Mr. Cotton, whose case I now proceed to con sider, was an Eton boy, and had rowed a great deal during his school days, though he had not been included in the Eton crew at Henley. He was a man of small stature, beautifully built and proportioned, well-framed, muscular, strong, and active. On coming to Oxford he continued his rowing, and being a good waterman and a man of remarkable endurance and courage, he was in his second year placed at bow of the University crew. Altogether he rowed in four victorious Oxford crews, he won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley twice as bow of a Leander crew, he won the Stewards' Cup in a Magdalen College Four, rowed Head of the River three times, besides taking part in many other races more or less important. During his whole rowing career I knew him to be unwell only once, and that was in 1893, when he suffered from a sore throat at Putney. In 1895 he rowed bow of the Oxford Eight for the fourth time. The training of this crew was a very anxious one. Influenza was very prevalent, and one after another the Oxford men were affected by this illness. There were only two exceptions, and one of these was Mr. Cotton, who was never sick or sorry for a single day during the whole period of practice. Shortly after the race he came to stay with me. He was then perfectly strong, perfectly healthy, and in wonderfully good spirits, and showed not the least sign of being stale or exhausted. He told me himself, on my congratu lating him on having escaped the influenza, that he had never felt better or stronger in his life than he did at that time. On the Easter Monday he bicycled from Bourne End to Oxford and back (a distance of nearly seventy miles as he rode it), and, as he had had to battle against a strong cold wind on the return journey, he was very tired on his arrival. On the following morning, however, he appeared perfectly well. Towards the end of that week he complained of feeling " very lacka daisical and having a bad headache," but he attached no importance to these symptoms, and soon after went back to Oxford with a view to rowing in the Magdalen Eight. The tired feeling and the headache, however, continued, and eventually got so bad that he had to take to his bed with a high temperature and all the other symptoms of violent influenza. This illness, neglected at the outset, almost immediately settled on his lungs, both of which were congested with pneumonia. Owing, as Mr. Symonds himself told me, to his good general condition and his great strength, he fought through this, but in the mean time signs of consumption had declared themselves, and of this he died at Davos Platz in the following October.
With regard to Mr. Balfour, the facts are these : He was a man of Herculean build and strength. He played in the Oxford Rugby Union Football team for two years, 1894 and 1895. In 1896 and in this year he rowed in the University Eight, and last July he rowed at Henley in the Leander Eight, and won the pair-oared race with Mr. Guy Nickalls. I can answer for it that during all his races he was absolutely fit and well. I saw him daily at Henley, and, though I knew him to be strong and healthy, I was surprised not merely by his improvement in style, but by the great vigour he displayed in rowing. On the morning after the Regatta I saw him for the last time. He was then in splendid health and spirits. On the Izth of August he shot grouse ; on the following day, in very cold wet weather, he went out fishing, and came home wet through, complaining of a chill. On the following day he took to his bed in a high fever, with both lungs congested. The illness next attacked his kidneys, and soon after his life was despaired of. However, he rallied in an extraordinary way until symptoms of blood-poisoning declared themselves, when he rapidly sank, and died on August 27th. Now, this illness was due either to an ordinary chill or to influenza, or, as I have since heard, primarily to blood-poisoning, caused by leaky and poisonous drains at a place where he had been staying before his shooting excursion. A subsequent examination of these drains revealed a very bad condition of affairs immediately underneath the room that Mr. Balfour had occupied. In any case it does not appear—and the strong testimony of the doctors who attended him confirms me in this—that Mr. Balfour's death was due to his rowing. But an objector may say, " It is true that neither in Mr.
Cotton's nor in Mr. Balfour's case can death be directly attributed to rowing ; their exertions, how ever, so exhausted their strength, the soundness of their organs, and their powers of resistance to disease, that when they were attacked they became easy victims." To this I oppose (I) the report of Mr. H. P. Symonds, who examined both these oarsmen before they rowed in their University Eights ; (2) my own observation of their health, condition, and spirits during practice, in their races, and afterwards when the races were over ; and (3) the reports of the doctors who attended them during their last illnesses, and who declared (I speak at second hand with regard to Mr. Balfour, at first hand with regard to Mr. Cotton) that they were both, when struck down, in a surprising state of strength, due to the exercise in which they had taken part, and that in both cases their powers of resistance were far greater than are usually found. Do I go too far in asserting that any doctor in large practice could find in his own experience for each of these two cases at least twenty cases in which non-rowing and non-athletic men have been sud denly carried off by the same sort of illness ? I am not concerned to prove that rowing confers an immunity from fatal illness : my point is that in the two cases I have considered, and in all cases where it is pursued under proper conditions of training and medical advice, rowing does not in any way promote a condition favourable to disease.
I pass from these particular cases, the discussion of which has been painful to me, to the general question of health amongst the great mass of those who have been, or are, active rowing men. It may be remembered that some twenty-five years ago Dr. J. H. Morgan, of Oxford, moved to his task by a controversy similar to that which has recently taken place, instituted a very careful inquiry into the health of those who had taken part in the University Boat-race from 1829 to 1869. Their number amounted, if I remember rightly, to 294, of whom 255 were alive at the date of the inquiry. Of these 115 were benefited by rowing, 162 were uninjured, and only in 17 cases was any injury stated to have resulted. And it must be remem bered that this inquiry covered a period during which far less care, as a general rule, was exercised both as to the selection and the training of men than is the case at the present day. I may add my own experience. Since I began to row, in 1874, I have rowed and raced with or against hundreds of men in college races and at regattas, and I have watched closely the rowing of very many others in University and in Henley crews. I have kept in touch with rowing men, both my contemporaries and my successors, and amongst them all I could not point to one (putting aside for the moment the three special cases I have just discussed) who has been injured by the exercise, or would state himself to have been injured. On the contrary, I can point to scores and scores of men who have been strengthened in limb and health—I say nothing here of any moral effect—by their early races and the training they had to undergo for them. I could at this moment pick a crew composed of men all more than thirty years old who are still, or have been till quite recently, in active rowing, and, though some of them are married men, I would back them to render a good account of themselves in Eight or Four or Pair against any selection of men that could be made. Nay more, in any other contests of strength or endurance I believe they would more than hold their own against younger athletes, and would overwhelm any similar number of non-athletes of the same or any other age. As contests I should select a hard day's shooting over dogs, cross-country riding, tug-of-war, boxing, long distance rowing, or, in fact, any contest in which the special element of racing in light ships has no part. For such contests I could pick, not eight, but eighty men well over thirty years old, and if the limit were extended to twenty-four years of age I could secure an army. Is there any one who doubts that my rowing men would knock the non-athletes into a cocked hat ? For it must be remembered that the bulk of rowing men are not exclusively devoted to oarsmanship. A very large proportion of those that I have known have been good all-round sportsmen.