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gravely alarmed at the rapid rise of the proportion of women to men in his university; but in five years the tide has turned, and the proportion of women has somewhat diminished. Meantime the number of girls in the female colleges has advanced by leaps and bounds. And public schools for boys only on the English plan are very successfully invading the eastern states. There are indications that the position of American women, which has hitherto been quite abnormal, will by degrees approach that of women in the old world. It does not appear to a visitor that even now girls in New England are entirely free from the rule of convention.
One or two of the institutions which I found existing among American students seem to deserve attention. First a custom which has, so far as I know, no parallel in England. The art of debate, which has always been much encouraged and practised in America, has been completely organised on a competitive basis.
Teams are selected in each college for a debating tussle, just as for a rowing match or a football contest. The teams of rival colleges meet on the platform of some large hall. A political or social subject which offers good scope for argument has already been selected ; one side is assigned by lot to each of the contending parties. Each competitor in turn takes up his brief and attacks or defends, as the case may be. Judges assigned for the purpose decide which team is victorious, having regard, not to the justice of the cause, but to the skill of the disputants. A victorious college is proud of its team, and of the trophy which victory brings it.
I was not present at one of these contests, but I attended a rehearsal for one. The youthful orators seemed to me to equal or surpass our English undergraduate debaters in fluency and ease; but I was not greatly impressed with their debating force. They seemed rather to repeat a prepared theme than to demolish one another or really to grip the subject. Perhaps I expected too much, knowing how ready of speech educated Americans are. At the Oxford or Cambridge Union one would certainly not hear six or eight consecutive speeches which dealt so little in irony, in sarcasm, or in humour as those to which I listened at Harvard. Every man was serious, serious to dulness; and I was told, rightly or wrongly, that jesting and humour would be on these occasions regarded as blemishes.
One cannot but feel some doubt whether it is a wise thing to set undergraduates to uphold one side or the other in a debate without any reference to their personal convictions. As a training for legal practice it may be very useful, but to men who expect to become ministers of religion or to take a part in politics, the habit of maintaining any given thesis is one of doubtful desirableness. I was told that such subjects only were chosen for these set debates as involved considerations of expediency rather than of morality ; but it must surely be rather difficult to exclude all subjects on which men have
strong convictions. And a man who can speak as well against his convictions as with them is scarcely to be encouraged, except at the Bar. However, whatever may be thought of these oratorical displays, they have come into fashion everywhere in the American universities.
Another side of undergraduate life to which an Englishman naturally turns attention is that of athletic sport. In this matter, as in so many others, the American tendency to extremes is manifest. The universities produce athletes who hold the records for many of the feats of strength and speed in which young men now contend. At the Olympian festival at Athens two years ago, the American visitors carried all before them. And the football and baseball teams put into their matches much of that determination and intensity of will which is so noteworthy on the other side of the Atlantic. They contend as if the salvation of the country depended on it; and they hare in consequence to be clad in elaborate armour to protect the vital parts from injury. Baseball is certainly a game which makes a severer call on the powers and requires a more continuous strain of attention than cricket. And baseball remains the university game, though the strongly marked predominance of the pitcher over the striker is fast reducing the scores at matches to zero. On the other hand, the athletes in the American universities are a small minority. Anything like the crush of racing boats on our narrow Cam, or the swarming of our footballers, is unknown in America. There is a large residuum of men poor in physique and quite unaccustomed to bodily toil and conflict.
To these latter the movement which has set up in all the colleges of America, men's and women's alike, huge and well appointed gymnasia is an enormous benefit. In the baths under the gymDasium at Harvard, men are as careless of the conventions of dress as Greek athletes, a thing which to me seemed very healthy, and admirably corrective of the thick-lying artificialities of American life. But not only do the sturdy frequent these exercise-places, but the weak and ill developed also. By a custom which, if not compulsory, is almost universally accepted, students submit to a careful anthropometric examination when they come to college. And a large proportion of them accept the prescriptions of the accomplished trainers, who urge them to correct their corporeal defects by a regular planned course of exercise. When I was at Harvard, the faculty was engaged in discussing the question whether gymnastic courses should be made compulsory : whether compulsory or not, they are accepted as a boon by the mass of the students. American ingenuity has strained its resources in providing exercises which shall develop every muscle and make supple every limb. When I was an undergraduate at English Cambridge, one of my contemporaries, who has since become a very famous edgineer, spent much of his time lying on his back and keeping up a football with his feet, in order to make his legs more supple. Such primitive expedients are superseded in the gymnasia by any number of contrivances with wheels and pulleys and bars and weights. Perhaps in the exercises of the gymnasium there is a too prominent element of self-consciousness. The strong and healthy man will always prefer the game which offers an end outside himself, to the gymnastic exercise which ends in mere selfculture. And the social competition of rowing and football has an ethical side which is wanting in the gymnasium. But nevertheless, in an age which is already self-conscious, and in which the fear of physical degradation is anything but baseless, we are bound to welcome the trainer with his system, and the precise student of the human body with his measures. They will at all events be able to tell us whether physical decline is a fact or a fear; and, in the former case, we must look to them for suggestions of remedy.
