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THE WISHING-CAP. No. I.
A PROPOSAL TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE METROPOLIS.
" It is a call to keep the spirits alive."
Ben Jonson. WHAT I have to propose to the the fathers nor the sons of boxers. If
consideration of the inhabitants we could all of us attain to the honest of the Metropolis is the institution of fists of Parson Adams and Tom Jones, certain grounds and enclosures for the it would be much better. But how purpose of restoring the manly games are we to set about it? Not by unof their ancestors. By manly games, natural modes of life. We must rouse I mean those that are properly called up other elements of health than these. so, such as golf,* tennis, cricket, pris- When we have recovered something on-base, &c.; not cock-fighting, nor of the Parson's true love of manliness even boxing ; which latter is an in- and simplicity, we shall be able to vention of the idle to show their val- fight our own battles without the help our by proxy. The best thing to be of boxers and brandy-bottles. It is said for boxing is, that it cultivates a what the boxers at present do not sense of justice in the streets, and re- do themselves ; nor what their spectaminds the little boys of the necessity tors, for the most part, would venture of keeping themselves active and vig- to do at all.
Boxing, however, is rather Cock-fighting is so despicable an the result than the cause of a turn for amusement, and so plainly open to all fair play, which has long manifested the objections against boxing, without itself in the British community. Its having anything to say for itself, that advocates have yet to show that its I need not add a word on the subject. tendency to assist a spirit of this sort Cruelty and cowardice notoriously go is not over-balanced by the excite- together. In cock-fighting they are ment it furnishes to safe and cowardly both at their height. If anybody respectators. A regular boxing holiday mains to be convinced, let him look at which draws after it, like a dusty com- Hogarth's picture of it, and the faces et, all the blackguards and bullies in concerned. Would the gambler in the neighbourhood, is a meteor of that picture, the most absorbed in the very doubtful import ; a very ques- hope of winning, ever forget his own tionable encouragement to public spir- bones, as he does those of the brave it. The drinking and other bad hab- animals before him? I allow that its, which generally illustrate the lives cock-fighting has been in use among of boxers and their abettors, are no nations of great valour, our own for testimonies to the goodness of this one ; but it was the barbarous and not mode of education. The spectators the brave part of the national spirit do not advance their health : and the that maintained it, and one that had boxers themselves are trained into an not yet been led to think on the subunnatural pitch of' vigour, which does ject. Better knowledge puts an end not last, and which only tempts them to all excuses of that sort. When to shorten their lives by alternate ex- Roger Ascham (who saw nothing in cesses of regimen and debauchery. romances butų open manslaughter Even the race is not carried on like and bold baudry") grew old and feethat of our horses. Boxers are not ble, he changed his love for archery
into a passion for this sneaking amuse* There is a golf-club, which meets at Black ment. I never heard but of one imheath, and is composed, I believe, of Scotchmen. It is a very masculine game, not lightly to be entered aginative person who was a cock-fightupon by those whose muscles have been sedentary, er; and such an odd imagination is lest, as the poet says
his, and so strange are the ends which - Vinegar proclaim their loud disgrace.
these cock-fighters come to, that he Exercises of this nature are the only, advantage is now a professor in a Scotch uniwbich Scotland has over us, and the disgrace ought
versity. This, it must be confes
to be done away.
sed, is a saving grace beyond old Ro- court was then given to tilts and tour. ger Ascham.
naments, the gentry to the sports of There is still a cock-pit somewhere the field, the citizens to archery, the in Westminster. There is also, what peasantry to the games which are now many of our readers will be surprised confined to children: and all classes to hear of, a bear-garden, eminently to bowls, tennis, and dancing. At the blackguard.
same time, as good things have a proBut to return to our subject,- 1 say pensity to go together, music was cullittle about the ancients, though they tivated by both sexes, to a degree abounded in gymnastic example. Ex- which this musical age would be suramples drawn from the Greeks and prised at; and ladies gradually acRomans, unless impressed upon us in quired the art of being at once housea very early and particular manner, wifely and booklearned ; points in have little effect. They are consider- which they afterwards fell off on the ed rather as things done in books, than arrival of French coquetry.
