BLTC Press Titles

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The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

How to get strong and how to stay so

by William Blaikie


But he has more vigorous work than these bring. Well, what? Why, ball-playing and playing tag, and foot-ball, and skating, and coasting, and some croquet, and occasional archery, while he is a painfully accnrate shot with a bean-shooter.

Well, in ball-playing he learns to pitch, to catch, to bat, to field, and to run bases. How many boys can pitch with either hand? Not one in a hundred, at least well enough to be of any use in a game. Observe the pitching arm and shoulder of some famous pitcher, and see how much larger they are than their mates. Dr. Sargent, for many years instructor in physical culture in Yale College, says that he has seen a well-known pitcher whose right shoulder was some two inches larger than the left; indeed,his whole right side seemed out of proportion with his left. The catcher draws both hands in toward him as the ball enters them, and passes it back to the pitcher almost always with the same hand. He has, in addition, to spring about on his feet, unless the balls come very uniformly, and to do much twisting and turning. The batter bats, not from either shoulder, but from one shoulder, to such an extent that those used to his batting know pretty well where he will knock the ball, though, did he bat from the other shoulder, the general direction of the knocking would be quite different. Some of the fielders have considerable running and some catching to do, and then to throw the ball in to pitcher, or baseman, or catcher. But that throw is always with the stronger hand, never with the other. Many of the fielders often have not one solitary thing to do but to walk to their stations, remain there while their side is out, and then walk hack again, hardly getting work enough, in a cold day, to keep them M ann. Running bases is sharp, jerky work, and a wretched substitute for steady, sensible running over a long distance. Nor is the fielder's running much better; and neither would ever teach a boy what he ought to know about distributing his strength in running, and how to get out of it what he readily might, and, more important yet, how to make himself an enduring long-distance runner. For all the work the former brings, ordinary, and even less than ordinary, strength of leg and lung will suffice, but for the latter it needs both good legs and good lungs.

Run most American boys of twelve or fourteen six or eight miles, or, rather, start thein at it—let them all belong to the ball-nine if you will, too— and how many would cover half the distance, even at any pace worth calling a run? The English are, and have long been, ahead of us in this direction. To most readers the above distance seems far too long to let any boy of that age run. But, had he been always used to running — not fast, but steady running—it would not seem so. Tom Brown of Rugby, in the hares-and-honnds game, of which he gives us so graphic an account, makes both the hares and hounds cover a distance of nine miles without being much the worse for it, and yet they were simply school-boys, of all ages from twelve to eighteen.

Let him who thinks that the average American boy of the same age would have fared as well, go down to the public bath-house, and look carefully at a hundred or two of them as they tumble about in the water. He will see more big heads and slim necks, more poor legs and skinny arms, and lanky, half-built bodies than he would have ever imagined the whole neighborhood could produce. Or he need not see them stripped. One of our leading metropolitan journals, in an editorial recently, headed, "Give the boy a chance," said:

"About one in ten of all the boys in the Union are living in New York and the large cities immediately adjacent; and there are even more within the limits of Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and the other American cities whose population exceeds a hundred thousand. The wits of these millions of boys are being forced to their extreme capacity, whether they arc taught in the school, the shop, or the street. But what is being done for their bodies? The answer may be obtained by standing at the door of almost any public or private school or academy at the hour of dismissal. The inquirer will see a crowd of undersized, listless, thin-faced children, with scarcely any promise of manhood about them."

Take a tape-measure and get the girth of chest, upper and forearm, of waist, hips, thighs, and calves of these little fellows, likewise their heights and ages. Now send to England and get the statistics of the boys of the same age who are good at haresand-hounds, at foot-ball, and see the difference. In every solitary measurement, save height, there is little doubt which would show the better figures. Even in height, it is more than probable that the article just quoted would find abundant foundation for calling our boys " undersized."

Next cross to Germany, and go to the schools where boys and their masters together, in vacation days, sometimes walk two or even three hundred miles, in that land where the far-famed German Turners, by long training, show a strength and agility combined which are astounding, and try the tape-measure there. Is there any question what the result would be? When the sweeping work the Germans made of it in their late war with France is called to mind, does it not look as if there was good ground for the assumption so freely made, that it was the superior physique of the Germans which did the business?

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