Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/224

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190
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

carried accomplished teachers with them on the road, and the children were as well educated as if the entire time had been spent attending school.

Their training and work in the ring not only afforded them splendid physical exercise, but taught them patience, application, alertness, and many other valuable lessons which made their progress very rapid when it came to their lessons from books. It is a fact worthy of notice that the circus people are a long-lived race. I can name almost a score of famous performers who have attained an age of more than eighty years. This would tend to show that circus work is quite as healthy as any other. I may add that the charge so frequently brought against showmen, that the training of children for the circus ring is cruel, is not well founded.

While I have seen many instances of cruelty in this connection, there is nothing in the work itself which necessitates hardship or harshness. In fact, quite the reverse is true.

The child is the sooner trained into an ability to do a dangerous and daring feat through gentleness and encouragement. In other words, the more they overcome their fear in every direction the better able are they to