Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/88

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and as they were taught the doctrine of the necessity of body-mortification in order to perfection of soul, there prevailed a total disregard of the physical conditions necessary to our well-being. Even bathing was held to be a vanity of worldly savor, and gymnastics would doubtless have been considered worse than folly. This state of darkness lasted in Europe till the beginning of the present century, when Ling, of Sweden, after most persistent effort, succeeded in introducing his "movement-cure." For every one of the five hundred muscles, and for every imaginable disease, this system provided some kind of exercise. Its distinctive feature was its adaptability to diseased conditions, and there can be no doubt of its usefulness. As a means of cure it is still somewhat in use, and would probably be still more used were it not in the hands of those who make for it altogether unreasonable claims. And still, for those in search of the proper movements for exercising any given set of muscles, Ling's system, as set forth by Dr. Roth and many other of the great gymnast's disciples, furnishes abundant and explicit instruction. Also in the early years of this century, a system of physical training was introduced in Prussia by Jahn, not for the cure of disease, but for the development of strong, serviceable bodies. Strangely as it now sounds, Jahn's system was opposed by the Government, on the ground that it made the people less manageable, and more intolerant of church and state. Could better evidence be offered both of the good effect of gymnastics and also of the fearful ignorance that then prevailed of the value to the Church and to the state of a vigorous, healthy people? In spite of royal opposition, however, gymnastics grew in German popularity. The annual meetings of the Turnvereine, like the old Olympic festivals, fostered an enthusiasm for body-training, which, in turn, so far proved its worth to the state that in 1853 it became a recognized branch of public instruction. Since then, it will be remembered, Prussia's advance has been uninterrupted. To her armies Denmark, Austria, and France have in turn succumbed. Is it not possible that her glory is due to the thorough physical training of her children?

Coming now to our own country, we find by the year 1825 gymnastics taught in a private school at Northampton, Massachusetts, by a Professor Beck, who a few years later published a translation of Jahn's system. The school seems to have attracted considerable attention, but we can easily imagine how silly such artificial exercise must have seemed to those whose backs ached from their daily work. Little prepared were our New England parents to understand that, by this kind of exercise, backs and limbs could be developed that would easily carry burdens which untrained muscles would groan under. This same popular ignorance exists to-day. The majority still believe that hard manual labor affords better exercise than can any system of artificial gymnastics; whereas, instead of the equally developed elastic body resulting from gymnasium-training, we have in the laborers