John Hulley - British Olympic Founder

By Ray Hulley

 

Speeches and Writings of John Hulley

John Hulley was an avid enthusiast of physical well-being, healthy living and gymnast exercises. He spread his message widely through newspapers and magazines, speeches and miscellaneous writings. This is a selection of them, including the address by Lord Stanley at the Opening of the new Liverpool Gymnasium on the 7th November 1865.


1861 4 Dec  -  Essay on Physical Education - Delivered by John Hulley Esq. of Liverpool at the Theatre Royal Liverpool
Do we think that any one of us, whatever may be his mental merits, can allow his physical strength to decline, can leave his bodily powers uncultivated, without  becoming degraded and imperfect, and without paying the sure penalty?   Will nature spare either him or his children for neglecting the one part of his being, whatever he may accomplish through the culture of the other?  No, she demands that an equal and impartial attention be paid to all the faculties, and that an equal interest be taken in physical as in mental culture.

There is scarcely one of us whose physical state is what it ought to be.   Poor, weak, pale, dyspeptic beings we are, unworthy of the name of a man, whatever learning or mental attainments we may possess.  We may dazzle our fellow men by these one-sided accomplishments, we may win their short-sighted praise, but we shall not cheat nature, nor reap ought but her punishment to us and our children.  When our day of physical affliction comes, as come it certainly will, to everyone who neglects his body, when the retribution head is laid heavily on ourselves and on our children, then shall we feel the vanity and delusiveness of our preference for one set of our faculties above the other.  

A man who cultivates his personal appearance  and takes a pride in his handsome and athletic figure is called a coxcomb, while the puny delicate man of letters, who exalts in his mental superiority, and who boasts of the triumph of mind over matter, is thought to have a noble and excusable pride. The attention and reverence for physical beauty is one of the best safeguards for health and manly vigour.  Beauty of face and figure is only to be maintained and perpetuated to coming generations by exercise of our body powers and is one of the best signs of a well-spent life.  In truth the great want of physical beauty and manly strength and elegance of frame, which is so widespread among us, is as distressing and as deeply to be deplored, as the prevalence of moral evil, of which, in fact, it is the outward  and visible type.    No qualities of mind can make up for this sinful and miserable neglect of the body.  The moral virtues themselves are to be promoted at present through the physical ones, for in the present state of physical degradation, in which we live,  it is a vanity to imagine that high moral excellence can prevail.  Therefore the earnest culture of the bodily powers by every one of us is the surest means to elevate mankind.

We should not be contented with a low standard of physical elevation.  We should make it our religious aim, that every one of us, man, woman, and child, should possess a large, powerful frame, whose blooming health shall set consumption and other diseases of debility, at deliverance.   Each man and woman should take as much pride, in the cultivation of the bodily as of the mental faculties, feeling deeply that the grand truth, that the interests of our race are just as much bound up in the right development of the ones as of the other.  We should not be  content until the thews and sinews, the powerful bodied and manly minds of our ancestors become prevalent among us and are blended with the advantage of our advanced civilisation, with our greater enlightment and refinement, and a longer average of life, we should cultivate all those sports and manly exercises which promote bodily health and vigour, just as sedulously as we cultivate any other branch of education, for no amount of mental cultivation, intellect, or wealth will ever make up to a community for the lack of manly mode ability and pluck. 

History is full of examples of intellectually developed nations, but intellectual only, falling a prey to others of inferior mental calibre, but of daring and  overwhelming physique.  Therefore we should have an equal honour to physical as to mental excellence. Whenever we see it, we should learn to take an equal pleasure in it, and to have an equal reverence for the physical and the mental sciences and to attain to a well valued grandeur a like of the material and of the moral universe.


1864 Jan 4     Liverpool Mercury - Mr Ackerley, Mr Hulley, and the Rotunda Gymnasium
To the Editors on the Liverpool Mercury
Gentlemen, During the last week.  Advertisements have appeared, which, by implication, place my character in a doubtful light for my fellow bandsmen, whose respect I of course cherish, and whose encouragement in the labours I have of late undertaken I have highly valued.  The first of these was as follows:-

Rotunda, gymnasium, Bold-Street, No annual subscriptions can be received for the
year 1864, Mr Hulley will cease to have any share in the Direction of the
Establishment, and from the 31st instant, pursuant to notice from the undersigned.
26 December, 1863 S. W. Ackerley, Proprietor.

The second ran thus –

The Rotunda Gymnasium, Bold-Street. Notice is hereby given that the Partnership,
if any, hitherto or lately subsisting between the undersigned,
Samuel Wylde Ackerley and John Hulley, was and is Dissolved on and from This Day
(Friday), first of January, 1864 by Mr Samuel Wylde Ackerley.  S. W. Ackerley,
Proprietor. N. B. The Gymnasium will be Open to Subscribers as hitherto. 
Subscriptions for the quarter ending the 31st of March will be received by the
undersigned. S. W. Ackerley, Proprietor

I will not dwell on the absurdity of an announcement by one quasi-partner that he dissolves a partnership but pass on briefly to explain why I feel called upon by the publication of these advertisements to give a plain narrative of the establishment of the Rotunda Gymnasium, and of the relations subsisting between myself and Mr Ackerley.  In the first place, I must protect my personnel character from all chance of being impeached by Mr Ackerley’s reckless proceedings.  Secondly - and this is the more important consideration - I cannot forget that I am the acknowledged representative of the physical education movement, and that this dispute and separation are far more likely to damage and throw back that cause than to injure me personally. The rupture has arisen, not from any failure of our enterprise - which I maintain to have been a great success - but simply from my not having taken the precaution to have proper agreements drawn up in entering upon it in conjunction with Mr Ackerley.

For many years I have been impressed with the vast importance of the systematic training of the body, and having experienced a benefit in myself, and noticed the need of it in others, had taken, in various private ways, great interest in its spread.  I had attended several of the great continental gymnasiums, incl. that of Mr Tryst, the great Paris gymnasiargue, under whom I studied, and whose friendship I enjoy, and I was deeply convinced of the need of such institutions in England.  Nay, more, I felt sure that such an institution would be remunerative, and I had often been encouraged to commence a gymnasium under my own direction.  Being unoccupied and unemployed and unencumbered, and having, I confess, some ambition to be of service in a recognized way to my fellow creatures, I was nothing loth when Mr Ackerley, whose family I had long known and respected, proposed to join me in such an enterprise.

It was clearly understood between us that my practical experience was to be considered as of equal value with his capital.  He was to look out for promises on the suitability of which we were to agree.  Both of us took steps to secure the Rotunda.  We agreed upon taking it in our joint names, and the place was bought on very advantageous terms.  The actual purchase, however, was made in Mr Ackerley’s sole name, but with a clear understanding that if at any subsequent period the property was sold the profit on a transaction should be equally divided between us.  Mr Ackerley was to provide the capital of fitting up the gymnasium and carrying it on.  Let it be at once understood, however, that though the premises and fittings cost £6,200, only about £1200 from first to last was actually advanced by Mr Ackerley, the balance of the purchase money being obtained from a building society.  I urged that a deed of partnership should be drawn up before any of the proceedings subsequent to the purchase were taken, alleging that I did that wish to trust any man, nor any man to trust me.  It was fully understood between us that such a deed should be executed, and it was expressly stated that, as my name was publicly identified with the subject of physical education, it alone should appear in the business.

