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be eternally bewildered in prospects of future gain,
No. 14. Bodily Exercise SPECTATOR No. 115. Thursday, July 12, 1711
Ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.1
Juv. Sat. x. 356.
BODILY labor is of two kinds, either that which a man submits to for his livelihood, or that which he undergoes for his pleasure. The latter of them generally changes the name of labor for that of
exercise, but differs only from ordinary labor as it rises from another motive.
A country life abounds in both these kinds of labor, and for that reason gives a man a greater 5 stock of health, and consequently a more perfect
enjoyment of himself, than any other way of life. I consider the body as a system of tubes and glands, or, to use a more rustic phrase, a bundle of pipes
and strainers, fitted to one another after so wonder10 ful a manner as to make a proper engine for the
soul to work with. This description does not only comprehend the bowels, bones, tendons, veins, nerves, and arteries, but every muscle and every
ligature, which is a composition of fibers, that are 15 so many imperceptible tubes or pipes interwoven on all sides with invisible glands or strainers.
This general idea of a human body, without considering it in its niceties of anatomy, lets us see how
absolutely necessary labor is for the right preserva20 tion of it. There must be frequent motions and
agitations, to mix, digest, and separate the juices contained in it, as well as to clear and cleanse that infinitude of pipes and strainers of which it is com
posed, and to give their solid parts a more firm and 25 lasting tone. Labor or exercise ferments the hu
mors, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies, and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.
I might here mention the effects which this has upon all the faculties of the mind, by keeping the understanding clear, the imagination untroubled, and refining those spirits that are necessary for the proper exertion of our intellectual faculties, during 5 the present laws of union between soul and body. It is to a neglect in this particular that we must ascribe the spleen, which is so frequent in men of studious and sedentary tempers, as well as the vapors to which those of the other sex are so often 10 subject.
Had not exercise been absolutely necessary for our well-being, nature would not have made the body so proper for it, by giving such an activity to the limbs, and such a pliancy to every part as 15 necessarily produce those compressions, extensions, contortions, dilatations, and all other kinds of motions that are necessary for the preservation of such a system of tubes and glands as has been before mentioned. And that we might not want induce-20 ments to engage us in such an exercise of the body as is proper for its welfare, it is so ordered that nothing valuable can be produced without it. Not to mention riches and honor, even food and raiment are not to be come at without the toil of the hands 25 and sweat of the brows. Providence furnishes materials, but expects that we should work them up ourselves. The earth must be labored before it gives its increase, and when it is forced into its
several products, how many hands must they pass through before they are fit for use! Manufactures, trade, and agriculture, naturally employ more than
nineteen parts of the species in twenty; and as for 5 those who are not obliged to labor, by the condition
in which they are born, they are more miserable than the rest of mankind, unless they indulge themselves in that voluntary labor which goes by the name of exercise.
My friend Sir Roger has been an indefatigable man in business of this kind, and has hung several parts of his house with the trophies of his former labors. The walls of his great hall are covered with
the horns of several kinds of deer that he has illed 15 in the chase, which he thinks the most valuable
furniture of his house, as they afford him frequent topics of discourse, and show that he has not been idle. At the lower end of the hall is a large otter's
skin stuffed with hay, which his mother ordered to 20 be hung up in that manner, and the knight looks
upon with great satisfaction, because it seems he was but nine years old when his dog killed him. A little room adjoining to the hall is a kind of
arsenal filled with guns of several sizes and inven25 tions, with which the knight has made great havoc
in the woods, and destroyed many thousands of pheasants, partridges, and woodcocks. His stabledoors are patched with noses that belonged to foxes of the knight's own hunting down. Sir Roger
showed me one of them that for distinction sake has a brass nail struck through it, which cost him about fifteen hours' riding, carried him through half a dozen counties, killed him a brace of geldings, and lost above half his dogs. This the knight looks 5 upon as one of the greatest exploits of his life. The perverse widow, whom I have given some account of, was the death of several foxes; for Sir Roger has told me that in the course of his amours he patched the western door of his stable. When-10 ever the widow was cruel, the foxes were sure to pay for it. In proportion as his passion for the widow abated, and old age came on, he left off fox-hunting; but a hare is not yet safe that sits within ten miles of his house.
15 There is no kind of exercise which I would so recommend to my readers of both sexes as this of riding, as there is none which so much conduces to health, and is every way accommodated to the body, according to the idea which I have given of it. 20 Doctor Sydenham ? is very lavish in its praises; and if the English reader will see the mechanical effects of it described at length, he may find them in a book published not many years since under the title of Medicina Gymnastica. For my own part, 25 when I am in town, for want of these opportunities, I exercise myself an hour every morning upon a dumb-bell that is placed in a corner of my room, and it pleases me the more because it does every