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No. 115 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

There is no kind of Exercise which I would so recommend to my Readers of both Sexes as this of Riding, as there is none which so much conduces to Health, and is every way accommodated to the Body, according to the Idea which I have given of it. Doctor Sydenham is very lavish in its Praises; and if the English Reader will see the Mechanical Effects of it describ’d at length, he may find them in a Book published not many Years since, under the Title of Medicina Gymnastica [2]. For my own part, when I am in Town, for want of these Opportunities, I exercise myself an Hour every Morning upon a dumb Bell that is placed in a Corner of my Room, and pleases me the more because it does every thing I require of it in the most profound Silence. My Landlady and her Daughters are so well acquainted with my Hours of Exercise, that they never come into my Room to disturb me whilst I am ringing.

When I was some Years younger than I am at present, I used to employ myself in a more laborious Diversion, which I learned from a Latin Treatise of Exercises that is written with great Erudition: [3] It is there called the skiomachia, or the fighting with a Man’s own Shadow, and consists in the brandishing of two short Sticks grasped in each Hand, and loaden with Plugs of Lead at either End. This opens the Chest, exercises the Limbs, and gives a Man all the Pleasure of Boxing, without the Blows. I could wish that several Learned Men would lay out that Time which they employ in Controversies and Disputes about nothing, in this Method of fighting with their own Shadows. It might conduce very much to evaporate the Spleen, which makes them uneasy to the Publick as well as to themselves.

To conclude, As I am a Compound of Soul and Body, I consider myself as obliged to a double Scheme of Duties; and I think I have not fulfilled the Business of the Day when I do not thus employ the one in Labour and Exercise, as well as the other in Study and Contemplation.


[Footnote 1: Motion]

[Footnote 2: ‘Medicina Gymnastica, or, a Treatise concerning the Power of Exercise’. By Francis Fuller, M.A.]

[Footnote 3: ‘Artis Gymnasticae apud Antiquos …’ Libri VI. (Venice, 1569). By Hieronymus Mercurialis, who died at Forli, in 1606. He speaks of the shadow-fighting in Lib. iv. cap. 5, and Lib. v. cap. 2.]