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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 11


It has been said that we moderns have lost as much by the discontinuance of the system of bodily exercise of the ancients as we have gained by our knowledge of physiological science. This is one of the aphorisms which men are never weary of repeating, but which will not stand criticism.

No price can be set upon our knowledge of physiological science; no estimate can be formed of its value; scarcely any of its extent. The extent, the importance, and the value of the system of bodily exercise practised by the Greeks and Romans we can appraise exactly—can gauge with almost mathematical accuracy, because we know entirely of what it consisted, and for what purpose it was organized and maintained. We can therefore tell, by a comparison of the want experienced with the thing produced to meet the want, if the object desired were accomplished.

But how can we do this? By what agency is this power placed in our hands? Chiefly, if not wholly, by physiological science, which has revealed to us what exercise is, and what its suitable administration can accomplish in the human frame.

It is generally admitted that this system of bodily training—unguided, undirected as it was by a ray of science deserving of the name—accomplished the object desired. How did they who framed it, thus groping in the dark, grapple with and hold fast by the truth? By the observation of results. Let no one undervalue this source of information: it gives the seal to all experimental knowledge; it confirms or refutes all theories.

This was the lamp which guided the ancients in the selection of the exercises which formed their system of bodily training. They observed that the strength of the body, or of any part of the body, was in relation to its muscular development, and that this development followed upon, and was in relation to, its activity or employment. They did not know that man's material frame was composed of innumerable atoms, and that each separate and individual atom had its birth, life, and death, and that the strength of the body as a whole, and of each part individually, was in relation to the youth or newness of its atoms. And they did not know that this strength was consequently attained by, and was retained in relation to, the frequency with which these atoms were changed, by shortening their life, and hastening their removal and their replacement by others, and that, whenever this was done by natural activity, by suitable employment, there was ever an advance-in size and power until the ultimate attainable point of development was reached. They simply observed that the increased bulk, strength, and energy of the organ or limb were in relation to the amount of its employment, and they gave it employment accordingly.

They must have observed, however, that this did not apply in equal degree to all kinds of muscular employment, and that it applied most directly to those where the action was rapid and sustained. They did not know that this rapidity of muscular contraction and expansion was the chief agent in quickening the circulation of the blood, from which the whole body derived its nourishment—the tide on which was brought up all fresh material for incorporation into its tissues, and on which was borne away all that was effete and waste—brought up and borne away most rapidly in those parts which were being most rapidly employed; for they did not know that the blood was a moving page 278 current at all. They only observed that exercises consisting of rapid muscular movement were most conducive to strength and activity; and so, without exception, the exercises composing their system were of this description.

But they must have observed, also, that there was a form of physical employment which did not give physical development, or yield its natural fruits of health and strength; and that was the slight, effortless occupations of many arts, callings, and crafts. They did not know that without resistance to be overcome there could be no full demand for muscular contraction, no full call therefore for material disintegration and renewal, with proportionate increase in bulk and power. They simply observed that development was in relation to the quality as well as to the quantity of exercise—that, where energy was exacted in the practice, energy was the fruit of the practice; so, for their system, they selected exercises where energy was voluntarily called forth in the highest possible degree.

Other essential constituents of exercise owed their recognition to the same source—the observation of results. They observed that during certain kinds of physical exertion the act of breathing became greatly affected, that each inspiration was larger in volume, and that each followed each in quicker succession than when the body was inactive. This they must have observed, although they may have viewed it but as a drawback to physical ability, a hindrance to be overcome, or in the same light in which our schoolboys now view it—as a condition of "bad wind" or "internal fat": for they could not know that, in every breath they breathed, a load of the wasted material of the body was given up by be blood, and its place supplied by the life-giving oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere; and that just in proportion to the rapidity and energy of the muscular movement was the rapidity and volume of the current of blood rushing through the lungs, and that therefore, for this current of blood to be a rated, proportionately large and proportionately rapid must be the current of the air respired. They, probably, simply observed that the power to sustain this accelerated process of respiration was obtained in proportion as the exercises which excited it were practised; so exercises which required the sustaining of accelerated breathing received an important position in their system.

