Commercial Life


THE continually increasing numbers who devote themselves to
commercial pursuits, and the still larger numbers whom they in-
fluence as dependants as they grow in importance, make the habits
of the class a matter of serious social consideration.

The commercial man measures his usefulness in the world "by
his success in rapidly accumulating honest wealth. Honesty,
therefore, being presupposed, the most conscientious is always lia-
ble to the temptation of wishing to compress two days' work into
one, so as to be rich in half the time taken by his neighbors. To
speak of this as a "struggle for life," is silly; of those who labor
hardest in our cities, there are very few who would not acknowl-
edge that one-tenth of their anxious toil would supply the daily
needs of themselves and families. They are in reality egged on
by ambitious rivalry, which uses for its purposes that insatiable
hunger for hard work innate in the British breast. The haste to
be rich is most unwise, and not only often defeats its own purpose
by prematurely incapacitating the haster from further struggles,
but if it is successful, it surely deprives middle life, or at least old
age, of its occupation.

A man whose unusual exertions have made him rich rapidly,
is sure to have been too much engrossed by his business to take
an interest in other things. He may have kept himself, as a duty,
acquainted with the pursuits and sympathies of his fellows, but
he is incapable of making them the occupation of his thoughts.
He is driven to look to the past only for the genuine interest of

Much more often the health suddenly breaks down before the
desired object is attained, and the power is wanting to engage in
other pursuits, to take the place of business which is perforce
given up. The expenditure of strength, in the hurry to grasp
wealth, has resulted only in weakness and poverty.


It was a piece of shrewd advice administered by an old mer-
chant to a young one " If you want to die rich, live as long as
you can."

The most important rule for one engaged in any business which
involves headwork or responsibility to lay down for himself is to
strictly confine his business to its own times and places. Retail
shopkeeping of all employments allows the greatest number of
hours to be occupied in attention to its interests ; for, if fairly pros-
perous, it does not exhaust the brain, and yet offers the gentle
stimulus of movement and conversation. However, the principals
of many large concerns of this kind are more heavily weighted,
and if they want to enjoy health must draw a strict line between
the hours devoted to money-making and those devoted to living,
just as much as if they were merchants or manufacturers.

The result of a neglect of this rule, of bringing the counting-
house into the dining-room and bed-room, is indigestion and

The principal meals should be breakfast and dinner, breakfast
before and dinner after the work of the day. But a break in the
middle for luncheon is very important, indeed is imperative for
all but exceptional cases. At breakfast and dinner, animal food
is necessary to a hard worker; but it is not required at luncheon,
and often causes heaviness and feverishness during the afternoon.
Any large quantity of fat or butter also seems heating, especially
if it is cooked, as in pastry. Farinaceous food, vegetables, fruit,
should be the staple of the midday meal, with only so much of
anything else as is wanted for a relish, the less the better.

Many commercial men give up vegetables because they find
that taken at a mixed meal, along with meat, they cause flatulence.
If they will separate the two classes of food, which require the
digestive powers of different and somewhat opposite solvents, the
saliva and the gastric juice, if they will take vegetables at one
meal and meat at another, they will often find the difficulty over-
come, and full quantities of both digested without fermentation.

The habitual use of stimulants in the middle of the day is to
be deprecated ; nevertheless where an unusual amount of cerebral
exertion has been gone through, a cheerful glass of wine or beer
will often prevent over-fatigue let not, however, the demand or
the supply grow a daily habit.


The daily use at dinner of a moderate amount of alcohol in some
form contributes, I am sure, to the health of brain-workers.
Light perfect wine is the best form, next beer, next strong wine
and water, last spirituous liquors.

Commercial work can be done only in the town, and it must be
confessed that town air and influences are not the most favorable
to health. On this score many nowadays spend their nights at
long distances from their place of business, so that no more time
than is absolutely essential should be spent at a disadvantage.
The success attendant upon this plan of residence in the country
is closely proportioned to the earliness of the time at which busi-
ness can be left. Unless an hour or two can be given to relaxa-
tion in the purer air before dinner, I do not think the labor of
rdshing backwards and forwards is compensated for. It is pleas-
ant, doubtless, to see the junior branches of the family flourishing
among green fields, but not when the bloom is gained by the ex-
haustion of the bread-winner's strength. Those who can afford
it, will do better to fix their permanent residence near their work,
and live temporarily in the country for a few months during the
long days.

Besides the reason mentioned above another may be given for
the long hours borne by retailers, namely, that their shops are
better ventilated and lighted than most of even the wealthiest
merchants' counting-houses. To pass from the magnificent dwell-
ing of his wife and daughters to the dull stuffy den of many a
prince of commerce, recalls the image of Samson grinding in the
dark through the treason of his money-loving spouse. Things
were not so bad when the family lived over the offices, and a
softening female influence civilized the whole house. But now
work and life seem to be seeking a divorce from one another, and
the place of business is growing more and more gruesome, and,
like another ill-omened locality, is not to be alluded to in polite
society. A ladies' mission for the improvement of these dwellings
is urgently called for. Unlike other missions, it could dispense
with promoters, secretaries, speeches, committees, subscriptions,
and collectors. Or rather, all these agencies united could embark
in the family conveyance, or even in a one-horse fly, and begin
operations at once with a builder and decorator as assessor. The
scale of expenditure should be proportioned to that of the other


home ; it will probably add very little to the yearly bills, nothing
in comparison to silk gowns and spring bonnets.

The healthiest exercise for a commercial man is riding when it
is possible. It diverts the thoughts, especially if the nag be
skittish, prevents the stagnation of the abdominal bloodvessels,
and promotes a due flow of bile. But the outside of an omnibus
is better than nothing at all, and is within the means of every one.
Much walking is usually found too fatiguing, and if adopted as a
duty, is apt to be monotonous. Boating and cricket are suitable
for the younger members of the commercial world, but they oc-
cupy more time than can often be spared, and have to be kept for
holidays. The more violent athletic sports are open to still more
objection, and if it is attempted to pursue them at the same time
that the thoughts are occupied in business, they exhaust the vital
powers, and weakness is the result.




THAT dogmatic expression of Biichner's, " No thinking with-
out phosphorus," 1 has gained an unhappy notoriety. Strictly
taken it is a groundless assumption, for it is impossible for us to
have any evidence that intellectual being may not exist joined to
any form of matter, or quite independent of matter at all. We
certainly do not know enough of the subject to lay down a nega-
tive statement. And if it be held to mean that the amount of
phosphorus passing through the nervous system bears a proportion
to the intensity of thought, it is simply a misstatement. A cap-
tive lion, tiger, or leopard, or hare, who can have wonderfully
little to think about, assimilates and parts with a greater quantity
of phosphorus than a professor of chemistry working hard in his
laboratory ; while a beaver, who always seems to be contriving
something, excretes so little phosphorus, at least in his urine, that
chemical analysis cannot detect it. 2 All that the physiologist is
justified in stating is that for the mind to energize in a living
body, that body must be kept living up to a certain standard, and
that for .this continuous renewal of life a supply of phosphatic salts
is required. The same may be said with equal justice of water,
fat, nitrogen, chloride of sodium, oxygen, etc. The phosphates
are wanted indeed, but wanted by pinches, whilst water must be
pouring in by pailfuls. One might go on thinking for weeks
without phosphates, but without water a few days, and without
oxygen a few minutes, would terminate the train of self-conscious-
ness. The practical points taught us by physiology are that for
the integrity of thought the integrity of the nervous system is
requisite ; and for the integrity of the nervous system a due
quantity of such food as contains digestible phosphatic salts.

1 Ohne Phosphor kein Gedanke, Kraft und Stoff, sec. 122.

2 See the analyses of the several kinds of urine in Simon's Chemistry, vol.
ii, pp. 144, 342, and 350.


For the intellectual direction of the nervous system it is at the
same time essential that it should not be oppressed by physical
and mechanical difficulties. The presence in the stomach or blood
of imperfectly assimilated nutriment impedes its functions in close
proportion to their amount ; so that not only the chemical constit-
uents but the mode of administering food must come into the cal-

The most perfect regimen for the healthy exercise of thought is
such as would be advised for a growing boy, frequent small sup-
plies of easily soluble mixed food, so as to supply the greatest
quantity of nutriment without overloading the stomach or running
the risk of generating morbid half-assimilated products.

The physiology of the action of alcohol has a very practical
bearing on the physical regimen of the mental functions. Alcohol
has the power of curbing, arresting, and suspending all the
phenomena connected with the nervous system. We feel its in-
fluence on our thoughts as soon as on any other part of the man.
Sometimes it brings them more completely under our command,
controls and steadies them ; sometimes it confuses or disconnects
them ; then breaks off our power and the action of the senses alto-
gether. The first effect is desirable, the others to be avoided.
When a man has tired himself with intellectual exertion, a moder-
ate quantity of alcohol taken with food acts as an anaesthetic, stays
the wear of the system which is going on, and allows the nervous
force to be diverted to the due digestion of the meal. But it must
be followed by rest from mental labor, and is in fact a part of the
same regimen which enforces rest it is an artificial rest. To con-
tinue to labor and at the same time to take the anaesthetic is an
inconsistency. It merely blunts the painful feeing of weariness,
and prevents it from acting as a warning. I very much doubt
the quickening or brightening of the wits which bacchanalian
poets have conventionally attributed to alcohol. An abstainer in
a party of even moderate topers finds their jokes dull and their
anecdotes pointless, and his principal amusement consists in his
observation of their curious bluntness to the absurdity of their

There is no more fatal habit to a literary man than that of
using alcohol as a stimulant between meals. The vital powers go
on getting worn out more and more without their cry for help-



being perceived, and in the end break down suddenly and ofte
irrevocably. The temptation is greater perhaps to a literary ma
than to any other in the same social position, especially if he ha
been induced by avarice or ambition to work wastefully agains
time; and if he cannot resist it he had better abjure the use c
alcohol altogether.

As to quantity, the appetite for solid food is the best guide. I
a better dinner or supper is eaten for a certain amount of fermentei
liquor accompanying it, that is the amount most suitable. If
worse, then it may be concluded that an excess is committed, how
ever small the cup may be.

Although nothing can take the place of alcohol in this article o
diet, yet fermented drinks are not suited to the nervous system a
all in proportion to their alcoholic contents. The fruity ether
and aromas evolved in the process of fermentation, and which d
not seem capable of existing in a digestible form without alcohol
are even more powerful in repairing the waste of the nerve power
Burgundy has acquired a special fame as food for the brain, an<
claret runs it hard, while good, sound, unadulterated beer is i
homely creature little inferior to them. All of these are superio
to sherry and port, and to spirits, for reasons given in a forme
chapter of this volume on the choice of food.

Mental activity certainly renders the brain less capable o
bearing an amount of alcohol which in seasons of rest and relaxa
tion does not injuriously affect it. When any extraordinary toi
is temporarily imposed, extreme temperance or even total absti
nence should be the rule. Much to the point is the experience o
Byron's Sardanapalus :

" The goblet I reserve for hours of ease,
I war on water."

The posture of the body usually adopted by literary and man}
professional persons engaged in writing is a matter worth consider-
ation. Chamber counsel are notoriously subject to piles am
venous congestion of the rectum ; women who sit much with theii
work in front of them get also congestion and irregularity of th<
uterine organs ; cold feet from sluggish arterial circulation an
frequently complained of by otherwise hearty sedentary workers
The ill health which these symptoms indicate may often be pre-


vented by the use of a high desk at which the work may be done
standing for a time now and then ; and a further change of pos-
ture may be obtained by an easy chair which will allow of think-
ing with the body thrown back and by occasional walks about the

Athletic sports are scarcely consistent with steady, hard brain-
work. Probably only the most muscular try to persist in them,
and they acknowledge that their intellects are readiest and
strongest when they are taking quite moderate exercise, and not
when their muscles are corky and their limbs light. There is a
peculiar state of health into which those are apt to fall who,
having for a long period kept themselves in training for boat-
racing or other muscular exertion, afterwards adopt a life which
involves mental labor and responsibility, even though they get a
fair amount of bodily relaxation. The leading symptoms are
emaciation, weariness, depression of spirits, and an unnaturally
high specific gravity in the urine, which is, however, abundant
and full-colored, thus showing an excess of destructive assimila-
tion which cannot but be very injurious.

Fresh air and relaxation of mind are of more importance than
exercise, which last is indeed mainly valuable as securing them.
The limits of weariness should not be transgressed. The attempt
to compensate for excessive literary toil by excessive bodily toil is
based on a false conception of the relations of matter and spirit,
worthier of an ancient Gnostic than of a modern philosopher,
which has more than once led to fatal results. I had for some
years as a patient a literary lady who wrote much and well in
magazines. She would go straight from her study to her garden
and glebe, dig furiously and mow with a scythe, despising -or
rather luxuriating in fatigue. Gradually paralysis came on, show-
ing itself first as "writer's cramp," and then creeping over the
whole body. The mind and senses were as perfect as ever, and so
long as she was able to move the tongue she dictated lively monthly
articles, and at last died apparently of sorrow at being unable to
communicate her thoughts.

Tobacco should not be indulged in during working hours.
Whatever physiological effect it has is sedative, and so obstructs
mental operations. But as a relaxation afterwards it is in modera-
tion beneficial. As a calmative before retiring to rest it has the


sanction of a vigorous brain laborer, John Milton, whose supper,
we are told, consisted of bread, water, olives, and a pipe of tobacco.
There is a flavor about the fare of the happy days he had passed
with an elegant literary circle in Italy.

The daily habits of Robert Southey, a man who more than any
other made literature a healthy profession and 'a successful profes-
sion, are thus described by his son in his "Life," vol. iii, 2, and vi,
6 : " Breakfast was at nine, after a little reading, dinner at four,
tea at six, supper at half-past nine, and the intervals filled up with
reading or writing ; except that he regularly walked between two
and four, and took a short sleep before tea, the outline of his day
when he was in full work will have been given. After supper,
when the business of the day seemed to be over, though he gener-
ally took a book, he remained with his family, and was open to
enter into conversation, to amuse and to be amused."

" My actions," he writes about this time to a friend, " are as
regular as those of St. Dunstan's quarter-boys. Three pages of
history after breakfast (equivalent to five in small quarto print-
ing) ; then to transcribe and copy for the press, or to make my se-
lections and biographies, or what else suits my humor, till dinner-
time ; from dinner till tea I read, write letters, see the newspaper,
and very often indulge in a siesta ; for sleep agrees with me, and
I have a good substantial theory to prove that it must ; for if a
man who walks much requires to sit down and rest himself, so
does the brain, if it be the part most worked, require its repose.
Well, after tea I go to poetry, and correct and re-write and copy
till I am tired, and then turn to anything else till supper; and
this is my life which, if it be not a merry one, is yet as happy as
heart could wish."

And a very rational mode of living it was, deserving of its re-
ward. The country air and quiet among the lakes and moun-
tains, the association with kindred and loving spirits, the old-
fashioned dinner-hour excluding uncongenial society, the regular
exercise, and the sound night's rest, with temperance, soberness,
and chastity, preserved his mental powers fresh and vigorous in
old age, to leave to future generations undying memorials of sym-
pathy with all that is best in humanity.

Milton describes himself as " with useful and generous labors
preserving the body's health and hardiness, to render lightsome,


clear, and not lumpish obedience to the mind, to the cause of re-
ligion and our country's liberty, when it shall require firm hearts
in sound bodies to stand and cover their stations."

His blindness probably interfered with the activity of his mus-
cular discipline in later years, for he was a martyr to gout towards
the end of his life.

Samuel Johnson is another type of the literary man pure and
simple. Scrofulous, awkward, hypochondriacal, and corpulent, he
was averse naturally to bodily exertion, yet he walked a good deal,
and worked steadily and patiently without bursts of industry or
idleness. Passionately fond of company and of eating and drink-
ing, he restrained himself, and indulged only when the labor of
the day was over. His knowledge of physiology and medicine
kept him from quackery, and his medical advisers were the most
rational physicians of the day. After middle life, his own obser-
vation of his health led him to abstain entirely from wine; I have
heard my grandmother describe the air of dignified patience with
whieh he passed the bottle which she often pressed upon him at
her father's. table. He sat up late at night indeed, yet that \vas
not for work, but to rest the mind with sportive and varied con-
versation. He had his reward in the retention of his mind, even
when its material organ had broken down.

Shelley was a vegetarian, and, perhaps, his peculiar way of
living, combined with the fact of not writing for a livelihood or
to please others, estranged his sympathies from human kind. But
at all events, his temperance did not weaken his exuberance of
thought and diction. What would have happened had he con-
sumed more phosphorus, it is impossible to say ; but he could
hardly have been a more rapid composer or stronger wielder of

Walter Scott passed a genial sociable existence, took much ex-
ercise, dissuaded his younger friends from substituting gig-driving
for riding, and always insisted on having seven or eight hours of
utter unconsciousness in bed. Had he passed his whole life in
his study, he would have written probably worse and certainly
less, for he would have had a shorter life to write in.

It is true that Byron assumes in his poetry the character of a
debanche, and says he wrote " Don Juan " under the inspiration
of gin and water. But much of that sort of talk is merely for


stage effect, and \ve see how industrious he was, and read of his
training vigorously to reduce corpulence, and of his being such an
exceptionally experienced swimmer as to rival Leander in crossing
the Hellespont.

It is especially when the mind of genius is overshadowed by
the dark cloud of threatened insanity, of hypochondriasis, or of
hysteria, that a rational regimen preserves it to the glory of God
and the advantage of man. Nothing but daily exercise, temper-
ate meals, and a punctual observance of regular hours of study and
rest, could have kept burning the flickering candle of reason in
poor suicidal Cowper. Most rarely and faintly do his writings
exhibit a trace of the gloom which made life to him, as he de-
scribed it in his last words, "unutterable misery."

On the other hand, the keen poison of his own genius slew in
youth Kirke White, when he surrendered himself to its exclusive
cultivation :

That eagle's fate and his were one,
Who on the shaft that made him die

Beheld a feather of his own,

Wherewith he wont to soar so high.

