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VI. EXTERIOR OF THE SCHOOL-HOUSE.

GYMNASTICS AND CALISTHENICS.

I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

In the official "Report on a System of Public Elementary Instruction for Upper Canada," by the Chief Superintendent of Education, are the following remarks on Physical Training in our Schools :

"On the development of the physical powers, I need say but a few words. A system of instruction making no provision for those exercises which contribute to health and vigour of body, and to agreeableness of manuers, must necessarily be imperfect. The active pursuits of most of those pupils who attend the public schools, require the exercise necessary to bodily health; but the gymnastics regularly taught as a recreation, and with a view to the future pursuits of the pupil, and to which so much importance is attached in the best British schools, and in the schools of Germany and France, are advantageous in various respects,— promote not only physical health and vigour, but social cheerfulness; active, easy, and graceful movements. They strengthen and give the pupil a perfect command over all the members of his body. Like the art of writing, they proceed from the simplest movement, to the most complex and difficult exercises, imparting a bodily activity and skill scarcely credible to those who have not witnessed them.

"To the culture and command of all the faculties of the mind, a corresponding exercise and control of all the members of the body is next in importance. It was young men thus trained that composed the vanguard of Blucher's army; and much of the activity, enthusiasm, and energy which distinguished them, was attributed to their gymnastic training at school. A training which gives superiority in one department of active life, must be beneficial in another. It is well known, as has been observed by physiologists, that the muscles of any part of the body, when worked by exercise, draw additional nourishment from the blood, and are, by the repetition of the stimulus or exercise, increased in size, strength, and freedom of action. The regular action of the muscles promotes and preserves the uniform circulation of the blood, which is the prime condition of health. The strength of a body or of a limb depends upon the strength of the muscular system, or of the muscles of the limb; and as the constitutional muscular endowment of most people is tolerably good, the diversities of muscular power observable amongst men is chiefly attributable to exercise.' The youth of Canada are designed for active, and most of them for laborious, occupations. Exercises which strengthen not one class of muscles, or the muscles of certain members only, but which develope the whole physical system, cannot fail to beneficial."

To physical education, great importance has been attached by the best educators in all ages and countries. Plato gave as many as a thousand precepts respecting it. It formed a prominent feature in the best parts of the education of the Greeks and Romans. It has been largely insisted upon by the most distinguished educational writers in Europe, from Charon and Montaigne, down to numerous living authors in France and Germany, England and America. It occupies a conspicuous place in the codes of School Regulations in France and Switzerland, and in many places in Germany. The celebrated Pestalozzi and De Fellenberg incorporated it as an essential part of their systems of instruction, and even as necessary to their success; and experienced American writers and physiologists attribute the want of

physical development and strength, and even health, in a disproportionally large number of educated Americans, to the absence of proper provisions and encouragements in respect to appropriate physical exercises in the schools, academies, and colleges of the United States.

II. SKETCH OF THE ATHLETIC GAMES OF THE ANCIENTS. Among the Greeks, periodical GAMES were of high antiquity, and exerted an important influence upon their national character. Such games were early celebrated, especially in honor of the dead; and Homer, the father of Grecian poetry, describes, in his account of the funeral of Patroclus, the chariot-races, foot-races, boxing, wrestling, throwing the quoit, &c. These games were at length connected with the religious festivals of the Greeks, were deemed sacred, and regarded as part of their religion. In his epistle to the Grecian Christians, at Corinth, St. Paul refers to these games, in illustration of Christian conflict, duty, and hope. He says he "runs not as uncertainly;" he "fights, not as one that beateth the air;" he has in view, "not a corruptible, but an incorruptible crown." He also "keeps his body under, and brings it into subjection," referring to the severe course of physical regimen and exercise required of Grecian competitors, preparatory to their public appearance.