They must have observed, further, that energetic physical exertion and quickened respiration caused the skin to be suffused with moisture, and that this gave instant relief from a discomforting sense of heat. They did not know that this augmented heat was in a great measure caused by the accelerated breathing—the fanning of the fire which is ever burning in the living frame; and they did not know that this moisture was water drawn from the blood and poured out over the skin's surface, in order that the discomforting heat might be with it eliminated. They did not know that the skin itself was a covering of marvellously woven network, presenting millions of interstices and apertures, and that each of these apertures was the open débouche or outlet of a duct or tube that, striking deep its convoluted roots among the underlying strata of bloodvessels, separated from their accelerated currents what might prove injurious to the health of the body, and poured it forth through these myriad mouths. But they observed that these skin-exudations proved a powerful aid in the acquisition of permanent health and strength, and notably so to the health, elasticity, purity, and beauty of the skin itself. So, without exception, every exercise in their system is of that kind which readily contributes to this result.

Finally, they must have observed, that just in proportion to the amount of clothing worn during exercise were the processes of respiration and the evaporation of this moisture from the skin retarded. They did not know the structure or functions of either lungs or skin; still they saw that they both acted together, were stimulated to ac- page 279 tivity by the same means, and by the same means were sustained in functional ability; and that during physical exertion hindrance to both was in proportion to the amount and weight of the garments worn: so they simply, while performing their exercises, discarded clothing altogether—and thence called their system of bodily training "Gymnastics."

Thus, then, by the observation of results alone were the ancients guided with sufficient accuracy in the comprehension of the chief features, and in the estimation of the relative value, of certain modes of bodily exercise; and thus were they enabled to choose, on assured grounds, those exercises which were most suitable for the system which they desired to organize. They desired a system specially applicable to individual culture, individual exertion, individual excellence, individual distinction—a system which should cultivate personal courage, presence of mind, and decision—a system possessing the utmost limit for individual effort, presenting the fullest opportunities for personal display and personal distinction. Therefore was the hand laid upon all exercises of high competitive effort—wrestling, boxing, throwing the discus, racing on foot, on horseback, and in chariot. The System is as simple, as practical, and as serviceable as the Roman sword.

But in those days, as in our own, there must have been men of unsound constitution and imperfect growth, from original weakness of organization, or from illness, ignorance, neglect, accident and other causes. What system of bodily training was framed for their behoof? None. Here the observation of results was unequal to the requirement. They could reach no higher, they aimed no higher, than the production of a series of athletic games, suitable to the young, the brave, the active, the strong, the swift, and the nobly-born.

Our knowledge of physiological science is something more valuable than this. A system of bodily exercise which should give added strength to the strong, increased dexterity to the active, speed to the already swift of foot, is not what is alone wanted now. It is not to give the benefit of our thoughts and observations, and the fruit of our accumulating information, to the already highly favoured, and to them only, that we aim. On the contrary, it is the crowning evidence of the divine origin of all true knowledge, that, in benefiting all within its influence, it benefits most bountifully those whose wants are the greatest. It must have been the strong conviction of the value of this attribute of knowledge—so strong that it seared and scorched where it should have radiated genial light and warmth—that warped the judgment and overheated the imagination of Ling, the enthusiast Swede, when he gave the freewill offering of a laborious life to the preparation of a system of bodily exercise in its main characteristics suitable to the invalid only.

With the perseverance peculiar to the possessor of a new idea or of an unique and all-absorbing object of study—a quality which often outstrips Genius in the race of usefulness—he laboured, unwearied and unrelaxing, elaborating and exemplifying the principles of his system of Free Exercises. Accepting that exercise is the direct source of bodily strength, and that exercise consists of muscular movement, he therefore conceived that movement—mere motions—if they could be so systematized that they could be made to embrace the whole muscular system, would be sufficient for the full development of the bodily powers. Carrying out this principle still farther, and extending its operation to those who, from physical weakness, are incapable of executing these movements of themselves, he argued that Passive exercise might be obtained—that is, exercise by the assistance of a second person or operator, skilfully manipulating, or moving in the natural manner of its voluntary muscular action, the limb or part of the body to which it is desired the exercise should be administered.

