This section of the book is from "Fasting, Hydropathy and Exercise", by Bernarr MacFadden.
Health is the chief of all earthly blessings," Lord Chesterfield writes to his son;" so much so, indeed, that a healthy beggar is happier than a bedridden king; and the only way in which a rich man can avoid the forfeiture of his birthright to happiness is to live as frugally and laboriously as if he were poor."
Still, strenuous exercise may to a considerable degree atone for dietetic indulgences, and few observers of men and habits can fail to have noticed Epicureans whom a sort of instinct prompts to give themselves the benefit of a movement-curestout, florid gormands who decline to become torpid, and walk habitually at a double-quick or go out of their w\ay to join in athletic sports. The net result in happiness may not get them above the average by that method; but they keep disease at bay:
"Lass nach Riesen-Kraft ihn streben,
Wer im Uebermass geniesst;
Dem Athleten wird vergeben,
Was der Schwachling treuer busst."
"He would enjoy himself to an excessive degree should likewise try to exceed in vigor; an athlete may take risks that might prove fatal to a weakling."
A considerable help to such endeavors in muscular Christianity is the possession of a little real estate, an orchard or patch of truck-farm, that can be worked for a practical purpose and with visible results. Uncle Toby, in digging up his brother's kitchen-garden to illustrate the Vauban system of ramparts, incidentally also erected fortifications against the inroads of decrepitude, and it has been repeatedly observed that individuals who attained to an extreme old age were generally (like Jenkins, Darapsky, and Thomas Parr) poor rustics whose avocations required daily labor in the fields and woods. The German foresters, or wardens of government woodlands, are likewise longlived, with the noteworthy exception of aristocrats who enter a Forst-schule (College of Forestry) in reliance on family influence and rapid promotion, and really most of them contrive to get hold of a sinecure, enabling them to earn a high salary by a few hours of office-work, or retire on a liberal pension. But their lease of life is equally limited, while the poor Revier Foerster who has to plant some threescore saplings every week-day, has a first-class chance to continue his ministrations for as many years.
For the same reason school-trustees should strain the limits of their tolerance, rather than discourage the passion for out-door sports that distinguishes the youngsters of the progressive nations from the whelps of decadence. Football, baseball, aquatic sports, and the "Hare and Hound "races of the British colleges, serve a purpose of moral as well as physical sanitation, for some of the besetting vices of youth are symptoms of abnormal physical inactivityeffects, in fact, as often as causes of disease.
No clamor for outing-sports interfere with the curriculum of South-European colleges, and that fact is far more ominous than the alleged tendency to rowdyism that alarms old women of both sexes in our Northern university towns. The civilization of Greece and Moorish Spain sprang from barbarism like water from the rock in the desert of Sinai, while physical indolence is the torpor that precedes the collapse of moribund nations, and heralds a moral night that knows no morning.