I stated to Mr Ackerley that I believed the receipts, would on the first year be less than the working expenses, and for this result he was perfectly prepared.  We agreed that neither of us, neither of us was to draw any money out of the concern during that time. He was to attend to the books, and I was to have the complete control of the working arrangements of the gymnasium.  I believed that after the first year the institution would be a great success, but it was settled that, if it should seem otherwise, I should have the option of purchasing the premises and fittings at such a price as would simply reimburse Mr Ackerley for his actual outlay with interest, without putting any value upon the time and trouble extended by either of us upon the undertaking. The preparation of the papers by which these arrangements were to be rendered binding was constantly postponed against my wish. 

Several weeks after the gymnasium had been established, however, articles of agreement were forwarded to me for signature.  To my surprise, I found that they established a partnership for 18 months only, and that at the expiration of that time Mr Ackerley would be enabled to take the concern entirely into his own hands.  As I had distinctly said it would be a losing one for about that time, it was hardly likely that I should agree to an arrangement under which I should have had all the labour at working up the institution, only to be deprived of all share in it at the moment when it would begin to be remunerative.  Mr Ackerley's departure from the original understanding did not encourage me to expect that at the end of the 18 months I should be very fairly treated, and subsequent events have proved that my mistrust was well justified.  Acting, therefore, on my own judgement, confirmed by the advice of my solicitor, I declined to sign these articles. Since then, I have worked very hard indeed, at the gymnasium, without any Assistance worth a thought from Mr Ackerley - indeed, he was rather a hindrance than a help.  I have succeeded to an extent far beyond my hopes in rendering the Rotunda Gymnasium a recognized model throughout the country, as a mass of correspondence has satisfactorily proved; and by keeping it in various ways before the country I have rendered physical education, a prominent topic of public discussion.

The financial results for all the first year, which ended on the 13th of October, were equally beyond the expectations with which we started.  The profits, after deducting 7% on the original purchase money as rental (£450), and in spite of the unusually heavy expenses of the first year, were £69 1s; whereas I had prepared Mr Ackerley for a loss of £100.  As this latter estimate had been made on the hypothesis of the charge for rent to be 5%., and not 7, it is clear by arithmetic that the results of the first year, though the actual profits were only £69, was £295 better than my expectations. This state of things encouraged me to hope for a very great success in the future of the institution, and I foretold, from the regular and crowded attendance, the speedy necessity for its enlargement.  But the differences which followed upon my refusal to sign the objectionable articles of agreement led Mr Ackerley, in June last, to serve me with a notice that in December our connection would cease.  To this I paid no attention, as Mr Ackerley accompanied it with a verbal message that no change would take place till the 31st of March.  I immediately requested him, however, to furnish me with the whole financial accounts of the undertaking at the expiration of the then current year (31st of October)  with the view of purchasing the premises, as we had so agreed I should have the option of doing, at cost price. 

To this, however, I received no reply, except the bald statement that I must pay £7500 for the concern, or he would take it into its own hands.  Mr Ackerley also stated that in the event of a sale I should have no share in the profits.  It was now clear that there being no written document between us, I had nothing to hope for from Mr Ackerley, although I knew he could not conduct the institution alone.  I was not disposed to pay £7500 for the property, since that would have put a clear gain of £1300 into his pocket on the sale, when, if the property was worth that much more than had been given for it, one half of that £1300 profit belong to me.  I was determined not to be made a tool of; so I kept my work, looking out in the meantime for other premises in which to commence, if it should prove necessary, a gymnasium on my own account.

It must be understood that Mr Ackerley has had from the every penny of the receipts, and that, so far from deriving any pecuniary benefit from the establishment from first to last, I never took a penny, but actually expended considerable sums in the furtherance of the general undertaking, without even charging them in his accounts.  Mr Ackerley refused to have anything to do with the Olympic Festivals and Assaults At Arms, and accordingly I took the whole responsibility of them on myself.  Had I conducted these festivals as a speculator I might have made handsome sums out of them; but I preferred to make the promotion of the cause the prime consideration and each of these thoroughly popular and successful demonstrations entailed on me personally considerable loss.  I do not mention this to court public sympathy, but to clear up the whole of the facts and to prove the reality of my devotion to the undertaking. 

Mr Ackersley has chosen to avail himself of his legal position to oust me from the Rotunda Gymnasium.  Let him make the most of it.  To me it never was a mere money speculation, though I am certain that it would speedily have been a flourishing and a remunerative one.  I am now making the arrangements on a much more extensive scale, amidst the most kind and substantial encouragements, and with the utmost speed consistent with the efficient promotion of the great social reformation, which I have at heart, and which I feel that I have not unsuccessfully advocated. 

I am, gentlemen, etc,
John Hulley
Woolfall Hall, Huyton,                                                                                                                   Jan 1, 1864. 

P. S. -- Awaiting Mr Ackerley’s reply: and, as his advertisements have appeared throughout the week, I should like this letter to appear three days in succession, unless you hear further from me, and will pay for its insertion as an advertisement.


1864 6 Aug - The Times - Letter from John Hulley Vice-President of the Athletic Society of Great Britain

SEA-BATHING in ENGLAND and FRANCE
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES
Sir, - I have just been reading a letter published in your columns on bathing at Weymouth.  My attention has been very much attracted by the anomalies, and I must say indecencies, of the English system of bathing, and, after some hesitation, I have resolved to address you, requesting you to bring your powerful influence to bear to introduce a reform which will add considerably to the pleasure and seemliness of what has become a universal fashion, and what, rightly practised, must be a universal benefit.  I beg those who are fond of bathing, those who enjoy the seaside, and those who value whatever tends to the enjoyment or conserves the propriety of mankind, to give a few moments' consideration to a contract which I will set before them.  I am aware that the inconveniences attendant upon public bathing at our watering-places has been frequently noticed by correspondents of the newspapers, but it has only been in a casual way, and moreover in a hopeless tone, as if nothing effectual could be done to cure the evil.  Indeed, unless the plan I shall before I conclude, propose be adopted, I confess I see little prospect of any reform.

Police regulations have been tried over and over again, and invariably found comparatively useless.  What also could be expected?  If people go to a place to bathe, bathe they will.  They cannot bathe in their ordinary clothes. They cannot be compelled to bathe at unreasonable hours, and when they bathe a concourse must necessarily assemble.  Families sojourn at these places in great numbers, and the family element introduces at once an idea of community, which contributes to the freedom and publicity of the whole affair.  The result is that the whole community bathe virtually in public.  There would be nothing in this had we revived, with the practices of the ancients, their manners also.  Public baths are no novelty; even the meeting of men and women at baths has been ere now an ordinary custom, and the fact of the bathing taking place in the open air, instead of in buildings, is manifestly adapted rather to encourage than hinder the revival of this custom, - firstly, because do what you will you cannot make open-air bathing strictly private, or keep the sexes entirely out of each other's sight; and, secondly, because open-air bathing is favourable to, and seems naturally to suggest attire such as would enable the men and women to mix as freely with each other as when in their ordinary dress.  But what a contrast to this does our present fashion present!

Everyone has been at some watering-places, and it is not necessary, therefore, for me to enter into very elaborate particulars.  Were it so, my pen would have to be laid down, for the scenes which are daily complained of by men to men, and by women to women, while living at seaside watering-places, are practically indescribable in print.  Almost all English bathing-places resemble each other in the fact that there are rows of houses along the beach from which, without the aid of an opera-glass, the bathing operations are freely visible, some houses from which bathers may be very easily recognised, and some from which it is unsafe for a lady to look at bathing time lest her delicacy be outraged.  Then the beach is largely frequented by flaneurs of both sexes, who must either be very much shocked by the free and easy spectacle afforded them, or prove, by not being shocked at it, that they have already sustained a degree of sensitiveness through witnessing it.  The costume considered necessary is, for the men, a covering of water, say about to the height to the knees.  Nothing can be more natural.  There is even something picturesque and poetic about this manner of veiling nudity, but its insufficiency is obvious when we reflect what a small proportion it bears to the amount of covering exacted in ordinary life by recognised notions of propriety, and remember that numbers of ladies are also promenading the beach and sitting in the                    dwellinghouses  close to the bathing-places.

The female Briton when bathing has a slight advantage over the male so far as civilised notions of propriety go, inasmuch as she generally wears a chemise or shirt of blue flannel, open at the chest and tied round the neck. It reaches a little below the knee and is just long enough to make swimming impossible, but by no means adapted, either in size or shape, to effectively answer the requirements of decency.  On this point I will not dwell, however, further than to say that if ladies believe that their system of bathing renders them greatly less than men objects for the inspection of the improperly curious, they are much mistaken.  I do not care to notice the argument that if people behaved properly they would not stare.  It suffices that people do stare, and that a certain proportion of people always will stare.  What is required, therefore, is a system by which the temptation to gaze can be removed, or by which gazing can be rendered innocuous, or even invited by tasteful dressing, without any reproach whatever. Contrast with all this the scene that may be  witnessed here any day, and you will be possessed with my plan, for I desire better than the substitution of the pleasant and  comme il faut bathing habits worn at this place, the favourite resort of the Emperor and Empress.

To my intense surprise, when I first visited Biarritz gentlemen walking down to the water with their wives on their arms, and their daughters following them.  All were dressed in a seemly yet convenient fashion.  The men wear simply loose, baggy trousers, and a skirted Garibaldi  of the same or corresponding material. The ladies wear what may be described as a simple Bloomer costume, consisting of jackets, shaped variously according to taste, and loose trousers reaching to the ankle.  The dress is completed by list slippers, to protect the feet from the shingle, and a straw hat, neatly trimmed to protect the fair wearer's complexion. The complete decency of the costume was sufficiently evidenced by the fact that ladies and gentlemen walked about together in it, and still more by the fact that on the part of the ladies the dresses were trimmed in such a way to add materially to their comeliness and to prove beyond doubt they were meant to be looked at just as bonnets and paletots are.

Dressed in this sensible manner, all the nervousness and awkwardness of English bathers are lost.  All is buoyancy and ease.  The simplicity and convenience of the method of bathing influence the manners of the beach, and instead of the mixture of leering and mock modesty which offends the critic on manners at an English watering- place, the extreme social felicity of seeing and being seen is enjoyed each day with as much gusto as if every day were a fete, and as if the company on the sands constituted one continuous conversazione. People walk about among their friends before bathing and after bathing with the greatest ease and freedom, engaging in conversation, laughing, refreshing themselves, reading - in short, doing everything that people do at our watering-places, with this grand difference, that it can all be done in the bathing dress, and that the bathing, instead of an unpleasant furtive parenthesis in the day, when nobody likes to be seen, and everyone hopes not to be missed, is freely partaken of in company, and becomes the means of much enjoyment and social pleasure.  I maintain that, if once the difficulty of novelty was surmounted, the introduction of this elegant, cheerful, and sensible French custom would greatly increase the pleasure taken in bathing, and would vastly increase the number of bathers and the frequency with which they can bathe.  The present system is bad enough, for a man, and it must be much worse for a woman, - so much worse that most ladies must have some difficulty in overcoming their diffidence sufficiently to bathe, and many of the more timid order must be entirely prevented from doing so.

Could families bathe together in England as under this system which I am advocating they do here, I am sure that they would find it a great addition to the delight derivable from a sea-side holyday; they would avoid that miserable separation in the early morning which makes such a hiatus in the day, and turns what ought to be a pleasure into a chilling and odious necessity, and they would cease to make spectacles of themselves for the random or systematic curiosity of gazers from the beach or from the neighbouring houses.  The difficulty of adopting the new  style would be only momentary, for the feeling  of strangeness, even at its height, could not be worse than that which every morning comes over the wretched British bather on the present system, and it would be promptly succeeded by a sensation of ease, gaiety, and  sociableness that would render bathing an entirely new pleasure. Indeed, as a matter of decorum there can be no comparison between the manner of bathing I am anxious to see got rid of and that which I long to see introduced.  There is another strong argument in favour of the latter.  Much has lately been said of the advantage of ladies learning to swim.  I think that there can be no doubt of this, for it may often save their lives; it will always give them presence of mind in the water; it will enable them to enjoy bathing much more rationally, and it will add to the healthiness of bathing both to health and suppleness of body derived from a graceful and strenuous exercise.

English ladies, as a general rule, on leaving their van are rather timid in the water, not having the advantages of a male protector.  They cling frantically to the rope attached to the van, and disport themselves in a most extraordinary fashion.  The height of  perfection seems to be the possession of a sufficient amount of courage to give the greatest number of very low curtseys in the water, so as to immerse entirely the head and body.  It is very seldom that we see them go into water more than 24 inches in depth, while those who go into that depth are generally considered to be good bathers and possessed of remarkable courage.  The majority stay about the wheels of the van in, say, about six inches of water, or a little above the ankles.  Now, I do not hesitate to say that all this absurdity would be got rid of if ladies had proper bathing dresses, and if the manner of our bathing-places were so modified as to permit them to avail themselves of the help and aid of their husbands, fathers, a brothers.

On every ground of health, convenience, pleasure, and propriety, I advocate this change.  I am sure the community will owe a great deal to anyone agitating this question, and assisting to set the new and wholesome fashion and get rids of habits which are a disgrace to the boasted civilisation of the 19th century, producing sights which are only equalled among savage tribes. Depend on it, in any watering-place in which it is commenced will immediately become a favourite resort, and after a little while, we shall find the practice emulated in every sea-bathing place in the kingdom, to the great advantage of public decorum and to the greatly increased delight of the thousands to whom a few weeks of sea-side life is the only relief from a dreary humdrum and laborious town existence.   
                           Yours, &c.
                           JOHN HULLEY, Vice-President of the Athletic Society of Great Britain.

Biarritz, Aug. 2.


1864 8 Aug - The Times - DECENT BATHING

To the Editor of the Times Sir,
Mr Hulley has done a service to the community by his admirable letter in your impression of today, calling attention to the subject of  sea-bathing in England and France.

There can be no doubt that the way in which bathing is now practised at our English watering-places is a disgrace to the time.  It is a barbarism that poisons the source of an innocent enjoyment and renders what might be recreation both obnoxious and repulsive.  There is nothing squeamish in writing like this, for I believe that 19 out of every 20 persons who have witnessed the present mode of sea-bathing would before this have protested against it but for the inveteracy of the custom.  The remedy is so  simple that I wonder it has not recommended itself to the good sense and good taste of my countrymen and countrywomen long before this.  What possible objection can  there be to wearing a proper bathing dress such as Mr Hulley describes?  I can vouch for its being no hindrance or inconvenience, whatever to the swimmer, for I always use it, and four sons, all of whom I taught to swim, and are very expert in the water, have always been accustomed to bathe in dresses.  I believe with Mr Hulley that the watering-place that first sets the fashion will not only make its own fortune, but the fortunes also of the tailors and dressmakers who are fortunate enough to reside there.
I'd remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
Lincoln's-Inn, August 6.                   PATERFAMILIAS.


1865 7 Nov. - Liverpool Mercury – A NATIONAL OLYMPIAN ASSOCIATION

The physical education movement is gaining in popularity every day  Gymnasia are fast multiplying, and many of the principal towns can boast of their athletic societies with members to be numbered by hundreds.  Some friends of the movement have thought it would be well to form a central association to systemise, as it were, and bring into one focus, all of these various efforts - to do, in short, for physical education, what the National Rifle Association has done for the volunteer movement. A meeting with this view was held yesterday at the Liverpool Gymnasium, Myrtle-street.  Mr John Hulley was called to the chair, and amongst those present were Mr.         William Mitchell, Fearness Hall, near Manchester, champion of the light weights of England; Dr. Brookes, Much Wenlock; Mr. Phillips, Shrewsbury; Mr. E.G. Ravenstein, president of the German Gymnastic Society, London; Mr Murray, London; Mr. Ambrose Lee, representing the Mechanics’ Institution, Manchester; Mr. Keeling, honorary secretary of the Athletic Society; Mr. J.B. Lee, member of the Athletic Society; Mons. Durbec, Paris,&c.

Dr. BROOKES explained that the object of the meeting was to consider how they could further the cause of physical education throughout the country, how to combat the prejudices which existed in the minds of some persons against this movement, and how to convert indifference into enthusiasm. It as also proposed to turn to useful account various popular assemblies held throughout the country under the name of wakes, fetes, &c., and to introduce into them a more athletic element than at present existed. These objects, he thought, could be best promoted and the cause of physical education generally best advanced by the formation of a national association, and therefore he had much pleasure in proposing That a National Olympian Association be established for the encouragement and reward of skill and strength in manly exercises by awarding medal or other prizes, money excepted, at general meetings of the association, to be held annually, and in rotation, in or near one of the principal towns or cities of Great Britain. That professional athletes should be excluded from competition.

Mr. J.B. LEE suggested that Athletic Association be the title of the society, but it was explained that the term Olympian had been advisedly chosen, because it was of somewhat wider scope than Athletic which would imply that the object of the association was to encourage simply excellence in gymnastic exercises. But, besides doing that, it will be the aim of the society to show the advantage of combining mental with physical culture. The resolution was then passed unanimously.

The following propositions were also agreed to neb. con, :-

That the National Olympian Association will also pay homage to mental excellence by electing from time to time, as honorary members, persons who have distinguished themselves in literature, art, or science or who have proved themselves benefactors to mankind;

That this association shall form a centre of union for different olympian, gymnastic, boating, swimming, cricket, or other similar societies enabling them, through the medium of a year-book, to assist one another by mutual suggestions, and to collect and defuse information on subjects of physical education, and affording to the more expert and other athletes an opportunity of contending and distinguishing themselves on a national arena;

That the competitions of the association be international and open to all comers;

That the annual income required for prizes, the publication of the year-book, and for incidental expenses, is estimated at £1,000 which it is proposed to raise by subscriptions of 5s., 10s., £1., and upwards; that members receive a transferable ticket for admission to all annual festivals for each amount of 5s. he shall subscribe; that a subscription of 10s. shall entitle a member to receive a copy of the year-book; that institutions in union with the National Association shall contribute each £1 annually, and 10s. additional for every 100 members beyond the first 100;

That each county joining the association shall send three delegates to an annual congress; that the duty of the congress shall be to elect a committee of management, to frame rules or alter the same as may be required, and to decide upon the place of the next annual meeting; 

That the annual meeting shall be held next July in London;

That the badge of the association consist of a wreath of oak, and its motto “Civium virius civitates tutmen.”- the virtue (or valour) of the citizens is the safety of the State.

The gentlemen present formed themselves into a provisional committee, and it was decided to put the association in working trim as soon as possible.It is intended that the opening meeting next July shall be a grand demonstration, and suggestions were made for sending a formal challenge to the athletes of France and other countries. A considerable number of subscriptions have already been received, and Dr.. Brookes read the following letter which he had received from Viscount Hill, lord-lieutenant of Shropshire:-

To W.P. BROOKES, ESQ. Halkstone, Shrewsbury.

Dear Sir, - I have receive your prospectus of a National Olympian Society; and I am convinced physical training is most desirable for all classes, I shall be happy to have my name placed on the list of subscribers for the annual sum of £5.

Believe me yours truly,
HILL

A vote of thanks to Mr. Hulley, both as chairman and as one who had rendered good service to the cause of physical education, was passed, and the proceedings terminated.


1865 07 Nov - The Times - LORD STANLEY on PHYSICAL EDUCATION
Last evening with Lord Stanley formally opened the Liverpool new Gymnasium.  He was received with applause, and addressed the assembly as follows: -

In proceeding to open this gymnasium, which I believe to be, in point of size, of arrangements, and of its fittings, one of the most perfect yet established anywhere in Europe, I need not trouble you with more than a few introductory observations.  You probably know its history, as well as I do.  You know that in the main it owes its existence to the perseverance and energy of a townsman of yours, - I mean, our friend Mr Melly.  It was mainly by his efforts, aided by those of a few supporters as zealous as himself, that the requisite sum of £10,000 was raised for its construction; and I think it is creditable to Liverpool that such an amount could be raised, without thought of profit to the contributors, for such a purpose.  I say, without thought of profit, for I believe that those who have invested in it  most largely will be the first to tell you that, though for the sake of the example as an encouragement to others, they would be glad to see an ample return, yet, so far as their personal interests are concerned, every one of them will be perfectly satisfied, if the concern only pays its way; and that it will pay its way I think you have every reason to expect, from the very brief statement of facts which I shall give.

The total cost has been under a £14,000, of which £10,000 has been raised by shares, and it remaining  £4000 by a mortgage on the building.  The yearly expenses, including interest, are calculated not to exceed £1000; and since the returns for the first six months are £700, with the arrangements hardly completed, and the whole plan still untried, I think there is no reasonable doubt of the institution being self-supporting.  Now, I lay some stress on that, not for the sake of the thing itself.  Liverpool is rich enough to pay both for its pleasures, and its wants, but because the experiment is new.  I am not aware that it has been, or is being tried on an equally large scale anywhere else in the United Kingdom, except in Edinburgh; and if it can be made to work, there is no reason why it should not work equally well in every large town throughout the country.  I hear it said, and I believe it is true that in Manchester they are only waiting to see the result and if that result being what we expect a similar building will very soon be set on foot there.  I will mentioned, before leaving that part of the subject, that the subscribers for evening attendance are 500, who paid one pound each for six months, and one pound 10 shillings for the year.   There are in addition, other subscribers at a higher rate, entitled to daily admission,.  The number of these last, as yet is not great, 60 or 70 I believe, but is increasing daily, and there is yet a third class, young lads chiefly, for whom the place is open on certain days of the week and special training provided.

Of the arrangements I need say nothing.  You can judge of them for yourselves, but I congratulate the managers upon having in Mr Hulley, a director, who is working, not merely for the salary which he earns, and which they will be the first to admit is a very inadequate recompense for his labour, but who is working out a very real and enthusiastic interest in the business which he is employed to do.

And now one word as to the object, or rather the objects which the promoters have in view.  Many people look on a gymnasium - a place of teaching, that is, for athletic exercises - as though it were a yacht club, or a chess club, or an Alpine club - a thing, which is a hobby to a few individuals, and which others join for amusement, or because it is a fashion, or because it helps to pass the time.  Now, if it were only that, though I should say nothing against it, and though I should think the promoters had made a very sensible investment of their spare cash and   their spare time, I should hardly have considered that it required or deserved the formality of a ceremonial opening, and assuredly I should not have done that which is to me is never perfectly agreeable - I should not have stood up to make a speech on the subject.  But I should hold that it is far more than a mere place of amusement.  We, in Europe, and more especially, we in England, are entering on a new phase of social existence.  Already more than half the population of England reside in towns.  With peace maintained, and with an increase, or even a continuance, of our present rate of prosperity, the population will in a few years be far greater.  But I need not appeal to general statistics.  We who have lived to middle age in this neighbourhood - we who have seen the great city extending from the New Docks of Garston, on the one side, to the Sandhills of Bootle on the other, - who have watched the gradual disappearance of the green fields, and the spread in their place of streets and lanes, and who have daily before their eyes along the lines of villas which spring up at every adjoining railway station - at Broad-green, at Burton, and at Roby - should require no proof from books or Parliamentary returns to tell them how rapid and how continuous is the increase of that part of the population engaged in some one of the many branches of commerce, and destined, for the most part, to sedentary pursuits in crowded localities.