That this last application of his theory page 280 is sound, and most valuable for the cure or amelioration of many species of ailment and infirmity, I have had the most abundant evidence supplied by my own experience. That the first is altogether erroneous has been no less abundantly made plain to me. The error is deep-seated and all-pervading. It lies not only in a misconception of what exercise is, but also in forgetting the necessity of administering it with a reference to the condition of the individual, on the plain principle which governs the administration of every other agent of health. To argue that a given mode of exercise is fit for the healthy and strong, because it is found to be beneficial to the ailing and the delicate, is to argue against all rule and precedent. Chicken-broth may yield ample nutriment to the invalid, but the soldier would make but a poor day's march upon it; you must give him the chicken too. Such exercises are but a mockery—but a tantalization—to the great requirements of a healthy individual—soldier or civilian, child or man.

Nevertheless, this system, incomplete, inadequate as it was, possessed one of the essentials of exercise; and therefore, as soon as it was instituted, good sprang from it, and good report was heard of it; and, after much disheartening delay, and many rude official rebuffs, Ling saw it accepted by his country.1 And this must be viewed as the first attempt to bring a knowledge of the structure and functions of the human body to bear upon its culture—the first attempt to lift such culture above the mere "do them good" of other men.

The echo of this good report was heard in Germany; and Prussia, eager to avail herself of every agent which could strengthen her army, adopted it, with some additions and limitations, to form a part of the training of her recruits. But, going even beyond Ling, the supporters of the Prussian system maintain that a few carefully selected movements and positions alone are sufficient for the development of the human frame; and, "simplicity" being the object chiefly held in view, this system aims merely at giving a few exercises, these to be executed "with great precision." There is no change in any art or branch of science, custom, or usage, common to ancient and modern times, so great as in these systems of bodily exercise The ancient was all for the cultivation of individual energy, individual strength, individual courage; the modern aims at giving to a number of men, acting in concert, the lifeless, effortless precision of a well-directed machine.

And yet this precision of movement, tedious as it must be to the performers, has its charm to the spectator, and I have heard it loudly lauded: "It is so simple;—a few exercises, and those executed with the most clocklike regularity;—no tours de force." Why, what are tours de force ? Something hard, something difficult for a man to aim at, to work at, to struggle for, to take pride and pleasure in? Every exercise, however simple, is a tour de force to the learner until he can do it; and, if the system of exercises be properly graduated, the hardest exercise should be no harder to the learner, when he arrives at it, than was the first attempt in his first lesson.

But the Prussian soldier's period of service is so short (three years), that every agent to hasten his efficiency must be seized; and it has been found necessary to provide means, in the shape of large buildings resembling riding-schools, in which drill may be carried on throughout the year. And, as this Gymnastic system is viewed but as drill, aims but at being drill, it is in winter carried on in these buildings,—the few articles of apparatus employed, for the sake of the advantages which they specialty offer to the soldier, being erected in a corner of them. And this continuity of practice increases manifold whatever good it can yield; and thus, although meagre and inadequate, its fruits are valuable. It is found that no other form of drill so rapidly converts the recruit into the trained soldier, and the greatest import-

1 The Central Academy of Gymnastics at Stockholm was instituted in 1814.

page 281 ance is attached to its extension throughout the army.1

There is a general impression that this system forms the basis of the French. It would be difficult to make a greater mistake; for not only have they, either in principle or practice, nothing in common, but in many respects they are the very antitheses of each other. So far from the boasted "simplicity" of the Prussian system, and the desire to limit it to "a few exercises to be executed with great precision," being adopted by the French, they have elaborated their system to such an extent, that it is difficult to say where it begins or where it ends; or to tell, not what it does, but what it does not embrace. For quite apart from, and in addition to, an extended range of exercises with and without apparatus, it embraces all defensive exercises with bayonet, sword, stick, foil, fist, and foot—swimming, dancing, and singing—reading, writing, and arithmetic, if not the use of the globes. The soldier is taught to throw bullets and bars of iron; he is taught to walk on stilts, and on pegs of wood driven into the ground; he is taught to push, to pull, and to wrestle; and, although the boxing which he is taught will never enable him to hit an adversary, he is taught manfully to hit himself, first on the right breast, then on the left, and then on both together with both hands at once; and, though last, not least, he is taught to kick himself behind—of which performance I have seen Monsieur as proud as if he were ignominiously expelling an invader from the "sol sacré" of La belle France. Now, I know no reason why a soldier should not be taught all these acquirements, and I know many important reasons why he should be taught some of them; but it would be difficult to assign any reason, either important or particular, why they should be called Gymnastics, or included in a system of bodily training.

The fundamental idea of the French system is sound, for it embodies that of preparation and application: it is primarily divided into two parts—Exercices Elementaires, and Exercices d' Application. The first of these, designed to be a preparation and prelude to the instruction and practice on the fixed apparatus, begins with a long series of exercises of movement and position, propres à l'assouplissement. "What is this all-important process of "assouplissement"—this idea, shared at home as well a3 abroad, of the necessity of suppling a man before strengthening him? What is it to supple a man? What parts of him are affected by the process, and what change do they undergo? It would be very desirable to have these questions answered, because the phrase is, I fear, sometimes made to cover a multitude of sins.

To ascertain the full meaning of a word or phrase, it is sometimes useful, first, to ascertain its opposite or antithesis; and the opposite of to be supple is, I think, to be stiff. If any one is in doubt as to what that means, let him take a day's ride on a hired hack along a country road, or, for the space of a working day, perch himself upon an office-stool, and the results will be identical and indubitable—stiffness in the column of the body and in the lower limbs. And why? Because each and every part so affected has been employed in a manner in opposition to its natural laws. The joints, which are made for motion—which retain their power of motion only by frequent motion—have been held motionless. The muscles, which move the joints by the contraction and relaxation of their fibres, have been subjected to an unvaried preservation of the one state or the other—the muscles of the trunk in unremitting contraction, those of the limbs in effortless relaxation. Now, one of the most important of the laws which govern muscular action is, that it shall be exerted but for a limited continuous space, and that, unless the relaxation of the muscles shortly follows upon their contraction, fatigue will arise as readily, and to as great an extent, from want of this necessary interruption to contraction as from extent of effort. And,

1 The Central School of Gymnastics was first established in Berlin in 1847.

page 282 strictly speaking, this stiffness both in trunk and limbs, although arising from two opposite states of muscular employment, results from the same cause—i.e., exhaustion: each has had one only of the two essential conditions of muscular action. The stiffness in the trunk of the body is caused by the ceaseless contraction of the muscles, and this state is not conducive to the rapid local circulation indispensable to the reproduction of the force expended. The opposite phase of stiffness, arising from continuous muscular relaxation, is the immediate result of causes which may be called negative—the non-requirement of nervous stimulus, the non-employment of muscular effort, entailing subdued local circulation.

The second cause of this stiffness in the trunk of the body and limbs is, that the joints have been held motionless. Viewing the joints in the familiar light of hinges, we know that when these are left unused and unoiled for any length of time, they grate, and creak, and move stiffly; and the hinges of the human body do just the same thing, and from the same cause; and they not only require frequent oiling to enable them to move easily, but they are oiled every time they are put in motion, and when they are put in motion only: the membrane which secretes this oil, and pours it forth over the opposing surfaces of the bones and the overlying ligaments, is stimulated to activity only by the motion of the joint. And, like the rest of the body, the membrane itself is preserved in functional vigour only by frequent functional activity.

But, it may be argued, stiffness may arise from extreme physical exertion which has embraced both conditions of muscular action, with frequent motion of the joints—stiffness such as a man may experience after a day of unwonted exercise. The stiffness in this case, also, is simply temporary local exhaustion of power from extreme effort: the demand suddenly made has been greater than the power to supply—the waste greater than the renewal.

Therefore, stiffness is, first, a want of contractile power in the muscles which move the joints; and, secondly, a want of power in the joints; to be moved. It may be temporary stiffness, arising from exhaustion of the parts by extreme or unnatural action, as in the illustrations just given; or it may be permanent stiffness, arising from weakness of the parts, caused by insufficient or unsuitable exercise; but the nature of both are identical. It is a lack of functional ability in the parts affected.

To supple a man therefore is, first, to increase the contractile power of his muscles; and, secondly, to increase the mobility of his joints. And as the latter are moved by the former—can only be moved by the former—all application for this purpose should be made through them.

Now, it has already been shewn that mere movements and positions are altogether inadequate materially to develop the muscular system—materially to add to its contractile power: and there is a still greater drawback than mere insufficiency in their effect upon the joints; and that is in the danger of straining and otherwise weakening the inelastic ligamentary bindings, and galling or bruising the opposing surfaces of the bones. For every effort of mere position has the simple and sole effect of stretching that which, from its organic structure, object, and place in the human body, is not stretchable—is not intended to yield. To recapitulate: All exercises of mere position act directly on the joints, instead of acting on them through the muscles. Such exercise is, therefore, addressed to the wrong part of the body: it is addressed to the joint, when it should be addressed to that which moves the joint. It is the old and exploded treatment of disease revived for the treatment of an abnormal physical condition—subduing the symptoms instead of waging war with the cause.

I should consider the extension-motions, as practised in our army, as the limit to which this mode of exertion should be carried;—I mean where the movements and positions are given as exercise in themselves, and not merely page 283 as the positions and movements of bonâ fide exercises yet to be learned, and thus practised separately for the facility and safety of acquisition.

It is also said that these exercises of movement and position have the effect of "opening the chest." That they do promote its expansion is undoubtedly the case, but it is so to a very limited extent only—quite incommensurate with the time and labour of instruction and practice. Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.

The other exercises in this first division of the French system—even if they were valuable, even if they were capable of being classified under any distinct head, or arranged in any progressive order, or admitted of graduated instruction and practice—are entirely out of place here, because from their nature they court and incite to inordinate effort It needs no argument to prove the inconsistency of directing that men, sitting or standing, hand to hand or foot to foot, singly or in batches, shall strain and strive against men, lift cannon-shot and hold them at arm's length "as long as possible,"1 or sling them to their feet to cast them to a distance "as far as possible," before they are allowed to put hand or foot on an ordinary ladder inclined against a wall, or to walk along a plank raised a foot or two from the ground. It needs no argument to shew that this is reversing the order of exercise when measured by the amount of effort, local or general, required for its performance.

Of what use, then, is this preparatory course—this elaborate system of preparation, for the bodies and limbs of full-grown men, of soldiers—for exercises on apparatus which an English schoolboy might be led to in his first lesson? It is simply of no use at all. I do not, of course, mean to say that all its exercises are valueless; but I do affirm, as plainly as I can get words to express my meaning, that an elaborate series of initiatory exercises like these, for men youthful in frame and sound in wind and limb, is absolutely and entirely a mistake. Nay, more: this preparatory course, as a whole, is a flat and self-evident contradiction; for many of its exercises are in themselves immeasurably harder to execute—immeasurably more liable to excite to over-exertion in their performance, than many of the most advanced exercises on the fixed apparatus to which these are presumed to be preparatory. And certain of them, such as the lifting and throwing of weights, and pushing and pulling of man against man, as they admit of the most stimulating and exciting form of emulation, if retained at all, should be brought in at the very close of' the practice.

The Exercises of Progression, although they belong to the second division, may be noticed here. The Leaping is excellent, in all its forms and in all its modes of practice and application, but the Walking and Running are strikingly absurd. Let the reader judge.

At the "double" or in running, the men are advised to breathe through the "nostrils only, keeping the mouth shut." That is, while the blood is driven with redoubled speed through the lungs, and the lungs are consequently excited to extraordinary activity—inhaling and expiring air in larger quantity and with greater rapidity in order to meet this sudden demand—they are directed to close as much as possible the aperture through which this air is to be admitted. Now, perhaps the first thing which strikes an Englishman in watching the natural action of Deerfoot while running, is his open mouth and hanging jaw: the very throat seems held open, giving a free passage from lip to lung. Again: "In "the moderate and quick cadence the "foot comes flat to the ground, the "point of the foot touching it first; in "the running cadence it is an alternate "hopping on the points of the feet." It would be difficult for a clever man to invent anything more utterly opposed to the natural structure of the lower limbs, or of their natural action in these modes of progression, than the instructions here given; which are, indeed, only to be defended by the Irish "rule of

1 Instruction pour l'enseignement de la Gymnastique dans les corps de troupes et dans les etablissements militaires. Paris, 1847.

page 284 contrary." No other rule will explain the injunctions to shut the mouth when a man most requires to breathe freely—to lift the heels as high as the hips when he desires to run swiftly, and to walk on the points of the toes when he desires to march with solidity and strength.

The second division of the system, consisting of applied or practical exercises (Exercices d'Application) embraces a very extended series, to be executed on a wide range of apparatus; and it may be fairly stated that all these exercises are valuable in either an elementary or a practical aspect—that is, either as they are calculated to cultivate the physical resources of the man, or as they may be applied to the professional duties of the soldier. I repeat, that the exercises of this division of the system are intrinsically valuable in one or other of these aspects; but it must ever be viewed as a grave error, that, so far from the special aspect of each being designated—so far from their being separated and grouped, each under its proper head—they are all retained under one head, under the single designation of Practical Gymnastics.

The evil which naturally and inevitably springs from this want of arrangement is the undue importance which it gives to all exercises of a merely practically useful character, above those whose object is the training and strengthening of the body. This is emphatically the case in the earlier stages of the practice, where the whole attention of the instructor should be devoted to the giving, and the whole effort of the learner should be devoted to the acquiring, of bodily power. Increase the physical resources first, and the useful application will follow as a matter of course. A pair of strong limbs will walk north as well as south—uphill as well as down dale: the point is to get the strong limbs.

Let not this principle of classification be undervalued. The question of "What's the good of it when I've done it?" is one not unheard in the Gymnasium, and one not always easy to answer; for, even could you be at all times ready with a physiological explanation of motive, process, and result, your questioner is not always a man who could understand it, and the difficulty is increased manifold when the exercise questioned has place among others of the practical value of which there can be no question. But such classification gives at once the answer: "It is of no use at all as a thing "acquired; but, if you should never do it, "or see it done again in all your life to "come, it has served its purpose; for "you are altered, you are improved, "you are strengthened by the act and "effort of learning it." It is not every eye that can detect the crystal concealed in the pebble. Therefore, in every military system the principle should be carefully recognised from the outset that there are two distinct kinds of exercises: the one of an elementary character, which have for nature and object to develop the physical powers—to do this without reference to any other object; and the other of a practical character, having for aim to teach the soldier to overcome material obstacles and difficulties, similar to those which he would be likely to encounter in the performance of his professional duties—each kind of exercise standing on its own merits.

It is to the want of this principle in the French system that we may, in all probability, look for the reason why a number not exceeding 25 per cent, of the learners attain to the performance of the more advanced exercises, whilst a considerable proportion fail even to reach those of medium difficulty. And it is undoubtedly one of the chief causes why this system has the effect of cultivating activity, dexterity, and what is called "nimbleness," without in any corresponding degree increasing the physical resources as regards strength, vigour, and constitutional endurance.

But this classification has another advantage. If the work of the Gymnasium is to be intelligently sustained, the main features at least of the system, with as many of the minor ones as may page 285 be communicated, should be brought before the learners. Let the men be taught and encouraged to watch the effect of the exercises upon themselves—let them see that it is strong men as well as active soldiers that are desired to be produced—let each one see that a large portion of the system is thus bountifully provided to accomplish his own particular and individual health, strength, and happiness, without claim of professional serviceability; and he is no man at all in mind or body, and will never be a soldier in spirit or in power, who will hold back from such employment. I shall never forget the reply of a soldier to a question of mine, when inspecting the first squad of men who had passed through a brief course of training at the new gymnasium at Warley Barracks. I asked him if he felt any stronger for his practice. "I feel twice the man I did, sir," was his reply; and, on my further asking him what he meant by that—"I feel twice the man I did, for anything a man can be set to do." For it was just that. The man was stronger; therefore, he was not more able for this thing or that thing only, but for "anything which a man could be set to do."

But men so intelligent as those who are entrusted with the administration of the French system have perceived the propriety of a special application of the exercises practised at the close of the course of instruction. And, therefore, to the bonâ fide exercises of the system are added certain practices, in which the men are employed in "storming works, and in undergoing an examination of their general proficiency."

Such is the French System:—a system of bodily exercises, but not a system of bodily training; based on, in many respects, erroneous principles of physical culture; yet productive of great benefit, physically and morally, to the soldier: with much that is useless, much that is frivolous, much that is misplaced and misapplied, and much that has no claim whatever to be admitted into any system of bodily exercise, military or civil; yet, upon the whole, national in tone and spirit, and, as has been proved by the avidity with which it is practised, not unsuited for the men for whom it has been organized.1

In pointing out the errors, shortcomings, and inconsistencies of these systems, it will have been apparent that they all spring from one cause—the absence of any clear theory of exercise itself, of any clear comprehension of what it is, of what changes it effects in the human frame, or of its mode of accomplishing them. It is now many years since I was impressed with this conviction; for, before the formal adoption of either of the two last-mentioned systems by their respective Governments, the elements of which they are composed were known and irregularly practised. I was impressed with the conviction that, until this were done—until a theory of exercise based upon a knowledge of the structure and functions of the body, and in perfect accordance with the laws which govern its growth and development, were formed—no system of bodily culture deserving of the name could be established.

A military system of bodily training should be so comprehensive, that it should be adapted to all stages of the professional career of the soldier.

It should take up the undeveloped frame of the young recruit as he is brought to the depot, and be to him, in all respects, a system of culture—a system gradual, uniform, and progressive—a continual rise from the first exercise to the last, in which every exercise has its individual and special use, its individual and appropriate place, which none other could fill in the general system:—exercises which will give elasticity to his limbs, strength to his muscles, mobility to his joints, and above all, and with infinitely greater force than all, which will promote the expansion of those parts of the body, and stimulate to healthful activity those organs of the body, whose

1 The French system of Gymnastic Exercises was organized in 1847; and the Central School, near Vincennes, was founded in 1852.

page 286 fair conformation, health, and strength will double the value of all his afterlife; which will give him such vital stamina as will be to him a capital upon which he is to depend, and from which he is to draw at all times, at all seasons, and under all circumstances of trial or privation or toil. This should be the great object to be aimed at in the early stages of the system—the strengthening, the developing of his body, muscle and joint, organ and limb: make him a man, and, as a man, give him power over himself. Give him that, and you give him the Malakoff of the position: the activities, the dexterities of the art will fall into his hands.

But while, as experience has fully shown me, three months' training at this period of life is equal to six in any aftertime—by taking the body at a time when its susceptibilities for improvement are at the highest, and thereby giving an impetus, a momentum, to its development not obtainable at any other—yet, as the great bulk of our army is posted in inattractive camps or quartered in large cities, where incentives to idleness and temptations to dissipation are, to men in their position, both numerous and strong, therefore the system should be equally suitable in its higher grades to the trained soldier—should be a system which will ensure regular and unbroken practice at all times and in all seasons, and which, taking into consideration the amount and distribution of the time available for the purpose, should make that serviceable which is now wasted. And then, but not till then, should the practical application begin—an exposition earnest, ample, and varied, which will shew him how every article of commonest use may be utilized on emergencies to important purposes; how obstacles of every form and character may be surmounted, and how burdens of every size and shape and weight may be borne; which will shew him also—and he will now see without much showing—how every exercise in the system has added something to this end, contributed something to this attainment, twofold in its character, single in its object—to strengthen the man in order to perfect the soldier.

For all these reasons the system should be national; that is, it should be real, it should be rational, it should be manly. Real—that is, they should be exercises indeed, and not in name only; rational—that is, befitting the soldier, befitting his age, his health, his strength, his position and purpose in life; manly—that is, such as a man may be proud of doing, with plenty of room for winning and losing distinction, and only fair play to decide. An Englishman could no more be brought to practise the aimless formalities of the Prussian system and call it exercise, than he could be expected to practise the elementary exercises of the French (which begin with spinning the head round and round, as a clown does in a pantomime, and end with the "Danse Pyrrhique"—Anglicé "Cobblers' Dance,") and retain his self-respect.

These are the principles which I have held in view while preparing the system of exercise now being introduced into our army as rapidly as is desirable, indeed possible, under the direction of a Commander-in-Chief whose care knows no limit for the wellbeing and efficiency of the soldier. I have thought it practicable to produce a system of bodily culture on strictly scientific principles, with a spirit of this manly character pervading it and giving tone to all its rules. For it is of the very essence of our organization that health and strength shall be owned, won and held in the highest degree, by him whose daily life is most directly regulated by those qualities which we call manly, which we call English. The system itself should shew the mens sana in corpore sano.