This art is in a manner natural to man (see Amphibious Animals); and, from its evident utility, it has in all ages formed part of the education both of barbarous and civilized nations. - As an outline of the principles on which it is practised, may be a mean of saving persons accidentally fallen into deep water, we shall give a few directions to that effect, selected from the instructions of Dr. Frank-LIN, and confirmed by cur own experience. First, the learner ought to walk courageously into the water, till the fluid reaches to his breast; when he must gently decline his belly towards the surface; the head and neck being erect ; the breast pressing forward; the thorax being inflated, and the back bent. Next, the legs must be withdrawn from the bottom, while they are extended or stretched out; and the arms should be stricken forwards, corresponding with the motion of the former.
Swimming on the back is not essentially different from the method just described, excepting that the arms are not exerted, and the progressive motion is derived solely from the striking of the legs.
With respect to diving, or plunging under water, Dr. F. observes, that the swimmer must close his hands together : and, the chin being pressed upon his breast, he ought to make an exertion to bend forwards with energy: while he continues in this position, he should move with velocity under the water; and, when he wishes to return to the surface, it will be sufficient to bend his head backward, in consequence of which he will instantaneously rise.
From the natural timidity, or antipathy to water, which in some individuals is constitutional, novices in swimming have been advised to employ bladders or corks, for the purpose of supporting the body above the surface; a practice which has been severely censured. Dr. F. is, however, of opinion, that such auxiliary means are useful, while the pupil is acquiring the mode of drawing in, and striking out the hands ; which is absolutely necessary to a progressive motion. But, as no person can become a perfect adept, till he can sufficiently confide in the capacity of the water to support him, he ought to walk into a place, swo a place, where it grows gradually deeper, till it reach to the breast : the face must then be turned towards the shore, and an egg be thrown into the water, to such a depth that it can only be obtained by diving. The novice is then to plunge down, when he will find that the element buoys him up against his inclination : he will feel its power of keeping him afloat, and consequently learn to venture into it, without apprehension.
Considered as an exercise, Swimming is equally amusing and useful ; because it combines the advantages of the cold bath and mus-cular exertion. Hence we would uniformly recommend to plunge into the water with the head foremost ; while the body is neither cold nor overheated : no dangerous rivers, or muddy streams, should be selected ; nor should this attempt be made, till the water has in some degree been warmed by the genial rays of the sun, - Other precautions, necessary to be observed, having already been stated under the article Bath, we refer the reader to vol. i. pp. 186-88. - See also Bamboe-habit, and Cork.