What is happening here it is, though not quite to any equal extent, happening also a great part of England.  But we all know also something else; we know that, even under the greatly improved sanitary conditions of the last few years - and let me say, in passing, that it is nothing less than a shame to us that, notwithstanding all that has been affected - and it is a great deal - Liverpool should stand nearly highest on the death-rate of England - even after all that has been done, all that drainage, and water supply, and wide streets, and parks can do, urban life is never so healthy as that which is passed in the pure air and active pursuits of the country.  What are the causes of that difference?  I am not now speaking of the labouring and artisan class, with whom I admit at once this institution has little to do.  But if I come to the class above them - to the class of clerks, of young men engaged in shops, of all whose days are past sitting on stools, in offices often close and crowded - and I might take in a higher class still - I say at once, that one cause, one great cause of feeble constitution and depressed energies is the absence of bodily or muscular exertion, combined with the pressure of what is in some degree of mental occupation - though often mental occupation of a very mechanical kind. 

Of course, habit will do much.  Of course, also, individual constitutions vary.  But every medical man, and everyone who has studied sanitary matters, knows, that life passed within four walls during the week, with only the variety of a walk on Saturdays and Sundays, will very seldom be a healthy life in the true sense. For, by “healthy”, we mean, or ought to mean, not the mere absence of disease, not the mere capacity to go through an ordinary day's work, but that state in which existing in itself is felt to be an enjoyment, in which all simple and natural pleasures are appreciated, and the little every-day anxieties of our businesses sit lightly upon us. If there are, as is undoubtedly the case, classes amongst us who run all to muscle and with whom brain never gets a chance of being developed - navvies, ploughmen, and the like - so there are classes who seem to have no further idea of using their muscles than is implied in walking to their place of business (and even they very often use an omnibus to save time), and whose upmost bodily exertion is driving a pen for hours together and handling a knife and fork at dinner.

Now, I say, and I hope without offence, that in the latter class the human result is, to my mind, hardly more satisfactory than in the former.  Take your navvy, and you have a fine example of animal development; but I am afraid you have very little else.  Take your clerk, shut up from year's end to year’s end; you have a quick active brain, the nervous system ever excitable, but the animal frame feeble and badly developed.  I respect him.  I am very sorry for him.  The fault is not his, but that of the life he leads.  But I say of him that he is not, physically speaking, the stuff out of which we wish the middle classes of Englishmen to be made.  If it were possible -- which I fear it hardly is - to trace the history of families in detail, we should be startled to find how many of those engaged in purely sedentary pursuits die out, and how the gaps have to be filled up, year after year, from the hardier rural population. There are other evils of a purely sedentary life to which in this company I can scarcely advert; one is that physical feebleness leads to depression.  That depression may be relieved by the easy and always accepted resource of drink, and then, sooner or later, we know the end.  In other respects, too, medical men and all who have who have    studied health questions, will understand the very vague phrases I have used.  It is not easy to overrate the degree to which habits of mortality, among men under middle age, are connected with healthy physical conditions, and, above all, with sufficient bodily exercise. 

Well, then, I think we shall agree as to this proposition, that in Liverpool, as in all great towns, there exists a class exceedingly numerous and yearly increasing, for whom, in the course of their business, no opportunity of bodily training or exercise is provided.  Can they make such opportunities for themselves?  Of course, in a certain sense, they can.  There is no physical impossibility in it.  But our climate is damp and dull, her streets are not attractive, and perhaps one of the least entertaining of human occupations is that which is termed “taking a constitutional” on the high road.  There is, also, the expenditure of time.  An establishment like this gives exercise in a concentrated form, and its rooms will be open - will probably most frequented, - in the evening - that is, at the time of day when during several months in the year out-door nature, especially in the town, is not very agreeable.  So much I have to say of the uses of this building. 

Only one word more.  I do not fear that support will be wanted.  Those who have watched the progress of the movement tell me that among the young men who take these exercises many do so with the kind of enthusiasm, which is quite remarkable.  Still, I find no fault with that.  We all like to see men take up with a thing in earnest, whether it be work or play.  But to those who are keenest about it I would offer one word of warning.  Recollect that it is a thing that may be easily overdone.  Don't ride a hobby too far.  The object - the natural object of a training of this kind is not to make athletes out of men who have not to live by their muscles, but to develop sound health and manly constitutions.  His Lordship concluded by expressing an earnest wish for the success of the institution.


1867 Jun 29 - Liverpool Mercury - ATHLETIC SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN - ANNUAL PRIZE COMPETITION
Last evening, the sixth annual Olympic Festival of the Athletic Society of Great Britain commenced at the Liverpool Gymnasium, Myrtle-Street, and will be continued to-day in the Sheil Park Athletic Grounds.

The competitors having assembled upon the floor of the hall, MR HULLEY said - Ladies and gentlemen, it has been the custom at former festivals to open the proceedings with a few remarks from the chairman.  I follow the custom on this occasion, because it has some very apparent advantages.  The mistakes or excesses of indiscreet or ignorant advocates can be detached; a falsehood and
exaggeration of open opposition can be exposed.  We may also cherish a hope that the still more dangerous apathy, which yet exists on the subject so important  maybe increasingly replaced by a healthy feeling.  I rejoice to say that the last-mentioned advantage is being almost daily secured at a steadily advancing rate.  Physical education is the great fact of the 19th century.  The first opposition to it has sunk from the general to the individual.  The nation has accepted it.  Its advocates can therefore afford to despise the feeble enmity of scattered and divided theorists and satirists.  Can it be said that this is an overstatement?  Have we not before our eyes in this building, a signal proof of its truth?  But look, if you will, beyond its walls and you will easily find proofs still more convincing. 

All over the country, athletic festivals are being celebrated; and these afford evidence of which it is impossible to mistake the bearing.  They must convince every unbiased mind that we are only just entering upon a new phase of national development. The opposition to it at the outset was general, it has now become individual; that the physique of the people, too long left to the mercies of chance, will in the future assume its proper position as a subject of the first importance.  May the time soon come when weakly, misshapen men, and sickly, hysterical women will be the exception and not the rule among the inhabitants of our towns and cities.  We may not hope to rival physical glories of classic times, but we can do something towards that end, and I rejoice that we are in so fair a way of succeeding.  The most striking evidence of this is the fact that in this country those journals that are the most eminent of culture, breadth of thought, and classical taste, and consequently the most influential amongst the educated classes, and are also the most prominent and persistent in their advocacy of the great physical reform movement.

I must pause for a moment at this point for the purpose of uttering a warning.  Warnings are not so pleasant as congratulations, but they are sometimes indispensable; as they are on this occasion.  I would caution all, whom it may concern to beware of excessive exercise.  This caution, too, concerns others as long as those most directly interested; for discredit is brought on the cause of physical education itself by such excesses.  The opponents of this movement, confuted by fact and experience on every ground of their opposition, have not failed to light upon the one weak point, which the infancy of our undertaking, has left open to their attacks; they assert that our object is the training of acrobats and mountebanks.  Now, it might easily be shown that the low estimation in which professional acrobats have come to be held is in no degree owing to anything contemptible in their performances; for at that period in the history of this world when the art of physical discipline was infinitely better understood than by its present detractors, such performances were accounted highly honourable.  But owing to the degeneracy of bodily habit, physical capacities, which by right should be at the command of every healthy man,  have been left to the cultivation of a class, and thus dissevered from their connection with the training of the other powers of man from which they in former days borrowed their  dignity and attractiveness.             

