« AnteriorContinuar »
figure was carved “in a moralizing posture, in his chancel of the church of Bunny, being the first posture of wrestling; an emblem of the divine and human struggle for the glorious mastery!" Such is the description of this remarkable “ effigies," as given by Master Francis Hoffman, a gentleman, a poet, and a friend of Sir Thomas, who wrote a copy of heroic verses, in defence of the monument and its moral. There is an awkward wood-cut of this singular stone, in one of the old editions of Sir Thomas's Institutes, which is worth the reader's looking to. Sir Thomas is represented standing in his country coat, potent, and postured for the Cornish hug. On one side is a well-limbed figure, lying above the scythe of Time, with the sun rising gloriously over it, shewing that the wrestler is in his pride of youth. On the other side is the same figure, stretched in its coffin, with Time standing, scythe in hand, triumphantly over it; and the sun gone down, marking the decline of life, and the fate even of the strong man! Thus did Sir Thomas Parkyns moralize in marble, and decorate, with solemn emblems, the quiet walls of Bunny's simple church.
It is pretty clear, that though no training on earth will give a man the best of his contest with a century, still that wholesome toil, and manly exercise, will carry him bravely over some scores of years. And the length of Sir Thomas's life proves, (and every living baronet should know it,) that to play at Bunny was healthier than to play at Boodle's. He scarcely knew a day's illness through seventy-eight years; but, in 1741, he “got a fall,” which shook the baronetcy clean out of him, and filled one of those stone repositories which he had so cautiously provided against the accident. He died beloved and regretted. We, perhaps, should have stated, that he married twice during his life, and was, of course, twice a happy man. One of his ladies was the daughter of a London alderman, an excellent woman, and clever at recipes for strains !
Having given this brief and sketchy account of our good and active baronet's life, let us turn to the little Treatise on his favourite art, and shew how cheerfully he could write, and how learnedly he could argue, on " the hanging trippet," “the clamp," " back-lock," "in-lock," and "pinnion."
The Dedication is a favourable specimen of the athletic style which the author adopted, and quite shames the delicate and effeminate adulation which has crept into dedications, amongst other refinements of a later age.
“ That I rather may be looked upon as a Tom Tell-Troth, than a historian, I dedicate generally. Therefore, fear not that this part of Hudibras will be my portion.
It matters not how false or forst,
Therefore, I invite all persons, however dignified, or distinguished, to read my book, and will readily admit them my scholars, provided they have these qualifications: they must be of a middle size, athletic, full-breasted, and shouldered; for wind and strength, brawny legged and armed, yet clean limbed. Terence's man, that has corpus solidum atque succi plenum, is my promising scholar, to do me credit, and be capable of serving his king and country on occasion, and defend his friend and self from insults. For the most part, the question I ask a scholar (if I like his size and complexion, for I am an indifferent phy, siognomist, a judicious physician, and can prognosticate more from a phiz than most physicians from waters,) is, If his parents are alive? If not, what age they died at ? For I admit no hereditary gouts, or schrophulous tumours; yet I'll readily accept of scorbutic rheumatisms, because the persons labouring under those maladies are generally strong, and able to undergo the exercise of wrestling. I am so curious in my admission, I'll not hear of one hipped, and out of joint; a valetudinarian is my aversion ; for I affirm, Martial, Lib. vi. Ep. 54, is in the right on't, Non est vivere sed valere rita. I receive no limber-hams, no darling sucking bottles, who must not rise at Midsummer till eleven of the clock, and that the fire has aired his room and clothes of colliquative sweats, raised by high sauces and spicy force-meats, when the cook does the office of the stcmach with the emetic tea-table, set out with bread and butter for his breakfast ; I'll scarcely admit a sheep-biter ; none but beef-eaters will go down with us, who have robust, healthy, and sound bodies : this may serve as a sketch of that person fit to make a wrestler, by him who desires a place in your friendship.”