The Columbia University of New York, of which Mr. Seth Low is the energetic president, has of late removed its seat from the centre of the city to its northern extremity. On a plot of ground unfortunately small in its dimensions, it has erected the most necessary university buildings; and these, as they stand, furnish a curious comment on the needs of the modern university. In the centre of the sacred ground stands a huge library, noble in architecture, and planned to hold the vast mass of books required by modern study. On either side of the library are the museums of art and science, the class-rooms, and the offices. Behind is a huge compound structure of interesting composition. Above ground, on a solid foundation, rises a great theatre suitable to university functions. The basement is divided into two parts; one is the power-house, where machinery of great force furnishes the mechanical basis of the college, supplying light and heat to all the buildings, and force to all the machinery which is used in the electrical, the mechanical , and other workshops. The other half of the basement contains a gymnasium and baths for the physical culture of students. Books for readers, specimens and apparatus for workers, an almost unlimited source of physical force, and the means for the civilisation of the body-such are the necessaries provided by the newest universities of America. The teacher is there, but he has become almost an intermediary between apparatus and student. And at the head of the whole stands a man who is less a professor or a specialist than a man of the world and a diplomatist. It is, indeed, a far cry hence to our ancient Oxford, with its residential colleges, its spacious playgrounds, its democratic asse nblies. But it may be that the oldest and the newest of English-speaking universities have each advantages over the other, and have each something to learn from the other with a view to organisation and progress.
The first printed book on Fyshynge was published in 1496, and was chiefly from the hand of the Mother of Fishermen, Dame Julyans Berners. The Complete Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation appeared in 1653; and, in the hundred and fifty years' interval, but four books on angling were issued. It is different nowadays. Fishing books covering the whole field, books dealing with special branches, text-books, volumes in a 'Series,' volumes of a Library,' reprints, edited and prefaced so much the fashion nowadays—pour unceasingly from the press. Of making of fishing books there is, indeed, no end ; but, to me at least, much study is no weariness of the flesh. They recall the red-letter days, the delightful memories of the past; and they make one certain that next year, next season, the real big fish, the record day, will assuredly arrive.
Walton was a Royalist. To him, then, when he wrote, the country was in a parlous state. The villanous and canting Roundhead had beheaded his King and outlawed the legitimate Heir. The whole realm was seething with agitation and discontent. That at such a time he could write such a book, replete with peace, content, and human kindness, is a clear proof that old Izaak was a true fisherman, and had the true fisherman's absorption in his sport. Such was the true fisherman then, such is the true fisherman nowwhen fishing, or writing and dreaming of fishing. But in these days of limited opportunity on the one hand, and of sophisticated trout on the other, the fisherman has neither time nor inclination to follow the example of that .quaint old cruel coxcomb,' our father Izaakmost delightful, yet laziest, thirstiest, most garrulous of anglers-and dally in cleanly honest ale-houses, singing songs to pass away the hour, or conversing with any stranger who comes to hand.
Why is fishing such a fascinating sport? There are many reasons. In it anticipation, the pleasures of hope, play an exceptionally large part-man seldom is, but always to be blessed. Then, there is no sport in which the unknown has so obvious and so fascinating & share ; no bounds need be, nor indeed are, set to the imagination. The pleasure does not even largely lie, is certainly not entirely dependent, on the killing. Fishing is fishing, even if you catch no fish. And a blank day's fishing-unless due to human or Satanic agency, a
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broken rod, rotten casts, over-tempered Aies, weed cutting or yellow floods—may be open to regret, but is never detestable. All day long the fisherman has been exercising his skill and his intelligence; and if, for once, the fish have got the better of him, there are always a thousand good reasons for his want of success.
One of the chief charms, however, of fly fishing lies certainly in the knowledge that the sport depends on, and is a fair contest between, the fish and the man. That is much. And further, and that also is much, one cannot tell what the day will bring forth. Your purse or your host may provide you with a river, and a river with salmon or trout in it; but no human being can foretell what your bag will be—a blank, a record, a betwixt and between.
Sea trout fishing this year in Mull—bad sport, but lovely surroundings—I happened on one occasion, fishing from a boat, to count my casts. I calculated that, on that day, I cast no less than four thousand times. Thus, on four thousand distinct occasions in the course of the day, it was to me a matter of dire uncertainty, but a matter of interest and moment, whether I should get a rise at all, and whether, if so, it would be from a satisfactory fish. Would a small sea trout come with a dash and a flash, or a sizeable sea trout boldly rise ; could a grilse be induced to take, or would an obtrusive little brown trout seize the fly and spoil the cast ? And this was in loch fishing, the interest and excitement of which is as nothing to that experienced, for instance, on a salmon river, when the fly comes round into the critical eddy, or nears the spot at which, once before, a fish was risen and hooked ; nor to that experienced on a trout stream, when the well cocked fly sails lightly over the spot where the fading dimple of the rising fish can still be seen.
Shooting has, of course, its own peculiar charms and satisfactions. A quick driven grouse well killed ; a neat right and left at partridges as they top the hedge; a tall, rocketing pheasant, coming down wind, that collapses without a feather or a flutter—these are good, yet the pleasure is fleeting. In fishing, however, there is not only the excitement of the cast, but, whether you land him or lose him, there is an exhilaration in hooking and playing a good fish which nothing else can give.
The solitude, the fact that you are alone with nature, its loveliness, its restfulness; the sound of waters, the sight and song of birds, the trees and flowers, are not the least of the pleasures of fly fishing; enjoyed, too (trout fishing at least), during the loveliest time of the year, when Nature is still producing, multiplying, beautifying, and the fulness is not yet.
And now we breathe the odours of the glen,
And round about us are enchanted things;
The river keen, that hath a voice and sings.