Still, I must be allowed to say that our noble cause is not greatly promoted by those who practise alone these exercises, which may be called "acrobatic."  The members of this gymnasium know well the class of practices to which I refer, and I need scarcely say that by acrobatic exercises I do not mean these which are merely showy.  No objection can be made to these, if other and more serious considerations are not neglected.  The important point is that men should study their constitutions.  If this is done intelligently in the first instance, it is scarcely possible to go wrong.  The man originally weak, who subjects himself to a discipline founded on this study, is the man who generally ends by excelling those endowed with greater muscular advantages.  It is for this reason alone, I wish to impress upon you the supreme necessity of having an object in your exercise.  That object should be in every case the cultivation of a fair and equal balance of muscular power.  The aim is to produce the highest possible average of physical perfection.  Such an aim cannot be forwarded by rare examples of one-sided cultivation   They act, on the contrary, as a discouragement to a large class of persons whose attendance here it is most desirable to secure.  I mean those who are not strong, but can be made strong; men and women who can be developed into creditable special of humanity by regular and systematic training: Such an object is definite enough and its attainment is just as easy.  It is not, I repeat, the man with inherited strength but the man of inherited weakness who has most to hope from the exercises of the gymnasium.  This is a fact, and it cannot be too widely known or too often insisted upon.  I say, therefore, to such of you who are unduly anxious to excel in one particular branch, you are making a serious mistake and  I hope you will soon discover. That it is so. To you who preserve a proper balance in the proportion of your exercises and their intention, I say- go on and prosper.  You are the pioneers of an army which will soon follow in your track, an army of healthy English manhood. 

Let me not be misunderstood, however, in what I have just said.   I should be sorry to convey the impression to any one that I wished to underrate the importance of such a display as this.  What I desire to impress upon you is that Olympic festivals are not the end of physical education.  Physical education, or rather its dissemination, is the end.  Olympic festivals are the means of securing that end.   They must be judged by their after effect, not their immediate results.  They are evidence of the good done, but not the whole evidence.  To find that we must take a vast number of cases which never obtain any prominence at all.  These I consider most valuable, for the reasons already given.  I am nonetheless grateful, however, to the gentleman who will have come forward on this occasion, to stimulate others by the display of the proficiency.  I thank them on behalf of the people of Liverpool for their public spirit, and I am more than content to leave the reputation of  physical education in their hands.

Pardon me if I glance for a moment at the past, and recall the obstacles so far, triumphantly overcome.  Pardon me again, if I say that the most formidable of these obstacles was found in that slowness of grasp which is distinctive of the average British mind.  Intellectual eminence was easily appreciated even when its work was only partially understood - witness the popularity of Mill.  Physical eminence was both appreciated and understood; witness the excitement about Sayers.  But the union and reciprocal action of mental and physical power was quite a new idea for the vast majority of people.  That a man should be morally strong was a truism.  That a man's moral strength could be affected in any degree by the condition of his body was a heresy.  That an unsound physical state could be considered as actually immoral for no other reason than its unsoundness, was an outrage.  I do not assert that this view of the case is yet entirely upset, but the revolution of opinion is gathering force.  The religion of the body, as a complement and assistant of the religion of the soul, has hitherto been the dream of philosophers.  We, I am convinced, are destined to see it practically realised and doing noble work for the nation and for humanity.  That time, I repeat, is coming; not as a reign of brute force, but as a period when brute force will be rendered powerless for evil when it will be overwhelmed beneath the combined forces of intellect and strength; when the majesty of manhood as the sacred temple of an eternal principle will be recognized, and with it, the necessity of keeping that temple of free from both the defilements basenesses of physical weakness. 

Of such physical religion as this, the building in which we stand may be at the present time a fitting temple, but it cannot remain so long.  At our present rate of progress we shall soon get far beyond such contracted limits.  Towards the hastening of that consummation it is the duty of every one to assist.  When the vast importance of  the subject has obtained practical recognition, the inadequacy of this building will be considered ridiculous.  It seems, in fact, to present itself in that aspect now, when we compare the vast sums spent upon objects and institutions of nothing like the same public value.  Where, I might ask, is the artistic embellishment which could find no more fitting display than in a palace of health?  In a building devoted to such an object might we not naturally expect to find the highest class of ornament, lavishly used? 

There is an inevitable relation between beauty and strength.  Strength is always beautiful, though beauty, unfortunately, is not always strong.  Where do we find that relation illustrated here?  We can certainly boast the beauty of simplicity; but in that higher charm which only a congenial artistic genius could supply we are woefully deficient.  But we may console ourselves with the reflection that in these days the public voice when it is unanimous is irresistible. All the rest must follow sooner or later.  In the meantime, we must, each in his particular sphere, Labour is zealously to push forward the great cause of physical education.  Once more, then, and I bid you,
gentlemen, hearty welcome to our six Olympic festival.  Many of you have come from a distance, and thus given a striking proof of your devotion to what I repeat, is a great cause.  To you, therefore, a special acknowledgement is due, and I'm happy to offer it emphatically.  Before this brilliant gathering.  The ladies I am glad to see around me were at a new triumph to success, and console you under an honourable defeats.  In this friendly contest victor and vanquished enjoy an equal degree of consideration.      

Immediately after the address, which was well received, the competition was proceeded with, and continued until after 11 o'clock. 


1868 Feb 17 Liverpool Mercury – DISHONEST PRACTICES AT THE GYMNASIUM

TO THE EDITORS OF THE LIVERPOOL MERCURY
Gentlemen – The many comments which have been made both in the public prints, and in private with regard to certain losses which have been suffered by members of the Gymnasium render it desirable that some further explanation should be made on the subject.

That the property of members has been in some few instances purloined is unfortunately true but I have yet to learn that any place of public resort was or ever could be kept entirely free from the malpractices of dishonest persons.  It is notorious that our most prominent institutions - nay, even our places of worship - are not sacred from the presence of individuals impecunious and unscrupulous; it is even whispered that on a late occasion, when the elite of Liverpool were assembled to do honour to royalty itself, no means can be found of effectually restraining the energies of certain of the light-fingered gentry.  The number of persons, members and visitors, who have entered the Gymnasium since its establishment is simply enormous, the daily average being upwards of a thousand; and these, it must be remembered, consisting almost exclusively of the middle and higher classes of society. 

One of the first points of interest to strangers, besides being in the evening, a favourite resort of large numbers of ladies and gentlemen, resident in Liverpool and neighbourhood, it is to be feared that no amount of care or supervision could entirely prevent the occasional intrusion of this dishonest persons.  Every facility is, however, given to members for the protection of their property; and those who persist, after repeated cautions, in leaving watches and jewellery insufficiently protected, are merely offering a premium to and encouraging the practice of theft. It is this class of persons, in fact, who are the primary cause of losses, owing to the temptations which they afford to the unscrupulous. 

Although I believe that were the boxes used by members all secured by good locks and keys, little or no peculation would be practicable, I may state that the sergeant in the hall is always ready to take charge of any valuables that members may choose to deposit with him. The custom of leaving money and watches in the pockets of garments thrown carelessly about became so prevalent that I was compelled some time ago to publish a notice imposing the forfeiture of subscription on those who persisted in the practice, and afterwards complained of having lost property.

Touching Mr McCartney's remarks as to the admission of members, the same want of  thought, which led to the loss he suffered has doubtless caused him to forget that the printed by-laws expressly referred to "gentlemen", who may wish to join.  Every applicant comes in personal contact with me, and supporters of the gymnasium are all drawn from the educated classes, from our first professional and mercantile men to the tradesman, or his assistant; the appearance and conduct of a gentleman being imperative (together with strict obedience to the regulations laid down) on all who attend.