The elegant appreciater of nature, the author of " The Seasons,"
faded away from lazy and self-indulgent habits. The great all-
loving soul of Burns produced so little because it was drenched in
drink and idleness, not excessive indeed, but sufficient to ruin his

Apropos of this last matter, we may give to some people the
same caution which Swift administers in a letter to Pope : " The
least transgression of yours, if it be only two bits and a sup more
than your stint, is a great debauch, for which you will certainly
pay more than those sots who are carried dead drunk to bed."
The machinery of sensitive souls is as delicate as it is valuable,
and cannot bear the rough usage which coarse customs inflict upon
it. It is broken to pieces by blows which common natures laugh
at. The literary man, with his highly cultivated, tightly strung
sensations, is often more susceptible of the noxious and less sus-
ceptible of the beneficial results of alcohol and other indulgences
than others. His mind is easier to cloud, and there is a deeper
responsibility in clouding it.


Equally when we descend into the lower regions of Parnassus,
the abodes of talent and cleverness and the supply of periodical
literary requirements, we find the due care of the body absolutely
essential to the continued usefulness of the intellect. The first
things to which one entering the profession of literature must
make up his mind, are to be respectable and healthy.

What noble fragments one finds in Savage and in Poe ! and
how sad to know that they are fragments instead of stately struc-
tures, solely because the builders had not the wisdom to live regular
lives !




THE digestive organs are liable to suffer from the position as-
sumed at work by certain handicraftsmen, and the discomfort
hence arising leads to the adoption of an unwholesome dietary,
which in the end intensifies the evil.

Shoemakers contract a peculiar sort of gastralgia, partly from
the pressure of the last against the epigastrium, and partly from
the constriction of the abdominal viscera, especially the stomach,
by leaning so far forward to work. The use of the upright bench,
in which the last is held firm by a stirrup, and an erect posture
always preserved, is the best remedy for the evil, and the thanks of
the country are due to Mr. Sparkes Hall for his advocacy of this
method of getting over a difficulty as old as the Pharaohs at least.

Against the constipation and haemorrhoids which the same pos-
ture induces the best preservative is the free use of fresh butter, a
cold tub every morning, and an occasional dandelion pill.

The discomfort which they cause in a sensitive condition of the
stomach causes vegetables to be avoided by many shoemakers.
They can hardly bear to take sufficient to sustain health. So
long as this is the case, they should eat as many oranges and
lemons as they can, or in default of them, fresh rhubarb, and try
the plan proposed before of eating vegetables only at one meal
and meat alone at another. A small quantity of watercresses is
also a great resource.

The same observations apply with nearly equal force to tailors,
but unfortunately they have not the refuge of the upright bench
to fly to, and to a certain extent also to sewing-machine workers,
in whose case I would suggest that a simple contrivance by which
the legs of the instrument could be shortened or lengthened would
enable the changes of posture necessary to health to be made.

However, it is indubitable that a great deal of the ill-health of
all classes of artisans arises from the closeness of their work-
rooms, and a more philanthropic deed cannot be done for a de-


serving class than the bringing under the notice of the district
health-officers instances of the violation of the law by masters.

Gardeners often are afflicted with water-brash, arising in a
measure from the stooping posture deranging the viscera which
receive the food, especially the lower end of the gullet. But I
think that an additional cause is frequently the bad cooking of
the vegetables they eat. Half-boiled potatoes and cabbage are as
injurious as ill-prepared oatmeal is found among populations
which are nourished on that diet.

The poisoning to which those who work in lead are exposed by
their occupation may be almost always prevented by scrupulous
cleanliness in taking food. There is abundant proof that the
metal enters the system through the stomach, and there is but
doubtful evidence of its entering by any other path. From dirty
hands it gets into the bread, from dusty clothes it besprinkles the
meat and drink, and thus acts as quickly arid surely as if it had
been brought in by the more usual way of the drinking-water.
It is the most certain and noxious if by any peculiarity in the
manufacture it is converted into a chloride salt, but the form
which we generally meet with is the white carbonate, insoluble
indeed in water, but unfortunately soluble in the fluids of the di-
gestive canal, saturated as they are with carbonic acid. In the
case of painters who employ white lead, it is quickly deprived of
some of its noxiousness by mixture with oil, for in that condition
it can only get into the food from the hands. But where the
finely powdered or precipitated Kremnitz lead is employed, as
for example in the manufacture of polished cards, the clothes be-
come saturated with the dust and convey it to the victuals. Not
only should the hands be washed, the hair brushed, and the outer
garment shifted, before meals, but the men should not be allowed
to bring their food within the poison-laden atmosphere of the

Plumbers are said to inhale lead in the fumes which arise in
the process of casting, and " brass-founders' ague " also appears
from the researches of Dr. Greenhow to be caused by the fumes
of solder, consisting mainly of oxide of zinc, being drawn into
the lungs. But it must be remembered that in both these handi-
crafts a great deal of dirt adheres to the skin and clothes and may
thus pass into the food. I have never seen clean men affected.


Some handicrafts are noxious from the high temperature at
which they are obliged to be carried on. In these cases, the fre-
quent and free use of cold drinking-water is sanctioned by expe-
rience as the best preservative of health ; the copious evaporation
from the skin keeping down the heat of the blood. And the most
cruel enemy to health is alcohol, which induces degeneration of
the liver, heart, or kidneys, or all these at once, and prevents at
any rate the due exercise of the lungs' functions, even if it does
not directly disorganize that tissue. My own impression is that
the emphysema and black deposit so often found in the lungs of
artisans exposed to great heat is in no small measure due to alcohol
and to the neglect of its antagonist water.

For example, the consolidation and subsequent breaking down
of the lung peculiar to dry grinders is seldom if ever found in
temperate men ; a healthy mucous membrane has the power of
rejecting the foreign particles of metal which adhere to it when
congested and degenerated.

Colliers, who labor in the dark in a confined hot atmosphere
deficient in oxygen, suffer from bloodlessness and indigestion. The
bonesetters, the popular practitioners among this class, describe
it as ~" a little bone broke" in the stomach, pummel the abdomen
and make the patient give up work and drink for a season with
successful result. Philanthropic coal-owners should arrange the
shifts, so that a man may be put in turn on to night work and
have his share of sunlight. And it is better for the men not to
eat in the pits, but to make their principal meals when off work.
The diet of colliers is generally too nitrogenous for a life of daily
muscular labor.

Tea-tasters sometimes suffer from a special kind of nervous af-
fection. The hand gets tremulous, there is sleeplessness, head-
ache, anaemia, indigestion, with a flabby tongue covered with a
smooth yellow coat. To avoid this, they should live well, and
always take some food before exercising their office. Smelling
the tea seems to be more injurious, and really less decisive, than
sipping the infusion.

Evils consequent on other trades are not mentioned here, either
because they are unconnected with diet, and not to be avoided by
any special arrangement of diet, or else resolve themselves simply
into temptations to intemperance.




ARE the dramatist and the novelist drawing from nature when
they present us a picture of a well-born and well-bred athlete,
stupid, immoral, selfish, case-hardened by his brute strength
against the finer emotions of pity and honor, and blind to intel-
lectual pleasures? If the original exists, he is happily very rare.
He is certainly not conspicuous in the list of 294 rowers in Uni-
versity races collected by Dr. Morgan, which on the other hand
is adorned with bishops, poets, public school-masters, leading bar-
risters, devoted clergymen, elegant orators, scientific chemists,
philanthropists, and other ornaments of the human race. 1 Emi-
nent muscular ability evidently is not inconsistent with a superi-
ority to the average in other respects, and the improvement of
the body does not prevent the improvement of the mind.

A charge more serious, because more troublesome to answer
against athletics, is that they lay a foundation for disease in after
years, and thus shorten life. Likely enough the spectators know
that the dropping down dead on the stage of an athlete, appar-
ently in the height of healthy vigor, is a gross misrepresentation
of nature. But yet the scene rankles in their memories, and they
can with difficulty divest themselves of the feeling that the exuber-
ant energy of a man in training wears out the vital forces, and is
repaid by weakness which will cut short the days. We may know
that the impression exists by the frequency with which the friends
of patients assign athletics as the cause of all sorts of diseases,
without any other reason than that the failure in health was first
made manifest during some bodily exertion. Of course it is during
bodily exertion that the discovery is made : no one finds out that
his legs are weak till he tries to walk, or that his lungs or heart
are injured till his wind fails him at a pinch. But that a man

1 University Oars, by John E. Morgan, H.D.


previously in good health injures his constitution by training, so
as to be more liable than ordinary persons to any peculiar class of
disease or degeneration, is negatived by the laborious investiga-
tions of Dr. Morgan. He has followed up with personal inquiries
the 294 " university oars " mentioned above, and he finds, as was
to be expected, that since 1829, when his list begins, some have
died, some have been killed, some have fallen into ill health, but
238 survive to describe themselves as hearty and strong. Of the
deaths (39 in all) 11 were from fevers, 7 from consumption, 6
from accidents, 3 from heart disease, and lesser numbers from
other special causes. Now it is heart disease which especially is
attributed to athletic sports, and it is a surprise to find statistics
showing that their patrons have suffered from it rather less than
the rest of the population, and much less than the sailors whom
we are so solicitous to keep in good health. 1 Deaths from fevers
certainly cannot be considered as evidence of an injured constitu-
tion ; indeed Dr. Graves of Dublin (a high authority in this mat-
ter) remarks, and the experience of most of us will bear him out,
that when zymotic diseases attack strong men the risk is greater
than is run by weaker frames. The end of 2 by drowning, and
3 by gunshot wounds, show the possession of energy and unsel-
fish courage, seldom the characteristics of a broken invalid. The
cases of the 17 who do not furnish a good account of their health
are mostly somewhat vague. Among so many, several must have
hereditary tendencies to disease; others say their medical attend-
ants trace no connection between their complaints and previous
muscular exertion, and in such a long period as forty years in-
numerable evil influences must have been in action ; while in some
families it seems traditional always to speak of their health as only
moderate, and in others to look back upon the exuberances of
their youth as follies. So that 17 is in fact a small number to
be occasionally falling into the hands of the physician.

The best test of the value of anything is to reduce it to Arabic
numerals, and pounds, shillings, and pence, as insurance offices
act by our constitutions. Dr. Morgan has applied this test to the

1 Mortality from heart disease in Kegistrar-Gen. Reports for 10 years 8 per
cent. ; in navy (1868), 13 per cent. ; among university oars, 6 per cent.
University Oars, p. 28.


294 cases under consideration. According to Dr. Farr's Life
Tables the expectation of life at 20, the average age of university
oarsmen, is 40 years. But the survivors have still an expectation
of life of 14 years before them, and this must be added on, while
a calculated allowance must be made for those who have died, and
an estimate also deducted for the 17 lives who reckon themselves
damaged. The whole calculation is too long to be gone into here,
but the result is deckledly favorable ; for, taking the experience as
it stands, the expectation of life of each individual comes out, not
40, but 42 years. So that any insurance office which had taken
them all at ordinary rates would be making a handsome profit
and exhibit a good prospective balance sheet.

The conclusion is inevitable that for young men in good health
very severe athletic training strengthens the constitution and
lengthens life.

It will of course strike every one that our example here is taken
from a specially select class of humanity. True, the fame of the
University would not be intrusted to one likely to break down
and disappoint his colleagues. And herein lies a great advantage
possessed by boat-racing above other athletic sports, namely, that
it is to the interest of all concerned to exclude from the practice
those who are likely to be injured by it. For that some are likely
to be injured is never denied ; and it probably would be wise if
the crews, instead of acting solely on their own responsibility,
were to insist on all who joined them having their fitness to un-
dergo training tested by a medical man. Mr. Maclaren says he
would not allow any one to pull in a college boat whose chest
measured less than 36 inches, but it is evident that such an abso-
lute rule must be fallacious, for the circumference of the chest
must bear in a well-built man a proportion to the height. The
better test is the vital capacity or aerial contents of the lungs,
which Dr. Hutchinson's spirometer and tables enable us to measure
so accurately.

Other forms of athletics have not the same safeguard. But still
the good sense and good feeling of Englishmen is such, that a
man very quickly finds out, or is told by his comrades, if any-
thing renders the ambition of distinction in bodily exercise unsuit-
able for him. Where there is any suspicion of this being the


case, parental authority may fairly be interposed, and the matter
settled in a single medical examination.

It is not necessary that every one who trains should aim at
being, or even wish to be, a distinguished athlete. There are
modified forms or rather degrees of the same process, which can-
not be trusted indeed to produce the extraordinary development
of nerve-force needful for successful boat-racing and the like, but
which nevertheless bring the body into a state of high health very
conducive to comfort and usefulness.

The reading or other intellectual pursuits during training should
be very moderate and (so to speak) mechanical. Hard head-work
should not be carried on at the same time as hard training. It
should be gradually given up at theTjeginning, and resumed gradu-
ally after the training has been gone through. But there is no
reason why the systematic cultivation of the mind and body
should not alternate to their joint advantage, and indeed it evi-
dently has done so in the case of many of Dr. Morgan's heroes,
whose names make a conspicuous appearance in the class lists of
classical and mathematical honors. 1

The usual time allotted to training is six weeks. The objects
to be attained in this period may be described as :

1 . The removal of superfluous fat and water.

2. The increase of contractile power in the muscles.

3. Increased endurance.

4. " Wind," that is, a power of breathing and circulating the

blood steadily in spite of exertion.

The first object is aimed at by considerably adding to the daily
amount of nitrogenous, and diminishing farinaceous and liquid
food, and providing that it should be so consumed as to be fully
digested. The second and third are secured by gradually increas-
ing the demands made upon the muscles till they have learnt to
exert at will all the powers of which they are capable, and for as
long a period as the natural structure of the individual permits.
Wind is improved by choosing as part of the training an exercise,
such as running, which can be sustained only when the respiratory
and circulating organs do their duty fairly.

1 The 294 include, at Oxford 6 firsts and 11 seconds in classics, 1 first and 2
seconds in mathematics; at Cambridge 10 firsts and 5 seconds in classics, 8
wranglers, and 21 senior optimes in mathematics.


The muscles of the limbs become under a regimen of this kind
more "corky" or elastic, and more prominent when "put up" in
a state of contraction. They improve in quality and efficiency,
but that they become larger is extremely problematical. Hyper-
trophied organs are well known to lose their shape and power; an
enlarged heart, instead of circulating blood better, is an incum-
brance ; the muscles of the hollow viscera, when augmented in
thickness, do not expel their contents freely ; an hypertrophied
finger, instead of being stronger than the rest, is weaker ; and all
these are extremely liable to degenerate prematurely and lose their
vitality. So that if the muscles did by training grow bigger, as
reckoned in a state of repose, it were a result not at all to be

The skin becomes soft and smooth, and apparently more trans-
lucent, so that the red bloom of youth shines through it more
brilliantly. The insensible perspiration is regular and even ; while
at the same time sweating is not so readily induced by bodily ex-
ertion, and it is never cold and sudden, even with mental excite-

Superfluous fat is removed from all parts of the person, as is
evinced by loss of weight. This requires to be carefully tested by
the scales from time to time ; for if the reduction be carried be-
yond a certain point, which varies in different men, a loss of power
and of endurance is felt, and probably future evil results may
arise. This point is technically called the " fighting weight," but
the observation of it need not be confined to the pugilistic trade.

Training increases wonderfully the vital capacity of the chest,
so that a much greater quantity of air can be blown in and out of
the lungs and with greater force than previously. And this vital
capacity endures longer than any other of the improvements, for I
have found in examination for insurance several clients, formerly in
training, but who had laid aside violent exercise for some years,
still retaining that mark of vigor to a considerable extent above the
average. It is evidence of the permanent elasticity of the pulmo-
nary tissue, an efficient protection against asthma, emphysema,
and other degenerations of the organ of breathing.

Indigestion, acidity of stomach, sleeplessness, weariness of life,
nervous indecision, dyspeptic palpitations, and irregularity of the



bowels disappear under training. But if they exist, the regimen
should be entered upon with more than usual caution and under
medical advice.

The following were the systems pursued at the Universities in
1866 as given by Mr. Maclaren in the Appendix to his " Training,
in Theory and Practice," and I believe still carried on for boating-
men :


Summer Races.


Kise about 7 A.M.


Breakfast, 8.30..

Exercise (forenoon).
Dinner, 2 P.M


Supper, 8.30 or 9.

Bed about 10.

A short walk or run...
Meat, beef, or mutton.

Bread, or toast dry



Meat, much the same as for


Vegetables (none allowed)

Beer, one pint.

About five o'clock, start for the
river, and row twice over the
course, 1 " the speed increas-
ing with the strength of the

Meat, cold.

Bread; perhaps a jelly or

Beer, one pint.

So as to be in chapel, but early
rising not compulsory.

Not compulsory.


The crust only recommended.

As little as possible recom-

Crust only recommended.
A rule, however, not always
adhered to.


Sleep About nine hours.

Exercise Walking and rowing about one hour.

Diet Very limited.

1 The length of the course is nearly a mile and one-eighth.



Winter Races.

Kiso about 7.30 A.M

Hrt-akl'iist, '.I

Kxrrrist! (forenoon)

Uiurhron about 1 P.M..


Dinner at five, in Hall..

Bed, 10.30.

As for summer races.


Bread or a sandwich.

Beer, half a pint.

About two o'clock start for the
river, and row twice over
the course

Meat as for summer races.


Vegetables as for summer


Pudding (rice), a jelly.
Beer, half a pint.

Early rising not compulsory.
Not compulsory.

Crews are taken over the long
course to Nuneham, perhaps
twice during their practice.

N.B. It is particularly impressed on men in training that as little liquid as possible is to be
drunk, water being strictly forbidden.


Exercise'.!." \ As for summer races -

Diet Nearly the same as for summer races; luncheon being about equivalent to



Summer Races.

Rise at 7 A.M.

Breakfast, 8.30..

Exercise (forenoon).
Dinner about 2 P.M..


Supper about 8.30 or 9.

Bed at 10.

Run 100 or 200 yards "as fast
as possible"

Meat, beef, or mutton.

Toast dry.

Tea, two cups, or towards the
end of training a cup and a
half only. Watercresses oc-


Meat, beef or mutton.


Vegetables, potatoes, greens....

Beer, one pint.

Dessert. Oranges or biscuits,
or figs; wine, two glasses.

About 5.30 start for the river,
and row to the starting-post
and back.

Meat, cold.


Vegetables lettuce or water-

Beer, one pint.

The old system of running a
mile or so before breakfast
is fast going out, except in
the case of men who want to
get a good deal of flesh off.


Some colleges have baked ap-
ples, or jellies, or rice pud-


Sleep Nine hours.

Exercise About an hour and a quarter. 1

Diet Limited.

N.B. On Sundays men generally take a long walk of five or six miles.

1 The course is a trifle longer than at Oxford, and there is a pull of l l / mile to get to it.



Winter Races.

