Healthful Sports for Young Ladies
ELEVEN ELEGANT ENGRAVINGS, FROM DRAWINGS BY J. DUGOURC,
Draughtsman to His Majesty the King of France;
Accompanied by Descriptions,
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MADEMOISELLE ST. SERNIN,
AND INTERSPERSED WITH
ORIGINAL POETRY AND ANECDOTES.
PRINTED FOR R. ACKERMANN, REPOSITORY OF ARTS, 101, STRAND.
BY W. CLOWES, NORTHUMBERLAND-COURT.
The most eminent physicians dwell particularly upon the necessity there isfor young ladies, as they advance towards womanhood, to take active andregular exercise; and to avoid, as much as possible, all sedentary amusements.That love of variety, however, so natural to the human mind, and which isparticularly observable in children, renders it a matter of some difficulty todiversify their sports, so as to discover a sufficient number of games that requireexertion: we, however, flatter ourselves that this has been accomplished,in the little Work here presented to the reader in an English dress. They willfind in it instructions for playing at a great number of games, of such a naturethat they cannot fail of being conducive to their health; and which, whilethey afford an innocent relaxation from study, will be eminently useful informing that easy and graceful carriage, which can only result from the freeand active motion of the limbs, necessarily produced by frequently playing atthese games.
The prose part of the work has been faithfully rendered into Englishfrom the French original; but the Proprietor is indebted to the authorof the Tours of the original Dr. Syntax, who has enriched this little Repositoryof Youthful Sports, with some elegant verses, illustrative, in a moralpoint of view, of the games described.
Madame D’Hernilly was accustomed to pass, every year, several of the summermonths in the country: a particular circumstance obliged her to go there sooner thanusual, and her husband, who was one of the chief magistrates in the capital, was notable to accompany her. Her only companions were her two daughters, both younggirls. There was very little society to be met with in that part of the country whereMadame D’Hernilly’s castle was situated: the nearest town, which was at a distanceof two or three leagues, was a small place, with but few genteel inhabitants; and,even were it otherwise, she would not have been tempted to mix with her neighbours.Solitude was her choice and her device, till the time of the vacation: at that periodshe expected to be joined by her husband and her only son. The visits she receivedin the mean time were confined to those of two ladies in the neighbourhood, and theirdaughters, and these were admitted only on condition that they brought with them nomen, not even those of middle age.
Adela and Ernestina, the daughters of Madame D’Hernilly, found this lonely lifevery dull; in fact it suited ill with the vivacity of their age; and, in order to enliven it,they managed to prevail upon the two ladies, their neighbours, to leave behind them atthe castle three young persons who accompanied them there on a visit. This additionto the family was delightful to Adela and Ernestina, for they were equally in wantof employment and amusement. They had read over and over all the books theybrought with them from Paris. As their masters had not accompanied them, theydid not pursue their studies regularly, but only took occasionally a few lessons uponthe piano-forte, and of singing, so that a great portion of their time was unemployed.
A moralist has said, with much reason, that the mind requires relaxation; andas it is necessary to seek employment, in order to preserve oneself from the evil habitswhich are the offspring of idleness, so it is equally requisite to relieve the fatigue oflabour by recreation; a proper mixture of both keeps up the spirits, and preservesthe health of the mind as well as that of the body. In mixing with society we losethe remembrance of past troubles, and even present ones weigh less heavily upon ourspirits. The mind, in short, resembles a fruitful soil, like which it should sometimes besuffered to lie fallow; or rather it may be compared to a farmer with whom a landlordis obliged to act leniently, and to give him time for payment, for fear that by demandinghis rent too strictly, the farmer’s resources should fail, and he should be ruined.
Our five young friends were not obliged to rack their brains to find amusement. Inthe beginning of the visit the youngest, named Adriana, taught the grown-up girls thosedances which they had learned in their childish days, but had already forgotten;“My fine Castle,” “We will not go again to the Wood,” “The Duke de Bourbon,” &c. &c.These are things out of date, we must allow, but they will always be new for children,and our imitations of them are, after all, lifeless copies; they want the spirit of theoriginals—“The Chevalier de la Marjolaine,” “The Tower,” “Take Care,” “HandsRound,” amused even Madame D’Hernilly, who herself did not disdain sometimes tojoin in them.
The pleasure which they found in renewing their childish games gave to our youngpeople the idea of taking advantage of a swing, which was already erected in thegarden. Persons of a more advanced age, and distinguished by grave occupations,did not look upon it as any disgrace to take the exercise of swinging, during themonths of August and September, when the castle was crowded with guests.The posts which supported the swing were a little decayed since the preceding year,but they were soon repaired. Madame D’Hernilly recommended prudence to theyoung people in partaking of this amusement, and, as an additional precaution, shetook care to be present whenever they enjoyed it, and strictly ordered that noone should swing in her absence. They were prohibited standing upon the seat;neither were two persons allowed to get in at the same time; Ernestina, or Aglaé, oranother of their friends, placed themselves by turns upon the seat, which was furnishedwith a soft cushion; and, while the one who took the exercise grasped the cordstightly with her two hands, two or three of her companions pulled the end of thecord, and thus made it go backward and forward.
Satiety would not have interrupted this amusement, but bad weather came onsuddenly, and it was impossible for our young folks to frequent the garden. Thusthwarted in their favourite sport, they set their wits to work to find out some otheragreeable pastime.
Adriana regretted the swing less than her play-fellows: a new doll, which had beensent her from Paris, was her faithful companion; and, shall I add, the others enviedher happiness? They contrived, however, to participate in it, for, under the slypretence of amusing little Adriana, they made much of her doll. They took pains todress her, to curl her hair nicely, and to put on her cap to the best advantage. Theymade dresses for her, and even pretty little rose-coloured silk slippers. In short, thedoll’s drawers were soon completely filled with a very handsome wardrobe.
They were just beginning to tire of the amusement, which making the doll’s clotheshad at first afforded them, when one morning, Aglaé, one of the young visitors, happeningto open a book by chance, read aloud, that it was by trying the effects of the reflectionand the refraction of the light through the fragile partitions of soap bubbles, thatthe great Newton had discovered the properties of the prism, and decomposed the raysof the sun.
Madame D’Hernilly expressed her admiration of this phenomenon in naturalphilosophy; but she did not understand the subject sufficiently to give her littleauditors much information upon it. “But pray,” cried Adriana giddily, “why shouldwe not try to make some discoveries ourselves, by blowing soap bubbles, they areso pretty?” “Oh fie,” cried the elder girls, very consequentially; but one of them immediatelyadded, “I remember to have read in La Fontaine, this excellent thought—‘Nothingis useless to people of sense.’”
“It is indeed a very just idea,” said Madame D’Hernilly, “and I think, my children,you will do well to take advantage of Adriana’s proposal.” The matter was then putto the vote, much in the same manner as they had learned from the newspapers, thenational affairs are decided in the chamber of deputies. Ernestina, and one of theyoung visitors, ranged themselves on the left, to shew that they rejected a motion forplaying at such a childish game; Adriana, and her companions, took the right side,and they were lucky enough to secure the support of the centre, of which MadameD’Hernilly was the only member; they had consequently a majority, and it was decidedthat they should play at blowing soap bubbles. “Who knows,” said Aglaé,smiling, “whether we shall not, like the illustrious Newton, make some new and greatdiscovery.” This idea raised their impatience to begin, and luckily, the preparationsfor their experiment were soon made. A chambermaid brought some soap suds, ratherthick in a china basin; Adriana chose among some little bits of straw, the one whichsuited best with her design, and slit the extremity in four parts, then dipped the endshe had slit in the soap suds, and blew in the other extremity of the straw. Each blew inher turn, and formed bubbles which reflected all the brilliant colours of the rainbow,but which, unfortunately, were as transient as they were beautiful.
Madame D’Hernilly astonished the young people very much, by explaining to themthe process by which enamellers formed the balls of the thermometer: it is done byblowing through a glass tube, the extremity of which is made red hot, and softened bythe fire of a lamp. She added, that they had adopted this method also in glass manufactories,and that goblets, bottles, in a word, almost all the utensils which we use inglass and crystal, are blown in a similar manner.
Our little band now struggled with each other, to see who should form the largestbubble, and who should make it rise highest in the air: one of them waved her pocket-handkerchiefto make it rise higher and higher, till the bubble burst, and the illusion wasdestroyed. Madame D’Hernilly, who recollected some verses on the subject of thisamusement, took the opportunity of repeating them, and impressing their moral on theminds of her young audience.
This amusement did not last longer than the morning, and at night our juvenilegroup were again at a loss for something to do. Adriana was once more the first tofind out a new species of amusement. In hunting about, she, at length, discoveredsome cards, and immediately began, with great alacrity, to arrange files of soldiersand to build houses with the cards. The elder girls found a malicious pleasure inthrowing down her houses, just as she had brought them to the last story; and inblowing upon her soldiers in order to make them fall, just before the file was properlyarranged. As Adriana was good-tempered, she put up with their tricks quietly,though she meditated perhaps in her own mind some method of soon taking herrevenge.
Madame D’Hernilly seized the occasion which the cards presented to her, to give theyoung people some account of the manner in which they were first introduced. Almostall historians agree in saying, that they imagine games with cards