Elizaby men. I will only make two or beth, besides her books and her 6 heathree observations : 1st. That neither venly virginals,” kept herself in heart the Greeks nor Romans were fond of and good countenance with “ dancing.” exercise by proxy, the former being a The Reformation set men a thinking, nation of wrestlers and dancers, and and the Revolution followed ; very the second the gladiators of the world : useful to complete us as minds as well 2d. That the Greeks were much the as bodies, and to put an end to all handsomer and more intellectual peo- star-chambers and bloody bigotries; ple, and, with the exception of Sparta, but mind itself still remains to be comwere as content with the exercises that pleted, and to finish its duty by a rekept them healthy and lively in a state turn to the proper cultivation of body; of peace, as they were ready to fight and then we should unite the advantabravely when patriotism required it: ges of the two periods. The Puri3d. That the wits and philosophers of tans, in their saturnine reflection, Greece, some of whom were its great- thought it necessary to oppose the est captains (as Epaminondas and sports and pastimes of the age, as Xenophon) were remarkable for a worldly vanities, which was a great tranquil health and longevity, confes- blow to the corporeal part of us. Luxsedly owing to that study of body as ury had already prepared the way
for well as mind, which they made a part it by the introduction of coaches, as of the business of their lives. Plato well as by her other usual tendencies. speaks with astonishment of the new- Charles the Second followed with his ly-invented terms of vapours and oth- peruke and French fashions; and er mysteries, which some physicians though he was fond of exercise and had brought up in his time. In the age began by resuming some of the old of Ilomer, our niceties of tempera- sports, debauchery soon counteracted ment appear to have been so unknown, their good effects. The show of a that he represents Diomed and Ulysses, severer court under James, the second after the heat of action, as standing in revolution which followed his attempts a draught of wind to cool themselves. to introduce popery, and the AntiThese were soldiers ; but Plato was a Gallican spirit which arose in opposiman of letters and a metaphysician ; tion both to the former tastes and to professions, which are held to be par- the power of Louis the 14th, all tendticularly injurious to the stomach ; ed to introduce a better system of and are so, in our present sedentary manners ; but trade had now began to modes of life.
occupy our day-light, and lead us into The history of England will suflice sad hours ; the logical and critical facfor Englishmen. It is remarkable, that ulties were exercised almost exclusivethe period the most eminent among us ly, and peace with France ensuing, both for manly exercises and a long and every body being bent on the imstate of peace, was during the reign of provement of his « sense,” the effect the Tudors and James the First. The was consummated by an universal ab
sorption in the lesser morals,- in the Revolution had put a spirit into their acquirement of estates and gentilities, arms, which the “ beaux chevaliers" -in the study of being agreeable in of the Grand Monarque, with all their rooms, and witty in coffee-houses. gallantry, would have envied. NapoWe were to be English in our virtues, leon gave that title to one of our regibut French in our tastes : and a com ments as they were forming for battle, promise between these two stran and lamented that he should be obligtook place, which existed up to the ed to cut it to pieces. The consciousperiod of the French revolution, and ness that suggested the lamentation, still colours the manners and criticism might have taught him to spare it.
The characters of the suc He argued too royally. He took us cessive princes contributed to the uni- for the servants of a monarchy like versal defection from exercise. Wil- that of old France; and forgot that liam the Third, a hero in the field, the same liberty which was new in was a queazy consumptive invalid in that country, and none the better for his own chamber. Anne was fat and his deserting it, was, notwithstanding burly, like her grandfather Clarendon. its corruptions, a long habit with us. Lord Lanesborough, the old gentle- But the French people have upon the man mentioned by Pope as “ dancing whole made a great advance in physin the gout,” waited upon her on the ical energy. The race is improved. death of her husband, to advise her A manlier system of education has Majesty to rouse up her spirits by his been introduced ; feudality is at an Lordship's favourite exercise. The end ; the French peasant now values announcement of his business must himself, not as the slave of a great have been very ludicrous, unless he nation ; and we may remark, that the was a man of address; but he had a most inconsiderate extoller among us reason in his boasting of legs. If pre- of " the good old times” in France cedent was required, he might have (which we used to laugh at so much quoted, besides Elizabeth, the example formerly) has long ceased to say anyof Charles the Second's wife, Catha- thing about“ ragged elbows” and rine of Braganza, who by means of an 66 wooden shoes.” Now the French unconquerable spirit of dancing bore are not disposed to relax any of their up against an evi! which would have endeavours to render themselves a been thought greater by most women match for Englishmen. Let us smile than that of a husband's death; to if we will at their endeavours ; but wit, his neglect and infidelity. The let us smile with reason ; and do, in House of Brunswick succeeded, all the mean time, all we can to keep a stayers at home and card-players, with head of them. the exception of the late King, whose There is a cricket-ground at Padtemperance and exercise deserved a dington, and a squalid five's court in better end than his parents had provi- St. Martin's-lane. This is the present ded for him.
amount of our establishments in beWe still have the advantage of our half of health and vigour. The neighbours in point of bodily vigour; cricket-ground is good, but a mere partly from our mode of subsistence, nothing to our wants. The five’s-court partly because we retain enough mor- is like an out house in a dream, or al vigour from our ancestors, and val. Daniel's den without the lions. We ue ourselves on maintaining our supe- ought at least to have a score of crickriority. Bnt no gallant person who et-grounds about the suburbs. There was at Waterloo will deny, that how- should also be grounds for tennis ; ever we astonished Napoleon by hold- five's-courts, a decent number ; and ing out as we did, and forcing him to running, wrestling, and all other honlose the fruits of his conduct, we our est exercises ought to be encouraged, selves could have spared a few of the wherever they can. Instead of these, charges which the French persisted in we have muddle-lieaded card-rooms, making, and did not altogether find and places aptly called Hells, where them as inferior as we expected. The people learn to be callous or misera
ble, and pick one another's pockets : place to any great extent.
The conto which they have lately added the stitution's ruined for life, and the feeaccomplishment of cutting one anoth- ble progenies that result, are innumeers throats. Think of the difference rable in these sedentary times. And of frequenting these places, or even recollect, that plant what principles the most virtuous tavern extant, with- we may, and take care as we think fit out a proper security against gout and of our own wordly success and that indigestion, and of coming home fresh of our offspring, nature insists that the and breathing from the racket-ground, bodies in which she puts us shall be with a hand as firm as iron, clear tem- the medium of every perception ve ples and body, and an appetite which have ; so that we colour it with darkcan afford to enjoy itself.*
ness or cheerfulness accordingly. Some patriotic persons, Mr. Pen I have omitted hunting : I confess I nant among them (who was of civic do not willingly speak of it, unless it origin, and a good specimen of the be hunting the fox, and then only in British gentleman) have attempted to case of necessity. It prevails to no restore the practice of archery. It is such extent as to affect my argument : a good attempt ; and all exercises, of nor can I think that any mode of dowhatever kind, are better than none; ing ourselves good is to be recomand if archery is not made a toy of by mended, if it be unjust to others, and its revivers (as one is apt to imagine can be supplied by a choice of so in these times) it is stout work. What many amusements, at once manly and I have just said, was only upon that innocent. presumption.
Pardon me, soul of One thing I must mention ; namely Robin Hood ; and ye tall and sturdy that this is no party matter. Our bows, not to be looked down upon, muscles are not Whigs and Tories, which of old
Our stomachs (God knows) are no The strong-arm'd Englisk spirits conquer'd France. Radical Reformers. All parties are We have still riding and dancing
interested in it; nor do I despair be
fore long of hearing that some steps among our amusements : but both are
have been taken in consequence of pursued in a very modern way, the latter often perniciously. The rich this suggestion ; not because it has have the advantage of riding for an
been well argued, but because the sugappetite. \ It is a pity they do not do gestion has been made. Should any it oftener, instead of taking to their one be induced by what is here said to carriages. Dancing is kept up too take steps in the matter, I exhort him late at night, and in suffocating rooms.
to consider himself as under one of Dancing on a green is to some pur
the most honourable impulses of his
life. pose. At evening it might oftener be
If it lay in my power to begin, resorted to with great advantage, by
I would not hesitate a moment, nor sit almost all persons in doors, without down to dinner, from week's end to preparation, and the moment they week's end, without conquering a good rise from their work. But no exer
digestion for it, racket in hand, every cise can dispense with the necessity of day I was in town. The gentlemen of exercise in the open air.