The prefatory introduction, for Sir Thomas divides his books into heads, or rather into limbs, is full of the morality of wrestling. Drinking is to be avoided, as is " passion at seeing an adversary;" and from these two judicious pieces of advice the baronet goes slily to work with Bacchus and Ceres, pleasantly shewing how many' they have thrown down! What a picture gives he of your thorough-paced drinkers, who can scarce " eat the leg of a threepenny chicken in a day!” But hear Sir Oracle !
“ Whoever would be a complete wrestler must avoid being overtaken in drink, which very much enervates, or being in a passion at the sight of his adversary, or having received a fall; in such cases he is bereaved of his senses, not being master of himself, is less of his art, but sheweth too much play, or none at all, or rather pulleth,
kicketh, and ventureth beyond all reason and his judgment when himself.
Fæcundi calices quem non fecere misellun.
Since the Diluvians, Bacchus, Ceres, and even Paracelsus their substitute, have been celebrated wrestling masters. The first tells you he has, and does still teach all over Europe, and has many scholars even in emperors, kings, and princes' courts. That the popes and cardinals have tried him, and received many a foil and fall from him, and that most of the religious houses in Christendom are his scholars. He instructs at the Two Devil tavern, in London, and his assistants, as sack, claret, &c. in all taverns.
Ceres keeps school at all checquers, with his assistants, Nottingham, Derby, Burton, Easingwold, &c. at most public houses. Stout has the fullest school amongst the porters, carmen, chairmen, &c. Paracelsus admits for the most part at the golden stills, bis method he exacted from and is an abridgment of the two former: his journeymen assistants are Brandy, a Frenchman; Usquebaugh an Irishman; Rum, a Molossonian, &c. Heart's-ease he recommends as his head usher ; but I never knew any person that received benefit from him. He is the finisher, and seldom receives any but such as are thoroughproved, and gone through all the other methods, and can scarce eat the leg of a three-penny chicken in a day. When he has over-exercised them by drams, that they have quite lost their stomachs, he prescribes to them the subterraneous and sulphureous hot bath-waters, to drink. You may depend upon it, all these masters teach mostly the trip, which I assure you, is no safe and sound play. You may know them by their walkings and gestures ; they stagger and reel and cross legs, which I advise my scholars to avoid, and receive many a foul fail in the sink or kennel; and were
constitutions of porphyry, marble, or steel, they'll make you yield to your last and only fair fall, they'll assuredly give you on your backs."
Several pages are taken up with the praise of the manly art of wrestling; and Sir Thomas wished that a clause could be inserted in the act of parliament for obliging persons to use the long-bow, thus compelling men to practise the art, in order to the prevention of duels. The baronet thinks, and perhaps justly, that a few sound throws of a quarrelsome body over his antagonist's head, would heal strife, and prevent sword-contests. Soldiers too, he thinks, would find their account in studying the art, as, in case of being disarmed or unhorsed, they could grapple with an enemy to advantage.
He concludes a very masterly eulogy shrewdly, as follows :
Though at the begining of the Preface I take notice that wrestling was in vogue, great credit, reputation, and estimation in Martial the poet's days ; wrestling, without all doubt, is of greater antiquity, as appears, Gen. chap. xxxii
. ver. 24, Jacob wrestled with an angel. Whether it was real and corporeal, or mystical and spiritually in its signification, I leave Pool and the rest of the divines to determine.
“But I advise all my scholars to avoid wrestling with angels ; for though they may maintain the struggle till break of the day, and seem to lay their adversaries supine and on their backs, they will have the foil, and be out of joint with Jacob's thigh.
“ I conclude that it requires a much abler pen than mine to explain it; and that it remains only ingeniously to assure you, I ne'er had been induced to write this first Treatise of Wrestling, that ever was published by any, but that I found it mysterious, and hoped that it might fall into such ingenious hands, as would make good Facile est inventis addere, and that such would fill up the several blanks, I have left for that purpose. Then I further promise, if this is acceptable to gamesters, and those that would be such, to illustrate, and make clear and plain, each letter, with two or three copper-plates, at least, of the postures in wrestling, which can't be well done till the blanks are filled up; that it may be, in time, a Treatise of Wrestling, and invite many persons to look into it, with an itching curiosity of reading and exercising the whole book frequently through, till they are become complete wrestlers. 'Tis difficult to pitch upon a subject like this, that has not been, in some manner or other, treated of by others; but much to be wondered at, if I am not laughed at, for being the first undertaker, being fearful I have committed many faults, yet am concerned that I cannot apologise for myself, in the words of the great and celebrated Seneca, to his Lucilius - de alienis liberalis fui ; quare autem aliena dixi? Quæcunque bene dicta sunt, ab ullo, mea sunt. And though Martial speaks for me, Epig. 17. lib. i.
Sunt bona, sunt quædam mediocria, sunt mala plura
“ 'Tis not a book, if not so; neither am I confident of my own sufficiency, to think I can perform any thing like others, or do 1 set a greater value on the spider's web, for being spun out of its own bowels; however I declare, by a notum sit omnibus et singulis, that if, upon perusal of this my book of wrestling, my readers shall laugh at it, 'till they lie down, I hope they'll be so ingenuous, as to own the fall which answereth the design and very end of this undertaking.
“ Now I have done every thing requisite and necessary, in a good wrestling master, 'tis not my fault, if scholars do not obtain the desired and proposed end, which is a total vanquishing and overthrowing of their enemies.”
At page 22, Sir Thomas commences his “ Institutes to Young Wrestlers,” thus learnedly :
My Institutes to Young Wrestlers. “Most problems of the mechanics are more useful than curious, in regard they commonly relate to the execution of the most necessary things in the way of life, so that I might be very large on my subject, but that my book may not exceed some wrestlers' pockets.
“I only explain the small sword, lever, or stilliard, which are all one, in the reason of their operations, and how far useful to the wrestler, but as this is a new application of mine, I'll explain myself with all the perspicuity and agreeable easiness to be understood, and deduced into the practice and exercise of wrestling, therefore both at the longer end of the stilliard, as well as of the lever, from the fulciments and props, may be called the Feeble, because, as those ends are farther from the centers, they easier, with less weight and force, command the greater weight or blows, on the shorter sides of the fulciments and props.
“ I cannot demonstrate the sharp stroke of your elbow, upon your adversary's feeble wrist or arm, which are of the greatest consequence, and preferable to, and before the weight, better than in these following words, in “ Mandy's Mechanical Powers,” who treat of the lever, stilliard, and stroke of the hammer. From Proposition the 4th to the 5th.
“ From all other statical motions of human bodies, such as are curious may find them abridged, from Alphonsus Borellus, in Lib. I. De Motu Animalium, Prop. 156, by Sturmius Statics, with the lines of direction, 176, 177, 178, 179,—184, 187.”
Immediately after the foregoing passage, ten pages of “ Mandy's and Moxon's Mechanical Powers," which, however necessary for the education of the young wrestler, would be by no means interesting to any other reader.
The general directions to the In-play wrestler, commence at page 37. The high-heeled shoes, against wbich the baronet is so outrageous, and which were the fashion of his day, must have been extremely inimical to a person desirous of maintaining a firm footing. How could a man, standing, as it were, upon a couple of claret corks, expect to resist the energies of the flat-footed.
“ 1. Choose rather to wrestle in a pair of linen drawers, wide at knees, easy tied above the knees, than in a pair of straight breeches.
“ 2. Choose rather to wrestle with narrow low-heeled shoes, than with broad heels; for in the first you will stand much faster, whether on a cause-way, wet or dry ground; and with narrow heeled shoes, you will easier disengage, and come off from the hanging trippet, &c.; you may put tacks into your heels to prevent your slipping and sliding.”
Sir Thomas proceeds “ to explode" high-heeled shoes, and recommends the inconvenience and danger of them to the seri