I will only add that by a moderate amount of prudence and discretion on the part of some few members, such unpleasant occurrences  as the extraction of watches, &., might be prevented, as long as all the consequent annoyance which is suffered by that large majority who do not expose themselves to such losses. 

Yours, &c., JOHN HULLEY, Gymnasiarch of Liverpool, 
Gymnasium, Feb. 15, 1868.


1868 Feb 21 Liverpool Mercury – DISHONEST PRACTICES AT THE GYMNASIUM

TO THE EDITORS OF THE LIVERPOOL MERCURY
Gentlemen - When I wrote to you on a former occasion, I did so merely with the object of warning members of the Gymnasium in particular, and the public in general, of the dangers which are to be met with in the institution from the malpractices of certain dishonest individuals, and to point out to the directors the necessity of greater precaution in the admission of numbers.  Mr Hulley’s precautions (as seen in your issue of Monday) sound ludicrous in the extreme: "Every applicant comes into personal contact with him" (?); he sees at a glance who belong to the educated classes of society; no vulgar pickpocket has a chance under the glance of his scrutinising eye; all who pass him are "educated gentleman," and yet somehow or other the light-fingered gentry do get in, as past events have shown.  I found it the easiest thing imaginable to become a member: I gave my name and address, paid by subscription, got my receipt and from that moment  was to consider myself (according to Mr Hulley’s statement), an “educated gentleman”  as none but “educated gentlemen“ are  admitted.  My opinion is, that so long as these extraordinary precautions be taken in admitting members there need be no surprise that some of Mr Hulley's "educated gentlemen" occasionally take the curious freak of mistaking other people's watches, &, for their own.

One word more.  Mr Hulley appears to be labouring under the delusion that I'd left my watch unprotected; he accuses me of having shown "want of thought.”  Perhaps I may be allowed to state exactly in what this want of thought consisted.  I placed my watch and chain carefully in my box - locked it, and put the key in my pocket.  On my return, after about an hour's absence I found the box open and watch and chain, minus.  If Mr Hulley calls this "want of thought," his ideas of sort must be very vague and uncertain.  He is perfectly right in saying that some of the members seem very careless about their valuables, but I do not happen to belong to this class, and Mr Hulley evidently made a mistake when he accused me of having shown a "want of thought." In fact, the same "want of thought" which led to Mr Hulley to say that the supporters of the gymnasium are all "educated gentlemen"  caused him to class me amongst the thoughtless. 

                     Yours, &c., R. H. McCartney.  23, Liffey-street.


1868 Feb 24 Liverpool Mercury – DISHONEST PRACTICES AT THE GYMNASIUM

TO THE EDITORS OF THE LIVERPOOL MERCURY
Gentleman, -- On behalf of the frequenters of the Gymnasium and the public generally, I must thank Mr McCartney of the philanthropic effort, which he assures us he has made for better protection of property in this Institution.  I may, however, be permitted to repeat the opinion expressed in my former communication, and to doubt the correctness of the inferences which Mr McCartney, in his Arcadian simplicity, has drawn.  The fact is that no official precautions, however stringent, can possibly be efficacious in a public institution, unless a moderate amount of prudence and discretion be displayed by the members themselves.

Mr McCartney expresses some surprise, no doubt perfectly justifiable, at the ease  with which he passed my personal scrutiny and secured the privilege of membership.  If I have, as he more than insinuates, erred in assuming from his manner and appearance that he was a "gentlemen," and as such entitled to admission, I can only offer my sincere apologies for the mistake, and at the same time thank him for the charming frankness which he displays in alluding to the subject.  I will, however, venture to assert that, were it deemed requisite to summon each candidate for admission before a select committee, McCartney would have passed through the  ordeal, as being eligible, and, in fact, a very innocent and harmless looking gentleman.

As an instance of the carelessness occasionally displayed by members, I may remark that on the evening of the day on which my last letter on this subject appeared, whilst directing the exercises, a watch was brought to me, which had been found on the mantelpiece of one of the most exposed dressing rooms.  I again draw attention to the unpleasant consequences which must result from such careless habits, and after an interval of nearly 2 hours, on the discovery by the member of his supposed loss, he admitted that he had been in doubt as to whether he had brought his watch from home or not.

I would again impress on all members that if property of value be left in charge of the Serjeant at the door, or even placed in the boxes provided and protected by efficient locks (everyone being in a position to adopt this course), even the exceptionally small amount of loss that has hitherto been suffered would be sensibly diminished, if not entirely stopped.  
                    
Yours, etc, JOHN HULLEY, Gymnasiarch of  Liverpool.
Gymnasium,, Feb.22, 1868.


1868 Mar 3 Liverpool Mercury – DISHONEST PRACTICES AT THE GYMNASIUM

TO THE EDITORS OF THE LIVERPOOL MERCURY
Gentlemen – I must again in trouble you with a few words on the subject, as Mr McCartney, and possibly some few other individuals of his mental calibre, will otherwise labour under the mistaken impression that by the use of a "common" lock, which Mr McCartney admitted to me he used (although previously warned to be careful), the ordinary rules of common sense may be laid aside, and property left to the mercy of unscrupulous persons.

In reply to the question, which Mr McCartney asked in your columns, I would suggest to persons of his stamp, who evidently find the responsibility of taking care of a watch or purse almost too great a strain on their faculties, the engagement of competent nurses or keepers, to be chosen not by themselves but by their own natural guardians. it is satisfactory, however, to find that individuals of his type form but a very insignificant fraction of our members.

Mr McCartney, in his letter, makes the following assertion-"Depend upon it, until Mr Hulley blows his own trumpet, with something more of a definite sound in answer to this question, members will be of the opinion that the best way of ensuring the safety of their valuables will be to leave them at home, and stay themselves to keep them
company."  He might at the same time have informed us  how a member could "leave his valuables at home, and stay himself and keep them company." I must again reiterate that, in my opinion, good efficient locks on boxes placed in the dressing rooms would be found perfectly efficacious; but it is only too certain that where foolish or careless individuals are to be found, knaves will soon make their appearance. As to Mr McCartney's proposition to place a policeman in charge of each box,  I should have treated it, had it come from any other source, as a feeble attempt at witticism, inasmuch as it  would be necessary to monopolise the services of the whole force of the town, from Major Greig downward.

Since the opening of the gymnasium. Its value has been universally recognized, and upwards of 200,000 people have visited it; the present average attendance being about 700 visitors, and from 200 to 300 pupils per diem. From the nature of the proceedings here, involving a complete chains of dress in the great majority of cases, valuables are of necessity removed for a time from the immediate possession of their owners; and even in the proportionately few instances that have occurred of loss, I have almost invariably proved them to result from carelessness. With the large number of members, and the facilities afforded for the admission of the public (in accordance with the general wish of the subscribers), it is of course impossible to guard against the occasional intrusion of a dishonest person, let the amount of supervision or care exercise being what it may. I again repeat that, although no responsibility is assumed by the directors, a sergeant in the hole has always been provided with a jewel box for the custody of any articles lodged with him. Considering the large number of people at frequenting the gymnasium, the depositing in safekeeping of any articles of value, could hardly be deemed an unreasonable precaution.

In taking leave of this subject, I'm proud to be a witness to the almost universal good feeling and harmony that prevails among very numerous body, who support the gymnasium; and I may add that Mr McCartney, although his letter would lead to a different inference, still appears to appreciate the value of the exercises and of associating with gentlemen, and he has by his punctuality and attention to our regulations since his loss proved himself to be far from insensible to the merits of an institution, which is certainly the first of its class in every respect.