the city can raise excellent troops of ours, for many generations must suffer horse, and do anything else they have for the want of it, wherever it takes a mind to,which money can effect: why
do they not make a transition from the
field of Waterloo to exercises worthy * Laws must be made against gambling ; but it is of gallant men ? A pair of stays is much easier to prevent it in such games, than at any another thing, when it pinches the other. The player soon gets an interest in the game sides of a Sir Philip Sydney. Let itself, and the cheerfulness of bis blood stands him instead of the paltry excitements of the dice-box.
shapes be secured, and stays be warTo play for a trifle might be allowed. It gives the
ranted by this handsomest of all mind's eye another mark to aim at ; but this is easily modes; and let at the same time half regulated. A good player will chiefly play for bon- the indigestions of the city retire at
one blow of the racket. ,
SIGHTS OF LONDON.
MÈXICAN WONDERS : OR A PEEP INTO THE PICCADILLY MUSEUM ;
BY JACOB GOOSEQUILL. My Dear Sir,
to satisfy my curiosity, without either THE 'HE Goddess of Curiosity led Co- travelling to Grand Cairo, like the
lumbus by the nose a much Spectator, or making a voyage to the greater way than ever she led a much North Seas, like Captain Parry. This greater fool, viz. myself. Neverthe- power of changing our horizon withless, I had enough of his inquisitive out changing our latitude we owe to disposition to draw me, last week, Mr. Bullock; and I sincerely hope from my “bed of asphodel” (in plain he will live long enough to give us a English, my soft bottomed ottoman) view of every thing worth seeing on towards that part of America which the habitable globe, until it may be has just been translated to Piccadilly. said that the whole world has shifte", The importance into which the Mex- piecemeal. through the two great ican empire is now rising seems to rooms in Piccadilly. have been deeply felt and duly weigh Upon entering these chambers, last ed by Mr. Bullock. He has consult- week, I appeared to have left the Old ed his own interest in the public gra- World outside the door ; I had taken tification, and I have no doubt will a “ Trip to Mexico” without even eventually fill his own pockets quite the ceremony of asking Neptune for as full as our heads, by means of his a soft wave, or Eolus for a fair wind; exhibition. Amongst the many non- I had, in fact, stepped from Burlinggratuitous establishments of the same ton-arcade into the middle of Amerikind within the metropolis, Bullock's ca. Every thing was new; nothing Museum, in my mind, certainly holds reminded me of Old England, -save the first place; there is a spirit of and except that I had to pay half-aphilosophy embarked in it which crown for a couple of sixpenny cataraises it far above the standard of a logues, whereby my voyage to Mexicommon exhibition. We are intro- co cost me nearly double what it duced neither to a painted city nor a ought. This forcibly reminded me solitary landscape, to an army of sol- that I could not be very far from diers or a company of wild beasts, to Westminster-abbey, and that Great a giantess or a dwarf, but to the natu- Britain's local deity, Mammon, in the ral world itself, as it exists, or at least shape of a door-keeper, was still close to a fac-simile of it, as palpable and at my elbow, picking my pocket. familiar as art can make it
. I know However, even Charon expects a pen, of nothing short of a bonafide dishu- ny for rowing us over the Styx,_and mation of the city of Mexico, and its why should not Mr. Bullock receive suburbs, from their place among the forty times as much for taking us over Andes, carrying with them, at the more than forty times as wide a wasame time, their live and dead stock, ter—the Atlantic Ocean? together with their overhanging fir Upon walking into the upper room, mament and surrounding scenery, which contains the reliques of Ancient which could represent these objects Mexico, I was mightily struck by the so effectually as an exhibition con- close resemblance many of them bore structed on the plan of Mr. Bullock’s. to the antiquities of Egypt. There Some time ago I had the pleasure of was a Zodiac of Denderah, under the descending into the Catacombs of title of the Great Kalendar Stone of Egypt in my way to Hyde-park, and Mexico, and otherwise known to the shortly after took a morning's walk to Indians by the name of Montezuma's the Esquimaux, returning in time for Watch. It weighs five tons, and I dinner to my lodgings at St. James'. cannot help remarking, that if MonteThus, for a few pence, I was enabled zupa’s breeches pocket was propor
24 ATHENEUM VOL. 2. 2d series.