Kife about 7 A.M.

Exercise, .... As for summer races.

Breakfast, 8.30, " "

Exercise (forenoon), . . None.
Luncheon about 1 P.M., . A little cold meat.

Beer, half a pint, or biscuit with a glass
of sherry ; perhaps the yolk of an egg
in the sherry.
Exercise, .... About 2 o'clock start for the river and

row over the course and back.
Dinner about 5 or 6, . . As for summer races.
Bed about 10.


"'. ' 'I Same as for summer races.
Exercise, . . J

Diet, . . Nearly the same as for summer races, luncheon

being about equal to supper.

There is nothing very terrible in the discipline here enforced,
while some latitude is permitted to peculiarities and a wish for
variety, and plenty of time is left for business and social inter-
course. Other plans are objectionable from involving, without
any resulting advantage that I can see, a complete bouleversement
of the usual times and seasons adopted by the upper and middle
classes in this country. For example, in Clasper's method dinner
is to be at 12 o'clock, with nothing more than a very light tea
afterwards and no supper. Then a country walk of four or five
miles is to be taken before breakfast, and a couple of hours' row
after, and another hard row between dinner and tea. 1 " Stone-
henge" again requires the time between breakfast and dinner to
be spent entirely in billiards, skittles, quoits, rowing, and running,
in spite of another hour's row being prescribed at 6 P.M. He also
requires the aspirant to athletic honors to sleep between ten and
eleven hours. 2 Only professionals are likely to carry out such
rules. The most doubtful point which a physiological critic

1 Quoted by Mr. Maclaren from Eowing Almanac for 1863.

2 Article " Boat-racing" in British Eural Sports, 1861.


would lay his finger upon is the exaggerated abstinence from fluids
recommended in the Oxford scale. The use of water to the extent
of the thirst felt by the individual promotes the vital renewal of
the skin, kidneys, and digestive viscera, and cannot be injurious.
But it should not be very cold, or swallowed in great quantities
at once on a full stomach, or after extraordinary exertion, lest it
should lower too much the bodily temperature. If the mouth be
first rinsed out, and the draught imbibed calmly and deliberately,
it quenches thirst much better than when rudely gulped, and is
not likely to be taken in excess.

It is probably not necessary in the present day to enforce suffi-
cient tubbing to keep the skin clean and fresh. It is in fact more
necessary to deprecate excess in the use of cold water. If a bath
is taken between exercise and a meal, the chill should at least be
taken off, for there has been a considerable loss of temperature by
perspiration, and more cannot be afforded. The use of a cold
bath is to contract the cutaneous arteries, and by throwing the
blood back suddenly on the heart and lungs to stimulate them to
increased reaction, so that the living stream should flow vigorously
to the extremities. If the skin is already pale and cool, as after
exertion, it shows that they are already contracted and rather de-
mand relaxation. The time for a cold bath is when the skin is
full-colored, dry, and warm.

Nothing is said here of the training of jockeys and others whose
object is to reduce their weight to its extreme minimum irrespec-
tively of augmenting the strength, as that cannot be recommended
on the score of attaining high health, nor is it likely to be volun-
tarily undertaken by healthy persons.

The university scheme may fairly be accepted as a typical regi-
men for fully developing a young man's corporeal powers to fulfil
the demands of an extraordinary exertion. It is a standard which
we may modify according to the circumstances for which the train-
ing is required.

Thus, for instance, in training for the moors or for the thor-
ough enjoyment of partridge shooting, the reduction of fat should
not be carried so far, as steady endurance for many days together
is required, and a treasure of adipose tissue as a basis of molecu-
lar growth must be retained. Butler may be allowed, milk in the
tea, and eggs as a change for the lean meat at breakfast. For


men who have got into middle life running is needlessly trouble-
some, and quick walking may be substituted both for that and for
the rapid rowing. Nevertheless the times should be observed
strictly, and the amount of the walking may be raised gradually
up to that wanted for the day's sport. It will be necessary, how-
ever, to allot to exercise a considerable longer time than is al-
lotted in the college training scheme. For it must be remembered
that quick rowing for an hour is a violent exertion and takes
more out of a man, and practices the wind better than four hours'
walking. The chest may be expanded by the employment of
light dumb-bells or clubs (if heavy they strain the muscles).
And the healthy action of the skin should be promoted by fric-
tion with rough towels and horse-hair gloves. The time of the
training should not be so long as six weeks, for in point of fact it
is carried on by the exercise of the sport, and if such an extended
period as used for boat-racing is adopted, there is a risk of over-
doing the discipline. A fortnight is quite enough for the pur-

To those of our countrymen and women who have not the op-
portunity or inclination for spending their holiday in what is
commonly called "sport," the fashion of mountaineering is a great
boon. And even sportsmen, during the dead season when there
is nothing to be killed, experience a compensation in finding some-
thing to go up. But a great deal of the advantage of the relaxa-
tion is often lost by not being already in training. At least the
first week is wasted in getting into condition, and is a period of as
much pain as pleasure. This may be obviated by a gradual adop-
tion of the diet and discipline, modified as above, for a week or
ten days before starting.

The pain in the back and sides which hunting men often ex-
perience at the commencement of the season, arises usually from
imperfect expansion of the lungs in ordinary breathing. The
muscles of the trunk are strained by the effort of expiration during
exercise. The inconvenience may be prevented by a partial train-
ing. The diet should be drier than usual, and all sweets and
pastry left off, the chest expanded by dumb-bells and running,
and the habit acquired of keeping the lungs as full of air as possi-
ble. Women, being weaker-muscled than men, often feel this to
the extent of giving up altogether the healthy amusement of rid-


ing. The simple adoption of modified training gets over the diffi-
culty. The dumb-bells should be used in private before putting
on the stays, and particular attention paid to the injunction of
thoroughly inflating the lungs.

It used to be the custom before the commencement of a course
of training to be bled, purged, and sweated. I do not think it of
any service, and it induces constipation of the bowels, besides
being weakening. Some take Turkish baths during athletic train-
ing, but they appear to derange the daily discipline, unless they
are taken every day, which would be a decided excess.

Ladies who are going to try training for athletic purposes, will
find some attention to costume expedient. If stays are worn (and
there is no objection to them if well-fitted and not too tight) they
should have no shoulder-straps. The drawers should not be tied
below the knee. The best defences to the lower extremities in
rough ground are stout Alpine shoes, and light leathern gaiters
half-way up to the knee supporting the long socks without garters.
A light woollen jersey should be worn next the skin. The skirt
of the dress should be short and narrow, and the best materials
are serge and homespun. Besides these the less drapery is worn
the better.

Training is sometimes carried too far the men describe them-
selves as " fallen to pieces." The most peculiar symptom is an
occasional attack of sudden loss of power, after exertion. It is
sometimes called " fainting," but there is no loss ef sense, as in
that state, and is quickly relieved by liquid food. It is patho-
logically an acute and temporary form of that consequence of
overstrained muscle which constitutes " writer's," " turner's," and
"blacksmith's" palsy. The obvious remedy is to leave off train-

The exercise and excitement combined of practicing for boat-
racing will sometimes induce recurrent palpitations of the heart.
A physician should immediately be consulted as to whether this
arises from an organic cause ; if it does not, rest and a dose or two
of purgative medicine should be taken before a resumption of
training ; and it will be well to add a moderate quantity of port
wine to the dietary. If the palpitations still return, there is no
help for it but to give in, and acknowledge that nature has not
cut out every one to the pattern of an athlete.


The unusual strain on the skin sometimes induces boils. The
best preventive is to anoint the skin with a little sweet oil after
the morning bath. If a spot gets tender and red, threatening a
boil, touch it lightly every day with nitrate of silver, and give
bark and chlorate of potash twice a day in the usual doses. (De-
coct. Cinch., fl. 5 j ; Pot. Chlor., gr. xv.)

A modification of training of considerable importance to notice
is that which contemplates the reduction of superfluous plumpness,
either for the sake of the appearance or the general comfort of the
sufferer. There may be a question whether the health is benefited
by it, unless the previous diet or habits had been irrational and

Corpulence usually prevents exercise being taken to a sufficient
extent for confidence to be placed in it as an efficient part of the
treatment, and therefore the diet becomes a more essential feature.
If an exhausting amount of bodily exertion be persisted in, the
digestion of meat is interfered with, while at the same time the
absorption of such fat as unavoidably exists in the food still goes
on, so that the muscles and nerves lose strength while the adipose
tissue grows. Besides this, if by violent means the weight is
worked down, those violent means must be continuously sustained
to keep it down ; and if they are neglected in consequence of more
absorbing occupations, the inconvenience rapidly increases to a
greater degree than ever. Many uncomfortably stout persons are
very active irt mind and body, and really could not add to their
muscular discipline without risk of injury.

The following may be taken as a modification of the training
regimen suitable for the reduction of corpulence.

Day's regimen for a three weeks' course.

Rise at 7. Rub the body well with horse-hair gloves, have a
cold bath, take a short turn in the open air. Breakfast (alone) at
8 or 8.30, on the lean of beef or mutton, cutting off the fat and
skin, dry toast, or biscuit, or oat-cake, a tumbler of claret and
water or tea without milk or sugar, or made in the Russian way
with a slice of lemon. Luncheon at 1 on bread or biscuit, Dutch
cheese, salad, watercresses, or roasted apples (without sugar or
cream), hung beef, or anchovies, or red herring or olives, and


such-likc relishes. Drink, after eating, claret and water, or un-
sweetened lemonade, or plain water, in moderation. Dinner at
any convenient hour. Take no soup, fish, or pastry, but plain
meat, of any kind except pork, rejecting the fat and skin. Spin-
ach, French beans, or any other green vegetable may be taken,
but no potatoes, made dishes, or pastry. A jelly or a lemon-water
ice or a roast apple must suffice for sweets and dessert. Claret
and water at dinner, and one glass of sherry or Madeira after-

Between each meal exercise, as a rule, in the open air, to the
extent of inducing perspiration, must be taken. Running, when
practicable, is the best form in which to take it.

The number of hours alotted to bed in the University schemes
is too much for the purpose now proposed. Seven is quite enough,
and if the person under training wants to retire before 12 o'clock,
he ought to be astir before the time mentioned above. There are
few things more weakening than remaining in bed, or even in a
bedroom which has been closed during the night, when thoroughly
woke up. During sleep little air is required ; we all know the
slow shallow breathing of a sleeper, by which the respiratory
muscles are rested. Beasts get enough oxygen in their narrow
dens, and man in his fusty garret. But once awake, both expand
their lungs fully, instinctively demand fresh air, and suffer from
the want of it more at that hour than at any other time during
the day. If a Sybarite must indulge in the horizontal position,
let him at all events open his window and take his tub before he
does so.

If good Turkish baths are accessible, four or five may be used
in place of exercise between meals at intervals during the reduc-
tive training. And thorough shampooing by an experienced
hand should not be omitted.

The weight is to be accurately recorded at the commencement
and every four days, so that its loss may not be too rapid or ex-
cessive. Six or seven pounds is usually as much as it is prudent
to lose during the fortnight.

A more important sign of improvement is increased vital ca-
pacity of the lungs as measured by the spirometer.

After the fortnight's course the severe parts of the discipline


may be gradually omitted, but it is strongly recommended to
modify the general habits in accordance with the principle of
taking as small a quantity as possible of fat and sugar and of the
substances which form fat and sugar, and sustaining the respira-
tory function. Fat meat, rich milk, butter, malt liquors, pastry,
starchy foods (such as potatoes, puddings), sweet vegetables (such
as parsnips and beet-root), sweet wines (such as champagne) should
be taken only most sparingly. An appetite should be acquired for
lean meat, especially for beef, mutton, and venison, for game and
poultry, for plain boiled fish, for poor new cheese, for green vege-
tables and salads, summer fruits, oranges, lemons and pomegran-
ates, almonds (fried and sprinkled with salt and cayenne), roast
apples, olives, lemonade, buttermilk, claret, and hock. Aerated
bread, captain's biscuits, and dried toast, all in moderation, are
the most appropriate form of flour.

Excessive stoutness amounts to a disease ; it is a true hypertro-
phy of the adipose tissue, and it is not capable of removal by the
means mentioned above, though in cases where it has been aug-
mented by a previously inconsiderate diet, it may be considerably
reduced. The subject will be resumed when the dietetics of dis-
ease are under consideration.

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