Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/30

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of such little equestrians is distinguished by a certain chivalrous frankness, and the word chivalry itself, as well as the German Ritter ("caballero"), were originally derived from horse-riding. The rider's management of his nag may tend to develop the domineering, the princely traits of human nature, though probably at the expense of a humbler virtue or two; in Spanish America, at least, the experience of Indian agents and Indian school-teachers has shown that the pedestrian redskins are generally more manageable than their mounted compadres.

The lovers of aquatic sports may combine a useful accomplishment with the best relief from the midsummer martyrdom of our large cities. The art of swimming adds as much to the pleasure of bathing as it does to its healthfulness; but it has often puzzled me that with the human animal that should be an art which is a natural faculty of all other mammals. Dr. Andersson's theory is probably the right solution of the riddle. He noticed that to the young negroes of Sierra Leone swimming comes almost as natural as walking (in which attainment they are also rather precocious), and he concludes that the disability of a white man's child arises chiefly from a general want of vigor. Our mobile arms and paddle-like hands are better swimming implements than the drumstick legs of a dog; but our muscular debility more than counteracts these advantages. The limbs of a child are swathed, confined in tight clothes, kept year after year in compulsive inactivity, till, in proportion to its size, the nursling of civilization is the weakliest of living creatures. After exercise has developed the defective muscles, a swimmer can hardly understand how he could ever be in dread of deep water, swimming seems so easy; the faculty of floating, as it appears to him, is an inalienable attribute of a human creature, requiring neither art nor anything like a great effort except in swimming against the stream; he would undertake to study, read, or dream in a calm sea, and let the body take care of itself. The Marquesas-Islanders witnessed the struggles of a sinking English sailor with mute astonishment, and neglected to help him, utterly incapable of realizing the fact that a full-grown man could be in danger of drowning.

In the sixteen provinces of the Roman Empire every larger town had a free bath or two, and our entire neglect of this branch of public hygiene is certainly the ugliest feature of our boasted civilization; but our children at least might make shift with the natural bathing facilities which can be reached by a short excursion beyond the precincts of all but the unluckiest cities. A cool bath at the end of a sweltering day can be delightful enough to reconcile a poor city slave to his misery; the sensation of floating along with the rhythm of a dancing current admits no comparison with any terra firma pleasure, and awakens instincts of the human soul which may date from the life of our marine ancestors in the days of the Devonian fore-world. But such enjoyments are the privilege of the aquatic gymnast, and no swimmer should deem it below his dignity to imitate the example of the elder