Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

can be obtained on every hand, and by a little care and attention, giving it free egress to the workshop, to the sitting-room, or the sleeping apartment.

The organism requires its daily supply of food as a supporting element, and it should be of proper quality and quantity. The greatest abuse of the present generation is found in this department. But two articles of diet are sufficient to maintain life in its most healthful state. Instead of this simple regimen, we have an unpardonable list of ingredients placed before us three or four times each day, and tax the powers to their utmost with frozen, thawed, or burning mixtures. The recipient is coaxed, surprised, stuffed, until it becomes a miracle that we are able to bear the burden of our own indiscretion. Rarely, from the early cry in infancy until its warning voice ceases at the end, does its guardian give it needed care and rest. Grain and flesh prepared in the simplest manner, a greater proportion and more frequent use of the former of the two articles of food, should constitute the main portion of the general diet.

How vastly different from this rule is the common table, even of the poor men of cities and towns. The plainer class of people, remote from cities, where cases of long life are most frequently found, approach nearer to the proper plan of food supply. Hence they avoid many evils of the dyspeptic and invalid occupant of the village. The enormous variety of dishes placed at the disposal of most people is not only a source of many of the ills of mankind, but also a most pronounced way of over-taxing the various organs, which are compelled to work beyond their limit; and, at forty years of age, they are worn out instead of doubling that number

of years.

It has been proved to the world that fasting can be carried on for an extended length of time without great inconvenience or detriment to the experimenter. The limit of forty days has frequently been

. the number attained by many of those attempting the feat, and the result is that after forty-eight hours, a better feeling prevails than under ordinary conditions of regular meals. A craving for food takes place at first, from the habit the system is in of taking nourishment, then the sensation ceases, possibly by some of the nerves becoming non-sensitive. The Italian Paulozzo, who became famous for his religious fasts in the fourteenth century, completed his forty days of Lent under the watchful eyes of the bishops, and he was pronounced the simple and good man," on account of his abstinence from food during so long a period of the church's fasting season. Water is always taken at will and in considerable quantity. The Tanner fast of recent date is not unfamiliar to the public, and certainly illustrates the fact that three solid meals per day are not absolutely necessary for bealth or comfort or support of the body. A less number and amount would be ample for all needs and thus prevent many of the congestions and evils of the digestive system.

There are many indirect but valuable ways of fortifying the chest against its great enemies. Swimming is one of the most powerful and exhilarating methods. Its many advantages are gained by the great freedom of movement allowed in the water, the great number of muscles brought into play, the strength acquired by the nervous system in overcoming the shock of cold, and the great endurance gained by the long continuance of this exercise. Rowing approaches next to swimming in point of value, yet is more limited in its action. General gymnastics, although more artificial, are of great value. Many of the games, as ball playing, croquet, lawn tennis, etc., are pot looked upon with much favor, as they develop on one side more than the other the muscles of the body.

The occupation most conducive to the health of the lungs, and best adapted to prolong life, is work upon a farm, or the labor of clearing forest lands. It is employment easily obtained and furnishes, in great part, all the requirements of the body. It is a field of labor always open to rich and poor alike; to all ages and conditions of men, and the neglected acres of the country show that the tide of ambition has carried its population to more lucrative shores and left the healthful country •places untenanted. The statistics of city life show a terrible mortality froin lung disease. That of Paris shows that one-fourth to one-fifth of the population die of consumption.

In the enumeration of the various means for keeping the lungs in health, only the most prominent have been mentioned. Almost any three of these should be sufficient to gain the object. If such is the case, the use of them all should be positive. As the tendency is for the mortal part to change and decay, the body should be fortified in every possible way, to resist the daily attack. We are not yet ready to adopt the visionary belief of “ the mind cure sect,” who deny the mortal parts, (such as valves of the heart,) inflammation of the lungs, or

[ocr errors]

the possibilities of contagion ; nor can we say that sin and error are washed away by denial, or that we can throw our aches, pains, and deformities into the wells of oblivion. One of their own peculiar phrases (if it means anything) which they frequently use might be applied to their belief,—"A protoplasmic void.”

The prevention of what is called the ordinary cold is a matter of importance. When this acute active inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose, throat, and bronchial tubes takes place, it is caused by damp, cold air upon the sensitive portions of the body. At first a congestion, then an inflammation follows. These sensitive places may be limited to two in number - the neck and feet. By a simple process of treatment, these channels of so much discomfort and the apparent origin of so many troubles can be greatly lessened.

As the topic of this paper under consideration, and the time allowed for it are limited, the modern methods of treating the various pulmonary diseases when once they are acquired and the good results cannot be given here. But a mere hint at their possibilities may give great encouragement, by mention of prominent cases as among physicians themselves, a class of people subject to many hardships and great exposure. Several British physicians at the Riviera are in good health, who formerly were considered hopeless. Others are at Algiers and in Switzerland, and examples of the same class of cases in the medical profession are living proofs in Colorado. As a closing example of what can be gained by skilful training for long life, that of Cornaro, the Venetian nobleman and physician might be given. A man of many vices, poor health, and a weak constitution, at the age of forty years he was so broken down by excesses, and so ill, that his attendants considered his life of short duration. In this condition, he commenced to repair the state of his health, and was so successful that he lived to be one hundred and four years of age. Between ninety and one hundred years old, he wrote vigorous and interesting treatises on the preservation of health and long life.

As we are placed on the earth for a period of years, it is to our advantage to make the most of it. We want health and wealth and friends and happiness, and a good disposition and buoyancy of spirit, and all the charms of a broad and generous career for the longest term of years ; and “ when a noble life has prepared old age, it is not the decline that it reveals, but the first days of immortality.”





(Read September 7, 1887, before the American Social Science Association.)

I do not intend to discuss in this paper the subjects of bad ventilation and impure air, imperfect drainage, damp cellars or insufficient nourishment. Residents of the country may suffer from all these, as well as dwellers in cities. There are, however, certain injurious influences more insidious in their operation, which are peculiar to cities, and affect the well-to-do as well as the poor, although not in equal degrees. I believe these lead, ,

I sooner or later, to degeneration of the individual and his offspring, by producing progressive feebleness, and to ultimate extinction of such families as are long subjected to their force. I refer to those influences which chiefly affect the stability of the nervous system, rendering it less capable of sustained work, and, in a secondary way only, the circulation and general nutrition. The end-result of all these influences is to lessen the producing power of each man, and thus to depreciate his value as an economic factor. They ought not to exist if their removal be possible, and if it can be effected without greater expense than their ill effects warrant. Their cause is to be found in faulty municipal arrangements, which can be largely corrected by intelligent action and supervision. They work by producing insomnia, and aberrant forms of mental action; singling out those who are less strong as subjects of the so-called neurasthenia. These effects accumulate with each successive generation subjected to their influence, until the final inheritor finds the load too heavy to bear and do any useful work. The ne'er-do-wells and idlers are often (not always) such, from actual inability for persistent effort. Let us see if such influences exist, if they are injurious to any considerable extent, and if it is practicable to remove or modify them.

We refer chiefly to three, and these are:

1. Lisuse of the upper extremities for any considerable muscular exertion.

2. The incessant noise of a large city. 3. Jarring of the brain and spinal cord, by continual treading upon the stone and bricks which make up our sidewalks ard streets.

We leave out of the question those persons to whom these observations do not apply, viz: such as are able to spend nearly half the year out of town. Experience has shown that such individuals and families suffer in small degree from an ordinary city life. While on the other hand good authorities assert, that there are very few families now living in London, who with their predecessors, have resided there continuously for three generations.

(1.) DISUSE OF THE UPPER EXTREMITIES. If there is one general physical difference between the countrybred and the city-bred man, it lies in the size and strength of the muscles of the shoulder and arm. It is almost impossible for a man to live in the country, without using the arms far more than the average city man. This use of the arms has, in both men and women, an important bearing on the general bealth, since it increases the capacity of the chest, and thereby the surface of lung tissue, where the blood is spread out in thin walled vessels, through which the oxygen and carbonic acid easily pass in opposite directions; serving thus the double purpose of feeding the body more abundantly and of removing a constantly accumulating waste product. This richer blood is again driven with greater force by increased heart and arterial action through its circuit. The vital organs are better nourished and the power to produce work is increased. Few will deny that a well nourished body can be trained to do more and better mental work than the same organism in a feebler state. Walking on an even surface, the only variety of physical exercise which most business and professional men get in town, is well known to be a poor substitute for arm-exertion. The reason is partially plain, since walking is almost automatic and involuntary. The walking mechanism is set in motion as we would turn an hour-glass, and requires little attention, much less volition and separate discharges of force from the brain surface, with each muscular contraction, as is the case with the great majority of arm movements. The arm user is a bigher animal than the leg user. Arm motions are more nearly associated with mental action than leg movements. A man's lower limbs merely carry his bigher centres to bis food or work. The latter must be executed with his arms and hands.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »