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A Parallel
by [?]

A strange dream? Yet a precisely parallel reality had inspired it. I had been taken over-night–my first visit–to the National Sporting Club.

The instinct to fight, like the instinct to love, is a quite natural instinct. To fight and to love are the primary instincts of primitive man. I know that people with strongly amorous natures are not trained and paid to make love ceremoniously, in accordance to certain rules laid down for them by certain authorities, and for the delectation of highly critical audiences. But, if this custom prevailed, it would not seem to me stranger than the custom of training and paying pugnacious people to hit one another on the face and breast, with the greatest possible skill and violence, for the delectation of highly critical audiences. I do not say that a glove-fight is in itself a visually disgusting exhibition. I saw no blood spilt, the other night, and no bruises expressed, by either the `light-weights’ or the `heavy- weights.’ I dare say, too, that the fighters enjoy their profession, on the whole. But I contend that it is a very lamentable profession, in that it depends on the calculated prostitution of good natural energies. A declaration of love prefaced by a grimace, such as I saw in my dream, seems to me not one whit more monstrous than a violent onslaught prefaced by a hand-shake. If two men are angry with each other, let them fight it out (provided I be not one of them) in the good old English fashion, by all means. But prize-fighting is to be deplored as an offence against the soul of man. And this offence is committed, not by the fighters themselves, but by us soft and sedentary gentlemen who set them on to fight. Looking back at ancient Rome, no one blames the poor gladiators in the arena. Every one reserves his pious horror for the citizens in the amphitheatre. Yet how are we superior to them? Are we not even as they–suspended at exactly their point between barbarism and civilisation. In course of time, doubtless, `the ring’will die out. For either we shall become so civilised that we shall not rejoice in the sight of painful violence, or we shall relapse into barbarism and go into the mauling business on our own account. Our present stage–the stage of our transition–is not pretty, I think.