Trusting that Mr McCartney will no longer complain that I have "blown my trumpet" with an uncertain sound, I am, &c.,
                     JOHN HULLEY, Gymnasiarch of Liverpool.
                     Gymnasium, Feb.29, 1868.
My apology for thus trespassing on your valuable space must be my earnest desire to ventilate fully any incidents relating to the management of this institution, whether of an agreeable nature or otherwise.


1869 Oct 4 Liverpool Mercury – RE-OPENING OF THE LIVERPOOL GYMNASIUM

MR HULLEY ON PHYSICAL EDUCATION
On a Saturday evening last, the Gymnasium in Myrtle-street was re-opened for the winter season under most favourable auspices, there being a numerous attendance of pupils and the galleries being crowded with spectators.  The classes having formed themselves in seven lines in the body of the hall, MR HULLEY, the Gymnasiarch, addressed them from his place in the gallery as follows: --

It is with the sincerest pleasure that, meeting you at the commencement of another season, I am able to congratulate you, heartily and without reserve, on the present position and prospects of physical education.  The public interest in this important subject, far from showing any sign of diminution, gives daily evidence of steady and encouraging growth.  The novelty of gymnastics has worn off; but novelty, which gives a momentary impulse to so many projects, and secures a momentary acceptance for so many theories, leaves the cause of physical education with a stronger, wider and deeper hold upon the public mind than it ever possessed before. It has passed out of the region of theoretical discussion and become an accomplished fact.  The proof of this is found in the constantly increasing number of new gymnasiums, as well as in the widely-felt attraction possessed by every form of athletic exercise -- an attraction felt even by those who, personally, have never devoted any attention to their bodily training. The amount of scientific testimony to the value of duly-regulated exercise is always receiving fresh additions, the eminent name of Huxley being among the latest of those who have borne witness to the vital importance of the work we are engaged in. 

With regard to the decision taken by this establishment in the onward movement just noticed there is, as I said before, every ground for unreserved congratulation.  Its position is, in the most essential respects, worthy of the public spirit of its founders, and of the standing of Liverpool.  I say this, however, with a profound sense of the vastness of the task still remaining to be accomplished, but at the same time, without any feeling of discouragement as to the ultimate result.  No doubt the number of those who are in the habit of  coming here bears an inappreciable proportion even to that limited class of sedentary workers which we seek to attract.  No doubt the there thousands who go to make up this class-- and to whom healthy exercise would give not only stronger, clearer mental power, but added years of life-- form a dense mass upon which we are only beginning to make an impression.  Still the encouraging fact remains that we are making an impression.  We have arrived at that stage when we can produce results as well as promises, and point to work done as an earnest of what is to follow.  Every member of this gymnasium is in his way a missionary of physical regeneration to his friends and companions -- a missionary who preaches not with words, but with the contagious eloquence of health, activity, and the enjoyment of life.  That practical eloquence will, I am convinced, exert all its due influence on those -- and their number unfortunately, can scarcely be under-estimated -- whose existence is a series of makeshifts, a daily renewed struggle against physical prostration. 

We have no reason, therefore, to feel any doubt in looking to the future; as little reason, indeed, as we have to find ground for  discouragement in the past.  It is true that at starting the classes were  filled by many who took up gymnastics because it was a fashion to do so, and pursued the exercises in a desultory, purposeless way, from which nothing could be expected but the dissipation of a certain amount of time.  These have fallen off, but their places have been filled by men who have a serious conviction of the necessity for and value of regular gymnastic exercise to repay the waste caused by sedentary occupations. The classes, consequently, not only well attended -- a consideration the importance of which I have no desire to underrate -- but they are also well attended in a much more valuable sense.  They are attended by men who mean work, who do work, and who are certain to secure all the good results of work honestly, and conscientiously performed.  I need scarcely point out to you that the mere fact of the existence of such a compact body of pioneers as this, thoroughly united in pursuit of a common object, gives us a substantial basis of operations  against physical apathy, the value of which it is impossible to overrate.   I am glad to be able to say, too, that we have arrived at that stage when there is a growing feeling against the waste of time and force implied in the cultivation of the merely showy  gymnastics 

Of course, it will be understood that it would be unwise to place any restriction on the members which might be thought unnecessarily officious, and tend to produce undesirable irritation.  It has been considered, wisely, I think, quite sufficient to forbid anything that is absolutely dangerous, either from the nature of the exercise itself or the inexperience of the member attempting it.  It is very gratifying to find that there is less and less occasion to call attention to this limitation, and that it is very rarely Indeed it has to be enforced.  The  tendency, on the contrary, is towards an increasing use of those means which are well within the management and do not over task the strength of the aspirant.  Even among the more practised hands, who might plead a certain amount of justification for running apparent risks, there is less disposition shown to indulge in mere tours de force, and a stronger inclination towards that steady practice which however uninteresting it may seem, is that most certainly fruitful in the end.

There is, consequently, less occasion for me to press this point on you now, as I have so often done so before, and more especially because the warning seemed to have had some effect.  But to those among you who are here from the first time I must take this opportunity of saying a word on the subject.  To you I would point out one fact which cannot be too strongly impressed on your minds, if you would derive any benefit from your attendance here.  It is that physical training -- or physical education, as it is more properly called -- is not entered upon for the purpose of producing a striking muscular development, but the purpose of producing health.  The best result of such an education is not seen in an acrobat, a pedestrian, or a boxer, but in a perfectly healthy man.   

Health, of course, presupposes a certain degree, and a very decided  degree of muscular power, and this may be cultivated to an exceptional extent in one direction.  But beware of the mistake of seeking this exceptional proficiency before you have secured the necessary vigour -- of expecting to gather the fruit before you have grown the tree.  It is little better than a mistake in any case to entertain the idea of imitating the heroes of the concert hall.  A man who was in full possession of all the inestimable blessings of vital energy and force should find enough to do in keeping himself up to the same high standard without aiming at the reputation of an acrobat.  For one who has to repair all the effects of absolute physical neglect to attempt anything of that sort is an obvious absurdity, which can only end in disgust and disappointment. 

I have only a word or two, to say, in conclusion, on matters connected with the administration of this gymnasium.  As an appropriate preface, permit me to express the pleasure I have experienced -- a pleasure which I am sure has been shared by the members -- in seeing the number of spectators who have been attracted to witness the exercises.  The size of our audiences, night after night, is another proof of that growing popularity of physical education which I have already noticed. It is an additional gratification to find that this popularity is as great among the fairer as it is among the sterner half of creation.  (Applause.)  The fact that the gymnasium  is now in a more prosperous condition than at its opening is a sufficient answer to the unfounded rumours about closing which have been current in some quarters.  (Renewed applause.) I do not know upon what authority such rumours were circulated, but certainly it was not upon the authority of the directors.  I need not remind you that this institution was not started as a commercial speculation, and that its managers have set before themselves a higher object than that of making it a commercial success.  Financial considerations, of course, are not without their proper weight in our case, but we can assert that they are not of paramount importance. 

A word to the members, new and old, on the subject of the rules, and I have done.  It must be remembered that rules are indispensable in the management of such an institution as this, and that the primary object of securing general comfort and good feeling will be most effectively served by individual obedience.  A rule which is excellent for the majority, and is found to work well and satisfactorily, it is just possible may bear  hard upon one or two members. In such a case it is an obvious duty of the one or two to submit.  Begin by making exceptions, and it is impossible to avoid confusion and disorganisation.  Neither myself nor the directors anticipate anything of the sort.  We rely with well-founded confidence on the excellent tone which has always marked the relations between the members and the management of the Liverpool Gymnasium.  (Applause.)


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