or he witnesses a brilliant “assault,” or rattling "set-to," between two delighted and breathless amateurs, with foils or gloves, and straightway he longs to do the same: the natural reflection arises in his mind—“Here am I, an able-bodied man, still in the prime of life, and yet in the hands of such athletes as I see here what should I be better than an old apple-woman? If this amount of strength and activity is to be acquired, as the proprietor, Mr. Sampson, vouches for, why should I not learn to be a Hercules as well as the rest ?".
If he is an idle man he is sure to have no leisure to come again, and his good resolutions go the way of their kind to be converted into hot paving-stones. If an energetic one, he sets to forthwith, and regardless of the remonstrances of Mr. Sampson, himself the mildest as he is the strongest of men, our stout gentleman puffs and blows and attempts simple feats which, to him in his present state of obesity, are impossibilities, and over-exerts and makes himself perfectly ridiculous, until he has driven all the blood in his body into his stupid head, and severely strained the muscles of his shoulders, chest, and prominent abdomen. He cannot brush his whiskers without pain for a fortnight, and tying his own shoes is a moral impossibility. Ask him about gymnastics, and he will shake his head ruefully, and tell you that nothing but his natural strength of frame has prevented his suffering irrevocable injury from that pernicious pursuit. His wife, likewise a stout lady, looks upon poor Mr. Sampson as a second Cain ; and all his friends exclaim" Gymnastics ! most dangerous feats ! rupture you-give you palpitations of the heart-make you old before your time-deuced near killed Blowhard !” and thus the thing gets into disgrace through Mr. Blowhard's impatient obstinacy, and utter disregard of Professor Sampson's admonitions. The latter, had his pupil attended to his injunctions, would have put him to some trifling and scarcely perceptible exertion, that would have sent him home with a glow upon his frame, and a feeling of elasticity in his muscles which he has not experienced since he was a boy and pulled up to Surley Hall. From this he would have progressed with him gradually and scientifically, till in six months time Blowhard would have found himself, he scarce knew how, fully as active, and twice as strong a man as he was at twenty, besides attaining an amount
of mental energy which, whatever may be the cause, never fails to ac. company a high state of bodily health and strength.
To enter scientifically upon the detail of that course of gymnastics which produces such desirable effects, would require far more space than the sheets of a periodical can allow ; and would likewise involve anatomical discussions which would be tedious and out of place. There are, however, in the metropolis one or two professors of the science, who are competent not only to teach but to explain the art which they pursue, and this requires an amount of surgical knowledge which may at once give confidence to the most timid and cautious beginner.
Monsieur Hamon, of Jermyn-street, was the first to whom the credit is due of having reduced the profession to a science ; but an increasing medical practice and the allurements of chemistry have induced him to forego public tuition. His mantle has, however, descended on no unworthy successors—Mr. Harrison, of James-street, and Mr. Arnold, of 16 Old Bond-street. As I am most conversant with the system of tuition adopted by the latter, I may be allowed to say a few words on the subject.
Besides the instruction he affords in fencing, sparring, and singlestick, at all of which he is an adept, he has fitted up a room with a series of simple and beautiful mechanical inventions for progressive exercises in gymnastics, so imperceptible in their labour, and so extraordinary in their effects, that we may almost think Horace's “ dulcis sine pulvere palma " has at length been discovered. He has lately announced his intention of taking pupils, as I am informed, at the very low rate of two guineas per annum, every pupil (as in a club) to be introduced by a gentleman who is already a member; and considering that for this trifling sum a man may become a perfect boxer, fencer, and swordsman, and a second Hercules to boot (for be bas it in his own power), I think so judicious and liberal an arrangement deserves to meet with encouragement and success.
There is likewise a large and popular club in Piccadilly, organized by a body of gentlemen for the express study and practice of all manly exercises; but this is probably more an arena for the display of acquired prowess, than a school for the tender and unpractised neophyte; whilst being conducted upon the same principles as other clubs at the West End, it would seem to be more exclusively the resort of the upper classes.
Wbat is the dearest wish of every father for that son whom he is so carefully training and educating for the great battle of life?-Is it not that he should be distinguished in his generation ?--that he should wrest the applauses of his fellow-men by his self-dependence, daring talent, and native resolution? The “mens sana in corpore sano " is what we all desire; but in cultivating the sound mind we are too apt to forget the physical foundation on which it rests; and when the body which has never been fortified by temperance, training, or exertion, fails at the pinch, down comes the glorious intellectual superstructure for want of the mere brick and mortar, so to speak, of manly bone and sinew.
We gaze on the creations of the Grecian chisel, and say with Byron
“ Land of lost gods, and god-like men, art thou ;"
but the human frame is as susceptible of improvement now as in the days of Praxiteles ; and there is no reason to suppose, from such comparisons as we are enabled to make, that its proportions have decreased in size since that olden time to which we are prone to look back with a somewhat foolish admiration. Were the Olympic games held on Epsom Downs, we should again see beauties of form and limb capable of supplying such ideal impersonations as the Gladiator, the Quoit-player, nay “ The god of life and light, the lord of the unerring bow" himself. The gymnasium was the Greek's studio, his picture-gallery, and his favourite lounge: from the gymnasium the artist drew his models, the poet his inspirations, the warrior his unflinching endurance of toil,' his Spartan contempt for suffering and death. Were the Ten thousand, think ye, men like our friend Mr. Blowhard? I fancy not, or their retreat had never been chronicled on Xenophon's immortal page. Men of muscle were they, of pluck and endurance; with all their Greek beauty, in one sense of the word, "ugly customers enough," and so their foes from time immemorial found them to their cost.
It is lamentable at this day to walk down St. James'-street or Pall Mall, and witness the state of helplessness and deformity to which man, formed by a gracious Providence in the very image of his maker, can debase himself by a long career of idleness and selfindulgence. Compare the bloated form, the gouty legs, the narrow chest, the protuberant stomach, and the helpless limbs, with that ideal which your own common sense tells you is the normal condition of the lord of creation, and say whether it is not worth some trifling pains, some small exertions, to avoid the ludicrous hideousness of the one, to attain the admirable symmetry of the other, even were no further benefit to accrue from such endeavours than the additional beauty of form which they bestow. But the advantageous effects of gymnastics do not stop here: rosy health, and consequent contentment of mind, follow close upon muscular exertion of body; and physical strength affords a degree of confidence to its possessor which is but little removed from physical courage.
With a full conviction of their advantage I would venture strongly to recommend the practice of gymnastics, always under proper restrictions, and in the hands of one who thoroughly understands their application, to all whose pursuits or avocations force them to lead a sedentary life, as a few hours every week, devoted to these manly amusements, will place them on a par, in health and strength, with their envied brethren, whose time is wholly passed in out-of-door pursuits; and the citizen, no longer bloated, pale, or emaciated, will find to his surprise and delight, that his arm is as strong, his step as light, and his frame as robust, as those of the wiry Indian of the Prairie, or the stalwart hunter of the woods.
From the lack of information on which we can rely, it often happens that a hunting man, who has made up his mind to emigrate in search of sport, and who has already fixed upon a country, is yet unable to fix upon the particular locality, in which, for a few short months, be may most conveniently pitch his tent, and enjoy the diversion. The advantages or disadvantages of “ quarters' are so variously estimated, and so oppositely represented by their several advocates, that it is almost impossible for a stranger to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion from such conflicting opinions. Prejudice and fancy go so far in perverting the reason and warping the judgment of mankind, that if any two men, however truthful and sincere, be consulted on the simplest subject in life, the chances are that they differ as widely as the poles asunder, and give their opinions in diametrical opposition to each other: they take different views of the same object, and, as in the case of the chameleon in the fable, each maintains, with that obstinacy peculiar to prejudice, that his view must be right and that of his neighbour wrong.
As in the daily matters of life, so we fear it cannot be said that even in the social business of hunting, an exception is provided against this general rule : hunting, it is true, has its harmony, and it must be confessed that it has its prejudices also ; but if the latter do not exceed the ordinary limit, nor preponderate too grossly, it is not for any other class of the community to cast a stone at the brethren of the chase. But the difficulty of getting accurate information with respect to hunting quarters arises from other causes besides those of prejudice and fancy. Private motives and self-interest step in and waylay the unwary, and present equal obstructions in the path of the enquirer ; and these again assuming a thousand different forms encumber him with help, and affecting to guide him, leave him at last in a hopeless labyrinth of doubt and perplexity.
"Dalrymple,” said Captain Cramhard to a man who was strolling listlessly down Waterloo Place, and looking the very personification of a London exquisite, “can you tell me anything about the Vale of White Horse, or the old Berkshire country? I have a great notion of starring it in the provinces this season, and reducing my stud to half its present amount.”
« That you can well afford to do in the Vale, and get quite as much sport as you have been accustomed to get in Leicestershire or Northamptonshire with all your stud ; aye, and see more hunting into the bargain. Oh yes, I know all about those countries, and will give you any information you require on the subject.”
“Thank you very much ; the fact is, I have seen quite enough of the fast system, and have all my life been riding at men instead of to hounds. I now intend to study the craft in earnest, and to see whether I really cannot enjoy hunting for the sake of the sport, rather than for the éclat of being a front-rank rider. Besides, my Irish rents are not what they used to be ; and I must needs pull up in time, and case the pace, or get floored, as they say, in the first burst."
“ The pace in the Vale, or with the old Berkshire, you may depend upon it, is no joke ; so beware of parting with your best horses, or my word for it, you'll want them before the end of November ; and as to pulling up, Cramhard – that appears to me to be the especial mistake of half the men I meet. They go well to a certain point ; then, at the sight of an ugly fence or two, their craven hearts fail them, and they withdraw ingloriously from the chase, It is the blown horse that tests the nerve of the rider, and the up-hill game the perseverance of the player. But if your object is to enjoy hounds, and you really wish to have a good opportunity of witnessing their work, I do not think you can do better than settle in the Vale.”
" Thank you Dalrymple, I'll take your advice ; it shall be the Vale, at all events for the next season : but tell me, as you are so well ac quainted with that country, what quarters had I better fix upon, so as to see the old Berkshire occasionally, and have a gallop with Jones, who, I am informed, is a pattern for all huntsmen to follow? I hear a good account of Cirencester from Crawley ; but he is so devoted to billiards and old beer, that I place very little reliance on his judgment."
* You are quite right, Cramhard ; Cirencester may suit Crawley in every respect, but it would not do for you and me. No, do rural in reality while you are about it, and avoid provincial towns; hang up your hat at a good way-side inn. There's the Chequers in Foxborough, they've stabling for six or eight horses ; why not go there? It's a comfortable house, I know ; and you'll get all you want, and escape from what you do not want, in that quiet retreat."
Dalrymple had hunted in the Vale of White Horse country when it was occupied by a noble and distinguished sportsman; but his knowledge of it, or indeed of anything beyond a well made-boot, was wholly superficial. He knew just as much of the merits of the Chequers as the host of the Chequers knew of his ; and neither in reality had any to boast of: in fact, his only acquaintance with that hostlery consisted of sundry reports with reference to the accommodation afforded to his groom, of which that functionary had spoken favourably, when sent on with horses over-night. Still he gave his advice without hesitation ; and as he was known to have hunted in the country, he was deemed sufficient authority on the subject. Cramhard took it for granted that his friend spoke from experience, nor was he at all aware that, during his sojourn in the Vale, Dalrymple had lived in Portly Hall, and enjoyed the hospitalities and comforts of that princely establishment. In a month or six weeks after the date of the above conversation, Cramhard despatched his horses and hunting paraphernalia to the Chequers Inn, and engaged the whole of the spare stabling, and a set of rooms, for the month of November. The sequel, however, will show how he fared during that period, and as we had it from his own pen we cannot do better than quote his own language. In the bitterness of his heart he thus wrote: : DEAR Bov, - You, I fear, will think me a fit subject for Bedlam, when I tell you how readily I gave ear to Dalrymple's advice, and folloved it by going to the Chequers. No tongue can describe the horrors of that vile hole, in which I dragged out a miserable existence for the