Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 384–87.

The Building of the Muscle

Julian Hawthorne




Physiology, Degeneration, Health, Humanism

People mentioned:

William Blaikie

    Urges that the 'American boy ought always to have a smack of Columbus about him', and 'the first and perhaps the most interesting country that he explores is the one which is bounded by his own jacket and trousers'. Refusing to 'enter here upon that famous inquiry whether a hard biceps is a symptom of a fine brain', contends that 'Our brains are quite fine enough: in certain parts of New England they have reached a degree of tenuity beyond which they can not go and hold together. But nothing comes of it except refinement, which, as history and our innate knowledge of human nature tells us, is not only the last step away from savagery, but the next step before it'. Rather, the coming 'men of the twentieth century [...] must have strength rather than refinement; and one would sooner fancy them developing new muscles, or, at any rate, new hearts, than new evolutions of the cerebrum'. Questions the 'propriety of making health the deliberate object of exercise', suggesting that to 'make yourself strong for the sake of your private health is the analogue of obeying the decalogue for the sake of your private crown; there is something unpleasantly unsympathetic about it. But be strong simply because mankind at large will be better if all men become physically more efficient, and the other blessings shall be added to you'. (384)

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