There were four public solemn games in Greece-the Olympic, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian. The Isthmian games were celebrated near the Isthmus of Corinth, whence they derived their name. They were observed every third, and afterwards every fifth year, and ⚫ held so sacred that a public calamity could not prevent their celebration. The victors were crowned with a garland of pine leaves. The form of these crowns was similar to the civic and triumphal crowns given in the annexed engravings; but in other respects they differed.

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The Nemean games were celebrated in the town of Nemea, in Argolis, every third year. The victors were crowned with parsley.

The Pythian games were celebrated every fifth year, in the second year of every Olympiad near Delphi. The victors were crowned with laurels.

The Olympic games were celebrated the first month of every fifth year, at Olympia, a town situated on the river Alpheus, in the territory of Elis, on the western coast of the Pelopponnesus. These were the most famous games of the Greeks. They lasted five days, and drew together an immense concourse from all parts of Greece, and even from foreign countries. No one was permitted to contend in them unless he had prepared himself, by continual exercises, for ten months, in the public gymnasium at Elis. The competitors were obliged to take an oath that they would use no unlawful means to obtain the victory. The prize bestowed on the victor was a crown of olive; yet this honor was considered equal to the victory of a general among the Greeks, and to a triumph among the Romans. Thucydides informs us that during the celebration of these games, a sacred truce was observed between all the States of Greece; all hostile operations were suspended, and, for the time, they regarded each other as fellow-citizens and brethren.

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The space The only authentic chronologyy of the Greeks is connected with these games. (four years) that intervened between one of their celebrations and another, was called an The Olympiad. The era of the first Olympiad is 776 years before the Christian era. Olympiads may be reduced to the common era, by multiplying the Olympiad, immediately preceding the one in question, by 4, and adding the number of years to the given Olympiad, and, if B.C., subtracting the amount from 777; if A.D., subtract 776 from the amount.

The exercises practised at these games were, first, foot-races alone; but they afterwards At that consisted also of throwing the quoit, boxing, wrestling, horse, and chariot races. period, when gunpowder was unknown, and war had not become a science, and each battle was only a multitude of single combats, such exercises of bodily strength and activity were much cultivated by most ancient nations; but the Greeks were the first to reduce them to a system, and to invest them with the importance of a national institution.

These games were not wholly confined to gymnastic and athletic exercises. Contests were, also, at later periods, admitted between poets, orators, musicians, historians, philosophers, and artists of different descriptions. It was there that portions of the history of Herodotus were first recited or read; and it was by thus listening to the fascinating tales of the Father of profane history, that Thucydides first caught the inspiration which prompted him to write a history as philosophical as it is brilliant, and as charming as it is profound. It was at these games, also, that Lysias recited his harangue on the fall of the tyrant Dionysius. Intellectual enjoyments thus became blended with social amusements and athletic contests; and assemblages which first produced martial skill and prowess, were, in after ages, productive of social and intellectual refinement.

The following illustrations will give some idea of the principal athletic exercises which were practised at the Grecian games, and which cannot fail to impress us with the much greater elevation of modern taste, and manners, and institutions, and especially of religion and morals, notwithstanding the boasted refinement and grandeur of Grecian taste and character.

WRESTLING.

In wrestling, the competitors were nearly or quite naked, and they seem to have displayed great skill and agility. Excited by the presence of a vast assembly, they put forth amazing efforts, and though bruised and maimed in the struggle, they gave no evidence of suffering.

LEAPING.

Leaping was performed by springing over a bar. No one was permitted to enter into this sport, at the Olympian games, who had not practised ten months.

BOXING.

Boxing was a favourite sport, and appears to have been practised much as it is now in England. No unfair advantage was allowed in this or any other contest. The least trick was severely punished.

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THE DISCUS.

Throwing the discus or quoit,-a round piece of stone, iron, or brass,-called forth the energies of the most powerful men; and the feats performed, in hurling large weights, were astonishing.

RUNNING.

Running was practised, and if we may believe the accounts which are given by Greek writers, the racers must have surpassed the fleetest of modern pedestrians.

CHARIOT RACING.

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