Изображения страниц

where the Confederates were pitted against Western men, their infantry generally outspeeded the Union infantry in marching. Now, although one obvious reason of this was that they marched with less baggage, there is still a large margin to be accounted for by the assignment of some other cause. It seems to us that familiarity with the physique of the Southerner as compared with that of the Northerner explains the difference, the former being long-limbed and spare compared with the latter, and on that account being able to beat the soldiers of the East in marching; while he found his match, in that respect, in the soldiers of the West.

The difference between the Sioux and the Apaches in the character of their development has such relation to their physical surroundings and habits, that it makes one of the best possible illustrations of difference of form produced by different conditions. The country of the Apaches is not adapted to riding: the country of the Sioux is. The Apaches have but few horses and are not known as riders, while the Sioux are among the finest riders in the world. The Apaches are long-legged, spare, and lithe, and indefatigable on their feet; while the Sioux are comparatively short-legged, are not addicted to pedestrian exercise, and ride like centaurs. An officer of the regular army once described to us a fight which his company, guarding a supply-train, had had on the plains with some Sioux seeking to capture it. The train, closing up to make as short as possible the line to be defended, passed slowly and steadily along, the soldiers taking shelter in squads within and without the wagons, while from various directions troops of savages came thundering down upon them, discharging their missiles, receiving the volleys in return, rescuing their wounded, and wheeling away only to renew their onslaught. On the wide sea of the plain, under the glittering sun, the slowly moving, stubbornly defended train, the masses of horsemen whirling around it amid the crack of rifles, pre

sented a ravishing spectacle of contrasted movement, in which circled the splendid horsemanship of a thousand mounted warriors.

Generation after generation these braves had ridden, so that, like the Arabs, horse and rider had come to be almost as one. On the other hand, the Apaches, generation after generation, have wandered afoot through the fastnesses of their region, sometimes on forced marches of almost incredible severity, in which women and children as well as men share. Hence, Sioux and Apaches have acquired physical attributes strictly in accordance with the physical conditions surrounding them. The Sioux, bigchested, robust, and comparatively short-legged; the Apaches, long-legged and wiry in form, illustrate the chief differences of those conditions.

A striking change in physique, accomplished within a brief period, always ensues in the average man after having been for some time subjected to military drill. If at the point of departure he happens to be a veritable rustic, he becomes a dif ferent being. The bumpkin is a slouching, shambling, roundshouldered wight. He is not, as are generally the city-bred, constrained by a certain degree of public requirement; nor is he, like them, rigidly subjected to a large amount of insensible imitation. Nevertheless, he has in him the making of a man, and generally of a physically better man than the city born and bred. What he needs to make him look like, as well as be, every inch a man is simply to be "set up " by drill and discipline. In countries where the relations are just between officers and men, he there, as the common soldier, often undergoes through drill a favorable change in physique and a higher tone through discipline. The results produced by these combined agencies is transforming. From a shuffling lout, who does not know how to use the limbs which nature has provided him with, a man issues forth whom his nearest of kin can scarcely recognize.

Where discipline and drill are not obtainable, some kind of manual and evolutionary movements are always possible, and for the latter dancing is far better than nothing. One need not be a specialist in anatomy and physiology to see that the great changes indicated are not produced without profound alterations in the structure and functions of the body. The rounding shoulders are thrown back, the shoulder-blades disappear, and, the chest expanding, the lungs inhale deeper draughts of lifegiving air. The limbs, especially the legs, move with greater freedom within their natural bounds. The hands become more pliant, adroit, and serviceable. Beyond all that can be thus specified as acquired, is co-ordination of parts in prompt obedience to the directive mind and will. This makes the distinctive difference between the halting hesitancy of mind and body in the bumpkin, and the alertness of mind and of bodily action in the city-bred.

An officer of the regular army once told us that when he first went to West Point he was a strapping, awkward youth, so knock-kneed that, standing, he could not put his heels together by 2 or 3 inches. In the course of a year or two, however, he said, his legs had become perfectly straight through the influence of foot and horseback exercise. We can, from personal observation, vouch for the accuracy of his observation that his legs had become straight, for their symmetry was so admirable as to be remarked. There once came under our direct observation, in a boy of from 12 to 14 years of age, such a change from being awkwardly high-shouldered, to his shoulders being rightly placed, that the change seemed marvelous; but it was only a phenomenon of development under favorable conditions.

Of course, similar influences to those which favorably affect the form in the male sex affect it also in like manner in the female sex. Not only are the acquirements of each, except those which are distinctively sexual, transmitted through.

progeny to both sexes, but the general conditions which produce peculiarities in the individuals of one sex occupying a certain locality produce them also in members of the opposite sex occupying the same locality. In the last paragraphs the figure and shambling gait of the bumpkin have been spoken of exclusively, because, in connection with him, it was desirable to illustrate the effect of drill and discipline. But, whatever applies to him and to others of his sex applies in essentials also to corresponding individuals of the female sex, although in less degree, because the love of pleasing leads among women of all ranks to some abatement of the condition of partial or complete indifference to attitude and movement.

In the first chapter we have spoken of the singular absti nence among country people in America from exercise afoot. In the present connection it is in place to emphasize the fact that all that applies to the men in regard to posture and movement, as being conducive to health and beauty, must apply to women. As, however, the next chapter is to be devoted especially to the movement of women under the appropriate idea of grace, it is necessary here only to remark, before resuming the theme of change of form within limited periods, that the sole difference in the applicability of what is said on these topics lies in the necessary modifications in practice appropriate to sex. If men drill, so should girls drill, through calisthenic exercises, including especially the cotillon of various kinds. All calisthenic movements executed to music necessarily have a rhythm which cannot otherwise be obtained, the bodily movement being the visible presentment in time and motion of the unseen influence. Description of what constitutes good walking is also deferred to a subsequent chapter. Walking, to be good, requires practice, as we see in drill, not with the object of getting over ground, but of getting over it properly, so that locomotion shall eventually become through habit more graceful and effective. One of

the best methods for women to learn to stand and move gracefully is in the drill effected by such dances as the minuet, formerly called the minuet de la cour. The modern dancingmaster, descended from the high authority which he once enjoyed, teaches little but his inefficiency. If he can get two young people to jiggle and tumble around a room together in the waltz, he flatters himself and his pupils that mortal man can do no more for social grace. The old-fashioned dancing-master taught them to walk, to bow, and how to enter a room. His only omission was in not telling them how to get out of it, which is a feat so much more difficult, that hosts suffer to this day from its inadequate performance. Although a person would be as great a fool to abide implicitly by the teaching of a dancingmaster as to dress by the taste of his tailor, and good society never did nor will do either, yet it is only by exaggeration of movements that the true eventual movement can be learned, the "goose step" leading to good marching, and the strutting of the minuet to the graceful movement of a lady; for, as Pope says, "they move easiest who have learned to dance." They cannot move easily unless they hold themselves well, and hence posture is indispensable to the art of dancing, which, in its two branches, posture and motion, is intended to pervade the future life in healthful ease of movement.

To resume the theme of change of form, intermitted during this necessary digression, we would remark that one of the most striking illustrations of which we know, of rapid physical change, brought about by changed conditions, was that witnessed soon after California began to be settled by the people of the United States. In 1859, San Francisco was removed only ten years from a time as celebrated as the Argonautic search for the golden fleece, from the time when the men who still proudly call themselves "the forty-niners," were in the ascendant in California. At that time San Francisco had scarcely departed

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »