- 39,00 kr
Among the many notable discoveries made by the Anglo-Saxon race during the nineteenth century there is none more curious, none perhaps which will turn out to have been more concerned with the well-being of the race itself, than that which we may broadly call the discovery of Athletics. In itself this discovery was natural enough, since the love of sport, the pitting of the wit of man against animals, or against his fellows, has always been strongly inherent among us; but after thirty years of the new régime we are apt to under-estimate the extraordinary difference between the average middle-class Englishman of to-day, in the matter of athletics, and the Englishman of the late sixties. For to put it generally, games have been, if not invented, at any rate nationalized since then; a large class of professional or semi-professional players has come into existence, and an innumerable company of amateurs who play games for their own sake, and for the sake of the increased measure of health which most men find that they thereby enjoy. That this movement at present is in the exuberance of its riotous juvenility, which coming years will tame and quiet, is probable, but it is also probable that with this modification will come a more scientific method of playing games, which will convert the mere animal pleasure of using muscles and lungs into a system which, by their fit and reasonable use, ensures for their users not only a greatly increased power in mere strength and agility, but a greatly increased power of mental quickness and moral strength. The discipline, the quick obedience, the endurance which were found to be necessary for the games in themselves, will be consciously used in other ways and with objects vastly more important than mere athletic excellence. In fact, the standing luck of the Anglo-Saxons is here again typified: that which they began simply for purposes of amusement, Nature is converting and will further convert into an element, not only of physical, but of mental and moral pre-eminence.
Indeed, it was time that some new strain of growth, as it were, was imported. For decades upon decades the country life of England had been gradually drained out of the country altogether by colonization and emigration, and by centralization into its towns; and the inevitable health which waits upon those who live mainly in the open air, whose diet is simple and wholesome foods, was being undermined by close quarters, insufficient oxygen, and more than sufficient stimulants, while those of the upper classes who still lived much in the country hunted six days out of the seven, and drank seven nights out of the same number. For the good old Englishman type, “one of the rare old sort,” as it is the fashion to call it, cannot in the light of to-day be fairly thought to be a very efficient or wholesome specimen. In fact, instead of admiring the life which certain not very critical observers have told us “made them what they were,” we ought rather to admire the wonderful constitutions nature had given them, which did not sooner break up under the extraordinarily unhealthy régime of riding off every day some of the excessive port wine consumed the evening before. No doubt those works of fiction which admiringly record their feats make such a class to appear to us larger and more wide-spread than it really was; it is merely the admiration which we deprecate.