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for the selectioa of a light-weight stud ; though I should myself go further afield for the square-rumped, short-legged, weight-carrying hunters, to which your steady old uncle has been compelled to reduce himself.
I think I saw the Oxbridge Commissioners' report upon your table. Ignorance and prejudice are fellow travellers, in the same bosom generally-no man is truly ridiculous until he begins to talk about things of which he knows nothing ; in the same way that pretension is the truest vulgarity. This report, from the glimpse I had of it, like the busy Bee, touches upon every thing ; I hope you are not so bad as these Commissioners make out. Do you mean to say you will have patent leather boots, and neatly made clothes, and rings and watches, and hot suppers and breakfasts, and £40 worth of cigars, and £4 per diem of hunting? This is all very wrong of little boys, only twenty or twenty-one, and we know that in London, and in the army and navy, at that age, children are never allowed to go about without a nurse. I think we ought, as a duty, to prove to these old ladies that the hunting expenditure, at all events, and its consequences, are not so grievous and extravagant as they presume. We all know the price of corn at this present time ; if not, come and live in an agricultural district for a short time. Oxbridge horses have no more appetite than any others, and with "Puffing Billy for our hack to cover, the four guineas would require some awful turnpikes to make up. The train to cover has been of late years a great convenience in time and pocket, to you young gentlemen. Twenty-five milesto Addlestrope gate for instance-on two hacks, to save chapel, was rather a teaser for the pocket. But even in those days exaggeration was the offspring of ignorance and report. Are you to have no more cakes and ale because these commissioners are not hungry? and do you imagine that the Dons themselves like these restrictions on the sports of the field ? Do they imagine that hunting leads to drinking and low company? No such thing—they know better. The quietest man in all Muddlehead or St. Boniface, is perhaps the most orthodox sportsman and hardest rider; and is snoring peaceably in bed, whilst young Highlows, the evangelical parson's only son, who knows no more of a horse than he does of a rhinoceros, is just throwing his supper plates out of window, preparatory to being assisted into bed by his Scout, and the marker of the Tennis court, partaker of his hospitality. Democrítus would hardly have laughed at these follies---Heraclitus certainly must have cried.
Talking of tears reminds me of my meeting with one of your oldest and most orthodox of Dons-his eyes were full of tears, and deep grief swallowed him up. " Ah,” said he, “Scribble, times are changed since you were here ; no more soda water, no more headaches, no more hot breakfasts, no more cool claret and hot coppers, no more smoking, no more (here was a violent burst of grief ), no more hunting. The rest I could have borne, but this is too much-we are so good and so pious, that we have scarcely a gentleman left in the College."
* But surely," said I, " this is the very thing you have been fighting for ; this appears to be the feeling of the University."
-"The feeling of a handful of young enthusiasts, who, because they only change their shirts twice a week, and their neckcloths thrice, imagine that a straight cut collar and highlows is the royal road to intelligence; and that though a gentleman may be clean, a moral man cannot.
So they have insisted upon it that Oxbridge is meant for a large school, and that those who like hunting are too gentlemanly and too manly for so orthodox a finish to their education.”.
When I was at Oxbridge the other day, this was the language with which I was met constantly ; not by your dapper, impertinent-looking, enthusiastic young fellows, but by the fine old orthodox Dons of the University. They added, what I was sorry to learn, that the pent-up effervescence of twenty years of age would break out somewhere : and as Oxbridge was too warm for it, it expended itself in London, in betting houses, and gambling; and not to over-look so melancholy a falling off, I intend to give you a line, when time permits me, on the little bit of racing I happened (luckily or unluckily) to witness.
I believe I have said a word or two in this letter on the melancholy mistakes incidental to men who will handle subjects they do not understand. I wonder what the Court of Chancery would think of my decision on Snooks versus Snooks, or the bench of Bishops of Scribble on Gorham. By Jove, sir, I have just as much regard for these worthies’ opinion on hunting in Oxbridge for that's our main business——"ne sutor ultra Crepidam," and they really think it not only induces a young gentleman to expend £4 per diem on amusement (and, if he had it, well he might on such an one) but it leads to low society and drinking, and other extravagances. Do they know the sportsman of the present day; or are not their ideas about as musty and fusty, as their rules? Low society ! drinking ! save the mark. Here's a pretty thing for the Foresters, Wiltons, Jerseys, Chesterfields, Bentincks, Suttons, et hoc genus omne. Fancy these men, or any one of them, because they have been out hunting all day, thinking it necessary to pass the night in company with Noakes, Styles, the huntsman, brandy and water, and cigars ; until at early dawn, they, as the gentlemen of the party, were escorted to bed by a battalion of stable-boys. Confound the impudence of the assumption-never let it be said of you, my boy, or your old uncle will "never call you Jack again.
Candour is almost a failing with me, as you may have observed in our short correspondence. I admit that a century ago field sports sometimes laid the foundation for an evening campaign-men would fight their battles, or play their game (fox and goose) over again. Such a thing is never heard of now--we never talk of hunting after dinner, but we do it before some of us, where ardour is tempered with discretion. But there are two pictures--the old masters and the new ; the old are not sold at any price ---they are heard of, but we never see them--they are as follows.
He (the old) riseth at six ; he donneth a coat of no proportions-stout as he is his coat is stouter. He weareth cords, or perchance drabs ; his mahogany tops (oh that they ever should return!) he warmeth by the kitchen fire. Of beef he eateth, of ale he drinketh, “right early in the morning." He calleth around him his hounds ; on his fat bottomed horse he rideth, but not to a halloa on any consideration. He jumpeth a style or gate ; he gallopeth not too fast, and loveth not water, save to wash in. He killeth his fox (which the new masters do not), after two hours and twenty minutes; he shouteth and sweareth, and returneth at two o'clock to dinner. Here he sitteth, and port he drinketh ; he ordereth in his favourite bitch, his huntsman, his stud-groom, his toady, the doctor of his village ; and his chaplain carrieth him to bed at early even.
He (the new master) riseth at nine-he donneth a gentleman's garment and unexceptionable leathers-he taketh his tea, or his coffee, if not too late for cover ; and converseth amicably with his wife, if he hath one. A thoroughbred hack carrieth him to cover by eleven o'clock, when a lengthy wellconditioned hunter of great price awaiteth his arrival, under the neatest of grooms. He talketh to ladies in carriages, vieweth the wily animal, halloeth not, but slippeth away with the leading hounds, leaving the rest of the field to discover his whereabout-he rideth well for twenty minutes, and declineth altogether when it becometh slow. Real hunting he careth not for ; but will jump anything when hounds are flying, and a friend is trying to cut him down. He sweareth not, he shouteth not, but reserveth his powers of conversation for his evening guests ; he returneth, dresseth, dineth at seven o'clock ; drinketh a few glasses of sherry and claret ; is quiet, though hospitable, gentlemanly though hard ; and would as soon think of going to bed drunk, or sending for his huntsman to drink his health, as you would of shooting your grandmother. In fact he is not only a man and a sportsman, but a gentleman ; of which you might as well try to persuade one of these newly illuminated authorities or their supporters, as that a clean shirt and a clean conscience may be found on the same breast.
Now, my boy, I know all this ; and I should like you to stick to the new seet, in most articles of its creed. But they tell me that as you young Oxbridge gentlemen cannot have the hunting as we used to have it with the old Duke (not F. M. the Duke) you have taken to steeplechasing and racing--and in that racing, alas,! to nobbling. I do not suspect a Scribble of this latter-one of that name never did
good to earn a shilling ; he would scarcely do evil. But if you must go down to Silsley, and gallop over the fat, mind, amongst you it must all be on the square. If not, it will soon be blown.
What! a society of gentlemen, young gentlemen, rob one another! shameful ask the jockey club. Horses bonâ fide property are not, or ought not, to be bought for a nomination, to be returned at a couple of guineas loss for the day's use, or a stand in, if a winner. I hoped to have seen the horses on which you have been waking up the echoes of Bullingdon, Port Meadow, and Cowley Marsh, during the summer, as we tused to do, not a pack of strangers---lame, halt, blind, fifteen pounders, with nothing but their condition, and blood, to recommend them.
But a word to the wise. I know there are some good ones amongst you across country, with heads screwed on the right way, and hearts not much out of place either; so leave all that nobbling to the man with tight drabs, and single buttoned straps, and flat brimmed hat, and slang coat, (not a Camford man, but looking like a swell huntsman on a summer tour), and never be guilty of a thing you would blush to own before the whole world ; let alone Pennsylvania and the betting-list houses. If you must run a horse amongst your Oxbridge acquaintances for a pony or two, make him as good as you can get him, but stick to the spirit of the Oxbridge regulations, as understood amongst gentlemen ; and not to the letter, as understood amongst the touts.
Ever your affectionate Uncle,
SCRIBBLE. PS. I mean to teach you how to buy a hack, if you should want one. July 1852.
WORD ON GYMNASTICS.
"A station like the herald Mercury,
When the famous Wyndham—a statesman even in those days of world-shaking measures and illustrious men, when England gathered confidence from such names as Pitt, Fox, Burke, and others of like calibre-an orator distinguished for the flow of his eloquence as for the majestic grace of his delivery, and a gentleman so true-hearted and high-spirited as to have earned from the immortal lips of Burke himself, the epithet of "the chivalrous Wyndham”-when this gallant politician was one evening walking homeward along Parliament-street, from the triumph of an oration and the victory of a division, his attention was arrested by the shameful manner in which a gigantic coal-heaver was belabouring a fine dray-horse committed to his
charge. In vain Wyndham warned him to desist: the aggressor, confident in his towering size and brute strength, menaced the well-dressed gentleman who expostulated, with the same treatment. The oath, with which he gave effect to his threat, was hardly out of his mouth ere he measured his length upon the pavement, only to rise that he might once more fall, before the lightning-like delivery of his opponent's arm. Well-made, sinewy, and active, Mr. Wyndham never attacked, parried, and returned more effectively in the intellectual warfare of the ministerial and opposition benches, than he now did in his physical contest with the man of brawn and beer: nor probably was such a ring ever formed between two such antagonists-nobles, statesmen, and diplomatists, mingled with Westminster's lowest rabble, crowded round to witness the scientific display of the gentleman, the speedy defeat of the blackguard. The coal-heaver was knocked out of time in five minutes, and Mr. Wyndham, assuming his laced coat and adjusting his knee-buckles, walked coolly home to dinner as if nothing had happened. It was the triumph of skill, activity, and cordition, over mere corporeal size and weight. And the fact that a man gifted with Mr. Wyndham's endowments, and holding his dignified position, should not despise the cultivation of those exercises which give agility to the limbs and strength to the frame (for he was celebrated as one of the best fencers, boxers, and dancers of his day, all of which accomplishments demand no small share of application and perseverance), brings me to the consideration of a subject which is only now beginning to be systematically studied, and thoroughly understood by its professors ; but which, day by day, is awaking a greater share of public attention and public approval -I mean the art of attaining health, strength, and activity, more commonly known by the term "gymnastic 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 å man as he was at twenty, besides attaining an amount